Most of us grew up believing that in business, the larger your company grew, the better for all concerned. It still seems to be the prevailing sentiment among the business community, despite thousands of examples of companies that have grown too fast, too soon – then failed. When I first desk in a one bedroom apartment. I was overjoyed when my business grew to over 30 employees in just three years. It was great for my ego, I found, but bad for my soul.
One of the main reasons I always wanted my own business was because I hated top-heavy organizations that made me follow inflexible rules. Personnel manuals, vacation schedules, and long, boring meetings drove me nuts. I hated how I found myself playing office politics, and doing things like coming in Saturday mornings just to impress my boss.
If I had my own company, I told myself, I had let people work intuitively. They had be able to go to lunch when they were hungry, take a vacation when they needed it, and I had assume everyone was bright enough to get things done without sitting through endless meetings, But once I had 30 people working for me, I discovered that the easiest way to get things done was by using the same old bureaucratic tools that I had hated……..meetings, manuals, and office politics as creating the same kind of workplace that I had run from not so many years ago.
Another reason I always wanted my own business was that I wanted the freedom of working for myself, and not having to answer to the boss. I wanted to be the boss, plain and simple. It sounded nice in theory, but once I had 30 employees, reality set in – in a upside down sort of way. I found that I no longer had just one boss – I had 30. I was working for my employees, trying to make payroll they could keep their jobs. Before, when I used to come in on Saturdays to impress the boss, I now found myself coming in on Saturdays to set an example for my employees. It may have been a backwards sort of pressure, but it was still the same kind of pressure.
So I eventually started listening more to my soul and less to my ego, and began scaling back the size of my company. I now work out of my house and while I have employees, they too work at home and I don’t have to be there to manage them. I am at home with my family, don’t have to put up with on-site employees, and also lose on time commuting. When my kids come home from school, I can walk up and meet them at the bus stop. We spend some time having cookies and coffee in the kitchen. Believe me, it is much more rewarding than talking football around the water cooler.