I don’t know of anyone who after working traditional employment automatically thinks like a business owner. And while setting your intention is essential, there is still an unlearning curve. That punching a clock, 9 to 5 workday or expectation of having a consistent paycheck is gone. For many, this makes them feel like a fish out of water.
What has to be unlearned is:
Having a set schedule. In traditional employment, full time is a 30 to 40-hour workweek. Usually, this is broken down into 6 to 8 hour days with two 15-minute breaks and one hour for lunch. Of course, the workload may necessitate additional hours, but on paper, this is the norm. Unless you are out sick or traveling for business, you have this schedule. When you own your business, however, your work schedule is more erratic. While others were getting a good night sleep, I was up all night making sure every i was dotted and t was crossed with my product or service. It was quite an adjustment. You work or think about working all the time. This can be very hard for your family and friends to understand.
In traditional employment, work tasks tend to be more specialized. You have HR, Accounting, Payroll as separate departments within the larger organization. But when you work for yourself, not only is your focus the services or products that you provide, but you have to be all the departments. Do It Yourself was my mantra. I was the Hiring Manager who had to put job descriptions together, post them to online job sites, and conduct the interviews. I also was the Bookkeeper. Not only was I doing my company’s books but provided administrative and bookkeeping services to my clients as well. I, like many business owners, did not have accounting software for my company though my clients were using Quickbooks. I soon learned that spreadsheets got more complicated and receipts mounted in a shoebox until tax time. It became very overwhelming. When you own your business it is critical that you unlearn trying to do everything. Hiring an assistant to perform the bookkeeping for the company’s clients was the best thing I could have done.
I did the math. Instead of thinking solely about how much it would cost to have an employee, I weighed out how much it would benefit me and my business for me to be able to focus on running it. With that breathing space, I was able to secure two more clients. You have to start thinking about what your time is worth and how to best leverage it. You have to do the math. Sure, it felt a little tight at first, but, I was able to reach out to potential clients and turn them into customers. I would not have recognized the opportunity had I remained distracted by all that I had to do.
When you are an employee, the work is given to you or assigned to you. When you are a business owner, you have to go out and get the work yourself. If you don’t, you won’t make any money. This is a challenge! As employees, we are conditioned to wait for the work to come to us. We aren’t expected to go out and get the money unless we are part of the Sales Department or the Salesforce. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to focus on creative tasks instead of revenue generating tasks. Who’d rather make a cold call or complete a Statement of Work over decorating your office or selecting your color scheme for your business cards and website? Not many.
Last but certainly not least, one has to unlearn working in a controlled environment and learn to mitigate distractions. Without fail, as soon as I’d focus on the task at hand, a family member or friend would call and want to talk. Distractions are worse for home-based businesses. Clothes in the laundry basket beckon to you to stop and fold them. Television becomes your companion so you don’t feel so alone or things aren’t so quiet. Your husband and children come home and unapologetically interrupt.
The sooner you set your intention and put together a well thought out plan, the better off you will be. Otherwise, you will defer to what’s most familiar.