Today’s question has an answer that serves us all
Tune in, as each week I answer your Small Business questions
Hello there, we meet again. I could get used to this :)
I trust you enjoyed last weeks first instalment. This is a two way street, I’m a real person on the other side of this screen and I get so excited to see emails from you, my readers sitting pretty in my inbox! So go on, if you’ve been thinking about popping a note through, be my guest.
Since we last spoke, the past 7 days in my world have been an interesting tapestry of life experiences, all of which have lead me to some soulful reflection.
Last week I achieved some exciting behind the scenes business goals, shared laughs and bubbles of champagne with Mum to celebrate her Birthday, caught up with my best friend and soul sister by the Yarra, and tearfully celebrated the life of an amazing woman and dear family friend who passed away too soon.
When life is smooth sailing and the waters are calm, it’s surprisingly easy to forget how precious life is, how the little things really do count and how truthful the statement, ‘Life is what you choose to make it’ really is.
Everyday I give gratitude for the beautiful family and friends I’m surrounded by, my home and safety, my health and wellbeing. I especially give gratitude to the career path I have followed and the lives I positively touch everyday, through this very business.
In a time where choice is the greatest it’s ever been, following your passion is possible and the world is in the palm of your hands. We’re starting to see a revolution of people bucking the traditional trend of ‘working for the man’ and instead generating their own income, from their own steam.
This is a topic close to my heart and one that somehow, I always manage to explore with at least one person in the room at a party. The world is your oyster, limitless income and opportunity is possible, but where it can fizzle out is when your motivation is misaligned.
This week’s question is result of such a case.
* * *
Hey Chance (is that your real name?),
Let me start by saying, I’m not a woman in business, as you’ll see from my name below, but I am the business and life partner of a very special Woman to me, that is. I ask this question on her behalf (she doesn’t know I am though!).
A few years ago I convinced my girlfriend we should buy a café in Melbourne, I already had previous experience managing cafes and it would mean we could work together to create a profitable future for ourselves with no one else telling us what to do.
Now two years on, it’s very successful but it consumes ALL of our life. We’re up early every day, late to bed every night, we’re constantly bashing our head against the wall with staff issues, there’s barely a conversation between us that doesn’t involve work and now with a young child our patience with the business and one another is growing thin.
The money is good, but this headache isn’t the vision we had in mind for ourselves.
At this point we’re lost as to what to do, so we’ve been ignoring it, I guess in the hope that by some miracle something changes and we can get back to remembering what it feels like to be excited, optimistic and happy again.
It’s hard to admit aloud, but reality is, I got us into this, how can I fix it and support my girlfriend to be the capable businesswoman that she is?
* * *
G’day Matt, first up, yep, that’s really my name (coolest parents ever!),
Now go flick the big fancy coffee machine on, grab one of your hip rubber stamped paper eco cups and pour yourself a nice big organic soy latte (make that 2, thanks) and pull up a seat. We’ve a few things to talk about.
Kudos to you standing up and owning your part in this situation, but just admitting it to my readers and I is only half way. You and your girlfriend are partners in this (and in life), transparency is key; and it will go a long way, trust me.
The face of business has changed and evolved so very much over the past 50 years. Once upon a time, if your family had a business it was an unspoken certainty that you, the kids, would one day take it over, making way for your parents to retire. For some long established businesses, this has been the ebb and flow for decades, even centuries.
However, now we live in such a disposable world; we have throwaway jobs, throwaway relationships, even disposable underwear, and disposable razors, heck even the coffee cup you’re sipping from will end up in the bin! Everything that was once permanent is now transient; and that’s become the ‘norm’.
So the picture I’m painting here is this. The drivers and motivators that had us once step into the family business without the bat of an eyelid, are now near nonexistent. Our Modus Operandi, used to be family pride, respect, ensuring a tradition lived on and upholding the uninterrupted service to your loyal clientele.
Nowadays, it’s what’s in it for me, what’s it going to cost me, will I still get holidays and time off, how big is my market share? …How times have changed. I fear Matt that what you have done, is what so many in this current era do (myself included years ago); initially driven by money (though most will say independence, we both know that’s just the social answer), then second the allure of independence, no one to answer, and so on and so forth.
It’s because of this changed perspective (and you’ll see that’s all it is), which I suspect you’ve got yourself into this dilly of a pickle. Great news, there’s a solution.
Change the question from, what’s in it for me, to how can I serve?
Sadly overtime these questions have been reversed, the focus has changed and at the expense of our health, happiness and relationships. The overwhelming evidence continues to mount, with more and more articles about business owners being over stressed and over worked, all consumed by the business and relationships ending in divorce attributed to it. Not to mention the effect this tug and pull lifestyle has on the children caught up in this chaos.
I trust I’ve illustrated the point. You and your girlfriend may have been driven to own a café with desires of financial wealth and career independence, but what’s ensued is a downwards spiral of self consuming, toxic results.
You needn’t necessarily sell the business if that’s what you’re thinking. First come together in a quite space with no interruptions and take turns to ask each other these questions and listen to the answers. Be sure to acknowledge and support what the other shares, there are no wrong answers.
- For what purpose do I want a business of my own?
- In an ideal world at the end of each day what outcome would I hope to achieve?
- Where do my passions lay, what am I bloody brilliant at?
- What experience do I want my children to have growing up with me as a business owner?
- How can I serve others in a way that creates a positive ripple first before any other materialistic gain?
You both may find it an enlightening experience, one that may even bring you closer as a team, but most importantly, it will help you calibrate with one another and see clearly why what you’re doing in business and in life, isn’t working. In this same session, be playful and brainstorm ways you can integrate and fulfil your answers within your current business; take the steps to work toward a life that serves. You now have the road map to walk out of this pickle jar, and a new perspective to share with those whose lives you touch daily.
Everyday you’re either forging your legacy, and contributing positively to the world around you, or your not. Reconnect with the ‘old fashioned’ way of doing business, and you will be rewarded with the original vision you both had in mind, and so much more.
Ripple on, Chance :)