I work with a lot of clients who are just getting started in business. Many of them have never owned a business before and are learning everything as they go along. Some, however, have been “in business” before, but as self-employed professionals, not as true business owners.
Building a business, especially from scratch, is hard work. Now, it is also very rewarding work, but there isn’t a short-cut, even if there are a lot of guru’s out there telling you otherwise.
One of my clients recently told me that he has made a commitment to devote 2 hours a day to building his business. This doesn’t include the time he actually serves his clients, but the time he devotes to creating a website, marketing materials, and new products and programs (mind you, he only serves clients for a couple of hours a week). Initially, I applauded his commitment. But then, I thought more about what he’d said.
What he really said was: up until he made this commitment with himself, he wasn’t devoting even 2 hours a day to his business!
You can’t build a business by working on it for 2 hours a day!!
Now I knew why he wasn’t making more progress. He simply wasn’t devoting enough time to actually get anything accomplished.
The simple truth is that you can’t build a business with that little commitment. I don’t care what the guru’s have told you. I don’t care if you’ve read a book that says it can be done, its all a bunch of hogwash.
Building a business takes work: Devotion, belief in what you are doing, and sometimes, sheer determination.
It takes more than 2 hours a day!
This is the analogy that I use with my clients to describe what it takes to build a business:
Imagine you are the single parent of 4 children, all under the age of 14. You live in New York and want to take the children to Disneyland in California. You can’t afford to fly the entire family, so you make the decision to drive across country together as a family as part of your family vacation.
At this point, you are like the person starting a business. You have an idea (vacation in Disneyland for the entire family) and a plan (drive across county) to accomplish it.
In order to actually get your family across country, someone has to get into the driver’s seat.
And if you don’t get in that seat, your family won’t get to Disneyland. It is that simple. As the only member of your family who is old enough to drive, it has to be you who gets in that seat.
Now, once you’ve taken control of the drive, you can assign other members of your family to assist you: to act as navigator, to pick out places to eat, to referee the other children. Even as you give other people responsibilities, you never actually give away your responsibility as the driver.
If your navigator tells you to turn left but there is on coming traffic, you will wait for the traffic. Or if she tells you to turn right, but there is no road there, you won’t turn. Similarly, if the child you assign to choose a restaurant fails to find one, you are still responsible for making sure your children eat.
This is the way it is in business as well. You as the business owner must sit firmly in the driver’s seat.
There is a point where you can hire a business manager to run your business for you (to drive you and the children to California), but you can’t do that when you don’t know enough about what you are doing to create systems and procedures for others to follow. In the beginning, your business has to be run by you. You can assign some of the business building tasks to others, but you never actually give up the responsibility for ensuring that these tasks get done. The success of your business is based on you, on your commitment, and on your ability to make sure things get done.
If you don’t want to sit in the driver’s seat of your business, don’t go into business. Find another way to make a living. Get a nice, comfy, boring job, maybe. Just don’t think you can build a business without actually working at it. And if you want to persist in believing this, even after reading this insightful and interesting post, do me one favor and at least don’t hire me.