As one of the only Black owned web design companies, we have seen many entrepreneurs come and go. When we looked at the businesses that didn’t make it, we found out that it was not because they had a bad business idea. It wasn’t because the business didn’t have enough resources.
It was because the business owner got burned out before their vision came to life.
If you find yourself working 18 hour days in your business and not getting the results that you want, the answer is not to do more. In fact, you should be doing less. Because no matter how how much work you, you will be stuck on the same treadmill that burns out so many other Black business owners.
Employee Mindset: Trading Time For Money
The Black business owners who burn themselves out usually commit the sin of trading time for money. But here’s the fact:
Trading time for money will burn you out and kill your business.
Trading time for money is how wage slaves employees work. Employees clock in, do employee things, then clock out. The longer an employee stays on the clock the more they make – regardless of how effective they are. But when you become a business owner, the rules are flipped:
The more effective you are as a business owner, the more money you make – regardless of how many hours you work.
Here is a quick story to make my point:
I worked in a tough sales job for years before I became a Black business owner. Every agent had “numbers” that had to be met – 110 phone calls per day, 4 prospecting interviews per week, 3 contracts per month. Some agents focused on hitting all their numbers and spent long hours in the office.
But one agent was only in the office once a month – and that was to process his contracts. He didnt hit any of his numbers except for the most important one: contracts. He did it by turning his existing clients into his personal sales force by getting referral business from them. He racked up a wall full of awards while the other agents racked up hours.
The moral of the story is if you find yourself struggling to keep up with your work load, you are focused on the wrong part of the equation. Instead of focusing on the things you think you should be doing, focus on the most important result. Once you have identified that result, build a system to get you there as efficiently as possible.
Time Is Not Your Friend
Building your business requires that you invest either your time or your money. If you dont spend one, you will spend the other. But here is the thing:
So when you have a choice between spending either time or money, choose money every time. Hire others to do the day to day tasks in your business, and invest in tools to get things done more efficiently. Whatever you do, never, ever give into the urge to do it yourself.
If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!” – Michael E. Gerber, The E Myth
Let’s say you run a social media management company and you decide to handle clients by yourself. You manage to land 25 clients and with an average of 3 social media accounts per client. If you spend an average of 3 hours per day on each account, you would need to work 75 hours per week every week to meet all your clients needs.
And that’s just doing client work. That doesn’t include managing your company, marketing, staying organized, food, sleep, or relationships.
Not smart. But that’s exactly what most Black business owners do.
To avoid this madness and scale your business, its time for you to adopt a new approach to how you think about business.
Employer Mindset: Systems
You have probably heard that you should work on your business, not in your business. Building systems is how you do that. A business system is
I cannot emphasize this enough: Your job as an entrepreneur is not to work more hours. It is to build a better system to address the needs of your clients. that’s it. Your day-to-day job should only be assembling your system, making sure it works efficiently, and feeding your system new clients.
Every intelligent business that you see is a system. If you run a restaurant, it would be impossible for you to take cash, prepare the food, clean the tables, and wash the dishes all at the same time. Instead, you create a system to ensure that your customers are taken care of and your business is profitable.
Once your system is in place you are free to grow your business, improve your systems to increase your profitability, or move on to new ventures.
That is the true essence of entrepreneurship – building systems that achieve your goals.
How To Build A System
The definition of a business is a system designed to fulfill a need in the marketplace. Every business system is a collection of “3 Ps”: people, products, and processes.
Great systems grow and deliver results for your clients with very little effort on your part once they are set up. The challenge in the beginning is setting up your system to achieve the results that you want for yourself and your clients
Building a system means finding people to do the tasks that keep your business running. Earlier I wrote that if you have a choice between spending time or money, choose money every time. The more people you hire the more productive your company becomes – and the more money you are able to earn. Here is how:
You alone working 8 hour days = 8 hours of work produced
5 employees working 8 hour days for you = 40 hours of work produced
If you cant afford to hire full time employees, you can outsource parts of your business to virtual assistants. By documenting your processes (more on how to create a process later) and passing them on to your virtual assistant, you can ensure they will perform the job up to your standard. Before we hired employee, we used a service called Fiverr to outsource tasks for as little as $5.
As your system becomes more profitable, you can hire more people and increase your output.
Products are the tools that you use to achieve results more efficiently. Here are some examples:
- If you own a restaurant, an industrial mixer would be more efficient than hand mixing
- If you run a social media marketing agency, automated software would be more efficient than posting by hand
- If you create a line of products, using Amazon as your fulfillment center would be more efficient than mailing each product out by hand
- If you spend any amount of time doing chores like grocery shopping, using Instacart would be more efficient than going to the store yourself
- If you run a repair shop, a power drill would be more efficient than a hand drill
One of your most time-consuming tasks will be finding the right products that achieve the right results at the right price for your business. There are thousands of products on the market, but the best way to find the ones that are right for your business is to map out your processes first.
Once you see how all the parts of your business work, you can then find tools specifically for those part of the business.
A process is a step-by-step sequence of the things that need to get done to deliver a specific result. A process can be as simple as a checklist, or can be as detailed as you want to make it.
Take a look at the screenshot below for a very simple process map that shows how we create a new WordPress website for our clients.
We created this process map using Google Docs, and we use Sweet Process to track our employees and VA’s as they work through the process.
There are a few keys to creating a successful process.
1. Make sure your process contains as few steps as possible.
2. Your process should contain as much detail as necessary. Include links, screenshots, and graphics that show employees exactly how to perform the task. Some of the virtual assistants that you outsource to will not be native English speakers, so make it easy on them.
Breaking your business down into a process map lets you give tasks to a virtual assistant or employee without giving them the “whole picture”. If an individual can only see a small part of the whole system, they wont be able to steal your business and copy it.
The only people who should have access to the entire process map is the General Manager and you.
Setting Yourself Free
Its time to set yourself free by building your system. This article was meant to give you an overview, but to really understand the systems mindset, here are the books I suggest you order right now.
The Checklist Manifesto
E-Myth Mastery: The Seven Essential Disciplines for Building a World Class Company
Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less
Building a system is how you work smarter, not harder. Set aside some time as soon as possible to map your processes, find your first virtual assistant, and invest in the right products for your business.