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Are You Running Your Business or Is Your Business Running You?

Aug 2020

Have your dreams of working poolside in Mexico vanished under the pressure of sales calls, business meetings, invoicing, and client work?

Do you feel like you’re constantly playing catch up on everything from your inbox to your marketing and all the other things that you want to do with your business?

Did you leave your 9-to-5 only to end up with a 24/7?

I hate to break it to you, but it sounds like your business is running you, rather than the other way around.

Naturally, building a business requires a lot of long days and sacrifices. But if all your hard work isn’t paying off, then you might need to change your approach. Here are some key signs that your business isn’t sustainable and what you can do about it.

You’re not paying yourself first.

When you’re the owner of a business, you wear two hats: one as the CEO and the other as an investor in the business. And you should be fairly compensated for performing each of those roles. Sure, in the early days, you might need to go without to make ends meet. But once your company has established itself, it’s time to pay yourself at least a baseline income.

So what should you be making? A good rule of thumb is that whatever profit targets you set for the year – say between 5% and 10% or even 20% for a good business – you should try and reinvest half of that profit into activities that will grow the business. But the other half should go to it’s primary investor: you.

You’re doing everything yourself.

While you might’ve been doing it all in the beginning, as your business grows, you will need to get some of those lower skilled tasks off of your plate.

“But Wins, I don’t have the money to hire someone to help!”

Businesswoman working alone

My answer to that is another question: how much is your time worth? Because if you find yourself doing $10 tasks when you’re running a six- or seven-figure business, you probably need to rethink your priorities.

Tasks like cold calling, talking to unqualified prospects, doing expense reports, or scheduling social media can all be outsourced so you can focus on what matters most – growing your business, making more money, and giving yourself more creative freedom.

You’re not getting honest feedback.

Do you have someone in your life who will tell it like it is? Who will give you honest, no-holds-barred feedback on your business ideas?

I see it time and time again. Business owners spending all of their time and money developing a new product or service idea that their friends and family thought was great, only to hear crickets when the offering actually launches.

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or have been around the block, it’s important to get the support of a business coach or mastermind group who will tell you the truth when you need to hear it most.

You’re physically and mentally burnt out.

If you’re running yourself ragged and are in a constant state of overwhelm, that’s a pretty big sign that things need to change – and fast.

Society makes us believe that we can only be successful if we work incredibly long hours, and “sacrifice” our health, our personal time, and our relationships. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Are you really successful if it costs you your wellbeing?

While running a business can certainly take up a lot of one’s time and energy, it’s still important that you continue to make space in your calendar for your friends, family, personal hobbies, as well as your physical and mental health.

You’re a slave to your clients.

Of course, you want to keep your clients happy, but you also need to take care of yourself. If you find yourself taking work calls on weekends and responding to emails late into the night, then it might be time to lay down the law.

At the bare minimum, you need to make sure your working hours, project timelines and deliverables are crystal clear. Before starting a project, meet with your client, either virtually or in-person, and set expectations: what you need from them and when, and why that’s relevant for the project’s success.

Once a client understands how your success will directly lead to their success, they’ll be more likely to play along and help you get your job done right.

You’re taking on a hundred different small, short-term gigs.

Hey, a gig is a gig, right? Wrong. If you’re running around taking on a hundred little small jobs all at once for peanuts, then you’re definitely not in control of your business. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but you need to charge what your worth. Not just because you’re worth it (because you are), but because it’s the key to building a sustainable business.

Whatever service you offer, there will always be those who charge less and those who charge more. In fact, the range of prices may be extensive. But if you want to charge what you’re worth, you need to be willing to turn potential clients down who do not fit into this category.

While this might be challenging at first, you’ll be better off ditching the cheapskates for high-ticket clients who really appreciate your offering and are willing to pay for it.

You’re not sure where you should be spending your time and energy.

Do you feel like you have all these ideas and all these things you want to create, but you’re just not getting results even though you’re busy? You need to make time to work on things like business strategy, finding new clients and marketing. These things are essential to growing your business.

If you find that these tasks are falling to the wayside, it’s time to stop, analyze, and intelligently systematize your business. First things first, you’ll want to document all of your processes. Once you have documented all your processes, study them carefully.

  • Are there any bottlenecks or delays?
  • Is there only one person who knows how to complete a certain process?
  • Is it a purely manual process?
  • Is there a customer-impacting issue?

These are all areas that will need improvement. After this, you’ll want to list your manual processes in order of priority and see which ones can be automated or outsourced.

Ultimately, you got into business for yourself for the benefits: the flexibility, creative freedom, earning potential, career satisfaction. But if you aren’t careful, all of those things can turn into a double-edged sword. You won’t grant yourself any flexibility, you’ll hesitate to exercise creative freedom, you’ll be too scared to explore your earning potential, and as a result, you’ll be left right back where you started: without much career satisfaction.

Don’t do that to yourself. Take your power back! Grow. Be creative. You’ll love your business more – and everyone else will too.

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