I recently met a friend of mine for coffee. Sally (not her real name) wanted to pick my brain as to some ideas for her business.
Sally gave me the following rundown of her many endeavors as she explained her situation.
- Sally runs a very satisfying small business that fortunately breaks even most months, even after pulling out a small salary.
- Sally is involved in a network marketing company that she earns o.k. money from every month. She hasn’t started to recruit other reps but she does believe passionately in the product and has several loyal retail customers.
- Sally helps some friends of hers by working with their customers via the internet. The amount of money from this “job” is fairly negligible and it takes her 10 hours a week to accomplish.
Sally has a background in education and has always cared deeply about people. Her focus since leaving education has been on helping others through working with non-profits and her current business. This work has been extremely gratifying to her but she is now ready to make what she called “serious money.”
Sally is tired. As I mentioned above, she is finally taking some money out of the business but every month is tight. She isn’t sure she can build the business much beyond where it is now.
The network marketing gig is exciting, shiny and seems limitless. Unfortunately Sally has zero experience with recruiting and knows she must get out of her comfort zone to build her business. She is very aware that her success in this opportunity is less than guaranteed.
The work she does online for her friends is very easy. She “only” spends 10 hours a week on it. She knows that she should probably jettison it asap but hasn’t done so yet.
- Pick a lane: The reality is that Sally is running around trying to “have it all.” Maybe there are some people reading this that think they can handle multiple endeavours at the same time. There have been many times in my life where I thought I could. Unfortunately that has never ended well for me. I should have known better. About 2,000 years ago some dude named Matthew wrote, “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”
- Know your value: When I asked Sally what her value per hour was, she had no idea how to answer me at first. I continued to probe and asked her what she made per hour when she was doing her most profitable work. Sally’s answer was $35/hour. I explained that since her most profitable time is worth $35/hour she needs to believe she is worth $35 /hour at all times. (Goodbye the 10 hours she works online for $10/hour.)
- Increase your value: It was great to have Sally realize her CURRENT worth was $35/hour. It would be tragic if that was still her answer 90 days from now.
- Stop working in your business: Yes, as a small business owner there are a million things that demand your attention. Some of them are even critical. Unfortunately most business owners get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that they don’t stop to plan, create systems, or build their client base. To really flourish a small business owner must spend more time working on their business than in it. There is no doubt that Sally has the skill set to manage a business. The only question left is can she be good business owners. There is a world of difference between the two.
- Hobbies are rarely profitable: Businesses must be. Sally believes that her network marketing opportunity has massive upside and I can’t argue with her. The problem is that as long as she is spending 50+ hours doing other things, she has no shot of building her downline or her retail customer base. Sally must completely sell out to the opportunity to be successful. She is going to have to learn to recruit, onboard, train, and babysit the reps she recruits. This will all be new territory and to give up the small business she owns is a massive leap of faith. A leap that I am confident could pay off eventually.
Sally will have to decide what to do next. Even not deciding will be a decision to continue the frantic, unfocused merry-go-round she finds herself on. At best I helped her gain some clarity as to where to start.
I can hardly figure out my own life, let alone tell someone else what they should do with theirs. In fact I wrote this article for me as much as I did for you. I too find myself at an interesting place in life. Since leaving “Corporate America,” I have been presented several opportunities. I am struggling with my own decision as to what my next chapter will look like. I don’t have a crystal ball and none these opportunities are “sure things.” I sense myself wanting to try to take on at least 2 or 3 of them. I have even thought about how I could make them all mesh together. The reality is that I can’t.
Sally isn’t alone. I too must pick a lane.