Every business has a leader. In many cases, they call that person the CEO.
If you’re self-employed, even though you may not think of yourself as one, you most certainly are the CEO of your own business.
Do you think of yourself as a CEO? If you do, then you are more likely to think like a CEO and to perform like one—in a way that consistently drives your business forward. In this post, we’re covering some of the most important responsibilities of a CEO and the key ingredients that make CEOs exceptional at what they do.
It was a 10-year-study of the 2500 largest companies in the world with the purpose of determining what all top-performing CEOs have in common. The 4 main characteristics shared by all of the most effective CEOs are:
A CEO is also a visionary. As the leader of your business, you’re responsible for determining what your business model is, developing your business strategy, setting goals, developing the processes to achieve those goals, and forming strategic partnerships with other businesses and/or employees who will help you carry out those processes.
You must develop the vision and implement the strategy you’re going to use to get there, then keep yourself and your employees focused on the vision.
The ability to stay focused on your vision and spend the majority of your time on the pieces of your business that drive the most forward motion is a hallmark of a strong CEO. Mark Helow, founder of 10x CEO, discovered in his own research that highly effective CEOs spend 50% of their time on the top 3 priorities in their business. So, you should be spending the majority of your time on very few things.
Take some time to analyze your business to determine what your critical business drivers are—which activities get you the most ROI.
In our business, for example, we have 7 different avenues that bring in revenue. It’s not only important for us to know how much revenue each part brings in, but also how profitable each part is, and the trajectory of each. One part may be higher in total revenue, but the expenses may be higher too, and therefore, may not be as profitable as other areas where overall revenue is less, but profit is higher.
One area may be bringing in more revenue now, but could be showing signs of decline while another less-revenue-generating area is growing and is gaining popularity in our industry (and maybe other industries as well). If that’s the case, which of those two areas do you put more energy into or focus on? That is the kind of decision you, as the CEO of your business, must make.
For some of our clients, their businesses are made up of these core drivers:
The interesting thing is that revenue comes from sales, however, usually the driver of sales may be based on the efficiency and effectiveness of acquiring referrals or getting appointments scheduled. Often, I see people want to focus all of their energy on the presentation or marketing to repeat clients, when the largest gains might come from referrals and scheduling.
So, if I’m the CEO of that business, and all parts are important, meaning none of those aspects can be ignored, where do I spend the majority of my own time, and where do I let others on my team spend their time?
It’s likely a different answer for each CEO depending on their own strengths and the strengths of their team members, among many other factors. It is, without a doubt, key for the CEO to be aware of the metrics of each of those area, though, and not only to be looking at how each is performing now, but what it would take to make each grow. That is why analysis is so important.
The thing we see happen most often for leaders of all kinds is they are so busy spinning so many plates that one of the plates that doesn’t even get picked up is the analysis. Analyzing is not in itself revenue generating so it often gets placed at the bottom of the priorities list.
Other things that tend to get ignored are envisioning the future, continued learning, and self-care. And we get it—we’ve been running businesses for more than 20 years, and some of the hardest challenges are to work on ourselves and on our business, when we are so busy working within it. Still, if you have any desire to perform at the highest level, like the best-performing CEOs do, then that analysis, envisioning, and continued learning are all necessary.
Once you’ve established the areas of your business that deserve the majority of your time and energy, design your processes to leverage your time, streamlining tasks, and outsourcing less-critical but still-necessary tasks to talented help.
Then, on a weekly basis, ask yourself, “What did I do this week to impact my core business drivers?” Develop good habits to help keep you on track and then hold yourself accountable for the results. Establish the mindset of a high-performing individual, and develop your passion for both the mission and the work.