How to Be A Business Owner

Coaching is secondary. Business is first. Learn how to be an owner, not just a technician or manager, for business success.

Providing any product or service requires subject expertise, but running a successful business requires business expertise. It is not enough to be an excellent technician in your field. If you own a business that provides a service—like coaching—you must recognize that you are a business owner, first and foremost. Your technical expertise will make the service excellent, but you must develop your business skills to grow and maintain a healthy and profitable business.

The E-Myth Revisited is a great book that explores this idea. Many people become experts in creating a product or providing a service. Friends and family love what this person does and encourage them to start their own part- or full-time business, but many of these businesses end up failing. Why?

The common problem is that a successful business requires more than just technical expertise in the product or service it offers. It needs expertise in accounting, budgeting, funding, marketing, pricing, managing, sales, and customer service—all business skills that many people haven’t developed yet.

When a person starts a small business, they are commonly working by themselves. They have to fulfill all of these jobs themselves, and they may not be equipped to do this.

After a business starts making money, some of these jobs can be delegated to others with more expertise in those fields, but in the beginning the owner must be competent enough in these skills to keep the business running. Take the time to learn enough about these subjects to give your business a good chance of surviving.

Because there is much more work to be done on your business than in your business—if it is to be successful—more time needs to be spent developing the business than making or providing the actual product or service being offered. Since you are the expert, take the time to create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each of the technical jobs required. If you can precisely describe what needs to be done in these roles, then you can hire others and train them efficiently to perform these tasks just as well as you could.

This will free you up to simply manage those new technicians, giving you more time for business concerns. Once this stage of the business is running smoothly, consider hiring a manager to oversee the technicians. Again, SOPs that precisely describe the managers’ roles and responsibilities will make this transition easy and predictable.

At this point, you have the time and space to focus entirely on the business—a good thing, because it’s probably quite the operation by now. Many of the business tasks can only be handled by you, the owner, like the vision the business is aiming for. You need space and time to strategize and plan.

This might sound like a daunting task. After all, you’ve already spent a lot of time getting really good at a technical craft. If this sounds like the opposite of what you signed up for, you may want to reconsider starting a business on your own. It might be worthwhile finding a partner or an already established company to work for. That’s okay. Running a business is a very different thing from being a technician.

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