Although I love working in my own home business, it is not always sunshine and lolly pops, and if you’re going to make your business thrive and grow you will need to put in a constant effort.
Working in your own business can be rewarding, but the rewards are reserved for people working hard (or smart) on their business and when you think everything is going well, you need to persist with the hard work to keep the momentum going.
Time for a reality check
Michael Gerber writes in his bestselling book “eMyth” revisited that there are three roles that need to be performed in your business if you’re going to run it successfully. Each is based on a personality type and most people come prepared with one or two at the most.
The most common skill people bring to their business is the skill of the worker.
They have worked on that skill and find that it is what they are good at, leading them to often think they should be being paid better for the skills they have and the contribution they make. They are usually trading time for money and can see that the real rewards for their work are going to the owners of the business they work for.
The unhappy worker often ends up having what I call a “Brain Fart Moment”, resulting in the realization that if they did this work for the customers direct, they should get all the financial rewards for themselves.
This person is often unaware of how they are going to do it, lacking more than an idea that sounds good in the moment and has set themselves up for failure the moment the Brain Fart kicked in.
The next personality type, often having a similar Brain Fart moment, is the manager.
The manager knows how to organize things and knows that if he goes into business for himself he will be able to employ the workers to do the work. This works well enough in a well-funded business, but breaks down if the manager doesn’t have the skills of the worker, so he can do the workers work if business doesn’t take off as fast as he anticipated it would when he had that fatal idea to start a business.
Keeping overheads low is important when starting up any business, so the manager is either going to have to be multi-skilled and do some of the work himself or pay someone to do it for him. I would like to point out here that wages are usually the biggest expense in a business and can kill the business if you’re not getting an immediate return on your investment.
Tip: Put off employing people for as long as you can.
Both of these guys are however missing a piece of the equation and that is the skills that the entrepreneur brings to the table. The entrepreneur is often a fast thinking person, comfortable with rapid change, able to read markets and knows how to penetrate them.
This personality type is an essential part of the business equation, he is however usually not the ideal manager and if he can avoid work by coming up with a way to automate or do it without getting his hands dirty, he usually will.
This guy is your people person and his skills will be valuable for making sales, negotiating deals with suppliers and can even be useful when negotiating employment terms and contracts with employees or outsourced workers.
In a small business however, this person needs to stay focused on tasks he doesn’t like doing and may need to be able to do the work as well.
Michael Gerber has dedicated a series of books on this subject and in my opinion, the most valuable is eMyth Revisited. I personally think this book should be read at least once by anyone starting or wanting to grow their own business. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this book cover to cover and I reference to information in it often.
Now this was not meant to be a book review, so let’s get back to a conclusion to this article which will live up to the title at the top of this page “Before Starting A Home Business Take A Look In The Mirror”.
Before starting a business or even after you have begun, it is advisable that you take a look in the mirror and see which one of the three personality types you are.
Although most of us are capable of doing the work of all three, it is rare that we possess more than one of these personality types and all three will be needed in your business if you’re going to succeed.
You will need to fill the gaps with other people or prepare yourself for the work these people will need to do in your business.
You will need to take stock of the things you know you can do and learn missing skills before testing the depth of the water with both feet (only a fool tests the water by jumping into the unknown with both feet first).
A carpenter may do great work and be lucky enough to get a nice contract, which provides him with all of the business he needs to afford the lifestyle he wants and good luck to him if he can make that happen. This however is rare and putting the future of your business into the eggs of one basket is a fool’s game.
Most people will need to sell something and even the carpenter will need to manage workflow and bookkeeping, which are a couple of the things we are pretty sure he is either not good at or despises doing.
The manager and entrepreneur each have their shortcomings and will need to consider what they are good at and how they are going to overcome their weaknesses as well.
Exercise: Looking in the mirror
One way to help you get an idea of your shortcomings and the things you will need to prepare for, know and learn, is to do an exercise I call “Looking In The Mirror”.
Unless the mirror is faulty or has a flaw, it doesn’t lie.
This is a simple exercise and I will mention that I have done it myself recently, with amazing results and I will break it down into some simple steps for you.
- Get out a pen and a piece of paper
- Find a quiet place to sit
- Start by writing out a list of the tasks you will be performing in your business
- Describe a day in the life of your business (you may need to do this more than once, if you’re doing different things on different days)
- Note the things you are good at on a piece of paper and the things you’re not good at, can’t do at the moment or don’t like doing on another
- Learn about the things you’re not good at and come to terms with or plan for the things you don’t like doing
Let’s talk in more detail about each of these steps
Get out a pen and a piece of paper
Getting a pen and a piece of paper out may seem like a step that doesn’t need to be discussed, but I will let you know that I have over recent months been using small books, similar to the books my children use at school.
I have books for projects and others for notes and I can tell you it is a lot easier to manage and find things in a book for a project, than it was when I was building mountains of paper (also a lot more enviro friendly).
Find a quiet place to sit
Likewise, finding a quiet space can be more challenging than it seems, and I have sat in the car in the garage to get away from the noise my three children can make, I’ve gone for a drive to a park and I’ve often just waited until late at night when everyone else is asleep.
You need focus, so find a quiet space to do this exercise.
Start by writing out a list of the tasks you will be performing in your business
Getting this exercise right is going to be dependent on your knowledge of the tasks needing to be performed in your business. If you’re working in a job doing the things you’re going to be do in business, but for a boss, you will probably be able to record what it is that you do, but that won’t be enough.
In your own business you will probably be doing all the jobs your boss does, plus all the jobs being done by others, so pay attention at work and observe what people are doing. Make notes, even mental notes, if you don’t want people to know what you’re doing.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people around you, just make sure you cover every piece of the puzzle, because there is a good chance you’re going to be doing that persons job in the beginning also, that is unless you’re independently wealthy and can afford to hire someone to do it for you.
If you’re changing the industry you work in, do the research.
The internet is a valuable resource and if there is a job that needs to be done on this planet, then there is most likely a job description available online telling you what needs to be done, but don’t stop at one job description, find as many as you can and put all the pieces together.
If you’re going to be doing this from home and on your own, the chances are you are going to need to know how to do all the tasks.
Describe a day in the life of your business
This is the important part, where you will find out what it is you know about the business you’re going to begin or grow, so don’t miss out or skip any of the details.
Armed with knowing the tasks needing to be done on any given day, start planning the days of a week from the moment you wake up until the finish of the day when you go to bed. Slot times into the day or week, so that all tasks have been covered.
If something like bookkeeping or invoicing needs to be done, plan for when it needs to be done. Some people will make time for ten minutes of bookkeeping every day and others will plan for all of the bookkeeping to be done on one day of the week.
Think about things like the need to invoice and how it will affect cash flow, because it makes no sense to do bookkeeping as a task you put off until the end of the week, if you need cash to come in the door today. If you need money in a hurry, do your invoicing today or even at the time the order is taken.
Make sure your day and week includes personal tasks you need to perform and the things you want to do, because this will expose if what you want to achieve is realistic or not.
On at least 4 days of the week I go to sports with my children and I have this time blocked out, specifically because I want a business that allows me to live that lifestyle. Family is important to me and after working long hours for many years, the act of working from home allows me to be around them and go places with them. It also brings its own challenges from a time perspective, but I will talk about that more in another article.
It is important that you be brutally honest with yourself, because this evaluation of your business day is for you and only you need to see it.
If you can see clearly what it is going to take to get the outcome you need, you will be able to judge better if this business idea of yours is actually viable or just a Brain Fart you’ve not thought through well enough.
One last thing you might need to do if you’re not already working in the business you want to work in, is to research what it is that you’re going to do, recording tasks you will need to perform, things you will need to know and how you are going to learn them.
You may need to do more than one day in your business life, possibly even a complete business week covering the initial days where you will be learning new skills and then working up to how a day in your life will look when the business is running at its full potential.
Don’t overlook details here, because you will pay dearly if you leave your job prematurely for a business you don’t know how to run and this exercise will hopefully expose that before you begin.
Note the things you are good at on a piece of paper and the things you’re not good at, can’t do at the moment or don’t like doing on another
When you begin writing about your day in the life of your business you will find out there are probably more things than you anticipated will need doing in your business. Some will be small, simple tasks you will not mind doing, even if you’ve never had to do them before and others will be a challenge.
This is where you need to pay close attention to what you see in the mirror, because this is where you will find out if you’re really cut out to be in this business or any business at all.
Make a list of everything you’ve identified that needs to be done in your business, placing the things you know you can do and don’t mind doing on one piece of paper and the rest on another.
A quick glance is all it should take for you to realize if you’re going to be able to do all of the tasks yourself, either from your existing knowledge or by learning how to do them.
With a bit of research you will find out how hard it is going to be for you to learn how to do the tasks you don’t know how to do, or if you are going to have to pay someone to do those tasks for you.
You may need to do some calculations and costing’s at this point, especially if employing or outsourcing some of the work is going to be needed, but you should now be able to see if the business is going to be viable or if it was Just A Good Idea, now tainted by the tasks you now know you have to perform.
Let me say here that it is better to have a revelation that this business is not for you right here and now, because the alternative is that you begin working in the business and find yourself overwhelmed by the number of things you need to do, which you wish you had considered before you began.
This is that “I Wish I Had Considered That” moment, where you get to avoid a disaster before it happens.
Learn about the things you’re not good at and come to terms with or plan for the things you don’t like doing
Although I could have stopped at the last point, I wanted to add this in as a final step, because I think it will be a good and final test for whether you should start your business.
You now know what it is you need to do and although it is tempting to get this thing running and worry about how you’re going to do the things you don’t know how to do later (learn on the run), that could be the final and fatal Brain Fart moment in this “Let’s Start A Business” idea you’ve been having.
Resist temptation if you have something substantial to learn and learn what you need to learn before you begin, especially if you have the time to do so. There will be exceptions to this rule, like if you find yourself unemployed or your being abused or bullied in your current job, but if you have the luxury of a secure job and are not sure if you have the funds to take this business all the way, stay in your current job until you pick up the skills required.
I have to mention that I am one of the most impulsive people you will ever meet and risk rarely concerns me when I am focused on the rewards of a business venture, and I can tell you that I have paid a high price for this lesson.
Don’t test the depth of the water with both feet, because the odds are stacked against you and being stuck in a poorly planned business, caught up in a cash flow crisis, is not for the faint hearted.
In closing I will leave you with some valuable words
- Consider what you are about to do
- Evaluate (look in the mirror)
- Learn, learn, learn
- Make wise decisions
- Continue to learn, learn, learn, as you earn, earn, earn
I think you should get what I mean here, but if you don’t, I’ll spell it out more clearly.
Consider all options before starting your business and make sure you are prepared for everything that could be thrown at you.
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Talk to you again soon and Bye for now!
Head Homie @ Home Business Learner
The following video is an overview of the article above which can be found on YouTube