Bang crash! Watch out! Duck! Hang on! Oh no! Here we go again!
My life as a business owner feels like a roller coaster ride, I’m hanging on for dear life half the time… How can I slow it all down a bit and take control of my business and my life?
Running your own business can feel like a constant juggling act and most of the time, all you do is hold on for the ride and try to make sure you duck at the right time.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Running your own business is never something you should because you want to have an easy life, because it’s never going to be easy. But you can make sure the business works for you rather than the other way round.
The Big Question of Small Business
It all starts with this question, The Big Question of Small Business:
Why does your business exist and why would anybody care?
Most business owners can’t answer that question clearly, in a single power sentence. And if you can’t answer that question, there is one really important thing you can never do, with confidence and clarity, and that is to say NO.
Saying NO is probably the one, most important thing that you have to learn to be able to do well in your business in order to to get off the roller coaster and to take control.
I’ll give you an example from my own experience that happened to me only last week.
That question, the Big Question I talk about above: Why does your business exist? My answer to it is this:
I help small business owners feel great about themselves and about their business, by helping them discover and build their own unique Beautiful Business and Life
That’s what I get up to do, each and every morning.
So last week I received an email from the health and wellbeing officer of one of the Big Four Banks here in Sydney. This person is running a personal wellness program for the entire staff of the bank in Sydney and she was looking for a coach to be involved with the program. The opportunity was enormous. This bank employs thousands, if not tens of thousands of people in Sydney alone and being offered a sponsored opportunity to get in front of all those employees is incredible… For the right person.
I wasn’t the right person for the job
And there’s the rub. I’m not the right person for the an opportunity. I work with small business owners, not with employees in the corporate world. Now I’m sure I could have done something for this wellbeing officer and made it work and I would have done a good job, I have no doubt about that, but I actually know someone who is much better equiped to take on this project. She specialises in working with employees in the corporate world to help them feel better about themselves and advance in their careers. So I thanked the Wellbeing officer and I introduced her to my friend and two days later, my friend had signed up the gig. There’s a good chance that this is the best gig my friend has landed in years and I am absolutely sure she’ll lay them in the isles… She’s brilliant at this kind of thing.
I didn’t get the gig, I won’t make any money from the gig, but I also didn’t get the stress from doing something that wasn’t absolutely in my area of expertise. I’ve learnt over the years, that I’m really good at some things and not others, and I need to stick with those. My friend is really excited and will have a lot of fun with the project, probably make a lot of money and do really well. What’s more, she’s super motivated to return the favour and I have no doubt something will come my way at some stage that’s right up my alley.
Learning what to say No to, and do it in such a way that means everybody is happy is absolutely a core skill if want to get off the roller coaster and take control of your business.
So: Why does your business exist, and Why would anybody care about that?
I’d love to hear, drop me a line.
Do you feel overwhelmed in business? Operating in crisis management mode, running around from urgent problem to emergency all day long, extinguishing brush fires along the way? Do you feel like you will never reach your goals because your day is so chaotic that you don’t have time to think (let alone eat or sleep!)? To help you answer those questions for yourself, I’ve created two Whirlpool surveys and reports. The Big Whirlpool Report is free and accessed here and a smaller self analysis version will be available soon.
If so, you might be stuck, trying to paddle your way out of a violent business whirlpool without even realising it – a situation that is not only stressful but also unsustainable.
Stuck is unsustainable:
In the first few years of business, you accept that all this frenzy and stress is par for the course, but a few years on, when nothing much has changed, you start realising there’s a problem.
You’re still burning the candle at both ends. You’re still fixing everybody else’s problems. Even worse, the long-term strategy stuff you really want to work on keeps getting pushed back and back again, forever.
The secrets to getting unstuck, taking control and making business fun again:
You’re not alone in this problem. Many small business owners feel frustrated, stuck and overwhelmed in business on a daily basis.
However, the secret to building a beautiful business and life is to find your way around this state of overwhelm and take control of your business.
The first step? Start thinking differently about your business, your priorities and your wellbeing.
Fun is serious business (and the opposite of overwhelm in business):
It may seem strange to make Fun the key focus in your business’ development. We’re generally told that the function and purpose of business is to make money. Hence, we should make “maximising shareholder value” (making a profit and generating cash) our top priority.
However, after many years doing this gig, I’ve come to believe that Fun is the opposite and the antidote to feeling overwhelmed in business and that we need to learn to think differently to the status quo if we want to build businesses that stand the test of time.
Conscious capitalism and the purpose of business:
I like to quote John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Wholefoods markets in the USA. A few years ago, the company was bought by Amazon for $14 billion USD. Wholefoods made a profit and paid dividends to its shareholders every year for its entire existence. In other words, John Mackey has established credentials for making money in business. Yet John Mackey wrote a book called “Conscious Capitalism” (more about the book here [link] and here [link]), and in it, he says this:
“Thinking that the purpose of business is to make money is as silly as thinking that the purpose of human beings is to eat food. We need to eat food, eating food makes us feel good, but we eat food so that we can do what we need to do on this earth. It is the same with business and profit. Business needs to make profit, and plenty of it, but it needs to do so in order to fulfil its purpose, the reason it exists.”
So yes, a business must make money. It must generate profit and cash flow while working hard to maximise its return to shareholders because, as I say elsewhere on this website, “A business that doesn’t make profit is a hobby.”
BUT if your focus is only on making money:
There will never be enough. This year you might aim to make $10,000 profit, but as soon as you’ve made $100,000, you’ll want to make $200,000, then $500,000 and so on. You will eventually get overwhelmed because there’s always more money to be chased.
It will all feel meaningless. Why pick $100K or $500K, why not $531,629,23 or $496,187.42? Any number you choose will be arbitrary.
Your brain won’t cooperate. To your subconscious brain, there is no difference between $100K or $150K. Your subconscious mind cannot think in concrete concepts, such as numbers, it can only be engaged by emotional concepts.
You’ll wonder what it’s all been about when you’re on your deathbed. Nobody has ever lain on their deathbed and thought, “I wish I’d made more money”. I guarantee you that much.
How do you get beyond money? Take these 4 steps:
So, if you want to get unstuck, eliminate overwhelm and stop being a crisis manager in your business, you must start thinking beyond making money. You must start having Fun in Business.
Ask yourself the big question of small business: Why does your business exist and why would anybody care about that? (The Purpose question, more about the Purpose of Business here)
Learn to ask yourself every week: How much Fun in Business did we have last week? How can we make next week a little bit more Fun? (I’ve written about measuring Fun in Business in my book and also here)
Develop discipline around your time and don’t waste it on unimportant tasks. Know that your time is the most valuable asset of your business, and as a responsible business owner, it is your job to look after and get the best possible return from your assets. (Read more about business owners and time management here)
Get the right people on the bus, in the right seats, facing the right direction. Get the wrong people off the bus. There is no greater cause of stress, overwhelm and frustration than people problems. (More about managing people here and here)