When our clients start business coaching, it’s not uncommon to hear, “I only want one thing: for you to help me hire better people.”
Okay—let’s say you’ve taken all the necessary steps to build a self-sustaining business.
You’ve made a clear decision to do it, and you’ve let your desire build.
You’ve let go of unproductive beliefs and are thinking like an Entrepreneur. You’ve come to see your business as a process designed to produce a desired result without you.
You’ve envisioned a business that doesn’t depend on your personal production, and you’ve written your vision down. You’ve imagined a culture where your employees are committed to your picture of the future and share your view of what really matters on the way there.
You’ve freed up your time to work on your business, not just in it. You’ve built systems in every area of your business that stand for what you believe in, and you’ve continuously improved them until they generate consistent, predictable results. You’ve set standards that everyone on your team lives by.
In other words, you’ve created a world of your own that can operate without you.
It’s an incredible accomplishment...but are you done?
If you want to confidently step away from your business—whether it’s for two weeks, two months, or two years—you need to trust that two key dynamics in your business can operate consistently and predictably whether you’re there or not.
Let’s be honest: Building a business that doesn’t depend on you isn’t easy. It’s going to take lots of time, attention, and know-how. You’re going to be drawn into fighting fires you wish weren’t happening; you’re going to worry about having the right resources to create the right results; you’re going to have to make things happen that you don’t really know how to do. At times, you’re going to feel let down by the very people you depend on to free you.
If you’re fortunate enough to have taken your company on a journey through all of its highs and lows for 5, 10, even 20 years or more, chances are you’ve had those moments when you wished your business weren’t so damn dependent on you. No matter what you’ve achieved, most business owners know in their heart that if they walked away—whether for six months or two weeks—they probably wouldn’t have a business when they got back.
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.