I know you’ve spotted them, out there.
You’ve seen the agonized tweets. The stress-case updates in your Facebook newsfeed. The moaning across the table over coffee or tea.
“Running a business is incredibly STRESSFUL. My workload is INSANE.”
“I work literally 20 hours a day. ‘Round the clock. That’s just how it is in this business.”
“I’ve had to sacrifice EVERYTHING to get my business off the ground. My savings, my marriage, my health. I’ve poured everything into making this work.”
Now, I am a big fan of hard work. (Though I rarely use the word “hard.” I prefer words like “focused” and “intense” and “passionate.” Just my personal flavor of gettin’ things done.)
But yes. It’s true. Building a profitable business does require focused work.
You’ve got to plan. You’ve got to write. You’ve got to hone your craft, your skills, your trade. You’ve got to prove that your products and services… really work (hello, case studies and testimonials!). You can’t outsource everything. You’ve got to promote yourself with enthusiasm (I call it: “shoe sale energy”). You’ve got to build a following — big or small — of people who are excited to play with you. Lots to do? For sure!
There is a big difference between showing up for your business audience…
and killing yourself for your business audience.
If you’re grinding and cranking away and burning the midnight oil like someone’s gonna give you a Grammy for that kind of behavior… it’s painful to watch and I gotta be honest:
Self violence is not good for business.
If you keep up that pace, you are going to crash. You may think you are immune. You are not.
Before you crash? Your quality of work will decline. Your mental and physical exhaustion — all of the stress you’re wearing like a heavy backpack full of stones — will degrade your life, your income, your relationships, everything.
By extension? You’ll be harming your clients and customers, too. Because they won’t be receiving the best version of you.
If you are “successful” (i.e., making plenty of money) but also miserable, that’s not real success. That’s self violence with a decent paycheck attached.
I know because I’ve been that woman — a fried workaholic, crying under my desk in a power suit that I hated to wear. I didn’t know there was a different way to “do business.”
I know better, now.
Today, with everything I’ve learned along my journey, and everything I’ve witnessed in my colleagues’ journeys, too…
These are the words that I want every burnt out business owner and crazed career climber to hear:
Building a business is a challenge, but it’s a challenge that can leave you stronger as you progress forward, not weaker. It’s a challenge that can make your life bigger, not smaller. It’s a challenge that can allow you to fold more fun and pleasure into your life, not less.
If self violence is “fun” for you, do your thing. It’s your life. But it’s not the ideal business model and it’s the only way forward.
You don’t have to kill yourself to make a living.
You absolutely, simply DON’T.
Instead of destroying yourself, surround yourself with mentors and role models that make you feel more alive.
Gravitate towards (and learn from) business owners who are doing exactly what they want, having fun, and making money doing it. (Theresa, Melissa, Alex… I’m looking at you.)
Don’t listen to the cynicism-bombers online who try to convince you that “sacrifice” is the only way to make your business work. They may believe what they’re saying, very much, but that doesn’t make it true.
I’m asking you:
What kind of freelancer, consultant, coach or business owner do you want to be?
What kind of example do you want to set for your peers (or: your kids)?
What kind of life are you trying to build, here?
You and I both know: the self violence has got to end.
Health, satisfaction, happiness AND business can co-exist.
When it comes to building your empire? Fun is not your revenue-killing enemy.
Fun is your friend.
PS. Sound off at Facebook.