I was reading the post of a fellow window cleaner in an online window cleaning group I follow. He was in a peculiar situation and was asking for advice. He had started a window cleaning business in one part of the country, and it generated a tremendous amount of growth. He was loving both cleaning windows and the freedom that self-employment brings. Then his circumstances changed, and he had to move to a different state. He sold his business and started another window cleaning company in his new city, just as he had done before. But something was different the second time around. His business growth was sluggish, and he felt like his overall passion for window cleaning had left him. The advice given was varied, but the thing I keyed in on was the correlation between the owner’s willingness to “buy in” to his business and its subsequent success.
When discussing the efforts put forth between employees and employers, it is often said that it’s wrong to expect an employee to work as hard as the employer because the employer has much more invested in the business and has much more to gain. While this is logically true, experience has shown that logic does not always manifest itself in real life. Owners, such as the gentlemen mentioned at the outset, can still struggle with motivation and passion to keep a business going. This can be the result of outside forces, such as family or health struggles. It can also come in the form of challenges or obstacles for the business itself. Whatever those challenges may be, income is rarely the sole motivation to continue running a business. After all there are a lot of ways to make money. If you are unhappy with the stress level you feel as an owner, taking lower pay to avoid the pressure of business ownership may be an attractive option.
What are the factors that need to be taken into consideration to keep your passion for your company where it should be? Whether you feel your motivation for your company is waning or not, owners do well to take time to ask themselves some important questions:
1. What are my reasons?
Every owner has a reason for putting up with the headaches of business ownership. For some, the main reason is the income. At one time I thought about selling my business and starting over in a “real job”. The reason I kept the business was because I knew my income would be cut in half if I worked for someone else. However, it wasn’t so much the dollar signs that concerned me, as much as my ability to provide for my family. This business allowed my wife to stay home with our newborn child. It paid the mortgage for the house we were living in. If I could have found a job somewhere that allowed me to still provide those things, I may have taken it and left window cleaning for good. Once I knew I couldn’t find such a job, my motivation shifted from leaving to streamlining and growing my business so that it would be worth the effort. The bottom line is this: If you find your passion for your business waning, ask yourself what your reasons are. You might realize that it’s worth buying into after all.
2. Can I eliminate the obstacles?
Sometimes you lose interest in a business because there are aspects of it that you don’t enjoy. Can you do something about that? For instance, if you hate the administrative parts of running your business, can you hire someone to do that for you? Find out the cost. You might be surprised at how those types of expenses pay for themselves when they free you up to do the things you love. Is it getting harder for you to do the physical parts of the job as the years go on? Perhaps you could hire an assistant to do the heavy lifting and menial tasks that might be difficult for you. What if you have grown tired of the monotony of your commercial route? Could you hire employees and “get off of the glass” so you can focus on the running and growing of your business, as opposed to only focusing on the working for it? Before you let the passion for your business run dry, ask yourself the hard questions. There might be a solution right under your nose.
3. Do I see the bigger picture?
A few articles back I wrote about how a business is like a tree. It is more than just a P & L report. Do we take the time to see all the people that our business may impact in our community? Our work helps other businesses stay successful by maintaining their branding and enhancing their store’s presentation to their clientele. We improve the environment for people who are forced to work from home due to the current pandemic. Many window cleaners fall into the “essential worker” category of their local cities, thus providing employment to people who otherwise might have to file for unemployment. If you think about the role that your business plays in the survival of your community, it might help you to value the efforts you need to put forth to maintain it.
Like the post asking for advice on regaining an owner’s passion, your business’ success will not have any easy answers. What is clear, though, is that a business that has an owner who has bought in to its success will stand out from the others. Find your reasons, eliminate the obstacles, and see the bigger picture. Then reply to that guy’s post, will ya? We all could use some encouragement right about now.
Owner and President
Gabe’s Spotless Cleaning Services, Inc.