Are You Spending Your Time as a CEO or an Operator? 7 Key Focus Areas for Scale-Up CEOs

Paul Avins
May 15, 2024
4 min read

As a business coach, I've noticed that many Managing Directors and Operators struggle to shift their identity and focus when it's time to scale up their business. They get caught up in day-to-day fires and operational tasks, losing sight of the strategic priorities that drive real growth. That's why I believe CEOs need to embody a new definition: Chief Expansion Officer.

7 Key Focus Areas for Scale-Up CEOs

  1. Identifying New Market Opportunities Successful scale-up CEOs are always on the lookout for untapped market segments and emerging customer needs. They analyse trends, conduct market research, and explore adjacent industries to find promising avenues for growth.
  2. Building Strategic Partnerships Partnerships can be a powerful catalyst for expansion. Scale-up CEOs prioritise building relationships with complementary businesses, influencers, and industry leaders. They look for opportunities to cross-promote, collaborate on new offerings, and leverage each other's strengths.
  3. Developing Innovative Products CEOs focused on expansion are constantly thinking about how to evolve their product line to meet changing customer demands and differentiate from competitors. They invest in R&D, seek out customer feedback, and aren't afraid to experiment with bold new ideas.
  4. Recruiting Top Talent Scaling a business requires a strong team of high-performers. Expansion-minded CEOs make talent acquisition a top priority. They take an active role in recruiting, work to build an attractive employer brand, and focus on hiring people with the skills and experience to take the business to the next level.
  5. Refining the Strategic Plan Scale-up CEOs regularly review and adjust their strategic plan to ensure it supports their expansion goals. They set ambitious targets, allocate resources strategically, and make tough decisions to keep the business on track.
  6. Exploring Acquisition Opportunities For businesses with strong cash flow and market position, acquisitions can be a powerful way to drive expansion. CEOs on a growth trajectory keep an eye out for potential acquisition targets that could help them enter new markets, acquire key talent or technology, and achieve economies of scale.
  7. Communicating a Bold Vision Perhaps most importantly, scale-up CEOs are visionaries who paint a compelling picture of the future and rally their teams around it. They communicate their expansion vision frequently and passionately, making sure every employee understands how their work contributes to the company's growth.

As you can see, CEOs focused on expansion spend their time very differently than operators caught up in day-to-day firefighting. They prioritise strategic activities that drive growth and build a strong foundation for the future.

So I challenge you to ask yourself: how much of your week do you spend on these seven key areas? If you find you're spending too much time putting out fires and not enough time creating expansion opportunities, it may be time to re-focus your priorities. Start gradually shifting your attention to these CEO-level tasks, and watch your business growth accelerate.