Did You Buy Yourself a Job or Are You a True Entrepreneur?
Are you a true entrepreneur with everything in hand, or have you only bought a job and believe you’re something you haven’t quite achieved? While you’re on the right track, you’ve only bought yourself a job if:
1.) You thought you could make more money than what your company was paying you. I’ve found that more often than not the businesses were started because the owner once worked for a company. Yes, you were someone else’s employee. The company you worked for appeared to generate a much greater revenue than they were paying you. You were required to be in the office or on the job for a certain amount of time each week. You knew that you were great at your craft and could go into business yourself and make as much if not more money than the company you were working for. Voila! You started a business!
2.) You thought you could work less. This is my favorite to hear from business owners. The reality is being a business owner, if not done properly, can result in the owner working far greater hours than their employees for much less money. In fact, I’ve calculated the value of many business owners’ hours. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were master plumbers, each making $65 per hour in their roles at ABC plumbing. They knew ABC plumbing charged their customers $150.00 per hour. Mr. and Mrs. Smith thought if they had their own business they could charge $120.00 per hour, giving them more income in fewer hours each week. The reality? Mr. and Mrs. Smith were each working over 84 hours a week in and on their business. When it was all said and done they were earning $8.03 an hour. If you’re working more than 5-25 hours a week or making less than you could as an employee you’ve bought yourself a job.
3.) You thought you could operate the business the way you wanted to. Many business owners truly believe that they can do it better. While many actually can, others don’t understand what it takes to do it better. They get so focused on selling their product or service that they lose sight of what is truly important to run a successful business. They wake up each day looking for the next sale rather than projecting, planning, and strategizing for the future of their company. If you spend more time acting as an employee, you’ve bought yourself a job.
4.) You wanted to be your own boss. Well, how’s that going for you? Is your new boss (you) demanding? Does he or she make you work long hours? Do you get the pay you deserve on a consistent basis? Are you able to truly do what you do best or are you responsible for too many areas of the business? Do you really know how to handle sales, marketing, finance, technology, product and service development, and operations? Are you able to take vacations with your family or does your “boss” convince you that you can’t leave the business because you have too much work to do? If this is your new boss, you’ve bought yourself a job.
5.) You wanted freedom. You were tired of being tied to a desk or business location. Are you truly free now? Can you take long vacations while your business still runs and continues to grow without your presence…completely without you? I don’t mean you go on vacation with your laptop and work here and there. I mean the business truly runs and grows without any contact with you for an extended period of time. If you can’t take extended vacations you’ve bought yourself a job.
Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? Here are the top five must-dos:
1.) Get a mentor. Great athletes and successful businesses have many things in common. One of which is they hire a professional to mentor them. Think about it. Tiger Woods has five coaches. Professional football teams have an offensive coach, a defensive coach, a special teams coach, a head coach, and a series of professional trainers. While an entrepreneur may not need to go to this extreme, it is imperative that you seek the guidance of other experts.
2.) Build your professional team. You are the expert at your craft. However, I bet you’re not the expert at finance, insurance, business planning and projecting, accounting, or human resources. Ask for the referrals of other successful business owners in your community for their business partners, such as business bankers, CPAs, insurance advisers, business coaches, and human resource specialists. Meet with your team on a regular basis. I recommend that entrepreneurs meet monthly with their team in the beginning and then quarterly after they’re established. Then meet annually at a bare minimum. Remember, it’s your business, your livelihood, and your life. You need to drive the bus and have the right people on the bus to help you reach your destination.
3.) Systematize it. Too often businesses are dependent on the people it employees. Don’t be left hanging if a key employee leaves you. Build a system and workflow process for everything from how to open the business to how to close the business and everything in between. If you lose a key employee another employee can easily step in until you’ve hired a new employee. Systematizing everything also increases productivity, efficiency, and consistency. Want things done the right way every time? Building the systems is the key.
4.) Train and retrain. A successful entrepreneur knows that business is an ever-evolving machine. Technology, demand, competitors, and market demographics (just to name a few) all play a part in the success of your business. It’s imperative that you stay ahead of the curve. Educate yourself, educate your team, and then re-educate often. Build a training program for each area of your business. Make sure that it’s documented in either—or better yet all—written, audio, or video format. This allows for anyone who joins your team later to get up and running very quickly, reducing the learning curve and ensuring consistency in every aspect of your business.
5.) Know your numbers. Your business can live or die by the numbers. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is if it’s not profitable. An entrepreneur understands fixed expenses, variable expenses, profit margins per product and service. Budget each year. Always include room for “if this, then that.” If equipment breaks down. If we get a blizzard. Trust me—planning ahead for such incidents will allow an entrepreneur to budget for those events and be prepared in the event they happen. If you have a product or service that is loss-making you have two options: stop offering it, or make it profitable. Too often business owners like to make offers to get people in the door. Let me be very clear about this: If you offer it once, they will expect it every time. Meet with your CPA on a very regular basis to review your numbers and plan for the future. They are the experts. Partner with them on the financial success of your business.