I remember having lunch with a friend and mentor, and he told me that my business wasn’t really a business. It was “just a job” for me as I had not been able to translate it into a real business. It was a “lifestyle” business. I was stunned. I was a business owner, and I had 10 employees. I had regular revenue close to $1M a year, and had by that time been running my digital media company Agentic for 10 years. I enjoyed being at work and so did my staff. What did he mean that I wasn’t a business?
My friend was a successful entrepreneur and businessman. He’d even sold his last venture for millions. He was clearly able to speak about business. The trouble is that his measurement of my company was completely at odds with how I saw things. What I realized was that he was measuring my success in a totally different way than I did. He meant I couldn’t sell my business. I hadn’t structured it in a way that people would want to buy it.
So I realized that his definition wasn’t going to work for me. I decided to think about what I meant by success in business and to really lay out what it looked like. I started to think about the things that were important in what I saw, and it didn’t look at all like the way my friend thought it should. I started to realize the impact I had in running my business for the people that worked for me. They had gotten married, bought houses, raised families. Our work had purpose and impact for our clients. We had a relationship with the environment and the land we were on. I supported employees in being the full person they are.
And I think for all of us, this is so important. Our work lives are no longer separate from our personal lives. With the impact of new technologies and social media, we intertwine our thoughts. But this is ok, as long as we can be ourselves in both areas. Of course, I’m not talking about sharing intimate details at work, but rather just being able to be ourselves and show up as we are. We need to rethink the way we think about business.
And this impact of our rethinking now is even more critical. We are in the midst of incredible turmoil and there is little we control of the global stage. But as owners of small business, we can control how we think and feel about our business. We can find new ways of thinking about success and realize the impact that we have. We can measure our success in a different way. I call it the Wellspring way and the movement I’m trying to define is how we, as business owners, can radically shift the perspective we bring to our work every day. I hope you’ll join me.