So … you’re busy creating, planning and launching your next big thing, or simply hustling to make your dream happen.
But somewhere along the way, you may find yourself swept away in a sea of promises such as: “Make money while you sleep with this easy strategy!” Or better yet, headlines that read: “How I made 6-figures in just 60 days… and you can too!”
The next thing you know, your lifestyle business is suddenly looking more like someone else’s version of success. That’s when you realize – chasing the “online business dream” is making you completely and utterly miserable.
Business On Your Own Terms
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making money in your business. But it’s up to you to consciously design your business to fit your personal and professional goals.
As a coach who works with entrepreneurs, I know all too well how easy it is for your dream to be derailed when comparison-itis sets in; you start focusing on building a business where bigger is better.
When money is the only measure of success, we can get caught up in the pervasive myth that more money equals more happiness. As entrepreneurs, there is one key decision we must make. One that charts the course for your business building energy.
We need to define our own unique version of success and get crystal clear on how big is big enough.
How Big is Big Enough?
The honest truth is bigger isn’t necessarily better. As you cross into the territory of multiple six (and seven) figure revenues, the business can (and likely will) take on a life of it’s own. Suddenly, the freedom you were working towards has been put on hold for “someday” while you focus on building a team, serving customers, and scaling your business.
This is usually when goals become more about surpassing revenue goals and your personal dreams fade into the distance. There comes a tipping point where you need to make some conscious choices around growing your business.
Do you want to grow incredibly fast even if it means working 80 hour weeks? Or are you okay with a more slow and steady approach that allows you to actually enjoy the lifestyle and freedom that can come with entrepreneurship?
Create a Business that Loves You Back
What if the goal isn’t just to have a business, but to run a business that loves you back? Instead of signing up for someone else’s dream or working your fingers to the bone, here is how to figure out what will work for your lifestyle business:
1. What matters most to you?
One of the main reasons people start a business is freedom. That could include creating a flexible schedule for your family, having more time to travel or to pursue your other passions; or even just being able to do what you want when you want.
But somehow, that freedom gets lost along the way as you trade one boss for 12 new bosses (a.k.a. clients). You consistently miss out on things you really want to do because you’re always “on call” and “on deadline”. By defining what’s most important to you, you can lead your business in the right direction and make decisions based on those core values.
It could be that family is number one on your list right now, so you make decisions to turn off work at 6pm to eat family dinner each night. Or you have a big desire to give back, so you dedicate a day each month to volunteering for a local non-profit. Maybe you only want to work with a certain type of client or on certain projects? If so, start saying no to anything that doesn’t fit that vision.
2. Where is your time and energy best spent?
We all get the same 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, yet we all use it differently. In your business, you have a limited number of hours, so carefully considering how you want to spend that time on a consistent basis will dictate the size and scale of your business.
Do you want to spend your time teaching or creating? Are you happy managing a team of people to execute on your vision? How involved do you want to be with clients or customers? Where can you add the most value to your business?
The answers may surprise you, but I see far too many business owners doing things they detest because they feel like they should. The result? They become a roadblock in the growth and sustainability of their business. Being very intentional with where you want to spend your time and energy can help you create a realistic roadmap for just how big (or small) your business should be.
3. How much do you want to make?
When figuring out what your ideal business looks like, look at your revenue, expenses, and profit margins. The reality is this: just because your business brings in more money doesn’t necessarily mean there’s more money coming home with you.
Many of my clients are surprised to discover that while their business continues to rise in revenue, their take home pay remains pretty much the same. The worst case scenario for many entrepreneurs? Realizing you’ve paid everyone (your assistant, designer, coach), but at the end of the month, you’re getting whatever is left. Suddenly all the extra work doesn’t seem to be worth it.
This isn’t to say you won’t have to re-invest in your business (because that’s a given). But too often, I hear from entrepreneurs who have signed up for another course they didn’t really need or they’ve overspent on automated tools and systems.
Each expense must have a real return on investment, otherwise it’s not only hurting your business bottom line, but your take home paycheck. When answering this question, there’s no one right answer.
Dig deep down and figure out exactly what you need to live the life you want. Having the money to go on vacation doesn’t do you any good if you don’t ever have time to go on a trip.
You may find that you need to run your business a bit differently to reach your goals, change your products or put a profitable income stream on hold. This is your business, and it’s up to you how you run it. You have the power to decide how big is big enough for you and if it’s truly helping you live the life you imagined.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Racheal Cook, MBA is an award-winning business strategist who believes entrepreneurs can grow their dream business while living their dream life, right now. Over the last 7 years, she’s built two thriving online business while navigating pregnancies and motherhood along the way. You can connect with Racheal and get more of her mindful business and marketing advice by joining the Fired Up & Focused Challenge or picking up her book Fired Up & Focused on Amazon. Connect with @RachealCook on Twitter.