Are You Losing Interest in Your Business?
By Dr Paul E Adams | June 30, 2005
Over the years, I have followed your column but never thought I would find myself sending you a letter telling of my problem. My wife and I started our business nearly 10 years ago and against the odds, we have made a success of it. We are in our late forties and the doldrums has set in. We do not have any pressing business problems, our cash flow is good, we are profitable, and although it will always remain a small family business, it supports us in comfortable manner. Here is my problem; I have lost interest in my business. I no longer look forward to going to the store, often, I think it would be nice to throw a few things in our van and head out for a long cross country trip. Then I say to myself: am I crazy - I have a nice business and I want to toss it aside?
Dr. Adams, no matter how much I try to rekindle and sustain my old fires of enthusiasm, it does not last. I am sure that I am not alone with such feelings. Can you offer me any suggestions? I am at a loss- not a pleasant feeling.
Dr. Adam's reply:
Grafton, you are not alone with such feelings. When we start a business, the energy is flowing. We are charged up to tackle the problems of the day. Our motivation is driven by the will to succeed, to prove - to ourselves, our family, friends, former employers, and the world - we have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. We are also driven by the fear of failing and losing all we have. These emotions of success and fear are powerful and when these inner driving forces lose their edge, as we have proved we can do it, and believe that failure is for others, our daily drive diminishes. Psychologists label our growing complacency and encroaching boredom as burnout. We have lost the spark of what turns us on.
As a business owner, you are in a dangerous place. To assume that your success will continue with a half-hearted effort on your part, or to develop a sense of false security, will in time lead you to possible bankruptcy. Your fears can become reality and it can happen in a hurry, If you continue in such an emotional state you may become reckless, giving off a image of "not caring", which permeates the attitudes and efforts of your employees. You can fall into the psychological trap of "been there done that", which is a poor reason to stop trying and casting an eye to the green lawn over the fence.
Yes, you are in a spot, but what do you do about it? It is impossible to conjure up motivations that will be lasting. Yes, you may have a day or two when the old juices are flowing once more, but by the end of the week, you are your funky self. The glitter is not there.
Boredom is back. But why?
The problem lies within. You have become bored with yourself. Your business has become routine. And entrepreneurs don't like routines. They like challenges.
And there is the answer. Challenge.
Without it, your options are sell the business, close the business, or show up every morning and wish you were elsewhere. You wrote that your business would always remain a small family business. Why? Is that your desire or has your thinking developed paralysis? Markets may limit businesses, but the true limitations of growing a business beyond the confines of the market rests with the owner.
It is important to get out of yourself. I am suggesting you get yourself, your wife and your business involved in some community or charitable activity. Join the local chamber of commerce or try some of the service groups such as the Lions. In short, get involved and stop worrying about not being juiced up and banging yourself over the head because you are not the dynamo your once were.
Age is also a factor. When we stop feeding our egos and we become involved with other people we forget our personal unhappiness - most of it is self imposed anyway - and help our fellow man we feel better about everything. In time not only does our zest and gratitude returns, but it returns on a more mature level and lasting level.