You’re an entrepreneur. But who’s the boss in your business?
It’s not you. It’s your business.
One of the most profound and game-changing moments for me as an entrepreneur was when I finally realized who was in charge. As an entrepreneur and cofounder, I had thought I was calling the shots and making the decisions. And, from the perspective of the organizational chart, I certainly was. But, from a smart business perspective, I owed my allegiance to a more authoritarian boss -- the business itself.
This shift in mindset changed the way I approached and worked on the business. Instead of interacting with it as an authority figure, I deferred to the interests of the business.
I believe that this change has made me a better businessman and a better manager, and has contributed to the success of my ventures. Here are seven requirements that I suggest every entrepreneur keep in mind, recognizing that your business is your boss.
1. Make one-on-one time with the boss.
Successful managers know that they should spend substantial quality time with their senior managers. In addition to mentorship, you have the necessary tasks of planning, strategizing and growing the business.
As an entrepreneur, you need to spend quality time with your boss, the business. Here’s why: Many entrepreneurs fritter away their days working in their business, but not on their business. It’s conventional business advice to work on, not in, but practically, the distinction is difficult to achieve.
For this reason, I suggest taking intentional time to work on the business. This is not meeting time or email time. This is ""you-and-the-business" time. Prioritizing this time will allow you to make major strides that will advance the business to the next level.
2. Put in the hours.
Whether salaried or hourly, most employees are expected to put in their time. Entrepreneurs have long passed their clock-punching days but are still obligated to put in the hours to complete necessary tasks.
Be intentional about your schedule, recognizing that you owe your boss a certain number of hours each week and each day.
3. Watch where the money goes.
If you had a boss who was breathing down your neck about the budget, would it change the way you did business? Well, you do, and it should. Take careful stock of every penny you spend, every investment you make and every purchase you authorize.
That money belongs to someone -- your boss, the business. As such, you are accountable for achieving that ROI.
4. Get to know the customers.
Sadly, your boss is an impersonal chap. He (or she) is a bit elusive, hard to get to know and monosyllabic when it comes to talking. That’s where you come in. You’re the face of the company in the absence of your demurring boss.
Knowing your customers on a personal and face-to-face basis is a powerful way to understand the reputation and status your business has, and deal with any accompanying concerns. In short, the time you spend with your customers is seldom time wasted.
5. Create and defend the goals you’ve set.
A successful quarter, month, week or day begins with goals. Envision yourself talking to your boss, explaining what your goals are, why you’ve set them and how you intend to reach them. The simple act of creating goals allows us to more effectively reach them. Of course, we may not always reach them, which is okay.
It is always wise, however, to put the goals in place. In that way, we will at least possess a powerful process for moving forward.
6. Show progress toward those goals.
Speaking of moving forward, you should show some accountability as you work on your goals. Goals are intended to move the needle on the business. Are your goals taking the business in the right direction? Are you actually making progress? Have you shown substantial forward momentum as you pursue these actions?
Show your boss that you’re achieving what you’ve set your mind to do. Like any competent boss, he (or she) is counting on you.
7. Do whatever is necessary and appropriate to earn revenue.
The purpose of a for-profit business is to make money. The purpose of a boss is to make sure that happens. Your boss is expecting your actions to earn revenue. So, do what it takes.
Too many startups are satisfied with coasting. They don’t coast in the lazy way that a corporate behemoth might coast, but rather in a way that depends on the influx of funding, and a way that's dependent on an overblown valuation.
Tech startups are already in serious trouble, and other industries are following suit. With the availability of VC cash and business loans these days, it can be easy to forget that a business is meant to turn a profit, not just to "get funding."
If your business has a hyped-up valuation, that fact means nothing if you’re not making any money. So, work toward that goal, and your boss will give you a smile of approval.
Treat your business like the boss. Pay attention to it. Respect it. Work for it. Sure, your boss can be as ogre-like as they come. But he or she is still your boss. And the better you treat your boss, the better you'll be treated in return: Massive profits. Insane rewards. An enduring legacy.
That’s what you have to look forward to when you work hard for your business-as-boss.
Do you view your business as your boss? How has that philosophy helped you?