How to Transition From Founder to CEO of a Healthcare Startup

Aug 28, 2020

How to Transition from Founder to CEO of a Healthcare Startup

Many healthcare founders and entrepreneurs aspire to build their startups into extraordinary companies, and with that comes a transition from simply being a founder to becoming a prospering CEO. This transition period from startup to high growth company is arguably one of the most critical times of an emerging healthcare business. As the startup grows, the founder has to determine if he or she is the right fit to be the CEO long-term and, if so, what it takes to get there.

This transition can be challenging for most healthcare startup founders as they do not know what to expect. Running a business is not for everyone; not all founders have the ability to grow into the role of Chief Executive Officer of their startups – and that’s okay. While some founders eventually employ someone to assume the position of CEO and manage the company, others choose to remain the CEO themselves, claiming the business ownership and direction that will ultimately lead them to high-growth success.

Entrepreneurs who are determined to scale themselves from founder to CEO must accumulate experience and develop professional and personal skills to help them make major corporate decisions and manage the overall operations and resources of their company.


What makes a CEO?

Once a healthcare startup develops into a high growth company, it will need a true Chief Executive Officer to manage the overall resources and lead the company to achieve its long term goals. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the CEO of a healthcare company is responsible for determining and formulating policies and providing the overall direction of the company within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body. The Chief Executive Officer’s overarching role revolves around leadership, planning, directing and coordinating the day-to-day and overall activities at the top management level of the company.


Transitioning from Founder to CEO

Once your company reaches a level of high-growth Healthcare CEOwith multiple stakeholders, employees, and clients, you will realize that, as the founder, you cannot accomplish everything alone. At this point, in order to keep your company alive, you will need to bring new team members on board to take over certain roles in theorganization, and this is when you begin to clearly delegate responsibilities.

As your company continues to grow and you are onboarding new employees, you will quickly realize that your entire staff is reporting directly to you. You likely won’t have the luxury of extended free time to listen to and individually advise each of your employees while also tackling your own job and developing new business strategies. This results in the need for an executive board of managers who each oversee their respective units and report back to you.

Eventually, the executive board will begin meeting to develop business growth strategies, review progress, and implement operational policies and standards. As the CEO, you will be responsible for leading these meetings. While you may not realize it, at this point you have successfully transitioned from a founder into the role of CEO, working to ensure that all aspects of your healthcare company are working effectively and efficiently. While this process can occur naturally over time, you should prepare by doing the following:


1. Discuss the idea with your stakeholders

As soon as you recognize the need for an official CEO of your company, it is important to communicate your intentions with all of your stakeholders in a timely fashion. While you may believe that you are the best fit for the position, there’s always a chance that other team members may disagree. It’s crucial to start these conversations with stakeholders early, openly discussing the skills and qualities needed in a CEO and fairly determining if you’re a good fit.

While this conversation can be self-appointed, you do not want to be an autocratic leader. It is imperative that you take a humble approach and communicate your intent respectfully and formally. Then, after addressing any stakeholder concerns, you can officially assume the position without hesitation.


2. Establish the key roles and responsibilities of the CEO

After your transition into the role of CEO is approved, you must determine and establish the responsibilities of the position. It is important to work with your stakeholders to develop a job description for the role. This will give you a clear sense of direction and help guide your day-to-day activities. CEOs will often have different roles and responsibilities, even just within the healthcare industry. While it may be tempting to throw in random responsibilities and job descriptions, it will benefit you in the long run to tailor the role to the specific needs of your company.


3. Map out the key functions in your company

Company success must be a team-wide effort. When you become CEO, you assume a leadership role in your company, which comes with the responsibility of driving the entire team to success. Your company’s success will also depend on your management team and the key functions you map out for them to lead the rest of your employees. Over time, you will likely also need to hire additional employees to help you move the company forward.

Establishing key managerial roles and functions is one key step in piloting your business to success within the healthcare industry. Remember, every pilot needs a co-pilot, and they both need clearly defined roles to get the job done right. You are the pilot; your managerial team members are your co-pilots.

Go forth and lead!

You should be proud of your healthcare business when it reaches the point where it needs to appoint a CEO, or you begin to think of transitioning into a CEO. This is an indication that your company has developed or is developing into a high-growth company. The transition, however, should be coordinated and collaborated with the various stakeholders of your company, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. This will inevitably make your transition smooth, as you become the next top healthcare CEO.



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