Business Startup Success Secret: Build the Business To Suit Your Life

by Rob Spiegel

Starting a Business? Succeed by building the business to suit your lifestyle: When you start a business, it will naturally mold itself to fit your life. If it doesn't, then you probably won't succeed. And, the business you build today will likely change as your life changes.

Most entrepreneurs are appropriately cavalier. Haughtiness is not just appropriate, it’s a necessary personality trait, since the launch of a business typically prompts an onrush to negative response. When you tell acquaintances that you’re starting a business, you can see them struggle to keep from rolling their eyes. Some don’t even bother to hide their doubts about your abilities.

Relatives and close friends are less inhibited. They’ll come right out and tell you they have serious reservations about whether you’ll succeed. Problem is, until you actually get a business up and going, there’s really nothing about you that indicates you’re capable. You create your own capability in the act of launching an enterprise and struggling to get it to stand up. You don’t look like you can do it until you’ve done it.

Launching a company is a very personal act. If your start-up is successful, it succeeds because it takes on the contours of your personality. The personal qualities you develop to get the company off the ground are more important than the experience you gained before launching. Your success depend less on what you know than it does on what you’re willing to try, what unsuccessful habits you’re willing to discard, and what lengths you’re willing to go to in order to learn what it takes to make the enterprise run right.

Your business has to reflect the strengths of your personality and abilities. Your goals for that business also have to match the life you want to live. When I was in my 30s and didn’t yet have children, my goals were far different from the goals I developed when I found myself a single parent of three, nearing 50.



Relatives and close friends are less inhibited. They’ll come right out and tell you they have serious reservations about whether you’ll succeed. Problem is, until you actually get a business up and going, there’s really nothing about you that indicates you’re capable. You create your own capability in the act of launching an enterprise and struggling to get it to stand up. You don’t look like you can do it until you’ve done it.

Launching a company is a very personal act. If your start-up is successful, it succeeds because it takes on the contours of your personality. The personal qualities you develop to get the company off the ground are more important than the experience you gained before launching. Your success depend less on what you know than it does on what you’re willing to try, what unsuccessful habits you’re willing to discard, and what lengths you’re willing to go to in order to learn what it takes to make the enterprise run right.

Your business has to reflect the strengths of your personality and abilities. Your goals for that business also have to match the life you want to live. When I was in my 30s and didn’t yet have children, my goals were far different from the goals I developed when I found myself a single parent of three, nearing 50.

My business changed as my life changed. The business I built during my 30s was suited to my life then. I was completely consumed with expanding the business both in sales and markets served. That business was completely inappropriate for the life I want to live as a parent. As a parent I am more concerned with being available to my kids. Now, I like working at home with flexible work hours. In my 30s I couldn’t wait to get on a plane to New York. As a single parent, I don’t even want to go to Phoenix for a day trip.

While running enterprises these past 20 years, I’ve learned what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I used to think building and managing an efficient competent staff would be satisfying. I’ve come to find out I’d rather work by myself in my home around some very inefficient kids who are competent mostly at creating childhood chaos. These days, I want to serve clients who don’t lose confidence in my performance when they hear kids teasing the dog into a barking fit while I’m part of a conference call.

Compensation, surprisingly, has not been a big factor in any of the very different types of businesses I’ve built. The freedom to develop a business that conforms to my abilities, desires and goals has always been far more important than salary, profits or equity potential. Often, the ability to generate a living just means that I get to keep doing what I love to do. I’ve learned you can earn a paltry living while producing a million dollars in sales and employing 15 people. I’ve also learned you can do quite well financially with a company of one.

The important thing is to create a business that molds to the size and shape of your dreams, desires, hopes and personal goals. I’ve tried to include my family members in that mix so their needs, dreams and hopes are also served. When I was younger, I did that poorly. With experience, I like to think I’ve improved. I’m certainly around my kids more with my current business. What I don’t know is whether those kids think it’s a good thing to be around Dad so much.

Rob Spiegel is the author of Net Strategy (Dearborn) and The Shoestring Entrepreneur’s Guide to Internet Start-ups (St. Martin's Press). You can reach Rob at robspiegel@comcast.net

 
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