Are you the CEO of your business?

You may think the answer to this question is obvious, but starting a business does not a CEO make.

This is an important conversation because when you’re in the corporate or professional space, you’re almost always the employee. You’re responsible for a given set of tasks, you’ve got a set structure in place, and you know what’s expected of you.

But when you leave a professional/corporate career, all bets are off! Now, you’re the one who makes the decisions, sets the agenda, and is responsible for making it happen. You’re the one creating and leading with a strong vision, being open and receptive to new perspectives and feedback, and having the strength of will (commitment, perseverance, and discipline) to see your goals to completion. It also means being adaptable in an often volatile world and operating with integrity in all things.

On a practical level, shifting into the role of CEO means:

1. You Are Responsible for All Your Decisions
As an entrepreneur, you get the joy of creating something unique, something that is rooted in who you are and want you want to create that you can’t as an employee. That’s an awesome privilege, but with that power, as Voltaire… and Peter Parker said, “comes great responsibility.”

It means you’re the one who’s responsible for making it happen… and the results that come from those decision. Not only do you have to make decisions and take action, but you also have to take responsibility for the outcomes.

It’s not always comfortable to take on that responsibility, but as the CEO of your company – and that’s what you are – this is your most important responsibility.

2. You Have to Hold Both the Short and Long Term View
Employees have the luxury of only focusing on the here and now. But as the CEO of the business, not only do you set the vision, but you have to ensure it gets carried out. You have to focus on both the now as well as the future.

In order to do that, you have to proactively look at the potential obstacles and opportunities and make decisions (yep, back to #1) when you aren’t totally sure of the outcome.

What you do or don’t do TODAY can (and will) impact your business 3 or 6 or however many months down the road. 

So, get comfortable being uncomfortable, because it’s your new normal.

3. The Numbers Don’t Lie
Author Stan Humphries said, “Follow wherever the data leads you. Let the zillions help you rest more easily. Numbers don’t lie. And they won’t lead your astray. Instead, they’ll help you find your way home.”

Most employees, unless they work in accounting or an area of the business focused on analytics are rarely concerned about the company’s numbers. But for entrepreneurs, your numbers are the lifeblood of your business. Understanding your cash flow, how well your ads are performing, whether or not people are coming to your website, if your leads are actually converting, what the profit and loss statement says is vital to the success of your business. Without that information, you’ll be making decisions without information, and as the CEO you bear the responsibility for all of it.

When was the last time you took a hard look at your finances? Your analytics? If you’re feeling the urge to stick your head in the sand because you don’t understand the numbers, then I urge you to take a course or get some help. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do know how to make meaning with all of it. It’ll be the best money and time you’ve spent on your business.

4. Just Say No!
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” That’s one of my favorite quotes by Warren Buffett, and this shift in CEO mindset is everything.

As an employee, most of us rarely said “No” because we didn’t want to miss out on potential opportunities. But as an entrepreneur, you cannot say yes to everything. You have to be very clear on what your priorities are and say NO to everything that doesn’t fit.

No is a complete sentence. Practice it often.

5. You Can’t Do It All
CEOs know that their time is limited. That’s why they seek out experts to help them close the gaps. They don’t spend hours trying to do it all themselves. It’s appealing, especially when you’re first starting out, to want to figure it out on your own. And while it’s important to know the basics, there is NO way you can learn it all.

What is it costing you to DIY your business?

Hiring someone to walk alongside you, someone who knows your business, knows you, and is there to support, challenge, and hold you accountable as you implement your action plan is the cheapest, fastest way to see real results in your business.

Employees rarely have to think about that, but CEOs are doing it every day. And as the CEO of your business, I want you to reflect on where you’re spending your time, what you’re saying yes to, and whether or not you need to invest in someone who can help you close the gaps and move the needle forward.

Successful businesses are run by CEOs who have made these powerful shifts. Are you the CEO of your business?

P.S. If you’re looking for a community where you can grow into your role as CEO, join us inside the Employee to Entrepreneur group on Facebook.