Before I was a CEO, a CEO was someone in a suit who spoke on TV when something went wrong in a business. They were a million miles away from me.
I grew up in social housing and whilst there were lots of independent business people around, there were no CEOs.
I was wrong.
Whether you call yourself one or not, if you run a business, have a side hustle, are a tradesperson or in any role which involves being your own boss, you are a CEO.
The CEO is an organisation's boss, regardless of how many employees it has. You can call yourself by any title you want but if you're the gaffer, the MD, the Boss Baby, then you’re the CEO.
So, what does a CEO do? What should they do in a single person company? What happens as the business grows?
Well, I can’t and won’t answer all those questions here, but I will aim to set out some basics to get you on your way.
1) The cash, money, moolah, coins
You are in charge of making sure there is enough money in the bank. As the old saying goes “cash is king” and as CEO you need to be all over this.
You should check on the cash position of the business every day. Understand who owes you what and when they will pay you. There are a million different ways of doing this but some form of simple system is best. We use Xero and it works well. Others are FreeAgent (which is free with some banks), QuickBooks and Sage.
Keep on top of the money: the cash being low isn’t always an issue, but not knowing it’s low always is.
2) THE plan
Yup, ‘THE’ in capitals.
I don’t subscribe to the idea of needing some far-out 5-year business plan for a new business. Who can predict where we will be in 5 years? I certainly can’t.
You do however need a plan that gets longer as your business grows in size. 3-6 months is fine for small businesses with tasks broken down and prioritised to get you there. Small tasks are done in an order that makes up the master plan.
The plan should also include any hiring decisions you will make, and the targets you need to hit to hire.
Again, use a tool to help you. This could be a spreadsheet, a notebook or some planning software (I use Todoist). But if you don’t write it down, it might not happen.
3) Be organised
I know it sounds obvious but it is super important. Don’t be late and do things when you say you will do them. Read your f*cking email. Not being organised enough will cost you money, customers and respect.
Having said that, it's super easy. Get a diary, paper or in the cloud and use it religiously. I just use Google Calendar but there are hundreds of others.
When it comes to emails and calls, make sure you are prompt with your replies. If an email or call is worth your time, it's worth your time right now. Don’t put it off, either deal with it or decide to leave it.
Follow these three things and you're onto a good start. These can help to smooth what will be a journey of ups and downs.
P.S. Don't listen to anyone who says they have this shit completely nailed down. They don’t - we are all to some degree or other winging it a bit.