I used to think that, as an entrepreneur, being your own boss and being the CEO of your own company were the same thing. I was wrong.
By definition, the CEO, or Chief Executive Officer, is someone who is the most senior corporate officer in charge of managing an organization. Depending on the legal structure of the company, the CEO also reports to the board of directors and has other high-level duties to keep the company up and running.
Although “being your own boss” means you also get to make all of the high-level decisions for your company, a lot of times, especially for those who have just made the switch from working for someone else to working for themselves, being your own boss means doing most of the work yourself. In other words, you’re wearing all of the hats.
A CEO does not wear all of the hats, and in order to grow and succeed as a business owner, even if you’re just working alone, you need to learn how to adopt a CEO mindset. If you don’t, you’re bound to plateau and potentially burn yourself out.
How do I know this?
For the first six years of my entrepreneurial journey, I was my own boss. But I was far from being the CEO. And since adopting a CEO mindset, I’ve been able to more easily and quickly grow my business.
Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
A CEO Does Not Do All of the Work
As I said earlier, you can be your own boss but get stuck doing all of the work, and when you do all of the work, you drastically limit your ability to take the bolder actions required of a CEO to grow the company.
In the beginning, however, doing all of the work is typically your only option, and that's okay.
When I started building my online business in 2008, I did all of the work myself. This was both for GreenExamAcademy.com, which included creating the website, publishing my first ebook study guide, and learning how to manage business finances, as well as all that was included with the beginning of SmartPassiveIncome.com, which started later in the same year.
And you know what? I was glad to do all of that work! Actually, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. My business was my baby, and I wasn’t going to let anyone else touch it.
However, waiting until 2014 to focus on building my team and finding the right people to perform specific tasks for me was a huge mistake. I couldn’t trust others to do the work, and there was a certain amount of pride involved in doing it myself in my own special way, so I continued to edit my own podcasts, do all of the graphic design work, and even manage my own website and servers. So what prompted my decision to finally start reaching out for help?
It was a couple of things.
First, when Chris Ducker is your best friend and he happens to own an outsourcing company and one of the top virtual staff providers in the world [Full Disclosure: I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.], he hounds you time and time again when you’re doing everything yourself.
I kept saying, “I know, I know,” but never took any action. And yet it was always something that was in the back of my mind. I was just waiting for the “right time.” One thing I’ve picked up as an entrepreneur is that there is never a “right time.” Typically, when you’re waiting for the right time, that time has usually passed. All you can do is GO.
What brought me over the edge was when I wanted to expand my business and create a new podcast called AskPat. After realizing what it would really take to get it done, there was no way it was going to happen unless I had help from the outside.
It was either that or two other options:
- Don’t do the show at all.
- Tap into the time I had reserved for the family.
Since family is a top priority of mine, option two was out of the question, so in order to see this project through, I had to get outside help.
In February 2014, AskPat launched, and since then it’s earned over six million downloads and over six figures in advertising revenue. The tricky thing with AskPat is that it’s a five-day per week show that answers a voicemail question from the SPI audience, and to manage all of that on top of everything else was going to be impossible.
After utilizing help for AskPat, I became addicted to finding out what else in my business could be shared with others, and a lot of amazing things happened as a result:
- I found amazing people who could not only do a lot of the work I was doing but also do it a lot better and faster than I could.
- It opened up several hours a week that I could use on more high-level work and planning for the business.
- I don’t miss the work as much as I thought I would.
- Even though I spent money on hired help, the return on investment made it absolutely worth it.
You can start small. You don’t have to go all-in at first, but you’ll see that once you learn to allow others to help, whether that means outsourcing one-off projects to people overseas, or building a more permanent team for longer term positions, it’ll open up a whole new world for you, and your business will have a lot more room to grow and flourish like it should.
To sum this one up, a CEO learns to let go.
A CEO Focuses on the Future
Not all CEOs may be as in love with Back to the Future as I am, but if you’re going to grow your company, you HAVE to think about the future—and not just what you’re doing tomorrow or next week, but at least twelve months ahead of time, and hopefully more.