Founder is not a synonym for CEO

Recently, we have seen too many startups putting their existence at risk or destroying their value simply because the founder sees him/herself as a CEO for the lifespan of the company.

As a startup grows, managerial challenges become different. They evolve from vision+product to vision+product+team to vision+product+team+finance.

Founders end up spending most of their time managing PnL, relation with investors, forecasting revenues and dealing with large clients.

Most of them never studied those skills, most of them dislike those activities and more importantly most of them are not good at it.

Because they see the founder as the leader since company inception, they see themselves as a de facto lifetime CEO.

CEO is a key role, a real job. You need to understand finance, management, how to deliver projections. It’s a tough job.

As a founder, becoming a real CEO comes at a cost: being less involved in the product decisions, more in spreadsheets.

So if your investors or mentors start to tell you you should consider bringing a CEO on board, here are a few things you should consider:

1) It’s your company, it’s your decision,

2) You are the founder of the company, nobody can take that away from you. As founders, we look up to Sergei Brin and Larry Page, not Eric Schmitt,

3) You have created this company to solve a real problem most probably not to manage KPIs and finance,

4) You are the or one of the largest shareholders of the company, so your first role is to take the best decisions for the company not for your ego.

5) Your job as founder is to bring the best talents including for the CEO role.

So if one day, you reach this decisive moment, we hope this checklist will help.

PS: Consider appointing a CEO as a success, it means you have created a large company when 99% of the startups fail…