Are you a CEO or a small business owner?

Mar 13, 2019

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

When I started my first company,, I called myself CEO, but I wasn’t really a CEO. I had to declare a title in the operational agreement for the company. I went with CEO, but I was more like the restaurant owner who shows up and washes dishes during a lunch rush.

I was a small business owner who spent more time doing work and putting out fires than directing the company.

But I was the owner of the company.

Ultimately I was responsible for everything, so I felt like the CEO. In reality, that was my naiveté talking.

It wasn’t until years later when I started taking MBA level courses that I realised I wasn’t acting like a CEO at all. I may have been the CEO on paper, but I wasn’t a CEO in practice.

This isn’t at all uncommon. Small business owners commonly call themselves CEO, but act more like the Chief Bottle Washer.

I’ve seen this time and time again in the digital business world where traditional business education is reviled, and ridiculed.

But the digital business organisations that thrive and stand the test of time do so because they follow traditional business principles.

And at the core, is the business owner truly being a CEO.

If you look at Amy Porterfield or Jeff Walker — my two favourite two titans in the digital business world — they are very much the CEO of their business, and not the Chief Bottle Washer.

They are both responsible for the direction of their business. Both Amy and Jeff take the 10,000 foot view of their businesses, set the agenda, and then delegate effectively to ensure milestones are met.

Now, this doesn’t mean they aren’t doing work. (As anyone who subscribes to Amy’s podcast can attest, Amy is a content machine.)

But the work of a CEO is very different than the work of a small business owner or solopreneur.

Take a look at your business and the work you do each day, and ask yourself honestly: are you acting like a small business owner, or a CEO?

From there, start looking at the tasks you’re doing that a CEO wouldn’t do. Generally, tasks that can be done for a low dollar amount by a Virtual Assistant should come off your plate. (And you should hire an assistant ASAP.)

Before you prioritize your daily to-do list, think about the tasks you have to do. Prioritize the ones that are more in line with your role as a CEO. Do these most important things first to ensure you’re putting your best energy into moving your business forward.



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