I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than 14 years. In that time I’ve learned a lot about business, and I still have a lot more to learn. Occasionally I like to sit back and reflect on things…how far we’ve come, how much further we have to go, where the new opportunities lie, and so on. I am part of a number of active online groups around business and entrepreneurship, and most of the time those groups inspire and motivate me. However, I’m seeing a worrisome trend in some of these groups, as entrepreneurs talk and share about their businesses.
I’m just here for the free doughnuts.
Are you doing business or playing business? This is a really critical question and one you should ask yourself often. I see this kind of thing posted online all the time: “Busy! Today I’m going to write 6 blog posts to promote my business, then put out my email newsletter, then visit my Facebook groups and engage.” Now, I’m not saying that marketing your business is a bad thing. In fact, it’s really really good. However, if you’re spending too much time doing things like “engaging” on Facebook and not enough time actually building something, it’s going to be a tough go. If you spend your days “playing” at your business you’re not “doing” business.
Why are you in business?
Now, you might answer this question multiple ways:
“To help and serve my customers.”
“To feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself.”
“To do what I really love to do.”
That’s all fine and well. But the hard truth of the matter is, you need to be in business to, first and foremost, MAKE MONEY. If you’re not making money, you’re not in business. You’re playing. Yes, all of those other things are good reasons to be in business too, but they aren’t the most important thing. If you run a business, and it doesn’t make you at least some money, then you’re a volunteer.
But can’t I have my cake and eat it too?
Yes, you can. But you won’t be able to afford cake if you aren’t making money. So, do what you love, for sure. Help and serve people, for sure. Be part of something bigger. But remember, being in business is about making money. Everything you do for your business should point towards how you’re going to win new business. If it’s not, then take a long hard look at why you’re doing this in the first place.
The bottom line is, well…your bottom line.