In a column a few weeks ago, I pointed out that every business, including small ones, has assignments that can only be performed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In that article, I covered two of those Big Jobs:
1. CEO strategic responsibilities are not optional.
2. Small business CEOs have to periodically transport themselves from the operating trenches to a 30,000-foot strategic orbit.
There is the third Big Job that’s the sole domain of the CEO, and it’s what we’re going to cover now.
3. The CEO’s three Big Pictures: Where have we been? Where are we now? Where are we going?
The last part of this Big Job, “Where are we going,” becomes easier if you focus on what I call the 21st-century Big Four Factors: Bricks, Clicks, People, and Capital. Take a look at these handy parameters and let them help you focus better on this CEO Big Job.
Location and space are considered for a span of years: one, three, five, twenty, etc. What will your operation need to look like in five years? How long will your current location serve you? Will the physical space align with your strategy? What infrastructure and equipment will you need in one year, or five? Your future square footage requirements per dollar of revenue will likely be different in the next five years than in the past five.
This is both internal and external technology. Internal is hardware, software, networking, and connectivity required to both buy and sell efficiently and productively. External is the technology you ask customers to use in order to do business with you. This timeline is shorter than BRICKS; usually months or a year or two. Be prepared for this Factor to increasingly occupy more of your time every year.
The line between consideration for PEOPLE and CLICKS is becoming increasingly blurred, especially regarding technology acquisition to mitigate the lack of available qualified employees. What will the company need humans to do in one, three, or five years? How many people and what kind of talent will you need? What kind of technology and training will team members need to meet those requirements? How will technology adoption impact the organization chart? Which jobs require employees, and which could be filled by an outsourcing contract?
The second part of PEOPLE is customers. What will your customer profile look like in one, three, or five years? What will be their expectations? What do you have to do to meet those expectations with relevance, not just competitiveness?
How will you fund the future? What financial management systems and standards will you need? What combination of retained earnings, debt, and investment will produce a successful capitalization strategy? What do you need to know about new funding sources?
Only someone filling the role of CEO can ask and find answers to these strategic questions. Who’s asking these questions in your business?
Write this on a rock … If the buck for your business stops on your desk, you’re the CEO. Do the job.