5 Expectations that Your Business Doesn't Need
I'm currently sitting on my couch at 3:30 pm with coffee in hand. This is a rare occurrence for me, but if you follow me on Instagram, you know that we just got a new puppy, and this dog mom is TIRED, hence the caffeine. I've spent the week juggling work at the studio, grad school deadlines, and the furry addition to our little apartment, and the hectic pace has me thinking a lot about expectations and how they rarely pan out. Life throws curve balls and busy weeks and unique circumstances that change our to-do lists. If we don't have the ability to adapt, it's easy to drown in expectations.
Life as an entrepreneur is both terrifying and thrilling, often at the same time, and we tend to push ourselves forward through the tough stuff because of the goals we have. However, as my entrepreneurial journey has gone on, I have come to see the difference between goals and expectations.
Goals motivate us to move forward, while expectations keep us living in the past.
Expectations are standards we set for others, ourselves, and our businesses, and they are tricky because we don't often call them what they are: lies. Expectations can sound like goals, except they usually contain the word should. I should be able to do this, we should be able to make that, they should have done a better job. Expectations point fingers and place blame, instead of working towards a solution.
Instead of setting goals that call us to a higher level of performance, we get busy setting standards and become frustrated at all of the ways we aren't measuring up. When you throw unnecessary and often, unrealistic, expectations onto your business, you cloud your ability to make good decisions and see the progress that is right in front of you. If you feel yourself caught in the trap of "not good enough", here are 5 common expectations that your business (and you) definitely do not need:
- I shouldn't be struggling this much. Ross and I love to watch Shark Tank, and every business pitch has a story of struggle. However, it's so easy to buy into the lie that entrepreneurs struggle for a period, and then something great happens, like an investment, and the struggle goes away. The show doesn't propagate this myth, but it can feel that way from the outside looking in. Sometimes, your biggest struggle is in year 1, but sometimes it's in year 5, or 35! Trying to predict the ups and downs of your business is a futile exercise because no one knows the future. Yes, owning a business can allow you to reap big rewards, but the expectation that the "struggle" is just one season isn't serving anyone.
- I should be able to do the things I hate. As entrepreneurs, this might be the most common trap that we fall into. We start these businesses that we love like our own babies, but let's be real, no one loves every part of business. Beyond that, no one is good at every part of their business! It is so important to hire people who have strengths that are your weaknesses. Find someone who loves to do the numbers or post on Instagram or whatever is your dreaded activity. It will make your business stronger in the long run and free up your capacity to do the things you at which you excel.
- I should be able to work 7 days a week. Our culture glorifies the busy entrepreneur. We applaud the hustler, who stays up until 2 am every day and wakes up at 6 am to stay on that grind. I remember the early days of my studio, when I felt like I had to be present for every class, every early morning, and every event. While I am all about being an engaged business owner, all I was really doing was driving my team crazy and making myself exhausted! There's nothing productive about working 24/7. It increases your stress levels, ruins your sleep, and keeps you "checked in" all the time. We have to get away and refresh weekly, if not daily, in order to make the time we spend in our businesses the most valuable.
- I should be able to do what they did. Benchmarking is healthy, comparison is not. In business, I fully understand that we have to assess the competitive landscape and compare our processes against those who are killing the game in our industries. However, judging the success of your business by someone else's monetary success or influence will never work, and do you know why? Keeping your eyes on the other players all the time takes your eyes away from your own game. If you're always looking to someone else to lead the way, what happens when one of those competitors makes a bad move? Well, if you're hell-bent on following the pack, you may find yourself falling with them. Learn from your surroundings, but stay focused on your own mission.
- I should be able to give everyone equal time. I love my team. I love my clients. I also love my husband, family, and friends that have nothing to do with Pure Barre or any of my business endeavors. As a business owner, I feel called to lead and impact my community, but I'm also firmly aware of the fact that my spouse and my inner circle deserve more of me than the rest of the world does. When we spend too much time giving our love and resources to the people that aren't the closest to us, we end up under-serving our closest community. All that to say, you have to set boundaries in your work in order to be true to your strongest relationships.
Take a look at your own business, and see if living in the land of expectations has become your default. If you find that to be true, take inventory of the lies you need to let go of, and start focusing on the goals that propel you forward in your life as a whole. Success in business is only one measure of success, and we're all striving for a life worth living, not just a job worth having.