Starting a business is daunting. Being your own boss is great, but if you’re not careful, you are not so much starting a business as being your own employee. There’s a difference between being self-employed and being a business owner. Our advice: don’t just create another job for yourself. Owning a business can and should be much more than that.
But how do you run a business like an owner, rather than getting stuck in the weeds of the day-to-day? Well, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen – with some thoughtful work on your part and an understanding of what your role needs to be.
In Robert Kiyosaki’s seminal book Cash Flow Quadrant he highlights the difference between being self-employed and a business owner. If you are unfamiliar, the Kiyosaki cash flow quadrants are to the right.
- Employee = You have a job
- Business Owner = You own a system and people work for you
- Self-Employed = You own a job
- Investor = Money works for you
If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. When it comes to being a business owner Kiyosaki writes, “B’s [business owners] could almost be the opposite of the S [self-employed.] Those who are true B’s like to surround themselves with smart people from all four categories: E, S, B, and I. Unlike the S, who doesn’t like to delegate work (because no one can do it better), the B likes to delegate. The true motto of a B is, ‘Why do it yourself when you can hire someone to do it for you, and they can do it better?’”
What does delegation lead to? What is the big difference between an employee or being self-employed and owning a business? The difference is a business owner can leave and the business still makes money.
Phillip and I started out trying to be everything to everyone. It was getting pretty exhausting. We realized we were working harder, not smarter. Being big fans of Kiyosaki, and having the wisdom of several mentors really helped us to step back and make some clear-eyed assessments. As we approach 7 years together, one of the big shifts we have made to more firmly move us into the B quadrant has been to niche down
. Part of what niching down means is that we are focusing on the core of what we do best.
As we niche down, we are creating systems and processes that make it possible to hand off key responsibilities to others who are more qualified than us. The more we niche down and systematize, the more we can have others help us with the processes. This puts us in our sweet spot of skills and abilities where we love what we do and provide the most value.
Some of you may be solopreneurs or working toward that as a goal. That is not – or doesn’t have to be – the same as being self-employed. The world we live in is full of opportunities to delegate even as a solopreneur. The internet and the gig economy mean you can find part-time, 1099 help to do almost any task that helps you step away for a day, a week, or more.
If you have been feeling stuck as an employee, you are not alone. If self-employment has been nothing more than a job you’ve given yourself, you are not alone. But you don’t have to stay in those quadrants. Plan and prepare to make your way into that B quadrant by niching down and automating processes, so that you can run a business and have people help you.
In a world of “I can do that myself,” the smart play is to teach and train others a proven system, so they can do it. And you can spend more of your time exactly the way you want to.