Making the transition from being an employee of a company to a business owner can be a huge adjustment, and I find for many of my clients who work in hospitality, tourism and customer service based businesses that it can be a tough transition.
When you are an employee, you do the work, pitch in where you can and collect a pay-check and head home. But when you are a business owner you wear multiple hats; you need to ensure that all the bills are paid, orders are placed, staff are motivated, and everything else. And after you have paid all those bills and staff, hopefully you can pay yourself too.
But what I find interesting and something that is often not talked about is the psychological adjustment to being a boss and not an employee anymore. It's like a reset of your role now and your feelings about that can be the most challenging part.
Most people who gravitate towards customer service focused roles do so because they like people, they like working hard, and they are not afraid to get their hands dirty, or doing what needs to be done. We want to serve, and we like to try and keep people happy.
Transitioning from employee to business owner is as exciting as it is difficult. The decision to do so shouldn’t be taken lightly. You need to ask yourself some tough questions before you do so. Not everyone is going to like your decisions often on a daily basis, and it's true what they say about it being lonely at the top.
I speak to a lot of business owners who struggle to make the transition from being an employee to being a boss. The reason most people struggle with this is they don’t put enough emphasis on this change for one thing, and it’s a shift in the way you need to think. That shift can also come with a sense of guilt when asking people to do their job, performance managing people, and dealing with customers when they are not happy. Ultimately the buck stops with you, so there is no one to pass the buck to when you just don't want to do it.
Below are some tips I’ve developed to make the transition easier:
Think like a business owner
You are no longer an employee even if you are paying yourself a wage, so you need to start thinking about the bigger picture. It’s up to you to set the goals, to motivate your staff and to manage things when there is a less than desirable situation to deal with. You need to ultimately always be thinking about what is best for your business first, whilst looking after your staff and customers. You can’t bury your head in the sand when things are not going your way.
Get used to working longer hours
You will work a lot as a business owner and a lot of those hours will be unpaid. You need to be able to see the bigger picture here and know that you are doing it to build something greater than you would have if you were an employee of a business. Looking at how many hours you are doing vs the staff that you pay will only make you feel bad. Always try and look at the bigger picture as to why you are doing it.
Learn to add self-care into your management style
And this follows on for long hours. Running a business is rewarding but hard work and long shifts, but you need to look at it as a marathon and not a sprint.
You need to build in time for you. If you have employees, clients or customers, you will have a lot of people at you, and there is always more work to do. Build in time to exercise, get a good sleep every night, and do things that make you smile. You need to learn to rest to give the best to your business every day, otherwise it will be a less than enjoyable experience.
Delegation is key to success
Learn to delegate to your staff; you hired them for a reason, so let them do their job. Often one of the hardest things to do when you make the transition from employee to the operator is to let go of tasks and let people do their job. Delegating is a learned skill, and you need to practice to be good at it. Give your staff explicit instruction about what you expect of them in the role and then let them do their job.
Often business owners have a mentality of "No one does this right, so I'll just do it myself". This is setting you up for failure and can create a rod for your own back. Let people do their job and think about where your time is best spent. Letting the staff do the roles you have hired them for empowers them and gives them ownership over their work. Your job is to guide their development.
Learning to manage your time, manage yourself, and think like a business owner rather than an employee is a huge part of running a business. And it is an ever-evolving learning process. Don’t be afraid to reach out to mentors; those who have done it before and are excelling at it. Also, get some management coaching or outsource parts of your business to a professional, you’ll find it can do wonders for growing your business.
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: