Business coach and consultant Jim Schleckser has spent years trying to understand how startup and small business CEOs budget their time. Not surprisingly, the best CEOs—the ones that are able to build highly profitable, fast-growing companies—had a lot in common.
As part of the CEO Project, a boot camp for entrepreneurs, Schleckser advises CEOs and company founders on the most important areas of their business to focus on. At the core of his advice, Schleckser believes CEOs need to put the blinders on and focus on what truly drives growth. Here are the core components Schleckser says you should focus on.
"Time spent on your business model drives growth," says Schleckser. Most important, CEOs should aim to increase the proportion of recurring revenue in their businesses.
"Lock revenue each year," he says. "And when you decide to sell your business, you'll get higher offers."
Schleckser also challenges CEOs to raise prices. "Pricing drives profitability," he says. "I recommend you go home and raise your prices 10 percent."
Lastly, CEOs need to have a product so strong, he calls it the "mafia offer," an offer your customers can't refuse.
Schleckser believes all CEOs need to add Chief Talent Officer to their title.
"Better players on the field means better performance," Schleckser says. The silver lining of the recession was that plenty of talented workers are looking for jobs—now is a good time to snatch up great employees at a reasonable price.
"You're able to get talent now that you couldn't get years ago," he says. "You need to be out there looking for talent all the time. Put a few of the A-players in; it's like magic in changing the business performance."
What separates good companies from great companies is the ability to differentiate their brand based on better processes. What does that mean in practice? Schleckser advises CEOs to always be developing new product lines, adding value to current processes, eliminating waste, reengineering processes, and standardizing methods.
"Go the extra mile," he says. "Design processes that fulfill promises to your clients."
At the beginning of the company's life cycle, CEOs are involved in all aspects of the business. But as the company grows, the CEO needs to be able to defer power to managers.
"It feels great to close a sale," says Schleckser, "but if a CEO is out selling, he's not doing his job."
The point is to foucs on the aspects that will drive future growth, and that often means taking the CEO out of his or her comfort zone.