arpe Diem (Latin for Seize the day). The saying might be a well-worn cliché, but to me it has never resonated so greatly than the past few months.
A couple of recent unexpected deaths among people that I knew personally has made me reflect on my own journey. What is it I want out of life?
Everyone has only one life to live; I would like mine to be an enjoyable one, enriched by interesting experiences and by meaningful relationships with the people that I care about. I want to experience other countries and other cultures. I want to have time for myself. Ultimately, I want freedom.
Lately, I have had little of that.
Owning my own business has been a rewarding experience. I can be flexible with my work hours, and feel the satisfaction that only goes along with being your own boss. However, being an entrepreneur is all-consuming. I find it really difficult to leave work behind and not worry about it. Even though I have come to realize the value of others' work and the importance of delegating, I have yet to reach the level of management confidence where I feel there is no need to worry.
If your business depends on you, you don't own a businessyou have a job.
I have built strong relationships with my clients, so strong that I am filled with concern when I leave the office. What if they go somewhere else when I am not around? In that respect, my business is tying me down, bringing me farther away from the kind of life that I want to be living.
How do I achieve freedom without sacrificing the success of my business?
Lately, I've thought a lot about this question, as I know many other entrepreneurs have. Finally, as if by pure chance, I stumbled upon a book by Michael Gerber called E-myth Revisited. The answer to my question was presented to me.
"If your business depends on you, you don't own a businessyou have a job." That is Gerber's message, and the answer to my question.
While I was attending a major language industry event in Montreal, I noticed that a lot of company owners were being paged back to the office in the middle of an engaging conversation. It seems like many of businesses, (including my own) are still dependent on the business owner's style, personality, and talent. Therefore, more often then not, we are right that in thinking that our customers might contemplate going somewhere else when we are not around.
The key to this situation, is that when your business depends on you, your customers are counting on YOUR ability to fulfill their needs; not your business's ability. When you are absent, there is nobody left to take care of your customers as well as you could. Why wouldn't they go somewhere else?
What we need, is a system-dependent company, not a people-dependent company, according to Michael Gerber.
Many of North America's leading businesses show us how they can meet their customers' needs regardless of who is on duty. Have you ever visited a Home Depot during a busy spring season? Does it matter if the founder of Home Depot is not there to serve you? Home Depot has developed a system that works smoothly, so that as a customer you receive consistently good service, regardless of who is working. This system doesn't rely on highly skilled extraordinary people that are in short supply in the market place. Instead, it leverages productivity and good work out of ordinary folks that are in ample supply. It is also what Michael Gerber calls "the turn-key revolution." You must build a system that works; which is your business. Then you need to give the key to your people, enabling them to use the system, and to improve it based upon their own experiences and allow them to give you feedback.
"The sign of a mature company is about building a business that works not because of you but without you," says Michael Gerber.
It is only after you have built your business with a system that works without you, that you are freed from your business. A question that we should ask ourselves then, is: "How can I give my customer the results that he wants systematically rather than personally?"
I am not saying that people are unimportant. But people without a process is like a driver without a vehicle; if you want to go somewhere, you need both, proving once and for all, that you can be the driver behind your own life. You simply need a vehicle, or in this case a unique process tailored to your business, to make your dream work for you.
Iler recently released a 16-page white paper on how to optimize multilingual sites for high rankings in the search engines, which can be downloaded from her company's web site.