It's a holiday weekend and I must admit I am extremely jealous of all the office folk who left their offices early today to get started on a nice, long holiday weekend. I am not only open late today, but working the entire weekend. Monday is a holiday and out of habit I will probably work on Monday as well.
When I worked for someone else, I was one of those people racing to get out the door by 3pm on a holiday weekend. I also had no qualms about not actually doing any work and relaxing on a long weekend. Now that I work for myself and my income depends solely on my efforts, even taking a few hours off causes me great anxiety. I'm constantly stressed that if I stop to relax for even a bit my marketing and sales efforts will fall behind.
In my former life as an employee, I felt like I was living my life for the one or two vacations I took per year. Those were some of the only times I felt relaxed or like myself. Now, every day I feel like myself and feel like I'm doing work that makes me very happy and fulfilled, but it's impossible for me to shut down and relax.
If you've gone from employee to business owner, how do you relax when there's no longer a clock?
Sometimes one of the hardest things in having a business is knowing where you want to go. It sounds like it should be easy. You want a successful business, right? Isn't that where you want to go? Well, that's not specific enough.
The day to day running of a business takes so much time and energy that it's easy to forget about big picture planning. So much time has to be spent on just getting the business to survive and thrive. Once a month, sit down and pick specific, measurable goals for your business based on a long term picture. For example, if your goal is to expand within three years by moving into a larger space or opening another location and hiring more employees, maybe one of your monthly measurable goals is to figure out how much money it's going to cost to open a second location. Next month you could research potential locations and customer base. Over time, you'll discover that you've taken a number of important steps toward your long term goal without even realizing it. You'll be well on your way to opening that second location in no time.
I went to a great event last night at Benjamin's Desk, the co-working space in Center City. Hosted by Rayce Rollins and Nehemiah Davis, Food & Founders showcased guest speaker Justin Rosenberg, Founder & CEO of Honeygrow.
If you're in a food business, or interested in starting a food business, it's inspiring and helpful to hear stories from others that have been in the trenches. Rosenberg recounted his story of starting out in a boring finance job and developing a vision for a fresh, quick food business that eventually became Honeygrow. It wasn't easy, Rosenberg worked his tail off on weekends under a chef in D.C. after a long week of toiling away at his day job. He went through a lot of rejection before he managed to find financial backing.
The first Honeygrow location opened in 2012 and a second location shortly thereafter. His business continues to grow and more locations are planned. When asked what he wish he knew when he first started, Rosenberg stressed that the most important part of his business is in its systems. Though he had an extremely comprehensive business plan worked out and knew he wanted a beautiful restaurant, it was the systems in his business that made all the difference.
If you've ever read the E-Myth Revisited, you know that a key to setting up a business with longevity is to set it up similar to a franchise. And what's key to a franchise? Systems! The business can be replicated without its owner because it has very tight systems in place.
If you're running a business, or thinking about starting one, think about your systems. What needs to happen for your business to run smoothly? Talk to as many other business owners as you can for tips and inspiration.
It's Small Business Week! What are you doing to celebrate small business? Have a small business success story to share? Email us to be highlighted in our small business success stories!
Why can't that be me? Every business owner has moments of envy upon hearing of someone else's business success. Why didn't my product get picked up in that store? Why didn't I get that press? All of these are totally normal thoughts when you run your own business and hear about another business owner's success.
If you're not careful, these feelings can start to de-rail your path. You might start second-guessing your offerings, target market or website. It's hard, but stick to your core strengths and products if they are solid. If you're truly in a funk, it's time to bring in a neutral party to give you some honest feedback and determine if you're just stuck in a funk or maybe your business does need tweaking. The important thing is to acknowledge that some business envy is totally normal. What's not normal is totally changing up your business to emulate a different one that may temporarily be more successful. Each business is unique based on the peculiar combination of strengths and attributes of its owner. Authenticity is important, so next time you get green eyed over someone else's success, just remember to remain true to your vision and plan.
When I worked for someone else, all I desperately wanted was to have my own business. I wanted total control over my life, my earning potential and my schedule. I figured I was a smart person, I had a great education and supportive family and friends. Certainly I could run my own business.
When I started my first business four years ago, I was still working full time and had a full time lawyer salary to fall back on. Many times it's advantageous to start a business while employed full time, especially if capital is scarce. However, I found that I tended to not stress about certain things as much as I should have because I had my salary safety net. Now that I no longer have that safety net (and haven't had one for several years), I realize how totally naive I was about what it took to not just start, but to keep a business going and make it profitable. In some ways I think you have to be naive because maybe if you knew what was ahead you'd never open a business. That would be a shame because I think starting and running a business is one of the most humbling and personally transformative experiences one can have aside from having children. So, what's my point? Lately I've been thinking about how naive I was four years ago compared to what I know now. What are the top things that I've learned, my top 10 OMG Small Business Moments:
Sarah E. Holmes is a Philadelphia business attorney and strategist that helps start ups and established businesses looking to expand, protect their assets and increase their profits in an approachable, down-to-earth way.