You already know that being an entrepreneur is a lot of work. The dream of being your own boss is often overshadowed by the fact that, oh yeah, you have to be the boss.
“Being your own boss” sounds great, but often it’s a drag and can suck all the fun out of the business you thought you were starting.
So many entrepreneurs, especially creative entrepreneurs, just want to make the things they sell or do the work that the entire business revolves around.
But as many come to find out, the amount of work that goes into the company you are trying to build can overthrow your creativity and stifle your interest in entrepreneurship quickly.
Nobody signs up for business because they want to do accounting, and if they do, it is because they are starting an accounting firm.
The rest of us just want to do our work in the world and let someone else take care of the other stuff.
Which brings me the most important advice you’ll ever receive as an entrepreneur: how to balance being the boss and the employee in your company.
1. Being the boss
Before you were an employee in your company, you were the boss. Good news: unless you hire someone to run your company, you’ll always be the boss.
Don’t laugh, people do this all the time.
Not all entrepreneurs are cut out to be CEOs and not all want to be. If you’d rather just do the creative parts of your job, it’s perfectly acceptable to outsource the rest.
But when you are just starting out, you’ll need to learn the ropes of your company before you can pass it off to someone else, which means you need to learn to be the boss first.
Being the boss is not as hard as you might think, except that your entrepreneurial brain is focused on doing the other kinds of work. You just need to find the value in learning to do things like organizing your time, books, appointments, and deliveries.
Logistics aren’t sexy, but neither is a business that is sinking and drowning in debt.
Figuring these things out will help you make the most of your time and ensure that you do have more time for the creative side of your business.
Being the boss means you expect things from your employees. Since you are, at present, the only employee, that means you need to both expect yourself to show up and then actually show up (as the employee). But it means holding yourself accountable for the work you do as well.
So many people think working from home is where it’s at, but then find they can’t get the motivation to do the work they have been dreaming about since they were 12 years old.
When your time is suddenly your own, it’s difficult to get a grip on it. You are not alone.
Just remember that your boss expects you to show up (and she does!) and that you are responsible for ensuring the work of the company gets done.
The boss doesn’t do the work. The boss runs the company.
2. Being the employee
It’s important to differentiate how you run your company with how you work in your company. If you think it might be helpful, make a job description for the version of you that is the employee.
Write it as if you were going to be hiring for that position because you might just do that someday and all that hard work will be done for you when the time comes.
The boss writes the job description. The employee follows through with it.
However, you decide to divide your time – you’re an adult. We are not going to tell you how to manage your time. Just make sure you have some dedicated time to do the employee’s work and the boss’s work. Some entrepreneurs like to have dedicated days for certain things.
For instance, on Tuesdays, business development happens (the employee may be responsible for this), and on Thursdays, bookkeeping happens (the boss may be responsible for this).
It is important that you are clear about who does what so that you can train your brain to think in that role in a way that serves you.
If you bounce between projects and running your business, your brain won’t be able to differentiate and will end up making you feel overwhelmed even more than you already are.
If your brain knows that on Wednesdays you meet with clients, it’ll prime you for those meetings so you can bring the best version of your employee.
If you keep putting off those meetings because the boss version of you didn’t get the bookkeeping done, well you won’t be a very effective employee.
3. Wearing more than two hats
Of course, every entrepreneur can tell you that being a business owner means you need to wear more than just the two hats mentioned here.
You’ll be so much more than a boss and an employee. It’s more like you need to be the boss and 50 employees, depending on what kind of business you run.
If you run a small side hustle or you are a contractor and don’t see yourself as an entrepreneur, it may be helpful for you to start thinking of yourself that way.
Realizing that there is more to business ownership than just delivering the goods to clients will help you craft the jobs that need to be done and get clear on how you can use your time.
As well, you can always opt to outsource the parts of your business that are not of interest to you, much the same way you can eventually hire someone to run your company.
A lot of business owners just want to benefit from the profits and not have anything to do with the running of the company.
It might take several years to build your business to the point where it can run itself, but it’s worth the effort.
Learning to balance your time to be the boss and the employee will take practice, but don’t sweat the small stuff and you’ll be on your way to figuring out how to wear all the hats necessary for success.
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John Packham writes about business and entrepreneurship.