Posted by David Oates 5 years, 2 months ago


Here's a news flash - owning a business is hard work that never takes a day off. I know - revealing, right?

Okay maybe not so much, but it appears that other company founders I run across can't seem to grasp that the hard work isn't simply putting the ol' nose the grindstone and working on products, customers and operations for 60, 70 or even more hours each week. Sacrifice must come in many others forms, not the least of which is in what the owner takes home for pay.

My mother taught me that at a young age. She wasn't a business leader at the time; that would come when my brother and I were both in school full time. Instead, Mom demonstrated the role business owners should play each and every night at the dinner table. The ability to put food on the table was more complicated than any kid understands. There's budgeting money and time to get groceries, planning meal preparation, cleaning and setting the table, cooking and then ultimately serving. When Mom calls everyone to dinner, it's with the intention of offering them nourishment and family time that will, among other activities, offer the best chance for everyone to remain happy and healthy. Most notably, she ensures everyone else gets their plate before she does. Mom knows that this approach will yield greater, long-term benefits for her and everyone who lives under her roof.

This scenario offers keen insight to what business owners should do when they decide to start a company and hire employees.Their primary purpose should be a selfless one and includes ensuring revenues outpace expenses, monies are allocated to give staff the best opportunity possible to be successful and productive in their work. Most important, the owner shouldn't draw their own salary until everyone else has been paid.

That doesn't happen as often as it should, however. Many owners feel a sense of entitlement to not only draw their paycheck first, but tack on other perks such as a company car, country club membership and other special privileges, even if that puts a strain on cash reserves and making payroll. What's more, owners that do this will only hurt themselves in the long run. Staff members will resent the fact that an unreasonable amount of their effort is going to keep the owner in their executive lifestyle instead of building a solid organization where everyone prospers. Productivity and employee retention will suffer and significantly erode an organization's profitability and balance sheet.

I don't know if business owners recognize the pain they cause by not following Mom's advice to look out for their team first and themselves last. Maybe it's more a product of ignorance than malice. Regardless, it's a trait that far too many company founders hold and not only hurts their team and organization, but themselves over time. There is something to be said for the phrase "Mom knows best." Business owners that haven't learned this lesson yet may be well served by being sent to their room without supper every once in a while.


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