Know Pain, Know Gain ~ Jay Rooke

Jay Rooke


Start acting like a CEO

Posted on May 8, 2019 by Jay Rooke

If you want to see real change in your small business, stop acting like an employee and start acting like a CEO.

It’s incredibly difficult to do. Almost every small business struggles with the fear of limited cash flow and a threat of undercapitalization from the moment they open their doors for business. This fear generates a desire to cut corners and handle each aspect of the job yourself rather than delegating authority to others. Founders frequently handle their own books, act as the secretary and even as the janitor, all while pumping out emails that say, “Mike Smith, CEO and Founder.” 

It’s natural, and should in no way be demonized, but the reality is that the longer you operate 9-5 as a general employee of your business, the longer it will take for your business to really take off – and unfortunately, the more painful your growth process will be. Scale comes from lowering inefficiencies while ensuring priority is given to what makes the company truly profitable – i.e., your vision and leadership.

“One of the biggest mistake small business owners can make is being the janitor instead of being the CEO.” ~ Alex King

Recently, we hosted Sonoma’s Alex King from Archetype Legal on the podcast, and he had this to say about starting his own law firm:

“At first, it’s everybody’s intent to do the janitorial work all the way through the CEO because of the fact that you almost want to know how the sausage is made, so that when you begin expanding your team, you can explain firsthand ‘this is how we do things.’ However, one of the biggest mistakes small businesses can make, and I’m a culprit of this myself, is that you’re ultimately losing out every moment you’re being the janitor instead of being the CEO.”

Finding the perfect time to invest in your business is never easy, but there are things you can do to help. Taking a few extra moments to improve your process, including writing out playbooks and outlines for how things are done will pay immense dividends downstream. By mapping out your policies and procedures, future team members can then read along as they learn a task; they won’t be reinventing the wheel as the business grows; and most importantly, it establishes a healthy habit for the business owner.

This also helps avoid the temptation for the boss to say, “well, by the time I teach someone how to do it, I could just do it myself,” and it keeps the owner focusing her time on the activities rather than on leveraging her areas of giftedness.

Your business will benefit tremendously from the time you spend working on long-term vision and strategy. Every business needs a grinder, but if you’re the CEO, take a moment to reflect on how things can improve and work on those big-picture items. 

If you want to learn more about how Alex grew his business, and some of the common mistakes he sees his business clients making during their growth phases, check out the rest of Episode 53 at 


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