“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt
What are you working at?
Altho’ today is Labor Day, a day set aside to recognize the valuable accomplishments of the labor unions in American history this post is not about Labor Unions. It is about labor and something I often hear among small business owners. As a therapist I worked with said, “I became a therapist to help people, not to run a business.” Can you relate? There are times when I can.
Here’s another key to success: Doing what has to be done, whether you want to or not….
There are so many parts of the business that don’t have a lot to do with the actual product or service provided. It can get discouraging if what the owner wants is to be out in the field providing the service or in house creating the product and instead they are stuck doing mundane “busywork” tasks. Unfortunately, those tasks have to be done or the business isn’t going to make it. Yet, it is also true that to grow beyond being a solopreneur the owner has to get out of the field and into management. This can be a difficult transition to make. It is what being a business owner requires.
For some small business owners the challenge is to see the value in delegating or outsourcing those tasks that are not income producing but have to be done (i.e. bookkeeping or other administrative tasks). For others the challenge is the “worker bee” mentality: “If I’m not in the field I’m not making money. Or even worse, “If I’m not in the field, I’m not working”.
One way to address the outsourcing dilemma is to consider the following questions:
- “How much is the business paying me as the owner?
- Am I willing to pay someone else that much to do this task?”
- If I’m doing this task, who am I paying what to do what that I as the business owner should be doing?
For example, say the business allows the owner to take home $50K . The question is, “Do I want to pay myself $24/ hr to do this job or hire someone who can do the job faster and more efficiently?” One business owner said, “I don’t think of myself as getting paid”, but he brings home over $70K annually…. so he’s getting paid.
The “If I’m not in the field I’m not really working” mindset is another difficult switch to make. It requires some long-range thinking. It also requires courage and a willingness to decide that the belief which once served no longer does. As a worker bee or a grunt, “if I’m not in the field I’m not working” might fit. As the business owner it spells the death of the company. The owner has to step back and view the company objectively. He or She has to ask and answer the difficult questions:
- Who is telling me “If I’m not in the field….”? Were they talking to me as a worker or as the owner?
- Am I ready to be my own boss and not the employee?
- Did I train my employees adequately? If they don’t work up to my standards and the standards I want to be known for, what am I going to do?
- If I’m in the field, who is going to run my business and do the tasks that will grow the business (or kill the business if they aren’t done)?
- “I’m the owner, do I want to pay someone to run the business and I’ll work for them?”
It can seem like the answers are pretty straight forward. However, implementing the change in mindset is a challenge. To face that challenge the business owner needs a support system and role models of people who have made the switch, people who see the big picture.
The greatest prize is the opportunity to work hard at work that is worth doing. Owning your own business is a work worth doing. Do you agree?
FYI: Theodore Roosevelt, October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919, was born into a wealthy family but he was a sickly child (pampered and coddled) with debilitating asthma. However, instead of a life of ease Teddy was an over-comer becoming an explorer, soldier, naturalist, author and American statesman. In time he became the 26th President of the US.