Karen recently wrote a post about 3 top –female, A-list bloggers who have earned a high-level of traffic and readership. Interestingly, the theme of “truth” is integral to each one of their blogs. I read a few entries by each author and the overarching take away message was that whether in your business or personal life, you need to be authentic. The articles made me think of a few business questions that you should ask yourself and answer truthfully. Really. No fibbing.
We all know the rule, “honesty is the best policy.” And, we’ve all probably fought the truth a time or two in our lives only to learn that the old cliché rings true. So don’t fight it. Here are four questions to ask yourself in business to set you free and help you avoid business mistakes and work-life misery.
1) Why am I doing this job?
Tell the truth. Is it to impress your friends? Are you living up to someone else’s expectations? Is it to use a degree you spent a lot of time and money earning? Is it for the salary? Is it for the hours? Does it allow you flexibility? Does the compensation allow you to enjoy a capital intensive hobby? Does it allow you to provide for a family? Is it a stepping stone to something better? The reason is not as important as you knowing the real answer. When you know why you are toiling away at your given job, you should be able to maintain a level of satisfaction in your work life. If after answering this question and finding that your reason leaves you wanting to break out of your cubicle and go out on your own, proceed to question two.
2) Why do I want to start my own business?
Is it because you simply hate your job? Is it because you don’t know what else to do? Those aren’t the right reasons. Ideally, you should be starting a business because it is solving a problem, improving some corner of the world, but in either case it should be self-sufficient (non-profit) or turning a profit. Otherwise, keep it as a hobby. The value proposition you put in your business plan should not differ from what is in your heart.
3) Am I tapping into my natural strengths to do my job?
Believe me, if you can tap into what comes naturally to you in your career, do it. You will still encounter challenges and you will have to put in effort to succeed, but it won’t feel like rolling a boulder uphill every day. Don’t fight nature. I tried to, and each time failed miserably. Here’s a case where I had to embrace reality and realize that I couldn’t be anything I wanted to. I have been obsessed with horses since the first time I laid my eyes on one. In fact, it has become part of my identity. On more than one occasion, I have been referred to as “that tall horse girl.” When I was six years old, I wanted to be a jockey. This dream began after watching the Black Stallion, reading International Velvet and watching Triple Crown Races. Unfortunately, I surpassed the height and weight requirements for the job by the fifth grade. Jockeys are typically 5’ to 5’7” and weigh in at 108 to 118 pounds. No amount of hard work or determination could make me that size. Did I give up on horses completely? No. I discovered show jumping. No height or weight restrictions and you get to go fast while clearing obstacles. In this case, the restrictions were physical, but the same thing can happen with other aptitudes. Do you struggle with math and hate rules? Finance and accounting probably aren’t good fits for you. Think about things that you enjoy doing. What aspects of your work do you enjoy? What things do you like to do outside of work? It is possible to focus on using these attributes in your career. If you’re not quite sure what your natural strengths are, you can tap into these resources.
Personal SWOT analysis
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4) Why am I taking XYZ initiative?
You’ve seen that everyone and their grandmother is on Twitter, or that Old Spice had success with a viral YouTube video campaign. You decide to dedicate your efforts to a multi-faceted social media strategy. Stop. Why are you doing this? Will you really reach customers with this? Will you be building your online brand presence? Will you be able to measure and track your results to obtain some sort of ROI? Or, are you taking these actions because they worked for so and so? While it is good to keep abreast of the latest marketing tools, make sure that you spend your time and money on the ones that will produce results for you based on your business and its goals.
Can you think of any other questions that are important to answer? Please share.