Why are you in business?
Maybe you think this is a stupid question. Business is all about making money? Isn’ it?
Well, yes and no.
If business was only about making money, then businesses would soon stop growing. As soon as an entrepreneur was earning enough to feed his or her family, he’d have no more reason to push the business forward.
Businesses grow for reasons other than money. There are a ton of reasons entrepreneurs keep going long after they need to, some better than others.
- They want to make a difference in the world, and they know business is a way to make change happen.
- Creating jobs for other people and contributing to the economy feels good.
- The money they get from business gives them access to power.
- They enjoy expensive vacations.
- Status matters. They need the status symbols money allows them to buy, such as a private jet, a big house, or a ferrari.
- They like the type of people they meet when they’re doing business.
Do you see what I mean? Making money is always about more than making money. I’ve yet to meet anyone who wants to get rich simply so they can stare at a big numbers in their bank statement.
Business is about more than making money, even when you’re just starting out.
A clever dude called Abraham Maslow noticed this a long time ago. Back in the 1940s, he created a “hierarchy of needs”. Rather than explaining it in depth, here’s what it looks like, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Once your basic needs of food, water, shelter and security are met, then other stuff starts to matter. You start caring about being creative, your values, your achievements.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was originally published in a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation. So it’s actually about what makes people tick.
And as you’re a person, it’s about what makes you tick.
Businesses struggle for all kinds of reasons. But a biggie, that’s rarely talked about, is that the people in charge lose motivation. Their get-go and buzz disappears.
Perhaps being in business is different to what they imagined. Perhaps they had an idea of the easy-peasy sun-soaked dream life of entrepreneurs (ha!). Or perhaps they’ve earned enough money to keep them secure forever, so why bother anymore?
In any case, the real reason they’ve lost their motivation is that their business is failing to meet their higher needs.
How can you get back your mojo? Or if you’re starting in business, how can you set-up your business so it makes you feel good to be alive?
Define who you are.
When you know who you are, you can form your brand around your identity.
We’ll get to how to do the defining in a moment. But first, a note about what defining means.
My guess is that you read “define who you are” as “reinvent yourself”. That’s because when we’re told to define ourselves, we feel like we’ve got to make it up.
Let’s look at it from another angle. Where’s the home of definitions? The dictionary.
The fact is, words existed for thousands of years before anyone ever started thinking about composing a dictionary. Dictionaries don’t re-invent or make up words. They simply define something that already exists.
You – the real you – already exists. Defining yourself is the simple matter of describing yourself, as you really are. Try forming a new mould for your life, and you’ll quickly discover it doesn’t fit.
No one has to see what you’re writing, so be completely honest.
To start this process, get into a reflective space. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to think properly in front of a computer screen. I recommend taking a pen and paper, and going somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed. Reflect on the following questions. You don’t have to answer all of them. Just choose questions that bring something up for you. Of course, you can add other questions too, or expand your answers beyond the scope of the original question.
The following questions help you discover what you are drawn towards:
- What makes you feel most alive?
- What makes you smile?
- What are your values?
- Think of a recent moment when you lost track of time. What were you doing?
- What matters to you more than anything else?
- Why did you get into business in the first place?
- What are your gifts? Your natural skills and abilities?
- Who do you find most inspiring?
- If you could share a message with the world, knowing everyone would list, what would it be?
- If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?
- How could you use your talents and passions to help others?
The next questions help you take a look at what you’d like to move away from:
- What most drains your energy?
- What are the things at work you feel like you “must do”, but you’d rather they didn’t have to be done?
- Which aspects of your life are you least grateful for?
Once you’ve defined who you are, you can bring your full self to your business.
What’s more, you can start to rethink your business around who you are. Drastic changes might not be possible right away, but you can gradually reform your brand to be a better reflection of the real you.
As I said in the introduction, when you know what matters to you about your business, you’ll want to invest yourself and give the best you can
But more than that, when your business reflects who you are, your customers will notice. You’ll come across as more authentic and real. People crave that connection with reality, because so many of us have lost touch with ourselves. You know longer have to compete on price. You no longer have to compete on anything. You can simply be who you are, and let your brand and business be an outpouring of that.
Go on, define yourself. Get down on paper who you are.
Who knows what wonders you’ll unlock?
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