My husband has a master’s in Business, and he’s the marketing manager at work. And yet, he’s never really helped me with my business. Ouch, that sounds harsh! What I mean is, he’s very supportive of me and my business. But when I fire marketing or business-running related questions at him, he sort of shrugs it off, saying he’s not sure how to answer it. (I think it’s because he’s in electrical components, not web design – whereas to me, a business is a business until you get to the details.)
Last night, we had another evening where I asked him a business-related question again, and the conversation – again – rolled off the edge of a cliff abruptly and just stopped. But five minutes later, he piped up and said “Where do you see your business at in five years?”
I hate this question.
I understand the point of asking it, but I hate it anyway. Which I did say to him by replaying, “I hate that question. Because where I actually see myself in five years is not where I’d like my business to be in five years.”
It was like a light bulb popped off over my head. (Yeah, sometimes, it’s just not there. I’m one of those people who gets the joke 10 minutes after it’s told and everyone walks away.) Sometimes, I guess, it’s just all about how you word something to make it “click.”
So when we changed the arrangement of this run-of-the-mill question (that gets asked eleventy gabazillon times to business owners all over the world) not only did I understand the point of the question, but I could finally do something with it too.
Now, for those of you who have lived in a cave for the last bajillion years, let me ‘splain. The purpose of this question – be it for an interview or whatever – is to see what your goals are. In an interview situation, it’s to tell the person who’s hiring that you are either a “go-getter” with vision and goals that helps move the company forward with innovation, or if you’re just a worker bee. (Or not worth hiring. Which is a third alternative, I guess.) In the scenario of running your own business, it’s basically a step so you can start making things happen for yourself. If you can answer the question, then you have goals to attain, and you have a fairly clear path on how to attain them.
Which is why I always hated the original wording. My issue is that I’m not exactly sure what my goals are. (Oh, snap! That’s bad, yes, I know!) The original wording always made me feel… deflated. Because where I saw myself in 5 years is exactly where I am now – which is not where I want to be.
The “Wish List” is a list of 100 Things that I want to have happen in my life – and it’s extremely detailed. It really is a wish list, because it’s things that are even absolutely crazy and will most likely never happen, but would be rockin’ if they did. The idea is that you write everything down and put it in an envelope. It sort of “commits” these wishes to the back of your mind. Then in 5 years, you pull out the envelope and see how many of them you actually made come true. It’s a silly, but very fun, experiment.
So after rewording to where I do want to be, suddenly things started falling into place. I started looking at it like I did the “wish list” I have for my life – except in this case, it wouldn’t be tucked away somewhere to see if it happens or not. Instead, it would become the basis of my mission statement for my business.
I cannot think of 100 things I’d like to have had happen in five years’ time. But what I did come up with was this (and yes, I know some of them sound incredibly insane – but that’s the fun of it. It’s like “What would you do if you won the lottery?” The fun is in the imagining.)
- To be incredibly organized, which will lend to my efficiency.
- To obtain an actual degree in graphic design.
- To become proficient in jQuery, CSS3 and HTML 5
- To become better at PHP
- To appear – somewhere – in Web Designer magazine – and preferably not in an article that’s along the lines of “Worst Designers Ever”
- To be seen (and acknowledged) as an expert in WordPress – but not by others so much as myself
- This one is really specific: I want 3 or 4 “partners” (most likely people who have their own business) that know things that I don’t, and can work with me for the benefit of all of us, and the client. I don’t necessarily want a business partner – but more a small group of select pros that can work with me when I need them, and when they need me.
- To actually have office space that’s big enough to hold several people.
- To actually make enough money at this so if we had to live for a year off my income (rather than my husband’s) we’d be fine.
- To teach people who are just coming out of high school or college and want some real experience in this – either by instructing a class or having an intern – or just by having better content on my site!
- To be a better writer.
- To have more clients in the food industry.
Some of these are far-reaching. I can see quite a few up there that I would have no idea in how to accomplish them, but this is a wish list, and just by posing the question in a different way, it gave me a clear direction of where I would like to be. Now I don’t feel so much like I’m trying to find my way to the end of the road without actually knowing where it’s going.
It’s amazing what rewording a simple question can do. (makes me feel a little dumb for not having thought of it before, but better late than never I guess!) Have you had any “light bulb” moments like this? Where a simple change made all the difference in what you’ve done (or are doing)? How did it work out for you?