When can a founder be a good CEO?

The American CEO

People often say that entrepreneurs who start out as CEO will need to be replaced at some point with a “professional” CEO. The thought is that the entrepreneur won’t be able to scale as the business grows. I think this is the wrong way to think about the situation. Yes, there are many entrepreneurs who do not make good long-term CEOs, but that probably means they weren’t good short-term CEOs either.

I view the CEO job as not starting until there are more than 20 employees in the organization. Prior to 20 employees, the job is more like a product management role of building an initial product and trying to generate a little revenue. The real job of a CEO starts when there is a complete organization with all the major functions in place. This transition typically starts at 20 to 30 people and by 50 people there is a…

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