I got into the family plumbing business when my husband’s partner died.  My husband, Hotrod, and his best friend, Richard Yox, started the company together.  They had been friends since they were 8 and 9 years old.  While Hotrod is a laid back guy, Yox could get wound up.  His health, while not great to begin with, suffered as he stressed over the business.  One Friday afternoon, after a 100 hour work week, Yox didn’t feel well.  On Saturday he went to the hospital.  On Sunday, he died, at age 33.  The last words he said to me were, “If I don’t do it, it will never get done.”

Well, things got done.  They always do.  We miss Yox still.  He had a fantastic, contagious laugh.  He was super smart and full of big ideas.  Did his business kill him?  His response to the stress certainly contributed to his health crisis.

Do you know someone who is sacrificing their health, their relationships, their life for their business?  Are you?  Let this be your reminder:  Your business is not you.

You are wonderful and gifted and unique…and you are not diminished one jot should your business falter or fail.  Businesses can come and go.  There are wins and losses.  Your business is just a vehicle for you to drive in the direction of what you want.  Sometimes, it’s a good idea to get out of the car.  Here are a few warning signs that your business is taking over your life…

  • You think about your business all the time.  And you neglect your family and friends.  Your garden weeds over and books go unread.  You neglect your spiritual practice and skip your workout.
  • You take it personally, feel it in your heart, when anything goes wrong.  Your business becomes your identity.  When the business struggles, you doubt yourself and your self-worth.
  • You feel like you are “in too deep” to get out or change direction.  So often I hear, “Ellen, you don’t understand.  I’ve put my blood, sweat, tears and all my money into this business.  It has to work.”  Well, I do understand and it doesn’t have to work.  Your loss of objectivity can cause you to make poor decisions, or overreact to a situation.

Don’t let your business kill you.  Instead, use it to drive in the direction of what you want.  You may or may not achieve your goals.  However, you will have the experience of the journey.   You’ll have the stories.  You may make a lot of money and learn valuable lessons.   And your business could break.  It doesn’t have to break you.  Like a car, you can fix your business.  Or get a second business.  You may be able to sell your business and make a profit, or you may take a loss.  You may walk away.  Perhaps you’ll say RIP to your business.  And acknowledge continued adventure and successes for you.

BONUS!  Meet Trev Burnham, a serial entrerpreneur and super inspiring fellow.  I met him at a funeral…for his business!  Trev was a featured speaker at the Springfield Chapter of One Million Cups.  His story is share-worthy and I asked him to visit with me in this week’s video.  Enjoy!  

“Business is a vehicle to get you from where you are to where you want to be.”  ~Ellen Rohr