I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego recently and attend CO-OP THINK 16. One of the speakers was Gary Vaynerchuk, who spoke about a lot of subjects (it was a question and answer presentation), including what it takes to be an entrepreneur CEO.
Starting a business isn’t right for everyone, and becoming a CEO doesn’t work out for all people who start businesses. Before you move forward with your plans for a business, it’s a good idea to stop and think about whether or not you are prepared, and decide if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur CEO.
The first thing to understand about running your own business is that it’s hard work. When you see an “overnight success,” the reality is that it was likely preceded by years of hard work.
Running a business is hard work, and it’s something that many people don’t fully appreciate until they are in the mix. Even freelancing can be hard work. No one else is going to make money for me, and I worked hard to build my reputation as a freelancer and to find clients for my business.
However, even with the hard work put in, and with how much I love freelancing and my lifestyle, I’m not sure that I am cut out to be an entrepreneur CEO. There’s more to it than just hard work, as Vaynerchuk pointed out.
An entrepreneur CEO has a lot of responsibility. In corporate America, Vaynerchuk pointed out, CEOs can move from position to position. Not only that, but many have golden parachutes that protect them when they make poor decisions. In many cases the company goes on with a different CEO.
When you’re an entrepreneur CEO, it’s different. “Being a CEO is hard if it’s your business,” Vaynerchuk says. “In my own business, if I do something wrong, the business goes out of business.”
You need to be ready to take responsibility for your business and its outcomes if you plan to be an entrepreneur CEO.
Vaynerchuk talked about empathy as well. In order to be an effective CEO, you need to have empathy. You need to understand your employees as well as your customers. Vaynerchuk said that he tries to foster a culture where employees know that he will listen to them, and where his employees know that they will be recognized and rewarded for moving forward. “Reward people for things that can’t be measured or sold historically,” he said.
Developing emotional intelligence can take you a long way as an entrepreneur CEO. You need to be able to work with people, inspire people, and empower them to help your business grow.
There’s a difference between doing what I do as a freelancer running a one-person business, and being an entrepreneur CEO. As you start your own business, think about your future and your goals, and figure out how you want to proceed. And realize that if you want to be the CEO, it takes a lot.