Letting Go of a Small Business Mindset


08 Jun Letting Go of a Small Business Mindset

The mindset transition from a ma & pa business to a company

Most small businesses start as sole proprietors or partnerships. The owner(s) manage everything in the business because they need to. They don’t have the money to pay someone with more expertise/experience to do it and are willing to give their startup business all the time it demands.

So you don’t hire people to save money. You don’t seek the professional expertise to save money. You don’t hire trades people, when you can do it yourself to save money etc. You take ownership and pride in everything you can do in your business to save money. Your business operating mantra becomes “I can do it myself and save money?” This is the reality of many small business startups and makes sense at this stage.

However, as the business grows many business owners carry forward a “small business mindset” (I can do it better, cheaper, faster myself). This management philosophy can lead one to assume that the same “manage/control everything” practise, that made you successful in the first place will work at the next stage of your business growth.

While a “DIY” attitude and “whatever it takes” work ethic may work well in the beginning, as your business grows these attributes can become obstacles and hindrances to your success as you transition from a mom & pa business to a company. These business skills and practices that you’ve honed and habits that you formed become ingrained in your mindset. It’s how you do business.

As a result, you tend to micro manage people and take an interest in making every decision. Not only can this be frustrating for the people that work for you but it takes you away from the real important things you should be doing like visioning and building the future of your business. So…

How do you transition away from doing the same things you did when you started to thinking and operating like a company?

How do you let go of the reins and stay out of everyone’s way?

To transition from a ma & pa business to a company that can run with and without you need to develop a “big business mindset”. At this stage, your time becomes more valuable and precious. You can no longer afford to be and do everything. You can no longer run your company with a ma & pa small business mindset.

As you think about making the next step in your business growth, you need to take inventory of your business/personal strengths and weaknesses.

  1. The statistical reality is that larger businesses live longer, so if you want your business to live long it needs to grow up
  2. You need to design and build the infrastructure and implement the management best practises that will allow your business to grow and operate efficiently at the next level.
  3. You need to identify and focus on what you do best. What are your true strengths? What is it about you that helped make this business successful?
  4. You need to find good people, business solutions, advisors and let them do their job? What is it that someone else could do better, not necessarily cheaper or faster than you but better than you?
  5. You need to let go of practises that are detrimental to your long term success as a company and detrimental to your health as a business owner.

Growing bigger is not for everyone.

There is nothing wrong with being a “ma & pa” business; keeping it small and simple. Bigger is not better for everyone and in fact it could be very well much worse for some.
There are countless stories of businesses that tried to transition to a structured company and failed. For many entrepreneurs letting go is too hard. They feel like they are losing control of the business they birthed and raised.

The reality is you loose control by trying to control everything.

When you are a small business “you”, in many ways “are” the business! You take a role in every aspect of your business from greeting your customers to unclogging the toilet. At this early stage you do need to know how to do everything, so you can step into any role and train someone exactly how you want the job done.That’s a good strategy in the beginning as you learn how you business functions but, as you grow a small business mindset won’t help take your business to the next level.

Joe Markovitch is the co-founder of Solly’s Bagelry, a Vancouver food institution and the founder of JoeCo Business Coaching Inc, a holistic business-coaching practise.
As a successful Vancouver entrepreneur, marketing exec, college instructor and professional musician Joe has more than 25 years of life in business. Over the past 5 years, Joe has coached many business start-ups and expansions in the retail sector, manufacturing industry and professional services field.