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7 Questions to Get Your Business Out of a Rut

Entrepreneurship not living up to your expectations? Ask yourself these questions to get back on track.
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Many people start a business with the hopes of improving their quality of life. Sadly, many new business owners find themselves trading time for money as a self-employed consultant beholden to customers instead of a boss -- and with no more control over their time.

If you feel stuck in a rut, it could be because your life as an entrepreneur is not measuring up to what you'd hoped it would be.

I spoke with Pamela Slim, life coach and author of Escape Cubicle Nation, for her thoughts on how to make sure your new life as a business owner is fulfilling.

'I recommend people develop a life plan so they can be clear about why they started their business in the first place,' she says.

Slim recommends your life plan paint a clear picture about how you want your entire life to unfold in the future. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What kind of work do you want to be doing? Do you want to be making the widgets or leading a team who makes and sells widgets?
  2. Who do you want to be working with and for?
  3. How do you want your time structured?
  4. How do you see your physical health? How often are you exercising?
  5. What quality of relationship do you want with your spouse and other significant people in your life?
  6. What does success look like to you?
  7. How much impact are you having? Do you want to deeply serve a handful of customers, or do you see yourself making contributions for millions of people?

According to Slim, if you envision yourself leading a large business and making a significant dent in the universe, and you're doing one-off consulting for a handful of clients, then you're likely going to feel out of sync.

The same person consulting for a handful of clients who has a life plan to make a deep and meaningful contribution to a few people may feel completely satisfied consulting and would be miserable trying to scale up a company.

You need to remember why you started your business in the first place. You may find the process of writing a life plan reminds you of your broader goals and helps you feel in sync, comforted by the knowledge you're on track. Alternatively, you may realize how far you have strayed from your original motivations and take actions to get back in touch with why you started the entrepreneurial journey in the first place.

Before you write your 2011 business plan, you may want to pen a life plan first.

John Warrillow is a writer, speaker, and angel investor in a number of start-up companies. He writes a blog about building a sellable company at www.BuiltToSell.com/blog.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Nov 18, 2010

JOHN WARRILLOW | Columnist | Sellability

John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You and the founder of The Sellability Score, a cloud-based software company that helps business owners improve the value of their company.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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