A strange but common misconception I see among new or early-stage entrepreneurs is that they’re ready to hire people so they can sit around and be the CEO. AKA, do nothing all day.
I blame the 4-Hour Workweek (sorry, Tim).
Particularly in the online business space, you’ll find a lot of people who got into business so they could stop working. They’ll cite Pat Flynn and Tim Ferriss, among others, as examples of who they want to be.
The obvious problem? Pat, Tim, and any others they refer to actually work a lot. And they’ll tell you that on their blogs and podcasts.
Even the startup world has this problem. I refer to Shark Tank often on this blog because it’s a little glimmer of the startup world that the general public can relate to. One of the common trends on Shark Tank is the sharks asking the founder what he or she plans to actually do within the company. The anger, head shaking, and “I’m out”s come out when the entrepreneurs make it clear they plan to delegate everything and enjoy the fact that they started a company.
The entrepreneurs who get the deals? They’re the ones who have “hustled,” going door-to-door, making cold calls, and anything else they need to do to bootstrap their companies.
Why do you think that is? Because that’s what the investors did to get where they are, and it’s what they still do today. Daymond John has been on multiple media outlets (including the aforementioned Tim Ferriss show) talking about how he actually does work every day (and how he was still working at Red Lobster while his first company, FUBU, was becoming a multi-million dollar brand!).
Are CEOs focused primarily on high-level strategy? Yes. But, contrary to (apparently) popular belief, that does not mean sitting in their golden pagoda by their backyard koi pond chilling with a mojito all day. These people aren’t getting up at 4 a.m. every day to start their morning routine just so that they can sit around the rest of the day.
I’m not going to list out the duties that a CEO may or may not have, because those vary widely by company. But think of a CEO a bit like the president of a country. There are certainly major differences between running a company and running a government, but the president and CEO are often the figureheads of the thing they are in charge of (unless another person within the company is explicitly given the title, President. Hashtag “business”).
If you’re in the United States (and perhaps even if you are not), you have probably watched a movie or TV show that involves the president (The West Wing, Scandal, and House of Cards just off the top of my head). Suspend a little disbelief with me for a moment and think about what the president is doing even while the producers are trying to entertain you.
- Cut in shots of the president hunched over hundreds of papers at 2 AM
- A sudden emergency brings the president to the joint chiefs at 4 AM
- Olivia Pope being all distracting to President Grant during this incredibly boring meeting he has to attend
- Aids asking about the progress on the latest 5 million page bill on his desk
You get it.
Even Hollywood knows the president does work. And that work isn’t just attending fundraisers and giving speeches from a podium.
So why should you, my entrepreneurial friend, expect to be 2 years into business and sipping on a Cosmo?
CEOs do work. And if you’re going to be the CEO of your own company, you better be prepared for it.