How to Run Your Business (and Prevent Your Business From Running You)

Starting your own business is exhilarating. You can find a lot more passion, a lot more fire for the work you do every day when it’s your own ideas driving the company. You can implement things the way you best see fit, and then you know you have no one to blame but yourself if something goes wrong.

But time’s always a factor, isn’t it? Businesses—especially startups—require a lot of work, but at the same time, to stay successful, you have to focus on the work you’re doing for your customers. How do you organize the chaos?

We’ll analyze this Catch-22 a little bit over time, but for now, let’s look at some areas where things go wrong in a startup.

The Three Types of Employees

Michael Gerber wrote a book called The E-Myth, and in it, he talks about the three different types of employees who work in businesses:

  1. The Technician, who has performed a trade for most of his or her professional life and decides he or she wants to do it for him or herself.
  2. The Entrepreneur, who had a wild vision and ran with it. The dreamer. Who lives in the future.
  3. The Manager, who organizes chaos caused by either of the other two. Who lives in the past.

In short, chaos is created in one way or another. Either the technician decides to focus simply on doing the work and not running the business, or the entrepreneur decides to focus on running the business and doesn’t do much with the work that needs done. In either case, the manager can only manage so much. So young startups tend to fall apart because they don’t know how to juggle both.

Run Your Business

What Goes Wrong

It’s not just generally ignoring one aspect of the business or the other that dooms a startup, though. Ask yourself these questions, and think about what you’re focusing on.

  • What am I doing? It’s the short way of asking yourself where you stand in the above scenario. Are you just doing work and hoping your company’s books work themselves out? Figure out where you are, first, then start making changes.
  • Am I ignoring my business goals? You know, the goals you put down when you started the business? The goals you told yourself you had to reach in order to be successful? Do you know where you are in relation to them? Ignoring your goals is a sure way to send your company down the drain. You should check your goals daily.
  • Is the business being steered? Businesses aren’t planes—they don’t have an autopilot. If you aren’t steering it in the direction you need to take it, then you aren’t going to end up where you want to be. You need to decide the direction, then catch the wind and make it happen. Don’t just hope that it happens itself.

Analyze these questions. In future posts, we’ll look further into finding ways to balance doing work versus running the business, and help you find the balance you need to make sure your small business is successful.