It’s a familiar story. You, a technically-minded professional, leave the comfort of a salaried job to venture out on your own in search of greater autonomy and prosperity. Soon enough, you’re out of your depth, writhing around trying to manage costs, staff and responsibilities far beyond your area of expertise. Congratulations! You’ve created the job from hell. And it’s all yours.
I’ve seen plenty of people taking the wrong approach to starting their new business. Indeed, they’re so far off the mark that their new venture turns into the job from hell.
These people approach the world of business from a technical background (e.g. an electrician who worked for a large company and is now starting out in business doing electrical work).
The problem, of course, is that they focus mostly on the technical work – the electrical work.
So let’s put that scenario into perspective.
Let’s say you’re living that scenario right now. You have plenty of work on the go because you are good at what you do and your customers recognise that and call you back for repeat work.
But now you have a problem. You have to answer calls and set appointments, keep the books, take care of all the marketing and advertising, maintain premises (if you’re not working from home), maintain vehicles and cover costs such as insurance, assets and consumables. And while you’re caught up doing that, oh yeah, the technical work.
You don’t have enough time to do everything and you have enough work to go full time in the technical trade. So you decide to employ an office-all-rounder to take care of the day-to-day office duties.
Now you have all of those expenses mentioned earlier, plus a new wage to pay – a wage that is not primarily doing the work that brings in the income. So your one job now has to support your wage, your employee’s wage, the expenses and make a profit on top. You have to charge like a wounded bull to pull that off. In most cases it doesn’t work, and it is you, the business owner, who suffers.
The office-all-rounder is not going to take care of marketing, so what happens when your current workload reduces?
Marketing is your job, so you commit to doing it in your spare time. Oops, there’s not enough spare time to start learning all about marketing, so you are stuck further in a rut. When your workload reduces you spend some time on marketing, but what happens if your other current jobs are all finishing at the same time?
Then you are stuck for a while with no jobs, no income, and you still have to support your family, your employee, your assets and consumables and various other maintenance and bills.
Let’s recap what you’ve done.
You started out working for someone else where all (or most) of your expenses were paid for and you had a regular weekly or fortnightly income without the worry of where your next job was. So you swapped your regular income job for the same thing, but with a huge load of new worries stressing you out. And you’re probably now earning the same amount of pay or less thanks to all those new expenses you have to cover. You’re stuck in that position.
You swapped a regular job for a job from hell.
Choices and consequences
If you are good at what you do and ready for a new challenge, consider all of these factors very carefully before launching your own entrepreneurial venture.
If you are already stuck living this undesirable reality, you need to make a decision:
Do you like doing the technical work, or would you rather be a leader?
Let’s have a look at two options:
You like the technical work and don’t want to be stuck in a cubicle. Your options are to continue working your business until something happens (like you get sick and can’t work), so you have to let your office all-rounder go, as there’s not enough income. (Of course, you know what happens next.)
Or, you could go back to working for someone else. You will probably be able to negotiate a rate of pay better than the rate you were getting in your previous employed position, so it’s not all bad.
Or… you can employ a technical person to take over your work. Now you have given away a decent chunk of your income to the new employee, but you have just freed up all of your time to bring in more work.
You can do the new work yourself, but hang on – do you really want to get stuck in the same rut again of getting bogged down in too much work with no one to take care of running the business?
I’ve just outlined a working example of what you’ve most likely heard many times:
“You need to work on your business, not in your business”.
It’s an axiom that is relevant to virtually all businesses.
You need to get out of the follower mindset and become a leader. Start leading your business to success, build a team and lead your team to complete the technical work successfully.
If you get very good at leading, you have every chance of becoming one of the biggest in your industry (with you at the top).
Always set your sights high, make goals and see them through to completion.
Or go back to your day job.
Paul Groth is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur and founder of www.marketingmixer.com.au
Photo: Shane Gorski