Adopting a CEO Mindset for Financial Success

accountability financial best practices planning scale your business Sep 26, 2022
Adopting a CEO Mindset for Financial Success


[Listen to the Podcast version here]


If you’re struggling with the financial side of managing your business, you’re not alone. Very few women make it to the C-Suite before leaving to start their own businesses. MBAs and executive level education programs are expensive and selective. It’s difficult to get the training and experience you need to be a successful CEO before you set out on your entrepreneurial journey.

Does that mean you can’t be successful?

Of course not!

Elements of the CEO Mindset

Startup CEOs are a special breed. It takes a lot of guts and determination to jump in and build something from nothing instead of joining an organization after it’s already established to build it to the next level.

Don’t discount that as you’re thinking about what you need to do to grow into the next version of yourself. The truth is the need for growth won’t stop. Each new stage of your business will require something different from you to succeed. Embrace the journey!

While there are many aspects to the CEO mindset, I’ve identified 5 key elements here that will help you make huge leaps.

Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs

There's a lot of discussion around what's holding us back from achieving our big dreams. Limiting beliefs are real, even if we don’t want to admit it sometimes.

Here are a few that I see regularly getting in the way of my clients being able to achieve their greatest success.

Imposter Syndrome

You’ve probably heard of this one – imposter syndrome. There's this fear that somehow, you’ve managed to get into this amazing space, running your own business, creating something new, impacting the world, but it was a complete accident and you don’t deserve it.

This is perfectly normal - that fear that you're outside your comfort zone, that you're in the unknown. You're not exactly sure what's going to happen and when, and if you truly have what it takes to do this. Those thoughts are perfectly normal, but at the same time, you have to think about all the things that you've accomplished already.

It wasn't someone else doing those. You didn't accidentally hit six figures in your business. You didn't accidentally hire amazing team members. You didn't accidentally make an impact with your clients. You made key decisions to get where you are right now.

You have to give yourself credit for that, regardless of how scared you might have been then or how scared you are right now about what the future looks like. You've still accomplished amazing things. Understand that this imposter syndrome is normal, it's just part of the bag of things that comes with running your own business. Learn to take it in stride - acknowledge that you're having those feelings, but don't let them control you!

Negative feelings about money

This one is sneaky – growing up, many of us dreamed about going to college, having an amazing career, and getting paid well for it – so why is there this nagging feeling that money is bad?

There are a lot of negative connotations around money, and we may not even realize that we are being affected by them. If that’s the case, what can you do to overcome it?

Take some time to think about what money has meant to you in the various stages of your life. Did your parents have a good relationship with money? Did you have a good relationship with money as you made the transition from being a teenager to an adult, when you started college or when you got your first job?

Do you have good savings habits and understand that money can be a powerful tool in life, but it's not something that controls you? If there are some negative feelings there, you have to take some time and work through why you feel the way you do about money and think about how it's impacting your ability to move forward in your business and achieve your goals.

At the end of the day, money is a tool. Money is a resource. It allows us to do different things in our lives, so we can choose to do evil, or we can choose to do good. It's up to the person – the money itself has no ability one way or the other. It's what you choose to do with it.

If you want to do good – if you want to make an impact – then making more money in your business is going to help you do that faster. Whenever you get that twinge – when you start feeling like maybe you're doing something wrong – you can shift your mindset and say,

“No, I'm not. The money I’m making will allow me to fulfill a higher purpose” and that can help you keep focused on moving forward and maintaining that positive relationship with money instead of sliding back into what you might have thought before.

Fear of Failure

It’s human nature to question and to be wary of the unknown, but sometimes it can get out of control. You get wrapped up in the “what if” loop.

  • What if I make a mistake?
  • What if the decision I made isn't the right one?
  • What if I should have gone with a different program?
  • What if I should have priced my services differently?
  • What if my advertising doesn't work?
  • What if there's a major market shift that I don't anticipate?

There’re all these things that you can start thinking about that can drive you crazy. You have to just quiet those voices. You're going to make a mistake. It's just part of business and acknowledging that you can't avoid making mistakes is critical to your success.

Focus on how you're going to handle it when it happens – if you already have a playbook and know the steps you need to take when you realize something isn't working – then you've already won!

You already have a way to get things set up, to pivot and to move forward so you can step out of failure into confidence.

Lean Into Your Core Values

The core values that you choose for your business influence every single thing that you do, every decision that you make, every communication that you have. Every move in the business that you make needs to be in alignment with your core values.

You want to be clear on what your core values mean to you and make sure that you've picked ones that you can truly represent. If you’re uncertain about a decision, ask yourself, “is this in alignment with my core values?” If it is, great! If it’s not, dig into the why until you know which direction you need to go.

When you become the leader who can exhibit a hundred percent of what these core values mean, you’ll see big changes in your business. Your company will be more efficient, and your culture will improve. You’ll attract amazing talent that’s excited to work with you.

Embrace Strategy, Planning & Execution

In the beginning, when you start your business, everything is crazy. You’re wearing 12 hats at the same time. You don’t have much help, if any. You don't know about half the things that you should be doing.

As a result, you have a lot of random stuff that happens, but you make it through. You get to the other side and find this space of calm, where you’re wondering what does it look like to take it to the next level?

To move to that next stage, you have to get crystal clear on your goals. Instead of winging it and persevering through the pain, it’s time to build a plan and determine how you will achieve your goals, to be intentional and strategic.

You’ll take those big goals and the strategies you’ve chosen and break them down quarter by quarter, month by month, activity by activity, getting very granular over time on what needs to happen to achieve those goals.

Learn to Delegate

Now that you have your strategic plan in place, you need to start building time into your schedule for your CEO duties. You accomplish this by leveraging delegation and training. It can feel very uncomfortable to take that step back and let go, to build trust with someone else and turn over something that is so important to you, but it’s time.

You still have input and ultimate decision-making authority, but you're not handling the day to day. As your business grows, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to do everything yourself. It’s a sign of strength and maturity as a leader to know what you’re great at and need to focus on every day and building a team who can do everything else better than you can.

One important step before delegating is building out standardized procedures and a training program. Don’t throw your new employees to the wolves. Make sure they have the resources they need to be successful!

Need help getting started with your procedures? Download by free guide How to Write Procedures That Work.

Measuring Resulting & Taking Action

You’ve made it so far already!

  • You’ve put your strategic plan in place
  • You're executing your strategy
  • You're delegating your tasks
  • You're building time into your calendar
  • You're expanding your organization
  • You're embracing the mindset change

You've stepped into your CEO seat, but there’s one more piece – measuring and acting on your results. What are the results of the plan you put in place? Is your strategy working? Are you seeing the expected improvements or is something still off?

Part of this process is understanding what success looks like and choosing metrics that will give you the information you need to make that determination. Some options could be:

  • Ad conversion rates
  • Sales call close rates
  • Transactions processed per month
  • Revenue percentage increase
  • Profitability percentage target

Once you’ve chosen your metrics, processes can be implemented to gather required information on a recurring basis.

At this point, you’ve gathered the data, but you haven’t taken action on it yet. Remember that fear of failure? It might show up here and try to ruin your day. How do you know whether the results are ok or not? What do you do if something is wrong?

First of all, you’ve already decided what success looks like for each of your metrics. That’s an easy answer – you’re on target, over target, or under target. Leave the emotion out of it.

If you’re over or under target?

During your planning process, decide what your triggers will be for each metric. How far off do you need to be before triggering a deeper review and possible strategy pivot? If your result meets the trigger, schedule time to review the data further to find the cause of the results.

At that point, you can determine what to do next. Is there an underlying pattern or was there a one-off event that caused some issues? Don’t change everything at once. Make small, isolated adjustments so you know if you’ve solved the issue or not.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed?

One thing I want you to keep in mind is this does not happen overnight. This takes an extended period of time to be able to put all of these things in place, work out the kinks, get everything adjusted to where it works for you and your team with everyone moving in the right direction.

As long as you keep a calm mind and you evaluate what's happening, you can make shifts in strategy to pivot away from mistakes and dial in on what's really working for your business.


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