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Remind me again – why did I start this business?

Day to day life running your own business can seem overwhelming – you have vague memories of starting a business to have more control, freedom and flexibility in your life and work.  But the reality is that you have never worked harder and seem to have less time than ever before.  Days are filled with dealing with clients, finding new customers  and coping with the “soap opera dramas” of your staff – night times are spent doing admin, paying your people and updating the books – your occasional light relief might be a little “Youtube” action as you “Google” “what is SEO?” only to remind yourself that you need to make time to get a website set up.

If this sounds like you, don’t panic, you’re not alone – this is the reality for thousands of other business owners every day.   Business success means different things to different people – but what is universal is that all of us who own a business have at some point made a decision to start one – and it’s vital for the health of your business and your sanity to continually remind yourself what you signed up for and confirm for yourself your motivations for going into business in the first place.

If you’re looking to find your “business mojo” and would welcome a small refresher on what’s important to you, try this simple lunch-time exercise.  You’ll need about an hour and at the end of it you should be clear on what’s important to you in your business.  This is a process best done on your own:

  1. Take yourself out for lunch to your favourite place – pick somewhere quiet with table service (you’ll need to take along a pad and paper – good “props” if you’re a little uncertain about sitting by yourself)
  2. Give yourself 30 mins to eat and relax (read the paper, check out a magazine or people watch).  Have a drink… treat yourself (suggest limiting that to one!)                                                                                                              Continued….
  3. Now – get out your pad and jot down your initial reactions to the following questions (there is no right answer)
    1. Why did I start this business, what motivated me to throw away the security of a paycheck for being my own boss?
    2. What am I hoping to achieve?
    3. What’s important to me?  Think broadly, this is more about you as a complete person (consider, your family, career, income, possessions, health and well-being, hobbies and recreation)
    4. Now that you’ve warmed up – ask yourself… If anything was possible, and everything went well, what sort of business would I have?  Consider:
      1. Your field of work
      2. Location and hours of operation
      3. Number of staff / clients
      4. What would you sell?
      5. How much revenue would you make?
      6. What is your ultimate goal? (sell the business for millions, have more time with my family, etc…)
      7. Where do you see your business in 12 months, 5 years, 10 years, etc?
      8. Reflect on what the “perfect” outcome is and have a think about how things are at present – does your “perfect business” match your current reality.  What needs to change?  Make a list of the things you do now, that are not in your “perfect plans” – what can you do to change them or eliminate them today?

Repeat every 6 months or so – or as often as you like!

It’s important to remember that no two businesses are exactly alike – we’re all different.  What motivates you and defines “success” might be very different for someone else.  What’s key here is that you know what’s important to you and you’re designing your business life to fit your hopes and dreams.  Only you can know what success means to you.

So what are your thoughts?  Are you clear on your motivations for being in business?  Please do share your ideas and views – perhaps let us know why you started your business and what you do to keep your motivation levels high?    If you were starting out again right now, what would you do differently?  What advice do you have for someone thinking of starting their own business?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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