It’s the time of year again that prompts many people to reevaluate themselves, their places on the path of life and their businesses. Just this week, I had a conversation with someone who participated in an online community. She was so tired of hearing the same people complain about the same problems over and over. Advice from veterans seemed to be totally transparent to these people. This person said to me, “Why do they keep making themselves miserable?” Why would anyone own a business that was not satisfying and enjoyable?
Happiness is a choice. Sometimes it’s just a matter of deciding to change
your attitude. Other times it’s a matter of deciding to take a risk and
try something new or different. As business owners you have the power to make
your businesses enjoyable. No one else has that power! If you are not happy,
then do something about it!
THE HAPPINESS FACTOR
Are you happy? Are you really happy with your work? Are you happy most of the
time in your work? That is the key. There is nothing perfect on this Earth. We
all must take a little bad with the good. But your business is one case where
the scale must have a decided shift to the good side. If the scale is balanced
or tilted too far to the bad side, then you have a problem.
For this discussion, we are not talking about how much money you want to make.
We are talking about peace, contentment and joy. As a business owner, you chose
your business. You chose how to run your business, the people with whom you interact,
which vendors and clients to have. Think of your business as your creation and
your custom design.
Life seems to run in cycles. In many cases what you started out enjoying in your
business, you might suddenly discover is making you miserable. Or you might find
you have allowed what you enjoy the most to be overshadowed and overcome by what
you do not like at all. You also just might be burned out from doing what you
love at too fast a pace for too long!
Before you do anything about your situation, you have to want to change and be
willing to take the risk of venturing into the unknown to do it.
IS IT WORTH IT?
This is the best time of year to take a hard look at your business and ask, “Is
it worth this?” This is a time when you will be more honest with self-examination
than at any other time of the year. If you can work long days, often seven days
a week, and still say with conviction, “I am happy with my job!” then
you are where you need to be. Your greatest concern is to find out why you are
so happy and do not allow anything other than a change of your heart take that
away from you.
Now, for those who are not so sure or who are downright unhappy, it’s time
to do some real soul searching. Some of you may already know why you are unhappy,
but some may have a feeling of discontent you do not understand. You are blasé;
you cannot get excited about anything; you seem to be running in place without
clear direction. You even may be thinking, “I just don’t understand.
I like what I do. But why am I so miserable?”
I caution you that whatever decisions and directions you find by doing the following
exercises, do not initiate any drastic changes until you are rested up and have
a clear, level mind. Deciding on changes while in the depths of frustration or
fatigue might not be what you truly need.
Now take out a pen and some paper. At the top of the page write down what is
making you unhappy. If you can’t quite decide what it is, just write, “I’m
not happy.” Then follow this exercise:
• Job description: Make a list of all your jobs and what they entail. The smaller
your company is, the longer your list will be. Here are some job titles to get
you started. You fill in the descriptions.
Window treatment designer
Office and/or workroom organization
Documentation/office procedure manager
Research & Development
Look over your list. Rather awesome, isn’t it? You are quite remarkable
to be able to handle that much responsibility. No wonder you may be feeling weary
Likes vs. don’t likes: Put a checkmark by everything you really like to
do. Be honest. You may have come to a crossroads in your life and you may no
longer like doing what you once did. If you are not honest with yourself here,
there is no point in doing this exercise.
Look at those items. Is there anything else that is not on that list but you
know you would love to have there? I mean really love to have there! If so, put
it (them) on another sheet of paper.
Beside every item on your list, put the number of hours/minutes you likely spend
doing each task every week, or every month if you prefer. Be sure these times
total the actual number of hours you devote to your business or would like to
devote to your business. Circle the times for the jobs you really like. Add them
up. What percentage are they of total hours worked? (Take the “happy hours” and
divide them by the total hours worked) Look at your answer objectively. Pretend
you are working for someone else. Would you be looking for another job if you
only liked that percentage of your job?
Revealing questions: Write down the answers to these questions.
1. When you retire, or when you leave this Earth, what do you want to have accomplished?
The answer to this question is important because this will be the “beacon
light” at the end of your path.
2. Why does your business exist? The answer to this question should be your mission
statement. It should be pretty close to the answer to question No. 1.
3. What do you want to get out of your business by the end of one more year?
4. Let me repeat, what do you want to get out of your business by the end of
one more year? What accomplishment/goal achieved would make you happy? (Again,
money is not the issue for this exercise.)
5. If you change nothing about your job are you going to be happy and content
one year from now?
6. If not, then what can you change about your job to enable you to once again
enjoy what you do?
7. Are there jobs someone else or another workroom could do?
8. Can technology enable you to subcontract parts of your business to someone
else who does not have to be on-site with you, e.g. allow a bookkeeper to pay
your bills electronically, data entry, inventory control?
9. Can you reduce or eliminate some jobs or clients that add too much stress
to your life?
10. This is important: How can you reduce your responsibilities enough to add
in that “love to do” item(s) list? Whatever it is, you would not
have written it down unless you have a strong passion for it. That means you
must work it in, period!
Using your answers from above as a resource, begin to write out a description
of the perfect business that will make you happy. Describe it in as much detail
as you can. Again, make a list of what your ideal job description would be. The
key word is “ideal.” For the moment, pretend you do not have to do
any of the jobs you do not like doing. It might even mean not doing as much of
what you enjoy, e.g. you love sewing, but doing it at a fast pace for long hours
seven days a week takes the joy out of it.
Now that you know what you really do like, make a list of the jobs someone else
would have to do to keep your business going and allow you to enjoy your work.
How do you get to this Utopia? It will take planning and taking one step at a
time. For much of your ideal job you probably can form a good plan to achieve
your goals, but you are likely to find that some issues seem to have no solution,
especially those requiring the services of someone else. Maybe you have looked
at the situation every way you can think of and there just seems no way to do
it now or ever in the future. Remember these words from Christopher Reeve: “So
many of our dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.” The
key is to not give up, but to keep looking. And to keep an open mind!
Many years ago, I listened to an audiotape by Earl Nightingale. His solution
was to define the problem and then every day, write down 20 ways to solve the
problem. He said it didn’t make any difference how ridiculous the solutions
might sound, it was important to put it down on paper. Forcing your mind to do
this exercise will cause it to work to reveal solutions that are doable.
You need one more ingredient to make it happen: faith! Faith in that higher power,
the universe, that as soon as you ask for something begins to go to work to see
that it happens. Doubtful? Well, what have you got to loose by asking?
Joy and happiness are not imaginary. They are what life is all about. Plan how
you can create a company of which you are proud and which makes you very happy.
Happiness is contagious. When you are happy, then everyone around you will be
happy. So go ahead, make someone happy!
Kitty Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 26-year veteran
of the drapery workroom industry. Having owned drapery workrooms
as one person and as a company of nine, she is now president of Workroom
Concepts a consulting firm offering educational resources to the
industry on its Web site (
www.workroomconcepts.com). Her experience
in both the retail and wholesale window covering arenas has contributed
to her success as a business consultant. A professional speaker and
writer, she has authored several industry products including Order
in the Workroom, The Price List, Workroom Specifications and Price
Your Work with Confidence, available