No one starts a business just to feel tired, stressed, uninspired and angry at owning a damn business. Not so long ago I owned a business and felt just that. I fell completely out of love with what previously energized me. I was short-tempered, lost a lot of money in the process and it seriously expanded my time horizon of major decisions because my judgment was clouded. This is SO common among business owners. As a Life Design coach and mentor to business owners, I assist many clients through this testing time in their business. It usually comes after 3, 5 or even 10 years. Being in a relationship with your business presents the same challenges as any other relationship you might have in your life.
I forgot why I fell in love
When you started the business, you had stars in your eyes and you probably had a good reason to start the business. But, now you have forgotten why you actually started the business. This can happen quickly as the changing needs of customers shape and change your business. As your business changes, so do your relationship with it. The demands on you have changed and what excited you, in the beginning, might have disappeared as the business grew. You might love doing design and product development, but now you have to work in management, HR and fulfil many other roles.
Design and refine your business model, putting people in place as the business grows so that you can work your magic most of the time. Remember, it is that magic in you that sparked and started this relationship. That is your “specialness” that you bring to this relationship - keep on bringing that to the table. In order to do so, you have to design your business that way. Spend time with someone good at business modelling and strategy. You are tired of carrying 100% of the relationship
It is fine to give it all in the beginning, but it is not sustainable for years on end. You know you are carrying this relationship 100% … if you are first at the office and last to leave, if your health is deteriorating because you are never eating or just eating unhealthy due to workload. If your personal relationships are falling apart because you are working too much. You give and you give but to what end? This is a classic issue and is easily remedied.
Business owners and businesses should have a give and take relationship. The business owner helps the business become all it can be, and so must the business, in turn, help the business owner become all they can be. Business ownership is a process of becoming and not having. You become a great leader of hundreds, it does not arrive on your doorstep one day. The work you do must help you become more, develop you more and grow your thinking. Look at your business and make a list of all that you do and ask yourself how this is helping you become more as a person. How is your business helping with your own personal growth and development? The daily tasks that do not serve you can be given to other people. If you are a small startup still, do this exercise so that you are aware of what you must do as the business grows. You are not getting much out of this relationship
You might have had a vague idea of what the business must give you in the beginning, but now you have no idea. Most business owners are not very clear about what this relationship must give them in the beginning, because the excitement of starting a business is overwhelming. They hope it will all just fall into place later in on. But it does not. It never does. If your needs are not part of the planning process, nothing will happen.
Get clear on what you want out of the relationship and state it clearly to your business. Be clear on the money you want, the time, the freedom, the social life, and even the family life. Clearly, state this to your business. Make it part of the strategy and planning processes of your business. Your life, your retirement fund, your children's lives, all must grow as the business grows because you have a big resource, the business, supporting that. Your business, like all other relationships, can only give you what you seek if you clearly state it. Don’t become like those sad “couples” in the movies where the one say to the other, “But I never knew,” as they walk out of the door.