29 OCTOBER 2017
ARE YOU WORKING
IN OR ON THE BUSINESS?
Who doesn’t want to be their boss?
To make the hours, take holidays when you want, not answering to anyone when you make a decision. It sounds fantastic, and even though it wasn’t my main reason to leave a good job, I can’t say I didn’t think of that. Two years have passed, and I can say that ‘doing it’ on your own is not easy, and not for everyone.
One of the distinctions that I can make is the difference between building a business and being a business. These are not exclusive but it is vital to know the difference, and Michael Gerber ‘E-Myth’ best explains that.
The truth is that most don’t create a business – they create a job for themselves. When I left my last workplace, I started freelancing.
Is freelancing a business?
It is on paper, but in reality, it was a job that I had to attend every day, even though it was done from home. That’s the biggest mistake people make, according to Gerber. After the grand opening, they quickly create a job for themselves and start working in the business rather than on the business.
So what I could do differently?
Well, if I wanted to start an editing business I would need to find people who edit for me and my job would be to bring new projects – make sales. The profit made by paying the editors and charging the clients would be mine – as a main shareholder in the business. Hence why most small businesses fail. You can’t grow the venture if you are doing the work, which is, of course, a classic catch-22. Most people start a small business on a shoe-string budget; every penny counts, therefore, doing most of the work is the best way to save and reinvest.
But what if you want to do the work?
What if you enjoy it?
That’s not a problem, according to Seth Godin.
He started various businesses but calls himself a freelancer. If you are a writer, musician, producer, consultant – you are de facto a freelancer. That is, you charge a client for your advice and time you spend on the problem.
Let’s take me for example; I enjoy producing Casefile podcast – writing music for it, editing it, mixing the show. I could hire someone to do the work for me and start a production business, but I don’t want to. I like being part of the team.
My partner is a graphic designer; she too is a freelancer, she trades expertise and time for money. However, on the last project she hired someone else to do the work, she is dealing with the client and the freelancer and takes a fee for being a person in the middle. Business should be a machine, a machine that can run even if you are away on holiday, even when you sleep.
Freelancing does not make you money when you sleep, as you are the money-making machine.
So what is the best way? What is the magic answer?
Like with most things in life, there is none. First, you need to know yourself, what do you like to do, how do you envision your future. Next, take steps based on that vision.m. Starting a business is a lot of work, and there is a high risk of failure.
Are you comfortable with that?
Do you know how to bring clients and sales to the table?
On the other hand, freelancing has a ceiling. There will be a time when you won’t be able to charge more per hour of your service than the maximum, with a business you don’t have these limits. For myself, I reckon the best way is to mix two options.
If you are a freelancer, that means you have a money making skills. It can be graphic design, editing, marketing – it doesn’t matter. You know that worst case scenario you can always make money to cover the bills, you know you can rely on yourself.
Then you can try your strengths in business. Learn how it works, experiment, fail and try again. It will still be scary, but there will be a comfort on the back of your mind. You know that even if you close the venture, you can always make money with you, with your skills.
I think it gives an easier way to take risks because it won’t make you too desperate. It also mitigates some of the risks, and business (and life) is all about risk control.
How can you try and experiment but protect the downside and your assets at the same time?
What is the best way to turn the opportunity in your favour?
If you are on a fence and thinking of quitting your job, ask yourself first – what is that you want to do and achieve?
What is the best way to do it, while protecting your current situation?
And then, if you are bold enough, leap.
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