Yes, it can be lonely at the top. Yes, itís hard being the one with ultimate responsibility for money, risk, and firing people. And no, itís not easy making the tough decisions. But in our opinion, none of these is the hardest thing about being the boss.
Iíve been the boss for a long time now Ė first as the manager of fairly autonomous and entrepreneurial business units in the corporate world and then, when I took the plunge, as a franchise owner and franchise consultant.
Not everybody is cut out to be the boss, especially when the boss is also the owner. Thatís why only around 12% of New Zealanders are in business for themselves , and only half of these employ other people.
In my experience, the five hardest things about owning and managing your own business, in opposite order of hardness, are:
Hardest Thing #5: Youíre never really the boss
For many people, being your own boss is the holy grail. But when you find the grail, you realise you still have many bosses Ė in the form of customers, readers, viewers, franchisees or whoever else pays you so you can stay in business. And when they say jump, guess what you say?
Hardest Thing #4: Handling risk
Risk has many faces. For those who have made the leap into their own business for the first time, risk looks like a hefty loan or bigger mortgage and the loss of a stable income. Even those who have been in business for a while face risk every day Ė the departure of a major client or account, the resignation of a key employee, a new competitor, or loads of customer complaints posted on Facebook. No matter how you do it Ė whether through positive self-talk, meditation, burying your head in the sand, or anaesthetising yourself with alcohol or prescription drugs Ė you need to find a way to deal with risk if youíre a boss.
Hardest Thing #3: Keeping your eye on the ďbig pictureĒ while youíre fighting fires
Every day can feel like Groundhog Day when youíre in business. You very easily become so immersed in all the day-to-day stuff that has to be dealt with that you lose touch with why you went into business for yourself in the first place. Strategy? I havenít got time for strategy, Iíve got wages to pay, debts to chase and GST returns to send!
Hardest Thing #2: It really is lonely at the top
When youíre an employee, in stressful times you can always turn to your workmates or even your boss. Who can you turn to when you are the boss? Thatís why so many businesspeople join chambers of commerce or industry associations. But no matter how many you join, when it comes to your business, the buck still stops at you.
Scary? Hell, yes. But thatís still not the hardest thing about being the boss.
Hardest Thing #1: Being the boss of you
Freedom is addictive. We crave it, which is why we want to be the boss, to take charge of our own destiny. But freedom can be terrifying. The dreams of putting your feet up, of leaving work early, simply because we can Ė those dreams go out the window on our first day of so-called freedom. Weíre suddenly, earth-shatteringly aware of one thing - if itís to be, itís up to me. And only me. But whatís the first step? There are a hundred, a thousand, first steps. And thatís when we come unstuck. How do we manage our own time when there's no one telling us what to do? How do we set our priorities? When things go wrong who can we turn to? Who can we bounce ideas and strategies off? Who'll give us a kick in the ass when we get it wrong or don't do what we're supposed to?
The hardest thing about being the boss is being your own boss, being the boss of you.
Fortunately, now there's a way of making the hardest thing easier. You need someone you can trust and confide in, someone who has extensive leadership, business and franchising experience, someone who will not only help you to come up with ideas and innovations but suggest them himself, some who will not only mentor, coach and guide you but work with you to get things done, and someone who will not only motivate and encourage you but also not be afraid to kick you in the ass when you need it.
That someone is me. Robin La Pere, Business and Franchise Consultant. Here's what one of my clients said of my services:
"Such was Robinís commitment to and impact on the business during the four years in which I engaged his services that he became more than just a consultant to, but as much a trusted Ďpartnerí in, the businessís development."
Gavin Hunt, Owner, Signature Homes
Although I am based in Auckland, New Zealand, I have found that this works wherever my clients are, in different cities and different countries. I invite you to contact me for a confidential discussion.