Tag Archive for 'Small Business Future'

You are a CEO, but are you doing the job

The hardest job in the marketplace is the Chief Executive Officer of a small business.

So how could it be harder to be the CEO of Excel Supply, LLC, than the CEO of Exxon? Let’s look at the definition.

Investopedia says a CEO is, “The highest ranking executive in a company whose main responsibilities include developing and implementing high-level strategies, making major decisions and managing overall operations and resources.”

For every element of that definition, Exxon’s CEO has a cadre of presidents reporting to him about how they’re managing battalions of VPs, brigades of managers and armies of employees. Exxon’s CEO manages that handful of presidents who bring him performance updates.

The CEO of Excel may have managers reporting to her, but she’s never more than one degree of separation from the work, and likely the alpha member of any given task, especially things like capitalization, cash flow, business development, etc.

There is one thing that sets all CEOs apart from every other position and it’s the first item in the definition: high-level strategy. A CEO’s primary job, which can be supported but never delegated, is to determine the long-term direction of the company. Every business, large or small, must have someone doing this CEO job, whether they use the title or not.

Big business CEOs spend very little time managing and most of their time working on strategy and future direction. Conversely, and unfortunately, most small business CEOs spend too much time managing and too little on executive thinking.

Recently in our online poll, we defined a CEO and asked small business owners: “How difficult is it to budget CEO time away from managing?” Here’s what we learned.

Only 3% said they had “…found a way to balance management and CEO duties,” and 8% allowed they were “…inconsistent but getting better at it.” Over half of our sample said they “…can’t focus on CEO tasks for putting out fires,” while one third rejected our premise with, “I’m a small business owner, not a CEO.”

Here’s a practical way for small business owners to increase their CEO activity: As often as possible – at least once a year – fire yourself from jobs someone else can do and promote yourself to jobs only you can do. This will push you toward more executive thinking and behavior and put you on a natural path toward performing all the tasks of a CEO, including charting the long-term course for your small business.

Every business needs someone doing the work of a CEO – that’s you!


Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about becoming a better CEO for your company. Click on the link below to hear what I had to say. I’m also interested in what you think, so please leave a comment.

Commit to the resolution of becoming a better CEO

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Ask the owner of your business where it’s going

Do you know where your small business is going next year?

The best way to find this answer is to ask your business’s owner. But do you know the right questions to ask yourself in order to increase your ability to accomplish next year’s business goals?

To help you get started, here are five questions proposed by John Dini, one of the top management experts I know. Following John’s questions, I’ve added my thoughts to give you a little jump-start.

Question One: How much sales revenue do we want to achieve next year?
If you want to grow, it all starts with driving the top line on the profit and loss statement (P&L). How does your prior sales performance, organizational capability and ability to grow customer relationships support your new sales projections?

Question Two: What gross profit goal do we need to achieve to accomplish our operating goals?
Gross profit is sales revenue minus cost of goods sold (COGS), and it’s what covers operating expenses on the way to net profit. Be sure to align this goal with your new sales projection, because increasing revenue at the expense of gross profit is a fool’s errand.

Question Three: What are the most important things we can do to achieve this performance?
Better marketing? More advertising? Better sales training? Staff changes? New products? Better online capability? Expand market penetration? Start with the one that looks the most like low-hanging fruit and proceed from there.

Question Four: How should my own role in the company change in the coming year?
Each year, every business owner should fire themselves from jobs they no longer have to do and promote themselves to new jobs only they can do. Delegation and professional growth is the key to management success and ultimately, business performance.

Question Five: What is the most desirable personal goal I would like to make for myself?
If a genie gave you one wish to make your personal life more fulfilling, what would it be? More family? More golf? More bridge? More fishing? More whatever-the-heck-I-want-to-do-whenever-I-want-to-do-it? You’ll be a better manager with healthy outside interests.

Of course, these aren’t the only questions – just good ones to start with. Our job – John Dini and me – is to help you climb out of the trenches long enough to ask the owner of your business where it’s going.

Ask yourself these, and any other questions you think of. Then write down the answers and make it happen.


On The Small Business Advocate Show I regularly talk with John Dini, founder and operator of the most successful peer group franchise in North America, overseeing 15 monthly meetings of business owners’ groups under the auspices of The Alternative Board®, about growing your business - and your employees. Click on one of the links below to listen to our conversations on starting the New Year off right.

Starting the New Year off successfully

How can you grow revenue and profits?

Evaluating your role as the leader of your business

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

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