Many people really confuse being an entrepreneur and being a CEO. They think they are the same thing, but over the years I’ve learned that they are actually two VERY different things.
An entrepreneur has a mind that is creative. Entrepreneurs are full of ideas, they’re eager beavers – and they are often hard to “control.” There are exceptions, of course. But all entrepreneurs tend to have that “pioneering” streak in them – and they never really lose it.
When an entrepreneur starts a business, he/she is the CEO by default. But many entrepreneurs are not well suited to remain the CEO over an extended period of time. (I’ll explain why in a minute.)
So after their company gets some success, many entrepreneurs hire a “professional CEO.” Then the entrepreneur assumes a different and more targeted role, doing what he or she does best. The role might be in marketing, inventing, creating, innovating…or it could be technical in nature.
Of course, there are also many entrepreneurs out there that have proven to be great CEOs. Every day, I work hard to be that entrepreneur-turned-great CEO (and I must say that I’ve done a pretty good job at it so far). But it does require a lot of concentration!
That’s because a CEO is basically a manager. A CEO should have a talent for building organizations, structuring, overseeing the details, watching the financials, and in general keeping the company in the black.
Also, a CEO’s job is to keep the company moving forward. The single biggest responsibility of a CEO is to build “shareholder value.” Miki Agrawal
And the fact is, most entrepreneurs don’t want to think about shareholder value. Often an entrepreneur just wants to paint on the canvas – not worry about selling the painting, advertising, and fulfillment. Often the last thing an entrepreneur wants to do is figure out how much to charge for his or her masterpiece so the company makes a profit and doesn’t go broke!
One of the biggest differences I have personally witnessed between an entrepreneur and a CEO is this: the entrepreneur is FULL of new ideas and is eager to implement them, while new ideas are the stuff of nightmares for a CEO. New ideas challenge structure and organization, and they can mean a whole lot of extra and tedious work for a CEO.
Of course there are many entrepreneurs-turned-CEOs who can do both. Sometimes a “start-up” kind of CEO can be creative and full of ideas, but still have the very structured mindset of a good business person.
So an entrepreneur-turned-successful CEO is still an artist – but business is his art. Real artists never paint with the selling price of the painting in mind. Real artists paint to fulfill an inner need.
Business is the art that fills that inner need of a CEO.