Imagine that you are a CEO with critical decisions to make daily, but no clue how to make them. You look over your bookkeeping, and the piled-up accounts receivables, as well as the accounts payables lingering nearby. Suddenly, your thoughts spring to your P & L Statement. It seems miserable, definitely lower than your projections because your projections were asinine.
Your accountant pulls your attention back to payroll, how will you cover the cash flow gap? Cash flow gap?? How the hell should you know? You went to college for creative writing, or human interaction, or some other major that in no way prepared you to be a CEO. Behind you, someone yells we have to be more aggressive with our marketing! How are you generating enough new sales to keep this merry-go-round spinning? How do you plan to pay your people?
— Speak Social (@SpeakSocial) February 4, 2013
This is the point when most business owners throw up their hands and proclaim to have no idea. It’s OK to do that. However, far too many entrepreneurs take this immediate next step: find someone to fix your problems for you.
Unfortunately, most people won’t tell you one secret. No one knows how to fix the problem of you not being CEO-enough to lead your business.
Sure, there are plenty of small (or even large) operational issues that someone could fix for you. If you singlehandedly keep the ugliest bookkeeping imaginable, a great accountant can fix that. Perhaps you have a sketchy (or even nonexistent) outbound sales strategy, a great Business Developer or CFO can fix that too.
When the problem is someone properly driving your dream forward, most likely you are the one that needs to lead your people – you just don’t know it yet.
You still see yourself as an ambitious do-it-yourselfer with a dream. How could you possibly know how to read profit margins? Someone who is educated in business and finance must be able to manage your dream better than you.
Think about this. If you hold a clear vision for your company’s mission, have the original passion and love for the project, and no honest external factors preventing you from accomplishing it (bigger than fears of waking up before 11); then you are likely the best CEO for your company.
The thing is, (and I feel perfectly comfortable to admit this) most CEOs have no clue what they are doing! This is the world’s best-kept secret, but word is getting quickly out, as you can read in this great Fast Company interview of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.
“Nobody is actually a natural CEO,” the article reads. “You learn the job, and the job is hard and weird and awkward and unnatural.”
These people may look like they have all the experience required to run any company, but the fact is that every CEO has new things to figure out each day – just like you do.
The problem is, if you hire someone to lead for you, your entire company culture becomes vulnerable to change; often in the worst ways possible. Very few CEOs for hire will have the same passion for your dream and love for your culture as you do. If you know the mission best, why do you need an outside authority?
Is it because you don’t have the proper business education? Neither do the others. The best business schools in the nation still can’t teach every student every possible scenario that a business owner could encounter.
So, we are back where we started. You – just like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos or Tony Hsieh – have no idea what you’re doing, or how you are going to do it. The only thing you know with confidence is your culture, your mission and your purpose. You hold the same weapons as any other CEO did in the beginning, so gather your confidence and fire away … lest you be left in the dust.