Shawn Christenson's
You don't have to just be someones 'Web Guy'

Look Forward To Your Future As Your Own Boss

Entrepreneurship, General

We’ve all heard how we can’t just be the technician in our business because we get caught up in the day-to-day and the tedious aspects.  We get stuck ‘Getting it all done’.  We work IN the business instead of ON the business. (You HAVE heard this right?  From Michael Gerber of ‘The E-Myth’.  If not – go read a summary here: “The E-Myth Revisited: A Review” by the great ‘Men with Pens’

Here’s the thing: It’s okay to be the technician when you choose when that will be.

I’ve had a lot if hopeful projects in the past that haven’t done what all involved dreamed they would do. Because of that I began to always doubt what the success and possibilty of a project would be.  It had pretty much gotten to the point where I doubted the likelihood of a projects success all the way along.

Here’s why: because I began to doubt my partners. I began to not know how it would go because I couldn’t put total faith in my partners like I could with myself.  And – alternatively (and it sucks to realize it) my partners couldn’t have total faith in me.  I wasn’t perfect all the time either.

Choose Your Partners Wisely

This isn’t sayin my partners were bad. Far from it. I only chose to work with amazing people.  I’m pretty strict with who I choose to work with and I always did plenty of due diligence before moving forward.

But because of so many different elements I began to doubt the success of each project’s future.

Today that is gone. I’m in control of my own future and I feel amazing. And I know where it’s going to lead. I know what my vision is and I know what I’m working on.  I know whatever step I take, is deliberate and i’ve thought it through.

You need to do the same. You need to be in control.

The whole point is to be your own boss.

Whether you’re simply a freelance web designer or you’re operating a full-fledged web development business – you started it to be your own boss.  What happens when you start to take on partners?  They start to be your boss as well.  So how do you get around this?

I’ve developed a set of rules to follow when working with Partners on a project, and I’ve simplified them for consumption below:

  1. Be clear with your partners in how you work.  Let them know what your work schedule is and let them know when you have other things to work on.
  2. Institute a way to be contacted.  If you only wish to communicate via Basecamp, let them know.  You’re partnering for financial gain, treat it that way.
  3. Regurgitate often.  Getting clarity on expectations of you is top priority.  If it ever seems out of whack, re-state what it is you hear them asking you to do.  When they hear it they’ll see the unbalance as well.
  4. Measure your success.  Is what you’re working on working for YOU?  If it’s not then be honest with all involved and explain why.  This includes being honest with yourself – if you’ve committed to more than you can chew you need to CHEW REALLY HARD or spit it out right away.
  5. Quit.  That’s right – if it’s sucking your life you need to quit.  It’s not helping anyone to hang on out of ‘integrity’.  This is especially the case if there hasn’t been any gain after lots of up-front effort.  It’s okay to let go.

They’re simple and they rely heavily on your instinct – but if you’re in this for the long haul then you’re thinking for yourself anyway.  All you need to do is start following your instinct more often,

Say ‘No’ Early, but not Often.

I’ve all too often never uttered the word ‘No’ to a partner or a client.  It just wasn’t something I could bring myself to do.  It’s not nice.  I’m a nice guy.  It’s who I am.  Or at least – that’s what I told myself.

No, when something doesn’t work for me, I say ‘No’.  When it does, I agree to it.  Here’s what’s happened for me professionally since implementing this ‘strategy’ (which should really just be normal).  I’ve developed a greater respect from partners and clients.  My time is more respected and trusted.  When I say I can do something – I actually can because I’ve let go of the things that always get in the way of that.

When I say ‘No’ my partners and clients believe it.  It is not questioned and it is actually respected to a much greater amount than I initially thought would be the case.

What comes from me saying ‘No’ is that my ‘Yes’ actually has more weight.

Now when I let a partner or client know I am available to work on a a project – instead of it being expected it is appreciated.  So when i’m asked if I can make a change to a site in 2 days, and I say I can make it work – they’re extremely grateful for me taking the time to make sure their ‘whim’ is accommodated.

Saying ‘No’ when I first realize it’s something I shouldn’t commit to frees me to make sure I complete the things I’ve said ‘yes’ to.  And those things I said ‘Yes’ to are the projects I believe in.  This keeps Me in  control and when I’m in control – I look forward to tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the day after that.

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