Run Your Life Like A Business
The objective of a business is to make money. With all the fat and college textbooks cut out of the definition, that's what you're left with. When considering ways to manage money better, (we all think this stuff about on a regular basis, amiright?) I started contemplating what it would be like if I ran my life like a business instead of, well, just, my life. Imagine that you are the CEO of your business of life. Your objective as CEO is to make money, maximize the happiness and productivity of your workers (you), and make sure you're creating a superior product or providing an exceptional service. You move to continually grow the company (your abilities) while also providing positive returns for your shareholders (all people influenced by your life). Of course, your ultimate objective is to keep the business afloat should the shit hit the fan. This simply translates to not dying. That one we're all pretty good at by the time we reach age 8 or so.
We'll break down each one of those CEO objectives and see how looking at your life as a business can benefit you and simplify things.
1.) Make money: How do business make money? They do it by making sure people keep coming back for their product or service. This is accomplished by creating a superior brand, product, or service. In the same way, you have to create a brand for yourself. When your boss at work is considering who would be best to put on a project, he can choose the dollar store Crust toothpaste (your coworker who puts no thought into improving his brand) or he can go with the Crest 3D Total Protection with Radiant Mint (you).
Your brand is your reputation. Guard it with your life and defend it at all costs. If your reputation goes down, you will too. Practically speaking, this means be trustworthy. Do not make commitments or promises that you can't keep at work. Part of this is learning to say no. When you're the Crest 3D Mint, they're going to want to put you on all the teeth in the building. But there just isn't enough in the tube to be effective for 60 different people twice a day. You've gotta put your foot down once in a while and tell them to use the dollar store Crust.
2.) Maximize the happiness and productivity of your workers: A business can't run well with unhappy employees. Sooner or later their productivity is going to tank if they loathe going to work in the morning. This is why it is important to treat your own body and mind as though you were looking out for the bodies and minds of your employees. In the interest of health insurance rates not going up, and missed time off due to hospitalizations, you would probably recommend that they eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, drink only in moderation, and not to smoke cigarettes or partake in illicit substances. You would want them to take regular vacations and never come to work if they are feeling ill (infecting other employees is really bad for business). I love this perspective because it allows you to look at yourself from outside of the little box we live in. You can make decisions about your life based on what is objectively the best move for your "business", because you're simply trying to maximize productivity and health.
3.) Create a superior product or provide an exceptional service: This ties in with #1. No one comes back to a business unless their product or service was something worth coming back for (exception - monopolies). People come back because they want to come back, not because they have to. Make sure that your clients never feel they are forced to come and receive your service. It's ok for them to depend on you, that's different. If you have expertise in a certain area, but are a giant douche, people sigh in design meetings when they realize they have to interact with you to get a project done. Don't be that guy. His service sucks. His restaurant gives you food poisoning. No one ever wants to go back, but unfortunately it's the only Thai place in town. Sooner or later you'll find yourself without clients no matter how unique your skill set is. Never trick yourself into thinking that you are irreplaceable. That term simply does not exist in the western working world any more.
4.) Continue to grow the company: What has kept Apple, Google, Facebook, or any of the huge tech giants in the market? Innovation. Without innovation you don't have growth. On a personal level, you must force your business to make innovations. Gain skills in your trade, perpetually. Why is it that older people are paid more? Experience, most certainly. But there is a good chance they are capable of much more as well. They've seen more, and been exposed to more, so consequentially they can draw conclusions and innovate more easily. They have a larger jar of marbles to pick from than us whippersnappers do. To give yourself an edge on those people with experience, you have to be skilled. The way to become quickly skilled is to actively learn every day. This means always critically thinking if there is a better or more efficient way to do the things you do every day. Seek out ways that other people in your field are making improvements. Perhaps there is a new program that you should learn. A language. Maybe delving into a technical understanding of some of the products you sell will allow you to explain it to engineers. The sky is the limit. Just pick something and learn every day.
5.) Provide positive returns for your shareholders: We have people that hold shares in our lives. They make the investment in us, and it's nice to give them something back once in a while. This might be a spouse, parents, friends, colleagues, and even kids. Perhaps stakeholders is a better term - people who are depending on you to bring home the bacon. If you can't reward them once in a while for having trust in your brand, why should they stick around? There are plenty of other companies ripe for the picking out there.
6.) Keep the business afloat: Stay 6 feet above ground and you won't screw this one up. Sometimes you've gotta take risks though. We feel ya. Keep grinding!