Business and Philosophy – what’s your primary aim?

  photo by euart

Sometimes you need to mix in a little philosophy with your business…

I’m re-reading the classic business book – The EMyth Revisited by Michael Gerber (prepping for a workshop I’m doing next week) and I was inspired by some philosophy in a chapter that I hadn’t thought about in a while.

For those that haven’t read the book (it’s one of the Top 100 Business Books of all time), it’s a story about a struggling entrepreneur who owns a pie shop and how the author helps her realize why her business is struggling (along with most small business owners at some point and time) and the shift in perception that’s needed to avoid the all too common downward spiral of business failure.

The book was originally written in the 80’s and the revised edition came out in 1995, but the key points are still valid and powerful.  The story and the writing occasionally feel a little over the top and contrived, but but you will walk away with some major insights and inspirations on a better way to build your business.

Back to the philosophy, Chapter 12 is entitled “Your Primary Aim” and it outlines the first step of the Business Development Process and how you would start evolving your business.  As you might suspect from the chapter title – the first step is to define the Primary Aim of your life…not the primary aim of your business, but your life.

A lot of people skip over this step, but it’s critical to your long term success!

Especially if you believe that the sole purpose of your business is to help you get what you want out of life!

If you really know what you want to get out of life and you recognize your business is a tool to help you get there, then your perspective on the strategic direction of your business takes on a new meaning.  Let’s say a major goal of your life is to enjoy spending time with your family, then building a business that requires supreme sacrifices and 60 – 80 hours a week at the office probably isn’t a good fit.

Designing a business (and a lifestyle) that fits your goal of quality time with family will drive a lot of decisions.

How do I discover my Primary Aim?

Of course the challenge that I’ve always struggled with is answering the question…What should I do with my life?  (By the way, that’s the title of a great book by Po Bronson…and it’s also in the Top 100 Business Books).

Gerber recommends an exercise of imagining reviewing your life’s accomplishments from your funeral as a way to uncover what’s really important.

I also like this idea of Designing the Ideal Lifestyle Audit from Richard at Lifestyle Design unleashed.  His suggestion is to carve out some quiet time and write down what your perfect average day would be like…what would you do?  Where would you be?  How much does that differ from an average day right now?

Do you know your Primary Aim?  How well does your business support that aim?  Have you done this kind of exercise before?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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