Entrepreneur Beginners Guide
“Work on Your Business, Not in Your Business”
If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job.
—Michael Gerber, author, The E-Myth
It was one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction I have ever had. After a long and difficult process of searching for the right people, every essential role in my publishing business was filled. No longer did I have to sell ads, do layout, edit articles, or distribute my magazine. My staff of almost twenty people took care of everything from determining a new issue’s concept to delivering it to readers. I didn’t even have to look at the final printed magazine if I didn’t want to. I could now focus on how to grow the magazine from a regional publication to a national one.
Until an entrepreneur’s company runs without the founder, that person is just self-employed, the lowest rung in the hierarchy of entrepreneurs. The unfortunate reality for millions of entrepreneurs is that their business depends on them way too much. You know the type, and perhaps that type describes you. They are often overwhelmed with their business, doing everything from their own taxes to taking out the trash. They work nonstop not because they want to but because they have to. They may act as though they have a team that takes care of everything, but they don’t. It’s all just a facade. The harsh reality is that if they were hit by a bus and died, their business would die, too.
Just because you have the ability to assume a crucial role in your business doesn’t mean you should. In a recent conversation I had, a fellow entrepreneur boasted about his entrepreneurial frugality as if it were an admirable quality. Normally it is, but he took it too far. He enthusiastically bragged, “Why should I pay someone for something I can do myself?” That’s usually code for “I don’t have money to pay someone else to do the work.” If you don’t have the revenues to hire a team and to replace yourself, your
Mind business isn’t profitable, and perhaps you should consider a different approach or a different business altogether. Doing everything in your business yourself leads to a quick burnout, and the activity prevents you from executing your role as an entrepreneur: working on your business, not in it.
Before you even start your business, focus on planning how to get rid of yourself, especially if the business is service-oriented and you are the one serving. This outlook is absolutely imperative because once the business gets going, you won’t have time to dedicate to planning when work piles up. You naturally will give priority to serving clients and generating revenue rather than planning your replacement.
Finding quality people to fill all-important roles puts you in the frame of mind of running a business. In this mode, you are really an entrepreneur, and that’s what it is all about. Once you have successfully eliminated the dependency of your business on you—and the process won’t be quick and easy—you can focus on growing your business or even moving on to your next venture.
I have seen it happen time after time: Entrepreneurs start a company, hoping to be free from the tyranny and demands of a regular job, and before long they are weary from having to do everything for their business. In fact, many are miserable. Either they failed to extricate themselves before it became really difficult to do so, or they just can’t seem to let go and get away. If you desire to pass the primary level of self-employment and reach the upper echelons of entrepreneurship, learn to delegate quickly. Otherwise, your chances, of growth are limited significantly. If you want guaranteed, limited growth, you might as well get a job.