Tags: big moves | small business | ceos | economy

Best Big-Business Moves for a Small-Business CEO

Best Big-Business Moves for a Small-Business CEO

By    |   Thursday, 24 March 2016 10:59 AM

Large and small, all businesses have one thing in common: someone in charge. And that leader’s performance — good, bad, or mediocre — has an outsized and lasting effect on the organization’s success. Large companies know this and cultivate their top talent through leadership training at each career stage.

As a small-business CEO, you might not have had those opportunities. Like so many other things, you figured it out as you went along. But in a marketplace where you compete against the behemoths, wouldn’t it be nice to know their secrets?

To find out what the big players do to ensure their businesses grow and succeed, we spoke to David Rohlander, author of "The CEO Code: Create a Great Company and Inspire People to Greatness With Practical Advice From an Experienced Executive." He shares these common mindsets and tactics used by large-business leaders that can translate to the small-business CEO’s needs:

Unplug from your business. Rohlander notes that many small-business owners tend to become “obsessed” with their companies, thinking about them 24/7. “A typical large company doesn’t have the same type of emotional involvement,” he says. “It’s more of a job.”

Of course, a small-business owner’s passion can inspire excellent work and drive innovation, but it also can backfire. If a leader burns out and loses his or her enthusiasm for the work, it’ll certainly hold a company back. “No matter how intensely they love their business, they need to figure out ways to back off, relax, get some exercise, and work on their spiritual life, family life, and hobbies,” Rohlander says.

Don’t neglect the planning aspect of your job. “Every leader has four primary functions: planning, communicating, managing, and execution,” Rohlander explains. “Larger companies tend to spend a lot of time on plans, and entrepreneurs spend all their time on execution.” Improve your performance by setting aside time to plan and strategize.

Meet with employees one-on-one.
The yearly performance review is a hallmark of big-business culture, and Rohlander says it also can be useful in small companies for tracking employee progress. However, touching base just once a year can leave you open to unpleasant surprises.

Because most problems are communication related at their core, he says the solution is to have regular, one-on-one meetings with your reports — with no agenda. Just ask what’s going on and how you can help and celebrate their successes. “It’s what you would call with your significant other a ‘date night,’” he says. Not having these regular, low-stress meet-ups spells trouble in a business relationship.

Incorporate one key metric.
Large companies measure their workers’ productivity obsessively. We’re not saying you have to go that far. Instead, identify your biggest challenge and brainstorm ways to measure progress on addressing it. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Rohlander says. “Every day people have to know whether they have won or lost.”

Get quoted. It’s common for CEOs of large companies to be interviewed by national newspapers and magazines. As your business becomes more and more successful, you may need to do the same. To get comfortable with the process now, connect with local writers who cover your industry and offer yourself as a source. Or, if your writing is high quality, consider penning a book, magazine article, or blog post to cultivate a reputation as an expert in your field. When it comes to the media, Rohlander says, “the more you give, the more you get.”

Solicit regular feedback from clients. Have you noticed that every receipt from a retail store these days asks you to take a customer satisfaction survey? It’s uncommon for small businesses to request such feedback, so you may only hear from clients when there is a complaint — and that’s a missed opportunity. “Many minds are better than one mind,” Rohlander says. Find out what your customers want from you so your business can grow and change with their needs.

Try exporting. According to the Small Business Administration, two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries. And because of the Internet, reaching them is easier than ever. Rohlander has experienced this firsthand. “I have sold more of my books in Brazil and India than in this country,” he says. If your product or service can be exported, you owe it to your business to investigate if it’s a smart move. Explore opportunities and resources available at www.export.gov.

Be a continual learner. A lifelong commitment to education is a common trait of many big-business leaders. But we’re not talking about obtaining advanced degrees here. “Some of the most successful people are self-educated,” Rohlander says. What matters more is building the habit of learning, in whatever format works for you. “You never arrive,” he says. “You’re continually trying to improve.”

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Large and small, all businesses have one thing in common: someone in charge. And that leader's performance - good, bad, or mediocre - has an outsized and lasting effect on the organization's success.
big moves, small business, ceos, economy
Thursday, 24 March 2016 10:59 AM
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