So now you proudly declare that you work for yourself. You are your business! If it wasn’t for you, there wouldn’t even be a business! Since most small businesses fail, and you’re still at it after all this time, you must be doing something right! Is that a reasonable assumption? Well, are you succeeding at what you originally wanted? Or just succeeding at not failing? Are you making more money than you would be paid working for someone else? That is, can your business afford to pay you what you’re really worth for the time and talent you put into it? Are you working more hours than you should for the money you take home? Do you give yourself the benefits, retirement, security and paid vacations you could have as an employee? Are you building equity in your business that you can sell one day when you want to retire or move on? The big final summary question is this: You probably started a business with the goal of attaining the personal and financial freedom only business ownership can provide. Do you have personal and financial freedom? Do you have the time to do what you want, with whom you want, when you want and the money to do it?
If you answered yes to the above questions, stop reading and contact me! If you said no to any of the above questions, let’s talk about how a business becomes all that for its owner. The primary difference is the business owner reaping the most rewards is not just self-employed. They separate their own identity from that of their business. They spend more time working on their business, not in their business. If you spend all your time doing the tactical work your business does, (working in your business) who is doing the strategic work (working on your business)? Right, no one. One of the best examples of this is any fast food chain. How much time does the owner spend behind the counter or in the kitchen? Do they care any less? Does the quality or predictability of service change when the owner is there or away? Of course not. Do they sit at home counting money? Well of course, but that’s not all they do; they work hard, but they work on their business, not in their business. We spend five months a year away from our stores in N. Conway. Do we have good staff? You bet we do, but so do you! If you have to be at your store, what do I and every chain store know that you don’t? Why do the big name stores at the outlet malls run with managers not owners, and those managers make more money than most independent store owners? By the way, this is true for professional services, too, not just restaurants and retailers.
So if you accept that you own a job that you can’t quit, has low pay, long hours, no benefits and you may be working for an idiot, what do you do about it? How do you transition to owning a business that works for you instead of the other way around? Due to the limits of what we can cover in one article, I’ll just throw out one place to start. Make an organizational chart for every position in your company – even if you are only 2 or 3 people, make the chart with a box for every position – janitor, deliveries, receiving, bookkeeping, sales, service, receptionist, manager, sales manager, quality control manager, etc. Even if your name goes in almost all the boxes, the point is to define the responsibilities and work toward replacing yourself in as many boxes as possible as quickly as possible. This will cause you to create systems that work if you are to have others replace you. It becomes about the work, not the person doing the work. This will also requrie a combination of delegating responsibility to others as well as growing your business to justify hiring people to fill some of the boxes. Suddenly, growing your business is more important, isn’t it?! The goal for you and everyone on the chart is to replace yourself – that’s the only way to move out of the boxes you want to leave behind and spend more time in the boxes you like. As long as you’re always planning to grow, you will always have many more boxes than you have staff. Your staff has the job of building helping other people; to build them up take their job instead of protecting their turf and keeping coworkers down. Imagine the power in that attitude shift alone!
Your job is to spend more time working on your business and less time working in your business. Most owners need to properly delegate(with detailed goals, procedures, resources and authority), limit interruptions (email and social media can be a big time thief) and set deadlines for yourself and others (meet those deadlines). Most importantly, establish top priorities and without sealing your kid's Ritalin, stay focused.
Recommended reading - many of the lessons discussed here are covered in Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited. For help in applying the ideas to your real life business, contact me for a free consultation.
Our next article will discuss priorities and getting company-wide alignment to focus on your top priority.