What Lifestyle Do You Want?

Many of us spend hours, days, or even weeks designing our flats – choosing our dream blanket, ordering that Italian coffee table, importing the gorgeous Turkish rug. We set up discussion clubs around the type of coffee beans we drink and organic food recipes we experiment with.

Yet, so few are equally specific about the quality of life we choose to have. Isn’t that ironic – we know exactly what we want to put on the floor in the living room, and we often have no clue what we need and want from our lives!

I have always been very open about why I set up my first business twenty years ago, as well as the the other companies later on.  I didn’t do that because I thought it would be cool to have a company or call myself an entrepreneur. I did it because I wanted to make a lot of money – much more than any regular “job” would give me and to be able to make the most important decisions – where and how I live and how I can support the ones I love.

I have never pretended that I set up my business to save the world, my motivations were much more “pragmatic” – not to have to look at the prices and not to have to do certain projects – just to make money. A few years ago I would accept any development project from any client – as long as they were ready to pay my rates. Now, I am much more selective and work only with these clients who really need my support to move further and are ready to work harder than ever before. As far as I am concerned – that is also an important aspect of my lifestyle – who I support and what REAL value and impact I have. I have decided to have fewer clients, but much “better” clients. Am I earning less? I’m pretty sure you know the answer!

So what exactly does “lifestyle” mean?

The word “lifestyle” is used in many contexts nowadays – we have “lifestyle magazines”, “lifestyle programs”, “lifestyle businesses”. I can’t help the feeling that “lifestyle” is one of the most overused words nowadays – especially if it refers to the magazines someone reads, the matcha latte they drink, or the gym they go to. Additionally, it has become so generic – in most cases it helps you define one of the groups you decide to become part of. And let’s face it – “lifestyle” businesses are booming nowadays, as they help people feel better and get that instantaneous gratification resulting from belonging somewhere.

Does that make our lives more rewarding and fulfilling?

I believe it does – in many ways. By choosing a certain option from the dropdown list of the “currently available lifestyles”, we can define who we are, what makes us feel happy, and what makes us feel special.

The thing is, that choosing such a “second-hand” lifestyle category, we actually never ask ourselves what it is that we really really want.

From my perspective, only if you are an entrepreneur, can you make some of the key decisions, and come up with your own definitions. Having a boss or working for Company X makes you part of the system. Having your own business gives you the possibility of creating the system you like, or deciding not to be part of any system – whichever you prefer!

What lifestyle do YOU want?

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The Average Entrepreneur Doesn’t Need a Coach!

About two years ago I told my friends that I was going to coach small business owners. They thought I was mad! 

“Don’t you know that entrepreneurs don’t need coaches?! They will never pay for your services!”

“Why are you making your life difficult? You have so many corporate clients and you are fully booked for the next few months!”

“I’m sure 99% of business owners will never even consider hiring a coach!”

Those were just some of the comments I heard from my friends. Some of them were even worried about me. They thought that I was going through some mid-life crisis! Were they right? Well, to be honest – to a certain extent – they were! 

It is true that:

  • 99% of business owners would never hire a coach – they prefer to figure things out for themselves, or they think that they don’t need one. 
  • Just 1%, or even fewer, entrepreneurs are ready to invest money, time, and energy in their development. The others are too busy, or they have more important things to invest in.
  • I was going through some sort of crisis. I was just changing planes, trains and repacking suitcases and heading off to London, Frankfurt or Gdansk to run yet another leadership development workshop, which did not change anything – as most of those leaders were just interested in maintaining the status quo. I was so tired of the “corporate initiatives”, which looked very good on posters. 

That was exactly the moment when I understood that my target group is that ONE PER CENT of entrepreneurs, who are absolutely committed to developing successful businesses, who make the conscious decision that they will succeed, no matter what, and who know they need someone who’ll challenge them the way they have never been challenged before.

That was also the time when I discovered something really interesting: The most ambitious entrepreneurs do need “supervision”, no matter what they say! They are actually happy to pay someone who’ll make them feel accountable, as they know that it is an investment that will help them achieve their goals faster!

At the beginning of our cooperation, I always tell them: “I’ll challenge you,  you’ll need to dig deep. Tell me, when it’s too much”. And you know what? Having supported over one thousand two hundred businesspeople from eleven countries over the last ten years I have never heard “Please be less challenging.”

To sum up: 

  • Yes, my friends were right.
  • Yes, 99% of business owners don’t need a coach.
  • Yes – that 1% is definitely enough. 

How GREAT is Your Business?

What do I mean by “a GREAT small business”?
A company, regardless of its size, that gives its owners GREAT lifestyle!

If you take a closer look at the entrepreneurial world, you’ll quickly realize that a great deal of small businesses fail – leaving their owners frustrated and stressed-out, or even burned out and broke. And over eighty per cent of the companies that survive are mediocre – they don’t generate enough net profit for their owners. Those are facts, and most people seem to accept them, which is the first step towards making those gloomy stats.

As a business coach helping entrepreneurs to develop GREAT companies, one of the first questions I ask are:

  1. “What is your definition of a GREAT company?”
  2. “How GREAT is it already?”
  3. “What do you focus on now to make it even GREATER?”

I only work with Clients who have very high expectations, and who want to make it to the 1% of the most successful people in their area, for whom having a GREAT business is one of the top life priorities. Why am I so selective? Wouldn’t it be easier to coach anyone who reaches out to me? Because I know that if you are not really driven, almost obsessed about your business, you’re likely to make those stats. You can try to fool yourself, and other people around you, but you will give up.

Creating a GREAT company is a marathon, it will probably take longer than you think, and longer than most people are willing to persevere. So you need to set your standards bloody high and just refuse to accept any other “Plan B”. I personally hate compromises, as I believe they usually give pathetic outcomes. Just imagine: your partner wants to spend a long weekend at the seaside, while you would prefer to go to the mountains. If you compromise – you end up in Luton, which, according to a Cobalt Recruitment report heads the list of the ugliest UK towns! (Hope no-one from Luton is reading this!).

As an entrepreneur, you don’t need to compromise – you can decide what a GREAT company means to YOU – you don’t need to take into account what other people think about, or what they believe is possible or not, as most probably they are wrong!

So, over eight per cent of business owners get it wrong on at least three counts:

  1. They don’t define what a GREAT business mean to them.
  2. They don’t make making their businesses GREAT their top priorities.
  3. They are satisfied with mediocre results.

Please note, that by “satisfied” I don’t mean that they like the results they achieve, they accept them. And you either accept something, or you change it – otherwise you want to have a terraced house in Chelsea, end up living in a council flat in the worst part of Luton, and bullshit yourself that it is absolutely fine!

A GREAT business has nothing to do with its size. In this context size really doesn’t really matter! I have worked with many entrepreneurs whose goal wasn’t to develop a large company that would employ dozens or hundreds of people. They wanted to keep their businesses small and highly profitable. Other business owners aim at growing larger companies that become desirable workplaces. There is no “right or wrong” approach – it all depends on your definition of a GREAT business.

What do all GREAT small business have in common – regardless of their size?

Their owners reach their goals and live their lives the way they like: generating enough net profit, having enough time and energy to do things they enjoy, and – in short – not having to do anything, but CHOOSING to do things they want.

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

How GREAT is YOUR Business NOW?

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Why Are You an Entrepreneur?

We – business owners have the incredible opportunity to design and live our lives on our terms. We can enjoy the lifestyle that the nine – to – fivers can only dream about.  If you are an employee, and even if you have the best boss in the world, there is always someone who ultimately makes some of the most important decisions for you, and you are part of someone else’s plan. The employee – employer relation can be extremely rewarding – in terms of money, satisfaction and professional development, and it is the best option for a lot of people, who don’t aspire to developing their own companies. On the one hand, creating and growing your own business can be stressful and strenuous, and it usually takes more time than people think. On the other hand, though, the fulfillment and impact we – entrepreneurs experience is beyond any comparison!

As an entrepreneur you make choices that most people don’t – for example:

  • What you do
  • Who you work with 
  • How much you work
  • How much you earn 

and hundreds of more! 

We – entrepreneurs – decide to start our businesses for various reasons: we want to earn more money, we like the flexibility of project work, we hope to create new industry standards, we need to have real impact… However, what I personally find the most exciting is the fact that we – business owners – make real decisions that directly translate into the quality of our lives, which wouldn’t be possible in the “employment” relation. Yes, more and more companies are “empowering” their employees, and they feel very proud of it. We – entrepreneurs – are 100% empowered from day one! Isn’t that great? No-one needs to decide that we, too, can think and act.

If you are a true entrepreneur, you will never even contemplate the notion of being employed – even if “the package” is competitive, even if it looks like a comfortable option. True entrepreneurs don’t need that false and elusive comfort. We design and execute the lives on our terms!

Yes, it may take longer than you think, you will need to work harder than 99% of the people you know, but you WILL get there – because you know what there is at stake:  Making REAL decision, or letting others decide for you.