Self Employment: The deadliest business trap ever and how to avoid it


AS an entrepreneur, being self-employed is the deadliest business trap ever!
Business, whether online [virtual] or offline [brick and mortar], small or big is governed by the same principles and calls for the same set of basic functions – production, marketing, finance, staffing and so on. Any difference that exists at all lies only in tactics. Marketing is still about finding, keeping and growing profitable clients, whether your business is online or offline, big or small.

The same goes for value creation [production], whether it is a product or service business you run, the reason for offering those products/services is the same -generating income by solving people’s problems. Also, online or offline, big or small, every business needs workers [staffing] and the same principles and functions of leading them apply. You see, in both business and in life, principles and functions rarely change, what changes is tactics. ‘The why’ [principle] and ‘the what’ [functions] are fundamentally the same, what differs is ‘the how‘ [tactics]. So, that you run an online or small business, is no excuse for not structuring  and running your business on fundamental principles and functions that has been the bedrock of every successful business.

Having this consciousness is what makes successful business owners exceptional. They understand from the outset that being self-employed is limiting and from their small beginnings, they begin to lay the foundation for building a company that has the potential to grow and someday operate without them.

Are You DOING Business Or BUILDING A Business?
Doing business is the definition of being a self-employed entrepreneur [freelancer]. When everything about your business is dependent on you as the owner, you’re simply doing business. The keyword here is ‘dependency’. Being a self-employed entrepreneur means everything about your business revolves around you the owner. When you don’t work, your business is down. Why? Because you are ‘working in’ [doing] your business rather than ‘working on’ [building] it.

This is the danger of being a self-employed entrepreneur –you and your business is inseparable!
Building a business is the definition of being a Chief Executive Officer [CEO].  When everything about your business is NOT dependent on you as the owner, then you’re building a business. The keyword here is ‘independence’.

Being a CEO means you run your business as a company and everything about your business doesn’t revolve around you as the owner. When you don’t work, your business is still working. Why? Because you are ‘working on’ [building] your business rather than ‘working in’ [doing] it. This is the benefit of being a CEO –you and your business is separable! Being self-employed [doing business] is the deadliest trap of business ever. That you are small is no excuse for wanting to be a one-man army.

Someday soon, you will no longer be able to do all the things you so easily do now as a result of age, so what will become of your business then? Someday soon, your small business will outgrow your capacity to meet your entire customer’s increasing demand, so what will become of your business then? Then, you’ll suddenly realize that your entire ‘can-do-it-all-by-myself’ attitude as a self-employed entrepreneur is counterproductive. Then you will come to terms with the universal truth that one tree does not make up a forest and that one is too small a number to achieve greatness!

Successfully running a business is about profitably helping your clients achieve desired results consistently through the products/services you offer to them. It demands a high level of coordination and execution of several key activities. These activities cannot be handled successfully by only one person over a long period of time, so there’s need to create an operational structure/system for effectiveness and efficiency. Creating this operational system/structure for your business is crucial to your success as a small business. At the head of this structure/system, is where you must operate from as the owner of your business. And the formal title given to anyone occupying this position is Chief Executive Officer [CEO].

Running a Business as a Company is the Essence of Being a CEO
Recently, I began to notice a general misconception among many small business owners especially the self-employed internet entrepreneurs that the CEO title is for the bureaucratic corporate organizations and not for those who want to ‘do their own thing’. In fact, the other day I read the entrepreneurial journey of Ingrid Abboud of nittyGriddy and it really made me think deeply about why many online entrepreneurs shy away from the reality that someday their own thing will outgrow them. While I can relate with the fact that most small businesses are started from the efforts of only one person at first, this is not enough reason to want to inhibit the growth potential of your business by still running it as a one man show. From the outset, it’s important to consciously go about your small business with the mindset as if it were already a big business.

Thomas Watson Jnr., once said about his father, Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM when the company was still a very small business, not even yet known within their locality. His father came home one day and suddenly announced the change of the business name from what it used to be to IBM [International Business Machines]. He said out of surprise he had to ask him why such an audacious global name for a business which was at that time only a one man show. His father replied him by saying that; you start acting from small the way you’ll like to be when you eventually become big.

The CEO title as corporate or bureaucratic as it may seem, comes with its own unique responsibilities and functions. Business is a team sport and every team needs a coach in order to be effective and successful. The CEO is the coach of a business. Being a business owner is about performing certain functions, these functions are governed by certain fundamental principles that cut across all kind of businesses, online or offline, big or small. Performing these functions is what being a CEO is all about. The function supersedes the title or position. The title simply serves as an encapsulation of the fundamental functions and corresponding roles required of every business owner. TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT WEEK
Tito Philips Jnr. is an unusual Nigerian that is M.A.D – Making A Diffrence.

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