How to Be the CEO in Your Small Business

Getting some small business owners to be CEOs is almost an impossible task. Why? Because often they are vital to production and operations. They are often in the back examining and working on the patients, fixing cars, or making surfboards. How would you supervise your employees when you cannot see what employees are doing?

So how can you be the CEO while also being a full-time worker?

An ideal scene for any business owner is one where the staff pretty much run themselves. Isn’t this what you envisioned for yourself one day? At least most of you hoped that your business would afford you some freedom. To achieve that, a self-motivated employee is a vital target.

L. Ron Hubbard described the situation of the executive who has employees that “run themselves.” He indicated two phases that an executive goes through—phase 1 and phase 2.



When he has people producing, functioning well, and hatted, he then enters the next phase:



I have observed three vital steps that help bring this about.

Step 1: Determine whether each staff member you have is truly employable. (Don’t be fooled on this one; staff who are not self-motivated or who cannot be coaxed into being self-motivated, are not employable.)

Step 2: Once it is determined you have an employable staff member, they must be properly trained. This is one of the hardest lessons to teach business owners, but one which, if they learn it, enables them to realize the full potential of their organization.

Step 3: You must have a game for each employee or at least for the whole team. What is the prize for going above and beyond what is expected of them?

To do this, you must have statistics. How can you have a game without keeping a score? You already (or should) keep the number of new customers, number of products delivered, the value of service (or products) delivered to your customers, and collections of revenue. This is the irreducible minimum, but you will probably need to keep other statistics.

On a weekly or bimonthly basis, a bonus should be paid to any staff member who exceeds viability for their statistic. What is viable? Well, how many sales does it take to meet your expenses and pay yourself and your staff well? How many sales do you need to produce per day to make a good living? How big a customer base do you need to service to make this happen? When an employee consistently scores above what is viable, they should receive a bonus of $25, $50, or even $100 depending on the viability level achieved by the employee. Weekly bonuses are best. Monthly bonuses are better than none but not as motivating as the weekly ones. To better illustrate the success we have had with our clients playing games, here are examples from two clients of ours:

  • One client in Wyoming challenged her staff to double their production and collections. This would, in turn, double the amount needed to cover their operational expenses. She offered a $100 gift card to each staff member if the goal was reached. The staff responded by making 2.5 times the amount needed! Needless to say, this client continues to engage her staff with games and bonuses.
  • Another client in Delaware devised a tiered bonus plan. It”s a weekly plan which pays cash bonuses based on actual revenue made. When the staff makes their first-tier revenue goal, they earn a bonus. But they don”t then kick back and relax because they have a second-tier revenue goal and if they make that one, they earn an even higher cash bonus. There are also monthly revenue goals and when these targets are met, the staff receive gift cards or salon services in addition to bonuses. This client tells me this incentive game has not only increased revenues, but it also drives his staff to accomplish more. They are so driven, in fact, he now has to ask his staff’s permission to go on vacation!

The office will almost run itself once statistics and bonuses are in place, and it goes from mediocre to real enthusiasm!

Kevin Willson

1 Hatting: To train (someone) on the functions and specialties of his post. Taken from the fact that in many professions, such as railroading, the type of hat worn is the badge of the job.

2 From an article of 28 July 1971, Admin Know-How No. 26

Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson has been working with the Hubbard Administrative Technology System his entire adult life, studying all 12 encyclopedic volumes of Mr. Hubbard’s management system. He has been at the helm of Sterling Management Systems, a Hubbbard Management consulting company for 25 years and as its CEO has brought the axioms of management to hundreds of thousands of people across North America. To date, Sterling has garnered over 80 local, national and international awards for production, expansion and goodwill. Kevin can be reached at
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