Most of my clients are small business owners and they might be surprised by the challenge in the title of this week’s article.
Are you a small business owner – or are you actually a hard-working employee – for yourself?
A lot of my readers won’t want to hear this, but you must hear it if it is the truth.
What is the difference? What makes you a small business owner, and what makes you an employee of your business?
Successful small business owners are driven. But then so are successful hard-working employees. But what drives them are two different things.
A hard-working employee is driven to be good at their job. They take pride in a job well done. They work hard to make sure it is done well. They take pride in working on the details and working in the business.
If you are working hard in your business, are you sure you are not merely investing in a job? As a mere employee, you may deeply and rightly believe that you are doing your best and working hard. You certainly are but you are working hard in your job, within your job description, within the parameters, working hard at the procedure or in the technology, putting in the hours…as an employee, not as the business owner.
The difference is that entrepreneurs work hard over, above, and beyond what is “hard work” or “being good at the job”. Entrepreneurs live and breath the business, they are not satisfied at a job well done, they look for new ways to do things and new ways to do even better. They work on the business always improving the whole business for the future.
As a small business owner, be a successful entrepreneur, not a successful hard working employee of your business.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need:-
- To understand yourself;
- To understand your business;
- To understand why you are here; and
- To understand working effectively.
A successful entrepreneur understands who and what they are. This understanding is not only deep and honest – knowing their strengths and weaknesses in the greatest detail – but also critical. They dig into their weaknesses and actively seek every day to eliminate them. They do not “settle” knowing they have weaknesses and try to live with them.
Hard-working employees understand their weaknesses and say “I know I’m not good at that, so I’ll find things to do that I’m good at.”
Successful entrepreneurs say “one day, I will no longer be weak at that!”
To be a successful entrepreneur you need to watch over yourself as you go through your day – like watching yourself dance from the balcony while you are dancing. That metaphor describes the trait where you carry on your tasks but separately you critique the way you do them. This self-awareness leads you to continuously improve in mending your weaknesses. In order to do this, you have to be seriously disciplined, seriously driven, and never settle for what you have.
A successful entrepreneur also deeply understands their business, in every way. They understand the business model and the different relationships between the different business systems.
While that may sound like common sense and simple enough, the successful entrepreneur goes beyond that and once again does not settle for the status quo but continuously asks, how can this be better?
A hard-working employee understands the business and then makes small daily decisions that it’s going well enough and they should concentrate their energy on the many tasks that have to be done every day. They settle. They feel that as long as they finish their list of To-Do action items for the day they are doing well.
The successful entrepreneur digs into the business and tries new ways, often failing but finding small improvements from time to time. They do not settle.
A successful entrepreneur understands their purpose in life. They understand why they are there.
The hard-working employee also understands their purpose – to work hard and be good at what they do. The successful entrepreneur looks for a meaning beyond the meaning – why should I work hard? Why should I be good at what I do? What bigger problem am I solving for my customer? What larger purpose or reason is there for me to be good at what I do?
This search for the higher meaning fuels their energy and drive – this is the root cause why they don’t settle knowing they have weaknesses, and why they don’t settle understanding the way the business is now. This search for higher purpose means that they will find a better way, a better result, and more improvement.
Finally, a successful entrepreneur understands that they need to work effectively, not hard. A successful, hard-working employee puts their entire effort into their work, but cannot be sure of their effectiveness, other than that they have completed their tasks.
The successful entrepreneur chooses their tasks so that in completing something they get greater outcome rather than more output. They work hard at tasks that solve several issues at once. They identify and eliminate unproductive tasks.
There is a distinct difference between being a successful entrepreneur and a successful, hard-working, valued employee working in your own business.
Be the entrepreneur.
Look for how you can eliminate your weaknesses, and build bigger strengths; look at how your business can be improved; never settle, seek the real purpose of your being and choose where to put your hard work.
This is where the fun starts, let's start a discussion!
Go over to OTS Management's website and write in your comments about whether you think you are a good “employee” or whether you are striving to be a great entrepreneur.