As entrepreneurs, freelancers, small business owners – take your pick of what you want to be called – we are called upon to not only wear many differents hats, but shoes, shirts and pants too. In seconds we may have to go from being the receptionist to the CEO to the janitor. Then, somewhere in the midst of doing all of that, we also have to do the things we get paid to do, the things we are passionate about, the things that we took that risk and started our businesses to do.
When a business fails one fairly consistent response from the owner, if they are being honest, is “I was overwhelmed. There was so much to consider”. There is a lot to consider and a lot to do. The key is to stop your business from running you and turn to running your business. This means spending significant time identifying just what your goals are and a solid, realistic plan on how to achieve them. It also means accepting your limitations and knowing when to ask for help. We are not all good at everything, as much as we might like to be or think we are. Most of us have gone into business for ourselves because there is one or a few things we are really good at. One of the keys to making sure we are running our business rather than it running us is to acknowledge what we are not good at. You may be The Rock Star graphic designer, but if you are lousy at writing, your proposals will suffer and so will your business. If you are the world’s best writer, but you are lousy at math, your books are going to suffer and so will your business.
Almost as important as what we are not good at, is what we don’t have time to do. The bottom line to having our own businesses is exactly that – the bottom line. Primary in our decisions should be the lifestyle that being an entrepreneur allows us to have, but if the bills are not getting paid, there is no lifestyle. If you are spending too much of your time running your business and not working on the things that build your business and bring in the money, you are losing out on opportunities.
So how do you make sure that you are the one in charge of your businesses destiny? Start with identifying your end goal and your plan to get there. Then take a long, hard, probably soul-searching look at yourself and, if necessary, your team. What are you good at? What do you like to do? What are you passionate about? If a team, what are your combined and individual strengths, and more importantly, what are your weaknesses? Once you have honestly assessed what you should be doing – the things you are good at and passionate about – now you can begin to evaluate the things you are not good at or don’t have time for. Is your bookkeeping piece the one that needs work? Do you fall behind on new contact/potential lead follow-ups? Are you bad about remembering appointments or your clients’ birthdays and company anniversaries? Are you lost when it comes to marketing or think that social media is filming your friend’s birthday party? Once you know what you don’t know, you can begin to develop a plan to overcome the gaps in your knowledge or your processes.
Maybe the answer is something as simple as taking a quick class and re-learning skills you already had, maybe you need to reallocate the resources your team already has to better play to their individual strengths, maybe the answer is to turn to a professional. For everyone and every business, the solution will be different. One key thing to remember is that occasionally spending money to hire someone to do the things you don’t like to do or are not good can ultimately be a savings. It is a savings in the aggravation, wasted time, worry and lost billable hours you would otherwise experience. Now this does not mean turn over the reins to your business to someone else! It is still your business and you should always be actively involved in every aspect of it. What it does mean is you find someone with skills you do not have to be your partner. Make sure they understand your business and your vision as clearly as you would have your team or employees understand them.
So now, the question for you is what do you need to do to stop your business from running you? Or more importantly, away from you? I’d love to hear your answers – so please keep the comments coming.