Owning a business is like an exotic vacation – Part 2

Recently, I talked about getting some perspective and looking at building your business in a very different light.

I mentioned that it’s crucial to realize that things won’t always go to plan, and that this is part of what makes owning your business exciting (and scary at times). I even compared building a business to an exotic vacation. Sounds pretty far-fetched, right?

There are more similarities than you might think, and I believe that with the right mindset, either endeavor can be rewarding and bring you joy. You just need to get yourself in a frame of mind that allows you to see what the situation is trying to teach you.

elderly businessman throwing away his suit on sandy beach

Using the examples from my last post, let’s compare the two (vacation and business):

  • Every vacation requires research, planning and budgeting – you can’t wait until you get there to reserve hotels, get train tickets, and ensure that you’ve got enough local currency.In business, you also have to choose a destination, decide which path you want to pursue to get to it, and understand how much it will cost. These processes are ongoing, so don’t think that once you’ve “arrived” at your destination, the journey is over!
  • You won’t have time to do everything, so you’ll need to choose your opportunities wisely – is it better to stand in line for 5 hours waiting to see the Mona Lisa, or could you see the entire Louvre in that time?In business, you’ll always have more things to accomplish than time to do so. It’s crucial to establish priorities based on what will help your business the most – even when you might really want to do something else.
  • The locals won’t necessarily speak your language, so you’ll have to find a way to communicate with them in order to survive.In business, you’ll have to change the way you think about “them” and “us” – no business can survive without relationships, and to build relationships, you have to find common ground. This will require you to step outside of your comfort zone (often!), to learn new things, and to try someone else’s perspective instead of your own. But when you’re able to create a connection (with clients, vendors, employees, and others), the benefit to your business will be amazing!
  • Fellow travelers can be both a blessing and a curse – it’s nice to see someone “like you”, but generally they’re all going to the same place!In business, it’s nice to be part of a known market (it usually means that there are lots of buyers), but it’s difficult to stand out in the crowd. Work hard to identify what YOUR business provides that is uniquely valuable to your clients, and then ensure that you maintain the highest quality on that. Even better, strike out on your own, and see if your unique value proposition can’t create its own market!
  • You have to keep a close eye on everything (bus schedules, your bags, your $$, locals and other tourists) once you get started.In business, establishing expectations (also called targets, metrics, KPIs, etc.) is critical to success. If you don’t have a clear goal and a plan for getting there, how do you know when it’s time adjust your course and what adjustments to make? Set realistic expectations, but get information about WHERE you are relative to those expectations often.
  • There’s a tendency to have high expectations at the beginning, but constant change can be wearying – you’ll have to remind yourself what your initial vision was from time to time.In business, a long-term vision can pull you through the toughest times. Be sure that you have the long-term in mind, and are able to visualize what you’re doing all the hard work for when things go pear-shaped.
  • Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the most of it – you get out what you put in!In business, hard work and dedication are expected. But remembering why you are working hard can help – so be sure that your vision will inspire you on those days when all you really want to do is sleep in!
  • My ideal vacation is nothing like your ideal vacation…The only way to really enjoy a vacation is to make sure that it fits the person traveling, regardless of where other people are going (or have been).Every business is unique, just like every person is unique. So what works for your business may or may not work for mine. Likewise, just because it didn’t work for someone else doesn’t mean it won’t work for me. Look at other people’s experiences as research, and then trust your gut when it comes to yours.
  • Lastly, if you stay open to new experiences, you meet some of the nicest people along the way, and discover that the detours could be the best part of the trip.In business, things will never go exactly the way you planned – so realize that unexpected doesn’t mean unwelcome. The major setback on a project could be the catalyst for a whole new line of products. Stay focused on your vision, and you’ll be better able to enjoy the twists and turns along the way.

So the next time that you’re facing a huge challenge, try reframing your frustration by comparing your situation to an exotic vacation. Imagine yourself stuck in a taxi on the way to a beautiful white-sand beach, or ordering what you thought was the vegetarian plate, and being served a fish with the head still on.

Yes, those are frustrating moments, but they’re also experiences that teach you not to take yourself so seriously, that help you refine your sense of when to stick with the plan and when to wing it. These experiences help you understand that true joy can be found in the small things, and that the most rewarding part of building a business (just like an exotic vacation) isn’t getting there, it’s enjoying the trip.
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