How to Rid Yourself of the “Employee” Mindset

Switching from a 9-to-5 job to startup mode involves more than just a great idea and some capital. You also have to make the shift from being an employee to being the boss. Whereas previously you relied on someone else to keep the lights on and pay the bills, now you have to worry about those basics and much more.

It can be tempting to continue to think and act as if you’re still someone’s subordinate. It’s easy to set aside tasks you find overwhelming and put off planning for the future of your business. But those aren’t your best moves.

So, how do you rid yourself of the “employee mindset” and refocus on the issues that matter? Consider the following four facts.

1. Busywork is not for business owners. Employees typically keep busy to impress their superiors. But you won’t move your business forward if you do menial tasks just to feel as if you’re hard at work or because you’re procrastinating on a harder job.

“People will do what they have been successful doing in the past. But entrepreneurs are not rewarded for handing in paperwork on time — that is not going to generate revenue in your business,” says Doug White, who along with his wife, Polly, owns Whitestone Partners, a consultancy that helps small businesses.

In the beginning, entrepreneurs usually spend too much time on the little things, like setting up their office space or putting together their website, Polly adds. “If you get up at 7 a.m. to shuffle through leads on your desk but never call anyone, it doesn’t get you to the next step,” she says.

2. You can’t get anywhere without a plan. As an employee, you could simply do what someone else told you to do. Now you are the one giving yourself and others direction. Entrepreneurs tend to skip over creating a business plan and plunge into making or selling their product, the Whites observe. They recommend that new business owners answer these three questions before moving forward: Why would a prospective customer want my product or service? Is there a segment of the market that will value my offering that is large enough to sustain the business? And how am I going to reach that group of people with my message? The answers will tell you whether you are pursuing a viable venture and can market it to the right audience.

3. You’re in charge of how you spend your time. Don’t get caught up in other people’s advice about being an owner. The Whites admit they fell into this trap when they first went into business together. They’d repeatedly been told that networking was critical to running a successful company. They estimate they met with 250 people in one quarter, but none of those coffee meetings led to any business. It turned out they were getting to know the wrong people, such as real estate agents and financial planners who were unlikely to give them referrals to the business leaders they wanted to reach. Although networking can be useful, it serves little purpose if you are not meeting with the right people — and if it’s consuming the bulk of your time.

4. Only you can make your endeavor worthwhile. You’re no longer at the mercy of a supervisor’s willingness to give you a raise. But you may find putting a price on your time and effort is hard, especially when approaching potential clients you’re afraid of turning off. Realize that it will be even harder to raise your fees later on when you realize what you’ve been charging isn’t enough to keep you in business. “Figure how much to charge to make yourself profitable and make yourself happy — and charge that amount,” Doug says. “If you can’t find people to pay that amount, you will fail.”

About Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson is a business writer and editorial consultant. Her work has appeared in CFO and CIO magazines.
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20 comments
websightsolutions
websightsolutions

Point 4 is so true. When I first started my business I didn't want to lose any business so I kept prices low. After a while I had a good amount of work but not that much money coming in so I decided to increase my prices by 50% to be more in line with what competitors charged. The result? My work load increased and my bank balance too. I realised that I needed to have a correct view of what my work was truly worth. Clients will pay higher prices for good work and good customer service.

Kelly Franko
Kelly Franko

This article is so helpful and all of the posts so inspiring.  I love reading all of the encouraging statements.

 

Social Focus by CG
Social Focus by CG

I became unemployed. I had to make some money somewhere. I took what I was good at and expanded upon that. Started a part time job, which gave me some cushion as my business began to grow. I had to tell them I was going full time in my own business after a year. I took a big cut to do that, but I was in a position where I could, at least for a short time. Now I will be working as a SCORE volunteer helping other small businesses with their business growth with social media marketing.

Create! Sewing Studio
Create! Sewing Studio

I have had own business for much of working life...but my best biz started after business school...

Mariska-Rick Greer
Mariska-Rick Greer

I am an accountant but I live in the small town, and people here they didnt need an accountant so I found another job but I didnt like it, I didnt enjoy work with somebody-jelaouse with me. I like become an accountant, I more anjoy it..Do you have any idea for me to work at home and can make money too?

Tina Bintia Sarr
Tina Bintia Sarr

That's what I am shifting too, to stop thinking like an employee. I am planning to become QuickBooks Pro Advisor. I am so proud of myself....I think, I found my niche..

Fishbowl Inventory
Fishbowl Inventory

At Fishbowl, approimately 75% of our employees have become owners of the company as stock is issued to anyone working and living by our "company code" aka the 7 Non-Negotiables. Fairly unique way to issue stock and become an owner.

Jane West
Jane West

we knew we could do the job just as well, but treat our clients better.

Kerrilyn Dailey Rousseau
Kerrilyn Dailey Rousseau

I also realized that I could do every job in my department and did not want to go into management. I could do my work in 5 hours, but had to stay the full 8 hours. Being my own boss, sometimes I work many hours to get a job done anytime of the day for a client. Find your niche. Something that you enjoy doing. It took many years to figure out about #4 - you need to bill out the right amount. It is a fine line. Too little and you feel like you are being used, too much and clients won't pay.

Angela Gaensslen-Williams
Angela Gaensslen-Williams

I watched myself making my boss rich, when I asked for a raise he told me he couldn't afford it. Maybe that was due to the new house, cars and the Prada handbag his wife was toting around? Any way I just jumped in, the transition was a big rough for me to stop thinking like an employee and stop identifying with them so things were done the way they needed to be done, but all in all, best thing I ever did.

Karen Snider
Karen Snider

I was in an unbearable job situation. I joined the ProAdvisor Program and got my certification. Within a couple of weeks I had my first client from the Find-A-ProAdvisor website. I worked the job a few more months while I got some financial things in line and took a giant leap of faith! Thursday is my 2nd anniversary as a business owner.

Justin MF Burner
Justin MF Burner

Then I got fired from forklift driving. The rest is history.

Justin MF Burner
Justin MF Burner

Worked 45 hours a week for 3 years driving a forklift on night shift while I developed my cleaning business during the day.

Ron Barth
Ron Barth

Retired from "employee" and became "business owner"

Kerrilyn Dailey Rousseau
Kerrilyn Dailey Rousseau

very easily in the summer of 1996. i worked in accounting at blue cross and had one side client. i quit and within a year i had many more clients. make that first jump no matter how scary - it is definite worth it!

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