I remember when I first decided to start my own business. I was a year out of law school and I had worked for two different solo practitioners. Both practiced in areas that I was not interested in. I was interested in working for a corporation and was applying anywhere and everywhere I could. I tried for over a year to find a corporate job. I remember that I was so fed up that I just decided to get some business cards and go it alone until someone would hire me. Fifteen years later, I am advising small businesses on how not to do what I did.
I had no idea what I was doing or why, I simply needed income to feed my family and “hanging up my shingle” seemed like the best thing to do at the time. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made but it was a long winding road that lead me here. There were straighter, less crooked, paths I should have taken. Owning your own business is difficult. I have found that not having stable income, finding reliable and useful help, marketing; and (I have to slap my own had for this one) not having all of my agreements well documented to be the most difficult issues for me and most businesses. I realized that my business was never going to grow beyond what it was at the time if I did not start making some serious changes.
The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who takes risks to earn a profit. I would take that a step further to say that an entrepreneur takes risks to realize a dream. Investors take risks to earn a profit; entrepreneurs risk their livelihood for a dream. A CEO develops and implements high-level strategies while making major corporate decisions. Thinking like a CEO means to look at your business as whole over a period of time and having a plan to achieve a certain outcome. That means that the risk taking is thoughtful and not on a whim. It means that you have to have a change of mindset. Having an entrepreneur mindset sounds good in theory and on paper, but the truth is the entrepreneur mindset will keep you stagnant and prevent your business from growing into its full potential. I had to stop taking risks hoping for a return and start to think strategically about my business. I had to start looking at my company as something separate and bigger from myself. It required a big change in thought. It also required me to listen to other people and respect their thought process. If you want your business to grow beyond you, then you have to start thinking like a CEO.
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.
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