3 Key Points in this Episode:
- Chasing an entrepreneurial dream often leads to living a nightmare.
- You must separate your personal life from your business.
- The best way to do this is to articulate your over-arching life goals.
Every year millions of people become self-employed despite the widely known statistics of business failure. According to Tony Robbins, “96% of businesses fail in the first 10-years.”
Why do people start their own businesses?
For some, it is because they have a dream of changing the world, but let’s be honest, most self-employed people start their own business for one of three reasons:
- They want to take care of their family and they feel they can make more money if they are self-employed.
- They need more flexibility in their lives and they feel they will have more freedom if they are their own boss.
- They have lost their job and decide that starting their own business is the best option to take care of their family.
Does one of these describe you?
If it does, then I am excited that you are reading this book.
Starting a business to take care of your family financially and to create flexibility and freedom in your life is not what causes so many businesses to fail.
If why we do it is not the problem, then what is?
The journey of starting your own business typically is driven by a specific need for taking care of your family or creating flexibility and freedom in your life. In that context, if you are successful it really is a dream come true.
What typically happens though is that once the person starts their own business they end up with significantly less money and time. In that context, it becomes an absolute nightmare and the cost can be awful.
People lose their life savings, go deeply into debt, sacrifice their relationships with their spouses, children, extended family, and friends, all chasing an entrepreneurial dream that turns into a nightmare.
That is what I want to eliminate and the main reason I wrote this book.
Let me explain why so many small businesses fail by relating to you what happened on my personal entrepreneurial journey.
My journey started in 2008 on a warm summer day in mid-July. Who knows where the idea came from but when it struck me, it struck with great power, like a bolt of lightning.
“I’ve been doing this job for almost 12 years, I have done every single job from sweeping the floor to running entire departments! I should start my own business because I am tired of arbitrary quotas that restrict my earning potential and trading my time for money!”
With that thought, my fate was sealed.
On January 4, 2009, I quit my job and a month later officially started the Synspire Management Group Inc. with my wife and a long-time work colleague. Our dream was to build a management consulting business. Well, I thought that was our dream, but in April 2009 my business partner announced that he wanted to go in a different direction and our partnership came to an end.
By June of 2009, my wife and I had only generated a few customers and we were struggling. I had spent all my money in the start-up phase and we were broke. We had only $700.00 left and in two weeks we had to pay $1200.00 in rent.
The feeling of desperation was soul-crushing and I remember trying not to take it out on my wife and my wife trying to hide her worry and be supportive. We briefly considered trying to find jobs, but it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. To start with there were not many jobs available at that time and we also had our family to think about. Not only did we have a young daughter, but we also had health concerns to consider. Getting 9 – 5 jobs was not a good fit for us.
How could my dream be over so quickly and end in such a nightmare?
Synspire Management Group Inc. was not a bad business idea. It could have been viable but when we were launching it I made several mistakes and it ultimately caused the business to fail.
One of the most critical mistakes was that I didn’t build the business around my ideal customer’s needs. I built the business around me. The business was so me-centric potential customers and even my business partner was not interested in doing business with me.
When I look back on it now it is so painfully obvious.
Since I graduated from school I had been working in operations and sales. My business reflected what I knew how to do and what I wanted it to accomplish.
Think of it this way, if I was an electrician I would have been starting an electrical company. Since I was an operations and sales manager “by trade” I started a management consulting business for no other reason than that was what I knew how to do, which turns out to be a flawed business model.
This is the formula most self-employed people use to decide what kind of business they should start. They start a business doing what they know how to do. On the surface, it seems like a completely reasonable and logical way to approach a new business. Sadly, it is often one of the mistakes that cause the whole experience to turn into a nightmare.
They whole-heartedly believe that because they know how to do the job, they automatically know how to run a business that offers that service. This whole-hearted belief leads the entrepreneur astray for several reasons.
One is that there is just so much more to running a business than providing the service that business offers. Another reason is that it focuses on the wrong person. You should not start a business to provide yourself with a job, you should start a business because it does something remarkable for your ideal customer.
When it comes right down to it, building a great business starts with this fundamental: Great businesses do something remarkable, something that customers really need or want and have the money to spend on.
That shift in focus changes the entrepreneurs experience from the pursuit of a dream that turns into a nightmare, to the pursuit of a real dream that will empower them to provide for their family and create flexibility and freedom in their lives.
Discovering the Blueprint of a Great Business
The Blueprint of a Great Business was born from my research into how to build a business, mentorship from great business thought-leaders, my own personal experience as an entrepreneur, and that same desire to provide for my family and have flexibility and freedom in my life.
As my first business was failing I was presented with an opportunity that would change the course of my life forever.
Let me explain.
My first business was failing, I was out of money, and my family and I were in trouble. We only had $700.00 left and we had a rent payment in two weeks for $1200.00.
An opportunity came up that would allow me to earn money on the side as a contractor while I tried to make my consulting business work. My initial motive for starting this second business was pure survival, I needed to earn enough cash to pay my bills.
By early 2010, my first business, the consulting business, would close forever and my second business, the contracting business, would go on to become one of my proudest accomplishments.
What was the main difference?
Our second business was a contracting business that specialized in exterior building cleaning. This was work and a business I knew absolutely nothing about.
Why did we choose that business?
While it is true that we were desperate for work that would pay our bills, that was not the only reason we chose this type of business. A dear friend of ours needed help. He had been in the business for many years and had sustained a few injuries on the job. He was struggling to keep up and needed help. This friend would become our first customer and to this day has been our best customer.
Beyond that, our contracting business was in a marketplace that had an abundance of potential customers who were being underserved. This gave us the opportunity to build a business that provided them with a remarkable service that they needed and wanted.
So, while it is true that my initial motive for starting my second business was purely survival it would not be my only motive. Before we even started this second business we now had my friend and a group of ideal customers and what they needed in mind.
At the time we had no idea how important this was going to be and the impact it would have on our lives and future success. Once we started to think about other people, what they needed and wanted, we became less focused on what we needed and wanted, and this led us to a completely new concept.
My experience as an entrepreneur has led me to this conclusion; a great business is a business that produces predictable results, operates independently of its owner, scales, and can be sold for a profit.
This is the foundation of the blueprint of a great business and as we discuss each one of these foundational pieces I hope you will see how they play an integral role in building a business that is focused on the needs and wants of all the people who rely on and interact with the business that you will build.
The business owner that commits to doing today what other business owners won’t, gets to own tomorrow a business that no other owner can produce. This statement highlights a fundamental principle.
How you do things matters, in fact, developing the ability to do common things in an uncommon way is the single most powerful thing an entrepreneur can do to ensure that the business they are building will become great and will fulfill the needs of the most amount of people possible.
To develop a great business that fulfills the needs of a large amount of people, you need to understand the core principles of creating a business system that not only makes your business work, but that can be replicated many times.
Included in this business system is a focus on people that guarantees that your business, although systems-centric (a business that operates with a set of systems) never loses sight of the human side of doing business. It is at this intersection of systems and people that the magic happens, which isn’t magic at all, just common things being done in an uncommon way.
Let’s get started on building your great business.
Your Over-Arching Life Goals
If you were going to build a house, what would you do long before you started construction?
You would go through an extensive planning process.
First, you would spend time with your family talking about what type of house you are going to build, what you are going to use the house for, and how long you plan on living in the house.
Next, you would meet with a range of experts that would include your mortgage broker, bank, real estate agent, architect, engineer, municipality, contractor, and an interior designer.
You would spend a great deal of time and energy carefully planning the entire process because your home is a huge expense and would want to make your home into something that you are proud of and that meets your family’s needs, now and in the future.
Your business is going to require a large amount of resources to build. You will spend money, time, and emotional, intellectual, and physical energy. Like a house, you will also need a range of experts to help you, including but not limited to, your lawyer, accountant, bookkeeper, web designer, social media and digital advertising and a host of other service providers and suppliers. Like a house building, a great business involves using a blueprint.
As we talked about in the introduction, many self-employed people make the mistake of thinking that because they know how to do the job, they are automatically equipped to build a business that provides that service.
Since they view their business as something that provides them with a job they intertwine their personal needs with the businesses needs. The business is them, therefore the personal and business needs become one and the same.
Before you can build a great business, you must realize that you and your business are not one and the same. You and your family are an entity with needs and wants. Your business must become a separate entity with its own needs and wants.
This separation between your life and business is the first meaningful step toward building a great business. Therefore, the first part of the blueprint of a great business is to articulate your over-arching life goals.
What I am going to ask you to do is to take time to think deeply about what you personally want out of life. Talk to your family and really push yourself to come up with a list of over-arching life goals that have nothing to do with your business.
What is truly important to you as a person?
What will you accomplish in your lifetime?
These are fundamental questions that if asked at all, are rarely answered until the conclusion of a person’s life when they may, in retrospect, be proud of some accomplishments but more likely, filled with regret at missed opportunities.
An over-arching life goal is something that has a significant impact on the trajectory of your life.
Most self-employed people with service-based businesses are so focused on their business that they fail to take a step back and really understand WHY they are doing what they are doing.
Regardless of the reason that you started your business you want to ensure that your business is in harmony with your over-arching life goals. By creating over-arching life goals, you articulate what you want to do with your life. This gives insight into what kind of business you need to build to support those over-arching life goals.
The blueprint of creating over-arching life goals can be broken down into 4 steps, that if taken in order, will provide you with a well-articulated vision of what you want to accomplish in your lifetime.
These are the four steps:
- TIME – Take a significant amount of time to think independently. In the ancient world, the expression “40-days and 40-nights” was often used, not as a literal description of a specific time-frame but rather an indication that a significant amount of time had passed.
- HONESTY – Be honest with yourself about what you really want. Resist the urge to set goals that sound good to others or are popular. You need to set goals that resonate deeply with you.
- REALISTIC – This doesn’t mean that you should shy away from audacious goals, but don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are not in the realm of possibility. There is a fine line between greatness and insanity.
- COMMITMENT – Be prepared to totally commit to achieving these goals. This is your life we are talking about, you need to be present and invested. To achieve remarkable things in your life it is critical that you be willing to work on these goals every day for years! That’s right, you must be prepared for years of hard work to achieve your goals.
By using this blueprint, you will be able to develop a well-articulated vision of what you want to accomplish in your lifetime. The next step is to build a business that will support your over-arching life goals and to do that, you need to have over-arching business goals.
This episode sponsored by:
Learn the 10 steps that make up my blueprint for building a traditional business and operating it remotely.
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Thank you for listening and I look forward to working with you soon.