Startup Advice

From employee to entrepreneur: Five truths about owning a company

Sage Greenwood /

I’m going to hazard a bet and say that no matter who you are, at some point in your working life you’ve dreamt about what it might be like to own the business you work for.

A day dream of making game-changing decisions, having the freedom of creativity to take that business to the next level and other pressing issues like running meetings in your yoga pants.

These are all exciting things that come with making a major role shift.

Having recently made the jump from employee to managing director and part owner of Wink Models, I have learnt that running a company involves a little more reality than what I may have originally dreamt it up to be.

Read more: Why WINK models’ Taryn Williams has decided to launch a startup while continuing to grow her $3 million company

While there may be a bit of a frenzy during your transition, you still need to ensure the business continues to turn over like a well-oiled machine, which can be hard when you’re stepping up to the plate for the first time.

For anyone encountering this kind of move you’re bound to come across a few plot twists.

Now that I’ve begun to find my feet, here are my five tips for making a successful transition from employee to owner.

1. Get ready to get real

Let’s be honest: with glossy magazine shoots, events every night, movies where people like Anne Hathaway ride around their office on a bike, popular culture does not exactly paint a very realistic picture of taking on the daily ins and outs of a business.

As the world becomes more acquainted with the term entrepreneurship, there’s a strange romantic ideal emerging when it comes to being your own boss.

The reality is, you have to work hard and expect nothing in return, because technically you’re now your own boss and there’s not always going to be someone there to pat you on the back and say you’ve done a good job.

While being in charge definitely has its perks, it also means you have to be diligent and self-disciplined to achieve what you’ve set out to.

2. Forget about the small things and the 9 to 5

When you were an employee, your daily work schedule was probably a lot more process driven with daily deadlines to adhere to.

As an owner, you can’t spend time getting caught up on the small things. You have to teach yourself to automatically go big picture and start thinking in the present and future.

This big vision mentality also means that your working hours expand outside of the general 9am to 5pm.

WINK Models is an international company that operates in a variety of markets, meaning I allow myself to be flexible throughout the day to respond to any pressing matters should they arise.

3. Get comfortable with your business partners

I can’t stress how important it is to know your business partners, before you make the move.

I don’t mean know things like what their favourite colour is or how they like their coffee, but get to know know their strengths, their shadows, how they work and what can be expected from working alongside them.

These people become such vital pillars in your potential for success with the business; you need to find that ‘sweet spot’ where working together can become seamless.

4. It’s not about instant gratification

Owning a business is all about playing the long game.

Personally, I have to be proud of what I produce regardless of what I get out, but I’m also aware that the financial success of this business ultimately leads to my own.

While rewards will come down the line, they certainly are not going to happen overnight.

I think this is something many people, not just employees moving to owners, are disillusioned by.

5. Put time into your team

I’m not sure anyone is born with the innate natural ability to manage staff, and if they are, I certainly didn’t get that gift.

It takes a fine blend of ingredients to do it seamlessly and it isn’t all about just being bossy.

I’ve found I’ve had to take the time to figure it out, learn how all my team operate and get them to respect me.

This can be mentally tough for everyone involved when moving from their colleague to their boss.

And, while there’s no financial gain in investing in managing, a good team is so valuable.

My advice is to take your time and do it the right way.

This article was originally published on SmartCompany

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