You know those posts that tell you the traits of successful people? This is isn’t one of those posts. Often what is left out is the work and habits successful small business owners use to create their success. So, when you ask yourself, “what am I going to do?”, remember they had to do the work of finding what works for them. Becoming CEO of your small business means finding your “right” habits.
Noticing the disorientation
When you transition into being more CEO-like (or take on the title of CEO) in your small business, there can be a moment when you feel disoriented. For some people, it’s a brief moment but, for the rest of us, it’s a great opportunity to check ourselves out. One thing that comes with having an established business is that you’ve already created some good things that work for you. But as Marshall Goldsmith famously said, “what you got you here won’t get you there.”
Finding the right habits begins with asking yourself questions
The first questions are ones you may have asked yourself in the beginning but if you didn’t, ask them now. They are:
- What does success mean to me?
- How would I know if I was successful?
- Do I give myself permission to be successful?
As we go through life, our values switch in priority. It follows that how we define success also evolves with us. But to get to the next level, it can be useful to reflect on where you are now. One of my clients expressed both trepidation and excitement that he would be working with a more sophisticated group of people as he grows his business internationally.
Notice what is already working for you
You already have a solid foundation to work from. This is a key piece of the process. Very few business owners get by with just luck and charm. You’re not going to change everything because you’re changing your role in your small business. Use what works already and add on. When you introduce a growth phase in your business (expanding into another country, launching a new product or adding staff), there are questions about time management, leadership skills and communication skills. With my clients, I ask:
- What do you do already that is working for you?
- Where do you find you struggle the most?
- What could you do to make this transition easier?
One client recently went through this process and decided that postponing a project for 3 months would lower her stress level and make her transition to CEO smoother. Another client found that posting three to five “must-do” tasks per day got him more focused and he managed his interruptions better.
Designing your own habits will work better
There is plenty to be gained from reading posts about what other successful people do. You can pick up new ideas to try or affirm that you are not off the mark (as much as you thought). But true buy-in comes from choosing the behaviours you will actually do. Here are some steps that will use your CEO Mindset to encourage your new habits:
1. Brainstorm if you need a timer, a diary (or calendar) system, different coping strategies, delegate more to staff or outsource tasks
2. Ask yourself, “do I really need to do this now?” Just because it is important doesn’t mean it has to be done now. Also you might find delegating to your staff frees up some time in your schedule.
3. Choose one new habit to form and a start date
4. Remember it can take twenty-one to ninety days to make a new habit a regular part of your behaviour
Sometimes the CEO Mindset is not glamourous
It might seem exotic to label yourself as CEO or managing director. You might even be getting a rush from how your business is performing as it grows. However, success isn’t built with magic wands or luck. It is the day to day commitment to doing things that maximise your performance. It may even be trial and error as you tweak your new habits so they work for you. Becoming CEO of your small business means finding your “right” habits.
What was the best new habit you formed during a growth phase? How do you use the CEO Mindset to get through the mundane or day to day stuff in your small business?
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