I love small companies. They are easy to learn from and they usually have so many things going on that their employees get exposed to both their internal and external processes.
Do you want to know another reason I love small companies? Their CEOs. They’re usually young people who are straight from working for 10 to 20 years in their respective industries and have achieved so much so fast that they either get promoted or get poached by startups that need that kind of energy.
I’ve had the privilege of working directly under the heads of several big companies and the amount of information, lessons, and business culture I’ve learned for them is just overwhelming.
If I could work directly under CEOs in all my jobs, I would. I actively seek out projects that let me work with the most senior employees of companies and starting today, you should too.
The business lessons you will learn from such people are invaluable to growing your entrepreneurial mindset. Although I’m only up to my third CEO, here are the invaluable business lessons and power moves I learned from them:
Most CEOs and other senior employees have a smart way of going about things. What seems tricky to you is simple to them. Their many years of experience give them insight into situations that would otherwise seem unsolvable to their juniors.
For example, as a digital marketer, I usually have a ton of ideas for any projects I’m working on. Most of the time, junior employees who have duties delegated to them only want to finish their part of the job and pass it along to the next person in the team. On the other hand, working directly under the head of a company that needs you to map out their entire e-commerce strategy is a better experience by far.
In my case, we would bounce ideas off each other and implement those that had the most potential to benefit the business. However, most of the time it would be all about explaining why a certain idea wouldn’t work, not because they simply didn’t like it, but because they already tried it and had subpar results.
Do you feel like being resourceful? Check out my article on how to make money online in Kenya.
All in all, most senior employees’ resourcefulness comes from their years of experience. Getting to have that much knowledge instilled in you for free, no, getting PAID to work for, AND learn from such people is the best career move you will ever make.
2. Looking Forward Into The Future
Most CEOs have big and exciting plans for the future. I can say this with confidence because I have asked them about it. While some were the heads of their own companies, others were still employed but looking to start their own companies.
Talking about my bosses’ dreams has been an invaluable way to evaluate myself. While hoping for a future filled with marvellous technologies and solutions based on your prototype product sounds wonderful, it sometimes can also be over-ambitious.
Knowing how to look forward into the future is more important than just blankly staring into it with delusions of grandeur and success. Most of the CEOs I’ve worked with have realistic plans for the future. They’ve studied current trends, extrapolated from them, carried out market research of their minimal viable product on a small group of potential clients, and weighed the results.
Only then did they decide whether or not to pursue their project in full-scale.
3. Flexibility and Quick Reaction
This one was made obvious by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While most companies failed and shut down, none of the CEOs I have worked under has shut their businesses down.
On the contrary, their businesses have boomed! They are stuck with more projects than they know what to do with.
Their secret? Flexibility.
The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The whole world had an entire month to prepare for it while it hadn’t spread from China. As you would expect, most people didn’t do anything and only started thinking of ideas when it was already too late.
On the other hand, most smart businesses started pivoting and restructuring their operations in ways that would allow them to stay open and survive the epidemic. The best example we have locally is how smart marketers have moved online to sell clothes in Facebook groups. They have even formed networks to deliver their orders to almost any place within and around Nairobi!
Contrary to popular opinion, the survival of businesses during this pandemic doesn’t depend on the amount of savings they have, rather on whether or not they still have a steady stream of clients.
4. Knowing When To Quit
Sometimes, quitting is the only option we have left. However, when should you quit? Is it after you’ve tried your best and pumped everything into your business? No, that will leave you broke and depressed.
Knowing when to quit is invaluable when venturing into new and uncharted waters. Most of the CEOs I have worked under have had several of their projects go wrong but they always seem to be able to pull out of them just in time to avoid unmitigated losses.
Again, I’ll have to attribute this to their smart business sense and previous experience. Knowing when to let go of a project you had a passion and high hope for is a good way to avoid making huge losses.
In the words of Kenny Rogers, you need to know when to walk away.
Cut your losses, learn from the experience, and live to start another business another day.
Although these lessons may seem obvious to some, most people who have been in business will acknowledge and agree with my previous employers’ strategies.
It takes a long time to instil such business sense into one’s character in such a way that making the right business decision is more of a reflex learned from repeated experiences rather than having to think about everything all the time.
I hope sharing what I’ve learned will shed some light on how successful CEOs and business operate.
I’d love to hear from you! Do you agree with my observations? Do you have more you’d like to add? Tell me about them in the comments!