Eye of the tiger: We all need an Apollo Creed in our corner

by Brian OConnell ([email protected]) 443 views 

Before I was a business broker, I was a brewery and restaurant owner. Before I was a brewery and restaurant owner, I was a data analyst. Oh, I was also a massive beer geek, home-brewing every chance I had. I loved beer. Not just beer but everything that went with beer — the culture, the process, the creativity. I loved it when I opened my little brewery. It was a dream come true.

And then at some point, I didn’t love it. I liked it. But I didn’t love the HR issues, regulatory hurdles, logistics, inventory management, mechanical breakdowns, thin margins that were easily threatened by a blip in the manufacturing process.

And then at some point, I didn’t like it. I did it. I didn’t like the mounting pressure from investors, the trade-off of creativity for what will sell fastest, product and brand promotion as an attention grab rather than a core company value.

The band Survivor might say at some point “I traded my passion for glory.” My love of the creativity and the culture was eroded away by all the things that came with managing a much larger manufacturing company. I think this is a common place entrepreneurs find themselves. Evolution of the business can lead you away from doing the things you truly love. So what are your options? Here are some to consider:

  1. Jerry may have been right. Jerry McGuire’s mission statement — less money, fewer clients — might be the answer for you. Downsizing your company isn’t a failure if it’s a conscious choice that you make for your happiness.
  2. Brian O’Connell

    Any takers? For me, the right option was to sell and exit. The business had value that I had worked for. I didn’t want to shrink and lose value, I wanted to build on that value for my company and my employees.

  3. Could somebody else do this? I’ve always said as a business owner you can pay yourself in time or money but never both. If you don’t like doing certain things, maybe you need to hire people who do. Yes, you will spend more in payroll. But if it keeps the passion alive in the business, ultimately that will result in revenue growth through innovation.
  4. Listen to the Kit-Kat. Give yourself a break. Every time I have really unplugged from my business I have come back with better ideas on how to run it. The answer might be under your nose, it’s just hard to see it when you are constantly fielding daily tasks.
  5. Sweat it out. When the business overwhelmed me with things I didn’t like, I stopped exercising. My extra energy turned into anxiety, which wasn’t productive for decision-making. When I was exiting at the age of 40, I started riding my bike. I just rode the 30-mile square to square, and now I’m training for the 62-mile Tour de Tacos. It’s a small accomplishment. But I’m proud of it, and I feel better and think better when I exercise.
  6. Will it. I don’t know you. You know you. You know what it takes to find your passion when it’s lost. We all need an Apollo Creed saying “Eye of the tiger, Rock. Eye of the tiger.” Turn to that adviser and start making the decisions to lead you back to your passion.

Brian O’Connell is the owner of Transworld Business Advisors of Northwest Arkansas, specializing in small business sales and acquisition. Brian sold two of his own businesses prior to helping others with their business sales and acquisition goals. You can reach him at [email protected] or 479-717-7740. The opinions expressed are those of the author.