Finances, organization, and priorities are simply a necessity in life. Without them, it’s impossible for society to function because work will never get done and the most important tasks will never get tackled. This is especially true in business. Some of the things a business has to think about:
- Cash Flow: A business either needs to be making more than it takes in or have enough cash flow to sustain itself until it has achieved profitability (burn rate).
- Functionality: A business’s products must be in demand. It has to be useful, entertaining, or in some way valuable to the consumer. Otherwise, the business dies.
- Organization: Businesses, from one-man operations to conglomerates, must keep personnel, finances, taxes, and information organized and readily accessible if it hopes to succeed.
- Competition: If an industry is profitable, a business can expect stiff and smart competition that will challenge it for customers.
- Prioritization: A business must know what projects are the most important and set everything else aside. Getting 80% of things 80% done is far worse than getting 30% of priorities 100% done.
Each and every one of these qualities and realms are important to a business. None can be ignored for a business to success. None of these qualities can be ignored for an individual to succeed.
The Individual as a Business
An individual needs to have positive or sustainable finances to stay out of bankruptcy or the streets. An individual must be functional and beneficial to other companies to be employable and to friends to be worthwhile. An individual must be organized to get anything accomplished, in either work life or family life. An individual faces competition throughout his or her life at job interviews, for sales calls, and even things as simple as auctions. And finally, an individual must prioritize his or her work, family, business, friends, and time or it all becomes a jumbled mess.
The correlations are rather striking if you think about it. This is why people should think of themselves as a business. When an entrepreneur works on a startup, knowing his or her financial position and how many months of negative cash inflow he or she can handle is going to save that entrepreneur from headaches or even bankruptcy.
With these thoughts in mind, here are a few tips for thinking of yourself more as a business.
1. Stop thinking of yourself as an employee: This is the predominant mindset, and you have to shake it. You are in business for yourself, first and foremost. It sounds a bit cold, but it is true. Don’t let yourself get pushed around in the workplace. Don’t make yourself so dependent on the paycheck that you are stuck in one place. And most of all, be the master of your own domain. If being happy means leaving your current job and taking a big risk, then I suggest staying true to yourself.
2. Always remember, cash flow is king: Everything you purchase has a purpose. Those diapers are for personal care. That T.V. is for entertainment and happiness. Nothing is a meaningless purchase. With that in mind, budget so that your necessities and needs are met, and make sure that budget doesn’t exceed your cash flow expectations.
3. Have two budget lines, bare-bones and comfortable: Know what purchase are bare-bones survival, like food, shelter, clothing, and communication. And yes, in the digital age, I consider a computer and a cell phone a necessity, although you can partially fulfill this at an Internet cafe if necessary.
4. Always be useful: The useful become the indispensable. Having a skill few others have, being productive consistently, and having a strong network are all things that make you useful to businesses and other individuals. After all, you are a business, and useless businesses don’t stay in business.
5. Compartmentalize priorities and goals as distinct projects: Think of each part of your life as a project. Your family is the most important project there is. Others can be your day job, your startup, your friends, your hobby, or your education. But each is a separate project and should be treated as such. Even if they overlap, separate as many elements as possible. Nothing is worse than the work life destroying the love life.
6. Stay competitive: There are more people than positions available for the most desirable jobs, just as there are more businesses competing than there is market share. Losers get relegated to obscurity, while winners ascend. It sounds a little harsh, but keeping a sharp edge is an essential asset when challenged.
You are a valuable entity and need to be treated as such. And if you don’t believe you are, find ways to become one.