When is work not work?
I really love writing and despite people wondering how I can get excited about fence builders and electrical contractors, I do. It’s always an interesting challenge to try and get inside the head of my clients’ customers and find out what is important to them and what gets them to say ‘Yes, I want that.’ It’s basic psychology, but human beings are not always predictable so it’s always a voyage of discovery.
This is the point where I could easily go off on one about how few people really understand why their customers buy from them and not a competitor, but that isn’t what I want to explore.
If you didn’t have to pay the bills, what would you do all day?
I’ve asked many people this question and the knee-jerk reaction is often ‘stay in bed until lunchtime and watch daytime TV!’ Dig a bit further and they have some dreams they’d like to realise, places they want to visit and activities they want to learn. I’m sure you have too. But what happens when you’ve done all that? A few days of getting up late and watching TV soon gets boring – and even travelling and getting involved in new activities has a lifespan. Then what?
That’s the thought that faces people on retirement – what comes next? Smart people do find things to do and usually live longer as a result, most charities wouldn’t survive without enthusiastic volunteers. People who sit and gaze into space and live for the pension queue when they can actually have a chat are the ones that are likely to die of boredom.
I digress. What I was trying to find out was whether you work at what you do because you love it or because it seemed like a reasonably pleasant way to make a living? Running a business isn’t only doing the bit that defines the kind of business – writing, plumbing, HR consultancy, dressmaking, selling products you love – whatever you’ve chosen to do. Running a business includes things like marketing, accounts, sales and all the other things that make a business work. That’s where many of us find we’re in a business we don’t enjoy as much as we thought we would.
I have a friend who deliberately chose to start a business about which she knew very little. Her approach was that she would not be DOING, she would be MANAGING. She had experts who did the doing and she ran it, schmoozed to customers and didn’t feel bereft when the time came to sell it. And there is the challenge – I don’t want to RUN a business, I want to do what I love – the other stuff is just the downside to being able to do what I love.
On a business development course we were looking at all the roles within a business – Owner, Manager, head of HR, Finance Manager, Production Manager and so on. I argued that I didn’t want all these roles – just to be in ‘production’. The tutors said that I could be the business owner and ‘in production’, but I would then need to employ or outsource to people for the other roles. It all sounds so complicated!
What about you? Are you running a business or doing something you love? Do you go to work each day or do something that you would enjoy doing whether or not someone paid you? Is what you do to earn a crust work, a career, a vocation or a passion?