By Rieva Lesonsky
Is your business doing everything you want it to? I’m not just talking about making sales, bringing in a paycheck for you or chugging along. I’m talking about whether your business is working for you–or you’re just working for your business.
Maybe you started a business because you wanted more flexibility to work the hours you want, work from home or pick up your kids after school. But suddenly, you take on a couple big clients who want you on call 24/7, and while your bank account may be thriving, your spirit isn’t, because you’re run even more ragged than you were in the corporate world.
Or maybe you began planning your company with one goal in mind—say, to open an organic bakery–but after listening to other people’s advice on how to get there, you’re pulled in so many directions that you’re not sure what your business model is anymore (catering? Wholesaling? Retailing?).
Here are some questions to ask yourself, both during the startup stage and regularly thereafter, to make sure your business is working for you:
- What do I want from my business financially? It’s a business, after all. Set monetary goals and know that if you want a multimillion-dollar company, your day-to-day is going to look a lot different than if you simply want to replace your income from a job. If your business isn’t reaching the goals, how can you get there?
- What do I want my business to be known for? Do you want to create a company that makes a difference in the community, is a great place to work, is honored for innovation, is high-tech or handmade and crafty? Choose a few goals that matter to you and stick to them.
- What do I want to do day-to-day in my business? A certain amount of grunt work is inevitable, especially in the startup phase, but too many entrepreneurs, in an effort to grow their companies, find themselves doing work they have no taste or talent for. How can you arrange things so you’re doing what you love most of the time?
- What does success look like in my life? Does success mean you’re jet-setting around the country living a fast-paced, 24/7 lifestyle? Are you in demand as a conference speaker and featured on the cover of Inc. Magazine? Are you working four hours a day in your pajamas? All these visions of success are equally valid; the key is to find one that resonates with you.
Once you’ve figured out what you really want to get out of your business, don’t lose sight of it. Check in with yourself regularly to make sure you’re on the right track. When you find yourself losing focus, correct your course. Then, and only then, will you create a business that gives you what you want.