“Start with why” is good, impactful business advice. In fact, there is an entire book dedicated to this principle. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs only focus on the company and don’t consider their personal goals in the process, which is also why many owners end up with the wrong business.
I have found that starting with “what” you want is easier, and more practical, than “why.”
The two big “what” issues are the financial and lifestyle results that you want from your business. Once you get clear on your lifestyle and financial desires and fully commit to getting what you want, then you can design your business to give you what you want.
There are three main categories of financial rewards for business owners. Understanding these will help you clarify what you want from your business. Happy people can be motivated by any of these three. The important thing is to be clear on what financial reward motivates you.
- Income – Your business can provide you with a good income. Enough money to pay the bills, live a nice life and save up to eventually treat work as optional. This income category is about financial success because your business is producing plenty of regular cash flow so you can live a good life.
- Security – Your business may be able to go beyond providing a nice income, to the point where you have no financial worries. Lifelong financial security is a higher level monetary reward than income. And it means your business produces strong cash flow, and likely has real transferable value, so you will never have to worry about money again.
- Financial Independence – Great income with extra cash flow, and a sellable business, may sound ideal. But many owners think differently. You may want to have enough money to do whatever you want, whenever you want to. Total financial independence. If this is you, you need strategies and systems that operate at the highest level. You need a business that is so valuable, so attractive to buyers, that you know you can walk away any time you want with enough money to do whatever, whenever.
Your business can create your ideal way of life. You have to be clear on what type of lifestyle motivates you and build your business, strategies, roles and responsibilities, and systems around it. I’ve found three primary lifestyle motivators that drive business owners.
- Control – Having control is the most fundamental motivation for owning a business. You want control over your work. There are countless root causes for wanting full control. The common theme is you want to be in charge of your work rather than rely on someone else or a company.
- Flexibility – Many business owners are less concerned about control, and more motivated by having flexibility in their life. Many owners evolve beyond control, longing for flexibility. To make the leap, you need to build the business with your “what” in mind. Flexibility is harder to achieve than control. You can start your own business and be in control from day one, but you may never get to the next level. Flexibility requires purposeful leadership, strategies and execution.
- Ambition – Big ambition is the highest reaching lifestyle motivator. Ambition-minded business owners want high-profile results. It’s about achieving something big, making a massive impact on the world. These are also the owners going after any purely business-focused pursuit. You see a huge market opportunity and you can’t resist. You have a can’t-miss business idea or you are just obsessed with business success.
Which of these core motivations aligns with what you are looking for from your business? What level of financial reward do you want? You must be honest with yourself to gain clarity. Once you’re clear on what you want, you’re ready to purposefully build your business – mission, strategy, customer niche, operations, org structure, management systems, etc. – around what you want from it.
Dan Bensema helps build and capture business value to achieve the owner’s purposes. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org