When you hear the term “CEO,” chances are you think of guys in suits and ties lording over a massive corporation from the top of a skyscraper.
While there may still be some places where that’s true, the modern idea of what a CEO should be has changed dramatically in recent years. And while you may not think of yourself as a CEO when you’re a solopreneur, there are still plenty of lessons that can be learned from those who run larger companies.
Probably the biggest shift comes from what is known as the “CEO 3.0” philosophy — a mindset that focuses on the power of digital tools and international experiences in an increasingly connected and globalized world.
1. Remote And Digital Management
I first learned about the CEO 3.0 philosophy during a conversation with one of Germany’s most prolific real estate entrepreneurs, Jacob Moravia. The Berlin-based executive argued that the tasks — and thus, also skills needed to lead a company in this decade — have changed significantly when compared to 20 years ago.
Most importantly, these tasks are still changing at a rapid rate today. As such, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that one of the main facets of CEO 3.0 is a focus on the remote and digital management of a company.
This new digital-first focus is something many business leaders were forced to do — whether they liked it or not — in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who had already started to embrace a variety of tech options were able to adapt quickly to a new way of doing things. Those who were reluctant to embrace such tools and methods, however, struggled mightily to manage their teams and keep business running as usual.
Noted Mähren during our conversation, “A brief look at some of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs shows that strong digital literacy and mobile management skills are traits that can quickly take a business and CEO to new, unreached heights.”
Continued Mähren, “Both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, for example, have proven that they have a firm grip on the digital world, from social media to high-tech solutions, and that they can lead their companies to success regardless of whether they spend their days in the office or in space — literally. This is reflected in their success running multiple enterprises simultaneously.”
As a solopreneur, you’re likely already at a distinct advantage in this area. Online businesses are already naturally geared toward running everything remotely. You don’t have to go into an office to get to work; you can work from your apartment while still in your pajamas.
Of course, not all remote and digital management is created equal. You don’t need every possible digital management tool available — if you’re not an e-commerce brand, you’re not going to get much use out of logistics software. Carefully review which tools can help you streamline your business, and select ones that will improve your workflow without burdening your budget.
2. Increase Vision And Reach Through International Life
One unique aspect of doing business today is that our world is more connected now than ever before in the history of mankind. An increase in globalization means that a solopreneur in the middle of Oklahoma could, in theory, land clients from each of the world’s four corners.
But while digital tools have helped level the playing field in the ways of geographic reach, they don’t necessarily replace real-life, international experiences. Instead, this can be achieved by frequently — when possible, of course — traveling to partners and customers abroad.
For many founders and CEOs, international travel plays a big role in networking with new business opportunities. Each time you travel, you take advantage of meeting new business and personal contacts. Exchanging ideas with people from different backgrounds and cultures helps you broaden your own horizons and leads to the development of new business ideas. This can give you a much greater vision of things, than if you were content to remain solely in your home country.
While travel restrictions may make international trips a bit more difficult for the time being, savvy entrepreneurs would be wise to look at traveling as more than just another vacation. Your trip doesn’t even necessarily have to be business-focused to directly benefit your personal brand.
Being open to new experiences and having a willingness to interact with strangers can lead to surprising connections. When done right, your international exposure can help you innovate and expand your business activities on a global level.
3. Enhance Results With Digital Communication
In my conversation with Mähren, he was quick to touch on another aspect of CEO 3.0 philosophy — using digital communication to coordinate efforts across multiple time zones.
“Continuing collaboration — especially internationally — can be a challenge after you make a contact. The same is true when working with a geographically diverse team. And while email is a decent starting point, we have so many more tools to ensure that our messages don’t slip through the cracks,” he says.
“Digital messaging tools make it so much easier to coordinate and keep in touch — and that is where true innovation happens. Even connecting on social media can help you maintain those relationships that could prove invaluable later on.”
When you work with international clients, there’s a good chance you’ll be going to bed at the same time they’re rolling into the office. That isn’t exactly conducive to a phone call or video conference. Unless one of you wants to sacrifice sleep — and let’s be real, nobody is ever too excited about that.
With digital communications tools, time zone differences don’t have to be a barrier that keep you from collaborating with other entrepreneurs or delivering great results for your clients.
Sure, some patience will still be needed sometimes as you wait for a response, but digital communications management ultimately makes it much easier to keep track of everything so that everyone is on the same page.
Time To Upgrade Your CEO Philosophy
You may not be responsible for hundreds of employees, but the same principles that make a “3.0” CEO successful can also pay big dividends in your own entrepreneurial career.
By taking advantage of everything today’s digital tools have to offer and expanding your horizons through international experiences, you can become more agile and innovative. You won’t just be better positioned to reach a broader audience; you’ll have the tools and know-how to make it happen.