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The Difference between Business Owner Mindset and a CEO Mindset

Written by: Tameka Bazile

Anyone can hop on the internet and start their own business. The world gains thousands of entrepreneurs daily, all of whom find a myriad of ways to bring in income. This is how most of your side hustles, your small businesses, and even some empires begin.

They begin with an idea and execution.

Many, however, do not begin with a strategy or long-term plan -- a mistake that many business owners do not realize is the difference between building a business and building a legacy.

I recently learned this distinction, myself, having been called out for lack of direction, lack of clarity, and lack of vision. Like many entrepreneurs, I created my business out of necessity and care -- care for my financial future, my mental health, and my personal stability. Quickly, however, it became a lifestyle. Doors began opening before me. Connections and introductions made and soon, my “side hustle” became a small business, serving dozens of clients, educating thousands of people, and solidifying its place in my future as my primary source of income. It became a way out of the mundane day-to-day of the unfulfilling 9-5 -- a testimony to my work ethic and a manifestation of my dreams.

Yet, for some reason, I still failed to meet my business where it was taking me. Instead, I found myself “along for the ride.” My business began getting the attention of media outlets and potential partners but my systems -- created when I knew much less -- failed to keep up. I began struggling with taking on high-risk, high-reward projects because I had to do the most to keep up with client work, administrative tasks, and other basic responsibilities on the back end.

I had been simply keeping my business afloat, rather than feeding it what it needed to thrive and the gaps in my foundation cracked deeper as doors opened before me. I was stuck between taking the time and filling those holes and losing out on potential opportunities.

I’ve learned that the mindset behind being a business owner vs. being a CEO is simple:

The “business owner” mindset is task-oriented. They outline the success of their business based on the day-to-day operations of the business. They routinely provide the service, manage the associated responsibilities, and remain in a still flow.

The “CEO mindset” is visionary. The CEO sees long-term success within their business and are consistently looking for ways to impact profit, growth in client acquisition, and alignment within their messaging.

Looking to build an empire means you must align with the CEO mindset and leave the business owner mindset behind. There is no room for complacency when building your legacy.

Where does your business owner mindset end and your CEO mindset begin?