In the entrepreneurial world we are constantly bombarded with the message to ‘play a bigger game’. Or variations on that message, such as ‘shoot for the stars!’ or ‘if you aren’t growing you are dying!’ And I can’t help but wonder…
What if, instead of trying to play a ‘bigger game’, we aimed to play a ‘right sized game’ instead?
Striving to ‘play bigger’ has taken me off course many times in my 17 year journey as a business owner. When I look back on the times where I struggled the most and lost the most – it was when I was trying to play bigger and chase the elusive promise of ‘more will fix everything’.
There are 3 dangers to blindly following the ‘play bigger’ path that business owners need to be aware of.
Danger #1 – What works for them may not work for you
There are no end to programs and coaches who will promise you that ‘if you follow this simple formula you too can achieve the same success that I have enjoyed.’ If I’ve learned anything in my experience as a business owner it is this:
There is NO one size fits all solution to success.
The business model that works best for me may not work for you. The marketing strategy that works best for you may not work for the next person. I know I’m not alone in having spent thousands of dollars and countless hours of time following a formula that simply wasn’t a fit for me.
Our job is to know ourselves – to know our greatest gifts so that we can choose a business aligned with our strengths (and stop trying to be something we aren’t!). To know what we really want so we can set goals that match our true desires (and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses). And to learn from the right people who are simply ahead of us on a similar path to success (and won’t try to talk us into something that isn’t a fit.)
Danger #2 – Playing bigger generally brings bigger costs
“It costs money to make money”. I’m sure you’ve heard this before and for the most part it is true. But where business owners get themselves in trouble is spending ALL of their current money for the promise of FUTURE money.
They invest everything they have in the moment for the potential return of something in the future – which may or may not happen. And if it does happen they do it all over again, spending more and more money but never actually getting to keep much (or any!) of it. I spent years in this cycle and it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
The goal is not to make more money – it’s to keep more money. And this can happen regardless of how much money you are making right now. Get clear on your financial goals and commit to how much you want to keep The key is to balance spending with saving, so that every dollar you make contributes to your long term financial freedom.
Danger #3 – Striving to play bigger can trump your why
There is nothing worse than working your buns off to reach a goal, only to find it hollow and meaningless. I’ve seen many business owners reach amazing financial goals, only to find themselves burnout, tired and disillusioned. And in some cases they’ve lost their health and relationships in the constant pursuit of more.
There is no faster path to burnout than to keep doing work that isn’t aligned with your why. To blindly follow what you see others doing thinking that you should be doing the same thing. To make decisions from a place of ‘well everyone else is doing it so I may as well too’.
Your why is the fuel that will sustain you on your journey to success. If you lose track of your why you may lost yourself in the process.
The bottom line is this – more for more’s sake will never be enough. It is a game that you will never win because ‘more’ doesn’t have a finish line.
You need to want more for the right reasons. The reasons that are aligned with who you are and what you (really) want – not what other people want for you or from you. You need to be specific on the exact amount that fits your financial & freedom goals, and that allows you to do the right work to get there. You need to know how much time and effort you are willing to put in so as to allow you to enjoy the life you have right now (not the life you may have in the future.)
I want to acknowledge that this is tough. It is hard to step outside of the pressure to ‘play a bigger game’. It’s hard to resist the siren’s call of ‘more makes it all better’. To simply say no to the people who say ‘but you could be doing so much more!’
It takes courage to claim your space and say – this is who I am, this is what I want and it is enough.
I applaud your courage to play the right game, and I’m right here with you.