How many business owners out there feel like your entire company rests squarely on your shoulders and your back is breaking under the pressure? If you feel this way, then I know who you are. You’re the person whose dream of owning and running a business has turned into a nightmare.

You’re over-worked. You can’t come and go as you please. All of the company’s different problems ultimately land on you to fix. You’re burned out and your personal life is affected. You’re frustrated. You’re tired. You’re surrounded by people, but you feel very alone. Despair.

First off, let me tell you that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority of small business owners that have become owned by their businesses. Here’s some great news: You can fix it!

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right. Give me another thing to do. I have no money, no time, and no belief that this can change. I’m stuck and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Please, keep reading…

Think back to the day your company was created in your mind. For those of you that grew up in a family business, think back to the day before you took the reins. No matter how long ago that may have been, the significance of how you were feeling and what you were thinking were emotional enough that you can remember.

Were you thinking about creating a business where your employees would love their jobs? Were you excited about providing such outstanding products or services that your customers would trumpet your name to all their friends and business would boom? Did you think about how different you would be from past bosses you had that sucked all the air out of the room when they walked in? Sure you did!

You were also thinking about how much money you would make and how generous you would be with your team. You would put in a few great years, then work shorter days so you could coach your son’s little league team or your daughter’s soccer team. Ahh yes… the long weekends at your camp and two vacations every year in the Caribbean! At the end of it all, you thought, you’d have a company worth millions of dollars. Life was great and you were ready!

And for the first few years, you gladly worked your tail off. You didn’t mind working nights or weekends if needed. After all, it was a good way to keep payroll down. You made the sales calls, served your customers, and even worked in production. You did the purchasing and paid the bills. You made the collection calls and did the hiring. You were chief cook and bottle washer and didn’t mind because you knew…you absolutely knew it would all pay off in the end.

But as the years continued to pass, your energy was tapped. You tried to hire some great people to help you, but people always let you down. You didn’t blame them; deep inside you knew you hadn’t interviewed enough people to find the right fit. You never even called the references that were provided. And after you made a hire, you didn’t have time, or even a system, to train your new employees. They were thrown to the wolves! But it didn’t work and nothing was done correctly. If you wanted something done right, you just had to do it yourself. So you did…and you still do.

Sound familiar? If so, here’s the problem in a nutshell: Your business is still operating as a start-up company even though it’s several years old. Think about it. How much leadership depth have you built? What systems do you have in place to maximize efficiencies? How much of your time do you spend handling tasks that someone else could handle for you at a fraction of your pay? How much -or how little, actually- of your own time is spent developing your team? Are you working “on” your business, or are you still working “in” the business?

Does everybody have written job descriptions and a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities? Who holds them accountable for results? Do you have a formal training program in place for new hires? What about developmental training for your existing employees? What have you done in past years for your own professional development?

Is everyone on the same-page? Do your individual team members (employees) know why the company exists? Do they know why you started it in the first place? Do they know what it’s supposed to look like? Do you know your employees’ goals? Do they know yours? Do they know what’s in it for them (beyond just a pay check)?

Do they understand how a business makes money? Are they in-tune enough with your business to be able to identify and fix the many, little operational holes that money pours through every single month?

Do your customers still feel as loved by you as they used to? Have you taken them for granted in recent years? When’s the last time you talked to your best customers about their business? Do you know what their challenges are? Do you know what their goals are? What do they love about your product or service? How would they improve it if they could?

Here’s an important question to ask to see if you’re still operating as a start-up business: “What would happen to your company if you stopped working there today?”

Okay, those are pretty darn good questions that all need to be answered. But you don’t have time to find the answers to these questions- and worse yet, if you had the answers to those questions, you’d know you have a lot more work to do! You certainly don’t have time for more work!

But here’s one more, very important question: “If you don’t answer those questions, and address those issues, who will?”

You already know the answer: Nobody.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this all-important topic, which will include action steps you can take to build the kind of business you have always dreamed of!

Until next time,
Jon Denney, President – The Professional Business Coaches Alliance

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PBCA President

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