I'd like to start this article off with a question. What's the purpose of a business? Or, perhaps more specifically, what's the purpose of your business? Do you ever think about that throughout the course of the day? Or, does it only haunt you at night or when you are trying to clear a jam in the copier?
Ten years ago I would have gone with Peter Drucker's answer - The purpose of a business is to create a customer. Today, after 25 years of business ownership and asking several hundred small business owners this very question, I would have to say that the real purpose of a business is to give the owner of that business more life, more freedom.
In all my years though, I have never had a small business ownergive me that answer. Many business owners instinctively go into business with the goal of achieving something that fulfills their dreams, but the making it, fixing it, shipping it quickly consumes. The phone rings and business owner reacts without thought to the demand on the other end.
At some point this wonderful vision of freedom and expression that you had for you business became just the opposite--The monster that methodically took the life right out of you. Has anyone come to realize that your business can rob you of your life if you are willing to let it?
So, what's the answer?
I think the answer to this puzzle comes down to two things - focus and connection.
Focus involves a discovery, or at least rediscovery, of what you want most out of your life. That knowledge then must become the focus of your thoughts and the basis for your business decision-making. See, unless you know and focus on what more life and more freedom really means to you and only you then you will never be able to go about building a business that delivers it.
Connection is the systematic application of your purpose in life to the day-to-day function of your business. There has been so much written about the need to "leave one's business behind at the end of the day" and I think that's part of the problem. As I'm sure you've discovered, you can't leave it so all you do is wrestle with it. Better to find a way to connect your business to your life. Now, in some cases, that may mean making dramatic changes in the way you go about your business, what your business does and who your business serves.
I can't give you all the answers to life's most persistent questions in the span of this article, but I can tell you this - Wake up or else. I'm not going to dwell on the "or else" as I suspect you may have already experienced it in some fashion.
I will however leave you with this paraphrased thought from an Ogden Nash poem titled "Portrait Of An Artist As Prematurely Old Man" - Most of will regret our sins of omission, the things we didn't' do, far more than the sins of commission, the things we did do. See the full text here.
Find what you want out of life, find what you are willing to leave behind in order to get it and then connect that purpose every single day with what you do and you just may actually catch a glimpse of the magic that owning a small business can bring.
John Jantsch is a marketing coach and the author of Referral Flood - How to create a flood of new business without spending one dime on advertising. You can get more information at www.ReferralFlood.com.