Small Business Tips Blog
For many entrepreneurs, their business is a passion project to which they devote a lot of time, resources, and energy in the pursuit of success. For most, this creates a very blurry line separating the personal from the professional. Quite often, it is the personal life that suffers under the weight of the professional, and small business owners must work very hard to strike the right balance that maintains both spheres – perhaps not perfectly, but at least functionally.
But something that entrepreneurs may not be on the lookout for are the ways in which the personal runs interference on professional success. In this context, personal refers to just one person: you. As an entrepreneur, failing to recognize how you might be standing in the way of your business’ success means you are missing out on opportunities to make your business better.
In his digital article for Forbes.com, Chris Myers, co-founder and CEO of BodeTree and author of Enlightened Entrepreneurship, references his own experiences as a first-time CEO and startup founder and shares some tips for checking your personal baggage as a business owner.
It’s Not About You. It only makes sense that when you are so personally invested in something, you naturally take it very personally when someone is critical or doesn’t react to your ideas with unreserved passion and enthusiasm. The problem with taking these things personally is that it’s incredibly unhelpful and it is a waste of your energy.
As Myers points out, "nobody cares about your ideas as much as you do." And, actually, that’s okay. It’s unreasonable to assume that employees, investors, clients, friends, and family will be as emotionally invested as you are. It doesn’t mean they are any less confident in your ability to succeed or that all your hard work has been in vain.
Ultimately, if you’re not getting the wow reaction you were expecting from people, instead of resenting them for not getting your vision, look at it as an opportunity to fine-tune your approach. "As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to figure out how to get others to buy into your vision and share your excitement," says Myers.
Big Step, Small Step—Just Keep Moving Forward. In business, ups and downs are inevitable. Nothing compares to the elation business owners experience when times are good. Conversely, nothing stings quite as much as a setback that leaves your business reeling.
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to lock their sights on chasing the next peak while carefully avoiding any valleys in between. But there’s a lot to gain from paying attention to that in-between zone where, as Myers points out, "the real work gets done." This makes good sense. During both peaks and valleys, you’re operating in survival mode. Whether the team is scrambling to fill orders for a huge contract or you’re aggressively pursuing new revenue streams to survive a downtown, the focus is almost entirely on successfully navigating the short-term until there’s room to breathe again.
Myers suggests that sustained success is the result of incremental gains you make on a regular basis: "What is most important… is taking steps forward, everyday, no matter how difficult that may be, because even the smallest step forward makes a difference."
Get Out of the Way of the Important Business Decisions You Need to Make. Among the many responsibilities of an entrepreneur, one of the most challenging is being the chief decision maker. The success of the business rides on your ability to make good decisions almost all of the time. The goal is to make decisions with the business’ best interests in mind regardless of how you feel about it personally or what you want. However, sometimes the most logical approach is not the one we tend to choose. When it comes to running a business, how do you know if you’re standing in your own way of making the best decisions?
"Remember, the entrepreneurial journey isn’t about you; it’s about building something greater than the sum of its parts," says Myers. This is especially true when it comes to making difficult business decisions. When faced with an important decision, ask yourself: Are you looking for solutions that fit an existing concept of what you think the business should be? Or are you willing to do whatever it takes to get the business where it needs to be? Do your decisions make you feel good and move the business forward? Or do they mainly just make you feel good?
Sound business decisions will almost always require you to step back from your role as founder/creator/visionary and assume the perspective of your clients and customers. What do they need and want from your business and what do you need to do to deliver those things?
And if you feel yourself buckling under the pressure of decision-making, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Reaching out to other business owners or even consulting with team members for feedback isn’t a sign of weakness or failure – it’s just good for business.
For small business owners, aiming for balance between the personal and professional will be an ongoing part of the entrepreneurial journey. Ideally, careful attention will be paid to the opportunities made available when a clearer distinction is drawn between the two.