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For many people, the dream of running their own business is more or less the end all and be all of their personal career aspirations and dreams. Often, in people’s personal fantasies, entrepreneurship is equated directly with riches, prestige, an exciting life, and having “made it,” in general.
While it’s certainly is true that starting your own business can in fact be a very powerful step in the direction of your dreams – especially if you were previously been working in a dead-end job that you derived no satisfaction from – it’s also important to realise that not all start-ups or self-employment endeavours are created equal.
If you’re starting up your own business in a particular niche area, solely because you believe that it’s likely to be profitable, you may well find yourself in a situation where you are grinding through deeply unsatisfying stacks of work, day after day, in more or less the same way as you were before, at that office job you hated.
In order for your own business to really be the portal and gateway to your dreams, it’s important that you approach it as earnestly as possible, and as authentically as possible. Not only do you need to consider the financial prospects of that particular job, but you also have to consider just how much you could really invest yourself into that kind of work emotionally, as well as physically. In short, you need to figure out how to get as much fulfilment from the work as possible.
We are all individuals, and everyone has their own particular inclinations, interests, and areas of expertise. But, there are a few general tips, principles, and guidelines, that may be helpful for anyone who is considering starting up their own business and who wants to have a fulfilling time with it.
Here are a few tips for running a business you find fulfilling.
Keep it in line with your principles
This is a really big one – which is why it’s first in this list.
The number one thing you absolutely need to do if you want to ensure that the work you’re engaging in is fulfilling – not just today, but over the weeks, months, and years ahead – is to always keep the business in line with your principles, and to avoid doing anything that violates your own ethical sensibilities, least of all for the sake of financial gain.
If, for example, your line of work requires you to employ the services of a Rubber Roofing equipment provider, and you are simultaneously a very environmentally conscious person, you should make a special effort to ensure that you work with companies who make a particular point about their interest in being eco-friendly. Such as Rubber 4 Roofs.
But this general rule applies in far more nuanced ways, as well.
For example, you may have attended a class, course, or training seminar, that taught you a “bullet-proof” template for marketing your services via your website – only to find that the lessons you were instructed to follow would lead you to market in a way that seemed hollow and scammy to you, personally, if you actually applied them.
Many new entrepreneurs, eager to do things “by the book,” so to speak, might push their reservations aside and set up the highly-emotive, hard-sale, fear-based marketing page on their website that this example implies.
But ultimately, you have to listen to your gut, do things that feel “right” to you, and not do things that feel “wrong.” If you begin compromising – even with regards to the apparently “small” things — it’s only a matter of time before you begin resenting the business you’re running, and the work you’re doing. Needless to say, this will naturally rob you of your enthusiasm for the business over time, and will certainly go a long way in terms of preventing your work from feeling fulfilling.
A large part of sensation of “fulfilment” has to do with feeling as though things are “right,” are serving a higher purpose, and are being done properly.
Following your conscience wherever it leads may seem risky in business – and maybe it is risky. But, the alternative is that you may end up not only running an unethical business, but also depriving yourself of the sense of meaning and purpose that you’re ultimately looking for in your career.
Continually keep yourself oriented so that you are at the point of “positive creative tension”
In the book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” by John Maxwell, the author shares various anecdotes from his own life to argue for a work-based lifestyle that can ensure that you remain in a “growth-focused” mode, with regards to your business and career.
One of the key points Maxwell makes, is that it’s absolutely essential to maintain a point of productive and positive tension, in order to maintain not only career growth, but also a sense of enthusiasm for the work you’re doing.
If there isn’t enough of a gap between where you are currently, and where you could be, then there is no significant incentive to grow, and not much to look forward and feel excited about, either. On the other hand, when the gap seems too large or too insurmountable, you may end up in a situation where you struggle inordinately to stay motivated or to believe in yourself.
You can apply this lesson to any business that you run, by always setting yourself targets and goals to strive for that are just beyond your comfort zone, but that nonetheless within the realm of things that you could conceivably achieve if you really set your mind to the task.
If you manage this balance properly, and always maintain a state of positive creative tension, your work will be far more innately fulfilling,
Focus on a field that you can really enjoy “diving deeper” into over the coming years
In order to do “fulfilling” work, you need to not only be able to enjoy what you’re doing at the outset, or for a short duration of time, but over the long term, as well.
A major part of what makes work enjoyable and fulfilling over the long term is the degree to which that work can be expanded and explored in greater and greater depth. In other words – fulfilling work tends to be work that you can enjoy “diving deeper” into, over the coming years, without feeling that you are hitting a brick wall, or coming to a limit beyond which you can’t find anything new or engaging.
Here’s where your own initial level of enthusiasm for a job has a lot to do with things, too. Because, the more “passionate” you feel about something in principle, the better able you will be to find untapped stores of depth and intrigue within that area of focus, as a rule.
Of course, it’s also important that you exercise a bit of pragmatism in your career planning here, too. If you’re planning to start a business in an industry that is already heavily cornered, and that is subject to pretty strict social protocols and expectations, you’ll likely struggle quite a lot to be creative enough to make the work fulfilling over the long term.
Be daring, and go after your dreams instead of just trying to play it “strategic” and “safe”
If you were to spend a good 20 minutes or so relaxing on your bed, or in your favourite armchair, with your eyes closed, while visualising your dream job, what would it look like?
When starting up your own business, try to pursue that dream as much as you can, rather than just playing it safe and trying to be “strategic.”
Of course, there is something to be said for taking practical steps in the here and now to advance your business – rather than being completely paralysed by grandiose visions.
But life is short, and you never know what you can achieve until you go for it. Too many people create their own businesses, only to allow those businesses to become pale shadows of what they could be, due to a simple lack of daring.
When you’re being daring with your business, and are pursuing your dreams, you’re likely to find that business much more fulfilling.
Try to spend as much of your time as possible focusing on the areas that you find interesting, and work to outsource or eliminate the rest
No one can spend every single moment of every single working day exclusively doing things that they love. Sometimes, you’re just going to have to fill in forms, or respond to emails, as well
And yet – one success tip that’s been endorsed by many towering figures in business over the years, has been to focus on doing what you enjoy and find interesting for as much of the time as possible, and to work on outsourcing or eliminating all the rest.
As an entrepreneur, you may not be able to get away from those admin tasks that you really dislike, but you may be able to get them handled by a virtual assistant, or other employee.
As you might expect, the more time you spend doing things you enjoy, and the less time you spend doing things you hate, more fulfilling you’re likely to find your work.