I met with a small business owner the other day who told me that he used to be a lawyer and if he measured his success against that of his friend who was also a lawyer he would turn out to be a failure in monetary terms. Running and operating a small business, this small business owner has fallen far short of what his lawyer friend now earns and who has a luxury home and luxury cars for himself and his wife.
Yet this small business owner said that he has achieved a level of freedom that his lawyer friend hasn’t. The career lawyer is on a treadmill that he can’t get off of. The small business owner, on the other hand, can in his own words take off three days if he doesn’t feel like working. He has staff to run his small business.
The small business owners said that with any activity today requiring an economic value success tends to be measured in hard currency. But if you take up some extramural activity such as cycling or kite boarding or even drawing or art lessons would you really want to attach a monetary value to the things that you love doing?
How would you measure your success? Are you comfortable measuring your success solely in financial terms? Would you take on activities just for the pure fun of it off for personal growth and creativity?
Starting, developing and owning a small business is an achievement in itself. It can be a vehicle for your fulfilment and freedom as an entrepreneur. Yes, the primary goal of any business undertaking is to make money or in the case of a social enterprise to make money and make a difference.
To be able to start and run a small business in your local community where you don’t need to get stuck in traffic in the early morning and late afternoon, decide what you want to do on a given day and when you will do it also provides a sense of self control of yourself and your environment. Plus there is the pride of ownership, having started and built something of your own whether it be a business from scratch or buying a second-hand business and reshaping it into something that creates stronger customer demand and suits your lifestyle.
It can be an uncomfortable question for many people on how they measure success. It’s actually a reflexive question that helps to define exactly what you want or make sense of the choices that you have already made. Much depends on your personal values and core drivers and where you want to make your mark in your community or society.
Deciding what you truly want in life is seldom an easy task but it is an important one. Deciding to throw up the practice of law and run a small business requires that you know what you want. At the same time, deciding that you want to be the the best lawyer possible, even that’s what you really want to do, is also a valid choice. Just having such a choice is a privilege compared to many others who have to make the most of their hand that they are dealt in life.