Each year at Christmas I enjoy watching one of the traditional Christmas movies, It’s A Wonderful Life. The movie serves as a reminder to me toward the end of each year that although business can be tough and money may be an issue, there are much more important things in life than money and business. I think this movie serves as a good teaching tool for business owners. As I get older and gain more experience in my own life, I think we can all avoid some of the traps that hinder George Bailey.
1. If you hate the business you are in, change the business or change yourself. I have been where George was in the movie. I was raised in a family business. My dad owns an HVAC contracting business. He loved it and still works in it every day at the age of 72. He groomed me to take it over from birth I think and I was on that route for many years. I came back to work for him out of guilt when I graduated from college because he expected it. I never wanted too and I was miserable like George. I had plans and was going to see the world and make a name for myself. Instead, I was the future of the business in an industry I did not like. I eventually told my dad I could not work there anymore. I loved him but I was so unhappy I did not want to own this business. I had a passion elsewhere and I needed to pursue it. We worked it out and became closer over the years by me not working there. And now, I am helping my sister and her husband take over the business and learn how to manage it. I am consulting with them in the role I enjoy. I am helping them succeed and finally giving my dad an exit plan.
I encourage you to look at your situation. If you are unhappy in your business, find out why and take action. If you feel stuck and are not sure what to do, you have options and you can get help. I meet with owners who feel like their business is a trap more than a path to freedom and they do not know how to get out. I am here to let you know you can change it to enjoy your business and let it be a means to your lifestyle not a job you own.
If you are in a job you hate and want to start a business, what is holding you back? Is it fear? If you have an idea that is viable and a plan to support yourself as you develop the business, move on the plan. You get one life and there is no reset button. Money is an issue and we have to support ourselves. I rarely find money is the real problem. It is our mindset and our fear of the unknown. I am not a believer in the Cortez method of burn the ships so there is no going back. You have to be smart but take a risk. Through education, planning, and intelligent strategy; you can have the business you dream of and live more of the life you want.
2. Failure is not going to kill you: in the movie, George’s Uncle Billy loses $8,000 of deposit money from the building and loan they own. This causes a discrepancy in the books and could cause George to go to jail when the bank examiner comes. In response to the pending failure, George considers committing suicide for life insurance money for his family and this debt. He starts to believe he is worth more dead than alive. An angel is sent to show him otherwise.
If you are in financial difficulty, even to the point of having to close your business, your life is so much more. I can tell you failure will not kill you. Money is a commodity. It comes and goes. I think of it like water in my hands. I cannot hold onto water. It slips through every tiny opening. I may make lots of money or only a little. Either way, I have bills and issues to arise that will take some of it away. Your life is worth so much more than money.
Your reputation may suffer if you have financial difficulty. Remember you are not the only person to ever have a financial struggle. If you do struggle or lose it all, you can recover. These are some of the greatest learning opportunities in life. I learned some of the greatest lessons from my most monumental failures in business.
I also encourage you to ask for help. Don’t be ashamed of your situation. A true professional is not going to judge you. As a consultant, I am here to help people get through their challenges in business. I can empathize with your situation and possibly show you it is not as bad as it seems. I have worked with businesses on the brink of bankruptcy and helped them turn around to become successful. Get a different perspective on the situation and look for solutions. I encourage you not to
3. In the end, your true wealth is the people who love you: When there is struggle, we all have those people around us who will support us, love us, and help us get through. It could be one or multiple people. It is the person who does not judge you or condemn you. They encourage you and help you through the problem. You truly see the sincere people in your life during these times. You can overcome any difficulties you face but you cannot replace loyal, loving people.
Remember, your business is just a means to an end. It is the platform that provides you with the opportunity to make an impact in the world and make some money while you are doing it. Your business is not your life. You are doing a great job chasing your dreams. If you ever get stuck, it is not the end of the world. Seek out someone who can help or start looking for ways to better educate yourself so the problem develops a new ability in you.
Take a day between now and Christmas to plan for success in the first quarter 2016. This way you have a plan going into the new year and can enjoy the holidays with your friends and family. You will start the year refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges ahead.