This is a realization I had after filling in a Profit&Loss statement for the past 7 months. My fears came true. The reason I was neglecting my business was just because of that—fear to see that it isn’t profitable at all, if I want to survive on money from that business, that is.
Here is some background info—I am the creator of a bestselling OpenCart extension called OMFramework. Basically it is a mobile-optimized theme for OpenCart that works alongside your current desktop webstore template.
Shameless pitch aside, the business grew over the years. It grew to the point where now we are 3 people running it—me as a manager/designer, Nelly—a full time developer and Gerry—a customer support fairy 😀
So what was so frightening after filling in the Profit&Loss statement?
Well, if I start paying myself a salary the word “Profit” from P&L would vanish. We will be at zero profit, probably a small or none loss. Which is fine.
How can you think that running an unprofitable business is fine?
Well, the business serves the purpose it was started for. Back in the days I wanted to survive on product income, without having the need to work for clients directly. That was my dream back then. And the goal is achieved now(it has been almost from the start actually).
Do you see the connection? I’d dreamt of surviving and I achieved it. “Doh, it is obvious that you can survive”. Common sense, right? Well, you know what? Common sense is not so common.
Count me in the group deprived of common sense, 50% of the time. This is a double-sided blade—it can help you achieve what is thought impossible or it can make the possible quite hard.
The problem with lesser dreams
The moment I had achieved the dream of “survival” and financial independence was the moment my business had stopped growing.
End of journey.
We have arrived. Done.
The eagle has landed.
But there is a problem with being “done” in your life. When do people feel they are “done” with life?
On their death-bed, hopefully.
I don’t want to die
I am very much alive actually. A living and breathing organism.
In nature everything that isn’t growing is dying, there is no middle way.
So, having a dream that is easily achievable sets you up for failure. Not failure of the dream, no, no. Dreams this size, when turned into goals, are almost always achieved.
It sets you up for failure in your personal development. Because the moment you stop growing and developing… well, we can’t call it “personal development” anymore. I would rather call it “personal stagnation” leading to a “personal crisis”.
A crisis, that is inevitable and obvious, just like the economic/financial ones. It is in front of everybody’s eyes, yet few people recognize what they are seeing. But recognized or not, the crisis is still creeping, slowly, but steadily towards you. Because you have stopped moving, developing, growing.
What should I do from here?
I don’t know about you, but I would examine my goals in the following way: are they easily reachable in the following month or year? Is there something bigger my current goals will lead me to?
It is normal to break down a big dream into a set of goals that get further broken down into a set of easily completable tasks. Yes, that’s fine. But having just these tasks on your horizon will make you halt the moment you get there.
We are curious by nature. We want to play and grow. But we are also highly adaptable(mentally), so that we can survive as species. The process of adjustment is called Hedonic Adaptation, we get used to happiness as well as to depression.
And this hedonic adaptation is what will make you compromise, satisfy with less and in the end it will leave you in the muddy gutter in the middle of a rain storm, where you will be thinking “Ah, it is not that bad here. I have seen worse”. Couple weeks later your corpse will be found in that same gutter…
As a conclusion, something I have heard attributed to Steve Jobs, who in turn said he has read it on the back of the “Whole Earth Catalog”:
Stay hungry, stay foolish.
That’s enough to keep you from the gutter.