All companies must have a (CEO), including startups. But what distinguishes a startup CEO from a CEO in an established company?

startup ceo
What should a startup CEO do?

Perhaps it is also a little scary to take on the responsibility as CEO of a real company. Responsibility for accounting, HR, board work and much else that only indirectly has something to do with the product or service the startup provides comes with the CEO title.

“CEO (Daglig leder) is a title under Norwegian company law that is given to the person in a company who is considered responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations and management.”

But does it have to be that way? Mark Zuckerberg didn’t exactly have a master’s degree in CEO stuff…

I believe that as an entrepreneur the CEO title is nothing to be afraid of!

The most important tasks of a startup CEO

An entrepreneurial company in the establishment or growth phase is very different from an established company. Therefore, there are also other qualities that should be emphasized when choosing a CEO.

Administrative tasks are less important. There are two (three) main tasks for a CEO in a startup:

1. Attract talent

As a general manager in an early-stage company, you should be able to identify and attract the people with the right skills required to grow and improve.

To achieve this, one must have a clear vision and know the startup’s niche very well. Members of the founding team often have what it takes.

2. Attract investors

It is difficult to grow - and to get hold of the people you need - without having a relationship with external investors.

As CEO, you must be able to make the company interesting for (right) investors. One of the factors that investors consider early on is the team. Do the people have the ability to implement?

As an entrepreneur, you are probably a good representative of the team, the vision and the will to stand your ground.

3. Be visible

To achieve the 1st and 2nd, one must of course be visible. For startups, the general manager is more often the face compared to established companies. You can be “visible” in many ways; twitter, media, conferences/meetups, startup programs etc.

For entrepreneurs, this often comes naturally as you often already have a footprint in your niche.

Delegate the rest

Everything else that a day-to-day manager has to do can be delegated.

“Being visible” (3) is also something that can be bought as a service!

You can get help with accounting from the accountant/auditor.

Separate the CEO role from the day-to-day administration. Can someone (external or internal) take a COO (Chief Operating Officer) role?

Is the “CEO personality” missing?

The only reason why someone from the founding team should not be CEO is if you are “not the type” who likes attention and would rather focus internally in the company. It probably helps to be somewhat extroverted.

It’s perfectly OK to take on a role with an internal focus as well, but try CEO first 🚀. It is not that difficult. Just make sure you don’t become the “7th father in the house”.