Click on 'View Joe Schumacker's Blog' above to see all my posts.
The Joe Schumacker Blog first appeared in October 2009.
After two months of posts events conspired to cause what was anticipated to be
a short break in posting. Now three months later I am back. You will
find the pieces posted to the first incarnation of the blog by clicking “Blogs”
at the top of the IBI home page, then entering ‘Joe Schumacker’ in the search
field (next to the icon of the magnifying glass).
I restart the Joe Schumacker Blog with a quote from Charles
F. Kettering: “It is the follow through that makes a great difference between
ultimate success and failure, because it is so easy to stop”.
I have come to realize that our failure to be successful is
seldom due to the lack of a good idea but rather the lack of the determination
needed to convert an idea to reality.
Whenever the discussion turns to the difficulty of
attempting to make someone do what you want them to do, a friend states, “You
know slavery is dead”. After one such exchange I began to think more about this
statement. Slavery, defined as the holding of a person in legal bondage, ended
in the United States in the 1860’s. However giving the matter some thought I
realized there is a particularly strong strain of slavery which is alive and
thriving in the United States today. It lives in the relationship between a
business owner and his (her) business. The question is not whether this form of
slavery exists but rather which role is played by the owner and which by the
Many if not most new businesses are borne from a desire to
break free of the bonds of employment and embrace the freedom of
entrepreneurial ownership. There is an understanding that long hours and a
commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve success are needed to break free
of the bonds of employment. The weeks and months before the launch of new
venture are filled with excitement, planning and visions of possible outcomes.
The days and weeks after the launch are filled with continued excitement, hard
work and a commitment to success. The new business is a helpless infant. It is
completely dependent on the entrepreneur for its nurturing, for its survival.
In its helplessness the new business starts as the Master with the entrepreneur
as the maternal/paternal Slave.
As time moves on the business either starts to become
successful or it fails. The failed business sends the entrepreneur back to the
world of employment to lick his wounds, either planning for the next venture or
committing to avoid future risk. The early success of the venture drives the
entrepreneur to a new place, a place where the Master, that is the business,
demands growth. A business cannot grow without resources. The entrepreneur
works to find the resources needed to create a period of growth. He believes
growth is needed to achieve success, falling back on the old saying that a
business is either growing or it is dying. Gradually the entrepreneur takes on
the mindset of being the Owner. The Owner remains committed to the success of
the business. All of the time, energy and financial commitment needed to fuel
the growth of the business are committed as a matter of course. As the dream of
success becomes more finely defined, the commitment of the Owner becomes
stronger. The Owner repeatedly states to himself and others that “I can see
what this business can become and I am committed to make it happen”. The Owner
and the business become inseparable. Customers, vendors and the general
community know that although there are a growing number of employees, the Owner
is the business. Getting a commitment from the Owner will lead to their
success. Unfortunately the growing business continues to be the Master and the
Owner, the Slave.
A successful business grows to the point where its survival
is not at risk from the normal ebb and flow of daily events. The risk of a
catastrophic event continues to exist but the Owner becomes comfortable with
being able to enjoy the rewards of profitable business operation. The company
car, business trips to industry events, a strong bump in salary are all
indications of the success of the business, and therefore the success of the
Owner. The Owner is bonded to the business and the business provides rewards.
The Owner takes the business personally. It seems natural that personal life
and family life become intermingled with the life of the business. The business
is still the Master; the Owner the Slave.
The Master Business and Owner Slave relationship will not
change until and unless the Owner creates the change. Until the Owner takes
action to become the Master he will owe his life to the business, the business
is his life.
The first step in becoming the Master is for the Owner to
recognize that he is separate from his business. As a Slave to the business the
Owner feels that it is a part of him. He grieves over losses and takes
personally setbacks incurred by the business. He looks at the potential failure
of the business as a personal failure. The mindset shift required to break this
bond begins with the Owner asking himself three questions:
1- What do you want your business to produce for you?
2- How long are you willing to invest your time, capital,
and emotion in your business before it pays a satisfactory return on your
3- How will you exit from your business?
The process of thoughtfully answering the three questions
begins to provide a plan of action which will transform the Owner from being
the Slave to being the Master. The best time to first ask the three questions
is during the initial planning for the business. The next best time is the
first time the Owner realizes that she actually works for the business rather
than having the business work for her. Regardless of when the questions are
first posed, the value of the exercise is quickly lost unless it is reinforced
on a regular basis. Initially glance at the answers on a daily basis and review
them closely at the close of each week.
The mindset shift which began with answering the three key
questions takes root when the Owner agrees to not take anything personally. A
key employee leaving to start her own business is not a personal attack on the
Owner. A key vendor changing the terms of its relationship with the business is
not a threat made against the Owner. Taking anything dealing with your business
personally shift power from you the Owner back to the business. The Owner is
back into the role of the Slave. The Master Owner cares greatly about the
business. She cares enough to not take it personally.
The Master Owner is in control of the business although he
may delegate much authority in the operation of the business. Stepping back
from the day to day operation of the business allows the Owner to work on the
business rather than only in the business. In addition to working predominantly
on the business the Master Owner makes a point to regularly separate from the
business for periods of time. A business which cannot operate without the
owner’s immediate attention is a not a Slave, it is the Master.
Long working hours and sleepless nights are not a badge of
honor; they are bonds of slavery. A business cannot be a perpetual monument to
its founder. At best the founding Owner is forgotten; at worst he becomes an
advertising theme. The true legacy left by a founding Owner is a business which
performs successfully for its subsequent owners.
A successful business serves it Owner. Invest in your
business then let it pay you dividends. Have fun with your business. Enjoy the
rewards provided by your business and above all know when to exit. Someone else
will come behind you investing to start the process over again.
Taking It Deeper:
The E myth Revisited, Michael Gerber
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz