I was a musician and started in bands, mostly self-employed, from 17. I never did really understand working for someone else, until I was a lot older.
But most people begin work as an employee. Then they decide to start a business. Helping Kathy, I’ve noticed some interesting problems that crop up, coming out of very deep psychology, and also from background.
One of those problems is an almost unnoticed tendency to stop after a task and say, “Now I’m done.” Another related problem is to often feel overwhelmed. I got to wondering about that.
Think about working a job, being an employee. You always have a manger telling you what to do. So although you may have a job description, your day is task-oriented. When you complete this, you’re done. Then go do the next task.
What about when you’re the sole owner, though? Let’s say you make shirts. If this were your job, that’s all you’d do—make shirts, day in and day out. At the end of each day, you’re done. Then you go home. In some cases you might possibly give a passing thought to the shirts, but mostly, you’re done.
On the other hand, this is your business now. So you make some shirts. Are you done? No, now you have to start your next job—working in the mailroom. You’ve got to package, label, and prepare the shirts to mail. Are you done? Nope. After you’ve handled transportation to the delivery carrier, you have to be an accountant.
You have clients who need to be reminded about payment, and there’s the daily bookkeeping. Then you’ve got marketing and advertising. You have inventory you have to check.
Then you’ve got warehousing. Do you have enough material to make more shirts? When you worked for a boss, all you had to do was report that, “Hey, we’re about out of material.” Someone else would handle ordering it.
Then there are issues of what happens when you go to buy more raw materials and they don’t show up. Maybe the order’s late, or the company stopped making that line of fabric: What then?
Anyone who’s worked a job for any length of time is going to get caught in this “Okay, now I’m done” mentality. You’re NEVER done! The only way you can be done, when you’re running your own business, is to quit, die, sell the business for millions, or to go bankrupt.
All you can really do is to say, “I think I’m caught up for the moment. Maybe.”
Think of starting a business somewhat like a life-changing trauma, like losing a limb, going blind, or being paralyzed. It takes some time and real therapy to come to terms with the idea that this is the way it’s now going to be for the rest of your life!
Not many people can do that, so they become bitter, or feel overwhelmed, or feel stressed all the time. Isn’t that similar to being an entrepreneur? And yet, running your own business is supposed to be fun!
I think a problem is this accidental belief that when you’ve finished a particular task, you’re “done.” No, you’re not. You’re just caught up at the moment. Instead of doing one job really well, boring as it may get, you have an entire job description for each part of the business.
How could you get caught up in any of them, when you used to spend whole days just staying ahead on a single job?
Think about how often you “feel” as if you’re done, then you get upset because some other damn order comes in! Sheesh, now you have to interrupt your play time to worry about whether or not you’ll get it out in time, whether the customer will like it, what about the quality, and all sorts of things.
There you thought you were done, and suddenly…you’re not! But when you get back from the post office, you might be caught up a bit. Right?