“Plan your work, and work your plan,” was one of my father’s gems…along with “Do your homework” and “Remember the Golden Rule.” My mother, sister and I got so sick of hearing it over and over that we finally took a vote to have him change his catch phrase. He then created, “Work towards the Objective.”
This is very important lesson for business-owners. Unfortunately, most people head into business without knowing what their objective is, (other than to make money) or how to set one up. They have an idyllic notion that they think will make money, and just assume, “If I build it, they will come.”
I learned this very quickly while running an art collective in the Detroit area. Working with artists is awesome: they’re creative, open to ideas, and routinely think out of the box. They want to earn an income off their art, but very rarely do they know how to set something up so that they don’t have to manage the business aspect, and can focus on what drives their passion. Unfortunately, over time, artists (and many other business owners in various industries) become so bogged down with the day-to-day grudge work of running a business that they forget why they got into it in the first place. Their art is no longer their passion, it becomes a means to a paycheck. This does not help creativity!
Automation is the answer. Your primary objective should be creating a system that allows your business to run regardless of whether you are present to answer phones, clean the washrooms, or handle invoices. You can either purchase an existing system, create your own system, or work within an established system.
The best example of Purchasing a System are franchises: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, etc. If I mention McDonald’s, you know, intuitively, the washrooms are generally to the right of the kitchen, the french-fry frier is by the drive-thru, there are established trash cans near the entryways, the menu is above the counter…if you buy the #2 Happy Meal in Detroit or Dallas, you know you’ll be getting the same food. Everything has already been established for you.
When you purchase a system, you’ll be given the rules and regulations for following the system. It’s pretty cut and dry. Especially with the large name corporations, you’re pretty much guaranteed success, as long as you’re in a high-traffic area. Follow the rules of the system and you’ll be just fine. The downside is that it doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity. You are part of a larger corporation, and they aren’t too keen on people deviating from the norm. The costs can also be quite astronomical, you have to pay for the land you’re using, the franchise fee, and some require a yearly fee as well.
Creating your own system takes more time and imagination, but can be well worth the rewards, since you don’t have to cater to a looming “big brother.” When you’re creating your own system, remember it should be as automated as possible. The best way to do this is with an Internet business. You don’t really have to hire employees, your shop is open 24/7 and customers ring themselves up. If you’re business is selling tangible goods through the Internet, you can sign up with a service to process the payments, and only be stuck with shipping and marketing. At first, of course you’ll have to do it yourself, but you can always hire independent contractors, students, and traditional employees to do this work for you. That way, you can focus on other aspects of the business. Or actually take a vacation!
Working in a mini-franchise is really one of the best ways to create long-term financial freedom, and what I recommend everyone do. MLM and Network Marketing companies are the best resources for working within a system. It’s the middle ground: You’re not completely alone, as with establishing your own, but you’re not completely smothered, as with a traditional franchise. There might be some guidelines about marketing and promotions, but mostly you’ll have the freedom to steer your business in whatever direction you’d like.
The nice thing about working within an MLM and Network Marketing company is that you are able to find others who are interested in being in business with you, and actually earn commission of off their sales. Wouldn’t it be nice if Subway allowed the managers a percentage of every sandwich sold by their employees? Or if a gas station gave each attendant a percentage of the gas sold? This is the concept of MLM. There are literally hundreds of companies that are available for you to choose. The appeal of these types of businesses aren’t just the residual income, but the fact that the start-up costs range from $200-$1000. It’s very doable for an average person.
Whether you choose to create your own system, purchase a franchise, or work within an MLM, the very first step of your business is to create a system that will allow your business to run in your absence. Because if you don’t, you’ll still have that “job.”