The Surprising Truth: For the Solopreneur, it’s Not All About Profits

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My dinner view after driving to Florida over 3 days alone. My reward for taking the plunge.

My dinner view after driving to Florida over 3 days alone. My reward for taking the plunge.

Building a business isn’t all about making money.

Whether you are a solopreneur talking about your accounting and finance or your marketing strategy, or everything in between.  The constant truth is that it’s not just about making money.  

And yes, an accountant just said that.

To put it another way, do not ever, ever forget your WHY.

When you get into the thick of things in the everyday machine of building a business you can forget why you got into it in the first place.  Before I even took the first steps towards building a business, I learned this.

For those of you just getting to know me, I spent the first 40 years of my life living in Buffalo, New York.  

40 years.  One city.  

Towards the end of those final years, it became more clear to me that winter was not my friend.  More and more, it began sucking the light from me.  Towards the end I was, quite literally, trudging through those months just trying to make it to spring (all two weeks of it, it would seem).

I can tell you, it was quite the same for my wife Heather.  First, it was simply a Jimmy Buffett record.  Then, it was House Hunters International.  Then, it was week long vacations on the Atlantic ocean with our feet in the waves.  

It became clear we were destined for a life in the warmth and by the sea.  All year round.

It sounded like a great plan for retirement.  Work our rear ends off, try to retire a few years early in the sun and sand.  It became our WHY.  

However, we pushed it back to the far reaches of our minds.  We went about our business and advancing through our careers became the NOW, not a pie in the sky future.  

Yet, we started diminishing our ‘why’.  We again forgot why we were doing what we were doing.  As a result, little was done in the way of moving towards our dream.

Eventually, we reached a tipping point and it became clear we were going about it all wrong.  It was time to live our life for NOW.  

The careers were not the ‘why’.  They were tools in a toolbox.  They are meant to be used, not the reason themselves.  

So, we made the decision to proceed with one of the most painful processes of our lives.  We headed south to Tampa, Florida to live the life we really wanted, instead of waiting 20+ years to do it.  

20 years we aren’t guaranteed to have.  

Notice I said the process was painful.  For me, at least, the decision was not.  It was in perfect alignment with myself, so it was easy.  Breaking through 40 years of barriers in my head just to get to that decision point was hard.  Ripping up roots built over four decades was hard.  

But, I finally remembered my ‘why’.  I work to give myself and my family the life we want to live.  Not, to collect anniversary clocks because I work for one of the “good employers” in town.  

Now, my why is shifting more.  I’m in the geographical place I want to be, but now I construct the life I want.  That’s part of the ‘why’ behind why I sit here writing this post at 6 AM before I head off to my full-time job.

Then, there’s the external why.  

That’s the fact I think the Industrial age economy of the last 100 years is disintegrating before our eyes.  There’s a lot of people in denial about it, but there’s a smaller set of people very, very passionate about finding another path and not whining about it.  

I believe in them.  I believe I am one of them.  And my external ‘why’ is helping them build their own dreams.

So, I suggest to you to be in alignment.

Your business is not about making money.  Your business is about fulfilling your internal and external whys.  Measure your success through that lens.  Not pure profit.  Once you put profit first, the wheels get out of alignment.  You’ll start making decisions that work counter to your ‘why’.  

Your financial metrics should show you the success (or lack of it) of the products and services you put into place.  They should also show if you are fulfilling the life you want for yourself

If you want to help people do something, measure the success those people are having doing it.  Don’t strictly measure how much money you are making off of them.  

As a passionate solopreneur, you are doing what you do for a very noble reason.  Don’t ever forget that.  Once you do, you simply become one of the companies you made the decision to shy from in the first place.

Be true to you.  Be successful.  The profit will follow.

Keeping your eye on the why can be tough when your numbers are confusing you. Here’s some help

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  • “The careers were not the ‘why’. They were tools in a toolbox. They are meant to be used, not the reason themselves.” So true Joe! I woke up to this realization as well about a year ago. Congrats to you for waking up and starting to LIVE you dream instead of just thinking about it. Really inspiring story and I look forward to seeing the progress!

    • Thanks for the kind words and welcome! I’m glad you “saw the light” as well. We have to constantly keep an eye on why we were doing what we are doing. It’s the only way we stay in alignment.