The other day I had lunch with a friend, a fellow business owner, and the subject of selling my business came up. I have always had in the back of my mind that selling was a possibility, but I think I avoided the topic internally by attaching a number to it that isn’t currently reasonable. If I sell, I tell myself, I can take some time off, consider my next moves, make some investments in traditional areas, and really figure out what I want to do next.
But that’s bull.
Why shouldn’t I figure out what I want to do right now? What’s the difference? Figuring it out costs zero. It can be done while maintaining my current career, my current lifestyle. I tell myself that there is a “next”, but I have done essentially zero to prepare for it. Business as usual.
Would I turn around and get into consulting and speaking? (Of note, I’m a terrible speaker, but my dad is great, I’m hoping the genetic seeds are there and I just need practice.) Would I attempt to write full time? Would I become a couch potato? (not likely). What would I do? Would I take a year off? Would I take a month off? And then what?
So I started to think about what I enjoy in my current career. I enjoy having answers. I enjoy having or finding solutions. I don’t personally enjoy implementing those solutions, but I do enjoy coaching my team to implement and appreciate the job well done. I enjoy representing and selling our solutions. I like the story of what we do. I like the recognition that what we do for clients is valuable to them.
I had coffee with another friend last week. He owns a small business that he has poured his life into, and the financial repayment has not been spectacular. In fact, we talked about the fact that he could probably get a “real” job practically immediately that paid significantly more.
He was hesitant to believe me, but my point was this: He works hard. Harder than anyone else involved in his business. He pays attention to what his clients need and want. He goes above and beyond. He cares about the product/service that he provides. Unlike many of his employees, he is completely invested in his business. How does that NOT translate to any job? To any career? How is engagement and effort not 90% of life? And how often do we as owners or managers or even as customers, complain that the person on the other end, either an employee, a subordinate, or a customer “service” representative doesn’t care? They don’t care about the outcome, they don’t care about their responsibilities, and they certainly don’t care about you.
Clearly this is not true across the board. I currently have a fantastic team working for me, that give effort and absolutely care about the product they are part of, but that hasn’t always been true. There are vendors we use fairly regularly that are the same. They do excellent work, when they say they are going to do it, and they deliver. Their only issues are typically that they can’t find enough resources.
Regardless of what he decides, to keep his business, to sell it, to fold it and close the doors, he is a creator. He will find something, or be extremely valuable for someone else.
If I gave him a million dollars and a year to figure it out I guarantee it wouldn’t be sitting on his ass. Even if it wasn’t work, he would be productive. He would pursue his passions, and turn them into a new career.
What would you do?
What will I do?
I’m reminded of something Peter Thiel said, the exact wording of which escapes me. He asks his students to write down the five and ten year goals they have for life, and then to find a way to execute in 6 months. Why not? We all have these long term goals, but they always stay long term. Why aren’t we doing those things today? Those are the things that really matter.
Because someday, you are going to have your “million dollars”. Or not, but you’ll be faced with the question nonetheless: Now what?