“If a founding entrepreneur is 55 years of age or more, a new business has a 73% better chance of succeeding” (taken from Jack Canfield, ‘The Success Principles’).
The rationale behind this is apparently that when you’ve been in business for that length of time, either working for someone else or as a serial entrepreneur, you’ve made enough mistakes to learn from as well as have enough life skills to approach a business differently. Apparently, older entrepreneurs have acquired more experience, more skill sets, and more confidence that makes them better equipped to address the challenges they will ultimately face in building a business.
That is true, some of the time, for some entrepreneurs. Equally, young entrepreneurs with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence can be equally well equipped to drive a new business venture. Add their energy and lack of fear into the mix and they possibly come out in front.
So what to make of the oft-quoted statistic that most small businesses fail within five years?
Do they really fail? Or do the owners of those businesses simply decide they aren’t enjoying the business they’ve created and the let it fade away? Often this will happen because the business owner doesn’t want to do that ‘business’ anymore and they decide they will try something else. Some entrepreneurs fall into a business out of necessity, and many create businesses that serve them at the time but fail to do so over time for various reasons.
Many times we start a business, only to find some years later that we have become bored with it, or tired of some aspects of it, or that we’re just going through the motions. Life happens and things change, and sometimes our businesses need to change as well so we grow and change together.
It seems to be a universal mantra that you must be passionate about your business. In reality, most entrepreneurs start a business because they can — because they are good at something, they know how to do it and have the necessary experience or qualifications to be (or become) good at it, and they are quite happy doing it. Passion doesn’t always come into the mix, even though we’re all told it’s essential.
Where passion is important is when a business is starting to fade because the owner is bored, or disenchanted, or simply longing to have a change and do something else. This could happen at any point in the entrepreneurial journey, but I think it’s more prevalent when business owners have been doing the same thing for ten, twenty or even thirty years. It’s then that we start to think about what we’d really love to be doing, or what we’ve always wanted to do.
So regardless of age and experience (but giving them both credit) what are some of the key elements in getting the reinvention of your business right so it will take you into a more enthusiastic, energetic and dare I say it — passionate — future?
Here is my top 5 list of what will help you create a business that will endure with you:
Do you know your Purpose?
This is a major exercise in itself and can’t be done in one sitting. In my experience it involves delving into these questions, amongst others:
– What you’ve loved doing ever since you were a child?
– What has interested you ever since you were a child?
– Is there a recurring theme of activities that has presented in your work life that indicates a strong competency and interest in doing?
– Have you created a list of all the things you’re really good at in life and in business, and cross-referenced those things against what you really love doing?
– Is there something you could literally be doing for hours that you become so immersed you aren’t even aware that day has turned to evening?
Whatever sort of business you create, in my personal opinion, it will be more sustainable and enjoyable if it enables you to live your purpose, which in turn will nurture your soul.
What does your perfect average day look like?
This may not just be the weekends, but the week days as well. Does it include you being surrounded by other people or connecting with people? Do you need to perform in some way? Do you need quiet reflective time? Do you need to be outdoors? There need to be activities in this vision that are important to you, whether it’s taking the time to walk the dog along the beach, drive your kids to school, cook for your family, or have time to read, for example.
The day needs to be such that you would look back on it before you go to bed and realise what a lovely day you’ve had.
What does your perfect average day that includes ‘work’, look like?
If you had to include time to work in this vision, what would that look like? Be able to do all of the above in a working environment with other people? Working from home? Are they completely separate and different days?
If so, why?
Are you being completely Honest with yourself?
Be honest with yourself about what you want and not just what you can do.
Remove things from your business that don’t really energise you, even if you can’t quite see how that would work. As a business consultant, I decided that going into other people’s companies and solving their problems and walking away didn’t energise me any more. But how to remove ‘clients’ from a service based business? You can still have clients (in fact, you need them) but you may decide to work with different types of clients with different challenges, or you may decide to work with clients in a different way, or even provide different types of services packaged differently. There ARE many options, once you start to pull out what you don’t really want and strip your business back to the key elements that you’d like to keep.
Consider new options
Don’t do what everyone else does if you don’t really want to. Discount things you’ve been doing in the past, or feel you should be doing in the future, and then consider new alternatives. If you don’t have the time or the inclination for social media to build followers and communicate with your target market, what are some other ways you can communicate with people. You do need to build relationships and communication with people, that is actually non-negotiable if you intend creating and growing a business, but what are some ways you can do so that would be more enjoyable for you?
Create a list — what do you want to change or stop doing, and next to it brainstorm some alternative options that could be a great replacement and something you would embrace. Enlist the help of someone who knows you well enough to help with the thinking and also keep you honest about options that you would be happy to consider.
None of these exercises it easy, but they are worthwhile and will deliver insights and benefits to you.
The outcome may be another business, a new business, a redesigned business, or a completely fresh start.