Small Business: Are you Flying a Plane With No Destination?
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Where is your company headed? Take a second to think back at the last few months or years and go over everything you’ve accomplished. You may have grown by leaps and bounds and accomplished more than you ever imagined.
Now ask yourself: is this what you really wanted in the first place?
So many business owners get into business with a lofty goal in mind. They want to get out of a crummy job that makes them crazy. They want to skip the commute and spend time with their family they don’t get to see enough. They have an amazing idea for a product and want the world to see it no matter what it takes.
But along the way, something happens. They get back into the same rhythms that drove them crazy before. They work so much they never see their family. Or they sell out to a big company and their product never gets released.
Usually, it’s not because they knew one day this had to happen or they would have to compromise their ideals to achieve success. It’s just somewhere down the road they forgot why they got into business in the first place. They forgot to set a destination for their little “business plane” so they had no idea where to land when it was time.
Setting Your Sights
Why did you get into business? There’s no right or wrong answer here. Like the examples above, everyone needs a reason to break out on their own, no matter how epic or tiny it is. So if you started your company to be your own boss, own that reason!
Every big decision you make should reflect your end goal. If you want to stay independent, you shouldn’t work as a contractor for a big company who wants to control every moment of your day – even if it means twice the pay. You’ll be back in the same position you were before, just in a different form (and responsible for your own taxes and health insurance.)
You should take time to seriously consider your goals and vision because it will affect every decision you make. It’s your life, of course, but also don’t forget to involve your family or significant others in your decision making process. (“Significant others” can include business partners.) When you ask your spouse, children or a colleague you work with regularly what they want out of your business, you may be surprised. The colleague could be really interested in taking things to the next level and hiring employees. On the other hand, maybe your life partner and/or children think you spend too much time working. You’ll never know until you have a serious heart to heart.
If you’re struggling, consider availing yourself to a local Small Business Development Center. These Small Business Administration-run programs are all about helping entrepreneurs attain success on their own terms, and I like to think of the wise counselors there as therapists for small business owners. Every time I’ve visited my local SBDC they have pointed out a problem or challenge that I was too involved in the business to recognize.
Finally, it doesn’t hurt to actually write out an exit plan. To help you get started, try a service like Enloop.com. This business plan writing website walks you through the process of writing this vital document, and allows you to include your exit strategy. A business plan can be your go-to reference when it comes time to make a vital decision regarding your company.
Why did you go into business for yourself? How has it worked out? Do you know your business exit plan?