What is the purpose of
business? It is to make money. Full stop.
It is not to take up all of
your waking hours. It is not to cause
you insurmountable stress. It is not to cause you hardship or adrenal gland
burnout. Yet, for many professionals
(myself included) it has caused all of these things.
Although some people that
develop businesses also develop them in such a way that they hope that the
profits of the business will be directed to charity or to community projects,
that is not what we are talking about here.
Make no mistake, generating income for the purpose of making our world a
better place is awesome. The purpose of
this article, however, is to talk about professionals whose purpose of business
is to make a living, support their families, and grow their resources.
The thing is that when you
start a business, you can get overwhelmed with an unlimited number of
distractions when building your business.
An overwhelming number of these distractions may be ones that do not
generate a profit. You can get swept up in developing branding, your business
cards, your website, and looking for a business space. You can do all of this (and like I did, spend
a huge amount of resources of time and money in doing so) without even focusing
on generating income. The point is, you
can have a really great time being an “entrepreneur” while missing the point of
One of the most challenging things that I have learned the hard way as a business owner has been to always remember that the purpose of business is to make a profit. It is not to feel good about being an entrepreneur.
Although there is no question
that it is profoundly important to plan your business model, you can also get
so lost in the concept of “building your business” that you can become swept up
in the “building your business” process.
You can totally miss the real purpose of business, that is, making a
When I started my business of owning a law firm, I got really wrapped up in making business cards, having a cool logo, having an awesome office space, hiring fun people and great letter-head. Although I would say our law firm has all of these things and these things are cooler than most law firms in my city, that none of these tasks generated income.
Where I totally messed up,
and I mean really messed up is that I became totally disconnected from the
purpose of business being that of making money.
I was so confident that I would eventually make the money I needed (and
did not even really think about it enough), that I did not focus on this aspect
of the purpose of business soon enough. This
resulted in me leveraging my finances, ownership in my home and savings, all in
the interest of being an entrepreneur.
What resulted is that I became
over-extended, stressed out beyond all recognition, and have now spent the last
3+ years making it all better. It has
been a long haul and as I sit writing this article, I am still stressed out
from time to time. Although I have
attempted in many ways to reduce my personal and business expenses, I still
have a long way to go.
Now whenever I have an
expenditure associated with my business (be that a lunch out, an employee’s
pay, or having someone come in and clean the office), I ask: Is this expense directly connected to my law
firm’s purpose of business? That is, is
it directly connected to profit?
For example, when I go out for lunch am I doing it just for fun and relaxation? Or am I also doing it because I know the person I am lunching with is a good potential source of referrals for my business? Does this employee I am paying generate income for the firm? Does having the cleaner come into the office to clean it affect our bottom line?
Now, I am not saying there is
anything wrong with going out and having lunch with a colleague or friend. I am only saying that be absolutely clear
that when you think an activity, task or expenditure is connected to your business that it really is actually connected to your
company’s purpose of business. Be clear
about what you are doing and how you are directing your funds and resources. Don’t pretend something is a business expense
when it is not.
Business expenses should
generate profit or at least be required to keep your business operational.
Do not spend all kinds of money on various items or tasks and get that mixed up with what the real reason is that you are going to work. If you do, your life will pass before your eyes, and you will have “worked” so much and not even realized the significant cost. In essence, your “work” will have become a lot of “make work” and your resources will be spent trying to keep up to making the purpose of your business work.
Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional
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