We are coming up on our five-year anniversary at Joy Accounting in the Spring of 2020! Five years ago, our business was simply an idea. Fast-forward to today, we are solving problems and enabling growth for small business owners all over the Puget Sound area – and we are having a blast doing it!
But before we pop open the champagne and celebrate this milestone, I’d like to pull the curtain back and explain a bit more about how we got here – a strong sense of purpose that defines every action we take. Our raison d’être hasn’t changed, and is best summed up in our vision statement:
To transform small businesses into profit-generating, smooth-running operations whose owners are enjoying life because they are doing what they love, and doing it well.
It’s amazing to me that everything that we aim for can be summed up in 26 words! There are a few phrases in our vision statement that I’d like to unpack – ‘Profit-generating’, ‘Smooth-running’, and ‘Enjoying Life’.
Small business ownership can be a heavy burden to carry. As an owner, you are responsible for every aspect of the business – from keeping the lights on, to making sure the service/product you are providing is valuable, to taking care of employee needs. You represent your business everywhere you go – even after-hours on your personal time. It can be exhausting.
If the burden is so great, why would we (as small business owners) accept less-than-satisfactory profits?
Oftentimes, owners start a small business because it enables them to do what they love. But as they embark on their journey, there are a million reasons why they don’t make the profit they desire. Perhaps they didn’t do enough competitive analysis. Perhaps prices weren’t properly set because they did not account for time and/or costs. Perhaps they didn’t set their profitability targets high enough.
Small business ownership does not have to equate to a vow of poverty. If you look around at larger businesses, they have no problem with this concept, but because small business interactions are so personal there is a tendency to discount services or place less value on them. If you need to, say this 100 times each morning: “The service I provide is valuable to my customers.” Figure out how to price your services so that you are profiting in the way that you desire.
Do you have a ‘smooth-running’ business? If you can’t answer that directly, try thinking about a typical day. Here are a few questions to ask:
Do you constantly get interrupted from conversations by phone calls/texts/emails?
Do you have to explain the same thing over and over to the same people?
Are you always taking care of other people, but not taking time for yourself?
Does your desk look like a tornado landed on it before a hurricane washed it away?
If you answer ‘yes’ to most of those, I would guess that your business (and life) is not as smooth-running as it could be.
Often, small business owners want to maintain control over every piece of their business. I can understand why – your business is your baby! But to be successful as an owner, it’s critical to document processes, decide which tasks truly require your skills, and trust others to carry out tasks that don’t fit into that category.
Sometimes taking a step back, assessing your processes, and making tweaks is the absolute best thing you can do, even if you feel like you don’t have time. And if you need help, I know of a company that is just about to hit their five-year mark who specializes in this!
Many people who leave the corporate world and start a small business feel an overwhelming amount of freedom and excitement initially. That feeling is quickly followed by an ‘oh crap’ moment when they realize that the paycheck doesn’t just roll in as it did before.
After the honeymoon stage and the corresponding freak-out stages are over, you’ll settle into a routine. At that point it’s important to assess whether the reality matches your dreams of running a business. Are you doing what you love, or do you feel burdened by a million different administrative tasks?
As your business grows, it is absolutely critical to keep this at the top of your mind. Many people assume that small businesses should always be growing – but if (for example) growth means that you need to hire more employees, and managing employees is not your cup of tea, then perhaps you should reconsider your plans.
Bottom line – you started a small business because you felt like it would provide you with the best life of all the possible options. Never settle for less, not at the beginning, the middle, or end of your small business journey. Make sure you are enjoying the ride, bumps and all!