A myriad of obstacles, distractions and new developments can lead new business owners in different directions. And while these are not always negative (they may teach a lesson, lead to partnerships, etc.), they can sometimes divert energy away from core business goals if you’re not careful. With each added complication, you can become so scattered that your passion for the original ideas fades into the background. This is when it’s time to take a step back. When all else fails, one move can restore your small business to sanity: Get back to the basics. Remember why you launched in the first place.
Adam Root, co-founder of Hiplogiq, talked about this very struggle on Inc.com. When his company veered in a new direction during a phase of rapid growth, Root assumed that shifting Hiplogiq’s focus to new clientele would work fine. But the lure of large corporation paychecks caused the tech company to lose sight of their initial vision — which was helping small businesses meet their marketing needs. Ultimately they pulled through, but not without an increased workload and heavier costs to execute highly customized features for larger clients. “Without a product-market fit,” Root said, “we had to realign the company with the original purpose of our technology to gain traction in the marketplace.”
Like Hiplogiq, most small businesses start with a purpose in mind. There are plenty of motivating factors, often relating to personal and financial independence. One poll revealed that entrepreneurs tend to be motivated by different factors based on what country they live in. “American entrepreneurs are the world’s most likely to say that being their own boss is an important motivator. Meanwhile, Brazilians were most likely to cite providing employment and contributing to society, while in China, small business owners were most likely to want to build something that can be passed down to family members.”
You might be exhausted by your boss’s demands, searching for a meaningful challenge or just wanting to earn more money for your family. These are the kinds of primary objectives you need to recall when you start to second guess your business. Remembering your purpose can give you the mental strength to focus and realign during tough times.
Working for Yourself
There are few things more liberating than replacing your boss with yourself. Even the most ambitious professionals can become weary of punching the clock day after day. What’s worse is when you work for a company that doesn’t appreciate its employees or offer opportunities for growth. When you embark on the path of entrepreneurship, these nuisances vanish. You’re able to make your own hours, create a culture of respect with your employees, and work in the direction of a personal goal — not someone else’s goal. This is why research shows “independence” as one of the top driving factors for small business owners.
Escaping a Dead-End Job
Even if your previous jobs were satisfactory in salary, there’s a point when many professionals reach the ceiling in a company. This means chances of upward mobility are slim to none. Even if you are interested in your line of work, learning opportunities can be nonexistent. Unsurprisingly, disillusionment sets in. You might’ve felt bogged down in meaningless tasks with no time to pursue your passions. Maybe you even loved that career at one time, but then you suddenly seemed to outgrow it. In these circumstances, starting your own small business is a rich and fulfilling way to reignite your professional life.
Earning More Money
In addition to outgrowing a position, you may outgrow the salary that position offers. An amount that was sufficient in the past may fail to meet your current needs — especially if your family is growing. You might’ve dreamed of enrolling your children in better schools or owning a more spacious home. It’s not just about having more income to flaunt, but building a better life with it. You might’ve felt that at your old job, making your dreams happen was simply not possible. Again, this is a valuable motivator to remember when you feel lost and directionless.
Of course, early expectations can be misleading, especially when you’re new to owning a business. If you got started to have more free time, for example, you may instead find yourself working even longer hours than at previous gigs. Yes, this is initially disappointing, but a necessary learning curve if you want to proceed to a successful business. Until the business is well-established with competent employees running operations, don’t expect to have more free time for friends and family.
Take time to look back on your own personal reasons for starting a business. There may be other factors not mentioned here that have played a huge role in the development of your business. Think about the people you look up to — perhaps other entrepreneurs in your industry — and what they encompass to you. Whether you outgrew your previous job, disliked working under someone or simply knew there was a superior path for you, these reasons will fuel you to keep going forward. Let these reminders flow back to you when you are questioning choices or feeling frustrated. Every successful business owner has ventured through these rough waters using purpose as their navigation tool.