Going Long - Part 5

“I just assumed that's what you were supposed to do,” she continued. “As the business improves, you hire people. Right?” Unfortunately, although hiring people can sometimes help a business grow, it always creates much higher costs and fixed obligations. Jessica made more changes, switching her business to a sole proprietorship and returning to a one-woman shop.

Don't Be a Firefighter: Work on Your Business

Regardless of which path you take, as your project grows in scope, you can find yourself spending all your time responding to things and little time actually creating anything. The solution to this common problem is to focus on working on your business as opposed to in it. When you're operating the business, you spend time putting out fires and keeping everything running as it should. Working on the business requires a higher-level approach.

Every morning, set aside forty-five minutes without Internet access. Devote this time exclusively to activities that improve your business — nothing that merely maintains the business. Think forward motion … What can you do to keep things moving ahead? Consider these areas:

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. This is work that grows the business. What new products or services are in the works? Are there any partnerships or joint ventures you're pursuing?

OFFER DEVELOPMENT. This kind of work involves using existing resources in a new way. Can you create a sale, launch event, or new offer to generate attention and income?

FIXING LONG-STANDING PROBLEMS. In every business, there are problems that creep up that you learn to work around instead of addressing directly. Instead of perpetually ignoring these issues, use your non-firefighting time to deal with the root of the problem.

Health Insurance

In the United States, it's the big question facing many prospective entrepreneurs: “How can I insure my family when I'm self-employed?” (Canadians and others can skip this section and breathe easy.) Unfortunately, universal health care is still a long way off before we catch up with the rest of the developed world.

To get some options, I surveyed our group of case studies (those from the U.S.) and also conducted several online conversations with large groups on Twitter and Facebook. The answers varied considerably. Someone wrote, “Get screwed and pay a lot of money for coverage that doesn't help you.” Alas, in some cases, that statement may not be much of a stretch. But in other cases you have choices. Here are some of the most common ones.

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