Check yourself - no one else will

It is true what they say. Being a small business owner is a lonely existence. To offset this loneliness you can always take comfort that many other people in your network are going through the same thing. You can also gain support through the many business communities and on-line groups that exist.

The fact always remains that you end up spending most of your time by yourself. Even for business owners that are surrounded by their teams, or family and friends on a daily basis can feel isolated. The feeling of loneliness often comes from the feeling that no one understands, especially when all they do is give advice that is either irrelevant or unhelpful. Frustration becomes a daily habit and it all becomes a big struggle.

As a business owner myself I am quite familiar with this feeling. I also see it every day in my work as a consultant. The Business Owner’s common reaction manifests in some of these behaviours:

• Frustration – resulting in the staff being “ridden hard” and usually unfairly.
• Irritation – leading to unpleasantness and resentment back towards you the owner.
• Lowered trust – staff are given less slack as the owner over-compensates and then gets labelled as a “Control Freak”.
• Poor customer service – staff are talked over, or corrected in front of customers.

These are a few of the many reactions that are common within a business operation. The crazy thing about it is that these actions are usually a contradiction to the standards that the owner is trying to instill in their team culture.

So, why does this happen?

The short answer is that there is simply no one more senior to correct you. To guide you. To keep you and your behaviour in check.

I love this quote that I’ve seen on meme’s a few times:

“DISCIPLINE IS WHAT WE DO WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING”

It takes a lot of focus and self-control to be able to constantly check yourself. The consequence of not checking yourself results in the team receiving mixed messages from you. You are also going to be your own biggest enemy in regard to achieving your own goals.

I often see behaviour in small business owners that makes me ask the question “if you hired a manager that did that then would you sack them?” Of course, this is a big wake up call to change behaviour immediately.

Leading by example is effective – we can all agree on this. To do this CONSISTENTLY a good idea is to act as if you are employed as a manager rather than the owner of your own business. It is a great way to ensure that you check yourself and maintain a positive behaviour that is in line with the culture you want your team to buy into. This in turn will be a key driver for you and your team – both short term and long term.