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Charting New Waters: Building a Purpose-Driven Business with Balance

From the beginning, I’ve been clear that my goal is not just to build a business. Sure, I enjoy working for myself and am deeply grateful for the flexibility and control it’s brought to my professional life. But while there are a ton of perks to “being my own boss”, what ultimately drives me is the possibility of bringing forth the kind of business the world needs: one that makes a positive difference in people’s lives, solves collective challenges, and fosters health, happiness, and generosity in the world around it. 


If you feel the same way, this week's blog is for you.


As purpose-driven business owners, we are custodians of a broader vision that goes beyond the bottom line. We have the opportunity to model healthy, sustainable entrepreneurship on every level - from how we source materials and lead our teams to how consistently we tend to our own health and happiness. 


Unfortunately, many of the classic ideologies about running a business have led us to believe that we need to hustle our way to healthy, sacrifice balance in the short term for prosperity in the long term, and guard our assets and ideas from the ill-will of others who may threaten our position in the market. There is a different way, one that breeds confidence, creativity, and collaboration rather than stress, burnout, and isolation. It just takes our willingness to self-reflect and adjust how we use and manage our energy.


So what does that look like? Today, I’d like to offer three areas I believe are most important to the long-term health and sustainability of purpose- and mission-driven enterprises. I invite you to reflect on where you stand in each of these areas today, and to consider how you might bring more balance and sustainability to each.


1.YOUR Health & Happiness 


Let’s face it: many of us have been trained to sacrifice ourselves, our health, and our joy in pursuit of success and in support of others. As entrepreneurs, the hustle culture tells us it’s normal to work endlessly long hours, even to the point of neglecting health and relationships, because, hey, the short-term pain is worth the long-term gains.


I view this perspective as terribly short-sighted and even dangerous. It stresses us out, makes us sick, and robs us of the necessary ingredients for creativity. It is the source of the pervasive burnout that plagues entrepreneurs, and it’s often what drives people back to the world of nine-to-fives.


Just as importantly, though, as the leaders of our companies, we’re also the trend-setters. If we don’t model balance and boundaries, if we don’t show our team, our clients, and our community how to prioritize relationships and JOY, then where in the world will they see that it’s possible?


I’m in my third year of full-time business ownership, and I almost never work more than 40 hours a week. I take off regularly for camping trips and visits to see family. I only take meetings during the part of the day when it’s productive, and only on two days per week because I can’t focus when I’m jumping in and out of meetings all day. And when my husband told me he was having a hard time with my schedule always bleeding into our evenings together, I changed my hours and stuck to it. 


The point is I’ve come to understand that protecting my mental and physical health and my relationships IS building a business. It’s building a sustainable, long-term business that I’ll be happy running for many years to come. If you find yourself feeling overworked, exhausted, and missing time in relationships that matter to you, I invite you to reconsider the benefits and costs of pouring yourself into your company. Chances are you'll find more sustainable success in your business by prioritizing your happiness.



2. Your FINANCIAL Health


It’s not just time and energy we’ve been taught to pour into our businesses with abandon. We learn the same thing about money. Conventional “wisdom” assures us that it takes money to make money, which has created an epidemic of overworked, underpaid entrepreneurs who justify mounting debt and “reinvesting” as the cost of admission to owning a business. 


Again, this is short-sighted and dangerous. Make no mistake: being broke is not a normal (or healthy) part of business ownership - at least it doesn’t have to be. As the most important employee of your company, you should be paid and supported for your efforts from day one. The most heartbreaking part of my job is speaking with business owners who have become numb and resigned to taking scraps from the companies they’ve been running for years or even decades. It’s not “paying your dues.” It’s entrepreneurial poverty, and it’s avoidable. 


In the same vein, if you’re running a business that’s making a difference in the world, your company’s fiscal health must be well-tended. Why? Because our world needs you! We can’t afford to lose the impact you’re making to poor financial habits or preventable cash flow issues. If money is not an area of ease or comfort for you, that’s okay! You’re in good company. But it’s that much more important you find a professional you trust to help guide you.


Your money is the lifeblood of your impact, and managing it strategically and sustainably - both for you, the owner, and your business - is non-negotiable.



3. Community & Collaboration


Years ago, I had a friend explain the concept of red ocean/blue ocean as it relates to business strategy and competition. As it was explained to me, in a red ocean, competition is fierce, and companies fight for market share. It’s where we price wars and commoditization, and it’s an environment that promotes fear and rivalry among competitors.


By contrast, in a blue ocean, the strategy involves creating new market spaces where competition is irrelevant or nonexistent. Blue ocean strategies emphasize trust and collaboration, encouraging companies to explore new areas and collaborate with stakeholders - including, indeed, competitors - to create new solutions. It acknowledges and respects existing providers in the marketplace, encouraging business owners to create their own niches and specialties, rather than cutting down the competition.



Child holding blue bucket looks for seashells along shore.


The blue ocean strategy has been essential for my business, and is, I believe, essential for every purpose-driven entrepreneur. The other bookkeepers, accountants, and Profit First consultants I’ve worked and grown with over the years have shaped my offers, provided crucial feedback on my business strategy, and buoyed my confidence in the choices I’m making. They’ve shared everything from wisdom and guidance to SOP templates and resources I can use with my clients. They’ve even consulted on client issues, often at no charge. 


My community of fellow business owners wants ME to succeed as much as I want it for them. We don’t approach each other with suspicion and skepticism, and we don’t see each other as competition. We’ve built long-lasting relationships on mutual respect, love, and collaboration, and it has been invaluable for all of us.


While it is important to protect our intellectual property and be discerning about the people we collaborate closely with, the bottom line is that our companies are stronger, healthier, and more resilient when we build them in community rather than isolation.


If you find yourself buying into outdated “red ocean” ideologies, I encourage you to reconsider your stance and ask yourself how you could benefit from collaborating with other providers in your industry. There is so much we can learn from each other, and if we hope to build a truly equitable and just society, then we as business leaders must be taking the stand that everyone wins. Including our fellow entrepreneurs.



 


Did this resonate with you? I’d love to hear from you! It's my mission to connect with and support other business owners with a vision for a better world. Send me an email at stacey@theslcgroup.co, and let’s connect!


Interested in working with us? If you’re curious about the financial guidance I shared in this blog, I’d love to speak with you. Our services and consulting programs are aimed at bringing financial health and sustainability to companies like yours. Drop me a line, and we’ll get you on the calendar for a free strategy session.


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