I am TERRIBLE at accounting. Seriously, like awful at it.
I learned this in my first semester of business school. I was taking basic accounting and the homework sent me spiraling into crocodile tears and teeth-clenched monosyllabic man-grunts. It was awful. I had never hit a wall like that before. I was always the kid in school who just studied until I understood. There had never really been a thing I just couldn’t make sense of. But business math? Chewed me up and spit me out like I was 6-hour-old cinnamon gum by my second week. I almost quit school over it. Thankfully, I was commuting with an accountant. She helped me understand both the work, and the fact that we had a truly terrible teacher.
So I kept at it.
It never got easier.
Like, AT ALL.
But now at least I understand my business’ money flow now, and can read a Profit and Loss like a BOSS. But it takes me hours to work things out that most MBAs gulp down like expensive bourbon.
I hate it.
It makes me feel vulnerable and dumb. And I never want anyone to know how truly slow I am with numbers.
But I still do all of my own bookkeeping.
Why? Because if I ever let someone take it over for me, it would be too easy to never want to look at it again. And hellloooo, moolah is kinda the center of any business. It is not a ball I am willing to take my eye off of.
So I keep at it. It takes me forever. Is not at all an efficient use of my time. And I would rather get a root canal. And I do it over and over anyway.
Because the single most important thing anyone has ever done to create and grow a successful business is to show up. Every day. Over and over and over and give ALL of your attention to whatever needs to be done. Even when you don’t want to. No, ESPECIALLY when you don’t want to.
It’s a magical secret. And it’s one no one really wants to face.
So many of us start our businesses because we want to follow our passions. We want to live on our own terms. We want to never have to listen to a boss again.
So we leap. And we feel brave. We feel like one of the rarefied few who did what others never will.
And for a while, we coast on that high. We have faith that the money will come if we just follow our guts all the way to the bank.
But here’s the thing:
I really am.
But it won’t.
All the blissful-happy-positivity in the universe will not pay your mortgage.
You have to show up every day. A hundred times a day.
You have to do things you’re bad at. And you will have to get better at them.
You have to learn new skills. And fast. Things that are just not in your wheelhouse. [And yes, that means you will need to learn bookkeeping and software that makes no sense and marketing and how to manage your website and how to network and a gajillion other things you haven’t even thought of yet.]
And I know what you’re thinking…
You’re thinking, “I’ll just hire people to do that stuff for me.”
Oh really? With all that extra cash you have?
And even if you do have the cash… if you hire people to do EVERYTHING you don’t feel like doing, or don’t understand, how will you know how to grow? How will you know what’s working and what isn’t? How will you learn how to lead?
If you suck at math and you hire a bookkeeper right out of the gate, and you let them manage your money, how will you know if they are ripping you off?
If you suck at social media so you hire a social media manager, how can you ever hope to understand and benefit from the deep value of making real connections when you aren’t actually the one MAKING the connections?
If you suck at all things technical and hire a small nerd army to do everything for you, how will you know when you’re being overcharged for something that could have been fixed with a click or two?
How will you know if the people you hire are good at their job, or are just taking your precious pennies on a joyride through NotAtAllWorthItTown?
Being a successful entrepreneur – at least in the early stages – means you have to understand every element of your business.
It means never hiring anyone to do anything for you that you can’t pick up and do for yourself if they flake out on you/ disappear with your passwords/ decide to follow THEIR bliss and simply blow you off completely.
It means that even when you don’t feel like blogging or tweeting or posting or doing invoicing or learning Google Drive or clearing your inbox, you do it anyway.
Because that’s what it takes to get from, “Yay! I quit my job and became a coach/ artist/ personal chef/ writer/ cat herder! Let the money flood begin!” to ACTUALLY making any money at all.
This is the ONLY difference between those who succeed and those who don’t.
Those who succeed are willing to do the crap they don’t want to do and learn the stuff they don’t understand until they make enough to hire help from an informed position.
That’s the start of real leadership.
Because true leaders earn respect by never asking others to do anything they haven’t already done themselves [a million and one times].
True leaders find success because they don’t whine and crap out when faced with the businessy bits that make them feel insecure. They learn. They ask for help. They figure it out. They make mistakes. They get kicked in the teeth. And knocked on their ass. And then get up and ask for more.
And above all, they take responsibility for every single piece of their business.
This responsibility, this leadership is the thing that moves the needle from passion project to profit engine. Even if you are a team of one. Especially if you are a team of one. Because leadership is how your hobby becomes a business. It’s how you go from freelancer to business owner. You can smell businesses that have real leaders at the helm. They are the names everyone knows. The ones who don’t make excuses. The ones who buck trends and invest in themselves and their businesses. The ones who don’t have time to let fear or procrastination stand between them and what they want. The ones who don’t just seem successful, but who actually are.
Committing to taking the leadership role in your business doesn’t just boost others’ perception of you and your business. More importantly, it improves how you see yourself – how YOU see what you’re building.
Seeing yourself as a leader is the first step in creating something worth leading.
And that all begins with getting up every day and doing ALL of the shit required of you. It means not procrastinating because you don’t understand something. It means getting real and taking ownership of the work you do in the world. You don’t have a boss anymore. But we all need someone to tell us to do the crap we don’t want to do. And if you don’t become that person for yourself, I can guarantee that someone else will take the job and you will wind up right back in that cubicle and your tiny [huge] dream will never see the light of day.
So whatever it is that you’re putting off doing for your business…
Do it now.
It can’t wait.
The life you want depends on it.