Here’s what they don’t teach in business school: the single most important thing you must do is love your business. This isn’t a new flavor of “woo;” if you don’t love your business, no one else will either. Not your clients, not your team, not the market. Because the way you feel about your business fuels the actions you take, and your actions create results.
Your relationship with your business is like any other relationship.
It includes the way you think, feel and talk about it. Do you complain about your business? Do you feel trapped by it? If so, you probably think you have a good reason. A new competitor surfaces, an employee quits, the clients don’t pay on time, your bank balance is low. But those are just circumstances. It’s our thoughts about those situations that lead to feelings of being frustrated or trapped, not the situations themselves.
When we’re frustrated by our business, feelings like resentment and irritation are driving our actions. We still take action, but we have to use willpower to overcome these negative feelings.
It’s like driving down the road with one foot on the gas and one on the brake. Your progress is slow, you create a lot of friction and wear out the parts. It’s the difference between feeling impatient as you rush through an employee review because you are running late and being grateful that you have an employee to review in the first place.
Signs that your relationship with your business is in trouble:
- You neglect it: you’re late to meetings, don’t respond to emails, and avoid calls.
- You “buffer”: to try to escape the pressure you overeat, overdrink, overshop, etc.
- You overmanage: you hover and look for missing details. You think you have to control proposals, presentations, and projects.
- You’re disconnected: you’re not aware of important client events and don’t celebrate team achievements.
- Lack of accountability: you don’t have measurable goals with numbers and dates for your team and the business.
- You blame your business for how you feel: frustrated, worried, anxious.
What’s the solution? Fall back in love your business.
Try this exercise: think of your business as a person. What does it look and feel like when you have a loving relationship with someone?
You happily make them a priority. You want to spend time with them and are fully present. You look for the good and let the little things go. You create plans, remember important events and look for reasons to celebrate together. You appreciate them.
That’s what you want to do with your business.
- Prioritize your business: the quality of the time you spend with your business matters more than the amount of time. Are you really interested in what your clients and your team are doing, what they think and how they feel, or are you just going through the motions? Is your business important to you because it pays your bills or because you genuinely care about it? Show up for your business fully present and available.
- Be intimate with your business: love it, nurture it, treasure it. Imagine a relationship with your partner – it’s ridiculous to think you wouldn’t know important details about their life – the names of their parents, what they love to do, where they work, their favorite food. Understanding your financials and performance metrics is like knowing these important pieces of information!
- Be committed to your business: don’t give up when things are hard or there are setbacks. Don’t require outside evidence to keep going. Create a strong internal belief that doesn’t shift when something goes wrong. Don’t allow thoughts of, “This will never work, I can’t do it, I don’t know how.” Instead, create a new belief that you practice frequently, “I can do it and I’ll figure it out.” Both are stories you tell yourself. One just feels a lot better and will get you the results you want because your feelings fuel your actions.
- Be vulnerable: be willing to admit when you don’t know something. Instead of feeling like a fraud, just get ready to learn. If you’re afraid, know that it’s because of a thought you’re thinking. We think circumstances cause our feelings but it’s our thoughts about circumstances that cause our feelings. Identify what you’re thinking that makes you feel uncomfortable and change the thoughts. Being vulnerable also means being open to feedback and other ways of doing things.
- Communicate expectations clearly: create goals, timelines and expectations for everyone on your team. Measure progress, visualize it, talk about it. Clarity is kindness. Not knowing makes people uncomfortable.
- Appreciate your business: Remember why you started your business. Intentionally treasure it so the daily pressures of running it don’t leave you feeling exhausted. Choose to feel amazed at how far you have come and excited for the incredible experience of being an entrepreneur. Appreciate yourself for having the courage to build a business and appreciate your team and your clients for being on the journey with you.
Love is a verb.
Strengthen your relationship with your business by choosing to love it. On purpose.