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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    What do *you* do while wearing a "CEO" hat?

    Not sure how many can relate, but I spend most of my time "just pushing forward with my head down" - rarely do I "look up" long enough to get a proper grip on how well my business is actually doing.

    Business is pretty busy for the most part - I always seem to have more money coming in than going out. This is a good thing.

    I know I should be taking regular time to examine the situation as a "CEO/Businessman" - It's no secret that this is a key step to business success & growth.

    What exactly does this "CEO hat" entail though? I'd like to do this job well.

    Here's what I'm thinking so far:

    - Review Profit & Loss statements for the week/month. (Put my Quickbooks to good use!)

    - Review prospect -> sale closing ratio.

    - Monitor profitability of projects. (I typically charge a flat fee per project so I'd compare time spent with the total cost of the project to measure how profitable it is for me.)

    - Make projections and set sales goals.

    ...

    I'm flying by the seat of my pants here - this is where I wish Business 101 was part of my Computer Science curriculum in college!

    -Costas
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  2. #2
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    Hi,

    Actually when I wear my General Manager/Operations Manager hat I do a weekly report that contains:
    - billable hours of all employees and contractors (us doing quoted price as well)
    - Record marketing activity, sales success, production effort and income
    - Upcoming project milestones, invoices recievable and payable
    - next weeks marketing activity,
    - next weeks business development activity (includes implementing ideas from books, business coaching, employee training)

    First week of the month I do account reconciliation, profit and loss and profit and loss planning

    As a CEO, I review my business plan now and then, which contains all services we offer and also activities planned over the next 12 months.

    Hope that helps,

    Jochen
    http://www.automatem.co.nz
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Well, your key is your people, aren't they? Making them great is the number 1 job. And after that you of course need to be hands on all the numbers.
    George Skee
    Follow me at GeorgeSkee.com

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Jdog, Pacifier - how many people do you have working for you? What are their roles?

    Right now the only help I have is subcontractors that handle most of my design/programming - The rest is left to me.

    Outsourcing these aspects has been *invaluable* as far as freeing up my time for other activities (ie- sales). I don't see myself going past this model for some time, though.

    What I'd like to do is manage my own time well enough that I can wear some of these important hats and make key decisions. Surely there's an effective way to do this for a sole proprietor in my situation?

    I'd still like to hear other people's business development activities.

    -Costas
    In order to understand recursion
    one must first understand recursion

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Not many. I need to relate to owners, board members, managers and employees doing stuff like design, development and consulting. Now I really need to free my time from some administrative stuff (partly because I suck at it) and be more pure leader and sales person.

    Now I find power in this "web" of people that I need to relate to. Mostly it is I that set the direction, but I still need to get the rest in on ideas etc. I can't just go crazy and get away with it. I must relate to other people and their opinion. Partly it helps me hold things together and partly it forces me to at least try to communicate well. I enjoy it, because ultimately it's a team effort and not a solo trip.

    Later, when I look back, I think I will have much bigger satisfaction saying: "We did it", instead of "I did it".
    George Skee
    Follow me at GeorgeSkee.com

  6. #6
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firehous
    What exactly does this "CEO hat" entail though?
    Usually it's a nice fedora, a bit battered - not something you really want to wear into meetings, per se, but you really don't want to go wearing it in public anyway. That's an important hat, and it's a bad idea to squander it's power like that; what matters is that you can close the office door, lock it, put the hat on and preen in the mirror, pretending that you're Indiana Jones.

    I mean, you know that's what Michael Dell does in his private time.

    Seriously, my "CEO" moments usually come when I take a few dozen steps back and gather in the big picture. Who are my best clients? What industries are they in? Is there enough weight there to justify a marketing push into that niche? Where exactly is this business going, anyway? Is my business in step with the spirit (financial, cultural, etc.) of the times, or am I missing the boat somewhere?

    Think of Microsoft. A lot of tech industry historians consider Microsoft's lack of real interest in the Internet in the mid-90's as the most critical mistake the company ever made. The company's insistence that the future of computing rested in single-user, nonnetworked PC operating systems was directly responsible for the browser wars, the numerous IE security problems, the kludged Win32 API, the antitrust case and the challenges that Microsoft now faces trying to get Vista off the ground. It was a disasterous decision, one that would have killed a lesser company stone cold.. one Microsoft will still be paying for ten, probably twenty years from now.

    That was a CEO hat decision. Gates, Ellison, Dell, even Bush are surrounded by people to do the math and paperwork - but it's the big boy who has to know where the star is and how to sail there. The Hat has final call.

    I kinda suspect that Gates didn't have a fedora in 1994, though he might now; he seems to have chilled out a bit in the last few years. Then again, Bush has had a nifty cowboy hat since day one, and it hasn't seemed to help him much.. probably because he wears it in public too often. You gotta be a bit discreet when wielding the Power Of The Hat.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    Robert, you are THE MAN! on SitePoint. I mean that in an earnest way, your posts are spot-on!! Keep em' coming, I am going to bookmark you

    Here's my two cents. What Robert speaks of as "the Fedora", is a very real thing. It happens whenever you step above the day-to-day, and start working ON your business, not IN it. On strategy and tactics, versus operations and execution. Some business owners/founders are so anxious to work on execution, that they never "get there". You have to have the wisdom, and the discipline, to carve out that time, and to respect that it is necessary.

    Say, you have three developments going on - PHP programming, graphic design, e-commerce issues, SEO, clients calling you for proposals or meetings, etc. NONE of that is "Fedora territory". It's when you step back, think about why things are percolating; how things got busy; and what you are going to do to free up bandwidth to execute the next round of projects without disappointing the current clients.... THAT is the entry ticket to CEO territory.

    hth,

    -steve

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard
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    The role of the CEO, as I see it, is to map out the strategy and direction of the company, to make sure that the plan is followed through and to also modify the plan as is necessary.

    With no employees who you can delegate certain tasks to, I believe it may be difficult to find the time to do all that while also handling all the day to day operations and executing various steps of the plan yourself.

    I think that outsourcing jobs, as you already do, can really help you to free up more time that you can spend on roles in which you can wear the "CEO hat."

    Quote Originally Posted by firehous
    Not sure how many can relate, but I spend most of my time "just pushing forward with my head down" - rarely do I "look up" long enough to get a proper grip on how well my business is actually doing.

    Business is pretty busy for the most part - I always seem to have more money coming in than going out. This is a good thing.
    I can definitely relate to all that.
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Kailash Badu's Avatar
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    Some CEOs I have observed are of those kinds who are obsessed with strategy to the point of being paranoid. But when the time arrives for executing those strategies, they foul it up. Agreed, they churn out impressive plans that look exceptionally awesome and mind blowing in proposals, meetings, and presentations. However, two or there down the line it is found to be of little value, or even fatally perilous, to the organization either because of no execution or because of bad execution. I believe that a CEO should have the ability to not only think, plan, and strategize, but also all the muscle to carry it to execution and results, favorable results that is.

    I am afraid I am digressing but this reminds me of how carly fiorina was hell bent in favor of Compaq-HP merger and when finally the merger did happen, she screwed it up.

  10. #10
    Commander Awesome DevonWright's Avatar
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    Make a bunch of decisions then hand it back to the REAL CEO
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  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Warren
    Seriously, my "CEO" moments usually come when I take a few dozen steps back and gather in the big picture. Who are my best clients? What industries are they in? Is there enough weight there to justify a marketing push into that niche? Where exactly is this business going, anyway? Is my business in step with the spirit (financial, cultural, etc.) of the times, or am I missing the boat somewhere?
    Robert - Do you have a scheduled time for analyzing this stuff?

    I find that if I don't schedule time/action-steps these thoughts will just remain unimplemented in my brain.

    *cue Indiana Jones theme music*

    -Costas
    In order to understand recursion
    one must first understand recursion

  12. #12
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firehous
    Robert - Do you have a scheduled time for analyzing this stuff?
    I don't, but I've known others who do. One small company I know (a two-man consultancy) schedules out a meeting once per month to sit down and completely review/reevaluate things like that.

    For me, it's more organic.. I spend so much of my time analyzing general strategy for clients, it's natural for me to just have the "where am I going?" question running in the back of my head most of the time. Once in a while, something clicks and then I have a burst to get ten or twenty things done.

  13. #13
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    Whomever wears the hat where I work, it must double as a night cap cause they aren't doing any of those things these people have listed.

  14. #14
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    Well what i do when i wear my ceo hat is pretty much what everyone should do, in my company we have 3 fulltime coders and 3 full time designers and 3 owners including me a total of 9 people well since we all live pretty close to each other we all meet weekly and have lunch and discuss business. you have to get your employees to feel like they are an actual part of the company, of course the major discisions are made by me and the other 2 owners but it is those small discisions that make the employee so much more loyal and work so much more harder.

  15. #15
    Design Addict helix7's Avatar
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    Not sure what I can add to the discussion about what CEOs should be doing, but I can add a comment on what they should not do, and it's somewhat in line with Robert's comments.

    In the process of taking in the big picture, a CEO needs to remain in a position where they can get an accurate picture of the company's operations. I've seen highly successful companies crumble when the CEO's view of things is obstructed by people in his inner circle, people who might even be trying to help him by easing some of his responsibilities but inadvertantly blind him to some of the inner workings of the company; including some serious problems that the CEO should be aware of. This seems to happen most often when a young company experiences rapid growth. New people come on board, new roles/positions are created within the company, and the CEO's becomes too far removed from what goes on in the different departments of the company.

    As hard as it may be at times, you can't relinquish your place as the person who sees everything going on and makes decisions based on all available information. Start making decisions without being able to see the big picture, and you're in for some big problems.

  16. #16
    Degrading Gracefully PalmerB's Avatar
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    I have 2 people that work for me at our office in addition to a few select people that I outsource to. My daily routine tends to be a lot of project management duties.

    I also delegate projects to my employees and think up new ideas to be developed and then research the best way to get those done. Once I compile all the information I write up a task list that details all the things that need done.

    Being the project manager and the direct contact with the client, I answer a lot of emails, have meetings and take calls. I also am the person that writes up the estimates and timelines for new projects. I also work out the final invoice when the project is completed.

    The rest of the day I goof off watching junk on YouTube and managing my 6 Fantasy Football teams. It's good to be the boss

  17. #17
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    I generally look at the big picture.
    1) Review profit numbers for up coming projects
    2) Review marketing and balance against resources
    3) Look for ways to stream line operations - new products to buy
    4) Set goals for week\month

  18. #18
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    One thing I have noticed over the years, the (good) CEO tends to be the person who in rising to his/her position of responsibility (whether they are in a large organization, or a startup) who has demonstrated the best ability to take in a huge amount of frustration, conflict, and ambiguity without becoming angry. Instead, the CEO turns all that around into constructive action within the company. It's a people skill thing, and I suspect you're either born with it, or not.

    I know that "without becoming angry" doesn't seem to fit. And when I first read this in a scholarly journal, that's what I thought. But really, it makes sense. All the stuff that drives 99% of us crazy, all the politicking, gossiping, and intrigue, is just more data for this person. They take it all in, and make positive use of it in a constructive fashion. So it does make sense. And of course, there are many other characteristics of good CEO's/leaders.

    Even Carly didn't have enough of it, with her board...

    -steve

  19. #19
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbell22
    One thing I have noticed over the years, the (good) CEO tends to be the person who in rising to his/her position of responsibility (whether they are in a large organization, or a startup) who has demonstrated the best ability to take in a huge amount of frustration, conflict, and ambiguity without becoming angry. Instead, the CEO turns all that around into constructive action within the company.
    I think that's an exceptional way to say it.

    I was going to add "angry, or depressed" - being able to take all the company's sins upon oneself without responding in a destructive, personal manner to it, but then I remembered something I read somewhere: depression is only anger without motivation. Same basic emotion, only turned inward instead of outward. So the point still holds up. It's a careful balancing act that, especially in the big companies, requires a certain Zen-masteresque calm in the face of mounds of idiotic nonsense.

    Carly sure didn't have it. Jobs didn't have it early on, but seems to have developed some of it since returning to Apple. Eisner had it for a while but lost it. (I seem to remember reading somewhere, I think it was from Good To Great, that the celebrity CEOs almost never have it. The really good CEOs tend to be the humble and competent managers, the caretakers, or at least the theory went.. so while not Eisner, maybe Iger. He seems to prefer keeping a lower profile than his predecessor did at the end.)

  20. #20
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    That is a great way of putting it, Steve!

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Warren
    depression is only anger without motivation.
    Hmmm... this idea makes sense too! *Adds to mental bookmark*

    -Costas
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  21. #21
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    I think the key to being a good CEO is to get quality people around you. Most CEOs can do every single job within the company, but that does not mean that they have to. You need to share the work load and always look at the big picture. To build a global business you need to always be looking to the future. If you are spending too much time running your business you may lose out to your competition.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Addict irkyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelouba
    I think the key to being a good CEO is to get quality people around you. Most CEOs can do every single job within the company, but that does not mean that they have to. You need to share the work load and always look at the big picture. To build a global business you need to always be looking to the future. If you are spending too much time running your business you may lose out to your competition.
    Very rationally. I think that a good CEO should be an artist a little. I mean CEO should choose the suitable employees for the business in such a way that they would be right for the whole working community. It means not only professional qualities, but also the ability to communicate with other people in any situation, to solve problems without conflicts. It's important for big companies most of all I think. CEO should also control all the actions of the employees while letting them show their worth and creativity. I am sure it's more difficult to be CEO than to work for him. At least the good CEO it's not so easy. It's very responsible position.

  23. #23
    Non-Member buzzfretz's Avatar
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    How Can You Make Your Business Obsolete?

    In college I was told that it was important to continually try to figure out how to put yourself out of business--because that's what your competition is trying to do. The example given was of the last will and testament of a late 19th century industrialist. His only condition in passing on his wealth to his heirs was that they keep the inheritance invested in cable cars! His reasoning was that there will always be a demand for dependable transportation.

    Obviously, he was right about the need for transportation but he was also short-sighted in his assertion that street cars would never be replaced by a competeing technology.

    This is probably the most valuable thing I learned in college. Four years practically wasted!

  24. #24
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzfretz
    In college I was told that it was important to continually try to figure out how to put yourself out of business--because that's what your competition is trying to do.
    Bill Gates has always been big on the same point. He's said many times in interviews over the years that somewhere out there, someone was sitting in garage or a bedroom figuring out how to put Microsoft out of business. That has always been (at least in part) the core of his business philosophy, to be prepared for that guy - because at one time, that was him, going after a complacent IBM. Today, it's two Stanford kids making good with search engines, and a guy from Finland playing around with UNIX operating system clones.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Enthusiast xoail's Avatar
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    Well, I would spend sometime investigating the company's background and strategies. Familiarize myself with the totaly layout of the business. Talk to each and every collegue and make friends with them.
    Those will be my first step. Later would be pointing out defects in the current system(if any) and so on.


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