Leading the Business vs. “Being the Business”

Leading Alone

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, you wouldn’t be reading this unless you know that you are a leader. The very fact that you are taking the time to read about leadership suggests that you suspect it takes more than merely owning your business.

The question is: Does your leadership translate into the business results that are really valuable to you?

Unfortunately, all too often, many small business owners are not small business leaders. This puts them at risk.  Rather than empowering their team, these individuals spend most of their time looking at what things cost and thinking about how they have to do everything themselves because their employees “just don’t get it.”

BUT NOT YOU, RIGHT?  You are passionate about being more than just a business owner. You want to lead the business, not “be the business.”

Sadly, most all entrepreneurs start with the passion to build the business of their dreams.  For many, it wasn’t their fault that they fell into the sickness of “being the business” rather than leading their business. In fact, often times, the risks and warning signs are found within the very nature of a business, and this makes removing this risk even more difficult.

Here’s the good news: Knowing these warning signs can help you spot problems early and take preventative action.

4 Warning Signs That You Are At Risk for “Being the Business”

1. Being a Professional

Many professionals own their own businesses and market their personal services. Because the business wouldn’t exist if they and their unique expertise didn’t exist, it is easy for them to become self-centered.  They own the business, and it’s true that their abilities are what customers buy.

However, those who know how to lead rather than “be the business” will recognize that their real success is a result of them and the team around them. Rather than creating policies and procedures based on what makes their own lives easier, business leaders focus on all whom will be affected by the way business is conducted. In other words, rather than doing things to serve themselves, business leaders make decisions that ultimately better serve customers and the business as a whole.

2. Consistently Hiring the Wrong Candidates

As a small business leader, it can be hard to attract and hire qualified employees, especially if you don’t have a proven methodology for identifying top talent. After having several disappointing hiring experiences, employers may begin to distrust those whom they hire. This in turn leads to micromanaging rather than inspiring employees to take responsibility for their own success.

Remember: Management relies heavily on active control while leadership relies on inspiration which may not require as much direct involvement.

3. Non-stop Schedules

A small business inherently demands a lot from its owner’s schedule. Sadly, this means that the owner often has less time to devote towards thoughtful leadership or understanding the issues that employees are facing. Thus, rather than taking the time to empower and guide employees, time-pressed owners will either do it themselves or toss the problem to their team to fend for themselves. Either way is not good.  True business leaders will intentionally set some time aside to connect and reflect with their employees periodically to provide the necessary clarity and direction.

4. No Accountability/Access to Help

And finally, business owners can develop tunnel vision because they won’t seek out fresh perspectives on their leadership performance or how they run their businesses. They avoid seeking the objective feedback and accountability that would enable them to lead their businesses with greater clarity. Often, this in turn creates an exhausting scenario where leaders waste hours upon hours with costly trial-and-error problem solving—when that time could have been spent leading others to become future problem solvers!  Breakthroughs happen when leaders learn new ways of viewing their business and how to hold themselves and others accountable for greater rewards.

Now that you know the warning signs, do you see yourself heading down the dangerous road of “being the business” all by yourself? If so, feel free to reach out for help in dealing with any of the problems discussed. If it’s accountability you are looking for, I welcome the opportunity to discuss whether you could benefit from joining one of my CEO groups.