Dear business, I love you with all my heart

It can be easy to fall out of love with your business if you’re flying solo – so how do you get the spark back in the relationship?

Every couple of years for the past decade, I’ve been involved in a program of research with our community of entrepreneurs and soloists.

In it we ask them what appeals most about running a business.

Firmly at the top of their responses are ‘freedom’, ‘flexibility’ and ‘control’.

What’s not to love?

Why wouldn’t you choose to do work you enjoy, alongside people you like, from the location of your choice?

If we dig a little deeper it turns out we are born to pursue such freedoms. It has more to do with our psychology than just our goals and dreams.

In his New York Times bestseller Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, Dan Pink distils and comments on the findings of numerous behavioural science and psychology studies.

He concluded that what inspires and motivates us humans is a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

What makes us truly happy and productive is having control over what we do, using and improving our skills and doing work that has meaning.

Add to that the desire and realisation of some decent revenue generation and surely there’s your professional small business nirvana right there.

And it must be good, because everyone’s doing it.

Small, entrepreneurial enterprises – mostly solo, one-person ventures – dominate the small business landscape across the world and the stampede gains more momentum every day as barriers to entry are eased.

In Australia, over 80 percent of small businesses fall into the solo/micro category and those are just the ones that show up in statistics.

But are all these entrepreneurs, soloists, freelancers, side-hustlers, indie professionals, contingent workers, creative and free agents really living the dream?

Not by a long shot.

Falling out of love

Running your own show isn’t a walk in the park (and, last time I looked, neither is keeping love alive).

Both take thoughtful planning, effort, commitment and resilience and at the core of success is understanding that this really is Your. Own. Show.

This stuff is personal.

What works for someone else may not work for you. You should design your own path, get on it and stay on it.

The key premise when in the pursuit of love surely must be the belief that it exists and if you’re to give love you need to be prepared and open to receive it too.

Loving your work is achievable.

It won’t get handed to you on a plate; it takes careful, considered design.

It may involve tears and heartache, but if you believe it’s there and you can articulate what it’s going to look and feel like, you’ll draw it to you.

Whether you’re enjoying your business right now or are wondering how on earth you got to where you are, there’s no time like the present to rekindle the passion.

How to get the romance back

The best way I know is to take yourself away for a few hours – half a day or a day, away from the office would be ideal – and write yourself a ‘letter from the future’.

Seriously.

Get a pen and paper, sit down somewhere comfortable, quiet and distraction-free and write yourself a letter dated 14 February 2018.

In the letter describe business and life the way you’d like it to be. Aim high, but keep it realistic.

The more detail the better. What work are you doing and for whom? How are you spending your time? How are you feeling? How’s your health?

Don’t hold back, tell yourself as many facts as possible.

When you’re done, post it to yourself. Yes, really.

The few days it takes to arrive will add to the surprise when you tear it open and read it.

As you’re reading, highlight the areas that need to change from the present day.

These should be your focus for the year ahead. These are the places where love resides.

Come on, small enterprises: we chose to do our own thing for all the right reasons. Just love the one you’re with.

Robert Gerrish is the founder of Flying Solo and the creator of the new online step-by-step course
Work your way: The complete guide to going it alone