Did you recently walk little Sarah into school for her very first day? Or did you move your freshman son and all his stuff into his college dorm? Through the tears and hugs you probably gave your child advice that could be paraphrased as, “Pay attention. Study hard. Learn as much as possible. Stay out of trouble.” Sure, you want your child to make friends, participate in school clubs and learn about life-all good things, but her primary focus for the next few years is to earn a degree and become a responsible citizen. As a small business owner, are you taking your own advice?
A small business owner’s main purpose is to make a profit. Which means, just like your child, you have to spend time every day paying attention, studying hard and learning as much as possible. You are a student of your business. Putting out the day to day fires is a trap that can ensnare you and leave no time or energy to work ON your business.
What does it mean to work on your business? It’s a Michael Gerber concept in his book, The E-Myth Revisited. It means studying your industry and the market trends, developing employee engagement strategies, adopting a management system, brainstorming marketing ideas, knowing who your competition is, growing your leadership skills, understanding your customers’ needs and probably a zillion other things. Maybe with a solid grasp of your industry you develop an employee retention plan. The churn of employee turnover is an enormous drain on your profits. Recently we spoke to a successful janitorial company owner who uses our employee management system and we asked how in the world did he keep employees 12-15 years? We can’t reveal his secrets, but he said before he devised his plan, he was hiring new employees every 3 months (which is about right for a janitorial business). He said one 12 year-employee = 48 three-month employees who he doesn’t have to train. He invested the time and effort to work on his business to create an employee retention plan. It was well worth it.
You can’t afford to stop learning even though you are the President, CEO, Owner or TBC (Top Bean Counter) of your company. Johnny may squander his college tuition at frat parties, but that’s not an option for you. You have employees who are supporting families and customers who depend upon your products and/or services. Too much is at stake to not stay on top of your game. It just takes a little time each day. When Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge, sent his daughter off to college he advised her to never miss class and study 2 hours every day. Do those 2 things, he said and you will graduate with the very top of your class because very few other students will have the discipline to do them. As a small business owner, you need this discipline to study your business, also.
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