Does your business enable you or tether you?

Structuring your business to run without you is a leap of faith but is a big enabling step


Jennifer Stilwell

3 years ago | 4 min read

I wholeheartedly believe, and advocate passionately to anyone willing to listen, that your business must be a creation of your doing that will enable you to have the lifestyle you truly want. It is essential to create a business you enjoy, but more importantly, build a business that actually encompasses life goals and passions as well.

For example, I have a client who loves travel, and the thought of building a business that only has a domestic scope just isn’t on the cards! Opportunities, contacts, projects — they must have a global focus.

Another client prefers to work alone. For this person, a growing business with an expanding team of people needing mentoring and management is not enabling a lifestyle. It’s tethering the business owner to a place he doesn’t want to be.

As business owners we are so fortunate in that we can create whatever we want our business and our lifestyle to be, whether the business is a startup or established, the ‘enabling principles’ apply.

The following enabling principles will help you to determine how well your business enables you to create the future of your dreams, or how much it tethers you:

What activity would you be doing that you love so much you’d do it for free? If I left you alone for the day, uninterrupted, and came back to find you immersed in that activity completely unaware that a day had gone by, what would you have been doing?

For some, there may be no work going on but they’re surrounded by people, talking, laughing and having a great time!

For others, they may be doing something completely unrelated to work, like entertaining children, cooking, singing, playing golf or developing ideas on a white board. It doesn’t mean you would do this all the time, but it’s something you do that immerses you.

Do you have a chance to do that through your business, or is the business structured in such a way that it enables you to leave it and pursue your ‘immersion’ activity?

If you’re an architect, and you love to design buildings, you need to be able to do that. If you get caught up managing people and dealing with the day to day operations of a business, you will most likely start to either resent being tethered by your business or you will lose your passion for what you do and lose your momentum.

However, if you recognize that architectural design is essential to you being passionate about what you do and making a contribution, then you must structure your business to run ‘hands-free’ (without your hands, that is).

This is a real leap of faith for many business owners, but this leap is a true enabling step.

Where and how do you ideally like to work?

Do you need to be flexible? Do you prefer to work in a slick modern office? Have you always wanted to work in a converted warehouse? Would you rather work at the beach, or at home?

Being able to design where and how you work is an essential part of creating your business in such a way as to enable you to live how you really want.

Do you like to spend the day with clients, colleagues, members of your team, in meetings, out having lunch, in discussion? Would you rather be more solitary in how you work? Do you like to work at night or early in the morning, or like a friend of mine, right around the clock?

Would you like more free time and if so, how would you spend it?

A lot of business owners would like a little more free time, but when the opportunity arises, some of them don’t really know what to do with it. I’ve seen people who retreat to their business rather than unleash themselves on themselves! I’ve also seen workaholics who eschew free time, but once the concept and the opportunity become more obvious, they start to embrace it with great enthusiasm.

We only get our time once, so make the most of it while you have it.

What needs to change in your business to enable you to live and work with more enjoyment, satisfaction and better personal results?

It has to start with you — it’s your business and your life.

Do you need to change the structure of your business?
Do you need to change your role in it?
Do you need to change how you work?
Do you need to change or build your team?
Do you need to change your schedule so you spend more time doing what you love?
Do you need to enlist help to keep you on track and accountable?
Do you need to sell your business and do something new — start a new chapter?
Do you need to loosen the control and focus on what inspires and motivates you?

Finally, is the vision for your business based on your personal goals? Are they in alignment?

Are the financial goals for the company driven by your own personal financial goals? For example, if you want to double the business turnover next year, why do you want to do that, and will it enable you to live more like the way you really want to be living?

Set your business goals because they are in alignment with what you really want to do, and enable you to live a great life. Don’t set goals simply because you can, and be tethered by them as a result.

Think of the lines in the INXS song: ‘we all have wings, but some of us don’t know why’. Make sure your business enables you to use your wings and fly!


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Jennifer Stilwell

Jenny Stilwell is a strategy advisor and mentor to CEOs of small and medium sized companies, providing advice, clarity and focus on the right strategy and structure for different stages of business growth. She is author of ‘Small Business CEO'.







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