Though related to the first question, it is distinctly different, because most people who run their own business would answer this with numbers. You ask them “what will success look like?”, and they will give you a string of
numbers that feel like they’ve been plucked out of the air.
It’s really common to hear somebody say they want their business to reach £1 million turnover. Or you might hear tales of how many staff they want to employ, how many clients they want to have and how much profit they will
be making. It’s all very one-dimensional, and the figures are not based in any kind of reality.
On the other hand, a business without any targets is not really a business – it’s a hobby or pastime. It’s something you do without being able to keep score. That may not matter if you’re already financially secure, because a hobby business is your free choice if that’s what you want. Just don’t kid yourself that you’re building a business if you don’t have any concrete financial goals for it.
For some of us, we set goals based on conditioning caused by other people’s expectations and comments to you. And this can be really subtle. For Mike, he believed that going to university and getting a well-paid job was the ‘right thing to do’, the whole getting married, big house, kids, holidays and all that stuff isn’t actually written down anywhere for anybody. Yet so many believe it’s expected of them.
Be careful that you don’t get caught up trying to achieve what you think is expected of you – instead, decide what you want – meditate on why that’s important to you – figure out if it’s you that wants it, or if you’re doing it because you have some deep-seated beliefs that you should want it.
When Mike first started out in business, people around him would ask, “when are you going to make your first million then, Mike?”. It created a sense of expectation and excitement and for a while Mike was caught up in it, believing the hype, and thinking it was where he truly wanted to be. But as he thought more deeply about it, he started to reflect on this idea of building a business with an arbitrary financial target.
So if you need to have financial goals, but you don’t want to use arbitrary figures, what do you do?
It starts with taking a Seddon Day, or a few Seddon Hours, to contemplate what you really want from life. Once you’ve answered question 1, you can set yourself solid financial goals by considering how much income you need to generate in order to live the life you’ve outlined in ‘what is your why, and are you living it?’
More than anything else, Mike wants you to understand that your business is
about building what you want, not chasing after anybody else’s dreams.
So instead of creating an empty, “I will be turning over X amount in 3 years, making Y profit, with Z clients” and so on, you can think about the wider balance. If your why is to pay the mortgage, save a little, and enjoy good times with your family then perhaps working fewer days each week and spending more time with them will be a better balance for you. That’s what Mike chose to do after he’d figured this out – shifting to a three-day week and having a couple of extra days each week to do the stuff he loved to do.
And of course, if you’ve got a clear target number for success, it means you can choose to help only those people who value your time sufficiently to help you to live how you want to. It’s no good giving away all of your time for free to help others, even if they’re genuinely in need, if you have to compromise your ‘why’ in life. This clarity frees you from the tyranny of chasing a hollow numbers-only goal, and it also ensures you put sufficient value on your time that you don’t squander your time in ways that help you live the life you truly want to live.
Ultimately, nobody else is responsible for your vision of success and a happy life – only you can be responsible for that – not your husband, wife, parents, children, friends, colleagues or anybody. There’s a saying that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me”, and only you get to choose what ‘it’ is.
Of course, there’s more to life than having a destination in mind. Which takes you neatly to question 3.