Taking care of business
Running your own business is not a job. There’s no guaranteed income. You don’t get selected to be a business owner.
And it can be tough.
I saw this data in a recent email from Gazelles strategic planning guru Verne Harnish:
“TSheets by Quickbooks commissioned a survey about the sacrifices business owners make, which found:
- 50+ hour weeks are the norm for 1 in 2 biz owners
- 43% have put their own money into the business
- 1 in 3 say their family has made sacrifices for the business
- 62% say work keeps them up at night at least once a month
- Sick days and vacations are rare for many business owners
And the one stat that spoke loudest to me – 52% of biz owners felt they could make more money working elsewhere! It confirms that entrepreneurs cherish their independence over money. If you’d like here’s a link to the raw data.”
There are two core values that I see in most of the Financial Planning firms I work with:
- Doing Things Right
It’s not easy living by these values. As Verne noted above, for 52% of business owners, freedom often comes at a financial cost.
And doing things right means building your business can take longer, although in the long run I believe doing things right brings tremendous extra value to those who can stay the course.
What is that extra value?
- That feeling of “I did it my way”
- The amazing, high-trust relationships you’ve built with your clients
- A 25% net profit margin (after getting paid a full market rate for your day job)
- A premium price on sale and/or developing and mentoring a next generation of business owners to take over
- A great business reputation in your market (or local area)
- Knowing you contributed to society with the taxes you paid and the people you employed/developed
Know Your Why
If you want the journey to be fun, as well as profitable, it’s crucial to understand ‘why’ you are putting in the extra effort it takes to run your own business.
Peter Diamandis, founder of the XPRIZE Foundation, suggests looking at your entrepreneurial efforts in this way: “During my lifetime, this is the problem that I want to solve. This is what I stand for.”
Have you asked yourself what you stand for?
What’s the problem you want to solve?
The answers to these questions can generate significant meaning in the work you are doing. All work is meaningful, but it helps if you can see it clearly yourself.
As Seth Godin said in his blog Entrepreneurship is Not a Job:
“Entrepreneurship is a chance to trade a solution to someone who has a problem that needs solving.”
For me, running a business is a creative exercise. The work is to solve problems.
There are two sets of problems for a Financial Planning entrepreneur to work on creatively. Here are a few examples of what those problems might be:
- How much is truly enough?
- Will my money last as long as I do?
- How to avoid getting caught up in the noise and BS of ‘more will make me happier’
- How to invest in a way that is likely to deliver good long-term outcomes, and matches my tolerance to and need for risk
- How to file information so it can be found when needed
- What information is important to gather – such as access to a spouse or partner’s passwords in the event of an emergency
Your Organisational and Growth Problems:
- How do I assemble the right support team?
- How do I structure the team so everyone is working to their strengths (doing what they love and are good at)?
- How can I get clear on my business strategy?
- What’s the best way to set my pricing?
- How do I ensure adequate profitability?
If each of these sets of problems can be seen as a creative challenge, all of a sudden life gets a lot more exciting. Getting curious and digging into these issues is where the fun is. Treat them like they are puzzles to be solved.
The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of, that fits in with your personal set of values. This is why the end result always looks different in the final wash up from business to business, because it’s always a reflection of the business owner/s.
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”
Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art
of Turning Adversity to Advantage
Creating Process and Structure
If you want your business to really perform, generating the income and quality of life that you desire, then creating process and structure is essential.
However, establishing process and structure is not the point of the business. The point of the business is to solve problems for its clients. The only valid reason for creating process and structure is to facilitate a more consistent delivery of your problem-solving service.
If you don’t industrialise to some extent, you run the risk of dropping balls, letting down the people you promised to serve, and potentially damaging your reputation in the process.
The challenge, as you grow, is to be forever mindful of your purpose – helping your clients. Larger businesses that get this wrong have become too focused on safety, or profit, or compliance, or process, and forgotten their true purpose.
It’s Worth It
Running your own business is not a job. There’s no guaranteed income or final outcome.
Yet it’s one of the most creative, challenging, and amazing life experiences.
So embrace the uncertainty, flex your creativity, and see how great you can be at solving the two sets of problems that all business owners must face.
“Running your own business is not a job. There’s no guaranteed income or final outcome. Yet it’s one of the most creative, challenging, and amazing life experiences. ”