From Entrepreneur to CEO – It’s Not Luck!

As I coach business owners who were once entrepreneurs who launch an idea that grew into a company that grew to the point that it needed people, systems and process, I am perplexed that little emphasis is placed on the need to develop the skills to be a high performing chief executive officer. 

Not knowing the difference between being an entrepreneur versus a CEO is the number one reason most businesses fail. 

As an entrepreneur,  you have an idea to take to market, create a business plan, and work in the business. You are the business, perform all functions to keep it afloat, and make enough money to keep the lights on.  

A few common challenges for entrepreneurs are:

  • Hiring the right talent and keeping them – talent is usually family, friends, or people much like themselves.
  • Sustainable growth – when the money is flowing, the lure of power and spending money can create risky behaviors that can have long term effects.  
  • Managing the culture – as the company grows, entrepreneurs struggle with understanding culture and maintaining it. 

As a CEO, you are the highest-ranking leader and has responsibilities for the success of the company and the livelihood of the people who work for you – the buck stops with you.  As the CEO, you are responsible for the company’s brand, the culture, and the secret sauce – all the ingredients that make you different and shapes your mission, vision and values.  CEOs are about the business – not in the business.

And there’s still more.

As the CEO, you are the chief strategist and responsible for the strategic direction to accomplish financial goals and integrating performance outcomes.  As the CEO, you are responsible for leading leaders to implement economic, operation and people strategies. As the captain of your ship, you are responsible for navigating your market with an eye on the competition, new opportunities, market downturn, and customer’s needs.  

When the rubber meets the road, you are the final one to make tough (sometimes unpopular) decisions that impact the employees and customers. The company’s long-term success depends upon your ability to think and act on day-to-day operations, execute a strategic vision for the future, coupled with a willingness to lead others in the path to get there.

How to Make the Change?

To sustain growth, create a growth plan to develop as a CEO.  Here are some attributes that will prepare you to be a great CEO:

  1. Visionary – the ability the anticipate and see into the future.
  2. Courageous – the ability to act and make tough decisions under pressure
  3. Teambuilder – the ability to achieve results through other
  4. Engaging – the ability to influence and get buy-in among stakeholders, leaders, and employees to achieve business results
  5. Adaptable – the ability to pivot and change to grow and take advantage of market opportunities
  6. Reliability – the ability to deliver consistently to garner customer confidence


Building a successful company and a healthy culture requires changing your mindset and developing a growth plan to build an organization that is sustainable and evolves with time. You will attract the right talent to create a high performing workforce that will take you to new heights.

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