Free Yourself from the Past

In our previous article, we discussed the top three reasons people start their own businesses, which are the almost universal responses I hear when I ask the question of small business owners in my seminars and workshops. The top three reasons, in no particular order of importance or ranking are: 1) I want to be my own boss and make my own decisions. 2) Financial independence. 3) Flexibility and availability of time. As we stated in the previous article, I then ask them how that is working out for them. Their faces change and they morosely answer, as they look down at the table, that they have not achieved any of these and in fact, many times they have less financial independence, less time to themselves and less control than they had when working a regular job.

We also learned that when asked why they want to continue if these goals are not being met, they get to the real reasons that they started their own business. We learned that they actually enjoyed doing their trade (whatever it is that their business does for their clients); they took pride in the service or product they provide and decided they could best serve others by doing within their own business organization.

Passion for What You Do

"They have a vision of doing what they do best..."

The truth is people start their own business typically because they are passionate about whatever it is that they do. Whether it is making the world’s best pancakes, serving an international selection of wines, hanging drywall, washing cars, selling toys, cleaning houses, planning parties, running a hotel, hauling trash, bookkeeping or any of the other infinite things people do, these business owners are passionate about their trade and are good at it. They are putting their unique combination of talents, education, experience and ambition to work serving others, and hoping to make a living at it. They would never choose illegal activities for quick monetary gain with little work over fulfilling what they see as their unique calling. They have a vision of doing what they do best to build a business that serves their clients and not only provides a living for themselves, but can provide a living for others who may work for them.

So back to the questions we left hanging in the last article: how did they get here? And how do they get out of this situation? How can they own their business and make it work for them, instead of the other way around? Let’s tackle each one in order.

Managing Yourself

"As a business owner, you have two full time responsibilities..."

How did they get here? To where their business owns them and is running them into the ground with little to no compensation? Typically, this results from business owners, who invest their resources and themselves into a business enterprise, but never actually become business owners. They believe themselves to be entrepreneurs, but are actually still employees. They are just employees of their own business now, with little to no compensation, much greater job responsibilities and no time off. The fact is that most, if not all, are very good at their trade but have no idea how to run a business. As a business owner, you have two full time responsibilities: first to perform your trade in a manner that best serves your clients and generates income, and secondly, to manage and administer your business enterprise in a professional manner. This second responsibility is the missing piece in most cases.

Being A Business Owner

"Stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like a business owner"

So, now that we know how we got here, let’s look at the next question: How can we get out of this situation and to the point that we own our business, rather than our business owning us? The answer is in the title of this principle: Free yourself from your past. In the past you were an employee, plying your trade as a worker. You did not need to worry much, if at all, about the management and administration of the business enterprise. That was the top management’s job. When you went into business for yourself, you continued to do the same thing you had always done, only now there was no one to run the business. You were it. It was up to you to not only perform your trade, but also to run your business enterprise. Sadly, most neglect running their business because they are too busy performing their trade, or not aware that they need to run their business in addition to performing their trade, or they simply do not know how to run the business enterprise. So how do you correct this? If you got into this situation by working as an employee in your business, just as you had in your previous employer’s business, then the way out is to stop being an employee and start being a business owner. Stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like a business owner. Stop doing the tasks of an employee and start doing the tasks of a business owner. Stop getting your business advice from other employees (even those who work for themselves), and start listening to and observing business owners. Stop working for your business and start making your business work for you.

How do we do this? Is it easier said than done? Candidly, it is not easy, but it is fairly simple. It will take work: some work to make your business into an actual business, but more work to change your mindset from that of an employee to that of a business owner. As we walk through the remaining components of your FOUNDATIONS, you will learn how to think like a business owner, act like a business owner and become a business owner.

In our next article we will learn how to organize your business into a… well, into a business organization.