The Business Owner Paradox
Business ownership is not the fairy-tale that many think it is. More often than not, business owners are on the verge of burnout, working long hours and taking no time off. They can’t keep up with the demands of their business and their family life is suffering as well. This isn’t meant to be depressing, it’s simply the truth for many business owners.
But here’s the thing: there are more than 30.2 million businesses in the US. These business account for more than 99.9% of business people in the United States. What does that mean? It means almost every person that is a business person in the US is a business owner. That’s a lot of business owners. The problem of burn-out is very real for large portions of these business owners. If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place.
In most cases, business owners start their business because they want more freedom, more control of their time, and more time with their family. Imagine the shock when not only do those things not happen, but they actually end up worse off than in their corporate job that they thought they hated.
Don’t get me wrong, business owners report that they are happy as business owners and prefer to be their own boss. That doesn’t change the fact that they are exhausted physically and mentally and don’t know what to do about it.
What Is Your Why?
Viktor Frankel once said, “with a big enough ‘why’, you can withstand any ‘how’.” I don’t mean some life altering declaration of purpose or mission that you agonize over for 2 years. I mean literally, why did you get into business?
If you want to start taking back control of your business, you’re going to need real motivation to put in the work required. That’s where your why comes in. So I’ve got a couple questions for you.
Question #1 – What relationships or other areas of your life have suffered the most because of the demands of your business?
This is a difficult question to answer because it requires us to admit that we haven’t been exactly who we would like to be. As the alcoholics anonymous mantra goes, “the first step is admitting the problem.”
This question is crucial. If you can be honest with yourself and those closest to you, you can begin to find your “why.” Your “why” starts with the people and habits that mean the most to you. If you started your business in order to spend more time with your spouse, but you constantly find yourself putting them off because you “have to work,” then what’s the point of running your business anyway? Finding your “why” is all about finding the motivation you need to put in the work required to get out from under your business and back in the driver’s seat.
Question #2 – What dreams have you given up on or forgotten about because of the demands of your business or insufficient resources?
Where the first question focused on people and activities in your life, this question has to do with your hopes and dreams. One of the most common reasons people start a business is to follow their dreams. Usually their dreams don’t include 80 hour work weeks.
Rekindling that desire in your heart is a great way to find the motivation behind your “why.” Again, this motivation is what will energize you while you reinvent yourself and your business operations.
Question #3 – What causes/charities/ministries would you like to support if you had more time or resources?
Being a business owner is about staying close to the community. It’s difficult to be close to the community when you’re too busy to be close to your own family. In addition, business owners who are burning out tend to be handling their finances in an inefficient way. When you’re so buried in your business it’s hard to make sure that you’re cash-flow is being handled properly or that your expenses are in-check.
In many cases, the reason business owners desire financial freedom is so that they can help others and give back to the community. If your business is the very thing keeping you from giving back, then that’s a little backwards isn’t it?
Your “why” most likely includes helping your community. By outlining where you would like to be helping, you can find motivation to make the changes needed to turn things around.
Question #4 – What legacy do you want to leave behind?
This is about impact. Everyone wants to have an impact. Everyone wants to leave the world better than they found it. That can’t happen when your life is falling apart from being overworked and underpaid.
Find that thing in your life that matters to you when you’re gone. What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want to be said at your funeral? Who do you want to show up at your funeral? What do you want your kids and grandkids to remember about you?
These are the powerful emotive factors that generate enormous motivation and willpower for people. By engaging these powerful emotions, you can strengthen your “why” and gain the edge you need.