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Dipple column: Don’t get trapped on a treadmill going nowhere

Most entrepreneurs start a business with the best of intentions to achieve greater happiness, however they define it.
Most want more freedom, fulfillment and financial success. They want to feel the pride of being an independent business owner in control of their own destiny.
Unfortunately, after a few years, the entrepreneurial dream starts to warp into a partial nightmare with the owner trapped on the treadmill, working harder and harder but going nowhere.
Many business owners and managers feel like prisoners to their businesses, employees and customers. They feel trapped working “in” their businesses instead of “on” their businesses.
After working with business owners, I believe five areas to be the most common causes of business bondage:
– Technical tendencies;
– “Busyness”;
– Ineffective leadership and delegation;
– Inadequate or missing business systems;
– Growing business complexities.
Technical tendencies: Habits determine destiny. Too many entrepreneurs are former technicians now masquerading as owners. They think they are entrepreneurs, but they don’t act that way. They have a hard time letting go of their expertise and familiarity. Sadly, technical expertise is insufficient for managing a business.
Busyness: Many owners and managers confuse activity with accomplishment. Instead of working smarter, many owners hold tight to the delusion that working harder is the solution. The more the business grows, the harder they work, the more imprisoned they become.
Ineffective leadership and delegation: Far too many small business owners are by default small leaders. Instead of leadership, they excel at “doer-ship.” They believe “no one does it as well as me.” They seldom delegate, if at all, mistaking such “busyness” for business leadership. Instead of thinking and leading like owners, most think and behave like employees.
Inadequate or missing business systems: A vast majority of owners don’t know how to design a new business or re-engineer an existing one to be more systems-oriented. As a result, entrepreneurs don’t create and document the processes, procedures and policies that allow for well organized, smoothly running, easier-to-manage companies.
Growing business complexities: A growing business with its increasing number of customers, transactions and problems will eventually crush a business not properly designed and prepared to handle such growth. Without effective leadership and adequate business systems, a growing company does not stand a chance. By failing to plan for growth, you are by default planning to fail.
These five areas can lead to a life sentence of working on the chain gang ó your company. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way if you focus on just two things: the way you think and act. Start today to change how you think and act toward these critical areas and you might just get off the chain gang.
Contact Mark Dipple at m.dipple@ thegrowthcoach.com.

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