I have worked a vast and diverse array in my professional career. I was indoctrinated into the professional world when I worked as a Project Engineer for a ONE BILLION dollar a year Design/ Build company. Those in my position were given just enough autonomy to know we could make a difference but not quite enough to do any harm.
While at that post, things were pretty easy. Sure we had the daily fires to extinguish but once you understood your role in the job, you understood you were nothing more than a cog in the machine.
This is probably a good thing for a twenty something engineer fresh out of school, ready to take the world by its horns. You really could not screw anything up because the corporation had the reigns tight and several systematic fail safe’s that kept eyes of hierarchy on EVERYTHING you did.
I was in for a world of shock when I left that place. No longer did I have the comfort in knowing that the decisions made were the right ones. No longer did I have a guiding hand to offer instruction. No longer did I have the comfort of an assistant to type my letters or a chief engineer to redirect negotiations.
I was on an island all my own. I had to figure out, and fast. I had to learn that no one was going to be there to hold my hand to make sure my work got done, and done properly. Gone were the days of a cushy laid back job where I could predict the outcome of the day ahead.
Suddenly upon me was the reality that I am now the do-it-all resource. I had to become the assistant, the filer of files, and the answerer of phones and returner of emails. I was now responsible for keeping the check book balanced AND the clients coming in, not to mention filing those quarterly tax reports and retirement planning just to name a few. My new hat meant that if it was going to get done, I personally had to see to it that it was so. So what changed?
That’s right; I became a small business owner. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn and apply is that while you wear these many hats, there is still a job to be done. I can be worried about EVERYTHING else that needs to be done, but if I’m not worried about the client first it is all for naught.
It can be a challenge, being a small business owner. But it has its rewards. Many people think the freedom of making their own schedule, working when they want, getting out of bed when they want to is the reality. The REAL reality, not the made for TV kind of reality show reality…the REAL reality is finding yourself at your desk all hours of the morning and night. It means working on Saturdays and Sundays too sometimes. It means doing things that need to get done when everyone else is enjoying their time off.
It is that challenge that motivates the small business owner. It can be done. People do it everyday. The key is finding a balance of identifying critical tasks and those that can wait until later as well as utilizing professional help along the way when it makes sense to. Use your resources to maximize your ability to improve the quality of service you provide. If you are not working constantly to stay on top of that thing called service, you are in trouble.
Out there in this great big world there exists a contingency of hard working people who foster the can-do American spirit. If you’re not working to provide the best service to your clients, rest assured, somebody else is!