I know you just read the title and might be chomping at the bit to give me a piece of your mind, but hold on. Before you get offended and tell me all the reasons why this doesn’t apply to you, let me start by explaining what I mean by the word “business.”
I consider “business” to be a commercial means of operations. This is about setting up processes and systems that consider the sustainability of the venture. Is there a supply chain? How much overhead is involved? What kind of consistency and regularity can you guarantee? These are all crucial factors.
A conventional business involves stakeholders, both internal and external. There is an assumed responsibility to not only keeping the bottom line healthy, but taking care of the varied factors (e.g., humans, machines, and cash flow) that directly impact its health. At the same time, there is the responsibility to be transparent and mindful with the external stakeholders such as clients and the community.
In short: Business = Sustainability and Responsibility. Take the bank for example. It has a variety of systems and processes in place to ensure that it will be there tomorrow, next week, next month, and so on. It has short-term targets with a long-term vision and a plan to get there.
It also takes responsibility for all of its moving parts (clients, employees, money) by having boundaries in place such as hourly work week limits. By not running its employees ragged, not only do they enjoy a better work-life balance but they are also less likely to accidentally make critical mistakes in client accounts.
Myth vs. Reality
On the surface, having your own business seems glamorous and prestigious. You work for yourself, you can determine your own business hours, and you reap most of the monetary benefits. However, it seems like everyone wants to open a business with the rewards in mind, ignoring the responsibilities and behind-the-scenes work involved.
This is why only 10% of startups succeed and the rest either barely break even or end up exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. But if everyone isn’t meant for business, does this mean that the rest of us should live our lives working for others? No way!
Although not everyone may be “meant for business,” but everyone can conduct business… so long as they are crystal clear about what they want out of it. If you’d like the monetary rewards of a business but not all the responsibilities of operating one, then consider selling your expertise!
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” – Steve Jobs
Consulting is the perfect way around the conventional business setup. A consultant helps other people with their businesses. They get paid to understand the ins and outs, and to tell others what to do to make operations run more efficiently. What are you an expert in? What are you passionate about? Consultants find work in areas from weddings to wine and also business!Another great route to take is to become an agent. The agent functions as a bridge between the demand and the supply: the clients looking for work and the businesses looking to hire. Their key responsibility is to facilitate or finalize the completion of a sale and, depending on the remunerative agreement, they can receive payment from one or even both parties.
The agent is in business, conducts a business, and does business. However, the agent doesn’t have the conventional form of a business, and they probably don’t want one.
Knowing What You Want
Take note of your strengths and weaknesses, and choose the path that works best for you. It may actually feel liberating to not start a conventional business when you know that the responsibilities involved are more than you can (or want to) handle.
So before jumping into business, determine the type of business model you want. Do you want to set-up a conventional one or one where you do more of a consultative role? With a full awareness of these things, you will be better able to create a career that you truly love and which loves you right back.
“When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” – Jim Rohn
To help you get clear on whether or not a conventional business is for you, I’ve created this short questionnaire (Rate from 1-5. 1 as a strong NO, 5 as a strong YES):
- I prefer working alone to working in a team.
- I prefer having my own hours and going away when I want to, sometimes disappearing for a month or so.
- I dislike having a long-term vision for myself and breaking it down to short-term goals.
- I enjoy doing several things at a time but I don’t like hustling all the time.
- I hate structures, systems and strategies. I prefer to be in the flow.
If you score between 5-12, you may be defining “business” in the conventional form. Either you are suitable for being employed in a very stable and secure position, or you like having a business that takes sustainability into consideration.
If you score between 13-18, you are likely able to focus on both the short-term and long-term goals. It’s important for you to clearly define your “next level” goals, right down to the details of how much involvement you want to have in your career.
If you score between 19-25, you are probably more suited for a project-based platform rather than a conventional form of business. Instead of ongoing work you can consider launching programs or taking on projects on a singular basis, and efficiently capitalize on those endeavors.