Early on, a CEO has little to work with - because their company is still a relatively tiny operation, they have to do more than anyone might expect. Distributing tasks simply isn't an option when there are so few people to share them with, so it's up to the leader to pull up their boot straps, crack their knuckles, and do what needs to be done. Here are the five hats every startup CEO wears.
Numbers are crucial to any entrepreneurial operation, but becoming adequately established to warrant hiring an account takes a lot of time, and while that process is underway, someone has to keep track of those digits. It's a side of business that's not considered too often, though it's absolutely critical, even if it's relatively daunting and unpleasant. It's all for the best, though; without a firm grip on the numbers, staying on top of finances as a company grows becomes a task too difficult to reasonably achieve.
The startup world is full of experts and novices alike, and it's up to the seasoned vets to lend a hand to those who lack extensive experience. By embracing the role of CEO, a leader is responsible for the personal and professional growth of each team member. Beyond that, the startup game is full of younger minds whose experience is limited. Leaders have a unique responsibility to facilitate their growth, as a new generation of entrepreneurs will inevitably pave the way for the future.
To get a company off the ground, someone has to make some calls and sell whatever it is that's being provided. When the team is small (or in many cases, limited to one person), launching a company will be a slow process indeed unless the leader stands on the frontlines and reaches out to anyone and everyone. It takes a shockingly long time for a company to grow enough to move past this stage, too - many CEOs work tirelessly to reach out and make connections for years following the initial creation of their company.
Before a COO enters the picture (and in many cases, even after they come on board), a CEO has to oversee day-to-day operations and make sure that the company stays afloat. They have to manage employees, oversee different tasks to ensure quality, and handle clients, all jobs normally reserved for different departments. Startups don't have this luxury; instead, the leader must step up each day and move forward one step at a time.
Funny enough, the final hat a startup CEO wears is a hard-hat. While still getting off the ground, a leader has to get their hands dirty. A surprising amount of manual labor is involved early on - moving into a new office, decorating the place, rearranging everything - and chances are, the CEO will be doing a lot of the work. The title doesn't exempt them from the nitty gritty, and a good leader is okay with that. After the amount of work that goes into creating a company, taking on the role of handyman can be a refreshing change of pace, so don't worry about the extra work - it's a lot more fun than one might think.
It's all about the creative and inspiring creativity amongst a team. Every great company starts with a great idea, and the founder is generally responsible for growing this idea into something large. "Every company needs creativity to stand out from the crowd, and creativity is often one of the greatest strengths of the entrepreneurial mind." Paul Stahura, co-founder and CEO of Donuts.Domains explains that "everything about a company - right down to the very name - is a product of creativity. Entrepreneurship is determined by creativity; it's importance can't be overstated."
The startup CEO has to embrace creativity and find inspiration in everything, as growth is nearly impossible without it - after all, there are a lot of companies out there trying to make a name for themselves. When the startup CEO dons their creative hat, they find new ways to push boundaries while their company is still in the early stages.