People start businesses for a variety of reasons. Some just dream of getting rich. Others are sick of working for somebody else. Still others think they know a better way, so they embark a venture all their own. I even know a few people who simply started businesses because of some happy accident. They didn’t really intend to start a business. It just happened through a series of circumstances they never planned.
Over time, businesses change. What may have once been the very passion of their life become a 100 pound weight hanging around their neck. They now feel enslaved to a business that no longer serves their life goals. They’re trapped inside their own business, with no apparent way out.
If that sounds like you, this list of thoughtful questions might help you get unstuck.
1. What’s changed – in your business?
If your business is no longer scratching your itch, what changed? Think about the changes that have happened. When you first started, what caused the rush of adrenaline? Is that “cause” still around? Or maybe it’s you who changed. Maybe the things you once needed have now been fulfilled and you have a new itch that requires a new type of scratch.
2. What’s changed – in your life goals?
We all experience changes in our life. Our goals when we start our career are very different than our goals after 30 years of work experience. Make a list of the things you now hope to accomplish. List your current goals.
3. What activities in your business hinder those goals?
Yes, it’s a negative approach, but if you’re struggling with your present business you may as well face down reality. You could approach it like this, “What activities in your business advance those goals?” We’re approaching this from a “what’s wrong” approach though – not a “what’s right” approach. We’re trying to fix things.
4. What can you do about those activities or things that hinder your personal goals?
Brace yourself. The answer may come back, “Nothing!” If that’s the case, you likely understand your options. Get out. How? Well, that’s a different list and a whole “nother” story.
But, maybe there are things you can do to get the business back on track and in harmony with your personal goals. Not long ago I was working with a dealer who wanted to walk away from his business. However, his goal was a target price that simply wasn’t founded in reality. His need, or goal, had little to do with the actual value of the business. Result? No sale. Just one miserable business owner.
A better approach is to figure out how you can realign your goals with your business. You should absolutely make changes in your business to get things back in alignment with your personal goals. However, only do that if it will enhance the business. Don’t do anything to put your company at risk because you’re having a mid-life crisis.
I’ve known some 30-something business owners who inherited the business from a retiring father and their personal goal was to buy a $100,000 sports car. The business wasn’t helping them reach that goal fast enough, and they got stupid. Putting your business at risk for such selfish goals aren’t exactly what we’re talking about. We’re talking about more “this isn’t what I want for my life” type goals.
Change what you can, if it will also make the business better. Face the realities of the things you can’t change. Decide if you can live with them. If you can’t, start building your exit plan.
5. Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.
“I want to move to the coast and golf,” said the owner. He sold the business and did just that. He and his wife of 40 years sold just about everything they had. They left behind the kids and grand-kids. They moved to their dream house in their dream city. For a year, they did what they wanted. After a year, bored completely out of their mind, missing friends and family – they moved back. The coast and the golfing were only things they thought they wanted.
Make sure that your life goals are truly what you want. There are countless men and women who thought they wanted something, only to have obtained it and found tremendous disappointment. Carefully examine your life goals.
Business isn’t just about money. It’s not just about the things money can buy. It’s fundamentally about something more powerful, desire. It might be the desire to determine who we interact with. Maybe it’s the desire to live where we want. Maybe it’s the desire to determine our own schedule. It can be a thousand different things. And it’s not possible to have it all. Don’t believe that lie. Every desire comes with a price tag. Your job is to make sure you’re willing to pay the price for whatever you desire.
Businesses exist only because somebody wants them to. Make sure you still want yours to exist. Before you dismiss those thoughts, think about two other groups of people who have a vested interest in your decision: your employees and your customers! Get what you need, but don’t be too selfish.
Randy Cantrell is the president of Bula Network, LLC. Read his blog at http://bulanetwork.com