I live in a small community where the ideas of business, entrepreneurship, and self employment often get muddled and mixed together. I often I hear, “So and So owns a business where they fix cars,” or some other trade which they do professionally. I know it shouldn’t but it does bother me when the term, “business owner” is used to describe that such person. This person does not own a business, they own their own job.
There is only one simply difference, but it is a huge difference between owning a business and owning a job and its this:
The earning potential of a job, is directly tied to the amount of hours you work. The earning potential of a business however is scalable, unlimited, and hours and income are decoupled.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with owning your own job. In fact, it often creates the freedoms many people are searching for when they say they want to start their own business. If you are enjoying what you are doing, are satisfied with your income, and are happy, then shit, you already won. You don’t need to start a business.
But for many, they often fall into the trap of “I thought I started a business but ended up with a job”. They’re not making as much money as they thought, or they now are making a lot of money but they have to spend all their time working and have no time for anything else. They become jaded with their “business” and may even come to resent it after the initial excitement wears off.
If this sounds like you, you have your own job. But its not the end of the world. Most businesses start as your own job. So what do you to fix your unhappiness and scale from a job to a business?
The two main ways to scale from an owned job to a business is
1. Offload your work to employees or contractors
2. Implement methods to reduce or automate redundant tasks
The good news, is that if you are making money, it is easy to scale because both additional help, and technology usually cost money. The one you should choose first depends on what your primary problem is.
If you want to increase revenues by adding more business, utilize subcontractors, part time employees, or if you can afford it fulltime employees. One important note, NEVER hire until you absolutely need to hire. I see many people make the mistake of hiring before you need it. Hire ONLY when you absolutely need someone to help you. Always try to max yourself out before hiring.
If on the other hand you feel like you need more time to get to the work that actually makes you money, invest into systems that cut down redundant tasks from your daily schedule. For example, if your customer support / maintenance calls take up a large portion of your day, hire and train someone to handle tier one support and invest into a support system like Zendesk or Grasshopper. If you absolutely hate doing sales, maybe you should find someone to work on commission to generate leads (though I would highly recommend ALL business owners to lead their marketing message. It will set the public perception of your company. The last thing you need is some scummy sales person ruining the image of your company). Same rules apply here as the first one, do not incur any additional expenses until you are overwhelmed and absolutely need it.
For both of these to work, you will need to develop a crucial skill of hiring the right people and firing the wrong people. This comes with establishing a strong company culture that resonates with your personal values. Highly recommend reading ‘Delivering Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos for tips on creating company culture. I’ve learned the hard way that company culture is the single most important aspect of building a fulfilling company. Trust me, you want a fulfilling company because as an entrepreneur, your company is your life. Even your business partnerships, sub contractors and VAs should fit in with your culture. Ideally after you scale your job into a business, you should be spending the majority of your time doing things you enjoy while your team does things you don’t enjoy so much. When you find yourself in this position congrats you’ve scaled out of your job and life will be awesome (well, honestly I don’t know how you will feel, but all things considered, it should feel awesome).
Additional reading of Scaling out of an owned Job
Anything you Want – Derek Sivers
The Four Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferriss