There’s a funny saying that once made the rounds on social media: “Entrepreneurs are the only people who work 80-hour weeks in order to avoid 40-hour weeks.”
It’s funny because there’s some truth in how hard small and medium-sized business owners tend to drive themselves, but also because we all know what comes with the standard 40-hour work week in a so-called “regular job.” You’re expected to show up in the same office every day. You’re expected to listen and follow orders from someone else. You may not even like some of your colleagues, and to some extent you may feel you’re simply helping to contribute to someone else’s success.
With all those trade-offs, it’s no wonder many people think of starting their own business. But as they get mired in day-to-day challenges, inevitably , they discover some new trade-offs like angry customers, limited resources, an endless to-do list and so on. At its worst, some entrepreneurs may even wonder if they made a mistake.
Before you get that far, it’s worth taking a second look at some of the technology tools available today that make some of the initial reasons for being your own boss worthwhile again. Whereas SMB owners might have been put off in the past by the idea of having to buy software and run it on premises, the emergence of cloud computing makes choosing and using everything that follows as streamlined as turning the lights on:
Some people who found it difficult to arrive at work on time when they were an employee may find themselves first to arrive and last to leave when they’re an entrepreneur. That’s probably because running your own business is such a big responsibility. And while being your own boss usually means being a jack of all trades to some extent, there’s a real risk of burnout if you’re doing nearly everything yourself and failing to balance it all.
Take marketing, for example: many small business owners know it’s important but it may come second to selling or dealing with customer service issues. That doesn’t mean it should always happen after hours, or when entrepreneurs should be getting some rest. There wasn’t much of a choice before the introduction of marketing automation solutions such as Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud. Now, however, email marketing campaigns can be scheduled in advance, for instance, while the data to inform the marketing strategy can be accessed more quickly and easily through CRM and related tools.
Some entrepreneurs start out with a great idea for a product. Others almost stumble into creating a small business by offering a service that suddenly has a strong market around it. Contrast that with working as an employee where you’re most likely in a role of making, marketing or selling someone else’s product or service. Pretty appealing, right?
SMBs don’t grow just by having a great product or service, though. They need to generate revenue, and one of the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs to jump is developing a healthy client list that makes everything else about their company sustainable. By all means keep being laser-focused on selling, but recognize that tools such as Salesforce’s Sales Cloud can help you do so much more quickly by being better armed about how customers buy, when they buy and why they buy. Use CRM effectively and you’ll be able to focus much more on building a viable business that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
You can’t always choose your co-workers — or your boss — until you get to be the boss. Even at that point, though, entrepreneurs realize they have to train staff effectively to deal with all the little issues that come up within a small business. The same goes for customers — you don’t have to sell to just anyone when you’re an entrepreneur, but you have to make sure the clients you do have stay happy and satisfied.
When pleasing people takes up too much time and effort, of course, small business owners may begin to get discouraged and occasionally overwhelmed. The technologies in solutions like Salesforce’s Service Cloud, though, are designed to ease these burdens by arming everyone on the team with the best information to resolve complaints or queries. Or, better yet, allow customers to self-service their needs. It’s also a way to continuously learn about how customers use your products and services after the sale -- deepening relationships with the kind of clients you want to be around.
When entrepreneurs strike out on their own, they typically love being free to choose their headquarters -- until workload pressures become so demanding they’re chained to a desk as they were in their previous life as an employee..
Many people may still not realize that your smartphone can do much more than make or receive calls. In fact, mobile apps have evolved to a point where you can effectively do most of the key things to keep various sales, marketing and service operations with your fingertips. You still might not work from “anywhere,” but you’re more likely to be in those places where your physical presence can have the greatest impact. This could be team meetings, a new business pitch or an industry event where you can learn and build new connections.
Sometimes launching and running a small business is described as a dream, but it’s important that the process of turning that dream into reality doesn’t turn into a nightmare.Technology doesn’t solve every problem, but it can get you closer to the future you first imagined.
Learn more about the benefits of Salesforce’s CRM solutions—and how they can help your company succeed—with our ebook, “How a CRM Helps Your Business Grow.”