In an earlier Financial Flipside post, we asked entrepreneurs the question, “Do you run a business or work for one?” I decided to pose the question to some of my clients, asking them what they really want out of their businesses. As expected, I have some clients with a clear, distinct idea of where their businesses are headed and others who never look at the big picture and stay in “hustle mode.” There’s nothing wrong with having a hustler’s mindset; in fact, it can be instrumental in getting a lot of things done. It’s just that hustling may not be the best long-term business strategy.
As a trusted adviser, I discovered that asking the question is an important part of my service to clients, because few will ever have time to ask themselves. Of course, the majority answer they want to build an enterprise, which prompts me to ask, “Do you have an idea of how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you want to be in five or ten years?” The answer, whether the client is a planner or a hustler, is usually, “No, not really.” Some are so focused on the day-to-day running of their companies that they haven’t stopped to think about the future at all.
There is a downside to the total immersion approach to running a business, namely that it may be hard to separate yourself from your company, freeing yourself up to take on the big picture tasks necessary for reaching your long-term goals. Finkel explains exactly why some business owners have trouble breaking out of “hustle mode.” You get deeply invested in your business as yours, making it difficult to let go of day-to-day operations. After all, if the buck stops with you, why would you need (or want) to develop processes that someone else could execute?
These are concerns that I had in my practice as well. I always imagined that I would have the type of practice that I could run on my own. As my client base increased, I realized that I could not keep up with all the administrative, billing, and marketing tasks because of the energy I had to spend on “doing the work.” After reading The E-Myth by Michael Gerber and The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, I decided to expand my scope and begin turning my practice into an enterprise by creating process charts, checklists, and job aids. The goal is to have the firm run efficiently with or without my presence, allowing me to spend more time doing my favorite part of my job: interacting with clients.