Why can’t entrepreneurs celebrate?!

Why can’t entrepreneurs celebrate?!

We’ve recently celebrated our 15th anniversary in South Africa. On the 3rd of May 2007, Pieter Scholtz and I launched ActionCOACH Business Coaching at the International Franchise Expo at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Fast track 15 years and we’ve arguably established ActionCOACH as the leading, if not the best, business coaching company in South Africa. “So why the grumpy face?” my wife asked on the morning of the 3rd of May 2022.

Before I unpack that further, I’ve then also had a range of conversations with entrepreneurs at our quarterly business planning events recently where a similar, yet deeply unnerving, situation keeps coming up. One example was the MD of a really successful company being adamant that there was nothing in their past quarter that was a highlight. Really? Nothing to celebrate! Yes, they’re experiencing cashflow pressures but just a few questions later we together discovered that their team had really pulled together and were operating much better than they had ever done before, after a few months of not closing their multi-million Rand deals they had, in fact, closed one in the past quarter, they’d lost some dead weight staff members holding them back, the MD had had a great holiday and the culture of the company was for the first time ever exactly how they wanted it. Interesting that none of this had been a perceived highlight worth celebrating before the questioning began.

In another conversation, the business partner of another successful business coaching client of ours shared their frustrations and that they too had nothing to celebrate, that business was tough and they were lacking motivation. Yes, they were putting in long hours but they were also direct beneficiaries of extra work due to the carnage of the KZN floods. They had a sales pipeline for three months where it would normally average two weeks. Cashflow was great and, in fact, their profits were higher than they’d ever been before for the preceding month. Again, odd how none of this was worth celebrating.

So back to me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m eternally grateful for what we have built in Southern Africa, the impact we’re privileged to make, and the lives and businesses that have truly been transformed as a result of our business and executive coaching. I know that 80% of businesses fail within a five-year period and almost 80% fail again in the subsequent five years. So low-end single digits make it to 10-years and we’ve just got to 15!!! It is however the nature of the entrepreneur to always be thinking what’s next and therefore almost rushing over success in the pursuit of the next chase.  

So here are a few things I did to help me.
Maybe it will work for you too?

Look back
Take out your mobile phone and go to your photos. Page through your photos as far back in time as the period you’re frustrated with. If you think the year has been a right-off, then go back a year. If COVID blues are still getting you down, go back and start in March 2020. If that past quarter was a nightmare, then go back 90 days. Your photos probably more accurately reflect your true life’s journey and will definitely document more of a balanced perspective. Our minds remember the frustrations, challenges, and sleepless nights but our photos reflect the memories, experiences, and precious moments. 

Ask around
Don’t trust your own judgement. Ask around; literally. Speak to your staff, your clients, your service providers, and your suppliers and ask them for their perspective on your results. 

They’ll often have a very different view from you and they’re actually right. As they share your highlights and the areas they believe are worth celebrating, you will start to see your real success.

M.R.S. R.O.I.
Some of the biggest frustrations entrepreneurs face is the imbalance between effort out and money in. There needs to be a balance. As an entrepreneur, you should actually be paid three times.

    1. A regular monthly Market Related Salary (M.R.S.).
    2. Return on Investment (R.O.I.) in the form of profits/dividends.
    3. Final proceeds when you eventually sell the business. M.R.S. R.O.I. is short-term and you need to ensure you’re being paid both.

Make sure the effort out and money in are within balance. If it is, then ask yourself ‘Why you’re actually being a spoilt brat’. 

If not, acknowledge the fact and set about a plan to correct it. 

Celebratory event
Invite those closest to you, those that made the journey happen, and those that support you to celebrate with you.

Make an event of it. Whether it’s popping some champagne (or great South Africa MCC), dinner, or even breakfast. Do something to stop, take a breath and celebrate. There’ll be more time tomorrow to get onto the next thing but for today – CELEBRATE!

Don’t be the entrepreneur that only lives a one-sided reality. Hopefully, the points above will help you gain some perspective. They certainly did for me.

Harry Welby-Cooke, ActionCOACH Country Partner
impact.actioncoach.com | impact@actioncoach.com