Quite often, I get approached by individuals, especially curious up and coming young entrepreneurs. They always ask the same question:
What is the most important lesson that you have learnt as a business owner?
Over the years, I’ve given different answers to this question but as I’ve grown as a businessman and as my business has expanded, the concept of ‘delegation’ is one which I am learning to embrace.
When starting a new business, it is very easy to try and do everything by yourself. Many people become emotionally attached to their business idea that it becomes ‘their baby’. They believe that they have to do everything in order to bring the idea to life. I had a very similar experience; I was so focused on becoming successful that my ego got in the way of the growth of the business itself. I was trying to become this famous businessman, that I forgot that the most important thing is the success of the business and not me.
As I stated in my new book Turn Your Passion Into Your Profession, many people do not know the difference between ‘owning a business’ and ‘becoming self-employed’. Becoming self-employed simply means that you employ yourself. It means that you create a job for yourself with no freedom. Becoming self-employed simply means that you are creating a job that depends on your skills, expertise and this means that the business cannot function without your involvement. Let’s look at a barber shop as a typical example; you can decide to open up your own barbershop because you are a great barber and many people are aware of your expertise. The shop gets packed with customers, but everyone that comes into the shop decides that you are the only barber that they will use which leaves the other barbers in the shop with no customers. At first glance, you may become excited and think to yourself that you are the greatest barber in the world because everybody is coming after you. But the reality will dawn on you when you decide to go on holiday and you return to find that the shop had made no income during your time off due to the fact that your customers could only trust your own expertise and not those of your other barbers. With this approach, you will find yourself spending early mornings and late nights at the barbershop due to the high level of demand. This is what I call self-employment, where you create a business which cannot function without you and relies heavily on your involvement.
Let us now take another approach to the same barbershop. You love barbering and have therefore decided to start up your own barber shop. You rent the shop premises, buy the equipment needed and employ two or three other barbers. When your customers come into the shop, you introduce them to your barbers and you allow them to try the other barbers. Your customers trust your judgement and are therefore more likely to try the other barbers in the shop. As the business grows, your customer base increases and your barbers including yourself are getting a constant flow of customers where there are no empty barber chairs at any time of the day as long as there is a customer waiting. With this approach, you have taken your self-interest out of the equation and you have put the business first. Guess what happens when you decide to go on holiday or when you have a day off?
BUSINESS GOES ON AS USUAL!
Becoming a business owner is supposed to create freedom for you. If you find that your business is taking all of your time and you don’t get to spend time with friends, family or loved ones, then you are doing it the wrong way.
Ask yourself this question, if I leave my business right now, can it still run by itself?
If not, look out for the second part of this article as I will be giving you crucial tips that can help you to create freedom in your business and build a sustainable company.