On day one of your new business, as you sit at an empty desk wishing the phone would ring, you think about the future and how exciting it will be to be busy.
Fast forward two years to when you are working 14 hours a day, six days a week (with enough work to fill your sleeping hours) and your wish has come true, but turned into a nightmare along the way.
If this is happening to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. It’s a common problem that affects many small business owners. The hard work and long hours to get the business off the ground never seem to stop.
Even taking on employees doesn’t seem to help – if anything your time is even more in demand, only now you find it harder to concentrate and manage your own time while someone is telling you what they had for dinner last night!
This is a real threat to small businesses. Yes, the majority go out of business because they run out of cash, but some collapse because the owner has burned out or lost the passion and drive needed to carry on.
Fortunately there is a way out other than closing or selling the business. And that’s to change your business so it no longer needs you, the business owner.
“What,” you might, think, “but how can this business possibly exist without me. I AM the business!” Well thinking that is an early warning sign that your business could be in trouble.
Legendary small business guru Michael Gerber teaches you to think differently about your business. That you should consider your business is there to serve YOU, not you there to serve IT.
Gerber has written the masterpiece on removing yourself from your business (more on that in a minute), but here are the basics to consider.
Set clear goals for the business
What is the purpose of your business? Is it to provide you with a regular income? Or do you want to become rich, meaning you will probably have to sell it one day?
Once you know why you are in business it becomes easier to make the decisions about how to run it. Spending more time at home with your family requires a different set of actions than being a millionaire in 3 years time.
Set clear goals for your people
The people you work with – employees, suppliers, and outsourced service providers, are there to help your business hit its goals. They need to know what the purpose of the business is and what role they play in that.
Many business owners find it difficult to tell employees exactly what they want from them. Yet it’s truly liberating to gain a new focus on the things that are vitally important to you and your business, by telling people exactly what you want them to do. Typically this is the stuff that you no longer want to do, or need to do.
Work out what needs to be done and who does what
What are the jobs that need to be done in your business, and who should do them? An efficient business is full of people who understand whose responsibility it is to carry out every task. This can be as simple as who answers the phone, through to who sends out quotes and follows them up.
It’s important that everyone knows who does what, so tasks are not be missed by people thinking it is someone else’s responsibiity.
Set up clear systems
Michael Gerber suggests every business owner looks at their business as if it was a franchise, and they had to communicate how to run the business to someone else (even though you are not intending to franchise your business).
This is done by writing a systems manual listing every single aspect of the business. A time consuming job yes, but an essential step to getting your business operated exactly the way you want it to be, without having to do it all – or supervise it all – yourself.
Once you have told people why you need them to do something (their goal), what you want them to do (their responsibilities) and how you want them to do it (systems manual), stand back and let them get on with it.
Why do people fail to carry out their duties properly? Because their boss is stood right next to them smothering them! Give them a chance to screw something up, learn from the experience and get it right next time.
The best thing you can do is go on holiday WITHOUT your BlackBerry or mobile. When you’re genuinely unavailable, they will soon find solutions to problems… they’ll have to.
Work on your business not in it
Once you have got your business working well without you, you might feel a little unwanted. It’s almost insulting when the business performs better without you there!
That’s OK though, because you have a new role. Now you must focus 90 per cent of your time working ON the business, rather than IN it.
By handing over the day-to-day demands of the business to someone else, your mind is free to ask important questions such as “what would happen if we did it that way instead”. With a clear purpose and goal for your business, you should see growth much more rapidly than ever before.
Buy this book
The Bible for taking yourself out of the business and making it perform better without you is called, ‘The E-Myth Revisited’, by Michael Gerber. If you can read it before starting your business, perfect. Otherwise read it before you lose the passion for what you are doing. Search for it on Google, or Amazon.