There are many reasons for setting up your own business, but the freedom of being the boss is generally a key driver. You set up a business because you want to be in charge – but then the running of the business can almost become the boss of you (if you let it).
How do you overcome the everyday business challenges and find the true entrepreneurial freedom that you crave as a business owner?
Amilios Costa, our Managing Partner at Haines Watts North London, gives us his experience of being the boss – and shares his insights into how to achieve the freedom you’re looking for.
Discovering you’re an entrepreneur
At a very young age, I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone. At 18 I was offered two different courses at university: one to go to the LSE to read economics, or another to go to City University and do a banking course, with a guaranteed job at a large global bank at the end of it.
I thought to myself ‘Do I really want to work in banking? Do I want to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning each day and have this corporation in charge of my life?’. Even at 18, I realised the answer was ‘No. I want to be my own boss’.
I knew that I wanted to own a business and be in control of my life. In my innocence, I thought that no-one tells the boss what to do – but the reality has slowly dawned on me.
When you’re an employee, you may have a couple of people that you report to, but when you own a business, you have your clients or customers to service, staff to manage and you spend your life trying to keep other people happy and live up to different expectations.
You come to a realisation that being the boss isn’t easy.
A changing workforce – and new expectations
It can be hard as a business owner in 2018 because the staff you’re managing are younger and have a different outlook on their career and work ethos – expectations have changed.
Generation Y people love to work on projects and know exactly why they’re doing something. They like the freedom to work autonomously and to own the project. That freedom comes, in a sense, from the economic pressures this generation is experiencing – so they’re constantly looking for freedom in their career.
Generation Y don’t put down roots anywhere, and that’s different to how it was in my day – for Generation X. You bought a house and you tended to stay in the areas that you were brought up in – good old North London in my case.
Now, the workforce is very transient and much more globalised – technology means you can work anywhere. And there’s a lot less loyalty from your workforce.
The ‘gig economy’ with firms like Uber and Deliveroo – where you’re self-employed, but also on short-term contracts to a big organisation – has had a big impact. As a business owner, it can be a challenge to find employees who are in it for the long-term and have a genuine loyalty to your business, your vision and your future success.
Setting realistic expectations as a boss
Business owners are generally good at what they do and know their product, but there can sometimes be a certain laziness around the financial and commercial sides of the company.
There’s not as much motivation – people think they can set up a business and work when they want to, but to run a successful company, you’ve got to have a very clear idea of what you want to do. You need that vision to drive the company forward.
You can be fantastic at what you do, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a good business model. So you need someone on board with you who understands your business and can take away the financial burden.
So many great business ideas don’t come to fruition because the owners lack focus and don’t get the financial support they need – it’s really important to have a good business adviser.
Working towards entrepreneurial freedom
If you’re an ambitious business owner, it’s vital that you can pin down the key challenges that are coming between you and the entrepreneurial freedom you crave as a boss.
Working closely with us helps you drive the right efficiencies:
- Manage your cashflow: Cash is the big one that catches people out. People don’t manage cashflow well, they let themselves go overdrawn, or they don’t leave enough in the business for investment and growth – so it’s vital to understand that cash really is king at this stage and to focus on achieving positive cashflow.
- Know your goals: Having a clear view of what you want to achieve gives the business direction. Without these goals in place, you can end up just bumbling along and hoping everything will turn out alright in the wash.
- Having a plan: To be in business and be successful, you need a plan. You need to stick to that plan, align it with your goals and keep constantly readjusting your strategy so you have the right budgets and can see where you’re going as a company.
- Align your goals: Your personal goals need to mirror those of the business. If you’re looking to exit and retire in 10 years, this has to be included in your wider business plan.
- Focus on your financials: The business won’t succeed without the right financial foundations, so you need to get the business model right and keep a very close eye on your reporting, profit & loss and your overall financial performance.
If you can highlight these obstacles and challenges, then you’re halfway to reducing the workload, improving your efficiency and finding yourself in the ideal ‘sweet spot’ of being able to step back from the business as the owner – working ON the business, not IN it.
Talk to us about achieving entrepreneurial freedom
What business owners want now is someone who thinks like them – an adviser who thinks like an entrepreneur and shares that outlook.
We know the challenges of being an owner-managed business, and we’ll help you understand your company, reduce your workload and achieve the level of freedom and control you’re looking for.
Haines Watts North London are chartered accountants, tax and business advisors based in Finchley.