Running your own business is risky, stressful and demanding. It can alienate you from friends in more traditional work, from your employees, and leave you distant from your family through the sheer time it requires. So why do it? In the gallons of virtual ink spilt every day on the subject of entrepreneurship, one subject that’s often neglected is how important it is to reflect on your motivations, your dreams, desires and goals for the business you want to run. And it is important: you are your own first and greatest resource, so you can’t underestimate how important it is to know what you’re thinking and feeling, and if you don’t really know what you want, it can be difficult to make plans that make that future happen!
This isn’t a soft consideration – it doesn’t just affect work-life balance and self care, it can also affect your bottom line. If you’re using growth strategy consultants to define your business’ route to success – or any kind of consultants! – you’re wasting money unless you know what you want to achieve, so that’s what we’re looking at today.
Something that can affect your day to day experience with your business, how satisfied you are with what you do and your relationship with your employees is your company culture. It’s well worth thinking about what you want your business to feel like to work for, what you think its values should be and how you can build them into your operations and processes.
One simple thing to think about is working. Many businesses in the start up model encourage hours over and above the standard 40-hour working week out of a passion for the idea and the desire to bring it to market quickly. This isn’t inherently bad, but it’s well worth thinking about whether this model suits you before you build a business around it. If you want a more set pattern of hours without overtime (paid or unpaid) you have to think about how that affects hiring and ensure you start from the top by logging off yourself at the end of the working day.
Models of Growth
There are lots of different models of growth that businesses can build themselves around – start-ups aim for sudden quick growth fuelled by funding rounds, more traditional businesses grow their audience more organically resulting in slower – but potentially more stable – growth funded with business loans or their own earnings. Some businesses don’t aim to grow at all – a plumber in business as a sole trader is only looking for enough work to fund themselves, not to become the next Jeff Bezos!
These growth models all come with different expectations and effects on your business. We’ve seen how the start up model encourages a particular kind of work ethic. If you’re building a more traditional business, on loans from more traditional lenders you’re forced into a more conservative model: you can’t move quickly and break things because one of the things you might break is the confidence of the bank that’s underwriting your purchase of stock – whereas a start up is structurally discouraged from slow and steady growth over time.
The most important thing you can do is reflect on what you want – what suits your temperament and ambitions, and what business structures play well with the central idea you have. Honest reflection here will pay dividends down the line.