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How to Be a Part-Time CEO

Any determined business owner can spend a lot less time worrying about their business with just a little focus in the right direction.

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Business owners constantly complain about their 80-hour weeks. Oddly enough, they also love to brag about their grueling schedules and how they never stop working. It’s become part of the culture: To run a successful company is to puff out your chest and talk about how you work inhumane hours.

The majority of small business owners put in more than 50 hours each week. Aside from the staunch workaholic, most people don’t view that as their entrepreneurial dream. Maybe you’re more interested in running a company that supports you and your family, not the other way around. You dream of having more time for yourself — if only there were more hours in the day.

It’s not a quick or easy fix, but any determined business owner can spend a lot less time worrying about their business with just a little focus in the right direction.

Determine your needs

Before you get to decide how many hours you work, you need to identify where your time goes.

If you just signed the lease on your first company office, don’t plan on a 20-hour week. Getting a company off the ground is a little like having a newborn — the rest will come in a year or two. No one starts their own business specifically because they want more free time in their life. Fortunately, if you lay the right foundation, you can ensure shorter hours are on the horizon.

For the more established business owner, what’s keeping you at the office? Filing out order forms? Stocking your own shelves? An endless stream of unread emails? 

The work feels too important to be ignored, yet it can’t all be accomplished in an eight-hour day. This is the point where most CEOs dig in their heels and stay at the office until seven instead of five. If you change your approach, it doesn’t have to be that way. 

To start, stop looking at the whole picture and address issues in a vacuum. With clearer priorities, you become more efficient and more likely to cut yourself some slack. You also gain momentum as the endorphins coming from a completed task list give you a little burst of adrenaline. 

If you get a bunch done and the list isn’t complete, that’s OK. At the end of the day, you know most of those emails can wait until tomorrow. 

Related: 6 Ways to Work Less but Get More Done

Make a dream team

A good business relies on a proper support team. Yours might need seasonal employees and outsourcing agencies to start, but the goal of a part-time CEO is to eventually surround themselves with a consistent staff that can step up the moment their number gets called.

No boss will ever downplay the importance of a good team. Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs make a point of hiring Yes Men and employees with a narrow scope of expertise. Essentially, the standard dream team keeps the boss feeling like a top dog. Ego-driven management ensures you’ll keep working those 50-weeks while complaining about how you need better help.

You have to go further than finding an assistant to do the grunt work you dislike. Hire people with a big drive and big aspirations. Make room for them to grow into their positions by stepping back and giving them space as they learn the ropes. This approach means you don’t have to go searching for the most qualified candidate with the highest salary demands. You can open the field to people who might have thin resumes but show a lot of promise.

Hiring is hard and paying a good staff is expensive. That’s why new hires should never be a quick fix to a small problem; they should have long-term value. Fight the urge to do everything yourself and train a team who can, at least a few hours a week, act as your replacement. 

Related: How to Hire Like a Pro

Company culture

There will always be plenty of work to do. As the person in charge, you get to set the tone for how and when it gets done. A strong, value-based company culture will make you happier, your employees happier and allow everyone to get more done in less time.

What you value matters. It influences how you run your company and how your company is perceived. If you only care about the bottom line, that mindset will trickle down to your workers and, while you might hit your quarterly targets, your workers will dread coming in each day. When people don’t feel crushed by their work, they usually do a better job. 

You can work hard and have free time. If you do that and allow your team to do the same, chances are everyone will be more productive. You won’t waste time badgering people to get things done or redoing messy assignments. Suddenly, with a happy, productive crew at your side, taking a three-day weekend won’t seem like such a big deal.  

Your life, your time

Maybe you and your work are happily married. Maybe sleeping on the office couch is your idea of a good time. That might be the case now, but it’s not a sustainable way of living. Our bodies and minds aren’t made for endless workdays.

The hardest part will be accepting that you don’t have to do it all. Not just the petty stuff — the important stuff too. Let your team support you, train them to be indispensable and start seeing what life has to offer beyond those office walls. 

Related: 5 Habits Every CEO Should Avoid to Be a Truly Remarkable Leader

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