Being in my own business for about 16 years now has been great. There have been many wonderful times. I’m sure that if I went on about them you would tune me out right away. So instead I’ll talk about one of my mistakes. Ok, so it’s difficult to zero in on just one but this is one that I have been coming up against recently. My business is a corporation. That’s nice but before that I was what we call a Sole Proprietor, a one-man shop-except of course that my wife works with me some. I do a few different things for customers including network administration and also I have written some custom software using MS Access. Here is the thing, in both of those areas I have believed that if I just did the best job I possibly could the customer would be happy and they would continue to want to use my services.
My Thinking - I should continue to do a good job and to research in my fields of interest and stay on top of the systems and result-the customer will be happy. In other words I need to mind my shop. The customer on the other hand is the best person to look after their own interests. They will make sure that they utilize me as a resource for their business. They know what their Business Plan is and their Mission Statement. They will make sure that I fit in with those and that the work I do is for the betterment of the company as a whole. They will also manage the amount of time and therefore money they use of my service to be in line with the financial interests of their business.
Reality Check! Ok so that isn’t how it turns out.
Why? Well I can’t say that I really know the answer to that question but the best I can think is that they are busy. The Executives of the company that are aware of those things such as the Business Plan and Cash Flow are busy. They don’t have time to manage me as a resource so they pass it down a level or two in their company and hope that those people can get it done. Well those people usually aren’t ready to write software specifications or deal with the implications to the company of one choice over another. They just want all their friends to be happy. So do I, but then somewhere down the line the Executives come in to review what has gone on. Amazing to me that this doesn’t happen on a monthly schedule, sometimes not even on a quarterly or oddly sometimes not even on a yearly schedule. But when they do they wonder why these certain things were done and why the heck did it all cost so much. They wonder why it isn’t making a bigger difference. Now there is a problem. My unrealistic goal is to hand invoices to customers that they are happy to pay. They are happy because it was small change compared to the wonderful effect it had on the business. Good one huh!!
So what is the answer? Right now I am under the assumption that I can’t do it all. It’s time to grow up and act like a real business. Ok this isn’t a new realization but a difficult one. It is not easy to grow from a one-person operation to a multi-person operation. But I have to. Some how- some day I have to. Because it is impossible to run around and administrate computer networks, write software and do the management of those things that the customers need so desperately. They don’t just need the work done they need somebody to manage the work being done. They aren’t going to do it they are just going to go from one consultant to the next until they find somebody that will do ALL the work for them. This isn’t a bad thing.
There are still a few problems that I haven’t quite figured out yet but I’m working on them. First The Cost, it’s going to cost more, that’s just the way it is. That is where my sales experience is going to come into play. Next how am I going to do the management for them and yet help them achieve their business goals according to their business plan? Don’t know. Another is how am I going to get some of the time of the Executives on a periodic basis so that I can make sure they are happy and that objectives are met. The answer for all this I fear is something I didn’t think I was ever going to have to do but appears to be essential. I believe the answer to all my problems actually is GOLF!