If you’re a business owner, you’ll know more than anyone how stressful and all-consuming it can be.
You can find yourself thinking about your business all day every day, and find it hard to switch off and relax – during those few times you do allow yourself some time off!
Whether you’re already full swing into running your own business, or you’re thinking of starting one up, this post will help you understand the key principles to designing a business and a life you love.
You might think that your business life and personal life are two separate components, but the truth is, they will both heavily effect and influence each other.
If your business doesn’t truly feel good to you on every level, you’re going to end up losing interest, or even resenting it further down the line.
1. Find your WHY
If you haven’t yet watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk ‘“How great leaders inspire action,” go watch it now.
You should always be starting a business for the right reasons. Anyone in business will tell you that if your sole goal is to make money, you’re barking up the wrong tree! There are so many other things you can do to make money that will save you a world of stress, and time.
Maybe you want to start your own business because you want to pursue work you love, or you want to make a difference in the world, or you want to help others, or you want to solve a current problem.
Don’t be afraid to want to make money. We all need money to be able to live and offer ourselves a certain amount of freedom. But if money is your only motivating factor, you’re best off doing something else.
Keep your “whys” with you at all times – when you’re faced with tough decisions, when you feel like nothing is going your way when you’re thinking of branding and marketing, and when you’re eventually trying to scale up.
Your whys will keep you motivated when you face moments of confusion and adversity – which are guaranteed when starting and running your own business. They will also help you focus on your goals, and who you’re trying to reach with your products or services.
As Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
2. Trust your gut
There are always going to be experts and leaders telling you how you should be running your business, what you should be doing to grow it, and what you should be focusing your efforts on.
Your job as a business owner is to listen to that advice and information but make your own decisions.
Because you know what?
No one knows your business like you do.
Trusting your instinct and following your heart might sound a little airy-fairy to you, but ask yourself this – when has your gut ever been wrong?
You probably have memories of times you didn’t listen to your gut, and that ended up biting you in the butt, right?
Marie Forleo (founder of B School) is a strong advocate for leading your business with your heart.
“Listen to your gut and your heart, because no matter what any expert tells you—your wisdom inside needs to be paramount, it needs to always drive all of your decisions,” she says. “That takes practice, but it’s important.”
The more you trust your instinct and allow it to guide you, the stronger that inner voice will get over time.
Try it and see.
3. Figure out your niche
Every business needs to have a niche. This will give you an area, and a specific audience to focus on at all times, and concentrate your marketing efforts.
Essentially, a niche market will help you to be a big fish in a small pond. It might also enable you to present your products and services to a group of people that have been overlooked by other businesses up until now.
Defining your niche at the beginning will help you to stay focused when it comes to everything you’re creating for your target customer, and will help you steer your business in a clear direction.
If you’re not sure what your niche should be, or you want some help re-focusing on it, there are a few steps you can take right now.
Write out your passions (be honest!)
Write a list of all your skills (again, be brutally honest – and you don’t need to be a super genius at anything)
Look for where your passions and skills overlap. This is your sweet spot, and your niche can be found right here. Take your time and think about each of these areas over before deciding which one to pursue.
Spend some time researching to see if your chosen niche is something a lot of people struggle with/want to learn more about. Remember, there needs to be a demand for what you’re trying to sell.
Equally, it’s so important to do something that you love. If you don’t love it, you’re not going to put in the time and effort needed to grow a successful business in the long run.
And anyway, if you don’t love what you’re doing, what’s the damn point?
4. Figure out how you will make money
As I’ve already mentioned, if you’re in it solely for the money, you’re going to lack the motivation and drive needed to grow your business and keep on going.
That being said, you need to be generating a healthy profit, and that should be one of your goals.
You might not know how you’re going to do this, to begin with, and that’s okay. You might find it’s helpful to dive into your niche, and then figure things out as you go.
We live in an incredible time, and there are so many ways you can now generate revenue as a business, aside from selling products and services.
This is likely to evolve over time, as you begin to test the waters and see what’s working for you, and what’s not.
Don’t worry about having everything figured out from the get-go, but do set out to make money – and don’t apologise for wanting to.
5. Don’t bulldoze your personal life
If you’re not careful, your business can become all-consuming. And the thing about business owners is most of us tend to be natural workaholics!
Now, that’s not a bad thing. It’s great to be so dedicated and ambitious, and in love with what you’re doing every day.
But, there is a fine line when it comes to being dedicated, and driving yourself to burn out.
We all need time away from our work to just relax. So you need to be scheduling that time in for yourself.
This might be spending time with family, hitting the gym, cooking yourself a healthy meal, or reading a book.
Your health is incredibly important, yet so many of us forget this when we’re running our business. You only get one mind, and one body – so take care of them.
And when you give yourself that time off (even if it’s only an hour each day) – make sure you’re not thinking about work, or checking your emails or social media at the same time. When you’re off, be fully OFF. Otherwise, it doesn’t count as a break.
Naturally, you’re going to spend less time socialising, but don’t let your mental and physical health suffer as a result of your business. That’s never going to end well.
Your business should be a source of joy (even though it’ll probably stress you out too!). So make sure it excites you, fills you up, and feels aligned with who you are and what you want to achieve in your lifetime.
Don’t forget to be patient. As Bill Gates famously said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
This is the long game, so focus on long-term results instead of short-term gains.
Is there anything else that has helped you to create a business and a life you love? As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!