The best way to give up your ‘day job’ is to watch my Live Show this Thursday @ 8pm CST (9pm EST / 6pm PST) at http://ajcfeed.com ….
Lots of people come up to me to proudly tell me about their wonderful, growing businesses … how do I look them in the eye and tell them that I really think that what they have is actually a job?
… and, no, I’m not just talking about the obvious: the accountant, doctor, attorney who earns an income from their own labor, whether individually or in a partnership.
Anthony asked me to post on this (I had said I might … so, I guess he was just encouraging me!), when I mentioned in a recent post that I would comment on this exact topic:
You should. I want to start my own business in an artistic field and every-time I think of having an employee create my vision, I shudder, just a little bit. That’s where modelling someone comes in. Model those who were able to export their vision to other people.
To me the difference between a ‘job disguised as a business’ and a ‘true business’ is:
1. Could it run 3 months without you?, and
2. Can you sell it?
The first point is self-evident: no employees/partners = no ability to run without you (unless, you can totally automate your business … in which case, call me … I want in!).
Therefore, no business!
The second point is a bit more subtle: if the business is not saleable (a) it probably also fails the first point (i.e. no employees), and (b) you are tied to the business and it is tied to you … when you stop, the business stops … when the business stops (market changes, product life-cycles end, etc.) … you (at least your income) stops.
To me, that’s a job; sure, it’s a flexible job with extra benefits … but, a job none-the-less, just like that ‘self-employed’ accountant/doctor/etc.
Now, how do you make a ‘glorified job’ into a true business?
First, you create Positions in your company!
Now, the business may be you, your Mom and your Dad (that’s a whole series of other posts right there!) … but, if you are going to morph into something that meets our two requirements (i.e. runs without you; and, is saleable), then you are going to need to create a simple Management Structure:
CEO (the gal who runs the show); CFO (the guy who runs the finances); Sales/Marketing Manager (the guy who brings in the business) … right on down to Mail Girl.
If there’s only one, two, or three of you … well, you’re each going to be wearing lots of hats for a while. The key is, though, that each ‘hat’ (i.e. position) has only ONE person who wears it! Only ONE of you gets to be CEO (now, I let me know when you have your first Owner’s Meeting … I sure want to be a fly-on-the-wall wall for that!).
Now, for small businesses it can be very difficult to understand this concept, so try this one one:
When the OWNERS walk in the door, they become EMPLOYEES … when they leave at the end of the day, they become OWNERS again. Simple … critical!
Next you create Systems!
You need to get down and document absolutely everything that you (and everybody else!) does in the business.
As Michael Gerber (whose ground-breaking book, The E-Myth Revisited, taught me everything that I know about business!) says, you should act as though your business is a prototype and that one day there will be 500 more just like it.
Even if your little store is ever going to be the only one, this step will allow you to easily grow and add staff, and sell the business … because the purchaser will see how well everything is documented.
Of course, if you’re like me, you could never believe that your business can run without you … here’s how I learned otherwise:
In the early days of one of my businesses, every file would come to me for approval … now, I had experts – trained in the field in which we were operating (compared to me: I was self-taught when I decided to get into that particular business!) – yet, I still checked every major file.
Eventually, my staff stopped bringing me every file … gradually, at first (they’d ‘forget’ to bring me one here and another one there).
When I didn’t notice – because I was so damn busy, running myself ragged doing ‘other stuff’ – they conveniently ‘forgot’ to bring more and more files to me until, they stopped bringing any to me for approval at all!
If I had noticed, would I have got so upset that I would have fired somebody? Probably. Ego does that.
Did the business run any worse after they stopped bringing me the files? Of course not … I said they were trained, and I wasn’t! I just needed a lesson in faith and trust.
So, that’s how I was gently pushed out of Operations and never again stepped a foot back in … in ANY of my businesses.
But, I was CEO … without me at the helm the business would hit the rocks and sink … or, so I thought:
A year or two later, I closed on an opportunity to acquire a business in the USA, requiring me to move countries. I decided to move to the USA (where we’ve been ever since) as this would be a much bigger business – but, at the time, I wasn’t selling any of my overseas interests.
So, I did the responsible thing: I hired a replacement CEO months ahead of my planned relocation …
… who decided to leave less than 6 weeks before my departure for the USA!
Luckily, after a frantic phase of executive search that consisted of me calling the only guy that I thought could do the job (even though he had no direct industry experience) and him saying ‘yes’ immediately (phew!), I found somebody who could start exactly 4 weeks before I was leaving … remember, this is a business that COULD NOT POSSIBLY run without me, and here I was putting in ‘New Guy’ with only 4 weeks ‘training’!
Needless to say, he took over seamlessly, didn’t miss a beat, never called me about ANYTHING (bruised ego on my side!) and, not only did he keep the business running, keep the staff happy, and keep the clients equally happy, he damn well GREW the business!
In his favor, he did have Positions all neatly laid out and filled before he joined, and he did have a whole Operating Manual full of Systems that worked …
… and, in my favor, I had a business not a job! How do I know for sure?
Not too long after, I found a buyer …
How about you? Do you have a business or a glorified job?