Whether you’re just starting out or have been in this business for years, we all know how stressful owning a design business can be. Not only are we the senior designers, but also we are the CEOs of the company. We have to handle the financials, the employees, our brands, our home life, and try to fit some designing in there somewhere.
Too many designers forget that this IS a business, not a hobby. You have to commit to that idea – even if you may have started your business as a side job to begin with. You are the CEO of a company – say that to yourself over and over. Take it very seriously, or you will not be successful.
It’s tough to be an entrepreneur and a small-business owner. Most of us get into this business by focusing on the parts we love – maybe for you it was a love of color, or the idea that you are transforming people’s homes with gorgeous interiors.
The part we don’t focus on, in most cases, is the enormous amount of hard work, of tough financial times, and of serious business management that it takes to be a CEO. So how can you act like a CEO? Here are a few things you must do:
- You HAVE to have a business plan. Do you have one?
- You HAVE to pay yourself – what business leader or CEO do you know that works basically for free?
- You have to be CLEAR on the goals you’ve set for your company and how you will achieve them.
- And you MUST set the financial benchmarks that your company has to hit to be profitable.
I can hear you saying: “Wait a minute, I just want to be creative and showcase my talents for the world. I don’t like all of the talk about working on financials or focusing on marketing. Where’s the fun in that?!” You’ll get to have fun in your business – but only if you aren’t constantly stressing about money or where your next client is coming from. And that takes hard work. It takes being a CEO!
The reality is that in ANY business, creative or otherwise, a good 80% of your time will be spent on things that are not necessarily at the heart of the reason you started your company in the first place. Instead, you’ll be managing your business, working to attract new clients and customers, researching new revenue streams, and taking a hard look at your financials. If that doesn’t sound like something you can do, then you might want to think about working for another person or at a larger company.
Because this is the REALITY of owning a business. It is not a hobby or something that you can do halfheartedly. And yes, you can hire people to do some of that work, but that never excuses you from knowing every detail of your company at any given moment. YOU are the CEO.
I’m giving you this reality check because we need to take ourselves, and our business goals seriously. Think of yourself and your company as a start-up that is every bit as important as a Fortune 500 business. The CEO’s vision and commitment are critical to the path that gets a company onto that list – and YOUR vision and commitment are critical to the success of your own company.
That is how you LEAD a company. That is how you act like a CEO.
If you’re a designer, tell me what you think about these ideas in the comments section below! How do YOU take charge and lead your company?
PS – If you want help getting into that CEO mindset, getting your financials in shape, or setting up systems for your company, I can help! I have a live-session event Nov. 10-11 in Dallas called Designer MBA that helps guide you through the process of transforming your company for success! Or if you prefer moving at your own pace and on your own schedule, try Tobi U! I want to help you get your company in shape for a successful 2016!