Its amazing how many times I’ve sat down with somebody and I ask, why did you go into business? And all I get are blank stares and no clear-cut responses. It’s rare that I get an answer with such conviction that it shows me why they started their business. Some of the more common responses I get are:
‘oh, I don’t know, I didn’t want to work for somebody else’
‘I like the work in x industry, but didn’t like my boss so I decided to do it myself’
‘I was making x amount working for somebody, and I could make the same doing it myself’
The other thing that amazes me is when I ask them about their goals and objectives for their business is that they don’t have clearly defined goals. Some of the most common responses I’ve heard are:
‘don’t know, to pay the bills’
‘oh, I don’t really have any goals, I’m not interested in growing’
‘to make money I suppose’
A wise person told me that if money is your primary focus then all you will ever do is move from job to job or project to project in the pursuit of money. Funnily enough, I can see this in action. I know of a few people who value money above all else and as a result they move from project to project, venture to venture to continue to make more and more money.
When it comes to being in business there are so many reasons why people do it, but fundamentally the most common situations I’ve seen are this:
- They go into business to have a job
- They want to help people
- They want to create something bigger than themselves that make a difference.
Truthfully, when I sit with somebody and I establish that they've only gone into business to buy a job, I know almost immediately that there is not much vision or hope for this business, and how I can help is relatively limited. Ignorance may be bliss, but living in ignorance is the quickest way for a business to die. If you're in business to buy a job, then you're probably better off going back to work for somebody else, because likely your business won't last for very long.
You might challenge me and say well my business has gone crazy and I’m making money, but I would challenge you and ask:
Can you still make money when times are tough?
What separates you from the other businesses out their that now have to chase more work because work has dried up?
What goes up must come back down, and while times may be great how are you going to handle the tough times?