A simple mind game to make better decisions as an entrepreneur.
When most people think about business leadership, they think about the CEO. That’s right, the Chief Executive Officer. A few famous leaders immediately come to mind: Steve Jobs from Apple, Jack Welch from GE, even Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. Barack Obama could be considered the CEO of America, Inc.
What’s great about being an entrepreneur and owning your own business, is that you can also be the CEO.
You can have the same level of decision-making power and authority as any of the big boys, even if you’re the only employee. Every decision is yours to make, from the products you want to sell, to the color and design of your website, to how much vacation you take.
However, there’s one advantage that large companies have when making long-term, major decisions:
A Board of Directors.
This group of executives are elected or appointed to oversee various aspects of a company, including policies, financial issues, budgets, setting salaries, and the performance of the CEO and other management.
The goal is to compile a diverse, strategic group of people that can use their experience and objective input to guide major corporate decisions.
For example, lets take a look at Facebook, an internet-based company that is less than 10 years old.
In addition to Zuckerberg, their board is made up of former internet entrepreneurs, many of them now venture capitalists, as well as the CEO of The Washington Post and the former President of the University of North Carolina.
[Facebook Board Members]
Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Facebook
Marc Andreessen, Co-founder and General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
Jim Breyer, Partner, Accel Partners
Donald E. Graham, Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company
Reed Hastings, Chairman and CEO, Netflix
Erskine Bowles, President Emeritus, the University of North Carolina
Peter Thiel, Partner, Founders Fund
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
Real Life Board of Directors for Entrepreneurs
But what about you, the solo entrepreneur?
Who do you turn to when you need a group of diverse, experienced people to help you make a decision?
You might already have in effect, a real life board of directors.
Mentors, mastermind groups, friends, family, former colleagues and bosses that you reach out to and interact with on a regular basis when talking business.
These people can be invaluable in helping you lead your business and bounce ideas around. In many cases, you’ll learn from their experience and avoid the mistakes they’ve made.
I definitely have a group of people that I consider to be in my close circle to advise me on such matters.
The Mental Board of Directors
However, life as an entrepreneur moves pretty fast. It’s one thing to run a major decision such as whether or not to enter a certain market by multiple friends.
But what about all the dozens of smaller decisions that are made daily?
For someone like me – and maybe like you – a perfectionist that loves to do research to make sure they are making the right decision, there can be a strong urge to ask opinions about many of the decisions you are faced with each day.
The problem is, this can cripple your progress and lead to a lot of self-doubt.
A solution to this dilemma was discussed by Jeremy and Jason on episode #182 of one of my go-to podcasts, Internet Business Mastery.
What they spoke about was having a Mental Board of Directors.
What this would be is a list of trusted friends that you would mentally picture when making a decision. You wouldn’t actually reach out to them via email or other method to ask their opinion on something, but rather, think about how they would advise you on a particular issue, and then make that decision yourself.
I think this is a brilliant idea and one that I’m going to implement as much as possible to help get me over my tendency to overthink things for too long.
Who would sit on your Mental Board of Directors?
Think about who you would have on your board. Again, you’d want diversity of experience and knowledge. For me, the first few people that come to mind are:
– Bobby: A friend and business owner in LA with a sales background that is always thinking big
– Jayme: A close friend in Seattle who’s default answer is always “Don’t overthink it. Go for it.”
– Nate: My business partner who knows the NY market and the challenges of being a solopreneur
– John: A close friend in NY with a tech background and true entrepreneurial attitude. Motto: JFDI… Just Freaking Do It
– Maire: A close friend in NYC with a PR background who knows which buttons to push
– Phil: A close friend and business owner in Miami with incredible attention to detail and research and brutal honesty
– Eric: A college buddy in MA that knows more about finance, investing, and risk than anyone else I know
– Matt: A college buddy in NC with an incredible work ethic and character
– Mom and Sister: The two women that know me better than anyone, and while they often don’t even understand exactly the business challenges that I am describing, they can read me like a book and often tell me what I know the decision will be before I even know it
And there you have it. I just wrote that off the cuff, but feel like I got a great cross section of people… old and young, men and women, across multiple industries and from 6 different locations.
Putting it to use
I think the progression I’d like to make is
1) Have a true board of directors for vetting major business decisions
2) Making better and faster decisions by envisioning what the board would advise me to do as CEO
3) As Jeremy from the podcast noted, the highest level is thinking of yourself as the Chairman of the Board, and you oversee all of these individuals, taking their advice into consideration but always being the final decision-maker
Think about it… who would YOU have on your Mental Board of Directors?
Hit me up on Twitter, @HopkinsonReport
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