Few business owners start out as entrepreneurs. Just like building a company, becoming an entrepreneur is a process full of growth, both personal and professional. And the truth is, no one can do it alone. We all need guidance, mentorship, and inspiration. So here are six lessons from great leaders that will help any owner on their path to becoming a true entrepreneur and creating a sustainable, profitable, and thriving business.
Business owners are some of the busiest people I know. So it never surprises me when I hear a prospective Coaching client say they just don’t have time to work on their business. They don’t even have time to spend with their family or exercise or volunteer doing something they’re passionate about, so where are they going to find the hour per day (at least) that we recommend be spent working on their business to transform it into what they want it to be?
The truth is, it’s not easy—but not for the reasons you may think.
Unless you’ve had personal experience with it, business coaching is probably a bit of a mystery. Do business coaches just walk in and fix the broken parts of your business? Are they only there to motivate and support, or do they get down in the weeds with you? In our 40+ years coaching owners to be entrepreneurs, we’ve cleared up a lot of confusion about what coaching is—and what it isn’t.
Our natural world is a great example of systems at work—solar systems, ecosystems, weather systems, bodily systems, and so forth. As humans, we naturally look for patterns to solve problems and make extraordinary advancements. We search for ways to turn chaos into order and to discover efficient and repeatable ways of doing this to preserve our resources and energy. It is no different being an owner of a business. You want productivity, control, and predictability.
If you’ve ever had the thought that you weren’t a good leader or didn’t know how to be one, you’re not alone.
Business owners rarely go into business for themselves in order to become the leader of a company. In truth, most are looking to secure a “job” where they can provide their product or service free of a boss. This orientation—the Technician’s mentality—inevitably creates a business built around their own ability to produce results. It’s the orientation of the vast majority of owner-operated businesses, and it has obvious limitations. You alone can only get so much done. You can only stretch so far. You can only produce the results that you can produce.
As a business owner, attracting customers is so central and occupies so much of your focus that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that not all customers are created equal.
Not knowing who your best customer is results in countless and costly efforts to attract a customer who isn’t actually your ideal. You suffer endless frustrations, false starts, wasted time and money, and sometimes even total failure, all to pursue an audience that never was that “into you” to begin with. More importantly, if you really examined that audience, would you be that into them?
When I started as a business coach, my life did not look like it does today. I lived in the city, in a house that was in the middle of a subdivision. I worked for someone else and had never considered myself an entrepreneur. My default vision at the time was that I would continue to build a career for myself inside a good company—one that cared and took care of its employees—until I retired in my dream house, watching grandbabies run about.
Don’t get me wrong; I did dream about what it might be like to be an entrepreneur, just as I saw my father do his entire life. But it was just that—a dream, and not the reality I thought would support me for the rest of my life.
As a business owner, you’re the leader. You need to decide what your business will do, how it must do it, and where it will go next. But what happens when you lose sight of your goal?
Creating a vision for your business reminds you of the destination.When you try to move forward without it, you’re left jumping blindly from one item to the next—unsure of where your focus should be or where the business is heading. But creating a vision can feel daunting. It’s hard work, and there are so many pieces to consider. You may have a picture in your mind, but not know how to get it down on paper. Or you may not have a picture at all.
At EMyth, we take the approach that owning a business is a vehicle to give you more life. It’s a place to grow and to discover who you are and the way you want to express yourself in the world. It’s a place for creativity and innovation that can bring you closer to your own strengths, your own purpose, your own heart, and help you meet your financial goals.
In The Beginning
If you’re like many of our clients, you had a picture in your mind when you started your business of what you wanted to do. You could clearly see how your first office or store would look. You imagined your customers and employees. You saw yourself in the center of it all. You understood that it would be hard work, but what you dreamed for your future would be worth the sweat equity you’d put in for the first year or so.
Or so you told yourself.