Owning and operating your own service-based business has many advantages. Your commute is usually just a few steps from your bedroom. You get to be your own boss and do what you want, when you want. But for many solo-professionals this is a dual-edged sword. They are often challenged to stay focused and actually work ON or IN their business, because of the many distractions that surround them. And I believe many also aren’t really working in their business when they think they are. If they were to ask themselves this question: “What would my boss say if she was watching?” they might be surprised by the answer.
So what would your boss say if she was watching?
If you did have a boss, like you did when you had a job, what would your boss say when he realizes you are spending the majority of your work day not really working. Perhaps you are spending time on Facebook or Twitter, or reading blogs, surfing the Internet, on email, listening to teleclasses, or any of the other things so many solo-professionals are spending their time doing that are not “technically” work?
Yes, that’s what I said – These things are NOT work.
Ah, but you say that you’re “marketing” yourself when you spend all that time on the social networking sites. Okay, I’ll bite, but I have a question. When’s the last time you got a paying client as a direct result of all the time you spend on Facebook and Twitter? Or at least a high quality prospect? If you’re getting business from it, then by all means continue…you ARE marketing your business. If however you are not seeing a measurable result in your business, then it may be social networking has become more of a virtual water cooler for you – you know, that place we all stood around when we worked in a job and “shot the breeze” with our coworkers instead of actually being at our desk working? Yes, connecting with others is important, especially when we work virtually or by ourselves, however, if the profitability of your business is suffering, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities and how you are spending your time.
But all those teleclasses are continuing education … they’re helping me build my business.
Look, I’m the first one to applaud any business owner who invests in their own personal and professional development. But if that’s how they’re spending ALL of their time, and their business is not generating a profit, then they’re not really in business – they’re PREPARING to be in business (and there’s nothing wrong with that, just make sure your expectations match the reality of the situation). The bottom-line is, if you don’t have the clients or income you want, then you ought to be spending all your time doing whatever you need to do to generate prospects, making offers to those prospects (selling them something), and then servicing those clients who say yes. THAT should be your number one priority.
After all, think back to when you had a job, when did you do personal or professional development work? Usually after hours, on your “own” time, or in dedicated blocks of time by attending a weekend or week-long conference. It wasn’t something you did every day, because you were far too busy accomplishing all the tasks you were being paid to do.
But the reason I have my own business is so I can do what I want and so I don’t have to answer to a boss.
If you want your business to be successful and profitable (the definition of a “business” after all is an enterprise that MAKES money), you do need to answer to someone. If that someone is you, as is the case for most solo-professionals, it’s time to take your business seriously and re-evaluate how you are spending your time IF you are not happy with the number of clients your business is serving, or the revenue it’s generating. It’s not about the hours you spend per week, it’s about making sure you’re spending those hours productively and toward accomplishing the goals you set for your business when you first started it.
Owning your own business can be extremely rewarding and profitable.
But it does take self-discipline. When you approach it that way, it rewards you with amazing gifts: the satisfaction that you’re helping and serving people, the opportunity to make a difference in the world, and yes a great income so you can live the life you desire. But to accomplish this, you need to spend your time intentionally, by setting goals, identifying your priorities, and then sticking to them.
If this seems harsh to you, consider this…
The majority of all new business ventures fail within the first few years AND only about 5% of Americans earn six figures. That means those who are succeeding are a very small minority. I have been fortunate to have an enjoyable and profitable business for over 12 years. The reason is because I have always taken it seriously. And when I wasn’t generating the clients or the revenue I needed or wanted, my top priority was to start doing whatever I needed to do to turn that around quickly.
My mission is to inspire, educate and empower others to be able to make a great living, making a difference and doing work they love. So if a little tough love furthers that cause, then so be it!