Are you sure you want to do this?

24 November 2017 | Business Thoughts

A few weeks ago I was minding a baby at an event. Between the snuggles, crying, giggles and sleeping, I had a lot of time to observe what was happening around me. 48 hours of wedding from set-up to all the guests laughing and smiling around the long tables for dinner under the glowing lights.

Moving purposefully and busily around me in the warm sunshine were workers setting up a marquee and installing wooden floors, florists coming in and out, lighting specialists, stylists, tableware deliveries, a band getting ready in the dancing room, cleaners, service staff re-arranging and preparing what I dubbed the snacks-and-sitting-room, cooks spending the entire day prepping meals and events staff.

It was an incredible operation to watch. I’d never fully grasped the enormous amount of sheer resources that go into setting up an event.

One of my best friends runs this particular successful events business and she is often an idol to others entering the industry. Her business is exceptional, but looking around I wondered if most people idealized the glamorous outcome of the day, or if they understood what their days in this field would be like.

This was a Friday and a Saturday. The florists certainly weren’t getting paid a fortune for the stress of creating a magnificent installation that they then needed to keep on ice and install, whilst setting up fans to pray the greens stayed luscious and the flowers didn’t droop in the heat. That makes no mention of the weeks of emails, meetings & phone calls over the course of months for one event. And that was just one supplier the events team had to manage between countless others, endless emails and phone calls, and their actual clients.

This is why I believe so much in enjoying the process (well, 80% of it – it’s unlikely you’ll love absolutely everything and you needn’t). The process is your daily life – it’s the work you actually do. Though there is reward in the completion, the outcome arrives intermittently and is a rarely celebrated end result.

It’s why, when deciding what you want to do, it’s useful to learn how you want your days to look. Is it talking to lots of people? Is it managing a busy team? Is it spending time in solitude writing? Developing products? Working in a lab? Running high-risk ventures? Designing in a plant-filled workspace with a couple of others? A flexible daily schedule to go for a swim at midday and spend the afternoon with your favorite people?

I’ve had large clients in the past want to turn their new application or platform into a product to sell. It’s a great idea – they’ve benefited hugely from it and can see a gap in their industry. But then we sit down and I ask them, are you ready to be a software company? Are you happy to split your company into two significant divisions or break away from your core service? Will you recruit a technical team to maintain and continue developing this? How will you setup and provide customer support? Once management has had time to mull it over, they tend to decide that though the idea is good, the day to day operational reality isn’t what they want to pursue at this point. Even as a large company, it’s not how they imagine their days.

Getting to the core of what you truly want to do, is helpfully answered by asking how you would like to spend your time. It gives you a much clearer starting point, lets you know if you’re in the right industry or nudges you to change your business to fall more into step with how you would like your life to be.

One of the reasons you run a business is because you get to decide how that looks.

So how do you want to fill your days?

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