When did you last take a step back and consider the YOU in YOUR business?
First some questions for you:
- Why and how did you get started in business?
- Would you start the same business today?
- What did you hope to achieve with the business by now?
- Is the business the one you imagined you’d be running?
- If not what’s different?
One of the first things I do when I start working with a business is do a comprehensive business review. One of the key points we cover (very early on) is asking the business owner the above questions. They are very important in finding out what drives the business owner, what their ambitions were, what they are now and also what the owners’ attitude towards their business is currently.
What I’m increasingly finding in small businesses is that the owner gets more and more caught up in the day to day running of the business. They no longer have the time to spend on the new ideas for the business or take time to focus on the long terms strategic vision for the business. (they are working “in” the business instead of “on” the business). They have also, in some cases, forgotten what it was that drove them to set up their business, or even worse they no longer enjoy working in their business. I think that’s a real shame, after all for many people it was the joy of being thier own boss that was a contributing factor in doing what they do. It was certsinly a positive factor when I took the plunge into self employment.
I am currently working with a business owner who has been running a reasonably successful business for about 3 years. They earn enough to support themselves and their family. They provide good service to their customers, who stay with them and the business has not really been affected by the recent recession. However in a recent conversation it became clear that something had changed. The owner was starting to feel resentful of the business but was unsure what had changed. We went back to the original conversation we had 18 months ago when I had asked them what their vision for the business was and what they wanted out of it. It turns out that as their family has grown up the owner now wants different things from the business & for themselves. Their vision of their future has changed. They are becoming more focussed on that future and what will eventually be their exit strategy (although this is still 15 -20 years in the future).
We revisited the questions above and actually wrote a new vision for the business and also a personal vision. How they want to spend their time as they continue to grow the business, but make it more independent of their input.
While this exercise was useful, the telling thing for them was the ability to compare it to the vision we had discussed 18 months ago and we had written down then. The outcome is that the owner now enjoys the new direction we’re focussing the business on and now knows that what we’re working towards is what they actually want to achieve. We have also set some goals in terms of time to get there. I’ll let you know if we achieve them!
So when was the last time you thought about what was important to you? Have you written this down? It may be that you never fully achieve what you’ve written down because life and expectations change, but isn’t it nice to be able to have a goal to aim for, even if we can change the goal whenever we want.
Just writing your original vision down and then reviewing this against your business today will allow you to see if you’re still doing what you wanted to do. Or do you need to write a new vision that is more relevant to you and your business today and more representative of where you want your business to be going for the future? Wherever you think you are with your business try writing this down and review it every few months (especially if you’re having a bad day). It’s amazing how it can refocus you and also brings a real sense of satisfaction!
Let me know how you get on, or even share your vision!