You created your business as a path to meaning and fulfillment and freedom to work on your terms. But you struggle to get a handle on your time, and you still feel as though you are constantly putting out fires. Everything revolves around you, and you already have too much on your plate. There’s no time to take the work you do and break it down into teachable tasks that can be delegated. At some point, you doubtless felt ready to escape for a while and take a vacation… but even on vacation, you just can’t get away. You have seen only limited rewards for your sacrifices and efforts that you’ve made as owner and feel isolated in that struggle. In the face of these challenges, any sense of fulfillment is diminished.
When your headspace is constantly filled with urgent tasks that are keeping a stranglehold on your vision and future plans, it can feel as though things (and you) will never change. There’s a bit of embarrassment that it’s come to feel normal that your company controls you and not the other way around.
You know you need to be strategic to grow the company and that building a more valuable company will be rewarding. Why is it so hard to shift your thinking?
None of the challenges we have discussed in these articles are unsurmountable, but making progress requires disciplined reflection and a willingness to spend days, even weeks or months, establishing new systems, processes and most importantly, a new mental shift.
Working in the old mindset, you haven’t had this kind of time available and you cannot see a possible future beyond the reality that you are currently trapped in.
You may also find the lines blurred between leadership and management. As a manager, the status quo is something to be maintained, i.e., management sustains the culture and thus the status quo. But the leader creates the culture. And leaders who understand culture and how it is informed by vision, values, and mission are the leaders who also interrupt the status quo and help the company re-orient to a path of building value.
Without stepping into transformational leadership, you can’t challenge the culture because you are managing it. But you’re the owner—by definition, the leader. How can you fully embrace your leadership potential?
Vulnerability Yields Results
You are working hard every day to keep the company growing, but you know you need to start turning your attention to building value and considering the future strategically. Getting into that headspace feels like a huge ask. You are uncomfortable with the level of vulnerability required. Beyond this, you may not know where to begin.
The idea of working with an outsider or business consultant probably feels alien to you, as it does to many business owners. You may have even worked with a consultant before, only to come away feeling as though you wasted your money.
More than that, it can feel terrifying to invite someone behind the curtain and into the spreadsheets and back offices of your company. It can also reveal a fear of being vulnerable or judged by another business professional. But it may be precisely what you need to get out of the owner’s trap and into building a more valuable company.
A Fresh Perspective
One of the key impacts of not being able to get into the right headspace is that you are keeping yourself in the owner’s trap longer than necessary.
You may feel the investment in a consultant or outside perspective is unnecessary and that you can find the information you need via other resources. You have not considered the value that comes with being held accountable by another individual. By not having that wing-person or eagle-eyed peer to give you a fresh perspective on your company, you will continue repeating the same patterns that got you here.
What you also likely do not see, especially when you are learning information independently, is just how many people trying to do the same thing fail. There are countless online courses, systems and self-service models of business consultancy and the metrics reveal they simply do not work. Accountability matters. You’re not in this alone anymore with an accountability partner on your side.
The worst impact of this is how it affects your wellbeing and potential for happiness and fulfillment. Look at it this way: when anything you own appreciates in value, you feel good about it. You want your home to appreciate, your portfolio, maybe any collectibles you have. You may not want to sell now, but knowing that they are rising in value is a rewarding feeling.
It’s the same thing for your company. Why deny yourself that same rewarding feeling? Even if you have no intentions of selling your company, you are keeping that good feeling at bay, the rewarding sense of knowing that your efforts have increased the value of something you care deeply about.
In the old mindset, you obsessed about the bottom line. Managers are measured and incentivized by a focus on top-line revenue, cost of goods sold, and bottom-line profit. These are aspects of a valuable company, but alone they don’t determine the value of your company. The value of your company goes beyond the money you earn. A valuable company is successful financially, but just as importantly can run and thrive with increasingly less intervention from the owner.
The ultimate prize for a business owner is a more rewarding, fulfilling and valuable company.