02 Dec Not Running Your Business Like an Entrepreneur May Be Hurting You
Photo Credit: Spencer Brown
It goes without saying that America is a great place to start a business. The freedom we have to turn a dream business into a reality is rivaled by only a handful of countries. You may have had a lifelong passion to start a business and feel you’ve saved enough money to leave your corporate job. Maybe you see a need in the market that’s not being fulfilled and you can’t sleep at night because you feel like you have to fill the void. Or maybe you just don’t like that your boss wears polka dot shirts on Fridays and enough is enough.
Whatever your reasons are for starting a business (and they could be endless), many of you started your business as an existing professional in your field. You earned an accounting degree, got your CPA, worked at a firm for several years, and decided to embark on your own. You went to medical school, finished your residency, worked at a practice for years, and now you’re going solo. The same goes for all of you architects, engineers, chiropractors, dentists, chefs, etc. out there.
While you may already be a professional, starting a business and taking the associated risks also require you to be an entrepreneur at some level. You may not readily identify as one, but you are. Leaving a safe job with benefits, consistent salary, and a “known environment” to something far less certain makes you one. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. As a “professional” entrepreneur myself, I want you to encourage you that regardless of how long you’ve been in business, keep thinking like an entrepreneur.
So, here are four best practices to thinking and running your business with an entrepreneurial mindset:
1. An entrepreneur constantly asks “Why”?
Most industries and professions have a set way of doing things. Typically, it’s how they have become successful. But as companies grow, the entrepreneurial drive that often got them there tends to fade. We might be afraid to try something because it’s never been done that way before. For example, our industry has always billed hourly for services. Our on-the-job experience taught us that business owners liked consistency, like a consistent bill, so why not charge them the same amount each month? Making such a simple change has allowed them to see us as a trusted advisor, not someone who bills them for every interaction.
2. An entrepreneur embraces change, even if reluctantly.
You’ve heard the saying, “Change is here to stay.” That’s probably never been more true than today. Whether it’s because of the technological revolution, multi-generational workforces, an uncertain economy, or just the need to be relevant, we must evaluate new ways of doing things. For several years, we used the accounting software QuickBooks on a desktop platform hosted in the cloud. We heard from QuickBooks that their online solution was a better way to operate and that we should consider moving our Partners. Moving companies to a different platform (regardless of how similar it is) can be a little risky. However, we believed that it was the best long term solution for our Partners, as well as our team. We’ve made the move over the last year and we haven’t looked back.
3. An entrepreneur utilizes technology for a purpose.
Over the last 10 or so years, I think it’s safe to say that the technology landscape has changed more so than ever before in existence. But we aren’t talking about using technology for technology’s sake, we’re talking about utilizing technology for a purpose. For example, we have quite a few young mothers on our team. These incredibly talented moms also have a lot to offer companies like Two Roads, but they don’t want to miss out on soccer games or picking up the kids from school. Moving to the cloud has allowed our team to be able to work remotely as well as have a flexible work schedule. They are able to get the necessary work done but without missing out on the most important things in life.
4. An entrepreneur sees the importance of working ON the business in addition to working IN the business.
Working on the business: Spinning plates, juggling balls, and balancing frying pans. These adages aptly describe most small businesses. There is so much to do and never enough time, people, or resources to get it all done. You find yourself constantly working in the business, extinguishing the latest fire, and you never find time to actually work on your business. Working on the business is the action whereby you remove yourself from the day to day grind, unplug from accessibility (like from email and phone), and take some time to reflect. I recommend taking several hours each week and make yourself unavailable. Use this creative space as a way to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. Think about what your vision is and where you want to go and strategically plan what steps you will need to take to get to where you want to go. Most importantly, you’ll need to put a plan in place to make it happen. For me, working on the business is the highlight of each week.
In short, running your business with an entrepreneurial mindset might be your greatest asset. In my next post, I’ll give you some personal examples of how we’ve implemented this perspective and how it’s helped transform Two Roads.