Most of the ‘experts’ will tell you that if you want your business to be successful, you have to love what you do, but is that true? Sometimes it’s good for you to play Devil’s Advocate and ask yourself these kinds of questions.
Just for a moment, let’s go back to the definition of a business in terms of Robert Kiyosaki’s famous model, whereby we progress through four stages. He said that we mostly start as ‘employees’; then we become ‘self-employed’ (to be our own boss and control our own destiny, most of us think); then we become business owners (where we employ other people to do stuff); and finally, we move on to being investors (where our money makes us more money).
That’s all fine you say, but don’t we still have to love what we do?
Hmm, I’m not convinced. There are plenty of people who love what they do, yet you probably wouldn’t say they are successful in terms of the results they are getting or the ridiculous number of hours that they may be working.
Equally, what of those entrepreneurs who make pots of money out of a good business model, without actually doing most of the work themselves and not necessarily caring that much about the product or service?
If you are going to stick in that third stage, however, of being self-employed, then you’d better love what you do, because the definition infers that you will be there, day in and day out, doing most of that work. If that’s the case, then wouldn’t it be awful to be stuck there doing something you dislike intensely?!! You would have effectively bought yourself a job that you hate!
The business owners who have a strategy however, and that includes a business plan and an exit strategy, or at least a pretty good idea of how they mean to end the ‘project’, can actually get away with doing something that is not so much their ‘passion’ but rather more of a means to an end.
They have in most cases been able to step back from the business; to treat it like a ‘project’; to employ people to do the work; to put in systems and controls. This means that they can take holidays or work hours that suit them; they can make tough decisions without being emotionally crushed by the unpleasant necessities; and ultimately, they can let go of the ‘project’ and sell it as a going concern for a sizeable payout.
To a lot of us that definition sounds clinical, devoid of personal warmth or attachment and possibly even uncaring, but is that true either?
Surely the ideal would be to find something that serves people and that is useful to the community; something that you can feel good about; something that both enriches your soul but also makes you enough money (how much is enough is a question for another article!) and gives you back your most important asset – time.
If you happen to love that business, then great – so much the better. Just understand the difference between doing something that you like and are good at, as compared with setting up an effective business. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive of course, however, just as you can see a house as a house, or you can love it as a home, one day it will outlive its original purpose and you will move on to a new chapter.
It might sound like coaching heresy on my part, but I’ll explain in my own context. I love my coaching practice and I love being an author – they’re about me helping people and using my creativity to do so. There are things I love about my cleaning business, like providing jobs for good people, creating clean environments so residents can enjoy their homes more and the satisfaction of running a successful small business. I’m still creating, yet, I can take holidays from it and still be earning money, plus one day I’ll sell off the asset.
Therefore, like the song says, ‘If you can’t have the one you love, love the one you’re with’. In other words, find something to love about your business and still be true to your values, but separate that emotion from the need to feel dependent upon it.