The Difference between a Startup CEO & Corporate CEO

So what’s the difference?

I always say that there’s a huge difference between the definition of a CEO in the Corporate and startup worlds. In the corporate world it just means Chief Executive Officer, we all know what they do.

Chief Everything Officer:

However in the startup business world CEO stands for Chief Everything Officer. You’re literally the Chief working officer, chief motivational officer, chief risk officer, chief flexible officer, chief hustling officer, chief financing officer and the list goes on as if and when required. Although it’s great to be great at one or two core skills, in a startup you’ve pretty much got to be a jack of all trades, you’ve got to be a bit of a dell boy, a grafter, a hustler, a problem solver and generally as adaptive as possible.

You’ve got to demonstrate to present and future employees or team members that at one point you’ve executed or done one of the roles that you are hiring them to do. You will carry more credibility this way. Being Chief Everything Officer also means that you will be working round about 100 hours a week for little or no pay. You’re simply just fuelled by passion. So you’ve got to be honest with yourself, are you cut out for this? Can you handle this? Because it is hard, damn bloody hard. It is chaos. To most ordinary people entrepreneurship seems glamorous and cool but it’s far from it. It’s a crazy roller coaster of emotions. One moment you’re up and next minute you’re down. So far on my entrepreneurship journey I’ve developed a number of skills that I needed simply out of necessity of being a Chief Everything Officer. I’ve become a jack of many trades. I’ve learnt how to design and develop websites in wordpress, I’ve learnt how to design web and mobile user interfaces and experiences. On dozens of occasions I’ve had to interview and hire freelancers to work on various aspects of projects. Then there’s the marketing, financing, project management and so much more. Essentially I’ve learnt how to manage the conception, development and delivery of a digital project.

Can you handle the heat?

I read somewhere once that people who come from dysfunctional homes or backgrounds tend to make the best entrepreneurs because they are used to chaos and unpredictability. They are comfortable with it. Even if they are not, they just know how to adapt in times of uncertainty. So if you don’t like the ‘excitement’ of unpredictability then please keep your 9–5 day job because you won’t be able to hack it. As the saying goes, the grass may look greener on the other side of the fence but you still have to mow it.

Yours truly,