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

Corporate titles can be challenging to understand. As is the case with a founder and CEO. 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.

The 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


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 today tasks. The CEO functions as the most senior executive at any organization. They are in charge of making decisions for every day 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 organisational 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

  • Strong communication skills
  • Strong management and leadership skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability to the needs of the company
  • Confident decision-making skills
  • Humility to listen to suggestions and opinions

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 because the founder is more likely to take risks and be more invested in the company than an external CEO.

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

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