Sunday, 11 December 2011

You are Not Your Business

For entrepreneurs, a constant danger is getting eaten by your business. (Normally I would use the word "consumed" there, but that just isn't graphic enough). You can get eaten! If you aren't careful, your business can take you and wrap you up so tightly within itself that you start to believe you are a single creature.

I see this in every industry but it really stood out to me during my time in real estate. So many real estate agents had sacrificed their own personal goals and replaced them with business goals. So many had lost meaningful touch with their families while trying to further their business. So many had started basing their own personal self worth on how many sales they were making. This type of behavior exists in every industry. It is a slippery slope that ends in bitterness, even if the business that has eaten you does well.

You and your business are two separate entities and you must constantly remind yourself to keep it that way. If you don't, you will start to experience some of the things I listed in the last paragraph. Your personal values and feelings of worth will end up being dependent on the success of your business. Your businesses operates on a different field than your personal life. If you let the business take over how you run your life it will end up being a hollow experience. You see, a business cannot provide what a fulfilled life needs. It can provide the tools to gaining a fulfilled life, but only you as a person (not as a business) can truly experience your life to the fullest based on your personal values (not on those of your business).

I know, I know. This line can be very grey, especially if you run a business that was based on something that makes you feel fulfilled as a person. But it is imperative that you retain your personal identity outside of your business to keep your life and your business healthy. As soon as the two start to become one, bad decisions get made on both ends. Business decisions end up having too much of your personal interests involved (i.e. hiring your very unqualified nephew to avoid offending a family member). Your personal interests end up being dictated by your business (i.e. You're time at home with your family is dictated by how much work needs to get done each day.)

To keep these two separate, start with making two sets of goals. One for your business and one for yourself. Your business goals may include a certain sales volume or profit, a milestone of some sort or possibly an expansion. Your personal goal list will be things that you want for yourself and those you love. Maybe a trip or a house or a certain amount of time spent with someone. Only you know what should be on your lists. After you see what your two separate lists of goals look like, then give attention to making them BOTH successful. Clearly define what you must do as a person and what your business must do. Do not mix them!

When you are working toward your business goals, make decisions and carry out actions that reflect the values and interests of the business. Have a place where you think only in business terms. An office that when you walk in, your mind says, "It's business time."

When you are working on your personal goals, enjoy it! Don't let your mind start working while you are spending time with family or friends. Know that your business is doing its thing off in the distance and that right now you are being a person and enjoying your life.

When you are working on your business, focus on it! When you are working toward your personal goals and enjoying your personal life, focus on it! Keep them separate, give them both the attention they need. You and your business will both benefit and you will not get eaten.

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