Being a co-founder may be the easy part, migrating to the CEO role can be difficult. Is the company ready for this?

Are you that person sitting in the corner cubicle, table or office of your startup business fondly remembering those simple days when you could just build out the first prototype of your product? Do you spend more time talking on the phone selling, convincing or cajoling people outside the company ? Do you wake up at night in a cold sweat worried about your investors?

Well, guess what–you are now a CEO and not a founder anymore. Welcome to the big-leagues. This epiphany is a critical personal and company transition that must be proactively managed. Miss this a ha moment and either you or your company fails.

Wondering if it is your time? Look for any number of these signs as a signal that you are well on the way to wearing the CEO (non-founder) suit:

  • You just hired your first non-founder employee.
  • It’s time to fire someone.
  • You have to sign a contract (longer than 1 year) for space.
  • Venture capitalists are calling you.
  • You are spending money monthly on marketing.
  • You are getting customer support calls.
  • You are asked to speak at a major conference.
  • You take investment from someone other than your mother.
  • You are leading every internal meeting and sending out an agenda beforehand.
  • You have a company credit card.
  • You have an accountant.
  • You have no more time to write code (given you were a coder).
  • You have no more time to create ad campaigns (given you were a marketer).
  • You have not shared a Slack message for a week.
  • Your phone minutes to Slack message ratio rises every month.
  • You are tasked with forming an org chart.
  • You woke up wondering why the heck you have an org chart.
  • You have called an all-hands meeting.
  • The team outing cannot fit into one car or even a mini-van.
  • You have scheduled team-outings.
  • You organized the team outing and its not at the bar down the street.
  • You are considering a plan for employee reviews.
  • A company employee came to you with a personal issue.
  • You have a board of directors or advisors.
  • You have an office of your own and everyone else is working from tables.

Needless to say, this list is not exhaustive or even mildly relevant. It was written a bit tongue-in-cheek but like most humor, there is an element of truth hidden inside.

Step one of making the move from founder to CEO is recognizing that the roles are different. Being the CEO means fully embracing your role as the leader. Leaders evangelize, hire/fire, negotiate, find capital, and manage the company and individual personalities. Doing these tasks but calling yourself a founder? Think again, CEO.