Over the years there have been plenty of times when it seemed to me that everyone else's business was so much better than mine and not just a little better, but better in every way imaginable. Whilst I was working crazy hours, struggling to make ends meet, dealing with challenging clients and never really seeming to have more than a buck fifty in the bank (on a good week), everyone else's business seemed so much easier.
These were the times when I would look longingly at the local cafe and think how easy it must be to simply make coffee. Or the local newsagent, surely selling newspapers and magazines couldn't be hard and they must make truckloads of money right? Or a gardener--how nice to wander around in gardens, plucking a few leaves here and there, adding some fertilizer and generally having a nice old time.
Well after working as a marketing consultant for many years, and having clients in pretty much every industry, I now realise that there is no such thing as an "EASY" business. Each one has its own unique set of challenges. Just because I have drunk an ocean of coffee in cafes doesn't mean that I can run one or that if I did, it would be any easier than the business I have now (in fact if you ask me, food businesses are the toughest of them all).
It is easy to lose perspective and look longing at other businesses, but I am sure that any business owner you talk to from these "grass is always greener" businesses will gladly tell you all of the challenges they face on a daily basis.
When it comes to money and the feeling that every other business is making more money than us, this is again often an illusion. When looking in from the outside, any business can look super successful--but from my experience, the more expensive the cars, the bigger the building, the more staff, all add up to mean a lot of debt. Don't assume that every other business is making more money than you, no matter how it might appear.
So why I am talking about this? Because I come across a lot of people who have a romanticised view about everyone else's business but their own and I felt a need to put some perspective around it. They spend a lot of their time, like I did, lamenting their businesses shortcomings instead of appreciating what their business actually gives them,
Whenever we find ourselves in that depressing little place, when things are not going right and we start to feel that every other business in the universe is so much better than ours, think again. We all have parts of our business that we really don't like, but we have the choice to focus on them or focus on the bits that we really love.
I have this conversation with business owners all the time, as they complain that they are not making much money in their business, or they are working too hard, or some other perceived issue. My advice is to focus on the great things your business gives you (and be grateful for them):
- Such as freedom, even if it is a freedom with a lot of responsibility
- Or not having a boss to answer to (sure we all have to answer to someone but it is a very nice feeling to tell someone that you don't want to work with them and you don't have to)
- The ability to work when and how you want
- Getting to make the decisions
- The satisfaction of coming up with new ideas and making them work
- Having people like what you do enough to pay you for it
- Being able to choose the people you spend most of your working day with
These are all things that I wouldn't swap for a million dollars. Sure, we all have bad days, but when I look down the list of the great things my business gives me do, I wouldn't swap it for anything. So whilst it may seem that the grass is greener and every other business on the planet is better, easier and more successful than yours, it might just be time for a rethink.