Do you have a business owner mentality?

business owner mentalityDo you think like a businessman (or woman), or do you think like an employee? Is business ownership right for you? Do you have what it takes to be a business owner?

Business owners stop into my office on a daily basis. Topics range from their past marketing efforts to their personal struggles with their life and their business. While this information may not tie in directly with our product line, I always take a legitimate interest in my clients business and lives, should they choose to divulge this information.

Over time, I have found that there is a mentality that some business owners aren’t able to overcome. That is the “employee mentality”. If you think about how we are raised and how we are schooled, you could clearly see that it is constantly drilled into us to get a good education, get a good job and save for retirement. No public school out there teaches us how to be a business owner. So we grow up believing that the only way to get through life is to do what everyone else does, simply follow the herd.

Many business owners I talk to have made the decision to not follow the herd, to go their own direction, to finally break free of the day to day routine. But again, because of how we are raised, many business owners don’t know how to think like a business owner.

I personally worked as an employee for 20 years; I have been a business owner for 8. I learned absolutely everything the hard way as a business owner. But within this last 8 years, I have begun to see the difference between someone that thinks like an employee, and someone that thinks like a business owner. I hope the breakdown below can help you see what you might need to change in your “mentality”, to get you back on track of being a business owner.


This is what I call the employee box. It’s what is usually guaranteed and expected of an employee.

1. 40 hour work week

2. Vacation time/Sick time

3. Weekends off

4. No need for personal growth– if your job is routine, why further your education?

5. No personal sacrifice – why give more than you need to, your company would just take advantage of you, right?


I’ll use the bullet points above to contrast the difference between business owner mentality and employee mentality

1. 40 hour work week – If you find yourself working a 40 hour work week as a business owner, you need to close your business and ask for your old job back. Very few business owners are able to accomplish a 40 hour work week. That 40 hours might be spent working your business, but you need another 20 hours a week to devote to your personal growth, product/service development, checking your books, organizing your desk and planning for the week ahead.

2. Vacation time/Sick time – This is in no way guaranteed! In fact, if you are able to take a vacation within your first 3 years of being a business owner, consider yourself very, very lucky. And sick days? Chances are you are in charge of all operations within your business, if you are sick, who will run your business? Be prepared to work sick.

3. Weekends off – If your business operates Monday through Friday, you are fortunate. However, don’t expect to have all weekends off. Especially within the first 2-3 years. This time is the perfect time for building and organizing your business. Take this time to put proposals together. Why spend time at your desk Monday morning doing what you could have done over the weekend. If it’s done on Monday morning, you get to spend the entire day doing what you do best, building your business.

4. No need for personal growth– As a business owner, if you are not dedicating time to improving your education, you are headed for disaster. Why? Because your competition is improving, they are constantly scouring the market to see what is new. They are implementing what they’ve learned into their product/service line. They are making their business better day by day. This can only be done be improving your own knowledge. If you stay ahead of the game, you stay ahead of your competition.

5. No personal sacrifice – If you aren’t prepared to miss your child’s play because of a crucial business meeting, don’t become a business owner. If you aren’t prepared to take a step back financially in order to eventually move forward financially, don’t become a business owner. If you aren’t prepared to work a 60 hour work week, don’t become a business owner. If you aren’t prepared to spend time educating yourself on an ongoing basis, don’t become a business owner.

And finally, here is what I believe every business owner should ask themselves,

“Could I hire an employee to do all that I do?”

Let me explain this question: If you find yourself running your business with an employee mentality – working a 40 hour work week, taking your vacation when due, taking your weekends off, not educating yourself, and not giving any personal sacrifice – then chances are, you could probably hire an employee to do your job. So if the answer is yes to the question above, you certainly are not a business owner.

If the answer is no, then congratulations, you are a business owner. After all, what “employee” is going to – work 60 hours a week, not take a vacation, work through the weekends, educate themselves in their off time, and miss their child’s play – just for a job?

This is simply how I see it – I do understand how difficult it can be to change how you think. But trust me, if you do not, your business will suffer. It’s all about what you bring to the table. If you do not have the knowledge you need to develop your business, then you will be consumed by your competition. Information is at our fingertips these days. It is simple to find a few minutes a day to educate yourself. And just when you think you know everything you need to know about your business, a competitor will swoop in with a better, more efficient product or service. Your competition is watching you, are you watching them?