Are you a job holder or business owner?

By Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC

40% of all U.S. working adults will be self-employed by 2020. This shift in the composition of business establishments in the U.S. will necessitate changes in how job holders adapt their thinking more toward a business owner mentality. A job holder (JH) focuses on their work process—a necessary function. They are most concerned with their functional role in the organization (sales, finance, HR, operations), scheduling their work and handling the completion of each of their assigned projects or responsibilities. However, a successful business owner (BO) focuses on the management, visioning and aligning processes, but sees around the corners, anticipated the futures and leans into opportunities while actively improving, pivoting, and transforming its operations, its focus on the customer and evolving the organization to meet the opportunities and business and market challenges. In other words, they focus on “the forest,” not “just the trees.”

Here are 4 ways in which job holders will need to change their approach as their role evolves to take on the excitement of transitioning to a successful business owner.

  1. Job holders (JH) watch expenses; successful business owners (BO) manage relationships. The JH looks at costs and expenses. Generally speaking, all expenses are dealt with in the “now.” There is little or no planning or strategic foresight. The BO, on the other hand, considers all expenses from the point of view of risk, profit model and likely return on investment. The BO adaptively and knows instinctively that he/she not only must the costs be recouped from each job but profit and a recurring and future customer relationship must be built.
  2.  Job holders see employees as tools; successful business owners see employees as an investment and source of capital. Today, there is no greater limit to company growth and profitability than the lack of qualified talent. In a community with 2.5 percent unemployment, the unemployed are structurally unemployable. In fact, some might argue that the hiring of qualified staff is more critical than investments in equipment or R&D. Good people are hard to come by, and smart organizations are relentlessly upgrading their talent. Smart organizations should hire talent when they find it – remember, Jim Collins, first who and then what. It’s all about the bus!
  3. Job holders often take failure personally; business owners see failure as necessary stepping stones to success, and as an integral part of the innovation process. Most failures stem from mismanagement and improper resource allocation decisions and bets, not from the performance of employees or difficult customers. Successful business owners don’t internalize conflict, take failure personally and know that it’s a necessary price of admissions in building any business of substance.
  4. Job holders are risk adverse; successful business owners seek it out and manage it. They are smart risk takers. If you ask the average employee why they don’t find entrepreneurship attractive, most often they’ll say they need the security of their day job, that they lack a good idea and that they are not wired to. Instead, they prefer a steady paycheck and benefits – a semblance of security. JHs view working for someone as a safer bet. Yet successful BOs, thrive on taking measured and calculated risk. They are risk and recognize that without risk, the rewards are limited. In the eyes of the BO, the ability to write one’s own ticket, control their own destiny and to have maximum upside in control freedom and earnings potential provides an attractive playing field.

Mindset matters to BO’s. Developing the entrepreneurial talents is as much learned and it is genetic. Some studies approximate the genetic component to be 37-44 percent. That leaves a lot of room for learning and discovering the entrepreneurial mindset.

So, if you are transitioning from a job holder to self-employment or even better to be an entrepreneur, and you want to break the “solo- glass ceiling”, reach out and talk to a NIIC coach. We are here to help you grow and adapt to the mindset required to successfully own and operate a business. We have a lot of business tools and insightsto help you start down the entrepreneurial road.


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