No one starts a business with dreams of scraping by. What we all wish for is to achieve the good life. To have all the money we will ever need and all the freedom to enjoy it.
But the reality for too many business owners is that they are scraping by.
There’s a very common reason for that. Once a business owner understands it, they can make the changes needed to break free.
There’s no shortage of material out there that tells business owners all the things they need to do to grow. You could spend all your time and energy trying to follow even a small fraction of it. But there’s one idea that underlies all of it that doesn’t get talked about as often as all the things they say you should to do to grow your business.
We’re going to talk about that now.
Before we get into it, let me be clear about scale and growth. When I talk about growing and scaling your business, I don’t necessarily mean turning it into the next Amazon or Apple. I mean growing it to the point that you’re comfortable with and to the point the business provides you with the life you want. For some people, that might mean a $100 million business. For others, it could be a $500,000 business.
So what is this one thing?
It’s the mindset with which you approach your business.
Let me explain.
Most people who start a business do it because they’re good at doing something. A plumber starts a plumbing company. A lawyer starts a law firm. Once they start the business, they spend all of their time doing the work. The plumber is fixing sinks. The lawyer is writing contracts. All of the owner’s time and energy focused on doing the work of business.
This approach has one inevitable result. Frustration.
Frustration from working long hours for relatively little pay. Frustration because they never seem to be able to get where they want to be.
What many owners need to do is change the way they approach the business. Instead of playing the role of the technician who does the work of the business, the owner needs to adopt the role the entrepreneur who runs the business.
While the technician views what the business does as the product, the entrepreneur views the business itself as the product. That makes all the difference.
The entrepreneur is concerned with building a business that works. A business that works is a business that grows and that can function without the owner’s direct labor.
The cost of being a Technician
This shift in mindset is very difficult for a lot of people to make. In the beginning, it’s usually because the owner doesn’t believe that they have the resources to hire. Later on, it shows up as a belief that only they can do it “right” or that the customers are specifically hiring the owner’s unique talent.
If you’ve had those thoughts, here’s a question for you.
If you’re really the only person who can do it “right” and everyone only wants to deal with you, then why don’t you have more business than you can handle?
The answer is as simple as it is unappealing to hear. You aren’t the only one who can do it “right.” The mere existence of your competitors is crystal clear proof of that.
Some owners even say, with a great deal of passion and conviction, that employees are a headache; employees are lazy; employees don’t care, and a whole long list of other undesirable traits. Those owners firmly believe they are better off by themselves. Setting aside all the issues wrapped up in outer-directed blame, there is still a big issue with that approach.
What happens when you want to take a day off? Go on vacation? What if something happens where you can’t work?
As soon as that owner stops working, the money stops.
So the owner working alone in technician mode is free. They are free to work their fingers to the bone until they can’t do it anymore. And then they lose their income.
And the technician can’t even sell their business. Those business’ only value is the labor of the owner. It literally has no value to anyone else. There’s simply no good exit strategy for someone who chooses to remain technician mode.
The freedom of being the entrepreneur
The entrepreneur’s focus is on building a collection of systems that work together to do the work of business. These systems can be operated by people who can learn any particular role in the business. One person leaves, another can be brought in to replace them. None of this requires the entrepreneur to work directly in the business.
That’s not to say that the entrepreneur can’t work in the business. But unlike the technician, entrepreneur has the choice to decide to what, if any, work of the business they want to do.
When the entrepreneur wants to go on vacation there aren’t any issues because the business is being run by systems. The systems are being run by people who know how to do the work.
And when it comes time to sell? What’s being offered as a turnkey system to deliver value and make money. That is something worth buying.
The unspoken assumption a lot of the articles you find about how to grow your business is that you’ve made this shift in your mindset become the entrepreneur.
How do you shift your mindset?
It starts with transforming your view of what the business can be. Technicians view their business essentially as a job for themselves. Entrepreneurs view their business as a system for making money and accomplishing the goals of the business.
If you want to make that shift, you need to start thinking about your business as a collection of systems to achieve a result. Once you can visualize your business as a machine of interconnected parts instead of simply the application of your own talents and labor, you can start to build that machine. That’s when you become the entrepreneur.
Simple. But not always easy.
Making this transition relies on:
- the ability to see the business as a system that produces a result
- having confidence in yourself
- enough trust in other people to do the work they need to do
This work is outside many owners’ comfort zone. In most cases, their time before starting the business was spent getting very good at doing the work of the business. Building a business is something different. It’s something that few people learn ahead of time or have prior experience doing.
The rewards of making that shift make it well worth the effort.
Want to make that shift, but are having a hard time? Call us. We can help.