At EMyth, we take the approach that owning a business is a vehicle to give you more life. It’s a place to grow and to discover who you are and the way you want to express yourself in the world. It’s a place for creativity and innovation that can bring you closer to your own strengths, your own purpose, your own heart, and help you meet your financial goals.
Creating the picture you have of your business when it’s “done” is one of the first and most important exercises in the EMyth Program. Prior to writing it down, our clients define what they want their lives to look like. From that vantage point, the business when it’s “done” means that you have exactly the relationship to it that you want, in order to give you the life and deliver the experience to your customers and employees that you want.
Your vision, once written, can be used in many ways. The most effective way is to have it become a focal point for ongoing business planning and course corrections—in other words, referring to it regularly as you develop and build the business it describes.
However, what often happens is that the day-to-day activities of running the business take over. The Technician mindset, that aspect of you that feels pulled to personally handle tasks and get things done, is strong. Dealing with issues that feel immediate and urgent tend to take precedence over strategic planning, forethought, and long-term project management.
In this scenario, instead of being a vehicle for more life, it’s more likely that your business feels like it runs over your life.
It takes intentionality to switch from the Technician hat, step away from the day-to-day, and observe the business from the Entrepreneur’s perspective. And it is imperative that you do make (and take!) the time to strategically consider the big picture as you track and manage the project of moving your business in a direction which delivers the experience you want, and provides you with the life you envisioned.
As I hinted earlier, having a written document that describes your vision for the business is only as useful as the practice you establish of referring to it and drawing connections between your vision and your day-to-day business operations.
Catching Yourself Off Track
On a recent call, my clients admitted that once again they hadn’t gotten around to creating a criteria checklist that would help them decide whether they should open new locations. This particular item had been on our agenda for a couple of months. It was one of those activities that kept getting pushed forward, rescheduled again and again into the future. (Maybe you have a few of those, yourself.) The obvious reason seemed that it simply wasn’t that important—at least not in terms of day-to-day operations. But the real answer is not always the obvious one.
As we talked, we dug under the surface to see what else we could discover. We started by looking at the way the task was worded and the steps that had been identified to complete it. The plan had been to reach out to vendors to collect demographic information; this information could then be used to rate potential areas for new locations. All well and good, but collecting that information felt like one more tedious item on a long to-do list. Further, it carried no particular urgency—at the moment, their focus wasn’t on opening yet another shop.
That was when I suggested we refer back to their vision. What had they written about opening additional shops? Pulling up the document, we saw that they had planned to open additional shops “as needed.”
“Ah,” I said. “So, what did you consider to be the criteria for ‘as needed’ when you wrote that? And what do you consider that criteria to be now?”
Right then, the energy of the call shifted. The missing impetus for taking action fell into place. Since writing their vision they had in fact already opened a fourth shop. When we had first started talking about creating a checklist a few months back, it had been in response to a competing chain closing a store. Customers were saying maybe their shop could fill the void, but with more of the business being done online, new shops were less necessary and less attractive.
The light bulb came on when they realized they weren’t thinking from the perspective of creating a business which provided the future they wanted. That was why the checklist had become just another task. As a vehicle for more life, however, the question of opening additional shops pointed to a very different set of potential criteria. Although the location demographics and financial implications of additional shops would still be important, thinking in terms of how additional shops would lead them towards the future they wanted made them step back. It reminded them to consider what they wanted from the business.
Voila! Back in the Driver’s Seat
And just like that, I heard my clients shift into Entrepreneur mode. The questions they asked of themselves and each other had a different flavor; they came from a new perspective. Beyond continuing to fuel their current standards of living, they asked each other how much their current lives matched the lives they would want when they were 60 (or, for that matter, even within the next couple of years).
The question of additional shops moved from location criteria to long-term financial freedom criteria. What, if any, level of freedom would additional shops provide? They planned to eventually pay others to replace them in their current positions. How would this be impacted if they opened more stores?
As they considered the changes needed to move them towards a future with more freedom and flexibility, I ended the call by inviting them to continue the conversation. They will be revisiting and revising their vision, since “done” looks and feels different to them now.
Catching themselves off track put them back in charge.
It’s always good to step back and remember why you put up the targets you’re aiming at. Keep in mind that over time, as your life unfolds, your own reasons may change. Take time to periodically check in; if anything has changed, ask yourself how that change aligns with and affects the picture of the business you’re creating.
What’s Your Picture?
I encourage you to envision and capture in writing the business that will give you more of the life you’re looking for. Remember, once written, developing the practice of referring back to it is key to keeping yourself from being pulled off course by the day-to-day, as well as quickly catching yourself off track.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for EMyth clients creating their vision, but here are a few questions to get you started:
- How would you define more life for yourself?
- Does your current lifestyle provide that for you?
- What would your business have to look, feel, and act like in order for you to have more life?
- What kind of changes might you need to make in the ways you behave and approach things?
- Who would you need to be in order to have a business that's going to give you the life and deliver the experience you want?
Once you’ve answered those, it’s time to take action:
- Make a list of your daily activities and consider how they correlate to the long-term goals you have for your business.
- Notice any tasks that you keep rescheduling and take a closer look:
- What was the original intention behind the task?
- What, if anything, has changed?