Monday, 19 May 2014

Year Six: Mastery

Risk: Low
Satisfaction: High
Key Challenge: Balance

The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert…in anything.
Neurologist Daniel Levitin Quoted in Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
The sixth year of business is often one of the most satisfying.  If you are still around, you have not only developed a client base, but have experienced losing customers and gaining new ones.  You have developed your business skills, learned from the arrogance of year four, and carved out a specific role for yourself within your own company.   In many ways, this feels like smooth sailing.

This is a time for you to enjoy yourself personally and professionally.  If you have developed your business correctly, the business has become less dependent on you more dependent on your staff and your systems.  Even if your business is primarily about your own contribution to the enterprise, as is my one person training and consulting firm, you will have developed sufficient goodwill with your clientele to take some time for you and your family.

The problem for some entrepreneurs is the habituation to working long hours.  If you work forty hours per week, that soon seems to be the norm.  If you work sixty hours per week then that seems to be the norm.  The problem is that we do not necessarily use our time as efficiently as we should, or even as we once did.  Many people define themselves and their success by their effort rather than their results. 
This poses problems for the enterprise and for the entrepreneur.  The entrepreneur can give the impression that people are not trusted do their jobs.  This may not be true…in deed often entrepreneurs have great faith in their teams, however; the perception is more important than the reality.  From the entrepreneur’s perspective, this dogged mindedness to the business often comes at the expense of other aspects of life.  This includes long-time friends and often times family. 

In year six, you must review your personal and business goals.  Is the business doing what you wanted it to do?  Is your lifestyle all that you envisioned it would be when you started the enterprise?  Alternatively, do you need to make changes?  This is a great year for some personal planning.  This could even include thinking about a transitional plan or even developing an exit strategy.  It takes time to exit a business, so beginning this process early helps.

You have worked your butt off for five years.  In year six, remember the reasons you started the business, the price you have paid, and the rewards you may seek.  You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the wisdom of this verse:

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

Matthew 16: 26

Next time is the last this series…the transition of Year Seven.

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