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What is Business Bondage?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Business bondage is a sense or perception that the owner of a business has become so involved with the company that he or she begins to feel trapped or imprisoned by that ownership. It is not unusual for the self-employed to experience this type of feeling, along with entrepreneurs engaged in some type of startup venture. Once the underlying causes for the feeling are identified, it is sometimes possible to resolve those issues and allow the owner to perceive the business as being a refuge rather than a place of bondage.

There are a number of factors that may contribute to the development of business bondage. One of the most common has to do with the issue of finances. Should the business fail to generate enough revenue to cover expenses, owners may feel trapped in a situation where they must take drastic steps to cover the difference, often taking on additional debt that they would otherwise avoid. With a small business, this may even mean assuming some amount of personal debt in order to keep the company afloat. At that juncture, the fortunes of the business and the owner are so intertwined that the fate of one has a direct effect on the fate of the other.

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Along with financial problems, business bondage may also develop when a business owner is unwilling to delegate tasks or responsibilities to employees. This type of hands-on approach is often a necessity in the early stages of a business, when the owner is still training employees in the policies and procedures of the company. At some point, the owner must learn to trust in the competency of the staff and step back from attempting to do everything. Unless this takes place, the owner will eventually feel overwhelmed by the day to day operations of the company, leaving little to no time for any other activity.

In some cases, business bondage comes about due to employees who are not competent in their positions. This sometimes occurs in family businesses, where relatives are placed in positions that are outside the scope of their expertise. Since terminating the employment of those relatives is not an option, the owner begins to feel the need to step in and make sure that essential tasks are completed property. This often involves double checking their work assigned to those relatives and making any corrections necessary. Over time, the constant checking becomes overwhelming and the owner feels trapped.

Making do with inefficient or outmoded business systems can also lead to business bondage. Since those systems often affect the ability of a business to be competitive, the owner may feel unable to keep up with similar companies, much less offer something above and beyond the goods and services provided by competitors. Usually, the only way to escape this form of business bondage is to acquire new systems that will increase the efficiency of the company, allowing it to become competitive once again.

Even the general state of the economy can lead to business bondage. During difficult economic periods, demand for certain types of products will decrease as consumers focus more on purchasing items they consider necessary. When the demand shrinks, business owners often take on the task of keeping the company afloat, hoping that the demand will return once the current economic crisis is over. In the interim, the owner may be so involved with keeping the business alive that there is no time for anything else.

In some cases, making changes to the business or the mindset of the owner will help ease the business bondage. At other times, the owner may choose to sell a business that has become all-consuming, an action that often brings a renewed sense of freedom that replaces the feeling of being chained or imprisoned by the company. Since there is no one right way to deal with business bondage, each owner should consider his or her options carefully and choose the approach that is likely to produce the most favorable results in both the short-term and the long-term.

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