Ask Amy: How do I stay motivated while wearing all the hats?

Dear Amy,

I have 2 employees at the moment. One worked for my father since he first started his business about 30 years ago, and I’d be lost without him.  I have two brothers and one sister who have been involved in the business in the past at separate times, but they grew apart from it when the economy crashed.  I’ve tried to get them involved again but they don’t seem very interested, so I just sort of try to keep going.  In a way I sort of feel like I have to start from scratch and sort of build it back to what it once was. 

Since I’ve been running this business alone, I’m constantly switching roles to fit the task at hand.  I do purchasing, selling, accounts payable, accounts receivable, shipping, inventory, collecting, etc. I do it all. It’s easy to lose motivation when you don’t have someone to give you a thumbs up or extend encouragement. How do I stay motivated to keep on keeping on?

– Melissa

Amy Katz Dear Melissa,

Well, the least I can do for you is to give you a thumbs up and extend encouragement! You have taken on so much, and I have great respect for how hard you’re working and also for your sense of responsibility.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “working in the business instead of on the business.” It sounds like you are so inside the business right now that there is really no way you can “rebuild”. I’m glad your dad’s longtime employee is a support to you, but he may not be able to help you think through the choices you have and the decisions you will need to make to sustain the business-and yourself.

So, instead of encouraging you to “keep on keeping on”, I think it’s better for you if I encourage you to find an advisor who can guide you through the choices ahead. In some ways you’re an entrepreneur now (as your dad once was). While it’s okay to “do it all” for awhile, at some point you have to figure out what business you’re in and what kind of resources (human and financial) you will need to “make it a go.”

If you’re not ready for an advisor, there may be someone at your local Chamber of Commerce who can be helpful. At this point it is probably most important that you find people you trust, even if they don’t have the specific expertise you need.

It’s clear that you want to sustain the business, but, as you suggest, that won’t happen until you feel supported. So ask around, talk with other business owners in your community, and see who or what they recommend. You might even consider bringing them together for a few hours (with a free lunch) and asking them for their insights and suggestions. They may be very willing to serve as your personal board of advisors (at least for an afternoon). Most business owners have gone through ups and downs and undoubtedly have some wisdom to share. Perhaps your siblings might even be willing to join you.

Melissa, I wish you all the best, and hope you’ll keep in touch so I can let others know how you’re doing.

And here’s a shout out to other daughters: If you want to help Melissa, let me know how you would respond to her situation. I’ll be happy to pass your ideas along.

All the best,

One thought on “Ask Amy: How do I stay motivated while wearing all the hats?

  1. I too wear many hats in my family business. Some hats I enjoy wearing more then others. Ultimately, I get done what needs to be done, but I often times allow myself the latitude of wearing the hats I enjoy the most for longer periods of time. So I spend a little more time on the photography end ~ taking photos of the vintage clothing I sell. The numbers – I do, but I really embrace the creative end of the business to feed my soul .

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