I was promoted in 1983 to the position of Executive Vice-President of an insurance company specializing in life and health insurance. This promotion put me on the Board of Directors and also made me the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). That meant I was in charge of “implementing the company’s high-level strategies.” From my experience as a CEO, are there “business tips” that are valuable to the family or small business person? Yes, I believe there are.
Your word is your bond.
The business world moves at an extremely fast pace. As a CEO I had meeting after meeting. While decisions had to be supported in writing, actions began immediately. If I made a promise that person or entity had to believe it would be kept. Employees, clients, agents, banks and the Department of Insurance all acted on my word. It only takes once and the level of action slows to the pace of written enforcement.
In the case of the home or small business the same thing is true. Whether it is a promise to a family member, employer, employee or creditor how you are treated and what type of entitlements you get are based on your word.
Are you “set-up” in a way that reflects current “reality?”
When I first took over as the CEO we were using a field marketing system that was out-of-touch with reality. It had been set up about 15 years ago. We were paying General Agents (those people that hired agents and sold our products) an extremely high rate. We were at about 50 percent when companies similar to ours were paying about 42 percent. Rather than being proactive we had been reactive and as a result we were losing our financial shirt. That was changed and while we lost a few people it was better for the company in the long run.
The way records are kept and bills are paid should be reviewed a couple of times a year. It is easy to get out of touch. It is also valuable to keep in touch with current wage structures based on your field of endeavor.
If you know it’s right, do it.
When I became CEO we employed no women in managerial capacities. This was illegal. I promoted two women to that post at the same compensation as males with similar time in service. Also two women were promoted to supervisors. Later when we were “audited” by the state we passed, but more importantly these women helped the company immensely and it also improved the “fabric” of the company in terms of respect, excitement and employee support.
In the family it is important to have “fair” structures. Whether it is with respect to reporting income to the IRS or paying a parking ticket, actions speak louder than words and that also has to do with small business.
Investment strategies change.
We made more money selling life insurance than health insurance. Therefore for a while we had to require that agents sell a certain amount of life to be eligible to represent us in the health marketplace.
For the family and small business the same holds true. Sometimes based on your circumstances it makes more sense to remain liquid by keeping your money in the bank and at other times you can take higher risk.
At the beginning of the year we always had a loose five-year plan and a one-year plan. These plans would be reviewed at the end of every quarter. That way we had a constantly “rolling” plan.
It is important to plan. What is going to occur in the next few weeks, months and years as far as you can see? Then you make a loose plan to deal with it as best you can. As time proves you wrong or right the plan “tightens” up; the thinking is better because there is more accurate data.
There is one golden rule I want to share with you that I learned in my years of leading a company; “There will always be change.”
From my observation deck as the executive head of a corporation the organizations I watched fail were those people and companies that encountered change and were too frozen to act, too afraid to “Do things differently.”
Planning, change, honesty, reality and trusting in these factors are the only road I know to success. I always remember the phrase a dear mentor taught me: “Successes simply do those things failures are unwilling to do.”
Investopedia Website, “Chief Executive Officer-CEO”
Zeromillion.Com Website, Dr. Alvin Chan, “The Process of Change in Marketing Approaches”