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Business Management – Being Your Own Boss Part 1

Being your own boss can be the most rewarding or frustrating state for a small business owner to find themselves in. It can be the most rewarding because you are working toward and gaining your own financial freedom, geographical flexibility, control over your time, and freedom to choose your future. But it can also be the most frustrating in that you can become overworked, stressed out, defeated by failures, or just unfulfilled. The following are observations I have gleaned of what it means to be your own boss from successful (and unsuccessful) business owners I have known, and personal experiences I have had that have shaped my own framework and state of mind for being my own boss. I cannot tell you that this will make your business a sure-fire success, but I can tell you that those who are successful in building their own business have some or all of these structures in place that support their success.

In helping express what it means to be successful at being your own boss, I will discuss the following factors in Part 1: defining success, setting the default; and for Part 2: building your environment, scheduling your time, and measuring your progress.

Defining Success

The first step in being your own boss is defining success. Defining success is pretty easy for an employer to do for an employee – do this work, do it well, do it fast, make clients happy, and you succeed in this job. Unfortunately, for a business owner this doesn’t cut it. You cannot take a simple cut and paste definition of success and apply it to your job and call it success. Success as an entrepreneur involves designing your business model to support the lifestyle you want, managing the model and business activities efficiently and effectively, and ensuring that your personal goals and desires are satisfied. Success has to be born out of your own desire and personal goals for your life. When you understand that, then you have to design a business model that supports these desires in such a way that the business helps you attain those goals instead of working against them. Finally, your success as a business owner and a worker in that business is to manage yourself in that model to make it work effectively.

Consider the following in reverse:

  • If you manage the business effectively, but the model doesn’t lead toward a successful lifestyle, then you haven’t reached your goal.
  • If you understand the sustainable lifestyle you desire and design a business model that will help you reach it, but don’t manage yourself effectively, you won’t reach your goal.
  • If you get your goals wrong or misunderstand what kind of lifestyle you want, but design and manage a great business model, then you will reach the wrong destination.

So your desire and definition of a sustainable lifestyle is the destination, the model is the map, and managing is getting up and walking to get there – it takes all three. I have discussed how to define a sustainable lifestyle in a previous article, and will have the business model up in the next month, but the following will focus on the management.

Setting the Default

So you have your goal and your model in place – here is the first step toward being your own boss and managing your business and success. Setting the default is what I refer to the daily pattern and routine that you establish as the baseline for your work. Similar to the default button on a computer or in preferences for a program, the default in your business means defining the basic pattern and settings for your daily activity in the business. When you find yourself not knowing what to do next, you need something to default to. When you lack motivation, are having a bad day, get finished with a big project, or are ready to leave for the day, what structure do you set in place to keep you going?

For me, this takes place at the simplest level of the work I do and plays itself out in the following ways:

  • When I walk into my office, I am confronted by a whiteboard that has basic activities, to-do’s, goals, and reminders for each day of the week and in general.
  • When I open up the browser on my computer I have 5 tabs that open up automatically to help me start the day, check on the status of my business, clients, work, and updates on what is going on in the world tailored to where I am in my business.
  • Excel spreadsheet – I have an excel spreadsheet with multiple tabs that help me review daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to ensure I am getting everything done on time.
  • Defined expectations with family – my wife and children know that I need to work from 8-5 throughout the week, but that I am available for breaks, lunch, and special activities if discussed ahead of time. I have found this to be one of the most important defaults I have set in place – setting expectations with my family so that they understand what is required of me in order to support them and be successful.
  • Setting Goals – these are goals for managing my business, which include how many articles I write, how many visitors come to my site, how many clients I begin work with in a given period, and steps toward those goals.

All of this is built into my default activity for a given day and helps me remain on task, prioritize my work, work efficiently, and reach my goals in a realistic timeframe.

Check into the next post for Part 2

Keep Reaching!

Mark

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