My favorite example of this occurred shortly after I opened my CPA firm twenty years ago. I was helping the owner of a portrait studio implement a marketing plan that we had created together. Every week we would agree on what both he and I would accomplish before the next weekly meeting. And for three straight weeks, he failed to finish anything.
After the third week, I asked him what was up. "Why are you having trouble finishing these steps?" Now, I assumed he was just having trouble getting started, or that he was confused about what I was asking him to do – but I was wrong! He answered, “Wayne, I can do what you are asking me to do, but I’m not sure I want to.”
Since he had requested my help and was paying me every month, that was not the answer I expected. Seeing my confusion, he elaborated, “Wayne, I now understand that expanding my business will take a ton of work, and I’m happy where I am. As long as I can pay all my bills and have a few extra bucks every week to go out to dinner with my wife and have a few beers with my friends, I’m happy.”
And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong or shameful in wanting this. Every business owner should start off growing their business to the level they are happy and comfortable with. But the best time to decide what your personal goals are is before you open the business. The next best time – today!
In order to establish your goals, you should start by answering the following questions:
- What is your main motivation for starting the business? Is it to make more money? Have more time off? To make a difference in the world?
- How much control do you need? Do you want to do it all by yourself, or do you just want control over a part of it?
- How much money do you need to make from this business?
- How much money do you want to make from this business?
- How long do you expect to own this business?
- Do you plan to pass it on to your children or sell it? When will you pass it on?
- How hard do you want to work?
- Are you open to learning new skills? Do you like to learn?
- Do you care what your family, friends, and acquaintances think about you?
- How much support will you need from your family and friends?
I know many of you will be tempted to skip this step. Don’t! I constantly watch business owners sabotage themselves because their business runs contrary to their personal goals or values.
So: What are your personal goals, and how will your business help you achieve them?