I often lecture on “what makes SME businesses successful” and the one question that always comes up in class is “Why do some business fail or not do as good as they should?”

It’s an innocent enough question but one that does not have a simple answer. There are a number of operational and strategic answers to this question… i.e. the business didn’t have a strategy or chose the wrong one, the business wasn’t managed as well as it should, the owner manager didn’t use his time effectively and had people doing the wrong jobs, cash flow (and its myriad of causes), so you can see why it can be a complicated answer.

However, I have another theory that has proven to be true over the years of working with SME’s.  Businesses are a direct reflection of the business owner themselves (it’s almost an extension of them) and that they will set the tone and the ambitions for it.

By default, the owner manager needs the business to support them achieve their own personal goals and if the business fails to do this, then the motivation of the owner manager will wain (they start to fall out of love with it), their tone towards the business will change and this tone will be picked up by staff and customers alike which will accelerate the demise of the business potential…..

So, the business has an obligation to support the owner manager achieve their goals! This is in itself is a challenge as not every owner manager knows what they want to achieve personally, so how can the business support them if there is no personal target or achievement that governs the definition of success. So therein lies the rub, many owner managers don’t have their own personal objectives set, so what keeps them motivated in their business is their personal drive and the financial rewards from it.

Now this is often enough but there is a far greater motivation when concrete personal objectives are set and the business becomes a vehicle for making these happen.

So how do I make sure I stay in love with my business?

Start by deciding what truly motivates you. Is it tangible items like the dream car you want to drive, the house you always wanted, the holiday home in another part of Ireland or abroad, frequent holidays or one extravagant one, sending your kids to the right school and paying for their 3rd level education, having more time available to do things you love most… the list is really personal and there is no right or wrong to what they are, as they are yours!!! They are not for someone else and you are perfectly entitled to choose any goal even ones that massage your ego!!!

So Step one, take some time out, get that glass of wine out (make sure is a nice bottle, you are worth it) and make two lists:

  1. List the things that make you happy now, and
  2. The things you would like to have or achieve in the future.

Once you have made the list, start searching for images the best reflect the top items you have identified:

Personally, I have a list of the goals for this year, I have a list of the goals I want to achieve by 2020. I also have my “Audacious List”, (that’s where my Maserati is parked and my holiday home in Quinta da Lago resides), these are goals that are way out there but a person has to dream and even by putting them down I  stand a better chance of achieving them.

One of my personal favorites of goals for the year is “Time”. More time to do the things that matter. Time to do a few School runs, ballet drops, bring your kids to weekday training, be there when they come home a couple of times a month and a Friday evening off to play golf….

Make sure you keep your list somewhere it can be easily accessed and look at it regularly and update it as goals change…

When you are this precise about what you want out of life, you are better placed to build the business that will support these goals. This will keep you more motivated as the results of the business are supporting you personally and the more the business supports you personally the more you will love working in it and by extension, the more you will love the business…

So, this Valentine’s Day, be prepared to fall back in love with your business by combining your drive for success in the business, to achieving your own personal goals!