To do well in business, you have to realize your business is what you do not who you are.
Committing to that thought changes your decision-making and frees you to win. When you view your business as who you are, you’re so emotionally invested that every decision is cloudy.
When you realize it’s what you do, you’re able to make decisions that don’t feel like they’re going to hurt as much. And this is key to growing a business that lasts.
In case you missed it last week, I’m recording a videocast soon with my good friend, Small Business Marketing Coach Joel Fortner on how to make your business last.
Joel will interview me on: – How to distinguish your business from competitors – Marketing and sales strategies – How to grow and make your business last It’s not too late to sign up to receive it. Just click here.
Question: How are you working to make your business last?
40 thoughts on “Your Business Is Not Who You Are”
Wow. Did I ever need to hear that! At times it does feel like my
business is a part of me, not just what I do. Thanks for the
It’s a hard thing to disentangle a business to which you’ve given birth, breathed life into, and risked your future on from your own identity.
But you couldn’t be more right. Just as a house is just bricks and mortar and a home is the memories you and your family create in a place where you happen to live, a business is just that — a means to provide for your family and, in an ideal world, for other people’s families and to enhance the lives of others through the goods and services your provide. It may _reflect_ you, and I think a good business does exactly that. But that doesn’t make it _be_ you.
Disney may be the best example I can think of. Squeaky-clean image to the majority of the world and to their customers. Brutal take-no-prisoners negotiators and businesspeople to their partners and suppliers.
Looking forward to the vidcast!
I totally get the analogy, Bret. It got me thinking when a family loses their home to a natural disaster or a fire. It’s not just bricks, it’s their sense of security. I think the same happens with a business owner. The ‘building’ is a tangible object that represents their hard work, sweat and tears. It’s happened to me when I’ve lost my job. It’s not easy to separate what I do from who I am.
It’s even more challenging when you’ve got two business running and they’re completely different! Some days, I have no idea who I am. 😉
With you there bro.
Try three going on four…
Three might happen this year. Four? You’re my guru, man.
Guru…mad man…they are synonymous then I guess 🙂
It’s not by design. Hard decisions ahead.
And I know what you mean about not knowing who you are. In a two hour span, I might work on three different things and it gets maddening.
I get a little better every day though at focusing on the one thing at hand and ignoring the others. I turned off Instant Messaging and started not answering my phone unless it is my wife calling twice, meaning it’s an emergency.
I bought a lot of time doing just those two things.
I use the “call twice” thing with some trusted co-workers at my main job. When I take time away, I let them know that if it’s really important, they need to call my cell twice and I’ll answer the second time, otherwise leave a message. It really works. But you’ve got to have trust, like you and your wife have.
Yep…and then I return all voicemails in blocks, usually about 4pm.
Holy Serial Entrepreneur Matt! FOUR!!!! You must have coffee coming in on IV to handle that. How do you do that?
Well the secret lies in ah3#hs8H*
Sorry fell asleep there.
Actually I don’t drink much caffeine. And I don’t eat particularly healthy or exercise quite enough so it’s not that.
Mostly, I do well with chaos and bouncing around. So it fits me well.
LOL – wow Bret! Maybe you need to give yourself special uniforms for each business to help you distinguish who is who. hehe.
I’m now having Duck Dynasty flashbacks.
Agree totally. Going to work for someone else is much easier in this respect but when it’s something you created, it’s hard to separate YOU from the biz.
Chris, I heard your interview over on the ‘Iron Jen Show’ and really loved your point about not letting your business become who you are. I don’t think I allow my business to be me… like I know I would be fine, the same guy with our without it – it doesn’t define me.
I find myself working hard to set and keep boundries around something I’ve heard here and read in the E-Myth: “Your business should enable your life, not you live for your business.”
I struggle here. Boundries are hard for me to set and keep as far as when I am working and not working and being with family and personal life. While I don’t allow my business to define who I am, I sure need to work on how much it ‘seeps into what I do.’ Make sense?
Hang in there, Aaron! I think you’ve got it figured out more than you realize. :0)
Thanks Lily! I really appreciate your encouragement. You rock!
Great point Aaron! Hope things are going well for you there south of the border! Thinking about ya!
Doh! Thanks Mark – I really appreciate you man, and seeing your comment here made me remember I owe you a mail. Ooops. Things are going well for me my friend. Thanks for thinking of me 🙂
I love how honest you are Aaron! Keep that up!!
I totally understand where you are coming from here. It’s tough to do what Chris is saying. I mean, even if you make a decision and do something and it ends up being wrong, then you have to live with that. Over time, that really affects you and becomes part of you; good or bad.
I think that pride is part of this too. We hold on to decisions and plans too long because we want them to be right. We don’t want to admit failure, so that keeps us from making changes that logically make sense.
It seems to me that we have to control the controllables. We can’t go backwards, so we should focus on what we can do in the future to make it different (that is if you don’t like where you are currently).
That’s my ramblings on this. I still think this is a tough one. Maybe that’s why we are all not millionaire entrepreneurs (yet). 😉
Love your point about controlling what you can, and pressing forward to challenge and change your future. I’m working through a present that I am not too fond of thanks to stupid past decisions. A huge lesson I learned here in these comments has been exactly what you just wrote: lamenting the past does nothing to change your present/future. Only by deciding to act differently today can I change my future.
I think something else that complicates this is if you run a business that’s linked to your purpose or a higher calling.
Totally Joel – and sorry for taking so long to get back into this conversation – but I do feel that I am doing, at least in part, my calling when I’m teaching. That makes it even more challenging, or ‘complicated’ as you mention, to switch off.
But, and I just thought of this, my wife and kids are also my calling….and if I don’t set those boundries….I’m not fulfilling that calling…..hmmm. Burnt rice.
Great write up again Chris! Agreed
Looking forward to the interview with Joel
I’m working on defining and starting my business…is that a good start? Hard for it to last if it doesn’t start 🙂 Can’t wait for the interview!! That’ll definitely be a videocast of heavy hitters!! I’m sure I’ll be forwarding it to several of my business owner friends!
As Aaron Nelson said below, I also heard you talk about this today on the “Iron Jen Show.’ And it makes a lot of since. The question I have is what if a person creates their “solo-preneur’ business model after “their own image.” Meaning the created everything based upon their strengths? What if they are the product, if you will? For example, if I am (which I am) a teacher. So instead of doing marketing the way most people do marketing, I just teach, add value, and “sell” through teaching. Or let’s say, my primary topic is leadership so what I’ve learned about leadership becomes the “product” and “service”. It’s the book, the course, the workshop, etc.
Right on Chris. There has to be separation between who you are and what your business is. I recently listened to a podcast that featured John Saddington and he shared his view on creating businesses. He approaches it as building something that you like but not love. This way it’s not all about you and your desires when business decisions come your way. Powerful advice.
I really like that. John’s got a lot of wisdom.
This reminds me of the War of Art…a pro does not overly identify with his art. An amateur does.
“A pro views her work as craft, not art. Not because she believes art is devoid of a mystical dimension. On the contrary. She understands that all creative endeavor is holy, but she doesn’t dwell on it. She knows if she thinks about that too much, it will paralyze her. So she concentrates on technique.
The professional masters how, and leaves what and why to the gods. Like Somerset Maugham she doesn’t wait for inspiration, she acts in the anticipation of its apparition. The professional is acutely aware of the intangibles that go into inspiration. Out of repsect for them, she lets them work. She grants them their sphere while she concentrates on hers.
The sign of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation with the mystery.
The professional shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She does her work.”
That being said, I’m not 100% sure I want my business in its current form to last…but that is another story.
I am interested in hearing more perspective on distinguishing business from competitors.
My answer to making my business last: make sure my foundation is solid before building too quickly.
Ditto. I just finished a course about business growth on Coursera – brilliant, in my humble opinion. One of the things I took out of the course about differentiation was:
1. Fight so you do not distinguish your company on price. Dangerous territory, cus someone can always do what you do cheaper.
2. Differentiation can happen with quality. Can you align yourself to new standards that the rest of the market haven’t yet?
3. Differentiation can happen with the processes you follow or work with – can you become more efficient somehow? Can you leverage a process to provide stronger value for your price?
4. Innovation – one of the coolest points from the course, I thought, was that you can differentiate yourself from others by the innovations you develop. But innovations that are new things for you. Don’t try to compete with the big boys out there – compete against yourself.
Hope something in there helps Jonathan.
Aaron – Thank you so much for generously sharing these tips, really excellent ideas for lasting differentiation!
Point #2 is rather appealing to me, thank you again for sharing!
I think you’re right Chris. I used to be a TV reporter, and I was so wrapped up in my job that other parts of my life suffered. Once I made the “my job isn’t who I am” distinction, things started opening up in my life… leading me to starting my own business.
The things I am working on to make the business last is the strategic planning. Working with customers that I know won’t return me anything for atleast a couple years, but long term it will be key to the success. Another item I am working on is to develop a marketing strategy, right now we have little to nothing. And the last way is networking and developing relationship that may turn into potential customers or provide customers in the future. Through this I am working to change the mindset of fellow team members who like to look at the short term.
I want to make my business first, not last. But that’s just the competitive side of me. 🙂
I’m trying to get my business off to a solid start by starting slow and starting cheap – not going into debt. I’m trying to get advice from some others on how I should approach things. I’ve talked with Joel Fortner some about some marketing strategies (you should talk to him, too!). I’m going to be hiring a professional business coach to tear it apart and help me duct tape it back together.
I’m also going to be working on how I meet, connect with, and interact with clients. Working on providing excellent customer service, delivering a WOW product/service, and teaching them along the way.
The EntreLeadership 1-day was a great help and encouragement as well. I’ll have to plan for more events now.
Chris, just listened to the latest Entreleadership Podcast & found out you have moved on to something new! Congratulations to you and wishing much success!
It was the same for me. I had just finally convinced my whole team to start listening to Chris LoCurto on the EntreLeadership Podcast. They came back to me like, “Chris is gone!” I was like WHAT! I hadn’t listened to the newest podcast yet. I was sad until I found out that Chris was moving out with a new business. Then I wasn’t sad anymore! lol!