What unique traits do successful start-up CEOs possess?

Starting your own business from the ground up is a task that presents unique challenges to CEOs. Why is it that some individuals find it easier to tackle these hurdles than others? How do they navigate the murky waters and come out on top? Read on to find out what traits business owners believe defines a successful start-up CEO.

Phillip Lew

Phillip Lew

Phillip Lew is the CEO of C9 Staff. He helps investors, business owners, executives, and agencies all around the world leverage the power of overseas staffing to save up to 70% on their monthly payroll while expanding their capabilities.

One must be willing to do the work and take calculated risks

In order to be an exceptional and effective CEO for a startup, one must be willing to do the work, willing to seek advice, and willing to take calculated risks.

Managing a startup is an entirely different ballgame than being hired to run an already established company. To be the CEO of a startup, you need to lead by example. You have to be the first one in your entire team to arrive at the office and the last one to leave. You need to be hands-on in everything. If you see CEOs of big Fortune 500 companies seemingly “living the life,” it’s because they earned it. They put in the work early during their startup days.

You also need to be willing to seek out advice from people who have walked the same path before you and have found the proverbial gold at the end of the rainbow. Understand and accept that you don’t know everything yet. Even geniuses fall short of one thing – experience. Seek out advice from experienced leaders in your field, and you’ll have a roadmap to find the same kind of success they have.

Finally, be willing to take risks. An effective CEO will always have battle scars to show for when they decided to jump at the deep end. Don’t be afraid to commit mistakes. Just be afraid to commit them all the time and not learn from them. Even the biggest CEOs have failed at least once in their careers. As long as you have done your homework and due diligence, give yourself permission to lay your chips on the table and go for it.

Trust and Adaptability

Becoming a CEO of a start-up business that has grown so quickly means that I had to learn the ropes fast. One of the most important things I have had to learn is to trust my team and to take their advice. You have to be willing to adapt and make changes when someone has a better idea than you do.

Foster your Team

My role is to visualize the company’s growth and to motivate and incentivize my team to grow with the company. It is not only important to treat your team as a vital part of your business, but to remind them and reward them as such. There are ways to align your goals with theirs, and I believe this increases your team’s feeling of security and willingness to continue growing the company with you, even when the future looks dim.

Find a Balance

There is a balance that one has to find between boss and friend, and this is one of the hardest things that I had to learn. Especially when you are starting a business with a friend on your team, you have to wear a suit, and you have to make the hard decisions.

Remain Confident

Lastly, stand your ground even when the ship feels like it might sink. Being the CEO of a start-up company is difficult when even you are uncertain of the future. You have to remain motivated and confident in your goals for the company. Nothing is unreachable, don’t limit yourself by thinking of what could go wrong.

Ronen Yemini

Ronen Yemini

Ronen Yemini is the Founder and CEO of Eyedo, a SaaS company that helps large organizations like GSK and Nestle manage their field operations using technology.

Piyushi Dhir

Piyushi Dhir

Piyushi Dhir is a businesswoman by profession and a writer by passion. She is a published author of 2 bestsellers and is currently working on her third book. Find her at Helpandwellness.com

[Many people want] to be the CEO of a successful business, but not everyone is suited to the role. These are the fundamental qualities needed to be an exceptional CEO.

Vision and Passion

The best leaders are passionate about their work, their ideas, and their goals. It starts with a vision that became a goal that ignites a spark that ultimately fuels your passion.

Courage and Resilience

The cousins of vision and passion, I believe that these are the traits that every great leader needs most. Taking action [requires] courage, and when things fail, you need the courage to pick yourself up and dust your ideas off and try again. Being resilient means never giving up after failure. It means finding another way to take your startup in a different but decisive direction.

Unrelenting Determination and Self-Confidence

Being focused and confident is essential to your thinking, learning, decision making, and problem-solving skills. Be ready for every challenge that comes your way. Invest in employees who are leaders themselves and learn the skill of inspiring them but start with yourself. Inspire yourself to do more.

The journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur is never as easy as waving a wand. It requires high levels of passion, grit, and hard work. Some traits are inherent while other traits are learned along the way.

Be a Risk-Taker

It takes courage to give up a stable income and open your own business. The greatest trait of successful entrepreneurs is their ability to take risks frequently and consistently, assessing the situation to decrease the chances of failure.

Have an Optimistic Mindset

Optimism goes hand in hand with risk-taking. Successful entrepreneurs have to have a positive attitude towards the business future because it’s the only way they will be able to advance and achieve their goals. Optimism gives risk-taking the little push needed to get things going.


Being resilient often means being adaptable to change. Even though we might not know the outcomes of certain situations or what the future might bring us, it’s essential to understand how to adapt to those changes to survive any kind of environment.

Sam Shepler

Sam Shepler

Sam Shepler is the founder and CEO of Testimonial Hero—a 7-figure location-independent services business.

Abby Hao

Abby Hao

Abby Hao, Head of Marketing of Wellpcb PTY LTD.


Building an organization is essential, but building a culture is just as critical. The best CEOs strive to create a company with a vision that gives people purpose. A startup CEO’s function requires them to be entrepreneurially-minded, a visionary who sees an opportunity and can help design and implement solutions to address it. Good CEOs make their choices with a particular goal in mind and use it to direct operations.

Administrative skills

CEOs [may] choose to see administration handled by others rather than by themselves, but in the end, the CEO must control the organization. The CEO has to take responsibility for everything by developing the business, assembling the staff, finding tools, and fixing challenges, while still maintaining track of everything.


To obtain reliable funding, startup CEOs must build solid relationships with founders, corporate collaborators, vendors, and service providers. Having a startup implies staying engaged in new and evolving relationships. Often, the CEO must serve as a bridge between the business and its investors and is a link between the company and its product.


A crucial element to effective leadership is the [ability] to express your beliefs and ideals to [others]. Startup CEOs need to be skilled at presenting their businesses concisely and impressively. Do you find it challenging to get the staff to focus on essential things? That is a leadership skill a startup CEO must have.

Ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty

To be a great CEO, first, you must be a great employee. What I mean by that is you have to be ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. This [work ethic] will rub off on your employees, and they will follow suit. I have meetings tomorrow from 8:30 am-7:30 pm. Instead of shying away from days like this, I actually [look forward to it] knowing it’s going to be a super productive day of problem-solving.

Next, be a good human being. The title CEO comes with some authority, and it should only be used when necessary. Staying humble and always treating your team like family members or friends is important to us. I’m always accessible to my team members and never think of myself above anybody.

Third, you have to embrace change and be ready to adapt. This [trait] is very important and [differentiate] a startup CEO from a traditional fortune 500 CEO. We start a company from zero. At every stage of growth, the company is changing. The way you run a company of four while you’re in beta is completely different than the way you run a team of 16 with ten thousand users. You have to add processes, talk to different types of users, and think about third-party partnerships as your company grows.

Finally, always think of the big picture. The CEO is one of the people that is informed about everything going on in the company. He or she is the one trying to get all the moving pieces to fit like a puzzle. Meetings with marketing, developers, and customer service are necessary. You have to be able to take a step back, digest the information and make sure everything is running smoothly and in sync with the vision for the company.

Thomas Rivas

Thomas Rivas

Thomas Rivas is the founder and strategic leader of Vendoo.co. He has long been involved in the reselling space, navigated sites like eBay, Grailed, and Amazon.

Anjela Mangrum

Anjela Mangrum

Anjela Mangrum, founder and president of Mangrum Career Solutions and a Certified Personnel Consultant.

Led by people having the following qualities:

They are organized and goal-oriented. One trait that makes a great company leader is prioritizing tasks to reach the desired goal. They’re good at planning the various steps needed to take their startup to the next level.

They trust their employees. Many new CEOs make the mistake of micromanaging their workforce. They don’t allow their staff to make even the most minor decisions, and that’s where workflow lags and productivity comes to a halt. A successful entrepreneur always picks out competent employees and trusts them to do their job right.

They go with their instincts after adequate research. Successful business owners trust their gut as long as there’s sufficient reason to support their instincts. You can’t just take a big step because you’ve got a feeling. It needs to make sense too.

They’re brave. Ultimately, the new CEO who doesn’t fear saying ‘no’ or making unpopular decisions to grow his/her company is likely to make it big. Staying consistent during your startup’s struggling phase and facing challenges with confidence also count as being courageous. I’ve actually seen business owners thrive under pressure, and that’s the attitude that drives them towards success.


There are far more creative people than successful people. Coming up with ideas is one thing but making them happen is another entirely. It takes discipline to endure the dull, complicated, or risky parts of your business evolution. The initial energy wears off, and if you’re not a disciplined person, you’ll likely get too overwhelmed by your business’s reality and the unpleasant tasks you have to do that you’ll simply quit. A disciplined person will be able to devise methods to keep the operations up and structure the resources to create a successful business.

A Visionary Mind

People capable of envisioning the outcome of their business, not just the personal gain, but “what’s the point of the business?” make for successful business owners. You’ll find business owners who are opportunists who started their business because they saw a chance to get richer, but they don’t last long because they end up doing the same thing as the others, copying and pasting what they’ve seen elsewhere.

Successful CEOs have a vision of their business and what they’re trying to create. The scope doesn’t have to be big to be relevant.

Igor Tkach

Igor Tkach

Igor Tkach, general manager and CEO of DAXX, a remote-based IT consulting and software development firm.

Carrie Hamm

Carrie Hamm

Carrie Hamm is a business strategist and intuitive coach helping visionary leaders break through barriers to make their next big leap. Find her at Carrie Hamm Media LLC.

Like flowers – firmly rooted, with a face that blooms in the sun

Successful CEOs and founders are like flowers – firmly rooted, with a face that blooms in the sun. Startups are inherently and persistently chaotic. Things are moving fast, in a constant state of upheaval and growth, and always changing. Founders and CEOs must be very secure and grounded to hang on in this turbulent environment. They buffer team members against stress and uncertainty.

Founders who present secure energy attract investment more easily because they make investors feel secure from the outset. Successful founders also have warmth in the harsh light of public attention. They gravitate towards opportunities for growth and visibility and present a “face” that attracts talent, investors, and collaborators.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.