If you are self-employed, what I am about to say now may not apply to you. Because you might like pottering about at home, working when you choose and for whom you choose. You may have got used to your income being lumpy and not mind, because you enjoy the freedom it brings. You are your own boss, and leaving aside various uncertainties and the fact that you do everything that needs doing, it’s great. And if that’s you, I’m happy for you; some days that’s me too.
But what happens if you are lucky, or successful, or both, is that the business begins to take off, to fly. You are delighted to discover you are doing rather well. The marketing is working, word of mouth too. You start to grow organically. You can no longer do everything yourself, so you farm out some of the admin to a friend of a friend who needs something to do part-time.
And you take a holiday, tentatively – because you have already allowed the business and the clients to become over-reliant on your own personal contribution, and it won’t run very well (or at all?) without you. It may tick over, just, but it loses direction, momentum, cash flow or worse – you allow your clients/staff to phone you 24/7 including when you are on holiday.
In the course of chasing business and keeping the clients happy, your own admin and accounts systems, such as they are, start to fail and break down. The business is in crisis, and often for the very best reason, that you are growing and doing well.
You’re stuck now. You can’t get smaller, or bigger, or give up. And by this time, you have no life, sometimes you are bothered by anxiety, sleeplessness and indigestion from the stress. Is it worth that? Is that why you went into business. No!
Time to get the manual out and put yourself through just a little bit of short-term pain for the ultimate goal of more profit from less time. Less of your own time that is, and more of everyone else’s – making money for you by following the systems you created in the business you set up.
If you are an entrepreneur wanting to create a business which will generate income for you over and above what you need to draw and an asset which you could sell later on, then listen very carefully.
You’ve got to create a system around what you do which will enable you to step out. You’ve also got to take note of what goes undone because you don’t like it or find it a chore, because someone else has got to do that bit too if the business is to thrive. Just look at what’s piling up or being ignored on the To Do list if you want a clue.
If I look at your accounts, I can tell what you are good at and what you are not.
- Selling? No
- Debt-collecting? No
- Invoicing? No
- Filing? No
- Automatic marketing? No
- Client service? Yes
- Finance? No
- Finding solutions to your clients’ problems? Yes
- Closing a deal? Sometimes
- Getting more money out of your existing clients? Maybe
- Consistent customer experience? No
- Spending money? Yes
- Increasing your margins? No
- Cash flow planning? No
- Working long hours? Yes
Find people to do the bits which are not being done at all or being done badly and that enables you to grow your business; just remember to hire to the role, not to the personality of (or because you want to help) the nice person who comes along to take up some of your slack.
You’ll become paid to think, motivate the team and direct the business. And to make that product or service greater still, all the time. Imagine rolling out your business on a far grander scale than you ever have before. How does that feel? Exciting? I hope so.
Now might be a good time to mention that the only way to make any real money in business is by using this model and if you are an entrepreneur with a vision of building something much bigger and sexier (and easier) than what you have now, start reading The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and let me know when you get stuck.
The E in E-Myth stands for Entrepreneur. It’s about why most small businesses fail and what to do about it and it’s the way out of the successful mess you have created, it teaches you all about taming the monster your business has become.