Mike Krass, an EO Louisiana member, is owner and visionary of MKG Marketing, an agency that specializes in digital marketing for cybersecurity and data management businesses. We asked Mike how he made the transition from CEO to owner/visionary. Here’s what he had to say.
Early-stage entrepreneurs wear a lot of hats. As the business grows, you learn to hire the right people in the right seats, gradually relinquishing responsibility to ensure you maximize your time in your area of highest and best use.
But how do you make the ultimate transition from CEO to owner/visionary?
Years ago, as my digital marketing agency started growing, I finally stopped doing literally everything to run the business. I was still responsible for more than I reasonably should have been. But I was no longer doing everything.
At the time, a teammate asked me, “Do you like what you’re doing right now? You don’t ‘do marketing’ anymore.”
That was true. When he first joined MKG, I used to sell, function as the account manager, marketing strategist, send invoices, collect payments, sweep floors—a little bit of everything.
At the time, my answer was simple: yes, I like managing the business. I like working on it, and not “in it” as much as I once did.
His question brought up other questions in my mind. Did I miss being a marketing practitioner? Working directly with clients on a daily basis?
Of course I did.
It’s fun to be in the trenches with clients. Solving their problems. Engaging in hands-on marketing strategy against their competition. Winning together.
But my business partner and I determined that we wanted to build an infinite business that would outlive our useful and biological lives. We recognized that to do so, our roles and responsibilities as owners would change.
We needed to live by our values: People First, Transparency, Big Picture, and One Standard.
Each day, I moved further into working on the business instead of managing the day-to-day responsibilities of the business. But, what does it mean to work “on the business” and how is that different from being CEO?
Evolving your entrepreneurial role
In my previous seat as CEO, several key departments laddered up to me:
- Overall vision of the business
With so many responsibilities, vision rarely got the amount of attention that it needed.
Now that the sales and finance “bucks” no longer stop with me, I can focus on the vision of the business. To move the overall vision of the business forward, I’ve become a glorified gardener.
My purpose as visionary of the company is to plant seeds. To me, a seed is an opportunity.
Here’s what I mean: Instead of working directly with clients or paying invoices, my current role requires me to plant seeds—that is, nurture opportunities—that will grow into saplings and eventually into big, strong trees for our company.
To create our infinite business, I’m planting the seeds of opportunity in four significant places:
- In the minds of the next generation of our teammates.
- With the amazing people who already choose to work here.
- With past, current, and future clients who would benefit from hiring us to solve their marketing problems.
- In our industry, so that we can take on a leadership role, making changes for the better.
These responsibilities are important to me because each one is an intentional act that demonstrates to the people involved that I care about them. That they matter to me.
How to plant opportunities
In Hyper Sales Growth, sales coach Jack Daly teaches the importance of keeping in touch with a “bench” of talented people who, if given the chance, would thrive working for your company.
Every month, I connect with about a dozen such folks by text, phone, email or LinkedIn.
These are people that I think highly of and believe would succeed in our company. And I care enough to ask what’s happening in their lives every 30 days.
There’s that word again: care.
Why do I care to plant seeds of opportunity?
Caring about teammates—past, present and future, plus the clients who trust us to solve their problems, and industry professionals we think highly of by planting seeds leads to my “Why”.
I care about planting seeds because I believe that in order to build an infinite business that will outlive my useful and biological life, we’re going to have to create something truly Great. Not good or good enough. GREAT.
To become great, I’ll need to plant many seeds. And I’m going to have to care about them growing into saplings and, eventually, strong trees that become pillars of our company. That will take time. Which thankfully, I have a lot of since we’re building an infinite business.
As you consider how to transition from your role as CEO toward visionary, start by asking yourself one simple question: What seed will you plant today?