Five Ways to Think Like a Boss

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Do you know how to think like a boss?

I’m not talking about how to start a business, or get a promotion, or manifest success for yourself. Nor am I referring to simple “Girl, Stop Apologizing” confidence or “You Are Enough” mantras.

I’m asking if YOU, as the owner of your company, think like the boss of your company.

“Sarah, what on earth are you talking about. If I own the company, doesn’t that automatically make me the boss?”

Well, yes— certainly in name. But not all business owners act like it. Titles and day-to-day actions don’t always match up.

It took me years of self-employment before I learned how to think and act like the boss. In those early years I held all the responsibility of ownership that I do today, but I made decisions as if I was an employee in my company, not the person driving its direction.

So what’s the difference?

It all comes down to mindset— working IN your business vs ON your business. Spoiler alert: the Boss focuses most of her energies on the latter.

So let’s talk about this!

Here are five ways that the Boss-Mindset Owner (BMO) thinks and functions differently than the Employee-Mindset Owner (EMO).

1. Boundaries vs Bubbles

Boundaries are clearly-defined, firmly held, purposeful decision-making paradigms. They aren’t restrictive or sad— the purpose of boundaries are to protect what is most dearly loved and valued as important. Bubbles, on the other hand, are squishy, float away with the smallest breath of air, and pop the moment they’re touched.

The BMO sets firm boundaries with intention and uses both work and personal goals to inform work commitments. She guards the best hours of her day and stands firm on her contract terms. She dedicates herself to her clients during business hours, then shuts down the computer when work hours end. Her contract and payment process clear-cut and never awkward, because it’s dictated by pre-written boundaries. This automatically awards confidence, and garners respect from her employees and clients/customers.

The EMO builds boundaries out of bubbles— she plans work and personal schedules around the demands of others (example: “I’m super flexible, just let me know what’s best for you!”), wobbles on contracts, rates, and payment terms out of fear of losing or displeasing someone, allows work to freely bleed into personal space (always working, rarely resting). In othter words, her boundaries are flimsy.

Be a BMO— set clearly-defined, firmly held boundaries with purpose.

2. Future vs Fires

Good leadership requires forward-thinking. Forward thinking is every bit as much “planning long-term” as it is “looking at the big picture.” This person thinks 5, 10, and 20 steps ahead of today and uses her energy to take steps forward. The opposite of this is someone who is governed by the “tyranny of the urgent” (putting out fires), and never takes the time to lift her eyes to see what might be around the next corner.

The BMO writes a vision for the future that informs her goals, and then makes decisions with that future in mind. She focuses her best energy on what will actually propel her forward. She regularly evaluates her day-to-day work too see how it lines up with that vision, and only accepts clients, contract, and commissions that propel her forward.

The EMO focuses most of her energies on putting out fires— the day-to-day work of tending to the “urgent, but not important” tasks in her business. Answering emails, managing IG posts, looking at competitor’s work, etc. She rarely stops to ask “why am I doing this?” because her mental energy is depleted in the doing. She has the “Something is better than nothing” mindset when accepting new business, regardless of the impact they have on her goals.

Be a BMO— spend the best of your energy planning for the future.

3. Proactive vs Reactive

To be proactive is to anticipate future problems, needs, or changes. To be reactive is to respond to something after it has happened.

The BMO anticipates a client’s needs and meets them, looks for the opportunities to grow and improve, sets marketing plans based on long-term vision, doesn’t make decisions because “that’s what everyone else is doing.” She sets up trainings for employees before problems arise. She takes the time to ask “Do I want to do this? Is this where I want to go?”

The EMO tends to let clients initiate communication, doesn’t ask for feedback for improvement, makes changes to marketing plans based on what others are doing, and is often surprised by those “little fires” that take up her attention. She commits to things and makes decisions based on her capacity today instead of establishing systems for success.

Be a BMO— be proative in your communication and decision-making.

4. Delegate vs DIY

To delegate is to entrust a task to someone other than yourself. DIY (do it yourself) has an obvious meaning— you do it yourself.

The BMO looks at necessary tasks and says “What requires my unique touch? What could someone else do better/faster/cheaper? Where are my skills put to best use?” She realizes that delegating frees her up to focus on long-term growth. Instead of assuming she’s the best, she is open to the possibility of another person’s expertise.

The EMO is a “jack of all trade, expert at none.” She looks at the cost of a new skill or project and says “I can do that myself.” She looks at work she does well and assumes no one else can do it as well as she can. She struggles to trust her reputation to anyone else, leaving her drained and exhausted. She is often so focused on doing it all that she loses focus on vision and growth.

Be a BMO— be humble enough to let others do the work you don’t have to do yourself so you can use your mental energy to do what only you can do.

5. Entity vs Identity

Entity: a thing with distinct and independent existence.

Identity: the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another:

The BMO views her business as an extension of her values, but separate from herself. Though influenced by her, her business and her work are not intrinsically linked to her identity. In other words, she does not derive value or sameness or being from her business. It is a thing different from her, and she works to keep it in its proper place.

The EMO’s identity and business blur together. She derives value and worth from her business, and it affects her view of herself and her world. This confusion is particularly common for perfectionists, or anyone who feels a strong need for outside affirmation.

Be a BMO— keep your entity and your identity separate and distinct.


Do you need help making the shift from the Employee-Mindset Owner to the Boss-Mindset Owner?

I would love to help!! I coach female creative entrepreneurs on how to cut through overwhelm and achieve impossible goals in life, business, and everything in between. I offer 1-1 coaching on a limited basis, and my next round opens in just a few weeks! ALSO: I have three brand-new Mastermind groups opening up! Want earlybird access? Sign up below!

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