Finding the spark: Discovering or rediscovering the elements that make business ownership fun

It has been a long, long winter. Previous to that, we endured a long, deep recession and a slow, stumbling recovery.

As a business owner, how are you doing? Are you having fun?

It is possible that you have been slogging so long that you hardly stop to think anymore whether running your business is still fun. Or, perhaps you have paused recently and have wondered why you’re not feeling jazzed about getting up and going to the office.

Recently I came across a visioning summary I had written for my company right before the most recent recession. Coincidentally, it focused on where my company would be in 2014 in terms of focus, revenues, staffing, profitability, and my role. Some aspects of the document are spot-on today. We’ve focused nicely on B2B, on new ways of communicating, and on successful product and service launches. Other aspects of the vision bear less resemblance to current reality, including optimistic staffing predictions and, most notably, the freedom the company’s predicted staffing level gave me to focus on managing the vision and even (gasp!) taking some time off to enjoy life.

Instead, in 2014, the company’s outstanding but compact staff – and I – are working hard every day to leverage post-recession opportunities and get back to growing rather than just remaining stable. Significantly, the vision I painstakingly created a few years ago entailed different day-to-day responsibilities and pressures than I have now that the future has arrived. That being said, I feel it is imperative to make sure that my actual work and business reality is still fun, even if it is not yet exactly the kind of fun I had envisioned.

Do you agree that this is a worthwhile effort? If so, let me share some off-the-beaten-path philosophies that I’ve transferred to apply to business, with positive effect:

“Celebrate impermanence,” counseled my yoga instructor to the class last night.

“Take care of your marriage,” as many of us have heard said many times.

“Enjoy the ride!” A dear friend used to say to me during rough times when I was a young widow.

Each of these statements can apply to business as much as to life as a whole, marriage or times of personal transition. A small business may change often, demands a great deal of attention and care, and represents, for its owner, a journey as well as an occupation.

To celebrate, nurture and enjoy your business life, look for the elements of business ownership that you can actually enjoy today. Build them. Work toward changing or minimizing the elements you dislike.

What makes business fun for you? Examples may include: mentoring staff, making a sale, doing a project well, inventing something new, growing the company, or having independence. How can you spend more time, or at least more focus, on those rewarding pursuits?

What opportunities do you have that you should leverage? Two ideas from my own failure-to-leverage list: 1) I should leave early on occasion and let my very competent staff manage things while I take a hike. 2) I should more often delegate tasks that others enjoy and I do not.

What should you ditch? If the spark is snuffed every time you have to deal with an unpleasant customer, or when you once again see that your bills are larger than you are comfortable paying, give some thought to how you can change these negatives. It may be something you can do quickly or over time.

Why are you in business anyway? Do you remember why you wanted to do this in the first place? Does that reason still resonate? Take the time to decide what makes it worthwhile to be in business now.

Do you need to make small or large changes to get the spark back? Treat yourself with the respect you deserve. A small business should offer something to you, your family, your employees, and of course your customers. Make sure you and your needs stay on that list, even if that means making major changes.

Good luck, and happy pending spring.


Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC, a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch™, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, as well as its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Contact Michelle at

© 2014 Michelle van Schouwen

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