Your Business Card Doesn’t Make You a CEO


While being the CEO of a company may look prestigious and powerful, today’s wannabee CEOs still have a long way to go and much to learn. In most cases, many new entrepreneurs feel the need to justify their position on their business card with the three letters known as ‘CEO’, and ensure everyone knows of their title. Perhaps, there is a certain status that goes with being a CEO and the respect the letters command; but the real question is can you still be the CEO if there is no one else around to call you that at your own company? Since we like being a reality check for Gen Y, we figured we would give you five things that make a CEO a real one, rather than just a title on a card.

CEO is in charge of direction, not decisions: While there is a misconception that CEOs call every shot at their company, this is highly untrue. Very rarely do real CEOs make daily decisions about their businesses. Instead, their role is to set the vision and direction and ensure their trusted employees are making the right decisions to move their business forward. If you think being a CEO is being a decision maker, think again.

CEO is the face of an organization: It may seem cool to be the face of an organization but it also comes with constant scrutiny. From what you wear to how you act, CEOs are highly respected individuals who are being judged daily by the media for their good and bad behaviors, which is a direct representation of their organization. Mark Zuckerberg was called a bad CEO simply for refusing to wear a suit and sticking to his hoodie. What’s your excuse to get shit faced and post ‘YOLO’ pics on Facebook?

CEO is the leader of an organization: Leading people means actually having employees, including managers. While resources are scarce in every start-up or organization, every real CEO understands that winning is not a sport that can be played alone. You can only lead people, therefore the lone wolf who is a one man team cannot call himself a CEO.

CEO manages revenue models, not revenue: While generating revenue is key the survival of a business, the CEO role should never require the CEO to sell the product itself. The CEO’s role is to create the revenue model and identify the opportunities in the marketplace to implement the model. When was the last time you witnessed Steve Jobs selling an iPad at the mall?

CEO is accountable for growth, not survival: Surviving by making a few sales is cool, but growing is cooler. The point of having a CEO is to ensure company growth, not company survival. The accountability is tough in the corporate world for CEOs to deliver value for shareholders and clients by ensuring company growth year after year. If your start-up has not grown for a few years, you might want to reconsider why you haven’t gotten fired or perhaps why no one else thinks of you as a CEO to fire you.

Being a CEO for a Fortune 500 company or a startup is no different in terms of functionality or demand for the role. The biggest difference in itself is the size of the organization rather than the role of the CEO itself. While being able to write CEO on a business card that you self printed at Vista Print is cool, it is far from the reality that you are indeed a CEO. No matter the size of the organization or the revenue generated, it is ultimately within the individual itself to work him/herself up to becoming a real CEO, and unfortunately for you, that takes time.