Choosing to become a business owner – and employer – is choosing to take on greater responsibility, greater risk, and inversely, a greater potential for reward. Such a decision is not an easy one and most people find they would rather secure a stable job working for someone else than take the risk of going out on their own. But not for me; for me, the decision to become a business owner was an easy one.
Since starting my first business at 16 years of age, I have known that I wanted to helm a company. However, there are certain mental changes that people must be prepared to take if they want to run a business. It’s simply a fact of life. When I look at my own experience transitioning from being an employee to being an employer, I realize that there are just a few basic principles at play. These include:
Every person must find his or her own motivation before starting a business and becoming an employer. Because starting a business is not easy and there’s a good chance that you’ll falter along the way. If you aren’t properly motivated, you won’t be able to pick up the pieces and start again – like I’ve had to do on occasion – to ultimately achieve success. And this is the key: success is not inevitable. If you lack proper motivation, you’re destined to fail before you even start.
For me, motivation was simple – I didn’t think that being an employee for someone else was exciting or profitable. Why put in time, energy and resources working for someone else when I could do it for myself? Being an employee, at least in my eyes, is too limiting. I believe that my potential should be limited by my own effort and intellect, and not by a set of pre-defined roles and responsibilities decided upon by someone else paying my checks.
Anyone who is interested in starting a business must be willing and able to take on exponentially more responsibility – not just because of the extra work, but also because as an employer, you have a responsibility to your employees. It’s easy to forget when you’re an employer that you’re not omnipotent. You rely upon your employees to help you achieve your goals, and for this reason, you owe them – leadership, compensation, and gratitude. As CEO of Precision Repair Network, a nationwide medical devices company, I go to work every day with this in mind.
If you want to have employees who can help you succeed, then you must provide them with a secure work environment, tutelage and guidance, and appreciation. To help them achieve their potential, you must share your knowledge and give them appropriate responsibilities so that they are able to work independently. In turn, they’ll help you succeed. But this is only possible if you create a positive and productive work environment for them. Without loyalty from your employees, you may find the task of growing your business incredibly difficult.
If you are starting out, it can be easy to forget your place within the business. The urge will be there to befriend employees, treat them as equals (not that they don’t deserve your respect – they do), and bring them into your inner circle. However, I urge caution when it comes to making friends of your employees – in my experience, when the line between employer and employee becomes blurred, the risk for failure only increases.
Any relationship that you have with an employee must be professional first. Ultimately, being someone’s friend is not reason enough to keep him or her employed. That person must provide a service, and must be relied upon to provide that service to the best of his or her abilities. If an employee can’t be relied upon or fails to deliver a needed service, you must be able to let that person go. And being someone’s friend first – and boss second – can make that task incredibly difficult.
A Word or Two of Advice
If you have an idea for a business, go for it. If you fail, try again. You will find the experience to be more fulfilling and exciting than you can possibly imagine, and the rewards far greater than anything you’ll ever accomplish working for someone else. If you make mistakes, learn from them. If you stumble, keep on moving forward. Work hard. Put your life into it. Eventually, success will find you.
Sam Saribekian has over a decade of experience in the medical industry and has owned and operated multiple businesses over the course of his career. He is founder and CEO of Precision Repair Network, a nationwide leader in wheelchair repair and maintenance, wheelchair sales, parts and accessories, and memberships. The company currently has dozens of locations throughout the country and is in the process of expanding.
Image credit: CC by The U.S. Army