Are you an entrepreneur that feels stuck?

If you are an entrepreneur that feels stuck or is in daily business pain.  This blog is about and for you.

I have a test lab.  It consists of 20+ years of consulting practice and 100+ projects.  I’ve organized my findings about entrepreneurs into three stages:  Determination, Delusion, and Personal Growth.

STAGE I Determination.  Let’s face it, if you knew how tough this was going to be before you started the business, you’d probably be working for someone else right now.  But that train left the station and here you are.  You have customers.  You want and need more customers.  You’ve hired people and you have payroll.  You’re still working in the business.  Maybe you understand the finance of the business, but more likely you only have time to keep track of the money coming in and going out every month.  In this stage, your customers are buying YOU, not the company.  Let me emphasize, they buy from your company because of YOU. (Which means that they call YOU when there is a problem.) Vacation?  Ha.  You’re never really on vacation because you need to be connected via phone and email to keep things running.  This is all normal.  It exciting and exhausting and it is now part of your identity.  You are a business owner.  And it’s not a sustainable life balance.  You probably lose sleep, precious time with your family, and/or question if this is worth it.  Getting a real job sounds like a good/bad idea-depending on the day.

STAGE II Delusion.  You’re still working at it.  You have more customers and more people and a bigger payroll.  Your customers know members of the team and will call them for help.  As a business owner, you are probably selling services that you don’t deliver.  Growth!  Good!  When will this get easier?  Why has my company hit a plateau?  Why did my last three hires not work out?  Process, procedure and accountability are little more than words used to guide the quality of the work.  Core values is a forgotten list on your website.  You are managing the day-to-day as people come into your office several times an hour, to ask a quick question.  It’s no fun.  You remember the days of building, doing and being in the trenches.  The slog of serving customers (Determination) looks better than the management structure that is sort of in place.  You think that you can use brute force to get this company to the next level. You’re delusional.  Let’s cut to the chase-it doesn’t work, it simply prolongs the pain and limits everyone’s success.  

STAGE III Personal Growth.  In order to move beyond an entrepreneur-operated business to an entrepreneur-led business, YOU have to evolve.  You need to establish a system that actually removes you from managing the day-to-day and guarantees that service will be delivered the way you want.  How will you do that?  Core values combined with true accountability across the team. If you thought Determination and Delusion were hard, get ready for the real work. Your personal growth is about primarily about holding yourself accountable to empower your team.  When you commit to it, your team, the business and you thrive.

The bottom line is that if you commit to leading through core values and accountability, you will have tangible results within a year.  If you continue on the path, not only will have the time to work on the business, you’ll be able a to take real vacation.

What stage are you in today?  

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Shelley is a co-founder of re. With many moons of marketing research, strategic planning and consulting experience, her curiosity and inventive thinking translate to creative, practical, growth strategies.

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