‘Start our own business’, they said. ‘It will be fun’, they said. Here is a case study, which brings up issues rarely thought about before starting a business. It demonstrates how the fate of your business rests in your ability to manage different ‘hats’.
John was a hardworking Fitter and Turner for many years. He squirrelled away savings every chance. He had hoped that one day he would be able to open his own engineering workshop. When that day arrived, John’s life savings were invested in his own business. His finance application was also approved and machines were ordered. John’s dream was finally becoming a reality.
This was how John & Son’s Engineering was born. John’s sons were still growing but his intention was for them to one day help him run the business. John ended up working even harder than before. He now also had to look for new customers, training and working on the bench to help his less experienced staff. His evenings were reserved for doing the accounts. John was always working. His 5-day work week became a 6 and sometimes even a 7-day workweek.
Years went by and John was still working hard. He lost some customers but new customers were also acquired. John found himself in a worse situation than when he was an employee. The business was not growing to the level John had hoped for. John wasn’t doing too well himself either. He was always tired, he had no personal time, little family time, and no holidays. John became disillusioned. He was on the brink of selling the machines and going back to work as an employee. He wanted to be able to spend time with his family again.
It is so often all about managing the different ‘Hats’.
When first opening up a business, the owner fulfils many roles. These roles include; manager, director, marketer, accounts, quality control, recruiter, and trainer. The problem with having to fulfil all these roles is that each role requires wearing a different ‘Hat’. and we forget to take one off before putting the other one on. Sometimes we even have a favourite ‘Hat’ that we wear all the time. Other times there’s a ‘Hat’ that we forget to wear or choose to not wear enough.
In the early years, the ‘Hat’ that we neglect to wear most often is the Directors ‘Hat’. This role involves the short, medium- and long-term planning for the business. As well as reviewing business performance, and developing actions for correction and growth.
The next ‘Hat’ that tends to stay in the cupboard, sometimes longer than it should, is the Manager’s ‘Hat’. Critical tasks then get neglected. Things like:
1. Managing the day to day performance of the business and staff,
2. Reviewing performance monthly,
3. Identifying training gaps & addressing them, and
4. Managing the recruiting & selection process.
The ‘Hat’ that tends to get worn most often is the Worker’s ‘Hat’. It is a comfortable ‘Hat’, usually, one we are familiar with and loath to lose.
The longer we stay attached to any one ‘Hat’ the more likely it is that we will suffer the fate of John.
Talk to Len Blazey Consulting for professional help in choosing and wearing your ‘Hat’. Len can also help in developing successors to wear the other important ‘Hats’ for you.