In this blog post, I’m talking about the good bits about running a business. The bits that make you get out of bed in the morning, celebrate every now and then and be thankful that you got yourself this far.
We often big up owning a business as a lavish lifestyle that everyone should aspire to. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth – it takes a lot of graft, stress and pure belief to make a business work. That being said, there are still plenty of great things about running a business that we shouldn’t forget to appreciate.
So, let’s start off with a big one that we should remind ourselves of every day!
Doing what you love – and being (sort of) your own boss
The big thing for me is that I get to do what I love doing day in, day out.
I’m often asked, ‘Do you enjoy what you do?’
Some business owners ‘fall’ into business, purely by accident, and they’re left having to carry on where they are even though they might not necessarily enjoy what they’re doing.
However, I love what I do, I love the industry we’re in and there’s nothing like being your own boss. You choose how hard you work and you set your own goals and targets – it’s a great feeling.
That being said, your clients are still your ‘boss’. So, you never truly are your own boss – that’s a myth! Some people go into business thinking, ‘I’m gonna be my own boss and no one will tell me what to do’ – but in reality, that’s absolute nonsense. Instead of having one boss, when you have clients to keep happy, you have lots of bosses. Plus, some of them can be a little sterner than others.
What’s more, not only have you got clients, you’ve also got your team, who are also your ‘bosses’. You have a responsibility to help them and do the things that they ask you to.
Obviously, there is more flexibility in your working week, but that can also come with added stress. Be warned!
You make the big decisions
Another great thing about running your own business is the buzz of knowing that some of the key decisions that you’ve made, as the business owner, have paid off (if and when they pay off!).
This could be in the form of winning new clients, retaining current clients, hiring the right people or introducing the right processes. There’s a fuzzy feeling you get knowing that the decisions you’re making are working.
And listen, we all make mistakes. However, for the most part, if you’ve got that business acumen, you’ll make more good decisions than bad ones. And when you see those decisions pay off, it justifies everything you do and makes you feel really good about doing what you do.
Don’t forget the small wins, too
Sometimes, the smaller wins can feel the best.
For instance, you may have one conversation with a member of the team that motivates the hell out of them. It’s quickly reflected in their performance, and their increase in performance helps the growth of the business. Finally, this growth helps you to retain a client. That sort of thing can also be really exciting and get you out of bed in the morning.
Playing a part in helping your staff build a life
Another example: hearing that a member of your team is buying a house! I remember the first time this happened, and knowing that the business plays a small part in that is just amazing. We’ve paid a salary, and that salary is going towards helping people to build a life.
As much as you like to recognise it or not, you do play a small part in people’s futures.
Impacting your team’s careers
Another great thing about running your own business: having an impact on people’s careers – in a good way, of course! For example, coaching and introducing them to new opportunities.
I’m not totally wet behind the ears, so I’m not completely naive to think that everyone who’s in the business right now is going to stay with us forever. It very rarely happens in this day and age. People become complacent and may decide they want a bigger challenge. Sometimes the business and the person drift apart – just like in relationships – and you have to accept that.
I’m actually at one with that, and I’d like to help with that. So, if I’ve got a member of my team who wants to move on and enhance their career, and I’ve got contacts in the industry they want to work in, I will try and open doors for them.
I wouldn’t dream of holding someone back or keeping someone in the business just for the sake of it, or taking legal action if they try to leave us. Again, I’m not naive enough to think that somebody would want to stay at my business forever. I want to stay here forever, because it’s my business – and that makes sense! But it doesn’t for the team.
You can fight as hard as you want to keep people in your business, but when they’ve made a decision and it’s time for them to move on, you just have to accept that and move with it.
Winning new clients
Obviously, this is always an amazing feeling. To think that a business wants to trust you with their marketing spend is one of the most humbling things I think you’ll ever experience in business.
There’s so much effort that goes into acquiring new clients and there really is a feeling of jubilation when you get that call or you get that email saying that you’ve won. For most of the projects that we work on now, we’re having to pitch against other companies – we’ve got a very high win rate, which we’re very fortunate and happy to have. So, when we win a client, we celebrate!
When we’re in the office, we’ve got a bell that we ring when we win a job and it’s great for the whole team to share in that experience of celebration. For example, the production team can then get excited for that job to land so they can start creating content. What’s more, account and project management are excited about dealing with a new client.
Finally, when you’re the head of the business in those moments, you remember the early days when it was just you winning clients. Now, you and the team are getting excited – and that just feels amazing.
Retaining current clients
Just as pleasing as winning new clients is holding onto current ones. There’s no better feeling than being told they want to continue working with you. It’s a testament to what you and the team are trying to achieve.
We get many clients that come in and invest in a one-off, ad-hoc video, and then they come back wanting more. That then justifies what you, as the business owner, have created. The culture, the processes, the core values, that obsession with delivering the WOW factor for clients… it’s all paying off! The decisions that you made maybe 10 years ago? They’re paying off in these moments, and it feels good.
Therefore, you should celebrate these wins! I’ve been guilty of not giving myself enough time to be able to reflect on our successes and look at why we won them, rather than being very forward-thinking and just moving onto the next thing.
Treat your current clients as if they were brand new
This is a mistake that I think a lot of bigger organisations make as well as small ones. Let’s look at the mobile phone industry: the O2s and the Vodafones of the world. You see many adverts on TV where they’re offering all these crazy deals for new customers, and then forget about the current customers.
For example, you may be a customer of Vodafone, and you’ve been with them for 10 years. Now, they’re offering this unbelievable deal to attract new customers to Vodafone, and you’re sat there going, ‘Hang on a minute! I’ve been paying the same amount for God knows how long now, and there you are offering the first 2 years for free!’
It’s the same mentality in business, and it’s a mistake we’ve often made in the past. With every conversation, enquiry and project that comes in, you should always, always, always treat and look after your current clients as if they’re a brand new client.
Planning for the future and setting goals
Let’s be honest, it’s very rare that when we set goals we actually achieve them. However, that’s just the reality of it sometimes. The main reason for setting goals is simply to give you something to aim towards. Aim for the moon, and you may land amongst the stars.
Remember, there are many other good things about running a business, and each business owner will experience different things. These are just some of the positive things I’ve experienced in my time over the last God-knows-how-many years – decades, now! – of being involved in business.
Stay tuned for part 2 (the bad) and part 3 (the unpredictability) coming soon on the blog!
Thank you for reading this chapter of the Diary of an Entrepreneur. I must stress, I’m not trying to teach you anything. I’m just sharing my journey, and if it motivates you, then great – job done!
If you want to hear more about my entrepreneurial journey, check out the Diary of an Entrepreneur podcast on all available platforms – I talk all things business in terms of my OWN journey and experience. It’s not one to miss!