Two things have happened recently that have me questioning the scope of my current business model and my subconscious motivations for choosing that model. As you know, my goal is to help small businesses with automation and analysis. I cater to businesses that have grown too large for the “duct tape and chicken wire” approach to be efficient but too small for enterprise-level solutions.
First, I've recently talked with several other entrepreneurs at a similar stage to me. Almost all of them are actively trying to create a ton of wealth versus my approach of creating enough to pay my mortgage.
Secondly, I have been working with my first client (hooray!) and expect to sign a second in the coming few days. Good news with one minor twist — neither contract is for services that I originally intended to offer. Both are looking for more traditional business consulting (competitive analysis, valuation, etc.) which I enjoy but is a slightly different tack than my automation and applications focus.
These events have me wondering — am I thinking too small? Is my original model too limited? Am I using it as a convenient excuse to try something new before an inevitable return to corporate life?
In truth, I probably am focused a little much on areas that are comfortable. I'm sure there is a degree of fear as well. One has to swing big to miss big. And even less flattering, maybe I simply lack the creativity and foresight to see the forest through the trees and formulate a “big” idea.
Each of these is, frankly, embarrassing, and I'm sure there is a degree of truth to each of them. But still, I'm not sold.
My goal is to help small businesses create. Create products. Create life experiences. Create jobs. There is intrinsic value in creating something desirable from nothing, and I want to help others do that more efficiently. Hopefully that creates profit along the way which I can participate in, but that's almost more of a side effect than a goal.
Furthermore, Starting Over isn't an attempt to become wealthy because, to put it bluntly, I really don't care. I don't want to be destitute. I want to be financially comfortable. But given the choice of creating something unique for a modest income or chasing someone else's dream for a fortune, please sign me up for the former.
Starting Over was also an attempt at a more independent business model. I enjoy working with others, but at the core, I am a classic introvert. Being in control of most aspects of my business without coordinating with a host of others has been great so far. Maybe this limits me to working in my business rather than on my business, but for now, it is a definite benefit.
I'm sure this is a common internal debate for entrepreneurs. How far should one deviate from the original vision? Too much and you give up the dream you were pursuing. Too little and you eliminate opportunities for learning and success. I'm not sure there is a right answer.
What I am trying to do is to focus on the why rather than the what. Am I helping small businesses create? Am I fulfilled? Am I learning? Am I earning a quasi-sustainable income?
If so, go for it, and who cares what the “it” is. If not, whether you are pursuing your original vision or something totally different, stop.
In my current situation, I can firmly answer “yes” for each question. I honestly believe my work will create value for my clients far in excess of my cost, and I'm loving doing it. So while the conceptual question remains, the practical answer is actually pretty easy.