Many have dreams of entrepreneurial grandeur that go something like this – You stomp into your mundane nine to five and hand your out-of-touch boss an effective-immediately resignation letter. You puff up your chest, hold your shoulders back and declare you’re sick of working grueling hours and taking on endless work just to benefit his pocket. You tell him he can shove it because you’re going into business for yourself.
Unfortunately many who take this track in search of entrepreneurial freedom, end up repeating the nightmare of job captivity.
I know because I’ve been there. I started a wireless business that I owned for 18 years. It took me nine years to realize all I had really done was create a job for myself, not a business. And I wasn’t any happier – or less stressed – than I would’ve been at a “mundane nine to five.” I spent the next nine years building an actual business – one that could run without me.
And that my friends, is the difference between a job and a business: If it can run without you, you’ve built a business. If it can’t, you’ve simply created another job for yourself.
There are four steps to building a business rather than a job:
Step One: Develop a strong company culture. Surround yourself with the right people for your business. You do this by defining your core purpose, one that actually means something to your team. The right people will believe in it. If some team members don’t, replace them with people who do.
Step Two: Create a strategic plan and use it. Break down your priorities into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily activities. It may seem excessive but doing so helps you determine where you as a company are now, where you are going and how you are going to get there.
Step Three: Develop systems and processes so that your business can run without you. Many times a company has one or two knowledge-keepers who everyone turns to when there’s a question or problem. That knowledge-keeper is typically you, the business owner. If you want to free yourself from having a job instead of a business, the next time an employee comes to you with a problem don’t just tell them how to solve it. Work with them to discover the cause of the problem, figure out a system for solving it next time without your involvement, and document it for training purposes. Training is key.
Step Four: Operate an honest business. Show up on time, do what you say you’re going to do and be reasonable and fair. Your customers will reward you with loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. Aim to be “the guy/gal” to turn to in your field and you’ll automatically drive the market toward you.
Overall, business is easy; we just complicate it by expecting things to fall into place without putting them there. So remember, the keys to a successful business model are people, planning, process and profit. Your company can’t be great unless it’s great without you.
Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm, Petra, and president of Nashville’s EO chapter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his blog at petracoach.com for more business and leadership advice.