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Top CEO Tips for Creative Online Shop Owners

by Arianne Foulks

November 14, 2023
Arianne Foulks, photographed by MailChimp

In the world of entrepreneurship, one often starts with a passionate vision, a desire for freedom, and the dream of creating something unique. However, the transition from a passionate creator to a successful business owner requires a significant shift in mindset. This blog post explores the journey of thinking like a CEO, the art of delegating tasks, and the importance of hiring help to scale your creative business.

Shift into CEO mode

Even if you are a solo entrepreneur, it’s important to think like a CEO. The role of a CEO is not confined to managing a team; it encompasses creating a vision, setting strategic goals, and steering the business toward success. Here’s what you can focus on to help make this shift:

  • Creating the vision – Your primary role as a business owner is to craft the vision for your brand. Whether it’s designing collections, connecting with clients, or being the face of your company, you must lead with your vision.
  • Avoiding stagnation – Immersing yourself in daily tasks can hinder your growth as a creative entrepreneur. By outsourcing non-essential tasks and adopting a CEO mindset, you free up time to nurture your creativity and business strategy.
  • Unlocking profit potential – Delegating tasks to skilled professionals allows you to focus on your strengths. This not only enhances your creative output but also leads to increased profits, as your business becomes more scalable and competitive.

Make a plan to get the help you need

Once you’re comfortable with CEO mode, it’s time to evaluate roles and responsibilities, which will make hiring help a breeze:

Determine your ideal role

You’ve probably heard before that as business owners, we should be working on our business (making improvements, propelling it forward), not in our business (day-to-day work, reactive work).

For many of us, our actual responsibilities list looks nothing like what we would choose for ourselves. I have good news for you, though. If you run a creative business, and you’re the boss of yourself, you do get to sit down and choose.

With hundreds of things on your to-do list, how do you decide what to do each day? First, you have to know what you’re bringing to your business that makes it what it is. What things do you do that make you irreplaceable? These are the things that you shouldn’t delegate.

Evaluate responsibilities

Begin by listing all your daily responsibilities, both personal and business-related. Assess which tasks you genuinely enjoy and which ones consume your time without adding value. For each task on your list, ask yourself “do I WANT to do this?” and “do I have TIME to do this?”  

Everything with two Yesses, you get to keep. Everything with two Nos can be delegated. The Yes/No items you’ll consider. You may have freed up time for them. You may let them be someone else’s responsibility so you can stick to your best work.

How to make time and enjoy your work by hiring help

Now, let’s take a look at the practical aspects of hiring help for your creative business. This includes when to consider getting assistance and the various forms of help available:

Timing is crucial

If your business is thriving and you’re struggling to keep up, it’s a sign that it’s time to get help. You may not feel like you’re making enough money now to pay for ongoing help. If you’re able to swing the first few months of help, the idea is that you’ll be able to sell more, earn more, and be at a new level where you can afford the help.

Types of help

There are different ways to get help, from working more efficiently to using software automation, outsourcing tasks, hiring virtual assistants, or even bringing on full-time employees. Here are the types of help you could get, from the lowest risk to the highest:

  • Work more efficiently – This is not going to be a huge help to most businesses, because there’s only so much time in a day. However, if you’re doing something in a way that is remarkably inefficient, you can improve. Tim Ferriss has a great article: “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me).
  • Let software do your work for you – I am a huge proponent of this method! Some people hesitate to buy software. I purchase software at the drop of a hat, if it is going to save me time. If the app costs you $20/month, but it saves you four hours a month, that is a no-brainer.
  • Outsource tasks – Maybe a robot couldn’t do your task, and you need a human. Good news! There are people in business to do just about anything you need help with. Your task may be a one-time task – such as creating your new ecommerce website, or a yearly task – such as filing your taxes. Or perhaps you need help more often, such as having one step of your product production process taken care of.
  • Hire a virtual assistant – A step in between hiring your own personal employee and outsourcing a task to a third-party business is to hire a virtual assistant. This person will not be working solely for you, but will be skilled in the kind of tasks you need help with. Your VA will work one-on-one with you to complete your assigned tasks.
  • Hire employees – This is a fun one! I know it seems like a huge change to a one-person business. Once you’ve hired the right people, you won’t be able to imagine how you ran your business without them. My tip is to spend more time than you feel you need to on the hiring process. Get a lot of applicants, narrow it down, and talk to the top few on the phone or in person. Give them a test or request an example of their applicable work, so you can see what they can do. Start on a trial basis, so you can both cancel after a month or three if you see that it’s not a great fit.

Where to find workers

Whether you have a single task to do, could use a part-time virtual assistant, or want to hire a full-time employee, it can be tricky to know where to find these people. I am a big fan of the “friend of a friend” recommendation, and I’ve had great success specifically asking people who I think would know someone, as well as using social media to get the word out about a job listing. The great thing about social media is that instead of asking a bunch of random people (like if you used Craigslist), you’re talking directly to people who already understand your niche.

Another method would be to use one of the sites out there that connects workers with employees, such as UpWork or LinkedIn.

Hiring correctly 

Kiffanie Stahle, of The Artist’s J.D., shares with us “How to Hire Your First Employee Without Pulling Your Hair Out.” This has all the legal, official, and business paperwork type information you need to know to be sure you’re doing it correctly, and don’t later get in trouble with the IRS or your state’s labor department.

In the journey from a creative visionary to a successful CEO, there’s a vital shift in mindset and approach. By thinking like a CEO, embracing delegation, and strategically hiring help, you can unlock your creative potential and scale your business to new heights. As you embark on this transformation, remember that seeking assistance is not a sign of weakness but a strategic move toward realizing your entrepreneurial dreams.

Your homework

  • Make a list of all the tasks that shouldn’t be yours any longer, and make notes about who or what could take them over.
  • Figure out the ONE hire, outsourced task, or purchase that you could make now that would make everything else easier or unnecessary.
  • Plan the steps you need to take to make the change a reality.
  • Timeblock and schedule the tasks you will need to do to get the help you need.

Ready, set go! Then, when you’ve accomplished this, let’s celebrate and support each other here in the comments!

Additional resources

Time Management + Self-Discipline for Creative Business Owners

Business Advice: How to Focus When You’re Almost Burnt Out

Kill Your To-Do List and Focus on ONE Thing

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