For startups and very young small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) in particular, it can be a difficult call when it comes to determining whether the most senior executive in the company should be named a CEO or a President.
Many elements factor into this decision, but it often comes down to four main guidelines.
Some industry trackers define an SMB as any company with under 1,000 employees, which means that some SMBs can be quite large.
But there is also common acknowledgement that a majority of SMBs have fewer than 100 employees.
In small companies, especially those with 20 or fewer employees, calling the top executive a CEO may be overkill. Because the CEO position generally carries with it duties in creating a business vision, in visiting customers, in promoting and selling the company's wares, and in other areas that are not usually operational and hands on.
In contrast, a President is more of a hands-on and operational person, leading by example and rubbing elbows with employees as the daily work gets done.
Companies with small numbers of employees need this kind of hands-on leadership, and most cannot afford a strictly visionary person sitting in the corner office when all hands are needed on deck.