Are You Acting Like A Business Owner Or A CEO

I’ve seen it hundreds of times, you’ve probably seen it too – or maybe you have even experienced it. Someone decides to follow their passion and realize their dream of becoming a business owner. The business makes it through those first couple of years and things are going really well. Revenues are growing nicely and the business is making a profit. Staff have been added along the way and suddenly there is a team of 10 or 20+ people. That’s when the dream turns into a nightmare.

The business owner is working 80 hours or more a week. Quality starts to suffer, deadlines are missed and customers start to complain. The passion is gone and all the business owner can see is problems: problems with staff, problems with customers, problems with vendors… and the list goes on. They feel like they are facing the daunting task of plugging 1,000s of leaks in the dam with just their fingers – and they only have 10 fingers. What is often referred to as “entrepreneurial burnout” sets in.

The business owner is at a crossroads and one of two things is likely to happen: they will either get out – sell the business if they are lucky or more likely just walk away; or they will transition to a CEO.

Transitioning to a CEO is a process and it starts with delegation. It is a failure to effectively delegate (and delegating is not dumping) that is the cause of entrepreneurial burnout. Start the delegation process early in your business when you just have an employee or two (or if it is already too late for that start now). According to the stages of growth outlined by the Growth Curve Institute if you have not learned to successfully delegate tasks, responsibility and decision making by the time you have reached 20 to 34 employees you are at extreme risk of entrepreneurial burnout.

Refuse to fall into the trap of making all the decisions and solving all the problems. When a staff member comes to you for a decision or to solve a problem, “bounce it back” to them and ask them what they think should be done – how they would handle the situation if they were in your shoes. I find it helpful to keep the metaphor of a beach ball in mind. When you delegate make sure the person you are delegating to has the knowledge, skills and resources to be successful. If they don’t and they are not successful it is your failure – not theirs.

The next step in transitioning to a CEO is to differentiate roles and responsibilities; begin to put supervisors and managers in place; and develop clearly defined departments with identified department heads. According to the Stages of Growth outlined by the Growth Curve Institute this needs to happen when the level of complexity reaches 35-57 employees.

Once departments and department heads are in place at a point of approximately 160 employees according to the Growth Curve Institute you must develop a fully functioning leadership team and your role becomes one of setting a strategic vision for the business, defining the culture, distributing authority and maintaining accountability.

Don’t let your dream turn into a nightmare, start a regular practice of delegating now. If you are already experiencing the nightmare, it’s time to wake-up and begin the journey back to your dream.

Are you tired of doing too much that your team could or should be doing?

Are you adding more and more people but achieving less and less in results?

Are you ready to stop being managed by your business and start leading it to even greater success?

Explore how our coaching, facilitative consulting and training services might be able to help. Email Julie at; call her at 972-701-9311; or connect with Julie at

Want more tips and resources to help you dissolve barriers to business success by unlocking the potential of your people and harnessing the power of teamwork?

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POSTED ON: Strategy and Vision