What’s holding you back?

Remember why you started your business?  Freedom, time, choice, security, wealth, possessions, holidays, your legacy….  Yes, you had BIG DREAMS.  Sadly, there is a familiar story that often follows.

The awful fact is that 80% of businesses started in the UK today will no longer be around in 5 years. Would we accept that kind of mortality rate in anything else in the world without doing something about it?

You see, this is where it goes wrong. Ultimately your business should give you more life. In order to work for you it needs to be designed to link back to your goals and dreams. But soon you find your business takes over and you effectively become an employee working for your business! Your business BECOMES your life. This is where the burnout occurs.

So, what’s holding you back from running the business you dreamed of? 



The Peter Principle (as described in the 1969 book The Peter Principal by Peter and Raymond Hull) observes that as people, “We all rise to our own level of incompetence”.  You see, we may be good at what we know now, but we’re essentially incompetent at doing anything ‘higher’ than that. That’s because we either haven’t done it before, or haven’t learned how to do it.  So without knowledge we cannot rise further. As our business grows we face new challenges that we haven’t had to deal with before – systems, competitors, staff, products etc. What are you reading right now to improve your knowledge? What are you watching, who are you talking to, what events are you attending, who is mentoring you?  It doesn’t matter what route you choose; you need to find a way to learn more.  You see, you can’t out-earn your learning – the more you learn the more you will earn.

Penny Jobs for Pound Time

As the owner, no one does your job better than you, right? I see it all the time – business owners complain they don’t have enough time to work ON the business because they are focusing on the wrong things.  They are focussing on things that have become urgent, rather on things that are important. (Of course, if you leave the non-important things for long enough they’ll become urgent, but that’s another blog….) An important influence in this area of my learning was the brilliant entrepreneur Dale Norton, who I worked with for nearly 10 years and who to this day is the most focussed, single-minded person I know. He referred to this distraction that owners experience as “Penny Jobs for Pound Time”. So what should you do? Well, for a start stop doing the less valuable work and set the business up so someone less expensive does it better than you instead. That means you can focus on working where the value is. Dale should know – he started, built and very profitably exited one of the most successful property businesses in the UK.

You’ve forgotten why you started

I’ll ask the question again – do you remember WHY you started your business? Remember the passion and nervous excitement – the dreams, the fun, the LIFE you were going to have. And then reflect on the reality – how you had to put food on the table, pay your suppliers, make new contacts and develop new relationships, up early, to bed late, family time – what’s that. The harsh reality is you had to park your dreams to get it all done. And that means your business today is not designed around what you initially wanted to achieve.

So here’s a suggestion for you. Get a big piece of paper, no not that one, I said a BIG one – A1 size. Get some thick coloured presenter pens and write down your dreams. Yes all of them. Write down what you want out of life, and I don’t just mean possessions – go deeper than that. Dig into your values, for example if one of your values is family, write down on your A1 sheet ‘More Family Time’.

Once you’ve done that you can now design your business to deliver on your dreams. And once you’ve designed it, you can build it.

It is surprising how many business owners that I speak to struggle with this – and that is because they have forgotten why they started which means they’ve risen to their own level of incompetence and have stopped getting better.

Oh, and one last thing – stick your A1 chart with all your dreams on your wall – somewhere you can see it every day. And then read it, really, really read it, every day.