A job versus a business

Hi, welcome to "Don't Panic", which is a short, to the point, show aimed for business owners who sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with it all. If you'd like to listen to the audio of this show, click here.

I'm Baz and I've had my own company for 11 years now. It's been renamed, it's been through a few changes and there have been many, many times when I've wished I'd never started it and almost gone back to my day job.

But I've stuck at it, and I like to think I've learnt a few things over the years.

Which is what this show is about.

Although I've had this company for 11 years, something I've realised recently is that I've never owned a business.

This might sound weird. I've worked for myself. I don't have a boss. My company has its own bank accounts and I'm the sole director and sole shareholder.

But I don't own a business. I run a business. And I have a job.

So what's the difference?

Basically, if I was to take a year off. Or take six months off. Frankly, even if I took one month off, I probably wouldn't have a company to come back to.

I have some people who work with me. But even with them, everything goes through me.

I run the business. It's my job.

A true business owner doesn't have that issue. A true business owner can swan off round the world on their yacht, and when they return, the business will still not only be doing well, it will probably have increased its profits in the meantime.

A true business owner has an asset that brings them money. And all they need to do is check in, make sure things are heading in the right direction and that everyone's doing their job.

That's a very very different situation to the one I'm in. And if you're listening to this, it's probably a very different situation to the one you're in.

Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad thing, having a job. Although the reason I quit my last one was because the people were idiots.

No, it's not a bad thing at all. Especially if it's something you enjoy doing and it pays well.

But it's not owning a business.

And I guess that's what most of us secretly wanted when we started out down this road.

So what does owning a business entail?

I always used to think a business was defined by the product or service it offered.

You're a plumber? You fix leaky taps and install great looking bathrooms.

You have a cafe? You create great tasting food in lovely surroundings.

You sell insurance? You have a range of financial products that protect people if the worst happens.

But that's not what a business is at all. Not at all.

A business is a series of systems that underpin those products and services.

That sounds pretty weird, so let's say it again.

A business is a series of systems that underpin those products and services.

What on earth does that mean?

Well, most businesses have at least three systems that need to work in order to keep the business going.

There's your finance system.

How do you make sure that the money comes in at the right time and your suppliers get paid? How do you make sure that you're covering your costs? How do you make sure that your staff get their wages?

There's your operations system.

When we get a new order, how do you deliver it? How do you ensure that it's exactly what the customer is expecting? What do you do to meet the required quality standards? The required health and safety standards? And what do you do if the customer's not happy?

And, in some ways, most important of all is your sales and marketing system.

How do you get people interested in what you have to offer? Where do you find these people? Why would they be interested in you? What do you say to them when they are interested? How do you choose your prices? What guarantees do you offer?

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what you sell.

Your business is, at the very least, those three systems.

For most of us, those systems are haphazard, frequently made up on the spot, and generally a bit chaotic.

But if you get them right, you can get to the point where you can hand the day to day running of those systems to other people. And you just need to check in and make sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to.

You can move from having a job to owning a business.

And that's what I'm in the process of doing. And that's what this show is all about.

Rahoul Baruah

Rahoul Baruah

Rubyist since 1.8.6. I like hair, dogs and Kim/Charli/Poppy. Also CTO at Collabor8Online.
Leeds, England