Don’t Let Your Dream Become a Nightmare

Owning your own business is what you’ve always wanted to do, right? You should be happy doing it.

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Remember why you went into business for yourself? Chances are you had some knowledge of or experience in the portable sanitation industry and believed owning your own company would lead to freedom, wealth and happiness. You wanted to be your own boss.

A lot of people start businesses hoping for freedom, but end up more tied down than ever. They discover that instead of one big boss, now they’ve got dozens of small bosses called customers who can fire them any time they want. Hopes of wealth are replaced by a reality of debt, and dreams of happiness are replaced by stress and anxiety.

Why? Because rather than servicing restrooms, what you are actually doing day-to-day is running a business, which may not be your forte. And the more time you spend doing things you don’t enjoy, like dealing with personnel and hiring issues, solving accounting problems, or sorting out collection issues, the less inspired you may be to provide service with a smile. Subsequently, if your customer service suffers, you may lose business and then you’ll have even less money and happiness.



Small business owners sometimes lack business and management expertise in areas like finance, purchasing, selling, production, hiring and employee management. Recognizing what you don’t do well and seeking help can put your business back on track. Take these steps to sidestep disaster:

Know the score. You may not be a numbers person, but do not sweep the numbers under a rug and hope things will work out. Monitor your pricing. Keep an eye on your cash flow. Hiring an accountant is worth the money if it means growing the business and avoiding tax penalties.

Have the tools. It’s difficult to do any job without the right tools. You couldn’t clean portable restrooms with a feather duster. Likewise, get the proper tools to do office tasks as well. Accounting software specifically designed for small businesses will greatly simplify day-to-day tasks like invoicing and payroll. Even if you hire an accountant, using accounting software on your end will make for smoother communications, saving him or her time and you money.

Ask for help. There are many areas where the lack of knowledge and experience of a business owner can lead to problems. Have a list of advisers – a lawyer, accountant, website developer, insurance agent – to call on for advice. Before you claim you can’t afford help, consider sources like SCORE and Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). SCORE is a nonprofit association of retired and working business professionals who volunteer to help entrepreneurs. SBDC offices are hosted by colleges, universities and state economic development agencies and provide free business consulting and low-cost training. You may not always be clear on where you require specialist help and there is a risk you’ll spend money on things you don’t really need. These folks can help you sort that out.

Hire well. A successful manager is a good leader who creates a work climate that encourages productivity. That means hiring competent people, training them and being able to delegate. This takes time. Screen applicants carefully. Hiring the first body that walks in the door to save time today means more time spent finding their replacement when they walk out in a few weeks because they are not a good fit for your company.

Manage your time. Don’t underestimate the amount of personal energy and time it takes to run a business. If office tasks keep getting put on the back burner so you can put out other fires, schedule time each week for the office tasks and commit to keeping that appointment. If necessary, restructure your personal life to accommodate the business’s impact on your time, but don’t neglect your personal life. Let’s say your entire family sleeps until 9 a.m. on Saturdays. Scheduling your “office time” from 7 to 9 a.m. won’t interfere with any family time and you’ll feel free to enjoy the rest of the day. Taking some time away from the business can actually help you focus more on running it – rather than just working in it – and lead toward it becoming the company you always envisioned.

Listen. Listen to your customers and employees and advisors. It also helps to observe what competitors are doing too. Survey customers to ensure you’re providing what they need, when they need it and at the right price. Address problems before they become so big that the company suffers. If your customers are happy and your employees are happy, chances are you’ll be happy too.



If running your business feels more like a nightmare than a dream, step back, take a breath and set some goals for correcting what’s wrong. You wanted to be your own boss – don’t you want to work for a winner?


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