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Small business CEO

Leading a small business is something very challenging compared to a large corporation. A CEO has to work with limited resources and an urgent need for growth. Taking up too many projects would be difficult while the importance of delivering quality work takes precedence. Taking an innovative, organized, and customer-centric approach often becomes essential for the CEO. Let us understand what it means to be the CEO of a small business.

What is a “small business”?

A small business is similar to a large business in terms of ownership, where the company is a privately owned corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship, but it has fewer employees and lower annual revenue. The U.S. Small Business Administration set certain industry based specifics to define a small business. Such as if it is a company in the manufacturing and mining industry there should not be more than 500 employees or a wholesale trading company should not have more than 100 employees to be a small business.

Why does a small business need a CEO?

Once someone has set up a business and employed personnel for day-to-day operations, the owner’s idea is to sit back and let the work happen. But that’s when the work of a CEO is essential, as employees have a narrow perspective of their work while a CEO brings a holistic perspective. Some of the important things that they bring to the table are ensuring that the company’s products and services cater to the needs of the market or identify the right market for the products or services, knowing which decisions are appropriate for the business and which are not, and delegating the work wherever necessary. Hence, a small business needs a EO to bring a holistic perspective.

When should a small business hire a CEO?

The owner of a small business often assumes the role of CEO. But there are times when it becomes essential for a business owner to hire a CEO. Especially when the business comes to a juncture where the decisions need to be tactical and strategic. An owner should ideally hire a CEO when they think they are not able to do one of the following things.

  1. Draw from previous business experiences
  2. Focus on growth of a specific aspect of the business
  3. Focus solely on scaling without innovation

CEO responsibilities in a small business

A CEO in any company wears many hats, but in a small business, they have to cover a lot more ground as there are not many executives within the company. Here are some of the duties of a CEO in a small business:

  1. Develop business strategy
  2. Find funding from diverse sources
  3. Handle budget and hire a CPA when needed
  4. Outsource and direct marketing projects
  5. Purchase inventory and arrange resources
  6. Network for additional opportunities and innovations
  7. Assist in customer service

Small business CEO salary

According to, the average small business CEO in the US makes $131,729. Small business CEOs earn the most in San Francisco, at $198,164, with total compensation that is 50% higher than the national average.


As a small business owner, if you are looking to upgrade yourself and gain foundational knowledge and skills for being a CEO, here are 4 executive education programs.

Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM)

The Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM) is a general management program that prepares you for the next level of leadership. This program is created in such a way that it helps transform proven leaders into global executives ready to lead the charge. The Berkeley Executive Program in Management encourages its participants to reflect, enhance strategic thinking, and develop authentic leadership. It is designed to create an immersive, relevant, and dynamic learning experience for senior executives, ready for the next level of the leadership challenge. It includes modules on advanced management competencies, leading innovative change, etc., which are a must for a person in C-level positions to ensure the growth of the company.

MIT Professional Education Technology Leadership Program (TLP)

This is a multi-modular program delivered by MIT faculty on campus and virtually, geared towards the development needs of the next generation of technology CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, and emerging leaders.  The program is designed for technology leaders and experienced practitioners from large corporations as well as startups—innovation-oriented firms that are focusing on leveraging emerging digital technologies to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace. After completing TLP, you will be part of a cohort of global leaders and practitioners. You will also become an integral part of the global MIT Professional Education network and will be considered an alumni of TLP as well as MIT Professional Education.

MIT Professional Education | Technology Leadership Program

UCLA Post Graduate Program in Management for Executives (UCLA PGPX)

It is an extensive general management program offered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, one of the world’s top business schools. It is a part-time program with a modular format that provides great flexibility for busy professionals, while the UCLA faculty and industry leaders ensure that the program covers all aspects of best-in-class management education expected from a highly respected and globally renowned institution. The UCLA PGPX will put you on the map of global leadership, with a combination of strategies, skills, and acumen that will stretch your thinking and hone your abilities as a leader and manager capable of achieving remarkable growth in your business. This program has been designed to expose the participants to management and business leadership essentials in an extensive general management curriculum that is designed to be experiential in learning and applied in focus.

Chicago Booth Accelerated Development Program (ADP)

The Chicago Booth ADP is a rigorous learning journey across 8 modules spread over 9 months and gives you access to the latest management thinking and tools. It is taught by an award-winning faculty at the Chicago Booth School of Business and accomplished senior business leaders. It creates an amazing opportunity to build a strong personal brand and competitively position yourself and your organization. ADP actively engages you in a collaborative learning environment with accomplished peers in . The Chicago Booth Accelerated Development Program is designed for the global executive with a focus on delivering impact and leveraging the significant history of the Accelerated Development Program delivered across the globe, including London and India. The program is tailored for the busy schedules of senior professionals and is blended in design, with academic on-campus modules and off-campus experiences with online learning and live interactions to complement the on-campus experiences. You will build a global community of like-minded leaders and will become part of the Global ADP Network for life.


Being a CEO in general is difficult owing to the different tasks they have to undertake, but the difficulty level increases even more with a small business. Often, small businesses do not have a CEO, but there are definitely many benefits to employing a CEO for the growth of the company.

A business owner or founder is someone who starts and builds the business to its operational level, while a chief executive officer is a highest-ranking manager in a company, responsible for taking major operational decisions.

Technically, a company does not need a CEO to be successful, but a company with a CEO has a better chance of being successful, organized, and synchronized. An executive education program such as MIT Professional Education Technology Leadership Program (TLP) would help to prepare for a position of a CEO. 

If a CEO is not already the director of the company then the board of directors of the company appoints the CEO for the company.


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