Fear and other considerations dissuade those who wish a business
of their own. The few who step to the challenge follow the allure of
freedom; the ability to set their own hours and income level. Mix this
commanding vision with enough current dissatisfaction and it only takes a
little bit of support and courage to become a business owner, right? Not
really. Just because you went on your own does not mean that you now have a
business. Perhaps you simply own a job and that is not much different
from being employed; only now you carry all the responsibilities
associated with that job. To call it a business, your enterprise-
must- besides being profitable- run without your continuous intervention.
That is true freedom and the factor that will allow you to grow and have a
lifestyle. Unless you can make your business run without you, you will
remain self-employed, underpaid and eventually will experience burnout;
it’s the employed-self-employed- back to a job cycle.
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Self-employed people quickly learn that there are other things that need to be handled besides the technical aspect. But they don’t do much about it. Time is a big issue. So if you are in the plumbing business, besides plumbing you need to market and sell your services, deal with suppliers, do payroll, pay taxes, manage your accounting, survive competition, among many other activities. It is the same for all businesses.
When I graduated from law in 1986, I was clueless as to the business side of the profession. I noticed other lawyers who I thought were less capable, building a great legal practice. While I was honing my legal skills, others were developing competencies in marketing and sales. As a result, they were getting new clients. As I immersed myself in legal work, others were taking time to manage their business, doing networking, creating alliances and recruiting other lawyers for their growing business. While I kept myself busy as a lawyer (and eventually ended looking for a job) others were building a legal business for longevity. I later learned that like in the plumbing business, being an excellent lawyer had nothing to do with the business of law.
If you are self-employed and want to grow, you should take your nose out of the technical side of the business. Even if you are the only employee, start paying close attention to the business aspect of whatever it is that you do. We live in a capitalist society and to survive our business must be profitable.
Businesses that enjoy a steady stream of revenue have answered key questions like: Where are we leading the business? How do we intend to get there? What resources are needed? Who are our ideal clients and how can we best service them to increase retention?
As a business owner there is so much you can do in a day. You cannot create more time. So the more you spend on the production side, the less time you have to plan and administer. You react to events rather than plan and execute proactively. Instead of controlling your business it controls you. Meanwhile who is running the business?
You might argue that if you don’t do the job, it will not get done. It may be true for now, so what needs to happen for you to start hiring others to do the job (partially or totally) for you? What successful company do you know that the CEO is the one doing the technical part?
I am not suggesting for you to forget the technical side. Rather it’s about creating processes that
will allow you to train, delegate duties and monitor performance. How do you
think the big fast-food chains deal with a 200-300% annual employee
turnover? Perhaps you think you cannot
afford hiring help. Well, that is one challenge you need to crack
open. Yet, you will not solve it if you keep focusing on the operational
I am not suggesting for you to forget the technical side. Rather it’s about creating processes that will allow you to train, delegate duties and monitor performance. How do you think the big fast-food chains deal with a 200-300% annual employee turnover? Perhaps you think you cannot afford hiring help. Well, that is one challenge you need to crack open. Yet, you will not solve it if you keep focusing on the operational side.
Break-away from the enslaving self-employed predicament by shifting your focus from an operations point of view to a managerial/ entrepreneurial frame of mind. Clever ideas to build your business will begin to flow. Soon, you will find ways to grow as you hire others and lead a powerful team.