I grew up working in my parents’ animal hospital. And I vividly remember the day my dad turned to me in frustration and said, “You know, they taught me how to be a terrific doctor in vet school, but didn’t teach me anything about running my own clinic!”
Let’s face it, most entrepreneurs—myself included—start out doing something we know or something we love. But that doesn’t mean we know a thing about running or growing a business.
Worse, much of what we hear about running a business before we start is just plain wrong. Below are five pieces of advice that took me 12 years and four businesses to recognize as the vicious lies they truly are…
Lie # 1 – If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.
My mom was soooooo wrong about this! Sure, in the beginning you might have more time than money and need to do a lot yourself. But the way to be successful—and have a life—is to outsource strategically, ASAP.
My rule is to outsource:
- Anything important that sits on your to-do list for over three weeks.
- Anything you don’t do well or hate doing.
- Anything someone else can do cheaper.
You may think you can’t afford outsourcing. But if you outsource wisely, and spend your newfound time on tasks that grow your business, you’ll make more money AND work less (woohoo!).
Lie # 2 – You have to give up your life to grow a small business.
Many of us start our businesses with the dream of creating a better life…only to find ourselves chained to the business working 50-60-79 hours a week. If you start out with this mindset, you’ll end up creating a business that requires you to work all the time with no end in sight.
It’s true you may need to work long hours sometimes—especially in the beginning. But working yourself to the bone day in and day out is a recipe for burnout. Instead you need a plan for getting yourself out of that trap ASAP (See Lie # 1 for ideas).
Lie # 3 – Once you have a small business you can never take a vacation.
Again, my mom had this all wrong. Three years into my third business I took my first 10-day, totally unplugged vacation. And I was terrified my business would suffer. Instead I had more client work when I returned than when I’d left. Plus I was reenergized and bursting with new ideas.
Staying in “putting out fires mode” isn’t the way to grow your business. If you truly want to move your business forward you have to step away periodically to regroup and recharge. You NEED to take vacations, get away from it all, gain a fresh perspective and give yourself a chance to think.
Lie # 4 – Your business will always suffer like the cobbler’s shoeless children.
When I owned my copywriting/marketing firm, I almost never had time to do my own marketing. So while I was terrific at helping my clients grow their businesses, mine was stagnating.
Eventually I changed my business model and stopped writing copy for clients so I could focus on growing my business. What a difference that made! Soon I’d doubled my revenues and hired other writers to help me.
You need to treat your business like any other client, and schedule time to work on it each week, or you’ll end up always working in it.
Lie # 5 – Being self-employed is the same as owning a business.
Bull*%$#! Owning a business and being self-employed are two entirely different things. When you own a business, you make money even when you’re not working. And you can go on vacation or take sick days without everything grinding to a halt.
When you’re self-employed, if you aren’t working nothing happens and you don’t make a dime. Plus you typically end up trading one or two bosses for a bunch of bosses disguised as clients.
It’s more fun, and more secure, to own a business than it is to be self-employed—even if it does take more planning and effort to get there.