You have a dream of owning your own business, so you cash in your 401K, you find investors that you will now get to answer to, you work 50-60 hour weeks, pay yourself less than some of your employees – just until you start to “make” money — worry all the time, barely pay the bills in the beginning, are the first one in and the last to leave, and haven’t had a real vacation in years. But it’s worth it. Because you own your own business… right?
Right. Or rather, it can be. But sometimes I dream of working for “the man.” And here’s the #1 one reason: EMPLOYEES.
Yes, I’m talking about you, small business employees. Those of you who punch a clock then stand around waiting for something to come your way. Those of you who spend all day on the internet rather than asking for guidance or more work. Those of you who complain about every single thing — I’m not paid enough, my health insurance sucks, I didn’t get any commission this week. And none of it — none of it is YOUR FAULT. It is all because your employer is cheap, didn’t sell enough FOR YOU, refuses to pay for a better insurance policy. After all, you know what we charge for products, so we MUST be making money. Right?
Wrong. If the above employee sounds like you then please keep reading. When you invest your life savings and your entire being into a company, you can decide what to pay someone and which benefits to provide. When you are the one looking at all of the bills coming through — building expenses, insurance, lights, gas, equipment maintenance, marketing, phones, etc. — then you can make the determination about what to pay. And if you are that unhappy with what you make then you have two choices: leave or find out HOW you can help the company become more profitable.
But complaining and being complacent isn’t a solution. And if you are looking to your employer for more guidance on how you can help, ask. Because most of us can’t read minds and if we are otherwise worried or occupied, we may believe that you don’t need additional training. We may occasionally forget to consistently track your performance. And we may be failing you by not providing more assistance, but we will never know if you don’t tell us.
Here are 6 things you could implement this week to make yourself invaluable to your small business owner and help your company grow.
- Consciously work. Don’t just daze in and out all day while you work. Are you confident that you know your material or do you need some more training or guidance? If you do, ask for it.
- Be on time. If you are having trouble getting to the office on time, change your morning routine. Your employer counts on you to be there.
- Speaking of being on time, come to work ready to work. Don’t sit down at your desk and eat breakfast or finish getting dressed after you get to the office. It is a time-thief. If you are clocked in (or have arrived if you are salary) then you should be ready to start your day.
- Don’t complain to others about your job. Your fellow employee may betray your trust one day and air YOUR grievances to your employer. Instead, if you have a concern about pay, benefits, commission, work hours, or anything else at work, talk to your employer. They want you to be the best employee possible and if it’s something that can be easily changed or if you have a long term goal for yourself, present your employer with the idea. Employers can’t know everything that is happening in the business, so if you haven’t addressed a need or concern with them, don’t assume the answer is no.
- Take initiative. Seek out additional training on your own. Track your own performance. Keep a list of everything you do every day and see where you might be wasting time or can make improvements. This is also a great tool to have on hand when you are asking for a raise or promotion. Show your employer how much you do!
- Finally, if there is something outside of the office that is hurting your performance at work, talk to your employer. The nice thing about working for a small business is that your employer gets to make all or most of the decisions rather than having to ask someone higher up. They may be able to give you flex-time, a few days off to take care of a sick child… You don’t know unless you ask and they don’t know what is happening outside the office unless you share.
It is fulfilling to know at the end of the day that I get to make the most of the final decisions for my company. But it’s also weighs heavily. So before your next tirade about your employer not doing enough for you – do something for your employer, and see their business and your job rise to the top.
— This post was contributed by a working mom who prefers to remain anonymous. She is a small business owner, mother of many, and wife of one.