What Kind of Business Do You Want To Run?

Apr 30, 2020 | Growth, Newsletter, Operations

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

When you started your business, you probably thought a lot about what you wanted to do.

That’s certainly what I thought about! What do I love to do? How can I do that for other people and get paid for it?

  • Do I want to have a writing business so I can spend my time writing? (Yes, that’s what I wanted in the beginning.)
  • Do I want to have a coaching business so I can spend my time coaching and helping people?
  • Do I want to have a design business so I can spend my time designing awesome things?

This is, most often, what beginner business courses teach you to think about. It’s what (some) well-meaning business coaches will spend hours asking you questions about.

And honestly, this can be a helpful line of questioning if it means you get off your butt and start your business! But…

How much time do we really spend doing the thing we say we love to do?

  • If you run a writing business, how much time do you really spend writing?
  • If you run a coaching business, how much time do you really spend coaching?
  • If you run a design agency, how much time do you really spend designing?

Relatively speaking, probably not a whole lot. And contrary to popular belief, the more your business grows–typically–the less time you’re actually doing the thing you love.

Instead, you spend your time running the business.

So I think a much better question to ask is: what kind of business do you want to run?

When Sean and I decided to create YellowHouse.Media, it wasn’t because we dreamed of podcasting all day long.

Okay, I do dream of podcasting all day long. Just yesterday, I was daydreaming about starting another interview show.

It wasn’t even because we dreamed of producing podcasts all day long.

We decided to create our podcast production agency after some lengthy conversations about what it would look like to run a productized service business.

In the short term, the work would be a lot of transferring our What Works systems to new clients. It would be a lot of hands-on consulting. It would even be a lot of wrangling. There would be writing, editing, and teaching.

In the long term, the work would be managing team members. It would be optimizing systems. It would be automating systems.

We talked over and over again about whether this was a business that we wanted to run. Mostly, I asked him if it was a business he wanted to run–since my time is split like 75/25 with What Works.

We agreed that it was and moved forward.

I know a lot of people are rethinking their businesses right now.

Maybe you’re weighing whether that new product idea is one to move forward with. Maybe you’re thinking about your expenses and how you might be able to make your business leaner. Maybe you’re reexamining your goals. Maybe you’re thinking about getting into a whole new line of work entirely.

All of those thoughts and questions are perfectly reasonable.

And, before you attempt to reach a conclusion on them…

…consider whether you’re really running the kind of business you want to run.

The kind of business you’re running dictates the kind of work you’re doing most of the time. In some kinds of business, it’s mostly management. In others, it’s mostly content creation. In others, it’s sales.

Few of us have the insight to consider that when we’re just getting started. I sure didn’t.

But that’s why I prioritized it so much when I started a second company. I even prioritized that question when I decided to make the pivot from a coaching and training business to a community-oriented business over 3 years ago.

If you’re rethinking your business at all, now is a good time to use the insight you’ve acquired to tackle this question.

If your job is actually running the business (it is), what kind of business do you want to run?

I’ve learned that for as much as I really love writing, podcasting, and teaching, I also love creating and optimizing systems. And so any business that gets me to think creatively about creating & optimizing systems could be a business that I love to run.

Today, it’s community management and podcasting. Tomorrow? Who knows.

What kind of business do you want to run?

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