Elon Musk, Entrepreneurs, and the Chiefs | RE/MAX Ready

Most business owners are really good at something. That’s probably why they started a business.

For real estate agents, that thing is usually connecting with people. Another business owner might be really good at developing phone apps. Another might have high-level training, like psychiatry or dentistry.

But the thing is, running a business means you have to do more than just the thing you’re really good at.

In fact, I’d argue that there are six essential roles you have to play as a business owner.

Not coincidentally, these six roles align with the executive roles that typically exist at larger companies. That’s right! These roles are so important that at big companies, there’s an important person with his or her very own acronym dedicated to each one.

But as the ONE person in charge of your business, you have to be all of these executives at once:

1. Chief Operations Officer (COO)
The COO makes sure everything runs smoothly. If the business makes a product, the COO would oversee everything from production through delivery. If the business provides a service, he or she would optimize the customer’s experience from start to finish.
2. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
The CFO is in charge of the money. He or she lets the other chief executives know what their budgets are for the year and helps deliver profitability.
3. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Every company needs a visionary! That’s the CEO. His or her job is to look ahead to the Next Big Idea and keep the company growing and relevant.
4. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
The CMO works to make the product visible to its target audience and creates demand for the product.
5. Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
The CTO is on top of the technology the company uses, making sure it’s working well and pushing for upgrades when necessary.
6, Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Last but not least, the CIO is the analyst! He or she oversees all of the analytics the company absorbs (these days, that’s a lot) and interprets the trends, using data to help illuminate the company’s next moves.

While there are definitely more types of executives than these, for the sake of simplicity, let’s stop there.

So, how do you balance all of these roles?

For entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day demands. As a matter of fact, most entrepreneurs only ever manage to assume one or two of the roles above.
But neglecting the others because you’re too busy—or because you’d rather stick to what you’re good at—keeps a business from growing.

Think about a famous example: Tesla. Despite the negative buzz he’s been stirring up lately, Elon Musk is the quintessential CEO, a visionary who’s always on the verge of the Next Big Idea. It’s hard to picture this guy attending to the finances, or spearheading a marketing campaign; he’s too busy brainstorming new possibilities.

But that’s why Tesla’s leadership consists of more than just Elon Musk. There’s a CFO to keep the finances afloat, a COO to handle operations, and so on and so forth.
All of these roles are necessary for a business to achieve its fullest success.

What applies to Tesla applies to your business, too. You might feel like you only have time for operations, but if you don’t come up with new ideas, your business could become outdated. You might find data and finances the most compelling part of your job, but if you neglect marketing, demand for your services could slacken.

To make sure you carry out all of your executive roles, it might be helpful to think of them as hats lined up in your office. On Monday mornings, you might put on your CEO hat and brainstorm for a while. Tuesday afternoons might be dedicated to wearing your CFO hat and balancing the books.

The point is, wear all of your hats regularly. None of them should be gathering dust.

By wearing all of your hats regularly—scheduling time in your week for each one if necessary—you’re making sure your business has all of the elements it needs to achieve its full potential.

So review the list of executive roles above.

Which hats do you feel like you’re wearing a lot?


Which ones haven’t you taken off the shelf in a while?

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Matt Mittman and Eric Rehling are the owners of RE/MAX Ready in Conshohocken, PA.