No one is born a leader. 

Whether it’s a parent, a teacher, or an admired celebrity, we all choose to follow someone early on in life. Leaders are created  when a follower actively decides to pursue something more than they have been shown. 

If you want to have long-lasting success and you want to achieve your goals and dreams, you have to switch your mindset from an employee mindset to a CEO mindset. This mindset shift is imperative to move from a worker-bee mode to a boss mode, and while this comes naturally to some people, it can be very hard for others.

To change from an employee mindset, you must understand what it means to have one. An employee mindset is a culmination of everything that makes someone a good hire for a company. People who naturally possess an employee mindset excel in the workplace because they are hard workers, they keep busy, and they focus heavily on the task at hand. Employees pride themselves on a hard day’s work, and they don’t let anything distract from their preset to-do list. They are not the daydreamers, the forgetful ones, or the ones questioning the process.

This mindset is a boon for companies looking for intrapreneurs to improve their businesses, but for a freelancer or someone looking to start their own company, these limiting beliefs aren’t beneficial.

To be successful in business, you have to switch the way you think from that of an employee to that of a CEO or entrepreneur. Let’s take a look at some ways you can achieve this.

7 Ways to Transform Your Mindset from an Employee to a CEO

1. Have a vision. The major difference between the entrepreneur or CEO mindset and the employee mindset is the vision. Employees get roped into the small day-to-day tasks, the simple go-to-work-and-come-home trap, and once they’re home, they kick back in front of the television and zone out until the next day. Employees don’t take the time to look ahead to their future nor do they take the time to develop visions for themselves. Put simply, employees don’t think long-term. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to think ahead. Getting stuck in the daily tasks and forgetting to look at the bigger picture ensures failure.

2. Create a schedule. Not just any schedule, either. Create a schedule for your business strategies and your planning. This requires pulling yourself out of your daily routine and mulling over what comes next. A CEO devotes time monthly, quarterly, and yearly to planning for the future. They also spend time reflecting on the past. An entrepreneur isn’t afraid to adjust their plans mid-month or mid-quarter if something isn’t working. They are constantly evaluating and reevaluating their business strategies and making adjustments based on the results.

3. Protect your time. People with a CEO mindset are very protective of their time because time is the only non-renewable resource. It’s easy to fall into the pitfall of thinking the only value you have comes from how much time you spend actively working. After all, our whole society is founded on this concept. We heavily praise those who tirelessly put in long hours, and we chastise those who don’t. However, entrepreneurs have to be discerning with their time, and they have to become well-versed in the art of saying “no”. Time spent working on small, insignificant projects is time spent away from the bigger picture. For natural people-pleasers, this can be very difficult, but mastering this skill is imperative to avoid overextending yourself.

4. Embrace being uncomfortable. Collectively speaking, people don’t like being uncomfortable – and that is understandable. Comfort zones are a natural defense mechanism, and employees are taught to think inside the box, or inside the confines of a comfortable zone. In a work setting, employees learn very quickly that crazy, innovative ideas will fall by the wayside, because that’s not what they’re there for. That isn’t to say changes can’t be made, but there are exact perimeters to how far the changes can go. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are bursting at the seams to make changes. Entrepreneurs thrive outside the box, and they embrace the reality of being consistently uncomfortable. They get used to the fluctuating market and the ebbs and flows of business. If you are uncomfortable enough, it becomes the new normal.
5. Take responsibility. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for every decision made in your business, and you are responsible for the future of your company. This means you do not have the luxury of waiting for someone else to make decisions for you. You can’t sit around and wait for things to happen or wait for someone to tell you what to do. This also means that both the successes and the failures fall on you. It’s easy to take responsibility when you are successful, but you also have to take responsibility when things don’t work out like you expect. Neglecting to take responsibility for mistakes can cost you a lot of money or even your dreams.

6. Continuously learn. Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a one-man band. In a lot of cases, and especially when first starting out, you are the employee, the marketer, the payroll specialist, and the CEO all at the same time. To perform all of these tasks effectively, you must learn new skills an employee wouldn’t have to learn, because an employee is hired for a single job. When you first start your company, you’re unlikely to have the money to outsource things you don’t want to do or you may not want to spend money that could be spent elsewhere on tasks you could do yourself, so this means you may be learning how to make spreadsheets, white papers, or even PowerPoint pitches..

7. Get started now. You know what the hallmark of an employee is? Waiting around to be told what to do. Employees get to work and wait for their daily to-do list, so they can check off the tasks and feel accomplished by the time they leave. That mindset is great for them but it’s absolutely terrible for CEOs. You can’t wait for someone else to pass you a to-do list, you have to get up and moving on your own! You have to get started on whatever project you’ve wanted to start right now. Actually, no, you’re already too late. You should’ve started your project yesterday. As an entrepreneur, it’s imperative to embrace a get-up-and-go spirit, to be energized daily, and to get your day started without needing someone to hand you work.

Developing a CEO mindset is a requirement if your dream is to work for yourself, or to advance up the corporate ladder. Whether you want to work as a freelancer, a designer, or build a company with hundreds to thousands of employees, no matter what type of dream you have, the first step is leaving the worker-bee employee mindset behind and stepping into a CEO mindset.

Be patient and give yourself grace as you start developing this mindset, because it may not come naturally to you. However, in time, thinking like an entrepreneur will become second nature to you, and you will wonder how you ever thought like an employee!