Think Like a CEO: Optimizing Your Business (and the Results)
When you’re a business owner – from a startup to a franchise to a franchisor – it’s easy to get emotionally attached to your company. There’s a reason why so many people refer to their businesses as their babies or their dreams. It’s special. But no matter how close your business becomes to your heart, you are doing yourself, your business, your family, your employees, your investors and anyone else with a stake in your business a disservice if you don’t start thinking more like a CEO than a business owner.
CEOs see the big picture. Good times or bad, they see things objectively from an elevated review and are always searching for better ways to run the business and optimize its results. They seek out and share the truth with their teams... the good, bad, and ugly. And they seek diverse input and ways to improve upon and optimize that truth. Similarly, thinking like a CEO allows you to elevate your mindset and focus on getting more from your current resources and efforts, especially during challenging economic times. Ready to think optimization?
When you are thinking like a CEO, you must learn to ask yourself and others (internal and external stakeholders) more empowering questions to optimize your company's performance. Consider this: “How can our business get greater results from every action we take, every expenditure we make, every effort we expend, and every relationship we have?” Yes, it sounds like a lot... but you have a lot to gain. Optimization is just as much about attitude as anything else.
Optimization (also known as leverage) is a mindset of maximizing your results while simultaneously minimizing the amount of time, effort, risk, money, and energy you expend. It’s all about getting greater productivity, performance, profitability, and payback from all your ideas, assets, knowledge, systems, processes, practices, people and opportunities. It’s about using your mind and limited business resources in new and better ways and using your creative intelligence as an incredible force to increase your sales, customer satisfaction, profits, and quality.
Optimization is about freeing yourself and your organization from old ways and limiting beliefs, the “we’ve always done it this way” attitudes and established and confining industry practices. It’s the adage of working smarter and opportunities are everywhere.
For example, have you asked your current customers if there’s anything else you can do for them? Have you tried a thank you call to earn their repeat business? If you have a customer who has left, try reaching out to see how you can regain their trust and their business. You also can’t be afraid to ask your employees, customers, and suppliers/vendors for business-improvement suggestions. They won’t have the same blinders you have, so they can objectively see real optimization opportunities all around the business. But remember, if you ask for suggestions, you must be ready to take those suggestions. We’re not saying you must make every change, but customers, employees and partners will get frustrated if you ask for their opinion and then ignore their replies.
To master the art of optimization and leave the status quo behind, all you need is an “opportunity mindset” and a handful of questions. Here are a few of our favorite:
As a leader, what is the highest and best use of my time, talent, and treasures?
What company resources are we overlooking or under-utilizing?
How can we work smarter, not harder?
What processes or departments within our business are under-performing?
What past or current relationships could we more fully leverage (i.e., customers, employees, vendors, suppliers, advisers, etc.)?
What other industries could provide us with some innovative best practices?
Where are the hidden profit and customer service opportunities within our business?
Who do we routinely cut checks to (landlord, banker, CPA, suppliers, vendors) that we should be asking to help promote and advance our business?
What optimization suggestions from our employees, suppliers/vendors, and customers should we pursue first?
Expand your mind and your leadership potential and your business and opportunities expand exponentially. The more you grow as a leader, the more your business grows as a market leader. Think optimization, not status quo. Think like a CEO.