CEO customers, employees, THEN owners

In china business by Michael Michelini7 Comments

while yes, i am a ceo in some way, i still like to think of myself as an entrepreneur and small business owner. Ceo is too official and formal, plus in my eyes, ceo is a worker/ staff for the owners, while a business owner is the one who hires the ceo to manage his/ her business. So i prefer business owner over ceo if we get into titles.

Anyway, i have blogged in the past about ceo representing the 3 groups of a company

C = customers
E = employees
O = owners

And not only does this represent the 3 main parts of any business, it is also in the correct order!!!!!!

ceo order

So many businesspeople i meet seem to put CEO in a different order. Like OCE, where they put the owners….or the end profits, ahead of the interests of the customers and employees…..i could not disagree more. While yes, a business is created to make profit and cashflow for its owners and investors, to have any long term business sustainability, you have to build qualty relations with your customers and your employees.

On the other extreme, it may be OEC , or even EOC (but this one seems rare), but both of these put the customer LAST! That is simply insane, because its the customer that is the whole reason the company is established! Listening to and adapting to the needs of your customer is the only way a business can grow and thrive for generations.

Maybe some will disagree with this post, but i think we all should consider keeping the CEO , customer, employee, and owner, in this order. reminding yourself and your team of this priority should also keep everyone on track

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  1. Hi Mike!
    Your are a good leader.
    In China we say” A person who is toleran is great,it’s just as the sea accepts the rivers from all directions. “

    1. Author

      thanks Brian, we still need to meet and have coffee (or beer?)

      maybe because I accept the rivers from all directions, I have no focus! I know this is my weakness…and I am struggling more then ever with it….as I need to focus on cashflow, not dreams

  2. In China we say”The sea can hold the water from thousands of rivers, it’s big because of its capacity.
    A person is great when he can be tolerant and forgiving to many other people.”

  3. For me, I tend to like the title of CEO even as a small to medium sized business owner. Typically the idea of hiring a CEO type employee is really only part of large companies. From a marketing standpoint, having the title of CEO helps to indicate your company seems larger than it might actually be which can help snuff out your competitors. If you look like a small fish in the pond, then the big fish (your competitors) will eat you alive. Whereas if you make yourself look like a bigger fish, then the big fish tend to leave you alone. I would equate it with a business using gmail or yahoo as their email account rather than a domain email address from their website. Sometimes size does matter (no pun intended). 🙂

    On the topic of the order, I would have to say that although it sounds wrong, employees should come first. The reason is simple. How can you put your customers first (provide great services for example) if your employees are not happy. By putting employees first, it allows you to give the best possible service to your customers which ultimately makes your customers happy because of the service they are getting. Therefore putting employees first actually reaches the goal of putting customers first in the first place. 🙂

    1. Author

      thanks for your comment Larry, I look forward to meeting you in cebu sometime soon, aiming for may.

      i see what you mean about marketing….business really is a dog eat dog world….and you gotta look like the bigger dog, or at least an equal dog when trading business cards….haha. i like that may use it for a next blog topic

      on the second point, i think customer is still first, without a client the compny cannot exist….CEO works fir the customer too…employees need to suck it up sometimes abd do what it takes to retain clients, whether the CEO agrees or not

      1. You’re welcome Mike. Will look forward to meeting you as well.

        Yes marketing is crucial, especially for a new business to really get started. A big website professionally done can give a company a big edge. Even if you only have 1 or 2 employees, having a big phone system can also make you seem larger. Press 1 for sales, press 2 to this, press 3 for that. It doesn’t matter if you are the one who always answers the phone to begin with. It’s all about seeming like a big fish even if you are a small one.

        I do agree with you that customers come first. I’m just spinning it a different way. One of the ways to always put your customers first is to put your employees first. Although it might be said that you can’t have 2 things that come first, you really can. I’m not saying that employees shouldn’t suck it up sometimes. That comes with being an employee. But by putting certain programs in place to make employees feel happy and appreciated, allows them to suck it up easier. And with a happy employee comes better customer service which allows you to put the customer first. 🙂

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