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A CEO is that one person who embodies the entirety of the business they represent. They internalize everything about the business and then direct their energy and effort into making good decisions that (hopefully) fall in line with strategies designed to grow the business into profitability.
What makes an Entrepreneurial CEO so special is their humble starting point. While CEOs of existing companies have resources, a staff, and money to operationalize their actions, an Entrepreneurial CEO typically has none of that. You are the resource. You set the framework from which to organize, then layout the business' milestones and timelines in pursue of the desired end state. You also have the challenge of simultaneously balancing present-day tasks with long-range planning and being able to effectively communicate that to the team. And ultimately, you are the one responsible for how well (or not) things turn out. Sound intimidating? It is! But you have some things working in your favor.
Remember that Entrepreneurship is a Process
Entrepreneurship is a process. As you read this Blog, don't let your mind get off track by focusing exclusively on the enormity of work that must take place to conceptualize, develop, and launch a small business in its totality. Instead, understand that you can tackle each task, one at a time, and over time can cover a lot of ground. As your experience grows, so does the complexity and number of tasks. Each step will help you build your small business database and acumen.
To help you in your journey, the best asset you have is your time in the military and the Active-Duty Entrepreneur Model. The bedrock of your support is a stable job that provides consistent income. Beyond that, you and your family have free (or very low cost) healthcare and a defined career timeline from which you can plan for separation or retirement.
With the ADE model working for you, you can make well thought-out decisions that are less subject to external pressure because you do not have to prematurely field your product or service to put food on the dinner table. Instead, you have more control over your timeline and can take action that will help you mature into a more effective business leader.
Judgment and Picking the Right Team
As the Entrepreneurial CEO, in many ways, you are the business. No one else has put in the time, effort, and energy you have. You know what your business is, what it can become, and how to get it there. However, at some point, you will need others to do the work you are either unable to do or don't have the time to do.
The world is teeming with talent, but the great ones are hard to find. When you seek people to do contract work for you, don't fall into the trap of thinking that big-name brands will have the best talent. Likewise, don't assume those advertising on Craig's List can't get the job done. Finding the right people is an iterative process that take times and effort. Be patient and keep looking for the right people for your business. Look for those you can trust and who can do good, consistent, and dependable work for you. When you find the right team, be sure to take care of them!
Use Your Gut and Be Fearless
Becoming an Active-Duty Entrepreneur is a supreme challenge but can also provide tremendous satisfaction and fulfillment. Make your business the focal point from which to make sound, well thought-out decisions. When the road is uncertain and the 100% “correct” choice is not clear—and this will happen—make a gut decision, be fearless and execute it to the best of you and your team's ability. These moments, more than any other, are the ones that help you become the Entrepreneurial CEO.
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About the Author: Jason Anderson is a 19 year USAF Lietenant Colonel who is also a small business owner and author of the book, "Active Duty Entrepreneur." You can follow Jason on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/activedutyentrepreneur) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ADEntrepreneur1). To read more from Jason and to order his book, follow this link: http://activedutyentrepreneur.com/