Hello, business owners. This one’s for you. And for those that work for you, because without talent working for you, you probably don’t have much of a business.
Volk Law Offices is celebrating its 25th year in business and it has me reflecting on how we started, survived occasionally difficult times and ended up here in a good place with even better days ahead.
Woody Allen said something to the effect that 90% of life is just showing up. Woody Allen is crazy for thinking that. We do have to keep showing up, but how we view and approach what we do is the key to success.
I have had a lot of clients over the years who thought starting or buying a business was going to finally put them in their happy place. Then, they could have others do the work and boss them around and sit in their office smoking a cigar with their feet on the desk while they planned their next big money purchase or trip. Like a shooting star, there may have been a pretty flash at first. That usually fades away, because their heart is not in the right place.
So, how do you put your heart in the right place and build a successful business or career? You patiently and persistently pursue profit. You commit to lifelong learning. When you are starting out, you will probably encounter several lean years. You have to realize you are building a foundation for something that will last instead of having a get rich quick mentality or a mentality of conspicuous consumption.
One of my favorite books is “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy.” Buy that book. Learn it. Love it. Live it. My primary takeaway from that book is that you should realize you must put your best efforts in to your financial wellbeing for a long, long time. The authors stress the value of long-term thinking and building wealth over time. Think 25 years from now instead of 25 hours from now. That applies to business owners and anyone with a decent job. The long-term goal is financial self-sufficiency and “building wealth takes discipline, sacrifice, and hard work.”
Over time, you also have to invest in the business by committing your time and interest into improving the business. You have to figure out where it works effectively and enhance those aspects. You have to figure out where it is ineffective and fix those parts. That is the essential part of a Chapter 11 business bankruptcy by the way. You have to convince the court that the business can be fixed and that it will be profitable once it is fixed. Spoiler alert: if you are passionate about what you do, you will never stop working on it. If you own a business, ask the great questions my law office consulting firm asks: “do you have a job or a business?” Put differently, they ask, “are you working in the business or on it?” To have a business which you are working on, you have to commit to continuous improvement. If you work for someone else, ask similar questions about what you are doing. Think career instead of job.
Committing to continuous improvement is best achieved if you decide you will be a lifelong learner. How can you easily become a lifelong learner if you are not there already? Be a voracious reader. I just told you about a book you need to read. There are several classics like that and once you start reading them, you probably will not stop. For an easy start, make success.com, cnbc.com, and psychologytoday.com favorites on the browser on your phone. These have wonderful quick reads on how to improve your approach to business life. In about ten minutes a day, you could read an article in each one and at the end of the month, you will have read, wait for it … roughly 150 articles! In one year, you will have read, wait for it … roughly 1,800 articles of newfound or enhance wisdom. How much more awesome would you be if you read 1,800 articles? And, it will only cost you about 10 minutes a day.