I’ve had a lot of recent conversation with owners about not loving their small business. Some are in a lukewarm place of apathy while others have gone so far as to describe dislike for going to work. Either is a tough place to be as we spend so much of every day in our business and often have a ton of sweat equity that can make us feel like we’ve wasted our time if the result is a business we don’t like. Even a profitable business can feel like a failure if we don’t get to enjoy working with it.
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also I saw is from the hand of God, for apart from Him, who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” Ec 2:24 – 25
If you have found yourself missing some of the enjoyment in your toil that you would like, there are a few fundamental steps you can take to get on the path to having fun at work.
Step 1: Revisit your vision/mission for your business.
Often as time passes, we drift from our original vision. Environmental or market conditions, changing products, personnel capabilities… Adjustments over time add up to our business being very different than we originally planned. If you never really defined your vision, now’s the time.
You need to revisit your vision/mission periodically to align your expectations with the current conditions or vice versa. This may mean updating your vision to help you build your engagement with how things have changed or it may mean defining actions necessary to bring the business back in line with the vision. Either way you start with kindling your relationship and passion for your vision/mission.
Take time with this step and let it become something fun all its’ own. Enjoy the process of letting yourself roam with creativity and brainstorming your vision/mission all over again.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Ec 3:1
Step 2: Update your strategy & plans.
Strategies & plans are like tires on a car; you need to rotate them periodically and replace them when they stop working well. Strategies & plans can grow stale all by themselves. When strategies & plans drift apart from organizational capabilities or the market needs, they dry up and actually become obstacles to performance.
The best season for updating strategies and plans is directly following a review of your vision/mission.
After you have affirmed your missional heading in step 1, it is prime time to update strategies & plans that will take you where you want to go. We help many of our clients through these steps during an annual planning process typically in the fall of each year. You can read about planning here. You don’t have to wait; if you don’t like where things are headed, review and update plans now!
“Brothers and sisters, I don’t consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. I move on toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself…” Php 3: 13-14
Step 3: Coach up the team.
Whether you are a team of one or a hundred, you must “push hard toward what is ahead.” Share your renewed vision/mission and build strategy/plans with zeal and enthusiasm. Be prepared for adversity or questions but be bold in your quest.
Leaders must cast a vision that the team can get behind and feel how they contribute. You will feel how you are contributing and your enthusiasm will be contagious.
If you have team members dragging their feet or holding the rest of the team back in some other way, address it now. Especially in a small organization, one person can really affect the energy of the team in a bad way. Pushing hard toward what is ahead also means building a team that can execute the mission so you may need to apply some one on one encouragement to get the momentum going in the right direction.
Of course there aren’t really only three steps to loving your business but three is a catchy title and a biblical number for completeness so… I could write a series of full length books and never exhaust the topic. But if you start with the three steps outlined here, you are likely to enjoy the time you spend walking through them. If you stay the course, you are also very likely to have fallen back in love with your business and will be well on your way to loving your work for years to come.