Posts Tagged ‘leader’

The CEO Mindset

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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 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 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 won’t 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 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.

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 these are the facts 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.

Tell me what you think about these ideas in the comments section below! How do YOU take charge and lead your company?

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

You ARE Your Brand

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brand

When you’re a business owner, you know you need to focus on your company’s brand. So you spend a lot of time crafting it and ensuring that it is a fabulous representation of your niche and your company. But there’s one part of branding you may not be considering: your personal brand.

When you own a small company – or even a large company, for that matter – your personal brand is a parallel to your company’s brand. And it is really just as important. They have to complement each other, and they certainly can’t be in opposition.

So what do I mean by that? You have to review and consider every way in which you’re communicating with the outside world to be absolutely sure that those “touch points” enhance your business’s brand, and doesn’t do anything to hurt it. That includes your personal social media, your photos, your LinkedIn profile, and any other way that you appear online.

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Here’s an example: You’ve built your business brand professionally and you’re really proud of how it represents what you want to achieve with your company. But your profile photo on your personal Facebook page is one of your dog. Or you just made a comment on a friend’s post that is hilarious to you, but kinda inappropriate. Those things can definitely impact your business’s brand.

I can hear you saying: “But Tobi, my social media accounts are private! I should be able to say and do what I want there.” Ah, but nothing is private about social media. Anything that you post can be found and seen by others. Social media is community-based – think of it like being outside in your neighborhood or town. That photo that in the past you would have shown in a photo album to just close friends and family is now being plastered on a billboard downtown. That’s what social media is really all about. And even if you told only your friends and family where the billboard is, it would still be out in public and could be seen by others.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t be “you,” online. But you have to think more about having a personal brand that’s like the one you would present at a networking party. Still fun, still very much your personality, but still appropriate. Remember that every comment or tweet, every photo and post, can have an impact on how people think of you – and how they think of your business.

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People want to deal with companies on a personal level today – they want to feel like they have a relationship with brands, so you’re even more fused with your company brand than ever before. That’s another reason why your company’s niche must be fully authentic to you personally.

So if your company branding says that you love working with children, and you’re then posting online in your personal accounts about how you can’t stand being seated next to kids in a restaurant, you aren’t going to appear authentic or believable to clients who might see that.

I know the idea of focusing on your personal brand as a parallel to your professional brand can be tough for some of you. But making them complementary to each other will really only enhance the relationships you want to build with your customers – as much as the ones you want to build with family and friends!

xo,

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