So here is how it was for me. I began my first business for one main reason, money! At the time it never crossed my mind that there should be anything more than that, I mean why else would you work so hard, sacrifice so much time and take such risks unless for the money, right? Actually, I have found that to be far from the truth. Money is a huge reason and definitely an enticing motivator but what I found out is profits are not valuable enough to build a business upon. Now I understand that if you are in a tight financially, that you may disagree with me a bit and that’s ok, because when my money was tight, it was all I could think about too.
I started to burn out around my 10th year in business. I had long lost my love for my business but I had also accumulated so much debt and expenses that the thought of slowing down would have never crossed my mind. Actually, I thought that I must be burning out because I was a weak leader and that I just needed to tighten my boots and press through and so I did. I pressed in and grew my business by about another million dollars or so, thinking that would solve my problems but in reality, it just compounded them. With every penny of increased revenue, I would add a pound of tension and chaos. I had no idea what I was doing wrong and really didn’t realize that I was doing anything wrong because most of the business owners around me sang the same song, so I figured that was just how business ownership is. Boy was I wrong!
Here is what I know today. There are 3 components (plus a bonus freebie) that are absolutely necessary if you want to build a company or even have a career that is fulfilling and sustainable. These are not in any concrete order, actually for each of us the order can change but before you get too deep, you better make sure that all three exist or you will no doubt regret and likely come to hate the company you create.
Let’s start here. We all have a mission that we are called to in life and I believe that that this mission comes from some sort of pain we have experienced in our lives. We run from our pains harder that we run to pleasure and so our pain points are what really drive us in our lives. And it’s these pain points and how we overcome them that give us our life mission that we ultimately strive to live out and make our greatest contribution to the world. So, how do we live our mission in our careers? My mission comes down to one thing, to “guide others through the process of living their lives so that they finish with no regrets”. This comes from the pain and regret that I experienced through seeing the tears and hearing the words of my mentor as he was dying. I coupled that moment with my own pain from a suffering marriage and financial problems and determined that I must make a change for my own life and help others live so that they can avoid the moment of irreversible regrets. Now, it is not only my mission but I have also made it y career to teach this to others. But how about the contractor, or the electrician or the mechanic? how do they live out their mission? I mean who has a pain that fixing a car or hanging a light fixture will help. I know that question all too good and struggled with it for nearly 20 years of my career as a building contractor. In those careers, we have to make sure that we are in an environment that supports and allows for us to help others and to live our mission there on a daily basis. For instance, if your mission is to help recovering addicts, you would have plenty of opportunity to pour into people like employees or sub contractors on job-sites and if your mission is to strengthen marriages then you would invest time into getting to know those you work with and come into contact with so that you may know their stories and build trust so that you could pour into them.
When structuring your company, consider that your employees all have a unique calling so build it so that they have the freedom to live it out. So many companies today have so many rules in place that people are scared to share of themselves, in fear that they may be reprimanded. Now, it is important that you agree with their philosophy and that you can trust them to deliver in such a way that the company is not in jeopardy but rarely is that the case when someone has identified their true mission and are committed to living it out. You know, providing some flexibility for your team to dedicate to their mission can build a trust and loyalty that can really make your company a better and more productive place as well.
Unless your company can help you live out or somehow support your life mission, you will constantly feel unfulfilled.
Freedom is the power to act, think or speak as you want without hindrance or restraint. Most of us build our businesses with the idea that we will have all of this free time to do what we want when we want. We will be able to take off early, go on spontaneous and lavish vacations, go on 3-week hunting trips or whatever. In reality, many times we end up working longer hours than anyone else in our company and definitely more hours than we did when we had a job, what in the world happens?. It’s because we get so excited and focused on building our business and get absorbed in our dreams of the future that we unintentionally place our lives on hold to build this magic company that will on day provide us with the freedom to, live.
No more, this is a terrible way to structure your business. The business you create should be structured to support your life and to provide you with the freedom to live, not one day in the future, but every day. Unfortunately, we get sucked into the trap and after years of intense stress and missed time with our families, we realize that we have accidentally built our lives around our business. And the day that you finally realize this, is the day that you begin to resent the business that you worked so hard to build. Let’s also consider those that we employ. They want the same thing as you, freedom to enjoy life today, one day after they get the gold watch for their retirement and no, it’s not enough to get 2-weeks of paid vacation. People need time to build their life and enjoy it, they need the flexibility to go to kids ball games and meet their spouse for lunch. Obviously, there has to be order and parameters but allow them to incorporate life into their work day and you will have a happier and more appreciative team. Some of you are thinking that I’m insane and that’s fine. You’re thinking this because you envision your employees abusing such as system and if you’re thinking that, then you’re probably right, they likely would abuse it. But if you can’t trust them to balance being responsible and dedicated to you and your business, then you have the wrong people on your team and you need to make some changes. Lets’ be honest, how would you feel if the company you worked for didn’t trust you or feel that you were valuable enough to have a bit of freedom in your day? The fact is, that may be a part of why you left and started your own business anyway.
If the company you built or work for, supports your life mission and gives you freedom, then the last thing on the list that you need is financial means, yep, Money! Your company should provide you with great earning potential, consistently. For my team, we have this mantra “Everyone working with a Branch company will earn more than the industry average for their position while maintaining a 45 hour average annual work week. You see it says “will earn more” that means that if a teammate is not earning more, something is wrong, either with them or the company. If it’s the company, we fix it, if it’s because of the team members performance, then they are off the team. because if they are not earning more in the time frame, then they are likely holding others back as well because of how our profit-sharing system works. As a business owner, how much money should you make? a lot! what does that mean? that’s up to you to define. Once you define it, it’s up to you to determine that strategy to make it happen. I believe that if your heart is right and you are a giver, then you need to make it a responsibility to earn as much as you can (while maintaining a balanced life) so that you can have extra to give to others that are in need. If your profits are too low and your money is tight, then you’re ability to help others is going to be restricted. And if your employees don’t earn enough, they’ll begin to feel overworked and under appreciated and they will be out the door.
BONUS #4: Team
A fulfilling career requires a sustainable company. To get there, you must build a successful team. I’ve put together a Hiring For Success Video + Downloadable Worksheet freebie that will show you how to hire employees who will take you there!
When I finally figured out that these three components were not only necessary, but completely doable, everything changed. I have restructured my companies to make sure that they do support my mission, give me freedom and provide financial stability. Oh, what a change from the misery I once lived in.