Part of what I do as a startup consultant is to help make sure that entrepreneurs have aligned their business goals with their personal goals before they jump into launching and running their businesses. Everyone has goals they’d like to achieve in both their personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, many times, entrepreneurs get easily sucked into chasing a billion dollar success metric when, in reality, that type of business won’t allow them to meet the personal goals they embarked on the road of entrepreneurship to achieve to begin with.
Constantly barraged with information about how to continually grow their businesses and told that they need to be the next Bill Gates to be successful, entrepreneurs end up feeling constantly stressed and over-worked and not able to take advantage of many of the benefits they thought they’d gain from starting their own business to begin with.
Now, wanting to be the next Bill Gates is a perfectly acceptable goal. However, if your personal goal is to work fewer hours so you can spend quality time with your family, the two probably don’t mesh.
There is an old story about a man in a Mexican fishing village who would sleep in every day, take his small boat out and fish for a few hours, come back to shore in the early afternoon and sell his small take, and enjoy the rest of the day spending quality time with his wife, relaxing on the beach, or gathering for conversations with his friends.
One day, a businessman from the U.S. showed up in the village on a doctor-ordered vacation and noticed the fisherman’s routine. He couldn’t help but want to share some business advice with the fisherman and so he introduced himself and began trying to persuade the fisherman that he should get up early and fish longer hours so that he could catch more fish.
“Why would I want to do that?” the fisherman asked. The businessman was somewhat baffled by the question but responded that a larger daily catch would mean more money for the fisherman. He could then buy a larger boat and catch even more fish. Soon he’d have many boats and many times more fish to sell and could expand his operation internationally.
Again, the fisherman asked, “but why would I want to do that?” The businessman, more exasperated now, explained that with such a larger operation the fisherman would be making many times more money and after about 30 years he could retire with a lot of money in the bank.
“And what would I do then?” asked the fisherman? Well, you could sleep in every day, fish only a few hours, come back to shore early and spend quality time with your wife and friends while relaxing on the beach said the businessman.
Now, of course this fable, as all fables, is a very simplified version of reality, but its lesson is important. As an entrepreneur, you need to decide what your goals are both personally and professionally and make sure they align. Then you can build your company strategy from there to achieve whatever happiness or success it is that you seek. If you don’t align the two goal sets, you’re guaranteed to feel like a failure on one front or the other.
Now I want to hear from you. What do you think about the old fisherman fable? Do you feel like entrepreneurs need to be obsessed with business to succeed? Have you taken a look at your personal goals and professional goals to see if they align recently? Let me know in the comments below what your personal and professional goals are and if they match up.
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