Why Do You Own Your Own Business?
Let’s tackle some of the common issues that most small businesses face today. We have to cut to the core and admit that unless the business works for us, all we really have is a job. We must admit that if things don’t go on when we are away – if we are tied to our phones or emails when we are supposed to be coaching soccer for our kids or have our family away on vacation (or even worse can’t remember the last time we were on vacation) – that all we really have is just a job, and we really don’t have a business at all. So that is step one – evaluate whether or not you really have a business at all. There is nothing wrong with having a reliable job that provides for your needs, by the way. Just don’t call it something it isn’t. Let’s get our terms straight. If you have a business, it is not dependent on you to proceed and operate. If you have a business, you can get away and have a life. If you have a business, it is not about YOU.
So let’s address the first issue that most business owners have failed to tackle. The “WHY” of their business. So many businesses today focus on the who, what, when, where, how – but they totally skip the why. WHY is the reason your business exists in the first place. It is where your passion comes from. (And by the way, if you aren’t passionate about your business, and you can’t wait to get started each day, you probably have a job.) Why did you create this business? What is the PURPOSE it was designed to serve? What do you want to accomplish through it? Do you know the “why”? Answering that question is a key part of writing a business plan. It is core to the motivation for everything else that will happen as part of running your business. It IS the key to success and happiness. Without the “why” you can’t possibly know where you are going or how you will get there. You are directionless and wandering in the wilderness. So make sure you know the “why.”
Do you need a business plan?
The short answer is YES. You need it for a few reasons:
1. It is the basis to hold an owner accountable. You run your business because you want to be your own boss. That is good in some ways but very bad in others. You need to be accountable and a business plan is part of it.
2. If you participate in any kind of peer group, your group members have to have it. Without your business plan, they can’t really give you any meaningful guidance because they have no idea where you are headed.
3. Your employees need it as well. They are on the journey with you. They can’t really do their job until they know what the destination is. The business plan is not about you. It is about the business and the people that comprise it.
4. Your family should know it so they can understand what it will take for you to succeed. That also should give them some opportunity to provide feedback on just how often you will be gone and miss important family activities and events.
5. Your banker should care. Unfortunately many never ask for it – but you should offer to share it and set yourself apart from the majority of small businesses by doing so. And if you don’t have a banking relationship – get one. It is far easier to ask for money when you don’t need it than when you do.
6. Your vendors should care, too. Part of your business plan should include key vendor relationships and how that will look in the next 12 months. You may write an individual plan with key vendors – but I suggest you include some parts of it in your overall business plan.
One key reason to know “why” is that it is essential to have any hope of achieving life-work balance. Without the “why” there is likely nothing but pure exhaustion that will keep you from working all your waking hours in your business. The “why” needs to also address your life. It is a key component of writing a life plan. You have to know what the purpose of your life is. Why do you get up each morning? What is it that you want to accomplish through living? Not through your business – but as a result of living your 168 hours this week? Do you know those answers? Have you thought about it? Once you put it on paper and share it with peers or even your spouse, someone can begin to hold you accountable to make sure your actions match your goals. Without accountability, life will always lose to business. We are wired that way as entrepreneurial business owners. We can’t afford to let life lose. It has to be top priority.
Life-work balance involves a lot of areas, but no one will wish on their deathbed that they had spent more time in the office. Many will say they missed far too much life by spending too much time working in their business. You can’t change it at that time. The change has to happen now and it can’t be postponed. Do you have it balanced?