Here’s what they don’t teach in business school: the single most important thing you must do is love your business. This isn’t a new flavor of “woo;” if you don’t love your business, no one else will either. Not your clients, not your team, not the market. Because the way you feel about your business fuels the actions you take, and your actions create results.
Your relationship with your business is like any other relationship.
It includes the way you think, feel and talk about it. Do you complain about your business? Do you feel trapped by it? If so, you probably think you have a good reason. A new competitor surfaces, an employee quits, the clients don’t pay on time, your bank balance is low. But those are just circumstances. It’s our thoughts about those situations that lead to feelings of being frustrated or trapped, not the situations themselves.
When we’re frustrated by our business, feelings like resentment and irritation are driving our actions. We still take action, but we have to use willpower to overcome these negative feelings.
It’s like driving down the road with one foot on the gas and one on the brake. Your progress is slow, you create a lot of friction and wear out the parts. It’s the difference between feeling impatient as you rush through an employee review because you are running late and being grateful that you have an employee to review in the first place.
Signs that your relationship with your business is in trouble:
- Neglect: you try to escape the pressure by avoiding your business and abdicating responsibility; you mentally check out
- Disconnected: you don’t know the vibe of your team, not sure about the level of customer satisfaction
- Inflexible: you’re sure you know the “right” way to do things and don’t listen to suggestions; you’re quick to judge or criticize
- Lack of commitment: you haven’t created specific goals with numbers and dates, and received buy-in from your team, you daydream about “quitting” your business
- Vagueness: you don’t know where you are in relation to your financial and performance targets and don’t communicate your expectations clearly to the team or your clients; your position in the market is unclear
- Negative feelings: you feel frustrated, resentful, impatient, worried, anxious
What’s the solution? Fall back in love your business.
Love is just a concept until you believe in it and you feel it into existence.
Try this exercise: think of your business as a person. What does it look and feel like when you have a loving relationship with someone? You want to spend time together, you pay attention and listen, you’re committed and willing to be open.
That’s what you want to do with your business. The way to love your business is to create an intentional daily practice to do these things:
- Prioritize your business: the quality of the time you spend with your business matters more than the amount of time. Are you really interested in what your clients and your team are doing, what they think and how they feel, or are you just going through the motions? Is your business important to you because it pays your bills or because you genuinely care about it? Show up for your business fully present and available.
- Be intimate with your business: love it, nurture it, treasure it. Imagine a relationship with your partner – it’s ridiculous to think you wouldn’t know important details about their life – the names of their parents, what they love to do, where they work, their favorite food. Understanding your financials and performance metrics is like knowing these important pieces of information!
- Be committed to your business: don’t give up when things are hard or there are setbacks. Don’t require outside evidence to keep going. Create a strong internal belief that doesn’t shift when something goes wrong. Don’t allow thoughts of, “This will never work, I can’t do it, I don’t know how.” Instead, create a new belief that you practice frequently, “I can do it and I’ll figure it out.” Both are stories you tell yourself. One just feels a lot better and will get you the results you want because your feelings fuel your actions.
- Be vulnerable: be willing to admit when you don’t know something. Instead of feeling like a fraud, just get ready to learn. If you’re afraid, know that it’s because of a thought you’re thinking. We think circumstances cause our feelings but it’s our thoughts about circumstances that cause our feelings. Identify what you’re thinking that makes you feel uncomfortable and change the thoughts. Being vulnerable also means being open to feedback and other ways of doing things.
- Communicate expectations clearly: create goals, timelines and expectations for everyone on your team. Measure progress, visualize it, talk about it. Clarity is kindness. Not knowing makes people uncomfortable.
- Appreciate your business: Remember why you started your business. Intentionally treasure it so the daily pressures of running it don’t leave you feeling exhausted. Choose to feel amazed at how far you have come and excited for the incredible experience of being an entrepreneur. Appreciate yourself for having the courage to build a business and appreciate your team and your clients for being on the journey with you.
For your business to flourish you must love it.
Love your business: spend time with it, take care of it, be patient with it, show up for it, set boundaries for it, nurture it, be vulnerable with it. Be open to receive, honor commitments, listen, and have fun. Love simply feels good.