A Publication of WTVP

Let me take you back to a time when entrepreneurial dreams were running wild through your head. A time when starting your own business meant you could be your own boss, make more money, and gain more freedom. You knew it would be hard work in the beginning, but your success would bring you riches. Luxury vacations with warm sandy beaches and tropical drinks would be in your future, right? By now reality has probably altered that vision.

Let me ask you a couple of revealing questions. If you had to leave your business for an extended period of time, say a couple of months, would you come back to a business that's still running smoothly and profitably? How about if you left for two weeks? If your answer was anything other than "yes," you probably haven't created a business; you've created a glorified job for yourself. You've become a prisoner of your own success.

The good news is you aren't alone. As you know, small business owners are among the hardest working people in the world, but to obtain sustained growth, you have to adopt a strategic mindset. As a strategic business owner, your primary aim should be to develop a self-managing and systems-orientated business that still runs predictably and profitably while you aren't there. This allows you to work on your business instead of being stuck in your business.

Where do you start? The first step is to stop acting like an employee and start thinking like a CEO. Start transitioning to a new way of thinking and behaving by reprogramming yourself and your habits. Stop micromanaging, and delegate. Start reducing the amount of time you spend involved in the daily transactions of your business. That's why you have employees.

The next step is to implement systems and procedures into your business that ensure daily tasks are completed correctly. All current systems and procedures need to be evaluated based on results and updated as needed. In addition, documentation for all procedures, policies, and systems need to be created to have a reference for employees and new trainees. Another good practice is to cross-train your employees before the need arises-not after the panic has set in. Trust your employees. If you can't trust your employees to complete the daily tasks and act in the best interest of the company, then maybe they shouldn't be employees. In the long run, the more hands-off you can be, the more time you'll have to work on the big picture.

The bottom line is you should run your business; it shouldn't run you, your family, or your life. The object is to have a systems-dependent business-not an owner-dependent business. Some of these concepts are very challenging for owners and will take time to transition. However, less time spent working in your business means more time to regain that entrepreneurial spirit. IBI