Let’s face it, lots of practice owners are overworked and underpaid.
They put in lots of hours, often working into their evenings and weekends and aren’t paid well enough for the amount of time that they spend on the tools.
And one of the main reasons for this is, is that they are business operators, not business owners.
But, what’s the distinction between the two and why does it make a difference?
“An owner-operator is a small business owner who typically runs the day-to-day operations of the company” [source]
If you’re an owner-operator, this means you’re stuck at the centre of everything and all the pressure is on your shoulders.
If you’re not there, things don’t happen in the business, tasks will be missed, clients will be let down and the practice won’t grow.
In essence, you’re trading your time for money. The amount of active work that you do directly influences your income and the growth of the practice.
But, if you’re a business owner and NOT operator, this isn’t the case.
A business owner owns the system, and has people who run the systems that earn them money.
Their role doesn’t mean that they have to spend a certain amount of time working in the business in order to earn their income. Their income doesn’t depend on active work, so they’re not trading time for money.
This cashflow quadrant explains more about this principle…
It makes sense when you think of it in these terms, right?
So, if you want to shift from trading your time for money to being a business owner instead, how do you do it?
Well, having worked with practice owners over the last 8 years helping them to successfully make the shift from business operator to business owner, here are my 3 biggest keys:
1. Self-reliant team
The most important thing that you need in order to make the shift from business operator to business owner is a strong, self-reliant team of people within the business.
You need people who can be relied upon to complete tasks in a timely manner and do everything that is required of them (and more). You need people who are willing to go above and beyond the ordinary in order to get things done.
And yet many practice owners that I speak to don’t have a self-reliant team. They have an over-reliant team.
Work always ends up back on your desk, work isn’t being completed as efficiently as it can be, at times they’re more of a hindrance than a help.
If you don’t have a self-reliant team in place, you’ll find that you have to spend a considerable amount of time chasing up tasks that are overdue or haven’t been completed and that your business is missing opportunities for growth and progression due to this.
With the right people in place, it’ll be much easier for you to step into the role of business owner and allow others to operate the system successfully without your constant supervision.
You can learn more about shifting from an over-reliant team to a self-reliant team in this article here.
2. Scalable systems
Having strong systems in place that can be effectively scaled up will help the transition from business operator to business owner.
Having systems that work and that all your team can follow is an absolute must.
Systems ensure that there’s a set way to do things and that they’re always done in the way they should be.
You can create a system for absolutely anything in your accountancy practice. This includes:
- A system for dealing with and responding to client enquiries within X number of days
- A system for contacting clients who haven’t paid invoices on time
- A system for onboarding new clients who have just joined your practice
- A system for the little things that matter
- A system for referrals
…and so much more!
When things aren’t systemised, they happen on an ad-hoc as-and-when basis. But, when systems are in place, things are done with regularity and aren’t forgotten. This is key if you want to take a step back and spend much less time working in your business.
One thing that’s a must if you want to be a great business owner is knowing when and how to delegate.
As a business operator you were probably used to doing lots of the big important tasks on your own (as well as lots of smaller, less important ones too, I’m sure!), but if you want to transition to become a business owner, you need to start letting go.
It’s hard at first, you’ll not enjoy giving away the control. But it’s a must if you want to make the shift.
You’ll be more comfortable with delegating when you have a strong team around you as I mentioned in point one above. When you have the right people surrounding you, everything suddenly seems easier and more achievable.
Have you made the shift from business operator to business owner? Or are you looking to make this shift soon?