Being Your Own Boss
Photo credit: Pablo Varela
The decision has been made that your days are over as an employee and that you are ready to be the employer, the builder of an empire that you can be proud of.
You have decided what business you are going to start, you have got your target market in mind and you have decided on how you will operate, as a sole trader or under a limited company, as well as all the other things that it takes to get a business off the ground.
But what next?
Having spent decades as an employee in a corporate environment, it is certainly a strange feeling to know that you are answerable to yourself and yourself only. The adjustment is empowering and can be daunting at the same time.
When you were used to attending meetings and taking calls on behalf of a company or somebody else, you are now deciding when to do things and how to do them. Your time keeping is more stringent because you are doing everything yourself now. You are the Accounts department, the Marketing department and HR. You now deal with all the administrative tasks that someone else did for you in the past: diary management, report production, travel coordination and research are more time consuming than you previously appreciated. Social media management is a brand new ball game.
Your Own’s Worst Critic
The FSB's article 'Being the Boss' is a good read.
It accurately highlights that, as a business owner, you are your own’s worst critic in everything you do. And although you need this quality to a certain degree to make sure you remain on the right path and don’t take your foot off the pedal, I believe the advice should go on to provide useful resources and networks on balanced working practices to maintain good mental well-being. It is often the pressure people put on themselves that leads to poor judgement, a lapse in concentration, demotivation and the feeling of failure.
Those that choose to venture out on their own in business tend not to be undisciplined. Discipline, as a personality trait, goes hand in hand with someone who relishes all responsibility that a business owner faces. A business owner is ultimately their own Accountability Partner.
As the boss, your ultimate objective is to make a profit and to enjoy what you do.
Most business owners do not enter into business lightly. You know it will be hard work, challenging at times and that sacrifices will be made. But you have the insight to what might be successful and a hunger to prove that. Risk vs reward is dependent upon the business owner in question and how he or she models their plan.
It may be that you want to be in control of your direction, circumstances may have forced your hand to leaving the PAYE system. Whatever the reason you have decided to be your own boss is, it will be your own.
Your passion, your hard work, your failures (and there will be some) and your successes. The setbacks may feel tougher but the rewards will feel bigger and the hours spent toiling will feel less significant as you turn your name on in lights in the business world.
That, in itself, might be enough to keep you motivated, disciplined and wanting to continue.
The End Game
A perception of what it will be like to run your own business and how it will feel to win and lose business is all very real and only when you experience it yourself will you truly learn your capabilities. However, what the most important thing must be and the ultimate aim should surely be putting the Client / Customer first.
Isn’t it true that “the customer is always right”? The FSB article states “there’s only ever one boss that matters: the customer. And they’re the most demanding boss of all.”
There is another opinion.
The business magnate, Sir Richard Branson, believes "Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients."
Of course you should expect that some Clients will be demanding and the objective is to keep all Clients happy, however, if you look after yourself and, in time, your employees, the business will run as well as you prepared for, whilst you build the relationships that only you can do.
The most important part of a business is often forgotten or misplaced. The person or people make or break a business. They look to the boss (and that will often be you looking at yourself). If you are not doing what you should be doing, it is easy to lose motivation and forget the reasons that you chose the self-employed route.
When maintaining motivation at challenging times may be a struggle for some, it can often be easier if you think about the previous bosses that you have had the pleasure (or otherwise) of having worked for.
Try taking the good (and bad) points of each and creating an Avatar that you find inspirational as a framework to base yourself on. Which boss made you feel valued and what did you do when they were motivational? Can you put their positivity to good use to be your own boss? Similarly, if you recall how the ‘not such great ex-bosses’ directed you, it is good to use those examples as a learning tool to avoid adopting their style so that you don’t make yourself or an employee feel the way they made you feel.
You will come across the doubters who offer only negativity, the competitors that you aspire to be and the cheerleaders who will be your core support.
Whatever you are, be authentic. It is good to take pointers from others but remember that you are your own boss for a reason. If it works for you, you are probably on the right track.
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