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Edition 125 – Why are you doing this?

In a meeting I held last week with one of my great clients, the conversation turned to the subject of rewards.

To paint the picture, this family business owner works incredibly hard, in a challenging industry and has been making great strides in his business over the past two years that we’ve worked intensively together. The business has grown. Profits are up. He’s bringing in new people and mentoring those around him as he looks to make this family business less owner-centric.

This is a guy who loves cars and would like to reward himself with a nice car.

One side of him would dearly love to go shopping. The other side is guilty about spending the money. He’s in a quandary.

As we’re sitting over coffee in the warm sun on a cool winter’s morning, I asked him the question that he hadn’t asked himself.

Why are you doing this? Why are you in business?

We talked over why he is working the long hours and bearing the risk of being in business, yet fighting in his own headspace as to whether or not he deserves to reward himself.

As we’re talking away, I relayed to him why I’m doing what I’m doing.

When I ventured out on my own in October 2016, it wasn’t wanting to leave something behind, but for the want of satisfying my curiosity about what the future may hold. I’d imagined what my new business model would look like and wanted to take the first step on that journey.

What actually motivated me to finally do something was three people in my life and how what happened to them made me realise this journey is so precious.

One was a friend in the US. She’d just branched out into the world of consulting when she was diagnosed with cancer. She was a single mum and needed to start making plans for looking after herself and her teenage son. In spite of the challenges that her diagnosis brought to her and her family, she soldiered on. She built her business, raised her son and even wrote a book, all whilst undergoing chemotherapy and the long process of recovery. She was and still is an avatar.

The second was another friend based on the South Coast. He’d been thrust into the ownership of the accounting practice he worked in when his boss passed away suddenly one Christmas. Over 15 years, he’s built a successful business. When we spoke in August one year, something sounded odd on the phone. His voice wasn’t right. Boxing Day that same year, he passed away from Motor Neurone disease at the age of 54, having been fully diagnosed of the condition less than one month beforehand. This guy was fit and energetic. Even today, I can hear his voice and his distinctive laugh inside my head when I think of him.

The third one was our nephew. He tragically passed away at the age of 19 in a workplace accident, three years ago on the 5th of July. He’d started a new job as an apprentice carpenter six weeks prior to the accident that claimed his life. He was the same age as our own son, Callum, and it brought home to me how fragile life can be. His life was taken away from him before he’d had the chance to live it.

I’m telling you this because I want you to ask yourself “why am I doing this” when you head into your family business today.

Don’t put up with lousy staff that weigh you down – get rid of them.

Don’t suffer poor payments from complaining customers – move them on.

Don’t sit there and wish your life towards retirement. Make the work in your family business exciting and challenging and treat each day as a great opportunity to make a difference.

No matter who you are, your age or your industry, remember this. This is your time. Make it work for you.

This Week’s Tip

“Ask yourself why you’re doing this? If there is more upside than downside, let’s work on the downsides. If there are more downside than upsides, it’s time you turned it all upside down.”