Challenges in the Developer to CEO Transition

Sep 14, 2021 1 Min Read
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Not every IT company is run by a professional developer, but programmers often make good CEOs

The information technology market is developing at a frantic pace, it is no secret to anyone. In the United States alone, there are about 525 thousand companies that develop software and provide IT services. Every year, hundreds of thousands of startups are created that drive the modern world.

The most interesting thing in this whole situation is that often new companies are launched by people who previously worked as simple software engineers. Are there any areas in the world in which an ordinary worker can grow to a CEO in a matter of months? This is the peculiarity of the IT sphere, the skills obtained here influence your future life in the most unexpected way, helping to develop yourself and your business on an unlimited scale.

However, it is logical that not all developers are natural leaders, and not all leaders are good at programming. Therefore, if you want to launch a software development business, you need to be familiar with all the difficulties. With the help of this article, you can dive into the journey of starting an IT business and familiarise yourself with the main difficulties in the transition from working as a programmer to a CEO.

Source: Romain V

Challenges Encountered by Developers that Decided to Launch Startup

Learning Management Skills

Eugenio Pace who's experienced the transition from the developer to CEO himself shares some useful insights he’s learned along the way in his article. He puts special emphasis on the fact that a CEO is a person whose task is to unleash the full potential of his employees. To a greater extent, this applies specifically to the IT industry. You won't succeed by telling your subordinates how to work and what to do as if you were writing code - unfortunately, human psychology is not mathematics.

Instead, try to concentrate on giving yourself a lot of autonomy in your decisions, so you will ensure faster results, much more efficient teamwork and, of course, save yourself a lot of nerves and time. A good CEO knows that his job is to organise the process and have a positive team atmosphere, but not to force everyone to fulfill their wishes.

Read more: Creating a Culture Club Builds Ownership of Teamwork

Surprisingly, previous experience as a developer can help you with this greatly. Just remember how you create a product. The constant search for compromise, customer focus, and constant testing of new models are the key characteristics of a good leader.

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Most of the time, developers sit alone in front of the monitor, plunging into the process. Being a CEO requires a lot of time and energy.

But if you decide to take this path, be prepared for the fact that you will not be able to sit near the computer and solve all the issues using the keyboard. Constant stress, an endless series of new difficulties are the typical everyday life of a leader.

However, if, as an engineer, you were able to learn such a thing as programming languages, you can surely cope with learning how to tell funny stories and maintain team morale. It’s hard at the start, it’s going to be easier.

Read more: The Five Roles to Evolve Beyond Your Leadership Comfort Zone

During the first month in your new role make sure to read lots of books about management, planning, and business strategy. Don’t be shy to reach out to people if you require more information about specific processes. Most probably, now your calendar will be booked with meetings and you need to get the most out of them.

This may interest you: 100 Lunches With 100 Strangers: 5 Tips to Escape Your Comfort Zone

Mastering Decision-Making Skills

Another character trait of a successful CEO is the ability to make responsible decisions. This practice is often out of reach for the average programmer who works with a predetermined technical assignment, deadline, and planned budget, which becomes a problem for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Read more: Why You Need Self-Control In Leadership Matters

However, if you've been in software development before, you have one big advantage. You know perfectly well how the area in which you are interested in works, you can give advice and help employees, which is a big plus.

Read more: Be A Leader: Trust Your Gut

As a tech-savvy person, you can utilize your experience to make data-driven decisions and not just mere assumptions.

Developing Your Personal Vision

As mentioned earlier, each new startup becomes a brick from which the modern world is built. You can endlessly list the IT companies that have already become the basis for the daily life of every person. Are you ready to take on such a burden?

It is important to understand that as a CEO, you don't have a specific goal, you have a path to follow. You are not making money, you are building the future. It may not be an easy process, but potential clients and staff will surely appreciate your efforts.

Read more: 4 Ways to Build Your Personal Vision

Over 80% of the US consumers are more loyal to brands that lead with purpose, that is why it’s so important for the CEO to develop his own mission statement. Only by having a higher purpose can you stand on a par with such brilliant products as GitGub, Stripe, etc.

Building Quality Relationship with Employees

This problem is common not only for IT executives but also in other types of businesses. Try to be open with your employees, this is the only way you can build a strong team that will respect and will listen to you. In addition, such an approach will allow you to open up not only to you, but also to the rest of the team, and this, in turn, is an endless source of new ideas.

It is important to remember here that people are not computers, and standard mathematical models do not affect them. Defeat your inner programmer and become a good leader, you will succeed!

This may interest you: The Quality, Not Quantity, Of Your Relationships Matter

Leading at the Speed of Trust training program design by Stephen Covey can help you be a better leader who empowers the team and sets the project up for success.


Not every IT company is run by a professional developer, but programmers often make good CEOs. In such a complex business, there are no days without difficulties, but in every team, there are people who are capable of starting their own business, so why not be one of them?

Even if your first time is unsuccessful, your previous experience as a software engineer will be of great help in a new endeavor. Listen to yourself and your team, constantly develop, and do not stop. You have a great chance to become a person who will change this world for the better. Therefore, if you have doubts about your abilities, put them aside and at least try. With the right approach, you will not be stopped!

About Author: Luna Bell is an active freelance writer. She is interested in management, SEO, and writing. Regularly touches on the topics of self-development and modern trends. Her goal is to provide quality and inspiring content. You can reach me out at:

Before you go, be sure to check out this resonating media powered by Leaderonomics that shares about CEO Influencer and significant articles as a CEO:

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