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What does it take to become a successful startup CEO?

The photo shows several female founders at Geekdom, photo courtesy of Geekdom

Starting a business is daunting, but being a successful startup CEO is even more challenging. 

The first step in developing your leadership skills is to understand that as a startup CEO, you have two tasks that seem similar but are different. As CEO, you must become an effective manager and a successful leader. 

The CEO is responsible for everything from setting the company’s vision to hiring and managing the team to raising money and driving growth. It sounds like a lot, but people succeed in learning to embrace the key characteristics that all strong startup CEOs share.

What characteristics should an early-stage startup CEO possess?

  • Visionary: A strong startup CEO has a clear vision for the company and can articulate that vision to the team and investors. They can see the big picture and understand how all the pieces fit together.
  • Driven: A strong startup CEO is driven and passionate about their company. They are willing to work long hours and make tough decisions to succeed.
  • Resilient: A strong startup CEO is resilient and able to bounce back from setbacks. They don’t give up easily and constantly seek ways to overcome challenges.
  • Communicator: A strong startup CEO is a great communicator. They can communicate their vision to the team and investors. They are also able to listen to feedback and adjust their plans accordingly.
  • Team player: A strong startup CEO is a team player. They can build a strong team and delegate tasks effectively. They can also get along with others and create a positive work environment.


What should a good startup CEO do?

In addition to the desired characteristics, there are also some specific duties that a capable startup CEO should be handling. These include:

  • Setting the company’s vision and strategy: The CEO is responsible for setting the company’s vision and strategy. This includes defining the company’s goals, identifying the target market, and developing a plan to achieve those goals.
  • Hiring and managing the team: The CEO is responsible for hiring and managing the team. This includes finding the right people for the job, providing them with the training and support they need, and creating a positive work environment.
  • Raising money: The CEO is responsible for raising money to fund the company’s growth. This includes identifying potential investors, pitching the company, and negotiating terms with investors.
  • Driving growth: The CEO is responsible for driving growth for the company. This includes developing new products and services, expanding into new markets, and increasing brand awareness.


How can you become an even stronger CEO?

There are some things that a startup CEO can do to level up and become an even stronger leader. These include:

  • Get feedback: One of the best ways to improve is to get feedback from others. Ask your team, investors, and mentors for feedback on your leadership style and how you can improve.
  • Read books and articles: Find helpful books and articles on leadership and entrepreneurship. Reading these resources can help you learn new skills and improve your leadership style.
  • Attend conferences and workshops: Some conferences and seminars can help you learn new skills and network with other entrepreneurs. Attending these events can help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and learn from other successful leaders.
  • Get a mentor: A mentor can provide you with guidance and support as you grow your business. They can help you avoid mistakes, make better decisions, and achieve your goals.
  • Be willing to learn and grow: The business world constantly changes, so learning new things and adapting to change is essential.
  • Be humble: No one knows everything, so being humble and open to feedback is vital.
  • Be passionate: Your passion for your company will be contagious and will motivate your team to achieve great things.
  • Have fun: Entrepreneurship can be a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. Enjoy the journey and celebrate your successes along the way.



Leading a startup is much more complicated than leading a standard company. Startups have more uncertainty and, thus, a more pressing need to pivot and change their direction more often than in an established business model.

While challenging, the work can be a rewarding experience. If you have the suitable characteristics and are willing to work hard, you can become a successful startup CEO.

 Consider joining an entrepreneurial community that can help support your personal development goals for you, your team, and your startup. Geekdom’s membership options in downtown San Antonio cater to professionals seeking a collaborative and supportive work environment. 

The featured photo shows several female founders at Geekdom, photo courtesy of Geekdom.

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