Imagine you are CEO of a company. You run the whole show. You have full decision making authority in every functional area. It’s in an industry where you’re the ultimate expert — you know it better than anyone. You have unlimited earning potential, don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself, and are free to run this company from anywhere in the world. Sounds appealing, right?
You’d do everything to ensure this company succeeds, right?
Because this company already exists. And most likely — you’re not doing everything to ensure its success. What is this company I speak of?
The business of YOU.
That’s right. You are a business whether you like it or not. If you think of yourself simply as an employee of a company, it’s time to change that mindset. Think of the company described above as a company named YOU. Even if you work one full-time job that is your only source of income, YOU is a business and your job is YOU’s core product/service. If you are someone with multiple jobs, YOU has multiple revenue streams that offer a variety of products/services.
Most people view work life and personal life as two separate entities. In reality, they are the two major divisions under this all encompassing company of YOU. In order to reach your financial potential, you must adopt this mentality. Of course, you can still be successful even if you don’t. Many businesses are profitable despite their inefficiencies. But the goal here is to realize your ultimate and untapped potential.
Manager vs. Employee
There is an interesting dynamic at play in the business of YOU. In typical positions, we are either in an employee role, a manager role, or both. We report to other people or other people report to us. Or both are happening simultaneously.
YOU has a completely different dynamic present. All three situations above involve someone reporting to someone else. In YOU, we report to ourselves.
Reporting to ourselves poses many challenges. The main challenge is accountability. Reporting to someone else, especially someone in a position of relative authority, naturally holds us accountable. But when our employee self only reports to our manager self — it’s like having your best friend as your boss… on steroids. You know you can get away with anything:
- “You worked hard yesterday, so you can take today off.”
- “I didn’t have any time to do it. The game was on.”
- “Sure, you can catch up on your favorite shows. Catching up is getting things done.”
- “I don’t really feel like doing this right now. I’ll do it when I feel like it.”
Even the statements we make show the two personas at play as some statements are made in first person while others are made in second person. Our employee self can make any excuse and our manager self will rationalize any behavior. Think about it – even after poor performance, avoiding all responsibilities, and bringing YOU to financial ruin, the employee self still won’t get fired.
In the business of YOU, we are self-governing. By increasing our awareness of this internal relationship, we can have our manager self create better systems and processes in order to help our employee self execute.
The 7 Key Functional Areas
There are seven key functional areas of any business that must operate cohesively within the overall goals of the company. When one area falters, the long-term viability of the whole company is at risk. Competition is tough in today’s world so if you aren’t executing properly, someone else will. Most jobs specialize in one specific functional area, so we are trained to be narrow focused. This may be optimal for the employees of a company, but the CEO has his/her hands in every department.
As CEO of the business of YOU, you have to lead each functional area:
1. Human Resources
Human resources are the most important asset of any company. When you break it down, companies are not made up of computers, machines, and systems — they are made up of people. Recruiting the right people is the largest determinant of a company’s success. Yes, YOU is made up of just you… at least that’s how it always starts out. Most of the time YOU will undergo a merger with HIM or HER to form a newer, bigger company.
Since this is often the only hire YOU will ever make, it makes finding the right person all the more important. A person that shares your vision for the future, holds similar values, and complements your skills will help ensure plural YOU’s success. Not all marriages undergo mergers. Some spouses operate their respective companies independently but together. But most do merge, so as unsexy as it sounds, your spouse is also your business partner.
As we’ve become aware, about 50% of U.S. marriages end in divorce, which means there are a significant amount of de-mergers. Make sure you conduct a proper search and don’t just hire the first person that walks through the door to interview.
2. Accounting and Finance
Without money, a company can’t operate. It’s as simple as that.
Cashflow is the lifeblood of every business, so you must be able to manage cash inflows and outflows and prepare financial statements. Yet only 1 in 3 Americans actually prepares a household budget. Can you imagine if two-thirds of companies operated without an effective Accounting and Finance department?
As CEO, you walk into the office of the CFO and ask, “How are we doing?” The CFO replies, “We’re paying our bills on time — well, most of the time.” You exclaim, “Awesome! Keep it up!”
This is how most people operate. No understanding of actual performance. No clue where the losses are being suffered. A vague idea if money is actually being made. I fear it’s become socially accepted that paying bills timely is being financially responsible. To me, that’s not good enough. You should demand excellence from yourself — not the bare minimum to get by.
If managing cashflows, applying accounting principles, and preparing financial statements seem intimidating to you, no need to worry. It’s easier than you think. And that’s precisely why The Budget Boy is here.
Every company offers some product or service with the purpose of generating revenue. A full-time job is commonly the primary revenue stream but YOU may have multiple revenue streams. In fact, YOU should. A single product manufactured and distributed well can be profitable, but multiple products can be more profitable. And more importantly, it reduces risk through diversification. Competition can get tougher, margins can get tighter, and innovation can leave your product undesired, so it is better to not have your entire livelihood dependent on one product’s performance.
If YOU is a partnership (i.e. a married couple), then there could be many products/services that make up YOU’s various revenue streams. For example, one partner may offer their doctor services and the other partner offers their teaching services during the week and bartending services on the weekend. YOU could also have a rental property, 401k, and IRA. These various revenue streams leave YOU much better positioned than if the whole company were dependent on the one partner’s doctor services.
4. Marketing / Promotion
Personally, this is the functional area that has proven to be the most difficult. I believed in the “get good grades and the rest will take care of itself” fallacy. For a long time, I had trouble understanding why people with inferior skills would get hired over me and then later on land the higher paying jobs over me. I learned that the person with the best skills doesn’t get the job; the person who sells their skills the best gets the job. And when it came to selling ME, I was the one with the inferior skills. I had manufactured a great product but failed to learn how to sell it.
You are constantly selling. All day. Every day. To your coworkers, friends, family, Uber driver, lender, and cashier at the grocery store. That’s right, you are selling even to the people you’re buying from. You are constantly promoting YOU’s brand in every interaction. Of all the functional areas, this is where the money is actually made . If you sell nothing, you get nothing. Naturally, the better you are selling — the more revenue YOU will make.
YOU could offer accounting services as its core product. I know accountants that make 35k and I know accountants that make over 100k. Same skill-set. What do you think causes the huge gap?
How do you manage yourself day-to-day? What systems and processes do you implement to keep YOU on track? There is no one-size fits all answer to these questions. Every person operates differently, but the systems and processes must be in place or else things fall through the cracks. If you are not consciously creating effective systems and improving processes, you are developing bad habits.
Operations is where personal life is integrated into YOU. A wise CEO understands the company’s people need a healthy work/life balance. That includes the CEO. This is also where the majority of YOU’s expenses come from. In order for YOU to operate, you need food, shelter, clothing, transportation, utilities, entertainment, etc. It’s the overhead necessary to keep YOU alive and functioning.
6. Customer Service
Marketing is what creates sales, but it’s customer service that creates loyalty. Just like you are constantly promoting YOU’s brand in every interaction — you are also providing customer service in every interaction. Great customer service is a fantastic way to promote YOU.
Think about people you’ve worked with that have been fired or “fired”. No one hired them initially with the plan for them to fail. Everyone wants to make great hires. Let’s pretend Joe was let go (assuming the company was not downsizing). Joe sold JOE’s product/service to get hired in the first place. There are two things that could have led to Joe’s downfall: a bad product or bad customer service.
We’ve all bought something only to found out later it was crap. Companies do it too. They hire people who can’t deliver on their promise. But there are also times when companies oust very smart, talented, capable people. Companies don’t make money by getting rid of good performers. If JOE offered a good product, then it’s a failure in customer service. Joe wasn’t a team player. He rubbed people the wrong way. He was a locker room cancer. So when a co-worker comes to ask you a question, remember — that’s customer service.
7. Research & Development
Imagine if Apple developed the iPod and Steve Jobs said, “Great job everyone, our work here is done.” For a company whose identity is innovation, that notion seems absurd. But there are many companies that practice this mentality — a satisfaction with the status quo. The list of companies that have gone bankrupt due to innovation lag includes major companies such as Blockbuster, Kodak, Borders, and Polaroid. Complacency is on the road to bankruptcy. Most course-correct before seeing it all the way through — but sometimes it is too late.
There is a decent chance that your current job may become obsolete in your lifetime or at least that technological improvements will reduce its demand. How are you prepared if that happens?
Personal innovation is education. Education does not end at graduation. YOU should have a specific area devoted to consistent knowledge expansion, new skill development, and self-improvement. By putting time into yourself, new and unexpected opportunities become abundant rather than scarce.
The Business of You
Having owner mentality over your life and career is vital because no one else will take ownership of it. No one is going to fight your battles for you. They’re too busy fighting their own battles (or busy not fighting them). If you have an employee mentality at your job, don’t let that carry over to YOU. Self-improvement and self-advancement are self-fulfilling prophecies. If the CEO where you work only cared about collecting a paycheck rather than constantly improving the company, what would its future prospects look like?
Consider which functional areas of YOU are currently operating well and which areas need greater focus or even a business overhaul. Treat yourself as a business owner regardless of your circumstances. Now if only we could all get the tax break.