How Business Owners Get in Their Own Way

Wrestling with yourself

How Business Owners Get in Their Own Way

While working with business owners over the last nineteen years I’m often asked, “What is the greatest challenge you see for business owners?”

The answer is always the same because it’s the owners who are usually their own greatest challenge.

I tend to be a collector of stories. I’ve always been interested in how the business “came to be.” Through my years of building relationships with business owners I’ve found that, more often than not, the businesses were started because the owner once worked for a company. Yes, they were someone else’s employee. This company usually appeared to generate a much greater revenue than they were paying the employee. The company usually required that the employee is in the office or on the job for a certain amount of time each week. The employee knew that they were great at their craft and could go into business for themselves and make as much if not more revenue that the company they were working for. Thus the formation of Business A.

Great at their craft they are! Cardiologists can save lives. Mechanics can keep families safe on the road. Custom home builders can design and build a home that will last for many generations. However, building a business wasn’t something they were taught how to do. I’ll share a story with you that will give you a direct insight into the difference between owning a business and buying yourself a job.

I met with a plumber, Mr. Smith. I asked the same question that I always do. “What made you decide to start your own plumbing business?” Mr. Smith shared this story: “My wife and I were master plumbers. We were both working very long hours for a very small pay compared to what the owner was charging the customers. We knew since we both had our master license we could start our own plumbing company and make more money and work fewer hours.”

I guess I should mention that they were meeting with me because their business needed help. They were both working eighty-plus hours each and every week but couldn’t seem to manage a consistent cash flow. Exhausted and strapped for the cash needed to even make payroll wasn’t what they envisioned owning a business to be. Oh, I ran the numbers. When it was all said and done they were each making about $8.03 an hour. In our market, a master plumber usually makes about $65.00 an hour. What was the greatest challenge? The owners. They bought themselves a job.

Every business owner, in the beginning, may have to “do the work.” However, a true business owner has a strategic plan to incorporate systems, build teams, and designate timelines that allow for their growth into true business ownership. If you’re working more of the time as an employee of your business than working on your business as an owner who’s growing, strategizing, and planning, then you’ve bought yourself a job.

f you want to truly be an entrepreneur, the first step is to define your vision. What is it that you are passionate about? What is the purpose of your company? The second step is to live your vision with passion. Do your daily actions propel you to reach your vision? The third step is to create a list of everything you do to work on and work in your business. The fourth step is to budget and project cash flow (you’ll need to have certain financial data to work with to perform these tasks). The fifth step is to build a strategic plan to systematize your business from workflow processes to exit strategies. Does everything align with your vision? Finally, meet with your strategic advisors—for example, your CPA, financial advisor, insurance advisor, business attorney, and business coach—to begin implementing your plan.Business owners often get in their own way.

Becoming a true entrepreneur can be quite challenging. Let’s face it. There are many more “steps” to building a successful business and becoming a true entrepreneur. However, it can be more rewarding than even most business owners ever realize. True entrepreneurs are bold enough to live their vision and humble enough to recognize that achieving it will take the dedicated efforts of many.

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