Most small business owners experience the “grass is greener” syndrome at some stage in their entrepreneurial life. It feels like every other business is so much easier, in every way, than ours. Of course it isn’t true, but it certainly feels like that, particularly on those hard days when nothing comes easily and we seem to be facing a never-ending barrage of obstacles to overcome.
I’ve worked with business owners from pretty much every industry over the past 30 years. All of them had their moments where they lamented how tough their industry (and by association their business) had become. They all thought that every other industry and business was easier than theirs, every other business made more money, had less headaches, required less of their time, was easier to sell and had far fewer staff issues than theirs. I had to explain to them just how wrong this was.
Just because you’ve drunk coffee at a lot of cafes doesn’t mean running a coffee shop is easy. But how hard can it be? Make coffee, sell a few cakes, and rake in the cash? I think any food business is easily at the top of the list of hard businesses to own and operate. In fact they are incredibly hard, but as we sit at our table, drinking a latte, watching the line of people waiting for their morning fix and the cash register ticking over, everything looks easy. It most certainly is not.
The big problem with the “grass is greener” mentality is that we can start to lose motivation within our own business. We start yearning for something easier, and that’s when every other business starts to look more appealing than ours, and our business starts to get neglected, lacking the energy and love that got it to where it is today. And that ultimately spells trouble. So what can we do about it?
Whenever I work with a client who was struggling and in a motivational slump, I get them to do a very simple exercise. For the next week I asked them to write down everything that they got out of their business – and I mean everything. If they were in a relationship I asked them to get their partners to do the same, write down what they got out of the business and if they had kids, I asked them to do the same. Then after a week we collated the responses.
The end result of this simple exercise was truly eye opening. Of course everyone got different things out of the business and by far the most powerful and insightful were the non-financial rewards. For example one little girl wrote that her Dad always came to her soccer games at 3pm on a Tuesday and Friday but if he worked for someone else he wouldn’t be able to do that. Sounds so simple, yet so meaningful to both the little girl and her father.
There are so many benefits that we get from our business, sometimes we’ve forgotten what they are, or we simply haven’t ever sat down and really thought about them. I even did this (and do this) in my business when I’m thinking of buying a cafe!
On those days where you really have slipped into the “grass is greener” state of mind, take a moment to stop and focus on the good things that your business provides for you and your family. Think about the positives and appreciate the fact that your business, like every other business, has a strong combination of both good and bad aspects. If you choose to focus on the positive you will have far more motivation and that means the grass will most certainly stop looking so green everywhere else.
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