I have worked with many start ups. A large percentage  of the founders are true entrepreneurs and fit the definition of a person who starts a business and is willing to risk to achieve their dream. They launch the company and are working long hours to achieve success. Are they the CEO? When does the title change? Does it ever?

Let’s look at the attributes of an entrepreneur. Several things led me to start my own business. One of my issues or perhaps failings is the need to try new ideas; often asking for forgiveness not permission. Another issue for me is i knew i had gone as far as i could go where i was working and I wanted to be my own boss.  I had been chastised several times for doing things on my own and they grudgingly acknowledged when they worked. No, my ideas did not always work.

I did my homework I looked at the market to see what was missing or needed. I looked at the competition, and I honed my skills. I looked at my strengths, then I jumped in with both feet.  That was 25 years ago and I’m still here. I don’t have a staff I have people and services i use as needed. I still provide the skills, tools, resources and knowledge individuals and organizations need to go from where they are to where they want to be sustainable. I am a true entrepreneur. My clients hire me because of my knowledge and expertise. I am not a CEO

Entrepreneurs are  risk-takers but they take responsibility and blame no one else for their failures or setbacks. They question how and why things are done and seek ways to change things to make them better. They see problems and solutions where others don’t. And, most essentially; they have a passion and drive to perform on their  own and for themselves. A quote from Robert Kennedy says it best.“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

The next step is what excites you? What fuels your passion and causes you to want to keep going and o more? Entrepreneurs get bored when the excitement fades. Richard Branson said “The more you’re actively and practically engaged, the more successful you will feel.” “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.”

An entrepreneur has the idea, the dream, the passion, they are not necessarily the business detail person. A smart entrepreneur creates the team  that brings the dream to life and moves it forward doing the day to day operations. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak overseeing the operations.  With my clients I encourage the founders and entrepreneurs who set up the businesses to have advisors and support people to handle the day to day and they can become more of the strategist and face of the company.  If they do take on the role of CEO, they continue to be the visionary leading and motivating. They have a responsibility  to the people who are responsible for doing the job to make sure they have what they need to succeed; that they are engaged and contribute to the company’s success. They help create the culture of how things get done.

The answer to the question in the title is yes you can be both and have the entrepreneurial mindset As the CEO you must create the risk taking problem solving mindset culture within a structure that allows the company to flourish.  This requires advisors and employees with the skills and strengths to do the job while finding ways to explore new ideas and enable the company to be sustainable and grow; creating new services, products, ideas.

Ideally the CEO, especially if they are the entrepreneur that started the company needs to focus on the strategic side to move forward. If they are the visionary then they absolutely need people who will help implement the vision strategically, and grow. They also need others who make sure the day to day aspects and the culture fit what is needed for sustained growth.

Are you an entrepreneur or CEO or both I’d like to know what you thank and share your thoughts.