Be a Good Boss… to Yourself!

I have a pal who always dreamed of being his own boss. An architect, he worked for large firms drafting blueprints, sitting in on boring client meetings, working late, but always wanting something more. Yet, with a young family, and not a lot of money, his self-employment dream seemed to be just that.

Then about two years ago he was unceremoniously fired, or, as his manager put it, he was just “another victim of the downturn in the economy.”

But his loss was also his gain. He had some room on his credit cards, an uncle who was willing to take a risk and lend him a little money, a few potential clients, and a very understanding spouse, so he finally was able to start his own business.

Almost from the start, he was successful. The few clients turned into many and he was quickly very busy. Indeed, as a self-employed entrepreneur, he was also the firm’s accountant, receptionist, chief architect, and marketing wizard. Working 60 hours a week became the norm. He started to miss school plays and stopped going on vacation. He worked every weekend. Soon, being a small business owner had become a ball and chain and not the pair of wings he expected.

Last week, maybe not surprisingly, he shuttered the doors and went back to work for the man.

Far too many small business owners fall into the same trap. While they are happy to leave the corporate world and strike out on their own, they end up working for a boss who is far more demanding than their old boss – themselves.

And it is unnecessary. Not required. There are plenty of ways to run a business, grow it, make money, and still have time for everything else.

For instance, I know of another entrepreneur who created a very successful venture using nothing but interns. Unwilling to do all the work himself, and unable to afford the labor costs his startup required, he created a great internship program and everyone benefited – the interns, his clients, his business, and his family too. He didn’t do everything himself and didn’t even try to.

Or what about tapping into the incredible wealth of technological tools and software available these days? Our friends here at Concur Breeze for example have a great expense reporting product that saves time and money. There are plenty of other software options for other parts of your business.

Being smart in your business can also just be a matter of prioritizing properly. If the 80-20 Rule is true (and I do think it is) then only 20% of your efforts create 80% of your results. That leaves plenty of time to take care of the minutiae and sneak away and get a round of golf in.

So go ahead, it’s OK, be a good boss – to yourself.

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