What It Takes To Be Your Own Boss, Part Two

In our previous blog, we explored what it means to be a small-business owner and pointed out that it may take more than simply inventing a new product or service. Being successful in the business world often takes more than just a good idea–it takes determination and discipline to govern yourself. Thousands of small businesses fail every year, not because of an unmarketable product or a bad business plan, but because the habits of a business owner are not continually improving, challenging and propelling a business toward success.

Since it is not enough to simply want success, it is important to carefully consider personal habits and disciplines that may need to be implemented on a personal level, such as the following:

Discipline: The importance of discipline cannot be overstated. Every successful business owner has disciplined themselves, often against their natural inclination, to develop new skills and habits that will benefit their business. For you, this may mean waking an hour earlier, taking the time to learn something new or educating yourself about an important issue. Discipline is not a pleasant process, but making the effort will richly reward those who manage to change and improve the most difficult person in the world: themselves.

Schedule: Business owners of all types struggle with distraction. In an age where communication is constant, it is hard to turn work “off.” It can be extremely difficult to master the temptation to constantly check email or to work at home while watching TV, but these habits eventually lead to burn out and physical exhaustion. To ensure that you control your schedule, and not the other way around, take into account everything that needs to be done in a day, including family time, and put it into a daily calendar. Set work hours for yourself and have the discipline to walk away from a task that can wait until the next day. Remember, highly successful people are typically tightly scheduled people.

Personal Growth: Do you have a hobby? When launching or running a business, it can be easy to let hobbies, sports–even daily exercise–fly out of the window. With a well-managed schedule, even the busiest of people can find time to invest in themselves. In fact, taking time for personal growth can lead to growth on a professional level. To avoid mental exhaustion, schedule time for yourself in your daily calendar and have the discipline to stick with your plans.

To master any of the above habits, it requires time and effort. It may be difficult for a person who is already pouring heart and soul into a small business. Fortunately, these can be learned and improved over time. Personal experience proves to be one of the best teachers, and over time, you will find that it is worth the effort and struggle to be your own boss.


What It Takes To Be Your Own Boss, Part One

Do you want to start your own business? It’s a dearly-held aspect of the American dream, but few people manage to reach this goal. America has long been known as the land of dreamers, inventors and entrepreneurs, yet day after day, millions of people report to joyless, dead-end jobs. If you wish to break out of the daily grind and do whatever it is that you have been dreaming of, it may be time to determine if you can be your own boss.

What does it take to be your own boss? Before delving into the complex work of small-business ownership, it is imperative to identify several key factors. These will determine how to move forward with a plan for business ownership. It can be useful to ask yourself a few basic questions, such as the following:

  • What do I really want to do?
  • Is my product marketable?
  • Who will purchase my product or services?
  • Where can I obtain the financing needed to launch a business?

These are just some of the basic things that must be determined. The above list of questions does not include other initial steps that business owners must take, such as setting up a website or renting a store front. It is very tempting to be caught up in the emotion and promise of small-business ownership, while simultaneously overlooking some of the basic, if less-glamorous, details. Take care of the practical things first, laying a strong foundation for continued success.

If you talk to any successful business owner, one of the recurring themes that you will notice is not surprising: determination. Entrepreneurs face diversity every day, from being denied by an investor to a slow sales month. If you wish to truly be successful, it may come only after months or years of hard work and frustration. Only those who are truly committed and determined will make it to the other side of those hardships. After taking an honest inventory of the  practical parts of entrepreneurship, every would-be business owner must ask this question and answer it honestly: Do I have what it takes to be my own boss–no matter how long and hard the process may be?

Small-business is the backbone of the American economy, but it is not an easy path. Many people will never see their dream come to fruition, but if you have the desire and determination to reach your goals, it is possible. In our next post, we will take a closer look at some of the intangible character traits and daily habits of those who have seen great success with their small business. If you believe that you have a good idea and you possess the drive to see it come to life, stay tuned for more input on how to do what you love–and make money!



Organize Your Way To Better Productivity

Anyone who owns or operates a small business knows that success doesn’t come easy. While there are many tangibles that contribute to success, it is equally important to consider some of the intangible factors that may play a role in the longevity of a business. If tangibles include things such as a marketing plan, quality product or a good computer, then intangibles include things such as motivation, passion and….organization.

Organization is a skill that does not come naturally to everyone. Some people have a natural propensity for filing, labeling and maintaining an orderly work space, but others have to make an intentional effort to learn these skills. It can be as unnatural for an introvert to learn how to speak in front of a crowd as it is for some to learn organizational skills. While it can be a long and arduous process, learning to organize is worth the effort. Business owners, entrepreneurs and even the neighborhood soccer mom find that this is not just a new skill, but a discipline that affects every area of life.

Why is it important to learn this discipline? Simply put, it can make or break your business. Some business owners may assume that since they do not have a storefront, a customer will never know that their desk is piled high with messages and papers. While that may be true, it should be noted that a sharply organized owner/operator will be better prepared to answer, help and sell. If you go to bed feeling overwhelmed by your business or rarely have the expectation of finishing your work by the end of the day, it may be time to evaluate how organized you may be in some of the following areas:

  • Schedule: Even if you work exclusively from home, it is important that you have a designated start and stop time each day. Organize and plan every minute of your work, down to the 15 minutes you need to simply get settled at your desk before you open your email. A tightly organized schedule will increase productivity out of necessity and eventually, self-motivation.
  • Workspace: Do you have a desk or an office? Piles of papers, a full trash bin and other messes are distracting and demotivating. Even for a work-from-home entrepreneur, an organized workspace can give the impression of a “real office,” which in turn can be inspiring and refreshing for a person who does not have to leave the house to go to work.
  • Self: The small business owner should be organized at work and at home. It is virtually impossible to have a messy and disorganized home-life and step seamlessly into an orderly work environment. From managing time on social media to cleaning out the car, carefully evaluate the areas of  your personal life that may be dragging you down in your professional role.

Thankfully, organization is a teachable skill. With time, patience and the desire to increase productivity, it can prove to be one of the most valuable, and perhaps underrated, intangibles you need to succeed–at work and at home.


Resolutions For A New Business Year

Now that the holidays are over, people are beginning to pack up their holiday decorations and think about the new year. For many, this means tossing out the Christmas cookies and pledging to lose 15 pounds. For others, it means setting a personal goal to be more organized, read more, try new things or scores of other similar self-improvement promises. Many of these goals go unmet, perhaps because of a lack of discipline or unrealistic expectations.

While personal New Year’s resolutions may not ever come to fruition, it can be beneficial for a business owner to take the dawn of a new year as an opportunity to outline specific and attainable goals for the next twelve months. Entering 2015 with a list of goals is a simple but powerful way to get a running start in January. As the calendar rolls over, consider some, or all, of the following as suggested New Year’s resolutions for business:

  • We will meet the needs of our customers: What are your customers telling you? Find out where help is needed and meet that need. This may seem overly simplistic, but sometimes, it is useful to strip away unneeded complications and simply evaluate the real, tangible needs of clients.
  • We will evaluate our marketing strategy: Are you expecting different results while doing the same thing that has always been done? Make it a goal to closely and honestly evaluate every aspect of a marketing plan. Even a minor change can breathe life into a stagnant business.
  • We will try one new thing this year: Setting resolutions for the new year can motivate a business to step into new territory. Introducing a new product or getting a business on social media may be some basic, yet surprisingly effective, goals.
  • We will take steps to improve our product: Sometimes, it may be necessary to look to third-party experts for marketing improvement, search engine optimization (SEO) or even effective blogging strategies. Resolve to do whatever it takes to gain a competitive edge and make improvements–both existing and potential clients will notice.

This is the perfect time of year to reflect on what a business has accomplished in the past year. It is also an opportune time to determine how to capitalize on past success and continue to move forward. Fortunately, this is not something that must be done alone. Our company understands how to help businesses make attainable goals, prioritize these goals and do whatever it takes to succeed.

When a business owner, operator or manager is considering the new year ahead, it is important to outline goals. If making a New Year’s resolution is important on a personal level, imagine what a New Year’s resolution can do for a small business. Write it down, seek accountability or reach out for help. Unlike the new gym members who give up on their weight-loss resolutions in mid-February, it is possible to succeed in meeting these goals throughout the entire year, with the right help and motivation.