Take a step back and look at your business as a whole.
“I think that inside any business, there is something slowly going crazy.” Joseph Heller
There are several truth nuggets about being an entrepreneur.
I was an intrapreneur in different corporations implementing change and gaining buy-in while developing innovative ideas for years.
So many of my friends were curious why I didn’t start my own company.
Entrepreneurship has always been there, but my mother’s experience terrified me from doing it on my own.
I thought that the best option was to have steady employment, even if my heart and soul urged me to start my firm.
Fortunately, I changed my mind.
I recall how difficult it was for my mother to keep and expand her own business.
She was a fantastic artist creating beautiful designs for other people, but the entrepreneurship journey took over her life as she didn’t know how to run it.
She started well, her firm was expanding, and she was receiving orders, but she failed to establish a repeatable system for replicating her success, thus becoming bound by it.
She worked 12 hours per day, seven days a week, followed by constantly running behind suppliers’ payments, developing consumers, and struggling to deliver.
Accounting, people management, and everything beyond her expert work were highly challenging.
But, unfortunately, at that time, I couldn’t help her.
She worked on weekends and late at night to get by and stay in business.
I reread Michael E. Gerber’s The E-Myth book, which recounts his experiences working with small company owners and offers advice on overcoming these difficulties.
I couldn’t avoid thinking about my mother and the many people I help daily and seeing the consequences.
This is called ‘The Hamster Syndrome,’ a term used to describe many entrepreneurs’ feelings when constantly spinning their wheels and not getting anywhere.
In this article, I’ll be discussing what hamster syndrome is, why it happens to entrepreneurs in particular, and how you can avoid it.
“They intoxicate themselves with work, so they won’t see how they are.” Adolphus Huxley.
The hamster syndrome occurs when an entrepreneur’s day-to-day tasks keep them so busy that they never have time to take a step back and look at their business as a whole.
Instead, they’re constantly putting out fires as my mother did and never taking the time to plan for the future or work on long-term goals.
This can be highly damaging to a business without a clear vision and strategy.
The hamster syndrome can be avoided by taking the time to step back and analyze your business.
This means setting aside time each week to work on long-term goals, planning for the future, and reviewing your progress.
You should also make sure that you’re delegating tasks effectively and hiring the right people to help you run your business.
When entrepreneurs start their businesses, they have many dreams and hopes.
They know that we need to use multiple hats and do several tasks, but they struggle to do and manage all these hats as experts, managers, and entrepreneurs at once?
They start to figure out how to delegate some tasks, but even when delegating, they are frustrated with the outcome as they feel that it would never be done as they do it themselves.
This is when the difference lies between a business owner and an entrepreneur.
Michael Gerber explained this difference quite well in his book E-Myth where he described how we get to the point when entrepreneurs are so overloaded that they lose track of the vision and start working to create a job, not a company.
He describes the fatal assumption that they understand the technical work, but they fail to understand a business that does that technical job.
- So, the barber opens a barbershop.
- The musician opens a music store.
- My mother couturier opens an atelier an a boutique
Gerber mentioned in his book that we need to navigate within these three profiles to create an enterprise.
- The first one is the technician that takes the work he loves to do and turns it into a job. But as they focused on his expertise with the time, the work born out of love became a chore among other less pleasant chores as it was for my mother: accounting, people management, and so on.
- The entrepreneur is the visionary, the dreamer; he lives in the future, never in the past. Did he build the vision of the what-if and the when? The entrepreneur is our creative personality dealing with unknown and creating the future of the business;
- The manager is pragmatic. He needs planning and order.
The entrepreneur lives in the future. The manager lives in the past. So while the entrepreneur craves control, the manager craves order.
We all have an entrepreneur, technician, and manager inside us, and if they are all good balance, we are describing a perfectly balanced business owner.
The entrepreneur would be free to forge ahead into new areas of interest. The Manager would be solidifying their base of operations, and the technician would be doing the technical work.
Unfortunately, the experience shows us that few people go into that balance.
The entrepreneur wakes up with a visions
The manager screams Oh, No
And while the two of them are battling it out. The technician seizes the opportunity to do business itself.
He is taking control over the other two. Finally, the technician makes his dream come true, but the business is a disaster.
And after some time, he starts feeling the weight of the hamster syndrome.
Here is the need for drastic change.
Take out of scratch and start over again before being consumed by your creation.
“Drastic change creates estrangement from the self and generates a need for a new birth of a new identity.” Eric Hoffer
Gerber also describes the 3 phases of a business and how to get o the maturity stage,
- Infancy is the phase where a business is just getting started. This is when the entrepreneur is doing everything themselves, and they’re typically working around the clock to make their business successful. So ten to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week; Even when you’re at home, you are at work. A
- Adolescence is the phase where the business starts to grow. This is when the entrepreneur needs to start delegating tasks and hiring employees to help them run the business.
- Maturity is the phase where the business becomes successful. This is when the entrepreneur can step back and start enjoying the fruits of their labor.
So, How do you get into this maturity phase?
Every business reaches a point where it is pushed beyond its owner’s comfort zone. This is the point when he begins to lose that control.
- The technician boundary is defined by how much he can do itself.
- The manager is defined by how many technicians he can supervise effectively and how he can organize into a productive effort.
- The entrepreneur’s boundary is how many managers we can engage in pursuing his vision.
Here are ten tips and advice from ‘The E-Myth’ to help you develop a clear vision and strategy for your business.
- HAVE A CLEAR VISION: One of the key takeaways from the book is that it is important to have a clear vision for your business. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting bogged down in the day-to-day details.
- DEVELOP A STRATEGY: Having a solid strategy will help you make better decisions, stay focused, and avoid getting sidetracked.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR TARGET MARKET: Knowing your ideal customer will help you create marketing materials and strategies that are more likely to resonate with them.
- CREATE A TURN-KEY SOLUTION: This will make it easier for your customers to do business with you and increase their chances of becoming repeat customers. In addition, it allows them to focus on running their business while the company takes care of all the logistics.
- DELEGATE: One of the most prominent problems entrepreneurs face is not having enough time to do everything themselves. This is where delegation comes in. Delegation is the process of assigning tasks to employees and trusting them to complete them effectively.
- HIRING THE RIGHT PEOPLE: You need to hire competent people to complete the tasks you assign to them. This will free up your time to focus on important things for your business.
- BUILD A SOLID TEAM: Having a supportive team who shares your vision and values will make it easier to achieve your goals.
- PROGRESS: Another critical point from the book is that you should always look for ways to improve your business. This means constantly evaluating your processes and making changes where necessary.
- TAKING CARE OF CUSTOMERS: The E-Myth also emphasizes caring for your customers. Happy customers are more likely to stay loyal and spread positive word-of-mouth about your business.
- MANAGE YOUR TIME: Finally, managing your time and energy is vital for any entrepreneur who wants to succeed.
Entrepreneurship can be quite a challenge, but the rewards are worth it.
The E-Myth is filled with helpful advice and tips on starting your business off right so that you don’t end up “hamster wheeling” yourself into oblivion.
I highly recommend reading this book if you’re an entrepreneur or thinking about becoming one.
It will help you develop a clear vision and strategy for your business.
Stay focused and avoid getting bogged down in the day-to-day details!
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