What does “success” mean to you?

For entrepreneurs, this probably feels like a straightforward question with a simple answer: they want their business to thrive. They want to make a profit, stand out, be noticed. But then what? Are they done? Are they fulfilled? Are they happy?

For Adii Pienaar, selling two multimillion-dollar businesses wasn’t enough. He was an entrepreneur because he wanted freedom; instead, he was stuck in a destructive cycle, almost losing everything in his constant search for more. That’s when he changed his mindset, his expectations, and his life.

In Life Profitability, Adii provides entrepreneurs with a new perspective for becoming self-aware, recognizing their values, and understanding their impact. An enriched life and a successful business are not mutually exclusive. In fact, this book provides readers with the first steps in building a business that is more sustainable, with increased options for them, their employees, and their community. I recently caught up with Adii to learn more about his new book.

Published with permission from the author.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

When I exited my first business (WooThemes / WooCommerce) I became a millionaire, but also felt like a one-hit wonder who got lucky. So instead of taking the year-long sabbatical that I told my wife I would, I got straight back into my business to prove that I wasn’t a one-hit wonder.

I thought that my second business would be so much easier (I had the skills, experience, capital, etc.) and the first two years were great. But then one day I realised that I had ticked that box of not being a one-hit wonder anymore and I felt all of the meaning of being in this business evaporate. I also realised that I needed to quickly find a renewed sense of purpose to continue building my business.

As I set down that path of discovery though, business suddenly became really hard. Growth slowed and I had to lay off two team members. I also completely burnt out, became very depressed and almost lost the things that were most dear to me.

The result of that experience led me down a path of redefining what I wanted from my life and consequently what my business needed to look like to enable and empower that life. (Which became my version of life profitability.)

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

Building a business is hard and I don’t anticipate that it’ll become easier any time soon. Due to this process being very demanding though, entrepreneurs – in their laser-focused perspective – often don’t see the collateral damage that their business creates in their lives and for the others in their life.

For any entrepreneur that wants to pursue greater life profitability, one of the first steps is just to become aware of those life costs or life losses that the business is creating now. Is it impacting your health or straining important relationships? Is it forcing compromise or sacrifice of things that are otherwise important to you? Is it encroaching on your ability to be present and to live your life?

By raising one’s awareness of those life costs, one can start making changes to eliminate them and move towards life profits instead.

Published with permission from the author.

What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?

About eighteen months after I had to lay off some team members and after the team and I had worked hard to turn the business around, the business was in a position to do two things: pay a small profit-sharing bonus to the whole team and I could pay back a large chunk on the initial loan that I had invested in the business.

This decision is generally contradictory to the “growth at all costs” mindset of capitalism, but at the time it created space for the whole team, as well as myself.

Instead of me having had to double-down and reinvest those profits into the business, I paid back the loan and could reinvest it in other financial instruments which would diversify my family’s financial position. This alleviated a lot of anxiety and stress for me, which I believe made me a calmer and better leader of the team, as well as an entrepreneur.