BottomLine Lawyers

Business Owners: Why Are You Doing This? What led you to open your own business?

As a business owner and entrepreneur, can I ask you a personal question?

Why are you doing this? 

What led you to open your own business, to go out on a limb and either buy into a franchise, stick in the family business, or leave the corporate world to hand out your own shingle?

Now, you and I both know you have the answer you tell everybody, but what’s the real answer?  In my experience, a lot of small business owners can’t answer that, so I want to share an exercise that just might help you get down to the truth behind your business – and reinspire you this year. 

Ask “Why?” 

No, that’s not a mistake.  With a clean sheet of paper, write “why?” at the top and write down the first thing that comes to your mind as an answer for why you own your own business. 

Take a look at that answer… maybe it’s “Because I like the freedom to set my own schedule.”

Now ask “why” again. 

Why is your schedule so important to you?  (Or money, or family, or location – your answers are going to take you in a lot of different directions.)

Whatever you do, keep asking “why” and keep documenting it. 

I’ll bet, after about seven or eight times, you’ll actually be getting close to the reason you opened your business.  More importantly, you’ll have gained a lot of insight into what is really important to you as a business owner. 

Now ask yourself if the business model you’ve built really supports your answer – and in my experience, it probably doesn’t.  In fact, your business model, as it exists today, probably is just a loosely modified version of what you did when you worked for someone else. 

Is it any wonder that “busy-ness” stresses you out?  On the other hand, when you get truly clear on what it is you wanted in the first place, you gain an incredible amount of freedom to create – or recreate – the business model you wanted in the first place, before being “busy” made it hard to imagine how you wanted to shape and structure your company in the first place. 

At the same time, when you finally do get this clarity, how do you reinvent a company that’s already in business? 


You might not be able to. 

You might simply have to build the one you wanted outside of the old business and gradually make the shift to that enterprise.  Don’t worry – that’s actually not as hard as you might think.  

Let’s say you built a traditional marketing business, but you realize now that you really only want to deal in digital marketing.  Since those two are pretty close in many ways, you can now begin to shift your company focus from those “regular” models to an agenda focused only on digital assets.  Look at the products and services you offer and begin to pare down those which don’t serve the new model.  Yes, at some point, you’ll eventually have to close them out, but sometimes, cutting these ties is the only way necessary to move forward, even if some of your customers will inevitably have to go elsewhere. 

In the end, your choice is simple:  keep doing what you don’t like or create the job and business you really wanted in the first place. 

It’s not going to be easy, in many cases, but you deserve to enjoy the work you do as an owner.  When you get done with this exercise, maybe you’ll even be looking to create a new entity, and don’t worry – my team and I are there for you every step of this path. 

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