We are beginning to encounter more and more people who are currently employed and are working towards becoming their own boss at the same time. Those types of people have at some point begun to think about what it would be like if they were dealing with their own customers, rather than the customers of some big business who doesn’t even know who they are. The money seems limited, the office politics are child-like, and everyone has a co-worker or two that doesn’t pull their weight. If you’re thinking this then you are probably one of those people who are attempting to transition from the comfort of a career to the instability of running your own business. STOP! Did you see how that sentence was worded? “…the instability of running your own business.” First of all, push that type of thinking OUT of your head. It is a huge misconception that small businesses won’t make it or can’t make it, and tons of people fail right at that sentence…. before they even start. This is because they never gain the confidence to really do what it takes to BE successful and sometimes just wait for failure & mediocrity to happen.
There are also some people who have been working on their business for about a year plus and they are seeing some real income. Its only about 40% – 60% of their work income, but the extra money makes things a lot more comfortable right? Bills are paid easily, you have money to do extra things you couldn’t do before, you can afford a lot more, and you have no financial worries. Right here, is where some of us find comfort. The job doesn’t seem so bad and you’re able to manage your business, so why not do both right? WRONG! This is where you’re at the point that yes, you have a successful micro business but you got comfortable. Unless this was your goal, you forgot why you started your business. You also don’t see that your business at this point is requiring so much more from you. It is demanding growth and more of your time. Because your time is split, your business is only getting 40% – 60% out of you, and that is why you’re only getting 40% – 60% back. Even though you run a successful micro business it is more like a second job simply because you won’t give it room to grow. If your business is not expanding and doesn’t eventually take up your time becoming your sole focus and sole source of income without still having to work a job, then that makes you an employee at your own business.
We recently spoke with a member of our co-working space who owns a PR/marketing company and is the only employee of his company. His firm is successful and has been in business for more than three years since he left a large organization where he was the head of PR.
Our conversation got around to the issue of extra help. When he needs additional skills to fulfill assignments, this man told us, he contracts with other professionals. That was interesting, we thought. Because, although our PR friend is talented and able to support his growing family, his comment about contracting out work raised a question for us.
“Was he trying to build a company or create a job for himself?” we wanted to know. It was a question that struck a chord with this man — one that he later came back to discuss.
In that context, we want to state that we think that we consider either choice a valid one, but one that should be a specific choice. You should understand early on that this is what you plan to do. Here at TheBlackEnterprise we plan to mentor most of you in any way that we can into corporations. Many of you are starting as single-person small business owners and still also work for a variety of mid-sized to large companies.
There are more than 28 million small business in the United States. Single person owned businesses hold the majority. Most of these individuals will never scale their business or take on employees, in turn, having created another job for themselves. Again, not saying that there is anything wrong with that but if you haven’t thought of it that way, and if it bothers you well… you’re one of these individuals, whether you planned it or not, have created a job for yourself. If you plan to never hire employees or scale the business then you will be doing exactly what you are doing until you decide that it’s time to retire. This isn’t a negative. Done right, a one-person business can actually make great money. It can give the owner the flexibility to choose assignments that are interesting and fulfilling, and to enjoy the flexibility of working when and where he or she chooses.
The small business structure
If you want to build a business, you will need to grow and have the capability to expand. You can’t do that alone and will need to delegate work to others. The owner might keep his or her hand in it, but others do the bulk of the work and are even at times managed by others.
It’s important to note that the role of the entrepreneur changes dramatically as a business moves forward. With every level up, you have to leave your responsibilities at the last level. This would mean that you would have to let go of doing the very thing that made the company successful at the prior step. Your business lives or dies based on how well you set the foundation. This makes sense. You created a job, and you keep it or lose it based on how well you do the work. Until you bring more people in to scale your initial work you’re working a job.
If you choose to grow into a small business structure that new success depends on how well the managers and subsidiary employees work. Your role will change. If you want to bake cakes, stay a micro business. If you want to run a bakery, you need to build a business. This is a scary step and one that can cause the principal sleepless nights.
Many people never consider taking on assistance. Most of us want to do as much of it as we can on our own. We get it…. more income! There is also the thought of realizing that you will be responsible for the livelihood of others. However, to grow a business, yourself, eventually, you will need to hire and manage employees.
If you’re successful at the small business stage and choose to continue to grow, you will become a midsize business. The business has transitioned from small to midsize when at least one layer of management has been inserted between the principal and those doing the primary work. The principal has gone from managing workers to managing managers. This might sound like a small change. It is not.
To effectively utilize managers, the principal must delegate decision-making authority to them. This means giving up a measure of control, which is often difficult for entrepreneurs who are used to making every significant decision in the company.
This also is the transition with which growing companies most often struggle. Letting go of some control is a scary thing for entrepreneurs, and they are right to feel trepidation. Ineffective delegation can lead to the ruin of the business — we’ve seen it too often. To enable effective delegation, the principal will need to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure is in place. This means making certain that the business has the right managers. The manager’s processes should be well-documented and appropriate metrics should be in place.
Meanwhile, if you want to create a life that has flexibility and autonomy and allows you to work when and where you like, you should probably choose to stay a micro business. Keep in mind at this level you have the ability to expand because you have perfected your foundation. You will know that you have transitioned from micro to small when you have delegated most of the primary work of the business to others.
To truly scale a business, you will need to transition to midsize or larger. You will have done this once you’ve delegated day-to-day decision-making authority to a layer of managers that is between you and those doing the primary work of the businesses.
No matter the choice you make each level has validity. Challenges will continually show their faces and you will have to deal with them on each level. Your choice should be clear to you so that you understand how you are proceeding. If you are still unsure then speak to other business owners or find a mentor with whom to explore your options, skill sets, and desires. Then you will be able to move forward amicably and with purpose in the direction that works for you.