There are a lot of people who will drive home today and daydream about their Jerry Maguire moment after an argument with their boss, a disagreement about how clients or employees are treated, or just a bad drive home in traffic.
And they are thinking…
“If I just owned my own business, I’d be so much _________ (happier, in control, wealthier, etc…)”
What stops them in their tracks is the risk. More than 50% of businesses will fail in their first five years and over 66% will fail within 10 years. The graveyard of failed businesses is full of reasons holding people back:
-Not enough funding
-Competition from big companies
-A flawed idea or concept
-Unexpected changes in legislation
-Lack of leadership
Launching a new business takes an enormous amount of focused energy, courage, resilience, and guts.
But I would argue that there is one thing aspiring entrepreneurs must get right when starting a new business: You must know your WHY!
Not just today’s why. Today’s why is short-sighted and often based on relieving pain you’re currently experiencing, or because of a desired lifestyle that you don’t have in this moment.
I’m talking about your big WHY – your purpose for living.
To illustrate this point, I’d like to share my entrepreneurial journey with you…
I have started 4 businesses – all for different reasons. Here are my WHY’s for starting each of my businesses and the lessons I learned along the way.
I started this business with a pledge to only work Tuesdays and Thursdays each week so I could stay home and spend more time with my daughter. I was obsessed with my schedule and didn’t know what I didn’t know at this time. That there are many other factors to consider when starting a new business that require time.
Lesson learned: After just 30 days, I enrolled my daughter in daycare and worked 50-60 hours a week for the next few years. The flexibility I imagined was just not possible. I saw my daughter for an hour in the morning and another 90 minutes at night before she went to bed.
I also learned that I would never have business partners if at all possible. Partnership is like a marriage. Jeff and I have a great marriage, and I realized there is only room for one marriage in my life. I also learned that just because you enjoy working with another person in an office environment, the skills needed to run a business together are completely different. I believe it’s best to hire great people and if they prove their long term value, then consider allowing them to buy into the business as a stockholder (not a partner) or grant them options for staying with you until an exit.
I started business #2 after being diagnosed with cancer and needed to leave business #1 to take care of my health. Additionally, I was driving 97% of the revenue and only getting 40% of the commissions. I didn’t think anyone would hire me because I was six-months into chemo and completely bald, but I knew I could at least do as well as I did in my first business and take home most of the money I produced.
Lesson learned: Starting a business at the same time you are experiencing another life-changing event (i.e., moving to new city, divorce, illness, having a baby, etc.) is just too much for you and your family. It’s stressful and there is no way to be at your best by adding additional stress. As a result, burn-out is inevitable. I was personally burned-out, but also burned-out my employees and experienced high turnover because of the financial pressure I was under at all times. In the end, I sold this business to a publicly traded company and did well in the sale, but it was the longest 13 years of my life and was not filled with much joy along the way.
One year after starting business #2 I knew I wanted to give back to an organization fighting breast cancer. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is the biggest name in raising funds for breast cancer research in the world. I started a non-profit to separate these funds from business #2 and to be able to maximize our contribution to the Atlanta chapter of Komen.
Lesson learned: This business was the closest thing to my big WHY and elevated business #2. It connected me to my purpose of inspiring and activating women to live their dreams (even if they have cancer). We borrowed the brand equity of Komen which went through a tough few years of PR. I am a big believer in borrowing the brand equity of others by being associated with their businesses. But if I had to do this all over again, I would find a way to impact people directly through a B Corp (business for good) status and spreading these funds amongst multiple causes I believe in.
Thrive-Her is my 4th business and I wanted to share the #1 most important lesson I’ve learned to set yourself up for success from day 1. You will notice in my first 2 businesses, it was all about ME. But when I started Thrive-Her, I knew it would be different. Thrive-Her was created to SERVE OTHERS.
Not only is Thrive-Her perfectly aligned with my big WHY, it also leverages all of my strengths. I’m a “futurist” and a “maximizer,” according to CliftonStrengths34, and have strong focus and communication skills. This company allows me to spend the majority of my time creating a vision, communicating concepts, teaching others, and helping women live their dreams.
There is no way to fully describe the joy I feel working in this business every day. I know that I can/will contribute to women all over the world by helping them gain clarity of their vision and inspiring and activating them to live their dreams.
Lessons I’m learning: Your big WHY is your purpose and MUST be in service of OTHERS. Your big WHY is your purpose… not just in business, but in life. It’s the one thing that will help you cast the biggest vision, work the hardest to make your dreams come true, AND give you the strength to be resilient when you face the myriad of challenges all business owners experience. And to be honest, serving others is the only way to find fulfillment, meaning, and impact.
Want to talk about your big why? Let’s chat today!
Want to live your purpose and create a thriving career or business you love? Need more support and accountability to make it all happen? Hire Tricia as your coach: www.thrive-her.com/4sessions
Looking for your next speaker for your business resource group, conference or event? Email Tricia at [email protected]
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