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Maggie Harlow

10 Easy Things You Can Do to Be a Better CEO

Start by questioning if the thing you’re working on is really the best use of your time.




I KNOW, I KNOW — your days are a series of small firefights, and big blazes break out now and then. All small business owners can feel reactive at times, unable to do some of the really important things that only the chief executive can do.

My excuse when my “CEO work” isn’t done? “I’m too busy!” But push any excuse to the side. As CEO, you don’t have a boss, so you have to be your own boss and manage yourself.

Be willing to question what you are working on and whether it absolutely must involve you. Are you covering for an underperforming employee? Are you unwilling or unable to train folks to do things you want them to do? Are you reluctant to relinquish control, to let employees learn the hard way, make mistakes, but thereby grow?

You opened a business to be the CEO, so get busy being CEO!

Sometimes I need a knock on the head to get myself out of the “just do it” mode and into the “think about what you are doing next” mode. A fresh list of ideas is always a good prompt for me to remember what it takes to be the owner and CEO.

Here’s a list of 10 things to make you a better “self-CEO,” each taking only 10 minutes to do!


Try a different one each day. See if any can help you get out of the trenches and back into a leadership mindset.

  1. Post one project on your social media you are personally proud of. Thank your customer and any team members that helped make it happen.
  2. Write a thank-you note to a customer you love to work with or a team member who did something spectacular.
  3. Run a YTD list of sales and take note of the customers in your top 10. Any surprises? Share the list with your team and remind them these customers pay the bills.
  4. Walk around your showroom and front entry area. Find anything that needs attention — and dispatch a team member on that…
  5. Jump onto your Google Business Page, check for reviews and respond to all of them. Thank your customers for the reviews when they post. That is worth a lot to you!
  6. If you keep one, look at your calendar. Notice where you spend your time and if it is always on high-value tasks. Consider delegating one or two things to employees.
  7. Call your mentor to talk and catch up! Don’t have one? Put a post on LinkedIn that you are seeking a mentor to help you develop as a CEO. You will get responses. I guarantee it!
  8. Take a walk near your business. Stop into three neighboring businesses and drop off your card as a hello.
  9. Look at your P&L statement. Look at it. If you don’t know what you are looking for or feel overwhelmed, find that mentor to help you. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to look like you don’t know. Anyone can learn to speak the language of accounting! Even learning the basics is helpful.
  10. That one employee who is letting you down, not doing what you need, not improving … Sit them down for 10 minutes and talk about the issues. Whatever comes out of it, you’ll feel better — I promise!

New behaviors result from new habits. Get into the habit of shifting your mindset into being CEO. You might like it there!

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