As an entrepreneur, you’re likely also a founder, an agent of change, and the main driver of your business. What does all this mean? Your business may be small (for now), but we can still draw some lessons from the giants. Who sits in the C-suite of most corporations? The chiefs. CEO, COO, and CFO. Chances are strong you have to handle all three of these roles for your company, but what exactly do they do?
If you’re the chief executive officer, you’re the leader. Which means you make all the hard decisions. You use your vision for your product or service to build a strategy, and then you must communicate that strategy clearly to your employees so they can act on it.
When you put your chief operating officer hat on, you’re running the daily operations of your business. This can be a pitfall that sucks up all your time and energy. It’s easy to become obsessed with the minutia of everyday operations and get caught up in the micro-level decision making. It’s like taking a hike on a mountain trail where you only watch your feet. Sure, you won’t fall off the mountain, but will you reach your destination? You have got to stop, raise your head, and look into the distance now and then. Otherwise, you’ll lose sight of your destination.
And then there’s the chief financial officer role, where you manage financial risks, and keep records that tell what’s really going on with your finances. All that data you collect? It’s useless if you don’t analyze it. What is the data telling you? Use those numbers to help guide you forward. To make plans, you need to pair that information with a realistic strategy. All this talk of finances brings us to…money.
If you ask a founder, “What does an entrepreneur do?” They’ll tell you, “You make decisions that keep your business alive.” Which means brings in more money than you spend. Bringing in money means scrambling to generate leads that will result in new customers. A smart entrepreneur can adapt to a changing market, spot an opportunity, and seize the moment through hard work. Part of developing your business is developing relationships, not just with customers but with people in your field.
Everyone likes the part where money flows in, but the part where it leaves might scare them. But are you wasting money or spending money in a mindful way? If you spend money for marketing to reach new customers, or spend money to hire new programmers that will eventually increase your revenue, you’re not wasting money. You’re investing in the future of your business.
The sad truth is that not all businesses scale. And maybe growing huge isn’t part of your dream anyway. But if growing large is part of your goal package, there’s another sad truth. You can’t stay irreplaceable. For your business to grow, at some point you have to make yourself redundant.
This is why you often see founders depart the company they started. When the business is so large it needs separate people as CEO, COO, CFO, Human Resources and more, one entrepreneur simply can’t do all those jobs. Either the business stays small, and it dies when you retire or die, or you learn to delegate responsibilities and decision making.
But that’s the future. For today, you need to prioritize that long list of things to do, and figure out a way to be just a little better than the competition.
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