Do you wonder if your business will ever survive without you? Find out how you can regain your freedom and have a successful business.
Before a child is born there is much planning, dreaming, preparation, and excitement. After the baby has successfully made it into the world it is so overwhelming. Like that first night you take your new baby home and it is as if someone said congratulations, you wanted a baby… now keep it alive and good luck! You never dreamed of the sleepless nights, the messes, the emergencies, or the challenges that are unique to your baby, but you take it all in stride. You get some gray hairs and consider getting a therapist, but you keep pushing through. After a while the newness wears off and they are ready to go to school where you all the sudden have to trust this person that doesn’t love you child the way you do with them for a good part of their lives. As they grow and get into more things they spend less and less time with you and you start to worry that they will always be making good choices when you are not with them. Before you know it they are wanting to go off and have a family of their own. Fortunately, they still seek your guidance and advice but no to the extent that you can’t take nice vacations somewhere beautiful or explore other passions in your life. While this is the general life path of raising a child, it is also the ideal life path of starting and growing a business. Much like how many children in the world didn’t manage to get to the happy, healthy, successful, and independent phase they could have (case study: look at the news), many businesses fail to grow and thrive for the same reasons.
If you are unfamiliar with the term owner operator, it basically is a business owner who is so heavily woven into the company that the company cannot operate with out them. They say things like “this is my baby,” or “I can’t trust anyone else to do it,” or “I can’t afford to step away.” If this sounds familiar you may be an operator. It is not something to be ashamed of yet is definitely not a badge of honor. Every small business owner has been in this natural phase of small business ownership when our businesses were babies. As a small business owner, we have to be well versed enough to wear a lot of hats and do everything at times. There are several parent traps that put us in these positions:
- Parent trap #1 Is when we buy into the belief that the business truly won’t survive without us. As an owner we must do some hard-introspective work to determine what exact tasks we do will grow the business best and be willing to let go of our heavy control over the rest. This is much easier said than done, especially for those of us who have given some of the reins up and had someone seriously drop the ball for us to pick up.
- Parent trap #2 There are times when the cashflow is not sufficient to sustain bringing on an employee or affording the right employee to take over the tasks that we do not need to be involved in. However, there are also times where we get too conservative with our investments to do the research model to determine if the ROI of bringing on this person would enable a large growth.
- Parent trap #3 Becoming so hyper-focused on the day-to-day challenges that we are unable to view the opportunities for growth. Whether process or financial orientation takes the lead when a business owner is stuck in this trap it creates a narrow view that eliminates the chance for the leader to guide the business out of the survival mode it is in.
Just as with children, growing a business can be such a heavy weight that the challenges of it can consume every moment of your energy if you let it. The key to not being so burned out that you become the inhibitor of the business’ success is to prevent yourself from obsessing on any aspect of the business and having healthy boundaries. We all work 80 hour weeks. It doesn’t have to be like that forever, but it will be if we do not actively question our beliefs and attention.