Perspective – analysing your business after a tough 2018
It’s 6pm, your employees have left for the day and you’re enjoying some peace and quiet. You’re in a pensive mood and start pondering how your business has been performing. You turn your mind to the roller-coaster of elation and anxiety that has come with starting your new business.
You took the leap away from your stable job where you worked 40-hour weeks, had lunch breaks every day and endured some stress but mainly felt frustration (usually due to the lack of impact or not feeling valued) to go after something you felt passionate about.
“That nagging voice inside your head that was telling you to, ‘have a crack’ and ‘imagine how good it would be to open your own business’ has been replaced with a cynical one asking, ‘Have you done the right thing?’ and ‘Is it worth it?”.
The late nights, the anxiety about getting paid, the painful customers, the difficulty finding good help and all too often the psychological effects, stress and impact on relationships have taken their toll.
You have navigated through the most perilous phase – years one and two.. You have built some great relationships and loyal customers; you have found your niche and the market is responding; you have some employees you trust who have bought into your vision for the future. Basically, things are moving in the right direction but yet, you still feel a sense of unease. That voice in your head is asking you if maybe you’re missing something, if maybe you’re a fraud, if maybe this thing isn’t scalable?
The above scenario is fairly common for medium-sized business owners (I’ll define medium as being between $2M and $20M in revenue.) I went through this self dialogue at the two- year mark and it took some time for me to resolve some fundamental questions:
1. Am I where I hoped I would be?
2. Do I have a sustainable business?
3. Does my mission align to what I want to do?
4. Would I be better off going back to a well-paying, stable job?
All valid questions, but ones I found hard to answer objectively.
“Like many things in life it can be hard to see the forest through the trees at times and especially so when it involves your own business – remaining impartial, while crucial, can be a hard skill to master.”
So, I started asking people I trust and consider experts in business about how they went about measuring success and answering the questions I was grappling with. A mentor of mine asked me how I had felt the first time I had accomplished my mission with a client (i.e played a part in a client’s success story). Looking back I realised I had felt elated, pumped, validated and excited when a client and I had accomplished something we had set out to achieve together..
Unfortunately, as my business had matured and I’d gotten caught up in the day-to-day detail, I realised I’d slowly forgotten to embrace the big picture and the positive feelings that came with helping a client achieve a key goal. I didn’t celebrate like I used to. By stepping back in time and looking at the scenario through a more objective lens I was able to realise how much I love helping my clients win and how important it is for me to do work that is driving real impact,allowing people to run their businesses better, achieve their goals and fulfill their potential. This is actually what motivates me. Sure, the money is nice and allows me to live a fun lifestyle where I have options but the mission is what is most important. The mission and also how congruent it is with your values as a person is key. Stepping back, more than anything else, helped me realise that I was working in the right field and that getting out of bed each day is easy if I focus on the big picture i.e. my mission. .. Funnily enough, the more I focus on my mission the better the feedback from clients and the more referrals I get …
If I’m honest with myself, my business will probably never lead to life changing wealth or exceptional achievement. However, it aligns with my need to make a living and have significant autonomy and flexibility. It allows me to do something that is going to impact people in a meaningful and beneficial way. Those three stars have aligned and I have a business that will leave me fulfilled and happy (well most of the time, anyway).
Given it’s a new year, now is a great time to think deeply about where you are and where you want to go in the coming year and beyond. I recommend having deep conversations with mentors and confidants to give you an external perspective.
I also recommend devising or refreshing your strategic plan, with an accompanying financial budget and KPIs for key staff. If you need help with this don’t hesitate to get in touch with CFOs on Demand. We have experience strategising, simplifying and crystallising business plans making it easier to align your team to a common goal.
All the best for 2019.