6 Steps to Adopt a CEO Mindset for Small Business Owners


There’s a reason why the title CEO is so well respected. When you think of a CEO, you imagine someone influential, in charge, and leading a business to success. There’s a certain mindset that CEOs adapt to thrive in their position. 

While you might not be leading a Fortune 500 company, you can and should adopt a CEO mindset in your business. Unfortunately, many business owners operate as employees for their own company, which can severely stunt growth. 

As you grow your business, you must recognize where you’re operating as an employee and identify steps you can take to transform your mindset to that of a CEO.

What’s an employee mindset?

When you operate with an employee mindset, you are focused on doing the work within your business. You see putting in long hours as a badge of honor instead of prioritizing the value you bring to the company. 

It’s easy to adopt an employee mindset, specifically if you have career or job experience outside your small business. As an employee, your role is often being told what to do and following through with those tasks. You work a set number of hours to get a paycheck and believe you have to work 40+ hours a week to make an impact.

While you might start a business with an employee mindset, when you’re ready to move to the next level and be a 6 or 7 figure business owner, you have to move from employee mindset to CEO mindset.

Do you have any of these common employee mindset traits?

  • You’re a solopreneur – you wear every hat in your business, which doesn’t give you the time or mental space to move to the next level
  • You have a never-ending to-do list – you don’t have support in your business; therefore, you’re left struggling to do all the things on your list and failing to uphold a standard across the board
  • You always work long hours – you’re constantly in work mode because you’re doing it all in your business 
  • You focus on tasks, not strategy – because you’re inundated with tasks, it’s challenging for you to take a step back and focus on strategic planning to grow your business

What’s a CEO mindset?

As a CEO, you are focused on the results your business gets. You have a vision for where your company is headed and make strategic decisions based on your long-term goals. 

You value your time and realize that you must spend your time on high-value activities instead of doing “all the things” so you can focus on leading your company to the next level. 

When you adopt a CEO mindset, you have others on your team who can help you achieve the goals for your business. 

Do you have any of these common CEO mindset traits?

  • You focus on income-generating tasks – with this shift in mindset, you prioritize tasks that are within your zone of genius and will lead to growth in your company while outsourcing busy work and tasks outside of your zone of genius
  • You have your systems down – systems help your business operate smoothly, and you have systems for everything – SOPs, handbooks, automation – the whole 9 yards
  • You have a profit mindset – you understand that your business is operating to make money, so you focus on offering products and services that will generate the profit your business needs to be sustainable and grow
  • You can take time away – as a CEO, your business should not collapse because you take a vacation or time away when you’re under the weather. Your company has systems and support in place to continue even when you have to step away from the office. 

Here are 6 steps you can take to adopt a CEO mindset in your business – whether you run a one-person show or operate with a small team. 

Operate with a vision

As the CEO, you must lead your company. That means having a vision for where you’re going. Why does your business exist? What do you want to achieve? Once you identify a vision for your company, you want to take strategic action to help you move toward achieving that goal.

Value your time

Part of having a CEO mindset is ensuring that you value the time you put into your company. You say no to busy work and opportunities that come your way that don’t align with your goals. In protecting your time, you focus on the things that support the vision you have for your company. 

Implement strategic planning 

Instead of being flooded with busy work every day, you prioritize strategic planning sessions. Once you identify a vision for your company, you have to develop strategies to ensure you’re on track to making your dream come true. This might be something you can do solo, or you could use the support of a specialist in this area, but taking time away from day to day demands of your business to focus on making data informed decisions is critical.

Improve your focus

There are a never-ending amount of things on your plate as a business owner. Between your ever-growing to-do list and shiny object syndrome, it can feel nearly impossible to focus on the critical matters at hand, but as a CEO, that’s what you do.

You eliminate things that don’t support your company’s growth, and with fewer priorities and projects to focus on, you can experience the benefits of narrowing in on your focus.  

Build relationships

As a CEO, your mindset impacts others besides yourself. You understand while you’re building a profitable business, it’s your relationships with those in your industry, on your team, and your clients and customers that truly make the impact on your success. That’s why you lead with integrity and inspire those around you to do the same. 

Implement systems

You recognize that systems are non-negotiable in your business. Whether you are the only person in your business or others on your team, you have a company handbook, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and policies in place for your business. You have systems in place for your social media, marketing, finances, team, and all the other parts of your business. 

As you reframe your mindset to step into the CEO role in your business, realize that you don’t have to do it alone. One of the best first steps you can take is identifying areas of lack and the support needed to go from lackluster to in the flow without guilt or overload. 

If you’re a busy entrepreneur ready to find your next team member, then I invite you to get my free list of reputable places you can hire from. Click here to get some CEO support.

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