“Being a CEO is bigger than what you have on your business card.” – Dr Darnyelle Jervey Harmon
This episode is powered by the Move to Millions Tour
In this episode, Dr. Darnyelle bursts one of the biggest bubbles of today’s entrepreneur.
Yes, I know your business card says CEO, but let’s keep it real… you’re not really a CEO.
When your business is at or close to six figures, there’s not really anything to CEO. There’s work to do before you can claim the title.
Listen in as Darnyelle first defines what a CEO is and then shares some of the biggest mistakes you’re making that are keeping you from becoming a million-dollar CEO. Because let’s face it, you’re in the business of marketing and sales, and until you master that, you’re not ready to call yourself a CEO.
Listen in to discover:
- The mindset of a CEO
- Where your focus should lie right now in your business
- #1 thing you must do to begin the journey to becoming a CEO
- What it’s going to take to be the CEO of the company that makes and moves millions
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This episode is powered by The Move to Millions Tour. If you are ready to figure out what it’s going to take to prepare to become a CEO that makes and moves millions and you can get to Washington, DC, Atlanta, Georgia and Newark Delaware, learn more at MoveToMillionsEvent.com/tour. I’m going to burst a couple of bubbles and step on quite a few tolls but I want you to know that I’m doing this because I love you, appreciate you and see more for you than what you see for yourself. We’re going to talk all about this word that you have on your business card, who you want to be perceived as in the marketplace but aren’t quite ready to step in those shoes. We’re going to talk about being a CEO.
I believe that it takes a CEO to know a CEO. My hope, prayer, positioning is to give you some success clues on what it means to be a CEO so that you can get there. It is okay that you’re not there now. I say this one million times, no one goes to bed a blender and wakes up a wonder. No one goes to bed at 6 figures and wakes up at 7. No one goes to bed with the thought of having a company and wakes up the next day as a CEO.
Firstly, what I want to do is I want to define CEO for you. I want to share some of the biggest mistakes that I see entrepreneurs make that have millions on their minds that derail their ability to become a $1 million CEO. Many of you have CEO on your business card but you don’t conduct yourselves accordingly. For the record, when I say CEO, I mean it in the traditional sense.
You cannot have a $1 million company if you don’t think, act, move and make decisions like a CEO. Since I’ve been growing my business and this company has been around for several years, we’ve been successful in business, I’ve always thought about Bank of America. When I was in Corporate America, I worked for a company called MBNA America Bank. MBNA was bought by Bank of America, circa 2005.
I left the company in 2004. I put in my notice and walked out the doors in April of 2005. I believe the end of that year, early 2006, Bank of America was the name of the company. Every time I think about being a CEO, sitting in the CEO’s sit, thinking, acting and making decisions like the CEO of my company, I asked myself, “Would the CEO of Bank of America be doing this?”
You might think that I’m a little bit too pie in the sky to be immediately going to being this billion-dollar corporation and thinking of a CEO that way but let me share this with you. You have to see it before you see it so that you get to experience it. I instantly go to thinking like the CEO of Bank of America. It helps me to stop sweating the small stuff, stop spending time on the tasks that are not for my best and highest good and I quite honestly don’t do that in the best possible way.
It opens me up to make sure that I’m delegating in my business. Let’s keep it real. I don’t even know how many employees they have at Bank of America. Let’s guesstimate that they have 50,000 employees. I don’t run a company that’s big. We have 7 full-time employees and another 7 contractors that serve in various capacities. We were looking at a team of about fifteen, not including myself. As I define CEO for you and this is based on what I found online, it’s a Chief Executive Officer, the highest-ranking executive of a firm.
CEOs often act as the public face and make major corporate decisions. Let’s dissect that right there. CEOs act as the company’s public face. You got that part on lock. You are your business. When people are hiring you, they are literally hiring you. Whereas when people hire me, they’re hiring my company because I’ve put some different things in place. It says, “They make major corporate decisions.” Even though you might be in a small business or a micro-business, depending upon the definition you go with from the SBA or the IRS, you have got to make decisions that are expanding your reach and increasing your footprint in the marketplace.
As a CEO, according to this definition, you are responsible for implementing existing plans and policies and ensuring the successful management of the business and setting future strategies. As you’re reading, you probably think that you’re doing some of those things and you probably are. I believe that the CEO’s ultimate responsibility is for the success or failure of the organization. As a result, the CEO is the person who oversees every function in the company. Catch this, the CEO doesn’t perform every function in the company. You are the CEO and oversee every function in the company.
You’re also 9 times out of 10 performing every function in the company. That’s okay. The journey from 6 to 7 figures is not entirely a black and white journey. I love that you’re calling yourself a CEO but I want to make sure that I equip you so that you have a true understanding of what it is to be a CEO and ultimately, what it looks like to be the CEO of a $1 million-plus company.
If you think about the traditional definition of being a CEO, many of the things that are being done that you are doing is probably the reason why you call yourself a CEO but the difference between a CEO of a company and you with CEO on your business card is that company is not a company of one. If you want to be a CEO, you have to realize that you are also responsible for hiring leaders, building out an executive management team and making sure that you are establishing the culture, the core values and the vision of the company.
You are going to be bringing people in to participate in the journey of taking your company to and beyond the $1 million mark. Those people are going to include some of the key functional areas like finances. You might not start with a Chief Financial Officer, a CFO. You might bring on a great CPA and tax strategist. You might need a chief marketing officer. You won’t start with a CMO but you might bring on a marketing manager, an online marketing manager or a marketing director that oversees all of the marketing that happens within your organization.
9 times out of 10, you’re the one that’s facilitating the marketing department and that’s okay. No one goes to bed a blender and wakes up a wonder but there does become a time if you truly want to step into being a CEO that you’re going to have to bring on other people to be able to allow yourself to strategically preside over the company.
I get it. In 2021, we hired five full-time employees. We still have some open positions. We’re close to extending another offer for our eighth full-time employee will be. It’s a lot of work to be the CEO. The more people we hire, the less I’m doing in the day-to-day and the service delivery for our clients. With the word CEO, the E isn’t for everything. The E truly is for Executive. Presidership is even a better word.
The CEO is also responsible for making sure that the strategies that are developed are trickling down to every layer of management. As a small business, you’re probably not going to have a lot of layers. It’s you and maybe a virtual assistant. Eventually, it should be you. You should have an operations filter. You should have either an operations manager or a director of operations. That segments your three teams.
I teach that your three teams are your operations team, talent or fulfillment team and sales or enrollment team. Operations is going to include the majority of the business. In our Operations Department, we put marketing. Some people put marketing and sales together. It depends on you. It works either way.
I see marketing as an operational initiative and not a sales initiative. Therefore, that’s why we separated out. It facilitates the sales process but marketing by itself doesn’t guarantee a sale. That’s why I lump it under operations. Talent or fulfillment are the service providers. You more than likely are in the talent department just like you might be the majority of what’s in the Operations Department.
Let me back up for a second and put some more definitions around what’s in the Operations Department. The Operations Department is going to include your marketing team and all of the things that go along with marketing, if you have a separate copywriter, graphic designer or branding person, a person who does your technology, websites, search engine optimization. Operations are also going to include human resources and payroll as you start building out your team.
Those are going to be functions that are a part of the Operations Department as you would have it. Operations are also going to include your finances. It’s going to be your CPA and bookkeeper. You should have both in case you are wondering. Your Operations are also going to include your legal, contracts attorney, small business IP attorney, all of those people are going to be part of your operations team.
You have your talent team. Your talent team is the people that are responsible for the fulfillment of service. Depending upon the type of business you run, if you’re an interior designer, these are your junior designers. If you’re an accountant, these are your junior accountants or bookkeepers. If you are an attorney, these are your paralegals and associates. If you’re a coach, these are your coaches. These are the people who are working with your clients, day in and day out.
If you are a speaker or you run a company where you get booked to speak at conferences, these would be your other speakers. Let’s say you run a software company and your software was developed for small businesses. You might have speakers on your fulfillment or talent team that go out and speak at entrepreneurial conferences to get more people to get your software. That’s your talent team.
Your sales team or enrollment team is the sales functionality. Those are at a minimum going to be your inside sales or social sales reps. Those are the people who are handling the opportunities that come into the business and then your outside sales reps are the people that are going out and prospecting for opportunities for your business. Your account executives or closers are going to be the people that close the sales.
Initially, you might not have a sales manager or more than likely the sales manager is you. Eventually, you might bring on someone who’s part of your sales management team. As the CEO, you are starting to put an infrastructure in place that speaks to the organization of your company and covers the major areas that need to be defined and worked on every single day inside of the company. Part of general operations, I don’t even know how I forgot this, would be your executive assistant.
Typically, when you start your business and where you might be as you’re reading this episode, you as the CEO may only have an executive assistant. Your executive assistant is making up the majority of your operations team. You are the talent team and the sales team. That’s probably what it looks like. I want you to know that although you call yourself a CEO, you are not the CEO. I won’t even suggest to you that you not get so caught up in the title and focus more on making sure that you are setting your business up to be a success.
You’re not a CEO during your first few years of business. You’re still trying to figure out what is required of your company and how do you consistently make money so that you eliminate the feast or famine that might be happening inside of your business. I remember back to when I first started my company. This was a sad time journey with me in 2007. I finished the second Pink Cadillac. Instead of being excited and elated, I felt a little deflated.
I went to bed at night and said, “God show me what it is you have next for me because this isn’t it.” That’s when I saw myself walking into the building that had the Marquis, which read Incredible One Enterprises. When I did finally wake up the next day and start thinking about this business, I was trying to figure out what in the devil an Incredible One Enterprises was. I’ll be honest with you, I did not immediately leap to calling myself a CEO. I was trying to figure out how this bad boy was going to make some money.
How was I going to avoid the diminishing bank account that I had? I was living at a certain level. Although when I left Corporate America, I had nearly $200,000 in cash, not including my 401(k). That money went away quickly once I stopped selling Mary Kay and was trying to figure this business out. The first nine months that I was technically “the CEO” of Incredible One Enterprises was anything but we weren’t creating any money. I didn’t even know who I was and what I was doing. That’s part of the reason why we found ourselves filing bankruptcy and me going back to work for two years.
Back then, the last thing on my mind was trying to, in title, be the CEO of my company. I had to figure out how I was going to make this business viable so that I could become unemployable. That was my big goal back then. It took me a few years to figure it out. Instead of trying to be the CEO, I was trying to figure out how to get my head above water and simplify the way that I was going to earn money. There are so many ways even back then that you could earn money in your business.
For me, it wasn’t about trying to do all the things. Although in the early years out of desperation and a lack mindset, I did spend a lot of time doing all the things. I had to figure out what my core business was going to be. It was a business. It wasn’t a company. That’s another distinction. CEOs don’t run businesses. They run companies. It takes one to know one. That’s why I’m trying to hook you to the game so that you know exactly what it is that you need to do.
What I would tell those of you who have aspirations to make millions of dollars in your company is your mind is on millions. You’re attempting to operate as the CEO of your own company but you’ve crossed the six-figure mark. Slow down and let’s put a framework in place that will get you to the role of CEO but allows you to do it in a way that serves and supports all that you are, prevents you from hustling and grinding and limits the amount of time you spend as the bottleneck in your business. Your name is in every box on the org chart, maybe with the exception of your executive assistant.
There are probably three things that I would want you to focus on before you get caught up in being the CEO. Save that for later because there’s a time and a place for it. I want you to get clear about the problem that it is that you solve for the client that you can provide a solution that they’ve been unsuccessful at identifying on their own. That’s the first thing I want you to do. I want you to get very clear about the problem you saw.
First things first, CEO-ing isn’t easy. It’s for later. It’s about making sure that you are crystal clear about your business, business model and how you make money. You don’t want to be the CEO of something that’s not making money. It’s the title and egotistical thing. You got to have to let it go. Number one, get crystal clear about the problem that it is that you solve.
Number two, I want you to start tracing the steps that you take when you get success in your business. Once you identify the problem and then you start articulating that problem that you’re solving in the marketplace, it brings you prospective clients and you get those clients to become clients, I want you to make sure that you are documenting that. This is probably one of the biggest CEO moves you can make. I don’t want you to document just the document. I want you to document once you’ve gotten success.
One of the things that helped me to quickly shift from being the only person on my team and I always have employees and not contractors but bringing on that first assistant where she worked for me 25 hours a week initially and eventually, we bumped her up to 40 hours a week was documenting the successful processes and taking the time step-by-step to write down what was going to be necessary to achieve the goal that I wanted to achieve every single time I perform that specific task.
As I brought on my executive assistant and I was in a position to begin delegating, we were starting the beginning process of having SOPs and developing our operational infrastructure. That was probably the second thing that I would say to do. Let me also say this. At this point in time in your business, instead of trying to be the CEO, become the master marketing and sales. Marketing comes before sales.
You are not the CEO of, insert the name of your company. In the early years, I was not the CEO of Incredible One Enterprises. I was a representative of Incredible One Enterprises. I was the marketing and sales department, the marketing and sales rep and the marketing and sales manager. I was in the business of figuring out how to market and therefore sell my products and services so that I could get myself to the point where I would have something to CEO.
It takes a CEO to be able to tell you who is ready to be CEO. Let me tell you when you’re ready to be a CEO. Your business is generating consistently $30,000 to $50,000 a month in revenue. In addition to an executive assistant, you’ve got a few talented team members. You might even have a person who’s helping me outside of your executive assistant. Maybe you’ve pulled those functions away from your EA. You’re starting to form a marketing team and a sales team.
CEO-ing is not just about the infrastructure needs and understanding the vision and the hierarchy strategy of the company. It’s also about making sure that you have resource enough to build out the team for you to be CEO. I’ve always believed that when you’re at the stage in your business where you’re making six figures, calling yourself a CEO is overrated. I stepped on some toes and I apologize because I’m not trying to invalidate the work that you’ve done and where you’ve gotten. I don’t want to diminish the significance of getting your business to the six-figure mark.
That’s not what I’m looking to do but if you’ve got your eyes on the million-dollar level inside of your business, spending your time and energy on something that doesn’t matter, i.e., your title is the fastest way to be distracted from getting to the goal. The way you get to truly become a CEO is to master the marketing and sales process and substantially increase your revenue. You’ve got resources enough to go and hire people who have the skillsets that you could do enough to get by but could take your business to the next level.
As we hired in our company in 2021, we brought on an operations manager, a marketing manager and some management-level positions to help to oversee what has been being done by the members of the team over the last years. We’re ready to put in another layer between me and the members of the team because we understand our vision and infrastructure needs to truly build a company. You started your business. It was a business. It was an opportunity to become self-employed and be the person solely responsible for your livelihood.
I remember the day very well in my business. I’m talking about the second time after leaving the job that I worked for two years at the women’s business center and coming back into full-time entrepreneurship on January 1st, 2011. I was excited and truly going to be self-employed. That year, we did six figures in the business. I didn’t pay myself 6 figures but we did 6 figures. I immediately began to bring on the team.
For me in the early years, it was less about how much money I made. I was a single girl, living in a modest home and driving a modest car. I had enough to be able to live well without wishing I still had a job but it allowed me to keep reinvesting in my business so that I could grow the business. If you ask me, that’s like CEO-level decisions. I was not thinking about the moment that I was in and what I could have at that moment. I was thinking about where I was going. It was always seeing down the line. I was seeing down the line so I was putting myself in a position to be able to get there sooner.
The next year, 2012, I brought on a marketing person and kept adding people to the team that allowed me to minimize the number of boxes my name was in because I had a desire to be a CEO. The first time we did a lot of hiring after we crossed the million-dollar mark, I crashed and burned. I couldn’t take it. I had to work on my leadership ability. That’s something else that you have to do as a CEO. You have to be prepared to lead and might have to learn how to lead.
I had to go back and do the work, which is why I killed the big fat, ugly monster and started over again. This time as I do it, it’s a light and airy feeling. It’s something that I can be excited about. I’m excited about the people on the team, the role that they play and the vision that I’ve created. I’m excited about watching them live out the strategies that I have created to move the business forward that I am the CEO of the company, which is important that you think about.
At this point, your job, if you desire to get to the million-dollar mark, tighten the foundation of your company. Spend some time thinking through elements like your offer suite, perfecting your messaging suite and developing your marketing and your sales suite. Those are the first $4 million assets. I’m going to do an entire episode all on the million-dollar assets for you. That’ll be coming up soon.
It takes one to know one and it’s okay that you’re not a CEO yet. It’s coming. You’re in the right place to learn exactly what you need to be focused on if you truly want to become a CEO that makes and moves millions but for now, you’ve got work to do. That work is on mastering marketing and sales to get your revenue consistently generating at $30,000 a month or more so that you can begin to hire a team and pay yourself well.
I believe that you quit your good job to do better. You want to be able to pay yourself extremely well. At $30,000 a month consistently in your business, you’re generating $360,000 a year. Even with setting aside money for taxes and being able to bring on at least 1, if not 2 key team members, you’re going to be able to pay yourself pretty close to $100,000 a year. My general rule of thumb is if you want to pay yourself 6 figures, your business needs to do 4 times that.
You’re about there at $30,000 a month. If we take $400,000 and we divide that by 12 months, that’s $33,333.33 a month. When you get there, you’re in a position to pay yourself six figures. You can truly begin the ascent to becoming a million-dollar CEO because there will be something to CEO. Your foundation is laid because you’re consistently making that level of money every single month, which keep in mind that roughly 10% of all businesses make that money a month inside of their business out of the 31 million businesses that there are in the United States.
You’ve got something to CEO. The processes that you’ve put in place are working and they can be tightened so your operational infrastructure is sound. As you start to bring people on your team and you increase your leadership and management abilities, they’ve got processes to mirror, reflect and validate that what they’re doing day in and day out is helping you to achieve your goal.
There’s a hierarchy to becoming a CEO. Unfortunately, it doesn’t start when you get your business card made because you’ve decided to create your own business. It starts once you’ve laid a firm foundation for your company. You’ve got a very clear business model and you know exactly how you’re making money every single month. The money that you’re making is coming in with some level of predictability. We’ll get you there. CEO-ing isn’t easy and it takes one to know one. If you stick with me, I will show you exactly how to become a $1 million CEO. I’ll see you next time. Take care.