North America

Business Life and the Business of Life

December 6, 2012

Written by: David Hyde

Earlier this month I was reminded that one of the key reasons for going into business should be to provide more time to enjoy a “quality of life” for myself and my family. Rather than live a life of regret


Micro Businesses more conscious of the personal ‘cost’ of growth

My decision that time with my family needed to remain an important priority in my life might go some way to explaining the results of a survey of 2,100 chief executive officers by Martie-Louise Verreynne, senior lecturer in strategy at UQ Business School at the University of Queensland, who found that large companies were more likely to seek growth than smaller ones.

Micro businesses employing between one and four people were least likely to seek “substantial growth” and most likely to want to “stay the same or shrink”. “They don’t want to employ other people because it becomes cumbersome, with legal issues and regulations and so on,” she commented.

This makes sense when you consider that for many small business owners, the business is not just about the money. They also look for ways to provide a life style and even a sense of contribution and purpose for several family members. As a business gets larger, this inevitably impacts on family time, flexibility and choices that might work for a small family group but are simply not viable for a business employing many outsiders.

Making a life worth having

In December 2011 the Growth Faculties Leadership Summit was held in Sydney. Six international leaders, from very different backgrounds, including the controversial Martha Stewart, released from prison and now aged 70, Muhammad Yunis, Nobel peace prize winner, and actor George Clooney (speaking about his work in Sudan) all took to the stage to share what they had learned about leadership.

The talks offered some great insights, but some that really struck a chord in the context of this discussion about the place business plays in life, came from Russell Simmons, now the third richest figure in the hip hop world according to Wikipedia. Russell stated that “Wealth comes from making your work meaningful – it is a state of consciousness”, and also, “If you want a long career then you need to make sure that your life’s work is the expression of what you really are – not what you think people think they want you to be.

Family and privately owned businesses can be very rewarding to the owners. The business can generate cash flow to provide many things: life-style, wealth creation, education for children, a beautiful home, nice cars etc. But there needs to be a balance between the material things a business can provide and those that are truly important, such as making time to be with your family and children, and ensuring that how you spend your time each day feels meaningful. As our cricketing legend Shane Warne replied when asked what life had taught him “ … just live in the moment. Don’t have regrets and enjoy yourself.”

Opportunities will always arise

One of the things we notice with many clients is that they panic about the possibility that if they miss an opportunity in business they might somehow lose the whole race. In tight business environments such as we are experiencing today, this fear can get in the way of making sound decisions about what matters in the longer term of your own and your family’s life.

There is always another chance. It might be different, but it will come. Again as Shane comments, “The first thing is to be patient, which is probably the hardest thing to do. Don’t worry if blokes are whacking you out of the park because you still have the opportunity to get him [sic] out next ball, even if it’s not the same ball.”

Business is important, but not so important as the parents missing much time with their child because they were committed to their business. It’s time now that you will never get back. It’s worth a thought.