When it comes to our small business, we don’t always have a CEO mindset. We can quickly & easily get caught up in an employee mindset. An employee mindset is one that is focused on the single job at hand – we have on blinders, but not in a good way. We’re down in the trenches of our business; juggling the day-to-day operations and not always thinking (or having TIME to think) about the bigger picture!
An employee mindset is lethal for small businesses because we can spend more time working IN the business then ON the business. As the Bloguettes say: “…you end up with a slew of short-term plans & no business direction!”!
So, how do you shift your mindset? How can we view our small business from a CEO perspective?
What is a CEO mindset
In October 1911, two teams of explorers embarked on a journey that no one had ever successfully completed. The explorers left the Antarctic in an attempt to reach the South Pole. One team, led by Roald Amundsen, was Norwegian. The other, led by Robert Scott, was British.
The disparity between the teams’ success was immense. Amundsen and his team made it to the South Pole, and they returned to their base on the exact date that Amundsen had marked in his planning journals. It was a precise victory. Scott and his team had a different fate: They made it to the South Pole—more than a month after the Norwegians did—but they sadly perished on their return.
How could two leaders, presumably with access to similar training, tools, and resources, produce such drastically different outcomes? The answer is in how they prepared.
Amundsen’s success was connected to his incremental approach. He advanced fifteen miles every day and built his system around that goal. In addition, he prepared—mentally and physically—for this particular moment his whole life. He ran miles, cycled from Norway to Spain instead of taking the train, lived with Eskimos to adapt to extreme temperatures, learned how to use dogs and sleds, figured out whether dolphins could be a food of last resort, and thoroughly tested all his equipment. He also packed significant extra supplies for the arduous trip. And finally: Amundsen and his team formed a camaraderie before they all set off on their expedition.
These methods are in stark contrast to how Scott ran his team. Scott took an aggressive, impetuous approach. He had no plan or marked target for progress, unlike the fifteen-mile mark favored by his rival. Scott bet his luck on unproven methods. He utilized motor sledges, which were cutting edge but also untested technology at the time. The motor sledges broke down, leaving Scott’s expedition to rely on horses, which were also unsuitable for the conditions and, ultimately, manpower. And, perhaps most telling, Scott’s teammates did not bond and form a fellowship before the expedition.
This story of two leaders is rich in lessons—of consistency, foresight, fortitude, of strategy, and ultimately of immutable leadership secrets.
Top five mindset of CEOs
This CEO knows when to make the tough calls – but more importantly, how to be accountable for the outcomes. They get the data, make a definite decision and then stay with it as long as it makes sense. CEOs often have to change course. They are all about passion as well as profit. Many people may be perfect on paper, but are otherwise uncommitted to achieving success as a group.
A good CEO sees challenges as opportunities to grow and even prosper. In the face of adversity, this type of CEO is the leader who sees problems as learning opportunities. They don’t focus on what’s lacking, but how it can be improved.
The best CEOs choose the best talent consistently. They set the bar high and focus on performance metrics relevant to meeting business goals.
The best CEOs are also engaged and engaging, and they seek engagement. To avoid having a warped perception, great CEOs stay engaged by regularly getting “out there.” They talk with all employees, spending quality time with all people in the organization, regardless of level or department. Staying in the leadership team bubble is comfortable, but it’s not great leadership.
Finally, successful CEOs understand when to show emotion (EQ). This is more about how a CEO makes the team feel: Leadership is not always driving and hard hitting. Good leaders share the “whys” with their team — why the company exists, and the higher mission and purpose for the organization. It’s not just about getting things done, but understanding the bigger picture.
Bringing this mindset shift into your small business
- Develop a company ‘mission’ – your reason for being. Without considering ‘why’ you exist, what your purpose is, and why clients will require your product or services, you will struggle to get off the ground.
- Create a solid business plan, incorporating five and ten-year goals – it may be market expansion, team growth or profit-related. Consider your strategy for growth – do you want to operate on a franchise basis (this model has worked for my business niche), or build to eventually sell? Aim high!
- Implement the processes and systems that you know will be needed in the future. Introduce a company handbook – even if it’s just you to start with, including all business and HR policies. It may seem unnecessary, but it will get you thinking about what you stand for, and what kind of employer you want to be.
- Invest in branding. If you have the funds, appoint professionals to support you with your website, logo design and marketing. Having a strong, visual brand in place will ensure clients take notice from the beginning.