Have you started a business, or have you bought yourself a job? The difference between business and job lies partly in whether or not you can manage to multiply yourself.
Let’s illustrate: a master woodworker starts his own company because his talent in fine inlaid furniture has attracted enough clients that he can leave his former full-time job. He loves his shop, and his opportunity to spend all of his days working on beautiful pieces of wood. But he starts to develop a problem – as engrossed as he is in the building and finishing, he also has to market, to manage his books, maintain his inventory of materials, etc. His business reaches a ceiling of revenue that is determined by his energy level and the hours he has in a day.
This illustration doesn’t even address one of the other issues in lone eagle businesses – that the owner doesn’t necessarily rock in all of the skill sets the business really needs. Many, many small business owners fall short in sales and marketing, planning, or financial knowledge. They have great mastery in the content of the business, and are in great shape when they are working IN the business, but they become frustrated at the negative results that come when they fail to work ON the business.
The solution to the time issue and the skills issue is in creating leverage, multiplying the effect of the action that you take. You have several possible ways to achieve this:
- Hiring another “you” so you can get twice as much accomplished in a given time frame. That, of course, is assuming that there is another person with your same skill set out there.
- Hiring the “anti-you”, a person with necessary skills that you do not possess, or who loves to do the parts of the job that you hate to do.
- Outsourcing work that is sporadic but necessary. You may not have to bring someone onto your payroll in order to fulfill some needed services. (But be sure to check the laws regarding independent contractors to make sure you’re operating properly.)
- Transform services into products so people can buy them without your direct involvement. A plumber could develop a do-it-yourself kit, a consultant could write a book, a chef could develop a trademark sauce to sell through retailers, etc.
The profile of a small business owner often includes a need for autonomy and a sense of control. There’s a reason why this person (you?) decided to step out on his or her own, doing the work solo. There can be compelling reasons for keeping the business uncomplicated. But if your goal for your business is built around growth and sustainability, leverage is an important consideration in your planning for the future.