When I became MECP certified at the age of 17, all I knew how to do was work. I felt proud that I could outwork anyone, and I thought following a work ethic was all I needed to become a profitable businessman. Even as I was installing electronics in clients’ cars, I wanted more for myself. I dreamed of being my own boss. I’m guessing you can relate since you are reading this.
I could only last four years working for someone else before I opened my own doors. At 21, with just $300 to my name, I was confident that my grand idea of outworking anyone and everyone would bring me what I wanted in life. Back then, I misunderstood the difference between being an entrepreneur and a businessman. Believe me, they are not one and the same.
Rethinking Your Business Model
When you work in your business, it owns you. You don’t own it. You are at its beck and call. You’d better not get sick or hurt, and just try to have kids and be there for them and your spouse as much as you want. Not gonna happen. I learned these lessons up close and personal twice. Once, when I hurt my back and couldn’t work for three weeks, my income ground to a halt for that long, too, and it happened again when my wife, Jenn, and I had our three kids and a complication developed with my son.
Fortunately, there was a major difference between the time I hurt my back, and when my six-month-old son needed me, which was the second time my business came to a halt. I hurt my back because I was overweight and my body couldn’t handle all the extra stress. I remember lying on the floor in the bay writhing in agony. Somehow, I got myself up and went home, where I lived with my mom at the time. The money just dried up. Nothing was coming in the door since I couldn’t work. I made myself the end-all and be-all in every part of my business, which meant no one was around to help me.
Life went on, and I figured my back would heal and the money would flow again. It did, but I made some vastly different arrangements in my second business to allow it to survive if life hit me below the knees again.
After my first business crashed and burned, I launched another one—the same one I operate today, Top Class Installations, Inc. But I still did the same things and got the same results for a good chunk of time. I failed to realize how to keep my business afloat and still allow myself to have a life, along with the ability and perspective to work on my business—so it could flourish without my involvement every day. I knew I had to delegate and learn to get out of my own way.
When my kids were born, they taught me what I would allow or not allow in my life. It crushed me when I couldn’t be there for them as much as I wanted to when they were so little. It crushed me so much that I decided to change my entire work-life reality. Then, there was no looking back.
What Would Happen to Your Business if…?
At the age of six months, my son got very sick. I had three young kids by then, including his twin sister. For weeks, little Tomas hadn’t been feeling well and wasn’t eating, and my wife’s “mommy alarm” went off. One night, after seeing no improvement, she took him to the hospital while I stayed home to care for our two girls. The phone rang. Jenn told me she was in the back of an ambulance with Tomas. He was taken into surgery for a bowel obstruction. After surgery, he stayed in the hospital a few days to recover before he could come home. For me and Jenn, it was all hands on deck. Every child needed attention, and Tomas needed even more than usual.
This time, however, my income didn’t stop, and my worries didn’t compound. I had a team of people who were more than capable of keeping the cogs turning and the clients happy at Top Class. Money came in. Employees (including myself) were paid, and I could focus on where I needed to be—at home with my kids, ensuring Tomas would heal well.
Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if you got sick or seriously injured? Would your business immediately stop, or could you take the time needed for yourself? If your answer is, “Everything would stop,” I want you to read on because I am about to drop some knowledge that changed my life, and I want it to change yours, too.
Before I implemented changes in my business that would allow me to step away, I had the wrong mindset. It was not enabling my business’s optimal performance. Quite the opposite, I had been conditioning myself to fail.
To give you an example, here are some of the things I used to say before I discovered a better way of doing business. Read these and see if you can relate. If you can, don’t you think it’s time to work on your responses—and your reality?
If this is what you’re thinking, think again:
- If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.
- It’ll take me longer to show you, so I’d rather do it myself.
- I must know everything that goes on in my business.
- I’m not confident enough to step outside my comfort zone.
- There’s not enough time for that.
It’s Time to Change Your Self-Limiting Beliefs
I drilled these wrong ideas into my head every day while working in my new businesses. I made myself too important, as reflected by these beliefs.
Yes, any business you’re operating needs to be able to run without your daily input. But this is easier said than done, and I want to clear up some of the confusion you may feel when you’re advised to pull back in your business. Advice is only useful if you understand it.
Instead of grinding harder and pushing your sales, or beefing up your marketing budget, slow your role. Identify your systems and processes—and I don’t mean sink a boatload of money into a fancy CRM app, either. When you are just digging into the mechanics of your business and trying to find the best way to operate, a pen and paper, Evernote, or recording will suffice. So, write down what you need to do and move on to the next exercise—getting clear and honest about your vision.
Creating a Vision for Your Business
These are the elements that make up your vision:
- Purpose + Mission + Core Values = Vision
Before you can begin to formulate your vision, the three components—purpose, mission and your core values—should be defined. Let me give you an example of what purpose, mission and core values represent for us at Top Class.
Purpose: Why do you do what you do? Our purpose is, “We bring efficiency to life.”
Your mission relates to what you do, who you do it for, and by when. Our mission is, “To install GPS tracking devices and camera systems in one million vehicles by 2025.”
Core values are the fundamental beliefs and guiding principles that dictate behavior and help people understand the difference between right and wrong. They also help companies determine if they’re on the right path and fulfilling goals by creating an unwavering guide.
These are the differences in my business that have come about as a direct result of implementing our core values:
Top Class Before the Vision:
- We said yes to every job presented to us.
- No real focus or expertise.
- We were generalists, not specialists.
- The riches are in the niches.
- Hiring woes and employee turnover.
- Only four full-time employees, including the owners.
- Six-figure per year business.
Top Class After the Vision:
- 20 full-time employees.
- Hyper-focused on what we do and who we do it for.
- Expanded footprint.
- I now work ON the business and not IN the business.
- Growing daily with an industry-projected CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 20 percent by 2025.
- Seven-figure per year business.
Don’t Let Your Business Run You!
I know this sounds so incredibly simple—“just get clear on your vision”—but it is imperative that you go deep into how you want to run your business. When you do this, it will stop running you. Instead, you can run your business. You will appreciate the freedom to adjust fire when life comes at you hard, you will survive, and you will even achieve maximum profitability.
Living by the vision Top Class adapted has changed every detail of my working life, but more importantly, it has allowed me to have a personal life, which supports the people who mean the most to me, as it gives me everything I need for the lifestyle I want to live. I want the same to be true for you, too, so I hope you develop and follow your business vision to experience the benefits for yourself.