Today’s post title may have you a little confused, but bear with me on this one, y’all. I think that if we can get through this together we’ll have a better grasp on how to craft the business and life we’re truly striving for. I realize that up to this point I’ve told you to identify your why, your purpose, set strong boundaries with your clients, and hone your time management skills all in order to build a stronger, more profitable business. Today I’m going to tell you something that contradicts so much of that – stop chasing success.
In a culture that constantly glorifies busyness, success and personal wealth, society puts a huge amount of pressure on us to succeed. As small business owners, we’re all striving to “make it big,” to sell more, make more and be more. Now I’m not saying that ambition is wrong or misguided, but I do want to caution that path to success can be dangerous. While the drive to succeed may set you apart from your competitors, it also holds the potential to run you into the ground, physically and emotionally. The flipside of success is that it is elusive. We can easily spend days, months and years always striving to do more in the hope that that brings a certain amount of success or notoriety. When you choose to chase success, it will take all of your time and energy and will have no qualms about leaving you empty-handed.
When b is for bonnie design really started taking off, my husband and I had just moved to South Carolina and I had plenty of time to pour myself into making this little business work. So I threw myself into work, taking on all sorts of clients, refining my first print collection and vetting printers like nobody’s business. At that point, I didn’t want to make it too big, I just wanted to make it. In order to do that in my mind, I thought I needed to spend all of my time doing something that could turn a profit for b is for bonnie. Whether it was learning a new skill, answering client questions or brainstorming new product ideas, if it wasn’t work-related I really didn’t want anything to do with it. And that’s how my schedule looked for months – too much work and not enough life.
If you read my thoughts on setting client boundaries, you know I initially had none. I worked crazy hours, stayed up late to wrap up projects and didn’t know how to say no to another job offer. Y’all, I’m not going to lie to you and say I didn’t make money during that period of seriously unbalanced living. I did! I saw direct profits from all the insane work I was doing, but I also saw a direct correlation between my work habits and my health, my energy and my relationships. In my efforts to chase after success and profitability, I had left my life in the dust of my misguided footsteps.
So what do you give up when you choose to chase success? Maybe it’s time out on the town with your friends, or saying no to spending a little extra time with your husband, or maybe it’s not being able to see your little ones as often as you’d like. Whatever it is, there are always sacrifices that must be made when success is involved, and you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Is work more important to me than ______? Society will tell you that is a question that doesn’t really need to be asked, as clearly your drive to become a successful business owner will pay off in the long run for those you love. But I believe that is a question that needs to be asked every day, several times a day. We have so many things in life that vie for our time, and it’s up to us to weed out the distractions from the worthwhile endeavors. We can very easily choose to fill all of our days with work, but we have to acknowledge that leaves little time for what matters most in our lives.
Take a moment to think of the most important things in your life. Chances are those important things aren’t things at all, but are people. When we choose to chase success, we are quite simply, missing out on time we could spend with those very important people. And frankly, life is too short. Life is too short to chase after dollar bills and fame that will eventually fade and leave you empty. Life is too short not to turn on your heels and sprint without abandon back to who truly matters most. Work is not more important than your best friend, or your little ones, or your husband. Work will never fulfill you and give your life purpose in the way that your relationships can. So choose to throw all of your heart and soul, not into making money, but into making memories with those you love. I truly believe you will find it more rewarding than any monetary profit out there.
But what does this mean for your business? I’m not telling you to close up shop and move to the middle of nowhere to pour all of your time into your family (although, that really doesn’t sound bad at all!). I’m telling you to do less. Choose to put down your phone and really engage in that conversation as opposed to checking your Instagram. Choose to reschedule that client meeting that conflicts with your son’s football game. Choose your spouse over your inbox. Everyday. And ultimately, choose to live a life that is rich in moments rather than money. You’ll be amazed how pursuing purpose over success manifests itself in your business.
When you commit to living a life of purpose that affects every aspect of your life from friendships to business relationships. Clients want to work with people who share their same values. As a business owner, I am drawn to collaborate with other creatives who share my passion for authentic and intentional living over someone who is caught up in the rat race. Similarly, purposeful people are able to create purposeful products that encourage living with intention, and customers respond well to genuine products like that.
As you continue to build the life you want for yourself, you will also be able to build and refine your business brand. Once I chose to focus on living to love others rather than living to work, I was able to narrow my clientele down to people and projects that aligned with my business’ core values. I was able to create prints and office accessories that serve a clear purpose – to encourage and inspire – rather than simply to be one more piece of pretty clutter in your home. More importantly, I was constantly coming into the studio feeling refreshed, well-rested and fulfilled because of the time I chose to pursue my life rather than my career. When your heart is being filled with goodness, love and truth on a regular basis, you can’t help but see positive results in all aspects of your life.
Ironically, I have found more success in the true sense of the word when I stopped running after it, than I ever did when I actively pursued it. And even if I never make another dollar off this little business of mine, it won’t be the end of the world. Because I choose to find success in the significance of my life and relationships rather than the profitability of my business, I have a peace and freedom that bad quarters and low traffic stats can’t shake.
So what will you chase instead of success? What worthwhile things will you fill your time with rather than working long hours or worrying about how to expand your business’ reach? Sound off in the comments below so I can cheer you on and help hold you accountable! While it may not be easy, I promise it will be worth it, friends!
Navigating Entrepreneurship Intro
Navigating Entrepreneurship: Start Strong – Part I
Navigating Entrepreneurship: Setting Boundaries – Part II
Navigating Entrepreneurship: Time Management – Part III
Navigating Entrepreneurship: Stick to Your Guns – Part IV
Navigating Entrepreneurship: Community – Part V