During our professional lives, we wear many different hats. For many, our first job was working in a fast-food restaurant taking customer orders at the counter, or maybe it was as a dishwasher at a family-owned restaurant.
Over time, we were given increased responsibility as our experience levels evolved. Some stayed as loyal employees to their company(s) for many years, while others decided to venture off and start their own business.
Where do you fit best: owner or employee? It takes different mindsets and skillsets to be successful in either category. Perhaps you like the thought of being the captain of your own ship, giving the orders, and getting the credit. Or maybe you want the security of getting a secure weekly paycheck without the pressures of owning the business. There are many success stories in each category.
Let’s take a look at the differences between being an owner or an employee.
Owners of businesses are a special breed. They want the opportunity to benefit from all of the skills they’ve developed during their personal and professional lives, and have the belief that those skills are transferable to owning their own business.
Business owners have the advantage of largely determining their destiny. They can select the industry that they’d like to participate in, one that they believe dovetails well with their experience and success.
For example, someone with experience in the food or restaurant industry may find it very enticing to open a restaurant or chain of restaurants. Or someone who has spent countless hours in fitness clubs may see themselves as an owner of their own fitness center.
Individuals that want to own their own business not only want to open and run a company, but they also have an undying belief in themselves and their ability to win. They’ve tasted success in the past and want to experience it again in an even bigger way – as the owner of their own enterprise. Victory tastes sweet as a team member, but not nearly as sweet if you’ve put together the team and took the risk and built the stadium. Owners want to hoist the trophy at the end of the season, having hit their ultimate goal of winning a championship. The employees get bonuses, but the owner receives the grand prize money and the winner’s trophy.
Business owners are traditionally money-driven as well. Unlike employees that must go to their manager and request more compensation, owners want the ability to earn as much as their industry allows. In many cases, the top income levels have unlimited potential.
Ray Kroc is an excellent example of this. Mr. Kroc started selling milkshake machines and graduated to being the owner of a single hamburger stand in California. He saw the potential fortune in duplicating his formula for success at his stand, and the modern franchise was born. Mr. Kroc earned both fame and fortune as the founder of McDonald’s and realized unlimited income as a result of his business acumen.
Mr. Kroc also displayed many qualities that business owners must possess; chief among them was the ability to take and manage risk. Every successful business owner started with just a dream and then took a leap of faith to start their company and worked tirelessly to make success become a reality.
Business owners also recognize an excellent opportunity when they see one and will let a good mentor help them succeed. McDonald’s today has over 30,000 restaurants open worldwide, and they’re run by franchisees that grabbed ahold of a winning business model and learned from the success of the franchise and their franchisees. Successful business owners listen and learn, and then they take action.
Business owners that enjoy lasting success also have a strong commitment to improvement, both personally and with their processes. They don’t rest on their laurels or read yesterday’s headlines. They have a burning desire to improve as individuals and as business owners. Most are avid readers and attend seminars put on by other leaders whenever possible.
Owners are also goal-driven and results-oriented. They set both long-term and short-term goals, share those goals with others, and take whatever steps they can to ensure that they hit their targets. They’re not afraid to listen to wise counsel from a mentor or other successful business owners that are willing to share their formulas for success.
Every business needs good employees, but they are cut from a different cloth than a business owner.
Employees prefer to get their marching orders from someone else and then carry out their mission. They are often satisfied with following the leader into the battle with the competition and doing what their job description entails. They prefer to expend the energy lifting the heavy load, rather than be the person that tells them how and when to lift. This provides them with the security they prefer.
A person with an employee-mindset also is usually risk-averse. They don’t mind getting behind someone who is risking their capital on a business venture, but they don’t want to invest their own money to succeed. Risk is not something they’re comfortable with and most often are not willing to take.
Owner or employee? It takes both to make a business a success, but you can only be one or the other. If you’re willing to jump in with both feet and fight for the success of your company, you will be a successful business owner. If you want to stand behind the leader and give it your all, you’ll be a successful employee. Both are necessary, but you have to choose which one you prefer to be.