Whenever I begin working with a new client, one of the very first questions I ask them is ‘why are they in business?, what motivates them to become an entrepreneur?, and what I’ve observed with a large number of business entrepreneurs, particularly those within the first 3 years of their entrepreneurial journey, is how often their personal and professional goals become misaligned as they discover that their reasons for staying in business no longer match the reasons they started their business in the first place – a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Let me explain.
The initial motivation to start a business, I categorise, into one of the following categories.
People who have been bred to go into business, either by taking over an existing family business or who starts their own but with their families support. Some may have grown up around other entrepreneurs or business owners and accept that what is accepted and normal.
These people have a desire to improve their current situation and believe growing a business will allow them to achieve both personal and professional goals. They desire a more improved work/life balance, for example, more freedom to choose their working hours and be home with their families more. They may even feel through a business they have something to offer, they find a bigger purpose through their businesses. Sometimes they are motivated by the thought of providing employment for others or for serving hundreds of thousands of customers globally. They are truly ambitious on whatever scale.
Moving Away From
This last group start a business because they want to move away from a current negative situation. For example, they may have been made redundant and their current situation has been forced upon them. Or they may be deeply unhappy in their current job and feel they could do a better job themselves. Perhaps they can’t find employment or want to move geographically and their current job or profession doesn’t allow them to, so starting a business becomes a considered option.
The important factor here is not actually the reasons someone decided to start a business, but if they are to growth accelerate, it is important to understand why they continue with it. What are the drivers now, what do they want to create now and into the future? Everyone who is in business will tell you their stories of their business highs and lows and how their experience turned out to be different from what they expected. I know personally I have plenty of yarns I could share, however unless your personal desires are completely aligned with your professional goals, your business could actually get in the way of you achieving your full level of success.
This is particularly true for the last group the ‘Moving Away From’ entrepreneurs. It’s vital that they switch their focus from what they want to avoid to what they want to create, otherwise that type of thinking will begin to manifest itself in daily habits of ‘Re-activeness’ and they’ll find themselves and their business fuelled by fear i.e. what decision should I take now to avoid the most pain, which fire do I put out first?
Even as the world economy recovers, many businesses remain in a fragile state of growth (or indeed decline) and it’s imperative that this group of entrepreneurs ensure they switch their focus from ‘moving away from thinking’ to what they want to create now and long into the future, not only for themselves, but also their customers, their employees and all their stakeholders. This will ensure they keep their business passion alive no matter what their entrepreneurial journey entails.
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Nicola Cook is an award-winning entrepreneur and twice published international best-selling author on professional selling and personal & business growth. She is CEO of Company Shortcuts, a business devoted to improving business results by injecting skill, passion and strategy to help those entrepreneurs and sales enthusiasts achieve the sales results they desire.