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C-Suite Hat Juggling: Is this Normal?

If this title sparked your interest, take comfort in the fact that “C-Suite Hat Juggling” is a normal experience for most entrepreneurial company owners.

Many privately-owned companies find they have not grown to the point where it is cost effective to have a full-time Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer or Chief Financial Officer. But all these roles and the functions they provide are vital to your company’s health. The advantage to having these three independent leaders is being able to obtain actionable data after a short walk to the office next door in the following three areas:


Through constant, impartial and appropriate input from these three areas, your “gem,” your company, will grow. But a serious problem arises when you are trying to fulfill all three responsibilities by yourself.  Inevitably, given the time and resource pressures an owner/entrepreneur faces, at least one of these roles will be shortchanged.

Many growing companies subject themselves to potential dangers by doing one or more of the following:

  • Hiring fast to fill a void quickly and alleviate pain. However, the individual hired may be too expensive, a challenge to culture or overkill for the deliverables needed.
  • Asking too much of, or promoting internal team members that aren’t ready. All businesses hope to see their people grow, but challenging individuals with too much too fast can have disastrous results.

As the business owner, here are some key steps to get your arms around the journey ahead.

  • First, you need to review any ideas you formulate from one viewpoint with the other two perspectives in mind.
  • Second, identify your strengths and weaknesses. Each one of us tends to be stronger in processing information from one or two of these areas. Set aside regularly scheduled, uninterrupted time to review and plan for your company through the lens of each of these areas.  Consider starting by doing this once a quarter for each area.
  • Finally, do not get overwhelmed by this process; try to review a goal from one perspective as if it is not limited by the others.

Write down these goals on an ongoing “Company Vision List” from each perspective and watch how formerly seemingly unattainable goals will creatively and appropriately get implemented, lifting your company to higher and higher levels.

Externally, use all options available to strengthen your team.  There are subject matter experts all over – seek them out.  They may be in your inner circle already.  There are valuable peer groups to bounce ideas off of.  More informally, seek the counsel of other successful business owners – many are more than happy to offer free advice.  Identify potential resources that can be brought in on an as needed basis, such as to conduct sales leadership and training.  The only word of caution is to ensure you are asking of them something that is in their direct skillset.

The combination of self-awareness and planning, an internal team moving the in the same direction and the right network of outside resources can mirror the organizational structure needed to propel forward.

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