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When you ask someone why they went into business, there’s a seemingly endless array of responses. They are very likely to include reasons like – a craving for independence, a need for freedom and whatever that freedom means to them, more money, less bureaucracy, wanting to choose who to work with (and not to work with), a desire to build and maximise a team in the way that they want to, or maybe even to impact societal change that matters to them and their family. Whatever it is, it’s hard work, it eats up a lot of your time – and it’s personal.
So how come so many business owners are ‘losing twice’? What went wrong? And what exactly does ‘losing twice’ mean? Let’s take a look.
There will be things you like doing that, once you start your business, you can’t do as much of – or maybe even at all.
‘Lighter things’ may include drinking quite as much beer and wine (maybe that’s a good thing!), lying-in some mornings, walking the dog, reading, watching indulgent rubbish on Netflix, spontaneous weekends away, decorating that room you’ve been meaning to get around to decorating for years, or meeting up with old friends as regularly as you’d like.
‘Heavier things’ may include spending irreplicable years with your children or your partner. Maybe certain relationships will disappear altogether because of neglect. You may miss some of the last years that older relatives are around, annual holidays where stunning and timeless memories are made may never happen, the funerals of family, friends or the family of friends may go unattended, and the opportunity to move into ‘that house’ you always wanted may be missed because the cash you need is tied up in this business thing. Or maybe your health – both mental and physical – is being neglected because instead of running around the block, you are running a demanding e-commerce solution instead.
It’s easy to let things get away from you when you are busy. It’s easy to miss things. It’s easy to miss important events, and important people.
Some things that business owners can lose are almost as important as life itself. Some of the things listed here are devastating if missed because once they are gone – they are gone.
And that brings us to the jarring idea that some businesspeople ‘lose twice’.
Imagine that you missed some of the things listed earlier because you run a business. (If you run a business right now, you won’t have to imagine, because you will definitely have missed some).
Then imagine that on top of all that – you don’t actually love the business you have created. Imagine that, too many times than you’d like to remember, you get that sickly feeling when you remember what you need to do inside the business that you yourself created.
That’s what losing twice feels like.
Losing twice in business is missing out on what your life is for, to work on a business – that you yourself created – that you have fallen out of love with.
This happens a lot. But the good news is that once you become aware of the problem, and consider it against the backdrop of our finite existence – you can act!
And whilst the way you change any ‘losing twice’ scenario will be very personal to you, here is some good advice as to an overall approach.
What To Do First To Avoid or End ‘Losing Twice’ In Business.
The first thing to do is to stop. Stop everything. Shut the business. Create space. Create nothingness.
This may last a day or it may last a week. But if you really do feel like you are in anything like a ‘lose twice’ situation, you have to first get out of that situation so you can work out how to solve it. Start with half a day or a day to yourself. Write down why you started the business in the first place. Revisit the change you wanted to make or what you were reacting against on day one. Check you are still aligned to this goal and if you are not – realign.
Then, consider what you are sacrificing in order to make this change. Read the first paragraphs of this story once more. Then, the question is simple – “Are the sacrifices you are making worth it, in order for your business to make the change you want to make?”
With the implied question, “Am I prepared to work towards the change I am trying to make at any cost?” The answer to this question, by the way – should be ‘no’.
If you start this process, stay inside the process for a little while. Plan for change.
If you are ‘lose/lose’ (losing in business because you are unhappy and/or unfocussed, and losing in life because life is passing you by and you’re not experiencing the good stuff) – then clearly, plan for change.
If you are ‘lose/win’ (losing in business because you are unhappy and/or unfocussed, but winning in life because you are largely experiencing the good stuff that life presents) – plan for change here too. Frankenstein created a monster. You created a business.
Your business is meant to be fulfilling you – not killing you.
If you are ‘win/lose’ (winning in business because you are largely happy and focussed on the change you want to make, but losing in life because life is passing you by and you’re not experiencing the good stuff) – that’s daft. Steve Jobs learned that in his final months as you perhaps know, in this (albeit rather dramatic) quote: "non-stop pursuit of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me." Plan for change.
If you are ‘win/win’ (winning in business because you are largely happy and focussed on the change you want to make, and winning in life because you are largely experiencing the good stuff that life presents) – that’s as it should be.
Losing Twice - in business and in life is no good. Losing in either one of those areas is no good either. So if you do have a problem in one area or the other, thank goodness you know who it is responsible for improving things.