Posts Tagged ‘owner’

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,

 

 

 

 

 

4 Things A Small Business CEO Must Do

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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!

xo,

 

 

 

 

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!

 

The Stress of Running a Small Company

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Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, you already know how stressful owning a small business can be. Not only are we the creative talent, but also we’re CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, and COOs. We have to handle the financials, the employees, our brands, our home life, our well-being, and try to fit some creativity in there, too.

It can be a lot of pressure to own your own business – and that stress is not healthy for any of us. In fact, many studies now show that stress is a huge contributing factor to shortening your life span. Not good. Mental toughness is necessary for small business owners like us. We’ve got to have the capacity to respond positively to multiple and sometimes conflicting pressures – and we have to be able to handle stress, which is WAY easier said than done!

One of the techniques I use is to reframe negative thoughts. For example, one thing my team and I always say is that when clients get difficult, we have to say something nice about them…out loud…right then. It’s a joke in our office, but it really does help keep the stress level down. If we took all of our clients’ decisions personally, we would have been OUT of this business by now. It’s essential to realize that you have a choice about the way you think and that all negative thoughts can be reframed into more constructive ways of thinking.

Self-care is another BIG way to preserve your sanity as a small business owner. Stress can result in both behavioral and physical symptoms that can be hard to manage. If you’ve already scheduled your monthly spa day, use some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation breaks, to help you make it to your appointment. I use lots of great meditation exercises and apps including some from Gabrielle Berstein and the Deepak Chopra and Oprah series. They really do make a huge difference.

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One of the quickest ways we get stressed is worrying. We worry A LOT. Half the time we are worrying about things we can’t control: Did the vendor ship that table? Did our painter finish that floor in time for the delivery we have coming tomorrow? Yes, we can push our vendors and make contracts with our painters but we cannot control them. Make space for worrying about the things we CAN control to relieve some of that pressure instead of worrying about the unnecessary things.

And you know what you can control? Your creative work, your customer service, your presentation skills, your financial habits, exercise. You CAN control those. Don’t allow them to control you!

You’ve also got to maintain focus on the business things that matter. Distractions happen to all of us. Some of us are parents who get nonstop texts from our kids about homework, friends coming over, or (like mine) wanting to get out of dance class even though she loves it when she gets there! Top performers can deal with these distractions while maintaining focus on the things that matter. Maybe it’s learning to turn off the phone, or letting someone else in the family deal with the distraction, or setting rules about when you can be “bothered.” Whatever it is, keep your focus.

supermodel

Delegation is another way to deal with some of the pressures of being a business owner. As business owners (particularly women) we have the tendency to try to be in control of everything. As we build our businesses, this may be a necessity, but once you reach a point where you can hire help, DO IT! You cannot and should not do everything. The only things that should “live” on your schedule are tasks that make you the most money because they are 1) the work you are deeply passionate about and 2) demand a particular and exceptional skill of yours that cannot be done by anyone else. That’s all. Everything else on your task list is costing you money.

Over-delegating creates the opposite problem. If you take everything off your plate (including all of your passion+skill tasks) and become the Final-Word-Only kind of boss, you’ll see that in every product and service you’ve created the vision becomes murky and watered-down. Everything is “OK,” as in, it passes inspection, but it’s not YOU. What we are selling as creative businesspeople is our unique expertise and guidance, so it make sense that if we hand off the most essential parts of our work, the result is that it’s no longer uniquely us, no longer inspiring to us, no longer innovative and compelling. So the trick is keeping the parts that are you in your sweet spot and that fill you with joy and delegate or eliminate everything else!

And don’t be confused about what is important and what is only urgent and ultimately should be eliminated. Many things that stress us every day are things we shouldn’t even be doing at all. And neither should anyone on our team. So take a hard look at the tasks on your firm’s list because I suspect at least 30% if not 60% of what you feel is urgent should be totally eliminated because it’s not making you money or moving you closer to your goals. Arianna Huffington says in her great book Thrive that she made her life immensely better and less stressful by just eliminating tons of things from her to do list and even from her bucket list that she realized weren’t really important or priorities to her. Like her longterm goal to learn to ski, she said she just took off her list. Done! Can you do the same? Are there personal or professional goals and tasks on your list that if you are honest with yourself you don’t really even want? Or at least maybe you used to but you don’t want them anymore? Then let them go!

At the end of the day, life in the dynamic and unpredictable small business world means that sometimes things will not go according to plan, but in order to succeed we have to keep our motivation and our passion alive. We have to prioritize what we really want and what makes us money. And we can’t do any of this when we’re constantly stressed and worried about failure. So find your own best ways to cut out the stress – TODAY.

Good Luck!

xo,

Tobi-Signature