Your lifestyle is ultimately your life’s work. We are all artists, whether we acknowledge that or not. And every day we are gifted with a canvas upon which to create our design. We are now operating in the Information Age, at a time of great wealth and great possibility. Yet seemingly intelligent people continue to operate under old assumptions. Too many people I know “work hard” for no other reason than they thought that’s what they were expected to do. There has never been a greater time than now to design a life the way you want it.
In this article we will look at the 7 Golden Rules for Lifestyle-centric Business Owners. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll go into each of them in more detail. But for today it’s the overview. My greatest wish for the world is that everyone lives a life of self-expression. By that I mean that one’s life is an expression of that unique identity within them. It honestly breaks my heart when I speak to business owners who describe their lifestyle as anything less than awesome. As business owners we are in pole position to craft our lives the way we want to. For heaven’s sake, if the guy or girl running the show can’t have it they way they want it, what hope is there for anyone else? I think it’s just that we get lazy. We get lazy because the truth is questioning our assumptions and making changes in the way we operate is actually harder to do than work 70 hours a week.
So let’s take a moment to break it all down into manageable pieces and digest each of them like small slices of the best brie.
1. Lifestyle First: Define Your Rules
First things first. Go back to basics. Why did you start a business in the first place? What did you want to achieve from it? Some people would say “to make a million dollars a year” or “to be my own boss”. But I would put forward that those are simply means to an end. The “end” would be what having those things gets for you. So for instance what does making a million dollars a year get for you?
Well your answer might be freedom to travel, to spend time with my kids, to build a secure future. Now the grand irony is, if you work your guts out 70 hours a week in a business in the hope that one day you’ll have “freedom to travel and spend time with the kids”, what happens to the kids and travel in the mean time?
So Greg and I decided to do it a different way around. We started by imagining our ideal lifestyle. For us that involved travel, a certain level of luxury, spending time with our children as they grew (no we don’t have any yet and we’re not pregnant for those rumour-millers out there!) and so on. We were really clear we wanted to create a lifestyle with ultimate freedom. From this vision we then created our “Non-negotiable Lifestyle Criteria”. I have written about these before. These are criteria that we created that set up a filter through which all business opportunities were run. If the opportunity didn’t fit the criteria it got trashed. It made life very simple.
So when starting out in business, or even just reviewing why you’re where you are, start by defining your rules. What will you NOT do for money!!?
2. Passion and Authenticity
Once you have defined your rules of the game, your criteria that are non-negotiable in terms of selecting your business vehicle, then you come back to your centre and find out what your passionate about. I have seen too many people follow their passion first and burn out doing it, until their passion is something they loathe, because they didn’t do step one first!
That said you’ll never stick with something long enough to be truly successful unless you are passionate about it. I have a million ways (well, maybe thats a little superlative, but many ways) to help people uncover passion, and discover the self that they want to express in the world… keep your eyes peeled for the Passion Post in the next couple of weeks!
3. The Bigger Pie Principle
Ah… how many times have I seen people (and I include myself in this), decide that 100% of something small is better that 20% of something big. Listen, it’s not that either stand is more right than the other, but be aware of it. Most entrepreneurs I know who have at least a modicum of success started out with a minimum of three people on the team. It just seems to be the number that works. It’s a good sturdy number. There are very few solo-preneurs that I speak to who honestly enjoy doing everything themselves. (I am open to comment and being proven wrong!)
So in a nutshell the Bigger Pie Principle is the old adage of “rather than squabbling over pieces of the pie, how can you create a much larger pie that we can all share in”? In fact at the moment when Greg and I appear to have found ourselves once more being inundated with opportunities (can you believe we have had 2 multimillion dollar business offers in the last 5 days. Far out, I can’t!).. any way the question I keep asking in my mind is “what’s the bigger pie here?”
4. You have to spend money to make money
OOOOh! I can hear the shudder among personal development seminar attendees thinking “No! They told me that I just had to have a good idea”. Look at some level it’s true, but I have to say you get a whole lot done a good deal quicker if you’ll just pay the right person to do the job. I’m not saying anything here about who’s money you have to spend. I’m all for Other People’s Money. But get used to creating flow… money in…. money out!
A friend of mine Daniel Priestley put it this way: “If you’re a boxer you’re gonna get hit in the face.” Greg likes to say “If you’re gonna make an omelette you have to scramble some eggs”. Basically if you’re in business, you’re going to have to spend some money! For us that’s why we are paying our writers to write, our techies to design software, our event managers to plan events and on and on. Could we have done it all ourselves? Yeah. But I have better things to do with my life (see point 1); which brings me to …
5. Stick to what you’re good at.
his is the single greatest key to effectiveness EVER! I know my time is best spent in front of people inspiring them to take action. Perhaps even in front of my computer writing to them to take action! But it sure as heck ain’t in reconciling the bank accounts or managing the team. It’s simply not my forte. I affectionately refer to my role in the team as “the Performing Monkey”. A little derogatory? Perhaps, but it keeps my ego in check and means I keep my focus in the right place. By allowing the other team members to do what they are good at our effectiveness goes through the roof. And its more fun actually. Can’t imagine doing it any other way any more!
So what are your strengths? And how quickly can you get someone to do the other stuff… and how quickly can you stop being a control freak and allow them to do it?
6. Ask better questions of new trends
OK: Facebook case in point. How many people did (or are still doing) the “Oh that stupid thing, what a waste of time”. Or “it’ll never last”. Instead of trying to find reasons why something won’t work in your business so you get to win the “I was right award”: get over yourself. Ask a better question. Ask how could this work to grow my business? Chances are many things will assist you if only you get out of your own way long enough. This is not to say take up every opportunity… always assess in terms of impact and ease, but don’t dismiss it before you’ve assessed it.
7. The Land of Missed Opportunities
My partner Greg lives in this land. Well… not that’s not the right way of putting it! Its more like his glasses are especially treated to see the missed opportunity in everything. He’s incredible at it. And according to him most businesses are huge great fountains of missed opportunity. More money to be made from existing customers, less money to be spent on telecoms, joint ventures to be tapped into left, right and centre. You name it. Get yourself a Greg in your business!
8. The Biggest and Best Golden Rule Ever: QUESTION YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
Whenever you hit a problem the best question you can ask yourself is “what are my assumptions here”. Just last night I was getting all in a tizz about the best course of action on a particular business opportunity we’re considering. Greg asked at that point why are we on this path?” And that started a whole barrage of assumption questioning that ultimately gained us some clarity. My favourite question is “when did we decide that…?”
So if you’re faced with a problem at any time in your lifestyle-centric business creation always question your assumption. Just because it doesn’t work in an Australian market doesn’t mean that Malaysia isn’t crying out for it. When did you decide you had to travel 3 days a week when you’d rather be at home? Who said you couldn’t afford a PA when you can hire someone for $4 an hour in India? Question your assumptions… and keep coming back to your rules.
I hope you’ve found something useful in this little article. Over the next few weeks we’ll be going into each of the steps in more detail, as well as bringing along guests who have created “Ultimate Lifestyle Businesses” and finding out what their secrets were.
Make sure you subscribe to the RSS (that means you get instant updates on your computer every time there’s a new post) or subscribe by email… or come back and visit every coupla days. There’s lots of good fun stuff coming you way!!