How To Stop
Working For Your
Business And Start
Working On It
By Pia Silva, Contributor
Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who have been able to transition from working in their business to working on their business. But how do you go about crossing this bridge (without wanting to jump off it)? And more importantly, why do you need to?
Think back to the first time you decided to go out on your own. It was probably scary but also really exciting. We all go into starting our own business with a bit of this.
You jump off the cliff and grow wings on the way down.
You have to because you don't know what you don't know about starting your own business. And it's so exciting to detach yourself from working for someone else to start your own thing. When it’s all new, we have limitless energy, motivation, and passion for what we're doing—often to our detriment.
There’s nothing wrong with the passion part of our business. We work hard to deliver amazing results, so much so that we end up focusing only on the part of the business that’s fun for us and that we already know everything about.
And THAT’S how you end up in the grind—a business where the owner is exclusively focused on delivering their service to underpaying clients with no time to spare or potential for more profit.
What It Really Means To Be A Business Owner
On the surface, having that ongoing burning passion for your business sounds really nice and romantic. But it’s a trap because you are missing the entire other half of your business. This means recognizing that you are also a business owner, not just a doer business doer. And a business owner has to think about an entirely different set of skills, issues, and ideas if they want their business to do well.
Without embracing this other piece, you’re never truly the boss of your business, and you will never truly “own” it. In fact, it will own YOU. I can tell you this from personal experience.
I started my business with my partner because he was an amazing graphic designer. We agreed I would find the clients, he would do the design, and together, we could be successful. In some ways, we proved this model worked. Within a few months, we were making around $10,000 a month.
That sounds like success, but it was completely unsustainable.
The only reason we were able to make that much was because we were charging $30-$40 per hour for design work and working 12-hour days, seven days a week.
In retrospect, knowing what I know now, I was spending the majority of my time doing things that had almost no value. I could have been home watching Netflix instead and it wouldn't have made a difference. But I didn't know any better.
But I have forgiven myself, and you should too because that's what you do when you first go into business. What's not okay is continuing to run an unsustainable business for three, four, or five years down the road.
At some point, you have to evolve out of being the service provider and take charge as the boss. This begins to happen as soon as you start thinking like a business owner. Changing your mindset that got you to where you are is the only way you will ever stop trading all your time for dollars and be able to grow your clientele and profits.
The Two Sides Of Every Business
Showing up in your business as the boss and not just the service provider means acquiring a different set of skills you most likely don’t already have and setting aside the necessary time to work on becoming a better, more complete business owner.
I’m in a unique position to talk about this because I happen to be the side of the brain with the skill sets that my business partner Steve lacks (and vice versa).
I’ve found that most entrepreneurs are Steve.
They’re talented creatives, consultants, developers, or coaches that see their path as being hired as a freelancer for an hourly rate or a flat fee. This rate may or may or may not go up, depending on how much they value themselves and how much they can stick to their guns when requesting higher pay.
My job—the Pia part—has been to build the business around Steve’s abilities. I am the profit-hunter, the time-keeper, the client-getter, and the expert at putting all the moving pieces together to create specific results for our business and lives.
If you’re a Steve, then you need to find someone who can bring the Pia part to your business or find someone like me to coach you into building that part into your skill set.
Having both of these pieces is the only way to create a business that works for you, a business that you can manipulate (in a good way) to do what you want it to do.
Just Because You’re The Best, Doesn’t Mean You’re The Boss
Do you know exactly how clients come to know who you are? See you as an expert? And reach out to hire you?
When you start your workday, do you know exactly what you need to do to guarantee you will have clients not just next month, but 6 months, 12 months from now?
It’s often the most seasoned and skilled professionals who can’t answer those questions. I recently interviewed Ilana Preuss, founder of ReCast City, about her previous struggle with this.
Despite her impressive background, visionary services, and huge network, for years, it wasn’t enough to trust her business. Despite her stellar reputation, she rarely knew what she was supposed to work on or where her next clients were coming from.
Only by putting her business owner hat on, understanding how the prospects would enter her orbit and turn into clients, understanding how prices and process would turn into profit, and systematizing her marketing so she could reliably hand off the parts she personally didn’t need to do could she finally feel in the driver’s seat.
Now she has only about 4 things she needs to take care of each week and now has extra time each week to strategize and play with new ways to grow her business! Listen to our interview in the latest episode here.
Step Up And Be The Boss
Even if you’re just one person, you absolutely can get to a place where you have a well-oiled machine attracting clients while you spend time growing your business and playing with new ideas. But you’ll never get there if you stay stuck thinking like a service provider.
If you’re not at the point where you know you can change your trajectory at any time, you are being owned by your business. And even though you technically work for yourself, it’s like working for your business as an employee.
If you want to shift into being the boss of your business, then your best next move is to download my free course, Show Your Business Who's Boss Crash Course, and take the lead in becoming your own boss of your business.
This article was originally published By Pia Silva forbes.com.
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