We live in a society with almost unlimited choice. That’s a good thing, right?
Well yes, but it also comes with periodical challenges around what we actually want.
I had a call recently with a potential client who had sold a successful larger business about five years ago. He’d had enough of the pressure of running a larger organisation, so after the sale he set up a new business with some very specific goals.
He wanted to have 100 clients with about £500,000 of assets each, and to have a tidy lifestyle business turning over £500,000 a year, with Fridays off and time to spend with his kids. In this new iteration he also batched a lot of the review work, so it wasn’t spread across the whole year. That gave him even more free time.
He’d reached his goals and when we spoke he was wondering: "What’s next?"
I told him there were effectively two options, and just coasting and continuing in his current situation wasn’t one of them. If he was wondering what was next, it was clear he wanted to move on.
My suggestions were:
a) Continue to develop the lifestyle business, looking to go to £1m a year of revenue, but with all the same rules and restrictions in place. That is, Fridays off and plenty of time with the kids. To do that would be a nice challenge, and he can continue to remain the owner of a really tidy business.
b) Branch out again from here, add a manager and a team, and build to £2m of revenue.
His gut told him immediately that option a) was for him. By the end of our call he said: “I think you’ve given me what I got in touch for already."
Here’s the point; when you reach a crossroads you have to get clear on your vision for what’s next. The minute you regain that clarity all your decisions become obvious. Maybe not easy, but obvious.
Being at a crossroads can be unsettling, even if you’re in fantastic shape. You might wonder why you feel so lethargic and unmotivated. The next step after success can be a daunting prospect.
Apparently the first batch of astronauts suffered from depression after going to the moon. After all, what the heck do you do after you’ve been to the moon? (I don’t know either).
Understanding the nuclear options
So what’s next? Just ignoring things and hoping they’ll go away is one strategy, although I don’t recommend it.
If we can retain some perspective and realise there is probably nothing wrong, then we can dig a little deeper to find what really excites us in the next phase.
I’m a huge fan of exploring the extremes when I, or a client, is in one of these spots. I like going to the nuclear option, just to see what it might be like. No one ever died from discussing some crazy ideas.
Here’s a simplified example, just to make the point:
You wake up one day, after months of stress in your business, knowing you need to get your team sorted out. The problem is you’re really struggling to find great people. You might have even hired someone and had a few setbacks.
On holiday in the Greek islands (or wherever your favourite holiday destination happens to be), you fantasise about selling your financial planning business and opening a coffee shop on the beach. It’ll be great. You get to live on a Greek island, enjoy the sun, and talk to people all day.
However, when you really think it through you realise you’ll have to be working through the summer months, seven days a week. Also, you don’t really understand the way business is done in Greece, so there might be some painful and expensive learning curves. Also, no one goes to the islands in winter, so what will you do then?
It all gets a bit real.
The same is true when you think about the nuclear options in your current business.
You could fire every pain-in-the-butt person who works for you. You could sack all but your 20 best clients. You could do this and do that.
The only problem is, those choices come with their own set of trade-offs and compromises too.
After exploring the nuclear options, you often walk yourself back from the edge and a more mainstream solution presents itself.
When you reach a crossroads it usually means it’s time to sharpen up your vision for the future.
I always like to revisit what we call 'the clarity questions' here at FP Advance:
- Why am I running my business? Go deeper than ‘for the money’
- What do I want my life to look like?
- Why am I sacrificing myself for this project/business?
- What is the higher purpose for me and my business? Again, a purpose bigger than money.
- What’s worth doing even if I fail?
- Who do I love to work with, and why? How can I work more with these people?
- What do I think needs to happen to move forward?
- What’s preventing that from happening?
- What new skills might I, or my team members, need to learn and develop?
- How do I want to feel?
Digging into what really matters to you is the first step in getting your mojo back.
Unlimited choice sounds great. However, it’s what you say ‘no’ to that determines your clarity of vision, and the excitement you feel in your life. You have to choose.
As Mark Manson so eloquently puts it in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k:
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of f***s to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a f*** about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice - well, then you’re going to get ******.”
His point being, we need to decide the things that matter to us, and then pursue them with all our heart.
When you reach a crossroads in your business life, it’s the perfect opportunity to redefine what’s important to you and to go after it. There’s no time to waste.
Let me know how you go.