Skip to content

CEO vs Founder – Is a CEO Higher Than a Founder?

Corporate titles can be challenging to understand. As is the case with the CEO vs founder. Both are known to run the company and sometimes the founder is also the CEO. So, the confusion is understandable. While every company has a founder, even if they are not actively running the company, not every founder necessarily becomes a CEO.

Read: Creating Joy at Work as a CEO

CEO vs Founder

What is a CEO?

In contrast, in the case where the founder is not the CEO, the CEO is most likely hired by the founder or the board of directors to run the company’s day-to-day tasks. The CEO functions as the most senior executive at any organization. They are in charge of making decisions for the everyday requirements of the company, while really big decisions might still be made by the founder. The CEO is responsible for ensuring that the company’s strategic goals and long-term plans are carried out by the rest of the team.

The CEO is required to understand the goings-on of the company, whether that may be related to the employees or the overall output and productivity. They need to ensure that this is kept in check and things are running smoothly at every level of the company. If the company has a board of directors then the CEO reports to them.

The CEO is also regarded as the face of the company internally as well as externally. So the image of the company is usually dependent on them. While the exact nature of a CEO’s responsibilities is dependent on the company and its particular needs, there are some responsibilities every CEO must undertake.

Responsibilities of a CEO

  • Carrying out short-term and long-term plans
  • Carrying out organizational operations
  • Working towards strategic goals
  • Outlining company culture and ensuring its implementation
  • Overseeing C-suite executives
  • Acting as the face of the company

Essentials to be a CEO


What is a Founder?

The founder is someone who first started their company. They thought of the original idea for a product or service and started the company to offer that product or service to their customers. A founder does all of the initial work to research and start their company. Whether it may be funding, production, research, or distribution, the founder usually works on all this when they start their company. The founder of a start-up is called an entrepreneur. The founder doesn’t lose their title or role regardless of what happens to the company.

In the case that there is more than one founder, they will be called co-founders. This means that they not only came up with the idea of the company together, but also that they share the responsibilities and workload of setting up the company. In many cases the founder hires a CEO to take care of day-to-day business, they work on the long-term planning for the company.

Even though a founder might take on the role of a CEO as well, both roles require different skills and capabilities. And, while a founder does not have set responsibilities or tasks there are some responsibilities a founder must undertake.

Responsibilities of a founder

  • Getting the business started
  • Developing a 5-10 year business plan
  • Hiring a capable team
  • Outlining company policies
  • Developing long-term plans for the business
  • Creating a vision and mission for the company
  • Arranging finances to start the company and ensuring there is enough to sustain the company for some time

Essentials to be a founder

  • Drive, ambition, and determination
  • Leadership skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Long-term vision
  • Delegation skills
  • Consistency
  • Ability to experiment and take chances

Read: Risk-taking Can Lead to a Leader’s Success or Failure


In most cases a company hires a CEO after it has been established for a few years. But, it is often seen that a founder-CEO can be more effective than a hired CEO. Especially in tech-related companies. Among many reasons, one is that the founder is more likely to take risks and be more invested in the company than an external CEO.

A founder is someone who sets up a team and finds business and almost everything else needed to start their business. When comparing the CEO vs founder, a CEO, unlike a founder, is appointed to their position. They guide and lead the team to bring about success.

While these two roles might overlap in many regards, a CEO and founder hold very different positions at a company.

Additionally, as a founder you could also participate in an executive education program to boost your skills and abilities. One such as the UCLA Owners/Presidents Management Program (UCLA OMP) is a supreme choice that will teach you to evolve business models, craft strategies to counter disruptive threats, drive aggressive growth, and build resilient businesses or innovative new ventures. This multi-modular global management program is offered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, one of the top global business schools and led by world-renowned UCLA Anderson faculty. UCLA OMP has been designed exclusively for business owners, entrepreneurs and the next generation of family business enterprises. The program is highly interactive and immersive, with hands-on experiences and an application-oriented curriculum. If you are a founder or hoping to start your own business, this is a great opportunity to bolster your business prowess.

Back To Top