having a business

Many have dreams of entrepreneurial grandeur that go something like this—You stomp into your mundane nine to five and hand your out-of-touch boss an effective-immediately resignation letter. You puff up your chest, hold your shoulders back and declare you’re sick of working grueling hours and taking on endless work just to benefit his pocket. You tell him he can shove it because you’re going into business for yourself—Unfortunately many who take this track in search of entrepreneurial freedom, end up repeating the nightmare of job captivity.  To get out of this cycle, take a look at my article that ran in The Tennessean which discusses four proven ways to help your business run on its own.

Who’s that jerk in the mirror? It just could be you

Most business owners aren’t in it just for the money. In fact, in many cases, they could earn more money, with fewer headaches, working for your average large corporation.

Instead, what attracts most of us to start a business is the need for more freedom. Unfortunately, many business owners end up simply harnessing themselves to another job.

I know. I’ve been there. I owned a wireless business for 18 years. And for the first nine years, I was working for this unmerciful jerk I saw in the mirror each morning. I had created myself a job, not a business. And in doing so, it made me miserable.

However, for the last nine years of my company, I worked on building a business that could run without me. Not only was I much happier, I was able to create something I could sell and exit — because it could run without me.

And that, my friends, is the difference between a job and a business. If it can run without you, you’ve built a business. If it can’t, you’ve simply created another job for yourself.


There are four steps to building a business rather than having a job.

Step 1: Develop a strong company culture. You achieve this by finding your company’s core purpose, believing in that purpose, and finding others who believe in it as well. If some team members don’t believe in it, find others who do. Having a strong company culture begins with having the right people in the company.

Step 2: Develop systems and processes that allow your business to run without you. Many times a company has one or two knowledge-keepers who everyone turns to for answers. That knowledge-keeper is most often the business owner.

If you want to free yourself from having a job, the next time an employee comes to you with a challenge don’t just say, “Do this.” Work with them to discover the cause of the challenge, figure out a system for solving it next time without your involvement, and document the system for training purposes. Training is key.

Step 3: Drive the market to you instead of constantly driving your people to sell more business. This all boils down to treating clients well by showing up on time every time, doing what you say you will do, finishing what you start, and saying PLEASE and THANK YOU. Do these things, and clients will do your marketing for you by telling their friends.

Step 4: Create a strategic plan and use it. Most strategic plans are great doorstops and nothing else because they are never put to use.

Making use of your strategic plan requires that you break your priorities down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily activities. (Yes, I said daily.) This process applies to every team member in the organization and at every level. Easy to do? Certainly not. Possible? Certainly.

Overall, we make business more complicated than it needs to be. We expect things to fall into place without putting them there. So remember, the keys to a successful business model are people, planning, process and profit. Your company cannot be great unless it’s great without you.


This article was originally published in The Tennessean.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/217440037/”>Stuck in Customs</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>