‘As a chief executive “you don’t have to be a full time operator, you have to be a full time visionary” (Essam Abadir, Chief Executive of Aspire Ventures ,quoted FT 07.10.15) We asked 9 leading entrepreneurs if they agreed?


“This depends very much on the type of business you’re running and the level of maturity of the company. In a fast growing start-up, whilst being visionary is important, I think more emphasis needs to be put on putting in place the right processes and building the right team to fuel the growth. The vision is important to get all pieces to stick together and going in the same direction, but to actually grow your sales, you need an operator.”

Maxim BerglundLogo


Being a ‘full-time visionary’ is essential to my role and my business. Osper has the impassioned vision of empowering young people to be confident with money. I imagine a future where adults are not burdened with huge debts and overdraft fees because they learnt to manage their finances earlier in life. To achieve this I need inspire the company to keep innovating, to keep pushing boundaries with an eye always on our next project.

Alick Varma, OsperLogo
Founder & CEO


“So far my day has consisted of negotiating the contract of a new senior hire, chasing shareholders on paperwork, acting as the debt collector and fixing a broken chair in the office. This was sandwiched between rushing to drop my 2 year old at nursery (subsequently jumping onto the train with snot on my shoulder) and trying to figure out why the heating isn’t working in my flat. Despite this, Squawka hit over 6 million content views today thanks to the shared vision of the team we have built. #TheChairIsStillBroken”

Sanjit AtwalLogo
Co-Founder & CEO


It depends on the stage of the company: Early on in a startup’s life CEOs will find themselves being much more hands-on and doing everything from burying themselves in code to responding to customer support requests. As the company grows your 3 main responsibilities (keeping the company financed, attracting & retaining the best people and setting the strategic direction) will draw much more on your ability to set a clear and exciting vision.

Brendan GillLogo


“A CEO’s focus will ebb and flow into different areas as a company evolves (sometimes on the same day!). I have experienced extremely operational periods and periods where vision was my only focus. In my CEO role, I have worked on developing business, creating marketing campaigns, strategic decision-making and boosting our team through acquisitions of companies and products. That said, defining a strong vision and connecting it with the team is crucial. Maintaining that vision is a constant labor of love.”​

LogoPeter Hamilton


Content marketing is a crowded industry, and technology is one of the most rapidly evolving verticals. Because of the competitive, fast-moving nature of our space, we always have to be looking forward. We need to give our clients what they need now, and what they don’t know they’ll need three years from now. For that reason, I always need to be thinking ahead and outlining a vision for the company. But the vision shouldn’t just be coming from me–we encourage all of our employees to take time to let go of their daily routines and think big picture.

Joe ColemanLogo
CEO and Co-Founder


“In my experience, the best founders or chief executives have that rare combination of both vision and operational excellence. A visionary without the ability to make things happen is a liability. He or she must be able to inspire, motivate and lead, but – especially in the early days – also not be afraid to roll up their sleeves to get the job done.”

Davor HebelLogo
Eight Roads Ventures


I think a founder has to be both. It’s insane to say a CEO doesn’t need to be a full time operator. Being a visionary is important but certainly not at the expense of being an operator. Good founders have to take on both roles, leading the vision and also executing on it as a full-time operator.

Rob KniazLogo
Hoxton Ventures


“As the CEO of a fast growing startup, I believe that you have to be both an operator and a visionary. As you grow your team, you need to find a balance between driving your vision throughout the company, while executing relentlessly. This also requires a strong culture of constant learning and personal growth.”

LogoBrynne Herbert
Founder and CEO
Move Guides

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