Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Grow Your Business by Thinking Like a CEO

By Karen Dodd on Mar 28 2011 • Filed under New Clients by Design

Think like a CEO and grow your business.

Why You Need to Adopt a CEO Mindset

Undoubtedly, you are awesome at what you do every day in your business to practice your craft.  And you might even be good at the marketing part of the equation – good for you!

As a small business owner or solo-entrepreneur, you likely wear many hats, from being the chief creative genius to customer service (and perhaps cleaning the bathroom from time to time!)  But in your perpetual state of "doing," it's critical that you "be" the CEO of your company in mind, body and spirit.

What you do day-to-day to run your business is like the fuel that keeps your entrepreneurial fire burning. However, adopting a "CEO mindset" is the component that is the critical part of growing your business.

We All Have 3 Things to Leverage

Regardless of what type of business you're in, we all have the same three things to leverage: Time, Energy and Money – yours, your team's, and your joint-venture partners'. Everything you derive in your business will come from one of these three elements.

What Does Having a CEO Mindset Mean?

As a CEO, you are both the gatekeeper of your business as well as the sole person who has to determine the return on investment (ROI) that is associated with each expenditure of time, energy or money.

Whether you know it or not, your public will be watching you and your business. Consciously or unconsciously, they will be looking for "a perception of increase." What that means is that the energy you exude (in your marketing, amongst other things), the ventures you're involved in, and how your posture is in the marketplace, gives them a picture of how successful your business is. And of course, people want to do business with people who are successful.

Building the Plane While You're Flying It

Often, we solo-entrepreneurs have so much on the go that we literally are writing the program as we're teaching it or creating the product after we've pre-sold it.  Don't feel guilty! There is nothing out of integrity or inauthentic about that (as long as you know you can deliver). Instead, it's just getting out of your own way and as a CEO, making something happen quickly – and very often, imperfectly.

If putting something out into the world with your name on it, that is imperfect, scares the heck out of you, just remember: as a successful entrepreneur, your idea of imperfect is probably somebody else's 9 on a scale of 10! We tend to be our own worst critics and often all it takes is to get out of our own way. What have you put off launching because it just isn't "perfect enough?"

Make Numbers Your Friends

When I'm coaching clients to create their marketing and client attraction systems in order to grow their businesses, one of the things that separates the dreamers from the realists is the ability (or not) to look at their numbers on a weekly basis.

Often, you don't look at your revenues and expenses because you feel that you're too small to even worry about it. The dreamer may be so attached to a product or service in her business that she's hanging onto it (or creates it in the first place) because she's passionate about it but the market isn't telling her there's a need for it. Ever done that? I know I have!

Conversely, realists, who do tend to look at the numbers, can get so wrapped up in them and planning and forecasting, that it becomes what I call "paralysis by analysis." Neither end of that spectrum is ideal.

Instead, be sure to work with a bookkeeper who can get you on very simple, automated systems that will allow you to see a snapshot of your business every Monday morning, even when you're small. Trust me, if you build the systems now, you will grow into them at a much faster pace because you're looking at your business as a CEO rather than a small business owner.

When You Grow Your Business, You Grow Yourself

A CEO tends to measure everything he or she does by return on investment (ROI) and eliminates or changes things rapidly that aren't adding to the bottom-line.

Does that mean you should never do something in your business for the sheer joy that it provides your soul?

Not at all! Just understand that if you're putting a huge amount of time, energy and money into something that doesn't demonstrate a high ROI in a short period of time, you must consider if you want to be a non-profit or a for-profit business.

Why not be the CEO of a dynamically growing, for-profit business and take the things that are less profitable (but bring you joy) out into the community where you can contribute by mentoring, volunteering or donating?

A CEO Builds It To Sell It

An early mentor of mine once told me to build my business as if I were going to sell it. At the time I was horrified because I could never even have considered letting go of my baby! Indeed, you might plan to pass your business on to your children or create it as some other type of legacy.

In retrospect, my mentor gave me the best advice I could have received. As a result, I have built my subsequent five companies as if I was going to sell them. I can honestly say that thinking that way has given me both a "sense of urgency" about what I do in my business, as well as it makes me take my growth a whole lot more seriously.


  1. Great article, thank you for sharing this. It is so easy to get going in circles and wonder if you are moving in the right direction.

    • I agree. When you run a small business you do so many different things that you sometimes lose track of the big picture. You have great tips for keeping the right mindset.

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