President or CEO? What’s the Difference?

When it comes to small business leadership, there are many different titles and roles that can be assumed by the people in charge. Often, the difference in title between President or CEO is a result of the company’s size and scope. 

There are pros and cons to each position, which you should consider before making your decision to fill either of them. Understanding these roles will help you decide what the right title is for you as a leader within your organization.

The President

The President is the highest ranking member of the board of directors. As such, this person is responsible for communicating the company’s strategic plan and overseeing its implementation across the entire organization. 

A President is often a public face of the company and may need to travel to interact with customers, vendors, partners and investors. This is often the person who signs off on major decisions for the company, such as raising capital, hiring senior leadership, and signing off on acquisition or merger deals. A President may also be responsible for managing the company’s finances, including developing a budget and setting the salary for the CEO.

What Does It Mean To Be a President

The CEO’s focus is on the long-term vision for the company, while the President’s focus is on the short-term actions needed to turn that vision into a reality. As such, Presidential duties often include overseeing human resources and finances. 

Presidents work with the board of directors to set the company’s strategic goals and make sure they have the financial resources to achieve them. In some situations, the President’s salary may be higher than the CEO’s. 

For example, the President of a large company may earn a higher salary than the CEO because he or she has more responsibilities or the company may view the President as more essential to its success.

Pros of Becoming a President

If you choose to become the President of a small business, there are several advantages that you can look forward to. These include:

Control Over How The Company Moves Forward

If you want more responsibility and control over the organization’s strategic direction, becoming a President may be the best option for you. This role puts you at the top of the organization chart and in charge of company strategy. 

Influence Within the Company

Since the President typically has a seat on the company’s board of directors, you’ll have a say in all major decisions, including capital raises and mergers and acquisitions. This is a great way to become involved in the strategic planning of your organization and have a real say in its future. 

High-Level Leadership Experience and Prestige

If you have management experience, becoming President could be the best way for you to transition into a leadership role within the company. Presidents often need more experience than CEOs to oversee all aspects of the organization. This gives you time to build your skills and get ready for the top job.

Cons of Becoming a President

Although there are positives to becoming the President of the company, there are some drawbacks as well. These include:

Large Workload

Since you’re responsible for overseeing the company’s strategic direction, you may get pulled in a lot of different directions and have less time to actually execute the strategy. This is especially true if the company has limited resources and is growing quickly. 

Responsible for Multiple Positions

If the company doesn’t have the resources to hire a strong executive team, you may have to take on a lot of operational responsibilities as well and have less time to put toward strategic decision-making. You may have to get involved in the day-to-day management of the company, which may not be a good fit if you prefer to focus on strategy.


The CEO is the highest-paid individual within a company. This person is responsible for the organization’s overall strategy and operations, as well as its day-to-day management. This person also usually sits on the board of directors and has the final say in any major decisions made by the company, including hiring and firing other executive-level staff members, approving mergers and acquisitions, and managing capital. 

What Does it Mean to Be a CEO?

The CEO is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and is often the highest-paid executive within it. The person in this position also oversees the strategic planning and direction of the organization, as well as making sure there are enough resources to accomplish that plan. Depending on the type of organization and size, a CEO might have one or more titles such as president, chairman, or director.

In general, a CEO is someone who has been given very high responsibilities and trust in order to lead a company to success. They must be able to make tough decisions when needed and inspire their employees to work hard and achieve their goals.

Another important responsibility is ensuring the smooth running of the company. This can be done by keeping an eye on finances and looking out for potential problems. CEOs must be able to see the long-term consequences of their decisions and work towards goals bigger than themselves.

Pros of becoming a CEO

As a high-ranking member of a company’s leadership team, there are certain benefits that come with becoming the CEO. These include:

High Earnings and Influence

If you’re a natural leader who’s ready to step into a big role with a big salary that comes with it, becoming a CEO may be the best choice for you. This is often the highest-paid role in a company, giving you the authority and financial freedom to do what you need to do to grow your business. 

Prestige Among the Public and Other Businesses

If you’re ready to be the public face of your organization and interact with customers, vendors and partners on a regular basis, this may be the best position for you. Being the CEO you work with business partners to cultivate long-term relationships that help the company grow. At the same time, many people both inside and outside company leadership hold you in high regard.

The Ability To Motivate Performance and Change

Since you’ll be the highest-paid person in the organization, you may have more freedom to invest in new initiatives and reward staff members who deserve a raise. This can be critical for growing and retaining a strong team as well as maintaining the company’s reputation as a great place to work. 

Cons of Becoming a CEO

Although there is a lot that you can do as the CEO, there are a few drawbacks as well. These include:

High Stress All The Time

This is a big job that comes with a lot of responsibility, and it’s not for everyone. Becoming a CEO means having the final say in every major decision the company makes. It means being responsible for the company’s success. This is often a 24/7 job that requires long hours, lots of energy and focus, and a keen ability to manage different personalities and expectations. 

Extensive Experience Required

Without the right team in place to support you, this job can be incredibly stressful and challenging. You’ll need to have a good amount of experience and knowledge to make effective decisions every day. 

Must Always Be In Control

You’ll also need the right temperament to deal with the challenges that come with being the CEO. This includes lots of pressure, criticism, and scrutiny from the public, investors, and other key stakeholders.

President or CEO? Other Critical Roles for Small Businesses

There are many other key roles for a successful small business. These include the chief financial officer (CFO), who manages the company’s financial planning and reporting. The chief operations officer (COO) is responsible for managing the overall operations of the business, including human resources and procurement. 

The chief marketing officer (CMO) oversees the company’s marketing initiatives. A chief technology officer (CTO) manages the technology needs of the organization. These are important roles within any organization. They deserve the same kind of attention and respect as the President and CEO. If you’re thinking about growing your business, consider the different roles you can hire for and how they fit with your company culture.

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