(P.S. They’re a lot simpler - and lot more practical - than you might imagine.)
10 years in the online world, 6+ years as an entrepreneur and several 7-figure businesses (both as CEO and high level advisor) later have taught me a few things about the mindset needed to build successful online businesses.
It’s also taught me that while the majority of the mindset advice you see out there may do a fine job of helping you understand yourself better, it does nothing to help you understand the super practical and actionable mindset shifts you need to make to become an effective CEO of your business.
That all changes here with my list of the top 10 mindset shifts I’ve made - and see other successful business owners making - in order to build the businesses of their dreams.
1. It’s All You
Your company, your call. Seems obvious but many struggling entrepreneurs fail to recognize they’re now in charge and no one’s going to show up to tell them what to do or make the big decisions for them.
When you commit to your business, you’re committing to showing up, to being decisive, to being consistent and to being committed. You educate yourself about (and pay attention to) every aspect of your business, even if it’s not your favorite thing in the world (looking at you monthly bookkeeping...)
You make the conscious decision that you’re in charge.
2. Schedules Equal Freedom, Not Constraint
I’ve yet to meet someone building an online business who wasn’t motivated, at least in part, but some form of freedom, escaping the 9-to-5, or generally crafting a life on their own terms (myself very much included).
But don’t believe the hype you see about waltzing around the world without a care in the world while your biz rakes in the cash behind the scenes: it takes really hard work to build your business to that point, and hard work is *much* easier to get done when you consciously commit to it and put yourself on a schedule to get it done.
The faster you embrace a measure of discipline and organization to your day, the faster you’ll be the one globe-trotting in first class.
(and the faster you’ll realize that the organization and discipline you hold yourself accountable for feels *much* different than any discipline or organization you were forced to adhere to as an employee being paid to create someone else’s dreams).
3. Outsource Smart
This one drives me bonkers: specifically the advice out there to outsource anything and everything “you don’t feel passionate about” in your business immediately and fully.
This it absolutely terrible advice. And not just because of how wrong it is - also because out of all the completely ridiculous and wrong online business advice out there, this one probably poses the most risk to your business.
Here’s why: When you outsource everything you don’t love about your business immediately and without any knowledge of how to do it yourself, you’re putting yourself at the mercy of who you’ve outsourced it to.
For example: what if you hate setting up email so you decide to outsource it without giving it another thought. Now what happens if the person you’ve outsourced to gets sick? Or disappears into thin air? (which happens more often than you can imagine) and you’re left without knowing how to email your list, which just happens to be the single-biggest income generator for you? No bueno. No bueno at all.
Another example: if you’re a coach you shouldn’t immediately hire someone to answer your emails just because you don’t like dealing your inbox. Your business relies on relationships so there’s no justification to outsourcing anything that directly contributes to relationship-building until you’ve been booked solid for several months.
Here’s the better way to outsource: Know enough to be dangerous about how to do everything in your business. Never immediately outsource anything. Then take a look at what is the busiest of your annoying busy work and outsource that first. Keep outsourcing all the busy work that takes the bulk of your time and doesn’t directly contribute to revenue.
4. Numbers Are Information, Not Judgments
This is a biggie for lots of us: learning to view our business numbers as pieces of information and not as judgments of our self-worth.
Here’s why it’s important: what you focus on tends to grow. And when you’re trying to grow your business that generally means you’re trying to increase your revenue. The fastest way to do that? By paying attention to, and knowing, how much revenue you’re bringing in now.
It always amazes me how many entrepreneurs have no idea how much money they actually make. Start tracking your revenue and start watching it grow. Trust me on this one.
And once you’re comfortable tracking your revenue you’ll be ready to start tracking other important metrics in your business, and it’ll grow even more. I promise.
5. Competition Is Useful
Another myth I love shattering: Competition does, in fact, exist. When other people or businesses offer similar products and services to your own you have competition. By definition it’s a fact, the same way the sun existing is a fact. It just is.
HOWEVER, I also understand the *spirit* around the widely-held belief that if you are yourself competition doesn’t actually exist because no one else can be you. This is also true - but I argue it’s because you being yourself is the greatest competitive advantage you can have (because it’s also a fact that no one else CAN be you), it’s not because competition doesn’t exist.
And yes, this is a subtle point. But it’s also an important one, because once you understand the difference you can also begin to embrace how much you can use your competition to your advantage.
Here’s how: Paying attention to competition means you’re tuned in to market trends, what others are talking about and what your potential clients are responding to. Knowing what’s going on in the market and using it from an offensive position (as opposed to trying to catch up later) is smart.
Want to learn more? I wrote an entire post about hte best ways to use competition to your advantage and you should definitely check it out.
6. Find Support and Ask For Help Before It’s Needed
You heard it here first: mentors, coaches, biz besties and masterminds are your new best friends. Building a business can be a stressful and lonely experience made even more so when your “real life” family and friends struggle to understand what you’re going through because they can’t relate.
Enter support from your new business besties. Hands down my businesses have grown and thrived the most when I’ve made the conscious effort to embrace the support of business friends at or just beyond the level I’m currently at. They hold me accountable, hold space for me when I’m freaking out (which, *real talk*, happens to all of us) and I do the same for them.
If you really want to grow you need support that understands you. Go find your tribe. Pronto.
7. Trends Are Trendy
The quickest way to make sure you build a business that won’t last the test of time? Not understanding the difference between good strategy and trend strategy.
Having the mindset to see what’s a trend and what isn’t helps you build a diversified marketing plan that takes advantage of trends but doesn’t rely on them. And that’s a big difference that business owners understand and hobbyists don’t.
Why is it important? Because trends, by definition, fade. And when they do you don’t want your business to fade with them. So by all means embrace trends - they can help you accelerate your growth and do it quickly - but also be prepared and ready with other ideas and time-tested strategies you can put in place overnight when (not if) the trend slows down.
Bottom line: What’s popular today may not be popular tomorrow. Plan accordingly.
8. Don’t Compromise
One surefire way to signal to customers and fellow small biz owners that you’re a hobbyist and not serious about building a real business?
Compromise on your prices. Compromise on your value prop. Compromise on the kind of work you take on.
Agree to trade services. Agree to barter.
Businesses, by definition, exist to make money. So if you’re committed to your business you need to be committed to knowing your worth, charging your worth and not compromising on any of it. And doing it without apologizing.
It’s not always easy to do so (and it’s definitely scary when you’re first starting out) but that’s what your biz buddies are for! Use them to help hold you accountable to your boundaries, and hold them accountable to theirs. You’ll all come out ahead.
9. Winging It Is Not An Acceptable Strategy
You know what’s awesome about building your own business?
You have full freedom to play around and experiment to find what works best for you AND your biz. It’s incredibly empowering to be able to find products, services, systems and processes that not only work but also feel good (BIG difference from working in corporate where you’re told what and where to do things).
You know what’s not awesome about having that freedom? The temptation is leaves to never move beyond that experimentation stage and finding yourself in a never-ending cycle of experimenting and winging it.
Scalable businesses (and business owners with scaling on their minds) know when it’s time to stop the never-ending experiment and start to put processes, rules and systems against the things that have worked.
Never stop experimenting cold turkey - it keeps your business fresh and innovative - but do recognize when something works and take the time to systemize that thing so it can run itself while you move on to trying new things.
10. Do The Right Things First
Checking tasks off mundane to-do lists is not the way to make progress in your business.
Learning to recognize and focus not on the big things or the easy things or the obvious things or the hard things, but on prioritizing the right things, is how you make progress.
Start every day by asking what project or task has the highest potential to benefit your business bottom line, and care for that one first. The rest can wait.
What do you think? What mindset shifts have you had to make in order to grow your business and step into the role of CEO? Tell us about them in the comments!