4 Things A Small Business CEO Must Do

Posted by

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, we all know how stressful owning a business can be. Not only are we the creative engine, but also we’re the CEOs of the company. We have to handle the financials, the employees, our brands, our home life, and try to fit some creative thinking in there somewhere and that doesn’t even leave space for self-care and health, which needs to be our top priority if we want to have the stamina to run our company! So how in the world can we make it all happen? We can’t. But there are a lot of things we CAN do!

Too often, owners of creative businesses forget that they are in business, not just having fun with a hobby. You have to commit to that idea of having a real business – 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, let it sink in. Many times our businesses start to take off but we are still thinking of ourselves as a “little business owner” and we have to step into the shoes of CEO and own all that comes with that if we really want to make money.

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, and putting the not-so-fun things off as long as possible. 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 4 critical ways:

  1. You have to have a business plan. Do you have one? Even if you started without one, it’s never too late to create one and start making shifts in your business to align with it. In fact, sometimes its better to try your business for a bit first to get some clarity and then come back and write it. That way you have more information on what you want and what your consumers seem to be interested in.
  2. You have to pay yourself – what business leader or successful CEO do you know that works basically for free?
  3. You have to be clear on the goals you’ve set for your company and how you will achieve them. This means starting with your Why, then moving to your What and then creating a list of steps that are your How. And please put timelines on these goals for some accountability.
  4. And you must set the financial benchmarks that your company has to hit to be profitable. If you don’t know what that is, then you don’t have your finances in order.

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?!” Business can be fun – 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! In fact, having all of that “hard stuff” taken care of gives you the freedom to focus on the things that are essential to making you happy and giving you more control over your life.

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. At least until you get all that working like clockwork.  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 (or will do), then you might want to think about working for another person or at a larger company. That isn’t a knock on you! It really is a decision you might want to make for your overall happiness. Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner and especially a CEO.

Taking these 4 critical steps is the reality of owning a successful business–one that makes you the money you dream of. Being profitable, really profitable, is not a hobby or something that you can do halfheartedly. And yes, you can hire people to do some of that work (or outsource the work preferably), 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 and one day it may be one. 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. If you have that great framework in place, you can build the business of your dreams!

And when you get the foundation of your business and your finances in place, then you can start to prioritize and adjust things so you have a life again, so you take care of yourself and so that your business is really fulfilling not just financially but emotionally.

So are you running your business like a business or a hobby? What areas are you not serious about or are you hiding from? Finances? Client Development? Other areas?

If things are running well and you’re making money, what will you do next? I’ve made a lot of BIG decisions this year so I’ll be a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled CEO. Have you made any big leaps like that? Let me know in the comments section below!






If you need help in your finances, check out my Financials for Creatives E-course. If you are a Designer or Creative my online Designer MBA E-course or my  live version of Designer MBA course coming up in California this May will help you get the foundation of your business in shape and ready to become really profitable. And if you want one on one help, consider a strategy day with me where we dig into the details of your business together and make a plan to create the business and life you dream of!


Follow Me on Pinterest

Before and After: A Country-Chic Family Room

Posted by

One of my favorite gathering spaces in a home is a family room – especially when there’s plenty of seating for everyone in the family! In my farmhouse project – featured in the April issue of Traditional Home – I wanted my client’s large family to feel right at home in a chic and sophisticated country space.

One of the first elements to go into this gorgeous space were reclaimed beams for the ceiling and big beautiful windows that would take in all of the natural light. I loved working with architect Carolyn Lindsey of Yeary-Lindsey Architects on this project. She helped make these architectural details a reality.

Above is another view of those beams after they got their gorgeous stain application. Against that off-white ceiling, they aren’t just playing a starring role, they are really the star of this room!

The navy and cream palette was highlighted by touches of red, which is also a color I included in the connecting kitchen and breakfast area.

And we built a natural stone fireplace that also helps bring the outdoors in, and adds a chic country style to the room.

Because a big family can also mean lots of games and toys, I also had cabinets built in on either side of the fireplace to help hide any clutter.

What do you think of this big and beautiful family room? I like that it makes a grand statement, but still feels cozy and welcoming for family and friends! Tell me what you think in the comments section below!






Follow Me on Pinterest

Tobi TV: How to Move Color Through Your Home

Posted by

Using color in one room is enough of a challenge, but using color cohesively throughout the home can be a tough proposition for most people!

I love to move color through a home, and I’m going to show you my best tip for doing that AND making each room work together in my farmhouse project that was just featured in Traditional Home. Let’s take a look:

See? It isn’t as hard as you think to have bold color throughout your entire house! Let’s look at how those colors worked together again:

  • First, the master bedroom has rich shades of brown and green.
  • As we move to the dining room, the brown tags along.
  • Then the aqua in the dining room pairs perfectly with the same color in the formal living room.
  • That’s where we picked up the cobalt that then goes into the kitchen, where it’s paired with red.
  • That bold red moves upstairs into the kids’ playroom and their individual bedrooms, too!

Each room works together to create a cohesive color story! Let me know what you think about this bright idea in the comments section below! And don’t miss me talking all about color this month in my Transformation column in Traditional Home in their annual color issue. My column is all about my own home renovation and the way I used color at home for my own family. Click here to see more!







Follow Me on Pinterest

4 Tips for Falling in Love with Your Business

Posted by

Feeling burned out? If you are constantly giving to everyone but yourself, you can start to feel resentment. Believe me, I’ve been there – several times! And over the years I’ve also discovered that there is one sure-fire method to make you fall in love with what you do again. But it may not be what you think.

Because to rediscover that spark, that thing that gives you the passion for what you do, you have to step away. Yep, you read that right. But if you try these 4 steps, I promise you’ll come back to work ready to take it on with new gusto!

  1. Go away. And I mean AWAY. One day could help, but for me to really unwind, it typically takes several days. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money, then at least check out of business mode. Go drive in the country with your windows down and breathe in the fresh air. Take a spin through a museum or a walk in the park. Plan a long weekend at the beach or the lake. Just get out of your office and turn your phone off. Studies show that if you don’t give yourself a break, you’ll never be as creative and effective as you need to be. You really need to recharge your batteries and you can only do that if you step away from your office.  And for me if there is a component of nature involved, my relaxation goes up tremendously!
  2. Breathe deep. You need to relax and get your mojo back, and one of the best ways to do that is through meditation and deep breathing. Don’t believe me? Well the American Medical Association is now talking about big benefits from deep breathing, like elevating your mood, releasing tension, bringing clarity to your thinking, and boosting your immune system. That’s perfect for burnout! Add in meditation to reduce stress and improve concentration and you have a winning combination. And I combine these with yin yoga so not only my mind feels relaxed, but my body feels better too!
  3. Treat yourself well. You are your company’s most important asset, so you should be treating yourself like gold. That means it is critical for you to take time out of your day to exercise – look at it as an investment in your long-term performance. But for you to get the best benefits, find the type of exercise you really like. If you dread it, you are unlikely to keep it up. Plus, you need to take in the right fuel to keep you running like a well-oiled machine. And we are all different with what foods work for our bodies. At the Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I have been trained as a health and wellness coach, they call this bio-individuality. It’s the idea that one person’s food is another person’s poison. So learn which foods and vitamins make you feel best and make them a priority. Taking care of yourself isn’t some new age mumbo-jumbo – a Forbes study showed that CEOs who took time out of their day to exercise and eat right were 30% more inspired and effective at work. So take care of YOU and your take care of your company.
  4. Rethink your priority. That’s right, just one. The idea of priorities (plural) is a somewhat recent change to this word that was made in the US in the 1940s. This word originally meant the ONE most important thing, because you really can’t focus on more than one thing at a time right? So what is your priority? I talked a few weeks ago about the fabulous book Essentialism. To find out what’s most important to you, write down everything you are doing as a function of your job and then really start thinking about what is critical and what is really nonessential. And I mean cut it down to the bone. Multitasking is a myth, so what do you really want to focus on? Getting that clarity, and ridding yourself of things that are holding you back or tying you down will truly make you free! Your passion won’t be pulled in 20 directions, and instead you will get fired up and ready to focus on that one thing that will make the biggest difference.

I’m in my sweet spot of really concentrating on these 4 core ideas right now – and it’s been paying off in a BIG way! I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I am really feeling the fire again, but not for business as usual. It’s for a new and improved version of my business – one that feeds my family and my soul.

So what do you think? Where have you made changes this year to give you a better, more productive, and happier business and life? And if you haven’t made changes yet, what’s your plan? Let me know in the comments section below!







Follow Me on Pinterest