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Why You're Not Really the Boss

Even the boss has to report to somebody. You may think you work for yourself, but these are the people you really work for.
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Here's one question I get asked all the time: It must be great to work for yourself, right?

This is a fun question and one frequently asked of business owners and CEOs. It's a good question, but the concept is fallacious. We all work for somebody. Now that isn't to say we don't have tremendous latitude in decision making, because that is generally pretty broad. But the consequence of a poor decision can be greater than getting in trouble and is generally much farther reaching than losing a job. It can mean losing a company, costing people their jobs, and obviously losing an investment.

In my case, I work for a lot of people. Officially, I work for my board, but in reality, I have always felt that was a cart-before-the-horse approach. I work for my customers. If my customers are pleased and I maintain their loyalty, then my ability to grow the company and its profitability is greater and my board will be happy. If my board is happy but my customers aren't, then I have a recipe for disaster.

In a high-speed environment, you should also work for your employees. They need to know they can count on you to be there, to remove obstacles, or provide the resources necessary to do the job. If they have a problem or issue, they should know they can come to you and you won't put it on the shelf. They will get an answer right then. Now there could be discussion and an exchange of ideas, but in the end, a decision is made and no time is wasted.

So if you're interested in becoming the boss, recognize that you end up with more people to satisfy, every decision you make has real consequences that affect a lot of people, and sometimes sleep doesn't come so easily.

If that doesn't scare you off, then go for it. Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way!

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Sep 4, 2012

GLEN BLICKENSTAFF | Columnist | CEO of The Iron Door company

Glen Blickenstaff is the CEO of The Iron Door company, which makes high-end doors and windows. Glen has a track record of turning around and managing retail, building and financial companies.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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