Be The Best Boss You Ever Had

Have you ever heard the old joke about working for yourself — “At least you can't say your boss is a moron anymore” — well, actually you can! Many of us treat ourselves worse than we would ever treat an actual paid employee — long hours, constant browbeating, a total lack of recognition. Work conditions like these caused you to quit your job and started your own business in the first place — why are you replicating them in your own home?

You Are Both Boss And Employee

When you started your own business, you probably felt as though you took the world onto your shoulders. Suddenly, you had to be responsible for everything. You were suddenly in charge — of marketing, sales, administration, finances, and all the rest. And while the part of you that has the grand vision for where your company is headed is vital to your success, there is a part of you that is still just doing the work that needs to be done everyday. This part — the employee part — is just as important but often-ignored. We think that running a business is all about making the important decisions and steering the ship — and the daily duties are a nuisance to be overcome. So we shove the employee into a back corner. We discount his efforts and pay as little attention to her needs as we can.

If you are ever to be a whole and complete business owner, you must learn to embrace both sides of your self. Support the boss part that is constantly putting it on the line, taking the risks, charting the course. But you must also nurture the employee within — the one who makes sure the job gets done, who works silently and consistently, who keeps the clients happy and the money coming in. When you can accept both sides of the coin, you will not only find that you are happier in your business, but that your productivity shoots through the roof.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

How many times a day do you berate yourself — for doing something less than perfectly, for making a less-than-brilliant decision, for being lazy, for being a horrible business person? If you talked to employees like this, they would like quit and probably sue you for verbal abuse to boot! So why do you put up with it from yourself? I know why — it's because that's what we've grown accustomed to doing to ourselves. That constant negative chatter in the back of our heads isn't just about work — it gripes at us for sleeping late, for not going to the gym, for having that second piece of cake, for making a joke that no one laughed at, for just about everything that we do every moment of the day.

The hardest part of shutting this voice up is becoming conscious of it. When you let your inner critic go on and on at a subconscious level, you have no control over what it says. So start paying close attention to the thoughts running through your head. Each time that your “Negative Nancy” gets started, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable — happy with yourself — if you said the same things to an employee. If the answer is no, then your only other option is to do what you would if you mistakenly said something insulting or condescending to an employee — apologize. Say to yourself (out loud will have a stronger impact than in your head), “I'm so sorry. I only said that because I am frustrated, and it isn't true. You did a wonderful job at ____ and I appreciate all of the hard work you do for me. Can you forgive me?” You will be amazed at how much better you feel about your efforts, and how much.

Reward A Job Well-Done

Do you really take the time to pat yourself on the back when you complete a project or master a difficult task? Or do you simply push yourself right on into the next activity? Let's pretend that an employee comes to you and says, “I've finished that project you assigned me — would you take a look at it?” You take a cursory glance at your protg's work and say, “When are you starting on that next project I gave you?” How long do you think that employee would stay on your staff? I'm betting not very long!

Humans — you included — can only work for so long without a little encouragement. When we go from project to project, taking little or no time to bask in our accomplishments, all of our work begins to seem meaningless — just one more item to check off of the to-do list. This is a particularly dangerous behavior when you are self-employed. No one is going to praise you if you don't do it for yourself. Just taking a small break after each task to say, “Yeah, I did a good job on that one — I can be proud of that work,” adds meaning to even the most routine activities. Better yet, build in a reward ahead of time to go with each task — you'll take a walk in the park after completing this report or you'll have a cup of tea after you make these phone calls. You will be more motivated to complete the task at hand, and you will feel better about the work that you've done that day.

Ban Overtime

I heard a story the other day about a “good boss.” This boss had decided to put timers on all the electricity and lock the doors at 5:30 PM — no one was allowed to stay late or come in on the weekends to work. They wouldn't be able to get into the office and wouldn't have any power for their lights or computers even if they did. And you know what happened? People simply stopped working late. They went home on time, spent time with their families, and got their work done during regular working hours. What a concept!

Unfortunately, it's harder for you to cut off access to your office, since it's in your home. It takes more discipline for you to maintain a 9 to 5 day — the temptation to ” get just a few more things done before bed” or “finish up those e-mails over the weekend” is tremendous! But as the boss, you have to look out for your employee's well-being — which, of course, translates into your well-being. If your employee is working 24 hours a day, quality of work declines, the employee becomes careless, and you both get cranky. And, attached as you are, your ability to think, plan, and be the visionary suffers as well. So put a permanent moratorium on overtime — decide what a reasonable work day looks like to you and make it company policy.

Provide The Necessary Resources

You certainly wouldn't hire someone from a sales background to take over your accounting department — or a web design specialist to head up your sales campaign. Yet you do exactly this in your business everyday that you rely entirely on your own efforts to keep things running. You expect yourself to be a master marketer, financial wizard, salesperson extraordinaire, and chief visionary — all without the proper training, the appropriate tools, or help from anyone else. Think that you might be a little unreasonable in your expectations?

Any smart business owner knows that management is all about delegation. But when you are delegating every job to one employee (namely, yourself), you're sort of missing the point. Rather than burdening one individual with every single job, let your internal employee focus on the things that he/she is good at and enjoys. Then, build a teamof experienced support professionals who can take on the other responsibilities. You should have access to a CPA, an attorney, and a marketing specialist — just to name a few. You don't have to bring these people on board full-time — it's enough to know that you can call on them when you need a little advice or guidance.

Watch Productivity And Job Satisfaction Soar

Once you begin treating yourself as two halves of the same person — both requiring respect, attention, and a little encouragement — you will find an interesting shift taking place in your business. You no longer dread or resent the daily duties of running a company. In fact, you take as much pride in your routine work as in the long-term projects — you value the details as much as the grand plans. You are a happier and more well-rounded entrepreneur — all because you took the time to see your business from both sides.

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    Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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