If you run a start-up, you need to step-up!

An Employee Mindset Is Not Enough

If you run your own business or founded a nonprofit, you can attest to this fact: you have to think like a boss. You can no longer just show up to work each day and see what happens. You cannot wait for someone to give you direction or keep you accountable. You give the direction and keep others accountable. 

As a business owner, if you want that kind of help, you need to hire advisors or coaches. When you hire experts, you still need to give them some direction in terms of your honest and realistic expectations. Then, you need to listen to them. I’ve seen new business owners hire consultants then feel the consultant is a threat. It’s almost as if they revert to an employee mindset and the advisor is now the boss–the boss they hated. Sometimes the best advice is to do the thing we’ve been resisting. A coach can make you go deeper and examine why you are determined to defy the advice. You can read this blogpost for some help in deciding what kind of guru you need. 

The Power to Earn is Yours

There’s no one above you on the org chart and no one owes you a paycheck. No one owes you a thing. I say this because many years ago I had a client who was angry at their would-be customers for not coming in. We planned an event and offered a discount to all the attendees. It was successful in bringing in her prospects, but while the attendees were having a great time, they weren’t buying. I recommended to the owner to walk around and make some suggestions for purchases. The owner told me that she thought that would be embarrassing. 

Wait, what? It’s embarrassing to have a captive audience and no sales. The promotion brought people in, your salesmanship needs to close the deal. I was not understanding the lack of determination, the lack of willingness. I know that sometimes people like to resort to blame when things aren’t working, but she only had herself to blame. She still had an employee mindset. When she didn’t like what her job required, she wanted to blame her boss, but not the one in the mirror. The only people she could find were her customers. 

My conclusion: she wasn’t ready to start her own business. She was not ready to earn on her own. She expected others to support her out of obligation.

Be very clear. When you are the boss, no one owes you. No one is obligated to become your client, patient, customer. It is up to you to prove your product so that people want to pay for it. 

The Boss is Autonomous Even With a Team, I’m Talking To You, Nonprofit Directors

If you are the head of a nonprofit with an active board of directors, you might find yourself saying, “I get a new boss every year.” Yes, you have a new partner, however, you are still the boss. Your volunteers shift their roles, and come and go with their expiring terms, and changing obligations or interests. 

If you aren’t adding value with your own talents, you will soon be reduced to an order taker. In most cases, that is not why they hired you and it probably is not why you took the job. You are forgetting the leadership side of servant-leadership. If your board includes some strong personalities and individuals who need a lot of credit, you can still do your job. Use the tools you have in place. For instance, your strategic plan is the impersonal document that allows you to guide your board toward meeting its direction while you take the executive role in its success and manage your staff to run the organization smoothly. Without a strategic plan and clearly defined roles, there is a lack of purpose making it easy for anyone to step up and play boss. 

Thinking like a boss offers you the mindset you need to avoid getting stuck in fear of failure and instead moving forward. 

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on Amazon. Call her for help with your promotion. If you found this post helpful, please leave a note here and feel free to share it. 

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