You’ve built this day up in your mind for a lonnnng time.
DAY ONE as the owner of your very own, shiny new BUSINESS.
It’s a dream that has steadily become a reality. A vision you have for a life with more freedom, more choice, and more time.
The moment has finally arrived!
Cue the confetti and pop the champagne (at 9 am, Erin? Why not? You’re the boss…right??)
You take a seat at your desk, open your computer, and ask yourself…
It’s a question EVERY entrepreneur encounters when they’re just starting out. Whether you’re brand new to business or have been freelancing on the side for quite some time, jumping into your business full time will probably rattle you a bit at first.
This is TOTALLY normal.
“You see, with great POWER comes great RESPONSIBILITY. “ – Your Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman
You’re in the driver’s seat, which means you get to make the decisions. There’s no one hovering over your shoulder telling you when to work, where to work, or even how to work.
Pretty great, huh?
As CEO, you’re no longer just an “employee” following orders and meeting other people’s expectations. Now, YOU call the shots. But if you aren’t actively making choices, you’ll probably start to SWIRL with indecision, lack of direction, and procrastination. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the different aspects of running a business. In fact, it can even become paralyzing!
However, the right mindset shift from employee to CEO can make all the difference. It takes time, patience, and perseverance. But, on the other side of this mindset shift lies a reality where the freedoms you’ve been looking for really DO exist!
As an entrepreneur who has experienced this shift firsthand and coached countless clients to do the same, I’ve picked up a few tricks. Today, I share the wisdom I’ve collected with you in hopes that you can transition more seamlessly from your 9-5 into working full-time for yourself!
This blog will walk you through my top five tips for shifting from an employee mindset to a CEO mindset as a creative entrepreneur. You’ll walk away from this blog with the confidence you need to bust through self-doubt, blaze your own path, and step into leadership with confidence and grace.
People thrive on structure. Generally speaking, we are all creatures of habit (it’s why I love rhythms so much)!
When suddenly that 9-5 structure is gone, it can take a while to set a routine, feel you have things under control, and know what you’re doing.
There’s a big difference between the mindset of someone who can show up, clock in, and collect a paycheck vs. someone responsible for structuring, organizing, strategizing, and executing within their own business.
I believe that where you work and how you work as a CEO are two of the best ways to set yourself up for success on day one.
Working in bed might sound glamorous at first. If you’re working from home for the first time, the novelty can feel indulgent and exciting!
While working from bed might be necessary every now and then (you do you– I promise I won’t tell), this overly-relaxed approach to your work could cause some self-sabotage.
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success and put yourself in the CEO mindset is intentionally designing your workspace. It might be easy to “set up shop” anywhere and everywhere: at the dining room table (been there, done that), on the living room couch, heck, maybe you even find yourself typing away on the staircase.
But, if possible, choose to work in one specific location. Maybe you turn the spare bedroom into an office or set up that corner in the kitchen as your dedicated workspace. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is an area that is free of distractions like television, chores, or even other people.
It should be a space conducive to work. Make sure you have all materials handy and that your space is as clear and organized as possible. Any clutter (we are human after all) should be WORK related.
Each time you sit down, your physical space will cue your brain to know that it’s time to get to work.
Working from home certainly has its perks (gotta love those mid-day walks and easy snack breaks). Still, it’s a slippery slope when another load of laundry captures your attention – hello, procrastination! – or the TV pulls you in for “just one more” episode of The Home Edit (it’s not just me right?!).
Choosing a dedicated space will help you be more productive, focused, and disciplined when there’s no one there checking in to make sure you’re on task.
Establish your work hours upfront instead of on the fly!
My clients often feel resistance here.
Many creative entrepreneurs quit their day job to have more freedom and flexibility in their lives. They worry that setting working hours in their business will prevent them from being flexible or “going with the flow.”
But in reality, defining firm work time boundaries can offer you more of that time freedom you’re looking for. More structure actually creates more freedom, space, and balance. It will be easier to carve out and maintain your personal time when your work time is clearly defined and upheld.
The best part?
You still get to choose WHEN you work and WHAT that looks like. If a traditional 9-5 situation isn’t for you, maybe you decide to get your work done early in the day between 6-9 am and lean into your early bird nature.
If you’re a night owl, you might squeeze in an early afternoon work sesh, spend time with your family around dinner, and then hop onto your laptop for some deep work once the kids are asleep.
Being your own boss means that you can tailor your schedule to your work style and create a system around how you work best.
COO Tip: I love bookending my workday. I start by evaluating my to-dos, prioritizing tasks, and responding to essential communication before getting into my work for the day. Then, before I call it a night, I take inventory of what I’ve accomplished, take care of small admin tasks, and prep myself for the next day’s meetings or projects. This process helps me avoid letting work spill over into my personal life after hours with a defined start and stop routine.
Do you feel like you’re just making things up as you go?
Your business needs systems so you don’t feel like you’re starting from scratch every time you get to work! If you’re flying by the seat of your pants, I urge you to press pause, take stock, and get the many facets of your business in order so you can respond proactively instead of reactively.
You need a system (or several).
This is where you decide what you need to do and how you need to do it. Ensuring your systems and processes are reproducible will be the key to conserving your energy and delivering consistent, high-quality results.
Think about how to organize things like:
Asking the who, what, where, why, and when of these major aspects of your business will help you stay organized and on track.
COO Tip: Feeling stuck? I’ve got you covered! Click here to snag my freebie, The 3 Systems You Need to Run Your Business Efficiently.
When you work from home and run your own business, it can be easy to mix work life with personal life. But when the two facets of your life blur, it can get as messy as mixing whites and colors in the wash!
As an employee, you were TOLD what mattered to your boss and the company you worked for. Now, you get to set the boundaries that matter to you and prioritize the things that you feel are most important in both your work and your life. Once you define your boundaries and priorities, communicate them early and often with team members, clients, family, and friends.
You need to define and maintain firm boundaries that matter to YOU!
Time is one of those essential boundaries we’ve already touched on. But, boundaries extend far beyond just your work hours.
Other boundaries to consider:
Take some time to consider what is essential for you. Get in the CEO mindset. Once you decide, put transparent systems in place to support what you’ve chosen, and then communicate your boundaries early and often to family, friends, team members, and clients.
Yes, as a business owner you WANT to do everything right away. But sometimes this isn’t possible. If you don’t establish your current priorities, it can be easy to get pulled in too many different directions. Instead of feeling whiplash as you get pulled from one idea to another, stay focused and on track by defining and establishing your priorities.
Take a look at your goals and decide which goals you want to focus on in the short term and which you will come back to later as long-term goals. Remember, these will change and evolve, but it is important to know what matters most to you right NOW.
Early on building a strong client experience may be your main priority.
In the future, you may be ready to grow your team, so hiring and learning how to interview, train, and onboard your team members will take precedence.
With both your boundaries and priorities defined, you’ll be able to lead with vision, authority, and direction.
It can be impossible to know where to focus your attention early on. The sheer volume of tasks and responsibilities can cause you to spiral from task to task or feel entirely paralyzed altogether!
First, set clear goals to direct your efforts.
Then, you’ll want to get a clear, bird-eye view of your business tasks that will move you towards those goals. I like to bucket these into categories to help me see how the small tasks work together to support big goals such as sales, marketing, client work, and more.
You cannot put 100% of your energy into everything right from the start. So start simple and take time to understand which tasks will be the biggest needle movers in your business.
Figure out where your attention should and should NOT be, and stick to it!
Get clear on your strategy and then execute on that. You can always tweak it or make adjustments as you go.
COO Tip: KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) should be based on your business values and goals. They will help you figure out the necessary actions moving forward. KPIs help you measure progress, and what can be measured can be MANAGED. KPIs will keep everything aligned, help you stay on the pulse of your business, allow you to respond to change, make adjustments, and hold yourself and your team members accountable.
Like it or not:
You’re never going to have all the answers!
There’s no handbook or cheat sheet, and the answers aren’t conveniently tucked at the back of some CEO for Dummies Textbook.
We tend to look to leaders as the “keepers of wisdom.” As if they know something the rest of us don’t. But in reality, they don’t have some inside scoop or magic fairy dust.
The actual secret sauce of successful entrepreneurship?
Being an entrepreneur is messy, and in so many cases, building your expertise can only come from boots-on-the-ground, first-hand experience. Most days you’ll need to approach your work like a mad science experiment figuring out what works and what doesn’t through trial and error.
The path isn’t clearly laid out for you like it was at your last 9-5 gig. How could it be? You’re creating something entirely your OWN!
Fully embrace the CEO mindset. Be willing to try things out. Just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean you have to forever. Find new ways to be more productive in your day, creative in your marketing, or excited about upcoming client projects. See what sticks and works for YOU and what DOESN’T.
It requires courage and action.
Jump into the deep end and learn how to swim.
Build the plane as you fly it!
You’ll cultivate your CEO mindset through experience, action, failure, and learning from that failure.
Most importantly, get comfortable being uncomfortable. You’ll constantly be challenged to wear multiple hats in your business, take on tasks that scare you, and do things that aren’t in your wheelhouse. You may not be great at first (heck, let’s be honest, you’ll probably STINK!). But trying, learning, iterating, and exploring is the path to success.
Let yourself be a beginner. It is both humbling and rewarding.
COO Tip: Not sure where to start or what to try? I have an entire blog series focused on Rhythms in Business to support you. Implementing and refining rhythms in all aspects of your business will keep everything running like a well-oiled machine to keep momentum on your side! Playing with rhythms is an effective way to get curious about your work.
You will not transform into a confident, experienced, wise CEO overnight. After a lifetime of following the “rules,” meeting other people’s expectations, and fitting yourself into a box that wasn’t created with you in mind, you’re finally in the position to play by your own rules. It will take time to develop your CEO mindset
I hope you walk away from this blog feeling empowered to embrace all the freedoms you desire in your business in a practical, sustainable, and actionable way.
The simple fact that you are willing to get curious about how you show up in your business tells me that you’re ready to make that giant leap from employee to CEO. You are developing your CEO mindset.
I’m here to support you every step of the way.
I want you to have the best advice, guidance, and information as you blaze the trail from where you are now to where you want to be in the future.
That’s why I encourage you to join my email list. It’s like having your very own business coach tucked conveniently in your back pocket. Every week, you’ll get my best advice delivered straight to your inbox. I’ll share my very best resources, tools, CEO mindset tips, and education, so you can build, sustain, and scale your creative business.
Click here to add your name to the list.
I’ll see you inside!
Keep these tips handy so whenever you need help jumping back into the CEO mindset it’s easy to find. Pin it to Pinterest!
[…] between feeling overwhelmed and frantic in your day-to-day work OR proactively stepping into your role as CEO with confidence and […]
[…] misused terms so that you know the key differences, can confidently lead your creative business as CEO, and ultimately feel as prepared and knowledgeable as a newly minted MBA (Master’s in Business […]
[…] for the first time in a while! I truly believe the summer season is an ideal time for busy creative CEOs like YOU to rest, reset, and […]
[…] Get clear on your offer suite (including services, courses, workshops, or products), pricing, and the systems that support your work. Honing in on these pieces will provide you with direction and the confidence you need to take on the “right” projects (the ones that move the needle in your business and help you build towards your entrepreneurial dreams), so you can truly step into your role as CEO! […]
[…] beauty of being your own boss is YOU call the shots, so you get to decide what this looks like for your […]