I ran one of my “Stop Juggling, Start Living” financial workshops for D2N2 this week in Nottingham.
One of the things I bang on about in my workshops is the constant pressure to be perfect in business. Trying to live up to what I call Entrepreneurial Airbrushing.
Social media and the business press is full of people looking all smug in their perfect businesses. Winning awards, growing turnover, employing more people, tripping through the sun-dappled meadows of business without a care.
Except that’s its mostly exaggerated nonsense.
Business failure rates are high, with only 1 or 2 companies making to the 10 year mark. And one of the most dangerous things to do is focus on turnover and growing staff numbers instead of an obsessive focus on bottom line profit.
For some bonkers reason they’ve become the markers of success.
Yet they mean nothing!
But it still chips away at our confidence, because we’re not as successful as it looks like everyone else is.
Things aren’t what they seem
Because of the work I do, I see a lot of businesses. Many of those who look from the outside veneer to have it cracked are often the most financially vulnerable. So be careful what you aspire to!
Keeping out of the SMOG
If you’ve been on a workshop or worked with me you’ll know I talk a lot about SMOG (something I pinched from good friend and Super Coach Lisa Spencer Arnell)
S Should Dos
M Must Dos
O Ought Tos
G Got Tos
The world is full of messaging telling us what we Should, Must, Ought or have Got to do. It can be head-spinningly distracting and lead to us to take our business in a way that just doesn’t work for us. Trying to live up to impossible ideals of what success looks like.
Once you become aware of the SMOG you’ll see it’s everywhere. And when you can see it, you can start to avoid it and make sure you’re only doing the things that make a difference to YOU.
In my first business I spent 12 years building the business I was told I should and ought to. Grow turnover fast, get an office, take more people on – “you’ve GOT to SCALE” they would say.
So I did all that, and I absolutely hated it. I was miserable and stressed, and it make me so ill I had a breakdown and ended up with ME, losing a year and a half out of my life.
They didn’t mention that bit, did they? It wasn’t the business I wanted. It didn’t fit my values. But no one ever asked me what I wanted – just told me what was expected if I wanted to be “successful”.
And I didn’t realise that there was another way, and that I got to choose how I ran my business.
A delegate at my workshop had recently been to an event where the speaker said you’ve got to be prepared to sacrifice relationships, friends, time off, weekends and your health if you want real success.
OMG! It makes my blood run cold to think there are people who believe this is real success AND that they’re telling other people what they MUST do to be successful.
It’s certainly not success in my book.
It’s OK to change direction
A couple of people came up at the end of my workshop tell me they were going to fundamentally rethink their business, as they realised it didn’t make them happy and they were actually running the business they thought they ought to have.
One delegate texted me yesterday to say “I’ve been thinking about your course all day. It feels like you’ve created a transformational moment for me and my business”
Why not take some time to reflect this weekend; are you running your business on your terms, or are you trying to live up to something you think you should want. Are you focussing on healthy profit growth, or chasing random turnover growth goals?
And is what you’re doing moving you closer towards a life you want? Or is it taking you further away?
You know something? This is your business. You get to choose what it looks like. And you get to choose the life you live.
Ps big thank you to Helen Taylor, MD of Hosta Consulting for the inspiration for this blog post!