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Do You Own Your Business? Or Does It Own You?

Dec 06, 2022

There are five steps that comprise the journey of business ownership:

Step 1 – You are a technician working in your business. You are doing the work of a team member and are trading your time for relatively low financial results. 

Step 2 – You are a manager working in your business. You lead a group of technicians responsible for completing the daily work.

Step 3 – You are a business owner. You only work as a technician or a manager if you choose to. The daily operations and getting the daily work done is not dependent on you. The business has become self-operating. You focus on the development (marketing) and the efficiency (finance) of the business. You begin to systemize the marketing too, so the business becomes self-operating and self-growing. The primary role of the business is to provide cash flow to you, the business owner.

Step 4 – You are an investor. Your business is another one of your investments, and it requires very little of your time and resources. It gives you a predictable and reliable return on your investment. 


While you might own your business (in a legal sense), you are not a business owner until you get to Step 3. You must no longer be working jobs in the business (including managing others). Most dry cleaning owners I have met are at Step 1 or Step 2. But they so desperately desire to shift to Step 3 and eventually Step 4.

You will likely spend a number of years at Step 3. It is not easy to get your business to be self-operating, self-growing, and you could take a month of vacation without any major issues or disruptions. And that strategic work is actually a lot of fun.

What is not fun for most of us is Step 1 and Step 2! You might ask...... how do you get to Step 3?

Stay tuned. Now that we have the journey defined, next week I will tell you how to move from one step to the next so you can get out of Step 1 & 2, and become a true business owner and, eventually, an investor. Until then, I hate to tell you – your business owns you. I was in that exact spot for about 8 years – and wow, was it a grind!


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