Employees seem to be the nemesis of the small business owner.

Practically every small business owner I've ever met has complained about them.

But what really is the problem? Is it your employees? Is it you?

First of all, let's begin by stating what should be obvious: You need people. Without people, you're going to have to do everything yourself.

Now, this isn't a breakthrough idea, but it's amazing how many small business owners try to do exactly that--do it all themselves. And, predictably, they end up knocking themselves out, working 10 to 12 hours a day or more.

Unless and until you admit your faulty thinking and discover how to get things done through your employees, you'll end up burned out and your business will stagnate and then keel over.

But things will dramatically improve if you know how to engage people in the work you need them to do.

I like to illustrate this point using one of the greatest singers of all time, Frank Sinatra, also affectionately known as Ol' Blue Eyes and, somewhat ironically, the Chairman of the Board. (If you don't remember or can't relate to Frank Sinatra, feel free to substitute Beyoncé, Adele, Blake Shelton, or whomever your favorite recording artist is. But I'm going to stick with Sinatra, the classic.)

People are to your business what a record or CD was to Frank Sinatra. A Sinatra record could be played in a million places at the same time, regardless of where Frank was. And every record sale produced royalties for Sinatra (or his estate).

And perhaps more to the point at hand, every record gave the customer--you, me, and everyone listening to the record--the exact experience we paid for.

Through other people, Sinatra created a quality recording that faithfully replicated his unique talents.

And your people can do the same thing for you. All you need to do is to create a system that captures your special and distinctive way of doing business.

Isn't that what successful businesspeople do? Make a "recording" of their most effective ways of doing business? Well, it is. It has to be. They provide a turnkey solution to their customers' problems, and, along with it, the ability to produce income without having to do everything themselves.

But first you've got to have a system. You have to create a unique way of doing business that you can teach to your people, that you can manage faithfully, and that you can replicate consistently.

Because without such a system, without such a "recording," without a unique way of doing business that really works, all you're left with are employees doing their own thing.

And isn't that how you got into trouble in the first place? People left to their own devices, doing whatever they thought they needed to do, regardless of what they should have been doing?

What would have happened to Frank Sinatra if every one of his recordings had been produced differently? Imagine a million different versions of "My Way." It's unthinkable.

Frank Sinatra is gone, but his voice lives on. And someone is still counting his royalties. That's because he had a system that worked.

When you learn how to do that, how to replace yourself with other people--people trained in your system--then your business can really begin to grow.

Only then will you begin to experience true freedom yourself.