Clearly assigned startup roles are the backbone of a business. However, there are times when they are from outside the organization (and not only), for whom the acronyms assigned to particular positions sound at least mysterious. In this article, we have provided the basics concerning the definition, competence, and roles of CEO, CFO, CSO, CMO, CCO, CTO and COO. We explore the parts they play in any successful startup. If you feel you would like to catch up on these terms or haven’t heard them before, dig in!

Startup roles – table of contents:

  1. What does CEO stand for?
  2. What does CFO stand for?
  3. Who is a CSO?
  4. CMO – what is the abbreviation?
  5. CCO – abbreviation expansion
  6. What is the meaning of CTO abbreviation?
  7. COO acronym – what is the meaning behind it?

7 important startup roles explained

startup roles infographic

What does CEO stand for?

CEO is an abbreviation of “Chief Executive Officer” meaning the chairman of the board, or more traditionally and now old-fashioned, the boss.

Like a king holding the highest authority in the kingdom, CEO in a company has the final say in case of any disputes or doubts about the scope of competence of his inferiors.

Often you can also find this terminology applied to people running a sole proprietorship – ultimately they are the rudder, sailor and ship, embodying the full decision-making power in the company. In the strict sense however, to speak of holding the position of CEO, one must belong to the board of directors, which is not present in this solitary type of business.

What does CFO stand for?

The abbreviation CFO can be expanded as “Chief Financial Officer”, which denotes the chief accountant or finance director.

However, the responsibilities of these two counterparts of the CFO differ significantly, which generates some doubts if the duties assigned to them are clarified.

While the chief accountant in the vast majority of cases is responsible for coordinating the work of accounting and HR departments, the CFO is the person with ultimate responsibility when it comes to the company’s finances in general.

Specifically, it’s about managing, planning, recording, and reporting on them – so it’s a position that overrides the chief accountant, where the holistic financial activities of the organization are undertaken.

Who is a CSO?

CSO is the abbreviation for “Chief Security Officer”, i.e. the position of security director, the head of protecting operations, the head of the security department, or security and safety director.

When it comes to startup roles CSO is a person holding the chief position in the area of company security.

His or her tasks include planning, implementing, developing, and controlling the company’s security level, both in the financial sphere and the one directly related to the brand, its know-how, intellectual property and personal data.

CSO operates on many levels of the organization by setting specific policies, enforcing standards or procedures and controlling already implemented solutions.

CMO – what is the abbreviation?

CMO is an acronym for “Chief Marketing Officer” which signifies a marketing manager or marketing director.

Here, we must remind our readers that leading the marketing activities is often erroneously identified with promotional activities. This figure plays a much more important part though.

The CMO’s scope of activities includes not only organization and control of advertising and brand communication but also a whole range of other elements, such as issues related to the product itself and processes oriented around it. Its price, distribution, human resources, artifacts or partnerships, which is part of the currently popular concept of establishing long-term relations with clients.

CCO – abbreviation expansion

Among several startup roles CCO is an acronym for “Chief Creative Officer,” which refers to the commonly known chief creative director.

The focus of this position is on branding, with particular emphasis on the visual and verbal identity of the brand. CCO is responsible for the final image of the brand, which combines creative and functional elements. CCOs work mainly with organizations that base their activities on the creative aspect, such as advertising agencies, the fashion industry, design studios, or computer game producers.

What is the meaning of CTO abbreviation?

CTO is an acronym for “Chief Technology Officer,” which stands for chief technology officer.

The position is oriented at the intersection of a company’s business and technology spheres, whereby CTO is responsible for guiding the organization’s technological development to maximize its profits.

CTO must be able to see the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in specific technological areas, stay up-to-date with all the latest developments in the field, and be able to put this knowledge into practice. The strategy created by CTO aims at planning, fixing and managing the final product, ensuring the achievement of measurable competitive advantages.

COO acronym – what is the meaning behind it?

COO is an acronym for the phrase “Chief Operating Officer”. In the strict sense, COO is the chief authority for planning and supervising the implementation of the company’s operational activities, i.e. those related to its daily functioning.

This makes him or her one of the most important people in the organization. In practice however, the responsibilities of COO are influenced by the individual agreements he or she makes in consultation with CEO, to whom he or she reports directly. As a result, he/she may be responsible not only for building the strategy of operational activities, but also those of business and project management.

Read also: How to promote a startup? Our ideas.

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Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.

The most important questions

  1. What does CEO stand for?

    CEO stands for”Chief Executive Officer,” meaning the chairman of the board, or simply the boss who is the most important person in the entire organization.

  2. What does CFO stand for?

    CFO stands for Chief Financial Officer, which means chief accounting officer or chief financial officer.

  3. COO abbreviation – what is this position?

    COO is the chief operating officer or chief operating officer, whose function is formulating and implementing strategic operational activities under CEO’s supervision.