Years ago, I was trying to get my (VERY LARGE) employer to let me shift my management role to a part-time job after the birth of my daughter. The first response I got was, “We don’t do that here.” After persisting in my efforts, I was called into my Director’s office for a “chat”.
“I’m concerned about the effect this change will have on your career here. Don’t you want to be a Vice President someday?”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. Guffawed, actually.
Why? Because I DIDN’T want to be a Vice President. Because, even if my big mouth had stayed shut enough to get promoted to that level, I knew I’d be terrible at playing the political games required to succeed there. I didn’t want the politics, the 24-7 on-call status, the headaches. I wanted to do the work I enjoy, then go home and raise my kids.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to march to the beat of a different drummer in a big corporation. But that’s why we have our own businesses, right? So we can do what WE want?
Then why do so many of us follow a path going somewhere we don’t want to go?
We are barraged with messages about what success should look like for small business owners — and much of it, unfortunately, seems to suggest that the goal is to be a “small business” for as short a time as possible, on the way to being something much larger.
Over the years I’ve gotten a number of suggestions about what I should be doing with my company to really “scale”. But many of them just didn’t align with what I wanted from my business.
I want to do a lot of the work I love, with people who value it and understand the critical importance of a connection with an ideal audience.
I want my work to support businesses I believe in.
I want to have enough flexibility in my schedule that I can get back to a client quickly when they need something, or take on a new project sooner rather than later. I don’t want to work myself to death, travel constantly, or sacrifice time with my family now for a big bank balance later.
I want to make enough money to be comfortable, put something away for retirement, and help my kids achieve their own dreams.
I want to help other small business owners find their own version of success.
But that’s just me.
Are you following your own compass?
Is your business built, from bottom to top, to support your goals?
Are the customers you’re serving the people you truly want to help?
We sacrifice a lot — risk a lot — to own our own businesses. If they’re not going to take us we want to be — wherever that is — what’s the point?
Have you thought about where you really want your business to go?