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003: Why You Need A CEO Day: Strategic Action Time

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Do you do a CEO day? Today's episode is on why it's so important as a new entrepreneur and at every stage in your entrepreneurial journey to make sure that you're prioritizing having a CEO day. What is that?

Well, a CEO day is when you're working ON your business, not in it.

So many of us spend ALL of our time working in our businesses. A great example for me is when I first started my business. I also started to learn how to use Instagram. What a wow, there was so much to learn. As I started creating content on Instagram, I started to drop into spending more and more time creating my images and my captions. And then learning how to schedule and all of the other things, that I suddenly realized that my business was just creating Instagram content rather than actually serving my ideal clients, building the actual offers and different elements that were way more important to me.


It was only when I stopped and I worked ON my business...when I gave myself a CEO day...that I started to understand that although all of these elements like Instagram are important, if you're not careful, you can spend your whole time working IN your business as the social media manager and not on your actual business. As the CEO, you are the person who formulates the strategy for your business. It's you, as the CEO who decides which direction to cast your vision and then put the building blocks in place, so that you know you're heading towards your vision.


With all the decisions that you make it can be really, really tricky as a new entrepreneur especially. Because there're so many sort of magpie moments as I call them along the way, you know, that shiny new object.

You'll be in the middle of doing one strategy and you'll say “Yep.Yeah.That's all good. I'm list-building.” And then suddenly something else comes along and you’ll say “Oooh, that looks good. What's that all about?” And somebody says... “Oh, you know, what you should be doing is you should really be creating summits.” You go, “Wow, that looks amazing. I want to do that!” And there are some phenomenal tactics out there and they're not right or wrong, but are they right for you at this moment in your business? How much energy will it take to deliver that strategy over that one? Because ultimately particularly when we are solopreneurs, we have to make those key decisions. A CEO day is the opportunity to really just take the moment, take some time and sit and really think through those decisions. So that when you're actually working in your business, you can do it with confidence because you know that there is a strategy in place.


You have to ask yourself what is the impact and income scenarios that will come from the decisions that I make. I spent many, many years in my career working in Excel spreadsheets. So I know that's not for everyone. I personally love it. But I would say to anyone, make sure that you do your numbers. If you have an idea and a strategy, do a projection. Just write it down or use a basic spreadsheet and say, well, how many clients would I need If that was my strategy and I charged that much? Over the next year, would that be enough? Is that the wrong strategy? What if I did this? What if I added this one and this one? Start to just play around with those scenarios. Because that is one of the CEO's main jobs, to make sure that you're putting the right decisions into building the business. One of the major things about CEO day, as well, is a chance to really think about what it means to be a CEO. It's really, really a mindset thing. I love this quote by Jim Rohn. He says “ Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of self-development because success is something you attract by the person you become.”


There is this whole thing about...Who I Am. This idea of BE. DO. HAVE. Who do I need to BE in order to DO the things I need to do to HAVE the things I want to have? In order to have that success, who you are, is so fundamental to how you show up in your business. You have to act like a CEO, whatever that means to you. Have a good think about it. What kind of behaviors do you have in your life that you would say are not compatible with being a successful CEO? A really good example is being distracted or doing time-wasting activities.

It's a really, really personal decision about what is a distraction and what is time-wasting. But you do have to be honest with yourself. You know when there are just too many hours of Netflix. Ask yourself If you scroll social media way too much during the day. It’s no wonder I'm not getting the work done. If I was a successful CEO, would I be doing that? And the answer would probably be No! I would have a lot more supportive habits. I would do things that will ensure that I have a much higher chance of succeeding. There's an author called James Clear. You've probably heard of him. He’s written a book called Atomic Habits.


And he says,


“Every action you take is casting a vote for the person you want to become.”

That's just so beautifully put, this idea of creating habits that are supportive and make sure that we're doing the right things over and over. Because really we want to show up as our best selves for our business. So creating those positive habits and reducing those negative habits are going to be really, really fundamental to this idea of achieving in your business and how you can support yourself, as the high achieving CEO of your company.

For me, what I like to think about is...What Attitude, Behaviors and Culture does my company have? (I know, right? It makes me laugh too!.My Company...) Because I'm a solopreneur right now. And I know that you are probably too, if you're listening to this. You know, we're new-ish, we’re building.


But at the moment, perhaps we don't have much support in the way of stuff So to think about company culture could feel a little bit strange, but I don't think so. I think, well, now's the time to really decide what culture my company has. Because first of all, I need to in order to live those behaviors. But also as my company grows, as I intend that it will, I would really like for the people who joined my team to be people who really value those behaviors too.


Some of these sorts of ideas that I've written down include, I want my company culture to be committed, to be high energy, to have a balance. So for me in my life, as a mum, I think it's really important that I don't jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Out of corporate life, with all those hours, and then not really having any freedom in my entrepreneurial life. This would put me back in exactly the same place and that's not the plan. That's not the lifestyle dream. So I have to make sure that within my company, we really balance our employees, relaxation time with family and time to work hard. Me, I'm the employee. So I have to manage my own time and I just found out that I’m not a really good boss to myself.


So as I've become an entrepreneur, I started working myself way too hard and not giving myself the balance. So for me, as I move forward, culture is important and that's a decision of the CEO to sometimes, just literally say, “No, get your hands off the keyboard. It's family time now. You can come back to this tomorrow.” It's really important that I stay balanced and grounded. I'm having fun and spending time with my family because that's what the vision is for my company.


Some of the people I've coached say they would like their company culture to be more decisive. They’d like to take more action. Or we want to stretch out of our comfort zone more. We want to be more brave. Have a good think. What does that look like for you? What would the culture of your company be? And start being that now. You don't need to wait. That's how you're going to develop your company. And that's you being a decisive CEO.

Right, so...this is what I want to tell you about... there's a really good report by McKinsey & Company. The report is called The Mindset and Practices of Excellent CEOs. What they did was, they interviewed 7,800 CEOs from over 70 countries, basically looking to see what CEO behaviors made the most success. And I really enjoyed this report and I drew so many parallels between how CEOs of these top performing companies behave and how we as solopreneurs also need to develop our CEO skills.


So let me tell you a bit about it... I've drawn out six of the key points that I think are going to be really helpful when you go to think and sit down on CEO day. Go through these one by one. The first action is to set a vision. This is where as a CEO, you ask, what does winning really mean? When would we decide that we've won? What does success look like? It's really important to set the vision as the CEO, to know whether you're reaching your milestones. You’ll want to know whether you've been realistic and indeed it's time to celebrate. I mean, how many times do we actually achieve something we wanted and then just instantly move on to the next thing, without even a moment to catch our breath and say, “Well done, we did it!” Let's take a moment to celebrate and feel good. We all know the more we feel good, the more we want to do it. So, we should be celebrating success. And you're not going to know when to celebrate if you haven't set what success looks like.


Number two, make bold moves early. Now, in the report, this says that you really need to be strong on resource allocation and productivity improvements. Let me break that down.


Resource allocation, for a big company could mean just money or the budget, but for us solopreneurs, it means both money and time. It's energy of any sort. You've got to make a decision where you’re going to invest?

You know, you've got all these opportunities to invest in training. You've also got opportunities to invest in paid advertising, or maybe your developing your website. There's going to be lots and lots of options to invest. But certainly CEOs that have been really, really successful for big corporations make bold moves early in their tenure.


So for us as new entrepreneurs, making decisions early about an upfront investment in a key piece of training. Whether that's a course or a program, or maybe getting that website up, because that is your shop. If that's the important thing and you as the CEO have decided to do it, do it quickly- be decisive. Certainly, the data shows, this will put you in a really strong position. Secondly, is productivity improvements. Another thing really close to my heart. If you're deciding how you can be more productive, think about what you can systemize. If it's a matter of getting your social media posting into a scheduler then make that decision early, Get the training. Get the PRO version, invest in the monthly subscription and just get that going. Invest the time that it takes to learn it. Because later you're going to reap the dividends because it's going to be automated.You're going to be able to put your time into things that are of higher value.


Number three, this one's about talent. That means hiring your staff. And here's something interesting because half of the CEOs interviewed for that report said that their biggest regret was leaving under-performers in place. And they'd wished that they'd moved them out of those roles earlier. Now, how does that translate into our roles as new entrepreneurs? Well, if you consider yourself as not only CEO, but all of your employees...you're the social media manager, you might be the website developer, your HR, you're the finance team. You're all of it. Ask yourself “What role am I really rubbish at? What am I spending loads of time on?” You're not doing a really great job because maybe you need to fire yourself from that role. Maybe, making the decision to outsource that in some way, maybe hire a VA or get some help quickly might make your journey from new entrepreneur to entrepreneurial success, so much smoother.


So, that's a really interesting one for me because I'm thinking about what areas I want to ditch. So for example, right now, I'm thinking about making sure I hire an accountant really soon. Even though I can do the bookkeeping, I'm not, because I'm not seeing it as a priority. I am a really rubbish bookkeeper right now. So I probably need to fire myself from that...[note to self].


Number four, defend against biases. Now this is the successful CEOs basically recognizing that as human beings, they come with biases and they need to be conscious of not bringing those biases into the business and organizational structure. They've got to make sure that they question biases all the time. This one crops up quite a lot for us as new entrepreneurs. It's basically, you need to look at your judgments and check that they make sense. Are your judgments about your business just led by mindset biases.


Let me give you an example. One of my entrepreneurial friends is making a lot of decisions about their program and about how they show up based on a mindset limitation. They actually don't like being very visible. So that's something that I just think is so prevalent, particularly for new entrepreneurs. Wouldn't it be great if we could just hide, not have to show our faces or go on video or just not show up in that way. And for her, she's realizing that showing up is not only the best thing for her business, but it makes an impact with her clients. She really does need to get over that bias and be on video and play a much more visible role in her own business. So if that's, you, then perhaps this is an opportunity to review that. But again, look at your own biases. Where is it that you're not making the right judgments because of something that you've believed for a long time, maybe it's time as CEO and on your CEO day, to question that.


Number five, this one is about prioritizing and interacting with key stakeholders. Now that is the title from the report, but basically we're talking about your ideal clients here. We need to prioritize our ideal clients and what they need. We need to interact with them. We need to really talk. So when it comes to running a business, to be cognizant, we need to be aware that the highest value and largest potential customer pools have got to take priority. We're building a business. We want to create an impact, but we want to create a large impact, where possible. A large and profitable one is even better, but we can't do that unless we really talk to our potential customers. We need to understand their experience, their pain points, their desires.


Now hopefully you're already on the path to doing this, but if for some reason you've skipped over this a bit and you've moved swiftly on to other areas as CEO, you might now decide it's time to sort of circle back. Create some way of communicating. Reaching out to make sure that you create really audience centric messages. You can only do that by listening intently. So, whether that's one-to-one or whether that's putting some messages out and asking people to reply on social media. Start really listening to what your ideal customer wants, so you can provide the best possible service for them.


And finally, number six, this is where CEOs, the best performing ones, have trusted advisors who give them unfiltered advice. So when it comes to big shot CEOs, they kind of exist in a bubble where they have a lot of ‘yes men’ around them and women saying, “Oh, you know, you're so fantastic.” They wouldn't tell them otherwise because of obvious reasons. But I think there's a nice parallel to you as an entrepreneur. People may not want to tell you the truth because you know, it's your business, your money. Maybe you've not been very receptive to being given the truth, because when you put your heart and soul into something, it might feel like criticism. I can certainly empathize with that one. I think I've perhaps been too defensive about some of my choices. My poor husband has been the one that's got it in the neck when he’s said “Really?” And I'd think it was marvelous because, you know, I've just spent all this time.


I was doing it but the reality is is you do have to give some opportunity for people to tell you the truth. Now it might be a spouse or it might not. So one way that I love to get unfiltered advice, is through an accountability pod that I'm a member of. When I get with that group, we're really, really honest with each other. Not in a mean way, you know, everyone is really kind, really supportive, but we don't let each other take risks or make mistakes without challenging them. I think that it's about having people around you that will ask you the right questions and give you the opportunity to really review why you're doing what you're doing. If it's sound, then you go ahead. But if it's not, it's better to have been challenged now and perhaps review and iterate, than it would be to drop into what might be very costly in time and energy.


So those are my thoughts about CEO day. I hope that they've been helpful. But the most important thing to bear in mind is just to do it. The best way of doing that is to make sure it's already in your calendar. So when you’ve finished listening to this or get back to your desk. Just go to your calendar and put in every single month, a minimum of half a day and just blank it out. Call it a CEO day. You're not going to allow any other meetings to drop into CEO day. This is a time just for you to question everything you're doing in your business and make sure that you're heading in the right direction. A direction that feels fully aligned with your integrity and the vision for your business but is also aligned to making a great impact and great profits.


Well, have an action filled day! Speak Soon.. Bye.





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