There’s nothing wrong with your business right? Yes you could do with some time, a couple of more customers, or a bit more of a break in the busy periods, or some help, but you are busy the whole time so it must be good right? If so then why are you reading this article? Because things aren’t perhaps going as well as you want them to? Perhaps you’re not making enough money consistently yet? The good days are great but there’s not enough of them? Perhaps you’ve plateaued with the number of customers you have. But perhaps you don’t even know yet, it’s more of a feeling than a fact?

Here’s a question for you to think about: could you show me what you mean so that I can help you?

Imagine you and I are sitting across the table from each other and we spend some time getting to know each other, where we are in our lives and businesses and tell a little about what we’re looking to do for the following year. As I sit here writing this it’s a new day, 2nd January 2022, and I’m thinking about what I’m planning to do with this book and for the rest of the month, the quarter and the rest of the year. On top of those ideas I already have the beginnings of a plan for the year after. My long distance planning is still a bit vague right now but I’ve had some tentative thoughts about this already. What about you? Do you know what the next day, week, month, quarter and year will bring? Do you understand what it takes right now for you to get from where you are to where you want to go?

It’s hard to find the right balance between planning and working. It’s easier for us to fall back into our habit of working and not be able to take our head out of the trough and work out where we want to be. Let’s spend some time to examine our habits and what makes us think like an entrepreneur in order to act like an entrepreneur.

Where are we now?

Before we ever start to think about making a plan for change it’s important to understand where we are. When we look at a map we need to find out our location before we know which way to head and it’s the same in business. We have a lot of different concerns to balance in business so how do we know what is important to us and what is more of a distraction? And will this change as our business changes?

So what does a typical business look like for the typical entrepreneur? Let’s build a reference point around our entrepreneur, Gracie. She’s 34 years old and a single mother currently working in local government with the dream of building her side hustle into a way of supporting her family. She has already made a start with her business by building an online presence in the form of an Etsy shop through which she sells yarn bombs. Yarn bombing is the practice of wrapping street furniture in woolen goods – usually fun and decorative.

Gracie also has a youtube channel through which she advertises her products and also gives demonstrations of how to build them. She has a good online presence already and has now started to give lessons to some super fans on her techniques. She has considered creating a membership for these people but is already stretched thinly for time and cash is tight so she has to do everything on her business herself. Between working, looking after her young daughter and her existing online work she has no additional time for growth and little additional time for planning or growing the business.

Often when we are in the middle of running our business we spend little time thinking about what it needs to be like for us. We see our business as something that we like doing, we’re good at and we spot a ‘gap in the market’ to sell into. Like Gracie it may have come about through a passion, through a skill that she’s learned from her grandma and has turned into something today that provides some form of income. But we never started out with a vision of what this would look like day-to-day, we might have started out with some estimates about how long it would take to get to profitability, we might have just started on a wing and a prayer. So how do you find the time to be able to not only be able to run your business but also be your business? How do we understand what your business needs to be for you in order for you to keep doing it?

This is an excerpt from the opening chapter of my upcoming book Automation for the Nation.

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