A recent conversation got me thinking about one of the important lessons I learnt very early on in my business – in fact, before I even began my current business in 1998. And that is, the importance of making sure your business fits your life.
What does that mean?
Many people have grand ideas for a business they plan to start. In fact, many of those people may even go ahead and start that business.
Sadly though, a lot of those new business owners will fail in their first attempt at being an entrepreneur.
Now there’s many reasons for this but one common one that I see over and over again is people beginning businesses that are great in theory and perhaps even viable. But they’re just not right FOR THEM. They don’t fit their life.
Sometimes they may even continue with the business idea and it may in fact be successful, but the business owner is unhappy because of the detrimental impact it’s having on their life. (Or maybe even by their lack of “a life” as they would like it to be).
The thing is, we start our businesses for a multitude of reasons and we all have our own visions for how our business – and our life – is going to be.
What Person A sees as their ideal business may well be completely different to what Person B envisions. Person C may see something totally different again.
And that’s great.
But it’s so important that you consider what sort of lifestyle you want to have, or what your current lifestyle is like, so you can make sure your new venture fits your life. Otherwise you risk making things so difficult for yourself, and possibly your family or friends too, that you may well close the business before it has a chance to get going.
Let me give you an example:
Angie came to me a few years ago for guidance with her business. Some months earlier she had joined a direct-selling company (one where you encourage people to have parties where you sell products, aka Tupperware style).
She loved the products, loved the business concept and was keen to earn a full-time income from this business so she could give up her Monday – Friday 9-5 job and work more flexible hours.
Angie went to as many of the company’s training sessions as she could and was eager to do whatever it took to reach her goals. But it just wasn’t happening for her.
Several months later she was not earning near enough to give up her day job and it wasn’t the products that were at fault.
With a little digging the reason soon became apparent.
Angie had found that the best time to have these sales parties she needed in order to build her business was during the evenings and at weekends. The problem was that those were the main times she got to spend with her children.
As a single-parent and with very few close friends or relatives nearby (and a lack of regular baby-sitters), she was reluctant to “work” during these times. When she thought about it with a fresh perspective, her children were her #1 priority at this time and she had to admit that she just couldn’t commit to working at the times this business needed her to.
With a little more thought and research however, Angie came up with another business idea that suited her needs and her values. She was able to commit to these and, I’m very pleased to say, she was able to give up her day job and now earns a very decent full-time income from this business.
I had a similar situation when I first began this business. In my case, I had put a lot of thought into the type of business that would work best for me and allow me flexibility to spend time helping out at my son’s school and so on.
With my office set up at home I was all set to start my home-based business and within the first week I came upon a challenge I hadn’t foreseen.
Back then I shared a house with a friend, a shift-worker, and his bedroom was right next to my office…
… the office with a brand new telephone and fax machine (remember those?) Their ring-volumes were set quite loud so I could hear them from any part of the house. As much as I loved hearing the ring when new customers called, my shift-worker friend didn’t appreciate being woken every time the phone rang.
In that case though it wasn’t enough of an issue to close the business; I was able to turn the volume down during the day when he was on nightshift and redirect the office phone to my mobile phone which was also turned down when I was home, but was always on me so I didn’t miss a call.
There are many other instances of businesses not being appropriate for a particular person’s lifestyle – or the life they would like to lead. It might even be an issue of an ethical nature, whereby what you will need to do in order to make your business successful goes against one of your key beliefs. If that’s the case, it’s going to make it very difficult for you to do what needs to be done.
So when thinking about your business model – whether you’re starting a business or have an existing business that you know you need to adjust – please, please be sure to consider your lifestyle, your values and those of the people closest to you.
You may just find that these little things are what may stop your business before it gets off the ground or they can cause your business to stagnate, unable to progress further.
Overcoming them however may be the thing that sees your business take off to new heights.