I sat there in a puddle of sweat in the whiskey lounge of a hotel overlooking a river in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
It was balmy but I wasn’t sweating because of the humidity. I’d just been asked a tough question. Silence swallowed me while 4 sets of eyeballs stared me down waiting for an answer.
This question changed the way I thought about my business forever. And It showed me that I was in my own way. My business grew so much faster after this mindset shift.
If you feel like you can't get to the next milestone in your business this might be the question you need to get unstuck. Keep reading.
I had the hot seat during high level invite-only SEO and business mastermind in Thailand, and I'd just spent 30 minutes explaining my business and its biggest challenges.
It boiled down to this: I could not seem to seem to push to the next level of traffic and profit in my affiliate content site business no matter how hard I grinded. In fact: the harder I worked the further I felt I was getting from my goals. It was frustrating AF.
And life was becoming stressful. I was burning out, but I was trapped. I felt like I had the pedal to the metal but my wheel were spinning backwards.
I'd started this business for freedom but now I felt like a slave. How the 'F' did this happen?
I’d turned up to this mastermind hoping to get some clues. Instead, I got a question.
“Do you want to be good at SEO, or do you want build a big fucking business?”
As most other operators in this space, my core skill was Search Engine Optimization. And I'd gotten pretty darn good at it too. The better I got at SEO, the more I wanted to do it, and the more satisfaction it gave me. It feels good to be good at something.
But eventually SEO became the crutch that held me back. Sure, it drove traffic, but it wasn't my true high-impact work. And my fellow master-minders could see that.
I didn't want to give it up. My business grew and I hired a team but I just couldn't justify hiring someone to replace myself. I was good at SEO. It felt good. Why would I hire someone else?
But I was also running a growing business. And a growing business needs a leader. It needs a CEO.
The more I did the SEO things, the less I did the CEO things. And hence, the business struggled.
As I learned from Keith Cunningham in The Road Less Stupid there are certain roles that a CEO should never delegate.
I wasn't delegating these roles. I was ignoring them. I was too busy feeding my ego while tinkering with SEO things. I couldn't lead.
An effective CEO should define point A and Point B, then build the machine get there. They should put together an A-player team, set high standards for the team, create the culture, allocate resources to the machine, and focus on leading the business.
I wanted to evolve my business from a “website's that makes money” to a portfolio of brands. This requires a CEO's leadership. Not an SEO's leadership.
I had to give up control of the SEO, stop feeding my ego, and start acting like a CEO.
So I got out of my own way. I hired and trained someone else to take care of the on-page SEO. And I found 3rd parties to fulfill our technical and off-page SEO needs. I delegated the responsibility.
Then I dedicated blocks of time each week to do CEO things. I spent more time thinking, planning, delegating and managing. It felt awkward at first. We built a higher quality team. Everyone had a responsibility, and was on the same page as to where we were going.
The business began to thrive. Our revenue and profits soared and I had more time than I'd ever had before, yet we were still growing. I'd finally gotten out of my own way.
This all taught me a lesson.
Most of us have a core skill in our businesses. And there is nothing wrong if you want to stick to that role. But if you want to grow your business but you don't have a CEO, you need to become that CEO and replace yourself, or bring in a CEO.
Do you want to be the technician? or do you want to grow your business?
Feel like a slave to your business? If your business is growing and you're hiring freelancers: watch out for this common delegation mistake