Many of the successful CEOs and entrepreneurs we work with at CEO Coaching International built their companies from nothing. That takes vision, hard work, dedication, and a total mastery of every single aspect of the business.
So it’s no wonder that these DIY CEOs trip over a common stumbling block when they’re trying to take their businesses to the next level: they don’t know how to stop doing EVERYTHING.
As one of my favorite business authors, Marshall Goldsmith, might say, “What got you here won’t get you there.” To get “there” – that is, to your ultimate vision of success for your company – you’re going to have to let go, delegate, outsource, reorganize. You’re going to have to start devoting your time to priorities that only one person – you, the CEO – can accomplish.
The CEO Coaching International Stop Doing List is a tool that can help. We’ve used this exercise to help CEOs and entrepreneurs clear the clutter off their desks and schedules and get laser-focused on making BIG happen. Here’s how it works:
1. Understand what your top priorities should be.
High-performing CEOs who run the best of the best companies focus their time on only five things: Vision, Cash on hand, hiring the best People, managing Key Relationships, and Learning.
Anything on your current agenda that doesn’t fall into one of those five categories is probably a waste of your time. This is the criteria by which we’re going fill out your Stop Doing List, so keep it in mind throughout the rest of the exercise.
Setting this restriction on what you will and won’t do might sound indulgent, or even lazy. Trust me, it’s not. You’re just stuck in a start-up mentality. If you don’t stop thinking like someone running a business out of your garage and start thinking like a world-class CEO, your company will never be world class. It’s commendable that you got this far handling payroll, designing marketing, packing boxes by hand, cold calling leads, and so on.
But that was then. Now, it’s time to start going through all the things you should Stop Doing, and figure out who, if anyone, should be doing them instead.
2. Delegate or Discontinue?
Why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it because it’s an important task that’s leading your company towards your BIG vision? Does it drive a key performance indicator that your company tracks and measures religiously? Is it an essential job better-suited to a C-Suite employee you haven’t hired yet?
These are the kinds of tasks that go in your Delegate box. You need to keep doing these things for your business to grow, but they aren’t CEO-level activities. Figure out to whom you should delegate these tasks and set a hard deadline to force yourself to make the transition.
There’s another category of tasks to think about: things the company is doing because you’ve always done them. Maybe this is an email marketing campaign that isn’t translating into leads. Maybe you have a satellite office that has yet to turn a profit. Maybe your bookkeeping and CRM are out of date because you’re using the same system mom and dad used when they opened the business 20 years ago.
Put these activities into the Discontinue box. You don’t want to delegate these tasks, because the company needs to Stop Doing them.
3. Refocus on your Top 5 Priorities.
Now for the really important part: filling up your new schedule with tasks that focus on Vision, Cash, People, Key Relationships, and Learning.
For example, if you find there’s no one to whom you can delegate an important task, then you need to get serious about hiring some top talent. If you don’t have a CFO yet, get one. If your current head of sales keeps making excuses about sagging numbers, get a new head of sales.
How often are you checking your account balances? Set a reminder to do it weekly – at least.
Are you putting aside some time every week to read up on what’s happening in your business space? Are you attending conventions, or meeting regularly with other CEOs to share stories, network, and get background info? No? Then make some phone calls, book some reservations.
Settle on three important CEO-level tasks that need your attention and write those in the Spend More Time box. Ninety percent of your time should be spent on these and other top priorities. These are the things that only the CEO can do. These are the things that are going to make BIG happen, as long as you Stop Doing the things that are keeping you small.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 150 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s from 17 countries on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, becoming better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.