Ep #78: Transitioning from Entrepreneur to CEO

 In Podcast

What does it mean – transitioning from being an entrepreneur to CEO? As a solopreneur, the essential asset is you and your talent. As an entrepreneur the asset is you as a manager. But, as a CEO, the asset is you as a leader. Are you ready? Let’s go!

What you’ll find in this episode:

  1. How boundaries change through the different transitions – especially from entrepreneur to CEO.
  2. Learning to leverage the talents of others.
  3. Why it’s a fact that you can’t lead others in a business if you don’t understand the mechanics of management.
  4. The CEO as an orchestra conductor.
  5. Getting comfortable with “strategy.”

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:

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Podcast Transcript

Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team Podcast. Running a million dollar business is not easy, and whether you’re just getting started with building your team or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now, today, to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Hello. How are you? How are you? How are you? How are you? I am so happy that you’re here. I am going to talk to you today about the second part of this, I guess we could call it a series. It’s my podcast, which is always a series. I watch how a lot of people do like seasons of their podcast, which I think is fun. I don’t think I’ll ever do that, but I think it’s an interesting concept. So welcome to part two of where we’re talking about different sort of steps in that entrepreneurial journey as we get closer and closer to CEO. I want to thank those of you who posted reviews. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate you.

Then I also want to thank those of you who have already started joining the wait list for How To CEO. Let’s go, come on. Listen, here’s the thing. One of my most favoritest people to learn from, Ali Brown, who, as you know, I speak very highly of. I was on her podcast; if you haven’t listened, you must. She was on mine; if you haven’t listened, you must. Then she coached me, which was amazing, and then I coached her. It’s been so fun. But we talked about how this, just this year, is just nuts, and I really have made the decision that all of the eek of this year, anything I didn’t want, I’m not bringing it with me in 2021. We’re just going to … whatever we needed to leave behind, even before all of the changes that have happened in the pandemic and all of the crazy, I’m going to leave it here.

So if that’s where you are, I’m hoping that’s what I’m helping you do here as we transition. We start talking more about really entertaining and getting to know this inner CEO of yours. As I work with more and more clients who I … we worked together longer and I watched my clients really mature through this process, I really recognize that the entrepreneurial management is simply the most critical stepping stone to get you to your CEO-ness. Because I believe that when you’re in that CEO role and you really own it, and you really possess the role, it is just so powerful to be in that space, and I want that for every single woman who also wants it, too.

So my vision of my business and the work I do in the world is to prove the power of one thriving woman. If there’s one thing I’ve heard over the years through the work that I’ve done is people saying to me, “Thank you for the work I did with you. Because I did this with you, I was able to do …” and then insert here, so many other things that then had such a grand impact on other people, which is why I love what I do, because I believe that women are … we are the touch point, we are the center stone, we are the grounding point for so many people in our lives. And you feeling good and having the tools you need, especially as a woman who’s running a business, to me, is a sure-fire way to having massive impact on the world, frankly. I have a very ambitious goal. So we all need to get to it, right? We’ve got work to do.

So today we’re going to talk about that transition from entrepreneurial-hood, so being an entrepreneur, to really stepping in and owning that CEO role. Now, it’s funny, I remember when I first started my business, so it was just about eight years ago, and actually just now it’s been a little over eight years ago, and I was filling out all my LLC paperwork at the time and my business name and all the things you have to do when you start a business … oh, and the bank. That was at the bank. I remember I wanted to call myself a CEO, but the bank, I think it was the bank, maybe it was the LLC people. Now I can’t remember. But they were like, “No, you have to pick owner,” or something. And I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to be an owner. I don’t like owner. I don’t want to be an owner.” I felt very heavy and laden with responsibility. So, but I remember even then, like just wanting to possess that CEO title. Little did I know how much I had to do to really earn it, but that’s okay. That’s part of the process.

So let’s talk about the difference. So last we left off with entrepreneurs, and entrepreneur space, it’s you start to transition. You transition out of me, go into we, and you’re really focused on building that team, thinking about a team, building your management skill, like getting work done through other people. It’s when you start to have this relationship with your business that’s outside of yourself. Taking that capacity in your mind, the ideas of your brain, the skills that you have, and putting them into processes, which then can become systems, which then can become practices to get work done through others. It’s a rough bumpy go for a lot of people because the essential skill here is managing, learning how to manage, and it’s brutal. Learning how to manage people when you haven’t had that innate experience in life is it’s very hard. So trust me, I talk to people about it all day, every day.

So entrepreneurs are managing, you’re delegating. It’s where you really learn how to delegate. We talked about that we went from the boundaries being around you and your clients to being now about between you and your team, and also with your time and the work that you say yes or no to. So you cut your teeth on really those moments of realizing like, you really do get, like, “Okay, there is only so much I really can do. I can’t do more. I have to leverage the talents of other people.” So everything really starts to become about a team.

Then when you really develop that entrepreneurial maturity, and you have clean boundaries, and you have systems in place, and you are managing the business and the work of the team, that’s when you come to me, because this is what happens is people like that come to me and they’ll say, “I need to learn how to be a CEO. It’s a natural … I’ve watched it now happen so many times, it’s this natural progression. Even though you might have been calling yourself a CEO, you just may not have felt like you possessed the role, and there’s this, I don’t know what, switch that happens, where we recognize and we go from that essential skill.

So remember when you’re a solopreneur, the essential asset is you and your talent. When you’re an entrepreneur, the essential asset is you as a manager. It’s how you’re going to get the work done through others. When we transition to CEO, it’s you as a leader, which is different. While there are many leaders in the world who lead movements, when we’re talking about leadership in the context of a business, you have to go through the path of managing because you cannot effectively lead others through a business, in a business, if you don’t understand the mechanics of management.

To be frank, to the people who’ve come before us, you can see where these things happen. When you see the trajectory of a CEO, like a founder CEO, who developed something on the planet, and it goes really, really well and they make a ton of money and they are theoretically leaders in their world, and they fail. They flop. They don’t make it. Why? Because they went straight from being a founder to a leader of a movement or a business without learning how to manage. All the mechanics, you have to have solid business management acumen to be a CEO. I’m putting my stake in the ground on that. I’m sure somebody wants to argue with me. It’s not going to get far with me on that one because I’ve worked for people who skipped the management part, and they don’t know when you don’t understand the mechanics of managing others and getting work done through others, it’s very hard to lead in a business environment.

Now, can I be a leader of a movement? Probably, but I have to understand the mechanics of the movement. Can I be a leader of an army? Yes, but I have to understand the mechanics of armies. You follow me? So you can’t skip the entrepreneurial part, y’all. I’ve tried. I’ve had women hire me and say, “I don’t want to have to learn … I don’t want to have to manage people,” and they really do try with lots of effort to hire people to do it for them and it ends up blowing up in their face because they don’t understand the mechanics of management. I know it sucks to learn it, but it’s the gift of a never-ending stops giving once you understand it.

So then we step, so when we get into CEO-hood, now we’re in leadership. I referenced this a few podcasts ago, it’s still one of my most favorite analogies that, frankly, I’ve come up with. I’m entertaining myself here by myself in my office. But I like to think about that CEO role, so I think I’ve talked about this before. But when I was young and very impressionable, I worked in a small business in San Diego and it was run by a woman who was very successful in her right, in the space in the world, and she had built a beautiful business. We worked out at this gorgeous old Victorian home outside of the City of San Diego. She was very well-known in our community, very well-networked. In fact, very busy. As a result, she had a lot of partnerships and relationships with people. That was her role was her networking and her connecting in the world.

She was started as a scrappy person in her space. It was destination management. So she started that way. But when I met her, she had this team of 30, 40 people all in this beautiful home, all producing exceptional events for large incentive, travel trips all over that … everybody who came to San Diego. My memory of her is she wasn’t in the office all the time, and when she was in the office, she had an office with a big table in it, and she would conduct these meetings with her team. They planned all these very extravagant, beautiful events.

So what she did in those meetings is she served as a consultant. So she wasn’t picking out table linens or flowers. She wasn’t in the weeds. She was advising and consulting as her team, who she was paying really good money to from her business, came to her to tell her how they were going to execute on a particular vision of an event, and it worked because she hired really good people, okay? So that’s what I want you to hold when you think about the CEO role is that you’re at the table and you are being your … your advice and recommendations and consultation is being leveraged by other very talented, equally capable professionals.

So that’s why the idea of the metaphor of a conductor really works for me because if you just throw an orchestra on a stage and say, “Okay, everybody’s here. Now start playing,” it’s not going to work. It’ll sound like a cacophonous mess. If you, as the conductor, sit down in the flutist chair, or start playing the piano, or you start playing the trumpet, that’s not going to work because the rest of the musicians need to know what to do. And, oh, by the way, they all need music to play. They all need a common goal, they all need a direction, which is what you provide as the conductor. But you don’t do the job of the individual players. You listen, you observe, you give feedback, and you tweak and guide them through the process of delivering a masterpiece. That is being a CEO.

Now, does that mean there’s not going to be people you don’t manage? No, you’ll always have someone to manage. If you’re the CEO of a business, there will always be people you have to manage. Always. Do those conversations change as you elevate in your business, and they elevate? Yes. You go from being in the weeds, being very tactical. Most entrepreneurs are very tactical. You go from there to being at higher level strategic conversations. For some people that is, in and of itself, quite difficult do because production and focusing on the tactics is also such a drive, like such a fascination and you enjoy it that getting into strategy can feel like you’re too far removed, that you’ve let go of control. But the only way you’re going to grow is if you learn how to do that. You can get good at strategy. It’s all in the questions you ask. It’s all in the communication that you have. It’s all in the mindset that you have.

So the solopreneur goes from me to we as an entrepreneur, and the CEO, when you go from entrepreneur to CEO, you go from we to us, which I know sounds a little weird. Like, aren’t those the same? But they’re kind of not in my mind. Us is now the business. Entrepreneur is about the team. CEO is about all of it. So solopreneur is about me and the work I do. Entrepreneur is about me and the team I have. CEO is about the business I run and the collective us that makes it happen. So as the CEO, your job is to constantly be consulting the benefit of anything to the business, not to you, and frankly, not for the team.

I like to think about that the CEO focuses on the infrastructure of the business and the organizational structure of a business. Do we have the right roles in place to support the goals of the business versus an entrepreneur is focusing on the team and the individual players. Entrepreneur is where … One of the challenges a lot of entrepreneurs run into is they treat the business like a family, not a team. So if you’ve got someone that you’ve worked with you for a while and you really like them, but they’re not doing a great job, you like try and find a new job for them. I think when we start thinking more like a CEO, we’re less likely to do that because now we’re really looking at what the team needs in terms of the business, like the organizational structure. How does the business thrive? What does the business need?

So it doesn’t mean that we are not interested in the success of our employees, so please don’t misunderstand me. It’s just your mindset as a CEO is that’s the evolution there, okay? So in the How To CEO program, then we’re going to be doing live here for female entrepreneurs, we’re going to talk about all of these elements. We’re going to talk about solopreneur, entrepreneur, CEO, what you need to work on in each one of those because as I’ve mentioned, it’s not just tactics. It’s not organizational size. It’s mindset. Frankly, there are some people who probably have businesses that could be considered like needing a CEO and they’re still, in many ways, acting like a solopreneur. So really we have to … I want to meet you all where you are, because there’s no easy way that … Well, I can diagnose where you are, but there’s no easy way to help you unpack each option until we talk about the steps to get there.

As I mentioned, the transition from each one of these is going to require the most of you. This is about you accessing your own confidence and your own courage to learn and do things differently, and we all know how much humans like to do new things. So I’m super excited. So go to how2ceolive.com … that’s how, with the number two, CEOlive.com or how to, T-O, CEOlive.com … to get more information about getting on the wait list. More details will be coming out here soon.

Then the last thing I want to reiterate, if you haven’t seen that we’re doing this, I think we, for the most part, have only notified folks that are on our mailing list, but Dr. Camille Broussard Wise, who joined the team as our conscious inclusion advisor for my clients has been doing such an incredible job with our clients, and so we decided that we wanted to make her available to more people. So we are making available a limited amount of private one-on-one consultations with Dr. Wise. If that’s something that you’re interested in, then please go to the website, www.inclusiveentrepreneur.com, and you will see an option there to book some time with Camille.

She’s so marvelous. I want everybody to benefit from hearing what she has to say, what she’s doing with everyone who does meet with her. It’s an assessment. She’s also doing what we’re calling a scan of your public presence, so whether it’s your social media or your website, she’s just taking a look at it to see like, “Okay, does this jive with what you say?” Like, “You say you’re really inclusive and your focus is on diversity, but does your presence show that outwardly?” Then she’s also walking you through her Five P’s of really helping you see how you can, as a female entrepreneur, whether you have two employees or 200, how can you become more inclusive on purpose, and what’s that roadmap. That’s really what the Five P’s are.

So I think you would find the time with her incredibly valuable and really, really worth the investment for you as a woman running a business, so that your hiring practices, your firing practices, your coaching practices, your communication practices, like everything that you do, if that is your goal, to be inclusive and demonstrate that you are focusing on creating a environment that supports and even generates more diversity opportunities for people, this time with Dr. Wise could not be more invaluable to you. So I certainly would love to invite you to spend a little time with her and see what she has to say. Okay, until next time. Thanks for tuning in.

Hey there, gorgeous. Are you ready to take everything I teach you in this podcast and put it to work in your business, and really learn how to master leading your team? If so, I’d love to have you as a client in the Founders Lab. To learn more about how we can work together, head on over to KrisPlachy.com/join. There you’ll see everything you need to know about the Founders Lab and how to get started. See you there.

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