Max Weber, the great German sociologist, discussed the transition from status-based state management in which bureaucratic relations are keyed to the status of the petitioner, to modern citizen-based bureaucracies in which everybody receives the same treatment based on set procedures, at least ideally. He linked the transition, which occurred over the 19th century in Europe, to the increase in State power and efficiency. Freelancers and small business owners often face the same situation, i.e., personal vs objective, when running their business. While natural when people work outside their house for strangers, it is difficult to create a divide between personal and business when the distance between the kitchen and office is only a handful of meters. Yet, in practice, great success as an entrepreneur is dependent on this differentiation in that it determines our approaches to people, tasks and money.
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As Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli sang in Cabaret, money makes the
world go round. Furthermore, as accountants remind us, income and costs have to
balance. Complicating the picture, nobody can predict the future in terms of
economics and technology. Combining the three, a sustainable business invests
in itself, controls its spending and provides for changes in fortune. Unlike
personal finance, which is often a matter of individual whim, business
financial decisions must be rationally based even if they are also intuitive.
To paraphrase the song, “it’s my business; I can do what I want to” may be
technically true but success is governed by hard (or not so hard) reality. A good
technique for distinguishing intuition from whim is to consult trusted and knowledgeable
outsiders. The entrepreneur may not like their answers but they can prevent
much sorrow. The main purpose of any serious business is to make money for its
owners, which of course does not preclude enjoying one’s work. Therefore, it is
vital for entrepreneurs to astutely manage their business finances.
In Mathews 22:21, it is written "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's”. The quote is in reference to the issue whether paying taxes with coins with the head of Caesar stamped on them (no credit cards then) is a form of worshipping other gods. The answer is that every obligation has its manner of payment. Even if the office is only across the hallway, entrepreneurs need to render unto it the respect it deserves and separate it emotionally, as much as possible, from personal life. Granted, it is easier said than done but it remains one of the keystones for freelancer success.
* Picture captions help the blind access the Internet. Pictures via Pixibay.