There are many things in life you can fall in love with. Your partner, your dog, a particular song, a beautiful location, a sports team. But can you add your business to this list? You probably loved it once. After all, who sets up a business they hate? You were excited by the idea you came up with, you dreamed of fulfilling your ambitions, you were delighted to have the freedom of being your own boss, you were elated to find yourself surrounded by people who also believed in your idea. What’s not to love about that?
But what about now? Do you still leap out of bed at the prospect of starting work? Are you as energised as you were on day one? Do you feel fulfilled? Or, have things not turned out quite how you’d hoped. Have you lost the love?
Research has shown as many as a third of entrepreneurs have lost the motivation to run their company since starting up. That’s a lot of disgruntled owners. But why does it matter if you don’t love your business as much as you once did? It’s that four-letter word “work” after all. Who said it was meant to be fun? Of course, it’s difficult to find a job that supplies non-stop enjoyment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for it. Career advisers say you should look for the job you enjoy, not just the one paying the most money. After all, you’ll be doing it for several decades. Why not find something you love.
If you can do a job you love, you’ll be more motivated, you’ll be happier (and so will those around you), you’ll sleep better, work won’t feel like work, your mind will be in a better place, and ultimately you’ll build a stronger business. So, if you’re one of those people who could do with loving their business a little more, here are some steps you can take.
Rediscover your purpose.
Why should it matter that you have a clear purpose? The answer is simple. Purpose is the blueprint for your business. It’s the reason why you exist, and the catalyst for everything you do? Purpose means clarity and unity. If you have purpose you’ll not only know the direction you’re headed, so will your team and your customers; you’ll be able to clearly evaluate how you’re doing; you’ll grow the business you want, not the one the market dictates.
To find your true purpose you need passion. To discover that involves some soul-searching. Ask yourself what do you really love doing? What do you feel you should be doing? What would you like to be doing year after year? These aren’t the sort of things we normally ask ourselves as we trudge into work. But we should. Ask yourself if your current business still delivers on this front? If not, get back to basics and rediscover your purpose. It will re-energise the way you approach your company, and help you fall back in love with the business you’ve built.
Find a mentor.
The classic Economist poster said: “It’s lonely at the top, but at least there’s something to read.” It summed up perfectly the world of the entrepreneur – the loneliness of command. It can be difficult doing the heavy-lifting on your own, flying solo when everyone else has gone home. So why not find someone to help. That doesn’t mean a major hiring or giving away equity, it means finding someone you trust to give you sound advice, with no axe to grind.
Most successful entrepreneurs have a mentor. They not only help them think more clearly about where they’re headed, they help them focus on what really matters. By being more efficient, and having a clearer view, you can once again fall in love with what you’ve created.
Take a break.
Having your nose to the grindstone 24/7 isn’t the ideal way to assess a business, let alone run one. We all need to take a breather once in a while to think about what we’re doing, where we’re going and if we’re actually enjoying the process. This doesn’t mean taking two weeks in the Maldives. It could just mean getting out of the office, going somewhere different, and having a long hard look at what you’ve built, and asking – do I still love this, and, if not, why not? If you have a strong, trusted team around you, ask them the same question – do you love the business you work for? If the answer is “no”, then create a strategy for what needs to be done to get it back.
Loving your business isn’t something you should dismiss as frippery. It’s vital to your well-being, your happiness, your success. If you find yourself in a loveless relationship with your job, you need to do something about. Don’t sit there hoping it will get better. It almost certainly won’t.
The single best piece of advice anyone gave me when I was setting up my business was – enjoy the journey. It was great advice. I took it. And while not every step of the journey was enjoyable, I can honestly say I loved it.
Malcolm Duffy. Creative Director of BGI.