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What are the roles & responsibilities of a startup CEO?

Most often than not a CEO is the one with the idea and the one launching the company. In a lot of cases, CEOs are founders of the company. But there are instances where a CEO is hired. In either of the cases, putting a hat on a CEO of a specific role is the most difficult thing to do. And the lines are even more blurred when it comes to the roles and responsibilities of a CEO in a startup.

There are no fixed rules, sometimes contradictory advice, and a lot of confusion. So, what is the role and responsibility of a CEO in a startup? 

The answer isn’t that simple. But the main takeaway is that the scope of a CEO’s role and responsibilities is huge. 

Below are a bunch of points that sum up the roles and responsibilities of the CEO in a startup. 

Who Is A CEO?

A CEO or Chief Executive Officer is one of the topmost positions in a startup. The title CEO evokes a feeling of power and control. But, what most people miss out on can be best summarized by the phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Yes, the responsibilities of a CEO are diverse and surely quite dizzying too. Only 1 in 20 make it to the list of a good CEO. All decisions like hiring, firing, financing, operations, organizational culture, financing, marketing, PR, etc will be shot from your shoulder. The roles of the CEO in a startup need occasional modifications to accommodate the requirements posed by teams and clients. Here are some productivity hacks for startup CEOs to function better.

Vision And Goals

A CEO’s responsibility in a startup is to make sure that the firm’s vision and goals are crystal clear to its employees. CEOs need to give their team an occasional reminder about the company’s vision. Your vision should be revised every now and then, in response to the customer’s feedback obtained. Sometimes both short-term and long-term goals need to be revised, and the power to modify them remains with the CEO. A quick brief about these can be given in weekly meetings and reviews. This will ensure that personal and organizational goals and visions are aligned. 

Business Strategy

A company’s first strategist is its CEO. Business strategies are decided in the early stages of startup building, as they provide a path that the venture will follow. As per Forbes, a startup CEO should invest 10% of themselves in business strategy making.  The strategy involves discussion on product positioning, its features, investment, and other important decisions. This discussion with the founding team and important stakeholders would ensure proper planning and prioritization of tasks. 

Do you have the ideal startup team?

Managing Investors

A CEO is an entrusted person in a company to look for and after investors. Investors are third parties, wanting to capitalize on your idea by providing financial support. Investors come with many powers and most often control the CEO’s decision-making. Hence, an important responsibility of a CEO in a startup is to take care of the investors.  This goes without saying that investors should be glued to your company’s ideas. The investors can also act as powerful spokespersons for your venture if you keep them impressed. Not only will they keep investing, but would also preach about your company in their influential circle. 


CEOs and specifically CEOs of a startup, don’t shy away from the recruitment process. But before hiring a team member, there is a bigger role of a CEO in a startup. That is to know when to hire their first employee and how many employees to hire. Recruiters and HR would just follow up with the requirements of teams. Here your responsibility as a CEO in a startup is to prevent overhiring from taking place. Overhiring can also cost a good startup its success if a CEO is too enthusiastic about expanding the team. Hence, as a startup CEO, being absolutely clear about what you need is the first step. Brainstorm all the possible way-outs for a problem or question before making a team-related decision. This is what will save you from spending all the finances on unnecessary hiring. 


Your team members would likely see a coach, mentor, and leader in you. Hence, the main role of a CEO in a startup is as a leader. One who’s the jack of all trades is recruitment, marketing, sales, financial accounting, etc. Ones that can also advise specific teams. Leadership skills are essential for a CEO. In most cases, the failure of a startup is credited to a bad leader. While it is important to lead and guide, it is also crucial to know where to draw the line. Essentially, when it comes to issues like micromanagement and over-delegation. Good leadership skills would also help you better manage the team overall. 

Cash-Flow and Allocation of Budgets

Cash flow and allocation of budgets is another responsibility of the CEO. It is your sole responsibility as a CEO to get the cash flowing. Managing revenue and preventing external financing from stopping is yet another crucial task. For doing that, a CEO needs to establish a sturdy metric-driven culture. Metrics help the CEO and CFO make efficient decisions concerning expenses and revenue. 

Concluding Thoughts

The above-mentioned points more or less summarize the roles and responsibilities of the CEO in a startup. However, certain qualities are more subtle in nature. Tasks CEOs do normatively include: 

  • having good organizational culture and values, 
  • maintaining good relations with employees, 
  • cultivating a friendly vibe in the office, keeping eyes on measurement systems, building the senior management team, 
  • making occasional interactions with lower management, 

While all this might sound overwhelming for a startup founder, worry not! You can read the blog on how to avoid burnout as a startup founder, and learn how to tackle startup issues. 


Q1. Who is a CEO?

A1. A CEO or Chief Executive Officer is the main public face of an organization. He/she makes all the organization’s decisions and has diverse responsibilities. 


Q2. Who is a CPO?

A2. A CPO is the chief product officer, leading the organization in the direction of product strategy. Decisions pertaining to product vision, innovation, design, and development are taken by him or with his/her advice. 


Q3. What is the next most powerful position after CEO? 

A3. The next most powerful position after CEO is that of the president. 


Q4. How are CEOs selected?

A4. CEOs are selected by the board of directors and shareholders. 


If you enjoyed reading this post, check out our other posts on our blog and also take business assessments to ensure that your company is moving towards success.

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