By Michael Gunther

As some of you know I have a large family. I grew up with 16 siblings and over 80 first cousins. As I reflected this Thanksgiving holiday, I realized this has been a year of transitions for my family and my business.

With this many family members, it seems every year there are numerous events that reshape our dynamics. This year was no exception—beginning with my mother’s passing last April and then, my niece Jenny giving birth the following week to her new son, and three weddings over the next four months (for one of my nephews and two of my nieces). These life transitions got me thinking about life and how the cycle continues moving forward as one generation transitions to the next. This always makes me reflect on how I’m living my life and where I’m focusing my time and energy.

Interestingly enough, this past week I heard about a couple of local businesses that will be closing their doors, along with some that are going through partnership changes and/or mergers, as well as a few folks who are just starting new businesses. These transitions along with my family’s prompted me to think about the similarities.

I think it’s important for business owners to step back every once in a while and make sure they’re doing what they want to be doing in their lives. I have a friend who has worked so hard over the last five years to build his business, but he’s questioning if it’s worth it—his hours and efforts have produced a good income, but at what cost to the rest of his life?

Businesses go through their own life stages and cycles much like the transitions we have in our personal lives. The new business is born, develops and grows, possibly gets married with partners or a merger, and then, eventually it dies or gets transformed into an entirely new entity, almost like a rebirth. Take Nokia for instance, which started in 1865 making pulp for paper and today are one of the leading telecommunications players. They’ve changed and been reborn many times—from pulp to electricity to rubber products and cables to creating the first mobile telephone and eventually becoming a telecommunications leader. Part of their process was to reflect on the changes happening within their marketplaces and adjust their business model to opportunities they saw within their own business divisions.

I think small business owners should be consistently evaluating their position as a company and the direction in which they’re headed. Are there opportunities to bring in partners or merge with another company to capitalize on strengths or expand markets? Is it time to end some of the services or products you’re offering and add new items to diversify your revenue and market opportunities? Sometimes people hang on too long to their original business model while never really capturing the opportunities in front of them. Often they are hanging on too tight to their old way of doing things instead of taking a hard look at their business, their quality of life, etc. and questioning whether they are actually doing what they should be doing.

When was the last time you evaluated your life cycle or business cycle? I recommend you take some time to truly reflect on your business status against the original dreams of your business. Is it time for a change? Is it time to tweak your business model to generate the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards you may be looking for in your life? Maybe it’s time for a rebirth of your business, a merger, or maybe time to move on to another opportunity.

Bottom Line

Life is short—make sure you’re doing what you want with your business and that it’s enhancing your life. I feel fortunate that I have a company that has generated a great life for me in helping others achieve their goals. My original model has changed and we have definitely diversified our products and services and yet, our team’s core mission of inspiring, educating, and empowering individuals and organizations to reach their full potential remains the same.

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