One of the positive things about running your own micro business is being able to assess success in units that ensure you stay motivated and inspired to continue driving yourself and your business forward on a daily basis. Yes, you must have money coming in as cashflow and customers are key to keeping any business alive but you may choose to measure your achievements as having the ability to pick your children up from school or donating £200 from your business to a local community project.
If the wellbeing of a business or business owner can be measured this way why then does the UK Government want to focus business achievement on growth? Translated into layman’s terms this means those registered for VAT (current threshold is turning over more than £85,000), employing staff and looking to considerably increase production, turnover and staffing levels in the near future.
How many starting out on the road to self-employment will be grateful just to generate enough money to cover their personal survival income? Most new business owners soon realise it is less about the starting up and more about the keeping going that is important. If you have survived the first year in business that is a success in itself, well done! Now the challenge is to keep going.
Be inspired by real people.
Do those going into business see themselves as the next Alan Sugar or Deborah Meaden as many would have you believe? Once established do they measure their success by the amount of money they have in the bank, the number of bedrooms in their house or the value of the car in their garage?
My experience is that no, they do not!
Let’s use my parents as an example. They bought their first business, a pub, when I was two years old. Mum wore casual clothes, she was the chef, Dad worked front of house and always wore a tie. We went on holiday to the Mediterranean in October when it usually rained before discovering the Canaries where the sun shone. Mum and Dad bought a small apartment in Tenerife which they still owned 40 years later – nothing flash, just a measure of their success.
When I was 11 my parents bought a derelict vicarage on the Yorkshire Coast that they converted to a country house hotel. This property became a money pit and drained them of all they had achieved financially but they continued on, driven by a determination to make it work. Their finances did not recover completely from the debt they incurred until they sold the business, but they won awards for customer service and had repeat customers that loved what they created – happy customers to them were a measure of their success.
When I was 21 years old the hotel was sold, Mum and I bought a property lettings and management business which we grew through the early 90’s when work was low and interest rates were high, offering a good customer service, something my parents had instilled in me. The business was runner up in the National Association of Estate Agents Office of the Year Award in 1999, the year after I bought my Mum out and gave birth to my second child. She and Dad bought another pub with my brother and sister-in-law, I am still unsure whether this was an achievement or madness!
Mum is 79, Dad is 80 and they are now retired. They still enjoy each other’s company after all the years of working together and continue to inspire me as they have never been motivated by money, just a desire to have a good quality of life. They had businesses that were our homes and were always there for us as we grew up. Family has always been important to them and it is to me, being able to have one family holiday a year is something I work for – the measure of a successful year.
It’s ok to just be doing ok!
In reality it is not necessarily about turning over millions, pitching to dragons or finding yourself at the end of Alan Sugar’s pointy finger. What is important is that your business gives you exactly what you need, both professionally and personally. If that is a few hundred pounds or a few hundred thousand pounds, it really doesn’t matter, as long as it is making you happy.
With increasing pressure on micro businesses due to the current tough global economic climate, coupled with the mounting pressure to make businesses a success, I am concerned that little credit is being given to the biggest achievement of all; keeping customers and sustaining sales.
Our personal wellbeing is of upmost importance and as a micro business owner, especially if you have no staff, it is vital to ensure we keep it as good as it can be.
If we are unwell and cannot work who will run our business? Focusing on realistic goals will help to ensure your business is sustainable. Trying to grow too quickly without proper foundations to build on is very often a recipe for disaster. Maintaining the wellbeing of your business is a key part of helping keep your personal wellbeing on track.
In the words of Albert Schweitzer ‘ Success is not the key to happiness, Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful’. It is important that we remember this as we keep going in business through the good times and the bad.