Hey there, Boss Lady.
First off, look, I know you’re busy and life feels crazy, but you. are. killin’ it out there! …even if it doesn’t feel that way all the time. (I get it.) As an online business manager (OBM) and entrepreneur mentor, I’ve found that many CEOs haven’t yet realized these truths.
So let’s get down to business. Whether you’re building your business or business is booming—there’s always more to learn about being a CEO!
Turns out, there are quite a few universal truths about being a successful CEO, no matter how your revenue looks or where you are in the business growth process.
As an online business manager (OBM), I’ve worked with CEOs (including celebs) who run the gamut from big businesses to small, working across a whole bunch of industries—and I’ve found that many CEOs haven’t yet realized these truths, even though they’re out there running the show every day! (But hey, sometimes it’s hard to see the whole sky until you’re really flying the plane.)
So I’d like to share these secrets of successful CEOs with YOU. The sooner you learn how the role of CEO really works, the sooner you can level up and become the CEO you need to be.
You got this!
1. You must set the tone and the vision.
You wouldn’t go on a road trip without a map or GPS, right? Well, you can’t run a business without a strong vision—and when you’re CEO, it’s all eyes on YOU.
I’ve seen plenty of companies wander along—not really failing, but not thriving either. They’re just…wandering. Why? Because the CEO didn’t set a strong tone and vision for the organization.
It’s hard to arrive a destination when you have no idea where you’re going. So many entrepreneurs start out with an idea for their product, but they lack a clear vision for their business. You set the tone. You make the timeline. This is your vision and your baby. No one else will do it for you and it won’t happen without deliberate effort.
2. You need to live and breathe by the data.
Wouldn’t it be great to gaze into a crystal ball and see a totally clear picture of exactly how everything in your business is working? (Like who doesn’t want that, right?) Great news! You already have access to an even better fortune teller: it’s your data.
Data is the pulse of your business. Your data tells you what’s working and what’s not. It tells you if your customers are satisfied and if your product is performing. Data guides you. Data makes the decisions. Just like your vision, you need data to help you map out your products, diversify your offerings, expand your brand, and grow. Maybe you aren’t a “math person.” Maybe you hate spreadsheets. (Maybe just the thought of spreadsheets sends you into a panic, for that matter.)
Well, you don’t have to love data, but you can’t afford to ignore it.
So look at your numbers. Check out your analytics. A/B test your communications. Don’t fear the truth behind feedback and testing. Welcome it, and use it as a platform to direct your next moves toward business growth.
3. You cannot lose your cool.
We’ve all done it at some point: we’ve completely lost it at our spouse, our kids, an employee…someone. As CEO, you must resist the urge. Fight it. If you lose your cool, you’ll just frighten your spouse, your team, your investors, and your customers. Seriously not cool.
Sounds lonely, right? Well that’s why most CEOs nowadays have a coach of their own or a mastermind group—so they can privately express and work through their fears and doubts, without causing trouble on the outside. Now, I’m not saying you can’t ever vent, but you have to understand it’s a careful slippery slope. Use your coach. That’s what they’re there for.
Get someone you can work with—someone who will help you deal with work baggage before you start slinging it at your employees or customers. Hey, we ALL have fears, doubts and frustrations. It’s OK to express them! Just find someone who can help you process your struggles behind the scenes and keep moving forward as the face of the company.
4. This is no longer your passion project.
Okay, okay, of course it’s great to like (or even LOVE) your work. Go for it. But you’re in business now, so your focus is revenue and growth. So now’s your time to think BIG. So instead, use your business wins to finance your passions.
If you’re currently standing in that middle ground, moving from hobby to full-fledged business, yes, this can be particularly challenging. But it’s time to STEP UP your game. Your team relies on you, so you need to shift to business-mode: always thinking about what’s best for the business as a whole. You’re going to make some super tough choices and you’re going to have to think beyond yourself (which I’m sure you’re already used to, but there you have it).
This is a new normal—and a powerful, new era you’re entering.
What fits with your brand? What works best for your business, your employees, your customers? What shifts do you need to make to ensure continuity, stability and growth? Do that. Do that today!
5. You won’t love it every day.
Most business owners eventually realize they no longer love coming to work every day. *Gasp!* What?? Well, it’s true. Even if you loooove being in charge of your own business, executing your own vision and running the show every single day…you will NOT always love coming to work.
I’m not going to lie. It’s not always easy. But you chose to be an entrepreneur, so YOU chose to go down this fun (but crazy and sometimes miserable) path.
Work is still work. It’s not going to be 100% fun 100% of the time. Days off still feel like a relief and you’re still going to crave a vacation that allows you to just enjoy your kids and/or hang out with your spouse, and stop thinking about your business.
And hey, that’s OK. You deserve time to take off work and take care of yourself. Working yourself into exhaustion is pretty much the worst, and it’s really not helping your business in the long run.
Even if you’re passionate about your craft and you truly love it—you’ll still have days when you’re crabby and tired. So it’s OK to ask for help and give yourself a well-deserved break.
6. You’ll feel like a fraud sometimes (but you’re not).
COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg once attended a speech at Harvard University called “Feeling Like a Fraud.” She said she felt like they were speaking directly to her the entire time. Seriously. Sheryl Sandberg, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.
Alllll of us have suffered a moment of imposter syndrome—maybe even a lot of moments. As CEO, there will be times when you’ll feel like, “OMGoodness, they’re onto me. They know I have no clue what I’m doing!!”
The reality is…they don’t know. You DO have a clue. You’re doing the things and you’re awesome at running your own business. But yes, being a CEO is a learning experience. There’s a new moment of growth every single day. It’s hard and sometimes fraught with stress and scary moments, and yet you are doing it and rocking it! GO YOU.
7. You say NO 1000 times more than you say YES.
Every mom knows this feeling and so does every CEO. You say no over and over and over. No, we can’t do that right now. No, I don’t think this is the right plan yet. No, I don’t think this is ready to launch. No, this color won’t work.
Saying YES is far harder than saying no:
Yes is commitment.
Yes to moving forward.
Yes to progression.
The yeses are far harder to come by because the yeses take more of your time, more of your energy, and/or more of your money. So you have to be very careful. If you come across a potential YES situation, but it’s not 100% aligned with your business goals, then that’s a NO.
Plan to say NO more often—but don’t be afraid of a great YES! As CEO, you make the decisions and you need to make them with confidence. Answer both without fear!
8. You get to take the credit (and occasionally the blame).
This is your business, your creation! When it thrives, you get to hear the praise. You get to reap the benefits and the rewards from your success. You get to have the corner office (or if you work from home, the prime space above the garage, ha).
This also means that when things get messed up…well, you just have to put on your big girl pants and deal with it. The buck stops and starts with you—which it totally wonderful and totally scary. People love their scapegoats, from “my dog ate my homework” to “my employee messed up your order.” But when you’re the CEO, you have to take the kudos and the critique in stride.
And how fun is THAT?!? This is YOUR baby. This is your responsibility and nobody can take it away from you.
So, the trick is to accept the feedback and be constructive with it. Rather than looking for somewhere to place the blame, look at how YOU can fix the problem and move forward. How can you make this a growth experience?
9. You have to diversify.
No matter what your business, whether you’re an entertainer, a widget saleswoman, a blogger or an inventor, your product isn’t your brand. Your company is your brand—and your brand is more than just one product.
Let me repeat: Your company is your brand and your brand is more than one product!!
If you aren’t looking for different ways to promote your brand, and change up and diversify your offerings, you’re missing opportunities. No idea how to do that? Keep asking yourself questions. If you run a blog, what other products can you offer? Can you promote affiliates? Can you create an eBook? Can you offer an online course? Can you present as a guest speaker at a conference?
You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket. If you do, you’ll miss out on opportunities to expand and grow. With today’s online world, products and ideas can become obsolete very quickly. You have to be ever-changing, always offering new products and ideas to the world.
10. You don’t need to do everything, but you do need to inspire.
As CEO, you don’t have to do it all. And you don’t have to be everything to everyone in your company…or to your clients. Do what you do well and lead others into doing the rest. You are the source of inspiration and YOU are the one that sounds the call to action!
So often we feel we have to do it ALL, including the parts we might not do well—even the parts we aren’t even interested in. Maybe you’re great at writing, but terrible at tech. Learn the very basics (because it’s important to understand all of your business on a floor level) and then outsource it! Delegate it and move on to the things you’re really good at.
Promote your company, grow your business, oversee your employees—but don’t get bogged down in minutia. Keep yourself focused and moving forward.
As CEO, it’s most important that you lead. Remember, you are the head of your brand and your company. YOU are the boss.
You’re already out there kickin’ butt and takin’ names because you hit the ground running and you’re amazing at what you do! Add these CEO secrets to your arsenal and you’ll be ready to take on the WORLD. Go get it!!