This question came up in a recent Acumen Council. One partner was asking, “Am I ready? Can I do it? Am I capable?”

The question is about mindset and priorities versus the stories we tell ourselves about what it means to be an entrepreneur or CEO.

After taking all the risks, working your tail off to get an idea off the ground, revenue in the door, and people to come along with you, there is a wall where you get to make a decision: Maintain or grow?

One day, you wake up and feel like the company is as big as it can get without putting more structure, processes, and people in it. You are now the bottleneck to growth.

What got you here won’t get you there. So if you decide that going “there” is the right path for you and your company, you have to start doing things differently, moving from entrepreneur to CEO.

It’s not a straight line but a journey, and if you are doing it right, you’re constantly challenged with something new.

What’s different between the two mindsets?

In the business versus On the business

This is where the whirlwind of the daily firefight and lengthy to-do list will keep you in the entrepreneur seat. Until you can get up in a helicopter and look down on your organization strategically, you’re stuck in fire-fighter mode. Seem impossible? Try taking two hours per week outside the office, alone, to think about your business and the future.

Owns all of the key customer relationships 

Knowing all your customers is great, but being the go-between for every transaction, proposal,  and problem is not. Ready to grow? Create the path to making someone else the highest producing salesperson in the company.

Business stops if you leave 

What’s the longest vacation you’ve taken in the last ten years? What if you added a week onto that? Someone told the story of having surgery that kept him out of the business for two months. What would happen if you were gone for two months? Would your company thrive or die? It turned out to be the best two months the company had up to that point.

Allowing your team to step into bigger decisions and roles is vital to growth. If you can’t leave, they won’t grow. Don’t be the bottleneck for decisions by owning everything. Delegate to elevate. What should you stop doing to move up one level?

The journey from entrepreneur to CEO is a gradual walk up the mountain, and you DO NEED to start walking up the mountain as it’s too easy to work in the whirlwind and chaos of keeping the business operating.

Ready to go? Go with some friends on the journey. You’ll be glad you did.