Do You Have an Employee Mindset?


Do you have an Employee Mindset? Most people who run their own businesses didn’t start that way. They started as an employee working for someone else.  At some point, they took the plunge and opened, bought, or acquired a business of their own.

There’s a big difference between working for someone and being a business owner.

​Now that YOU run the show, have you shed your employee mindset to be a successful business owner?  It seems like a simple thing to do, even to recognize, but an overwhelming number of business owners I’ve worked with or collaborated with take their employee mindset with them.  So what happens when you don’t change the way you think and what you think about it?  Here are a few of the areas that can prevent you from realizing your true potential as a successful business owner.

Strategic Outlook:

Employees (even good ones) tend to focus on the here and now.  They complete tasks, provide service to customers, assemble and ship things that have been ordered or complete the administrative requirements of the business.  All these are important to a successful business but all very limiting from a directional standpoint.

Being a successful owner means continually looking down the road to see where you are taking your business, what challenges lay ahead, and what changes may be necessary for continued growth and prosperity.  Employees tend to worry about the future of the business.  You must be responsible for it.

Risk Taker:

Employees avoid risk.  Owners must get comfortable with it.  Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without some measure of risk-taking.  Learn to do the appropriate amount of research, assess your options and make a decision.

Getting comfortable with risk and being proficient at making decisions will enable you to seize opportunities and avoid mistakes due to a lack of action.

Proactive Behavior:

To stay ahead in your chosen field and set the direction you desire for your organization, you must be proactive, not reactive.  Employees tend to react to unexpected situations or changes in their work routines.  Owners must anticipate the unexpected and be the source of the change, not the result of it.  Being proactive will enable you to assess outcomes and avoid the damaging effects of doing nothing because you’re not looking for the alligator in the swamp.

Activity vs. Accomplishment:

This is a big one!  Employees tend to complete assignments or tasks without regard to the effects on the company at large.  Some employees may do the right things to avoid problems down the road because they’re experienced at what they do, and they pride themselves on bringing value to their position.  Owners must evaluate certain activities to ensure that the results line up with higher goals that need to be accomplished.  It’s not always a matter of getting things done.  Many times, it’s a matter of doing things that are beneficial to the business’s future.

Liked vs. Respected:

Being liked may be OK for the rank and file, but it can reduce an owner-to-figurehead status very quickly. Getting along in the workplace is important to most employees.  No one likes working in a stressful environment or with people who seem to be at odds continuously.  So people tend to do what makes them ‘likable’.

Owners must make hard decisions and deal with issues that may not score them points with their staff.  Remember, you’re their boss first, and most employees want it that way.  If your employees respect you for your ability to run a successful, profitable business, they will work for you whether they like you or not.

Roles & Responsibilities:

While lots of employees want to feel valued based on their contribution to the job, most would prefer not to have to feel responsible for leading a company they don’t own.  Expectations of what they do and how well they need to do it should be initiated by the owner.

It’s the owner’s job to set the pace and the employee’s job to meet it.  Confusing these roles only lead to disappointing results and conflict.  And when that happens, it’s the owner who is accountable for not taking the reins early.

There are probably other mindset limitations that you could add to this list, but these are the real barriers to growing and running a business you can be proud of.  The real secret is recognizing that you, as the business owner, are operating with mindset symptoms like these in the first place.

Overcoming these limitations doesn’t require a personality or style overhaul.  It just requires an awareness of how you think about the role you have and the decisions you make.

You are the owner of the business.  The ‘Buck’ always stops with you!

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