I was talking to a friend recently, whose business has suffered terribly due to the global pandemic and lockdown.
He described the six weeks after the start of lockdown as going through a grieving process, as he realised his future was not going to be what he had envisaged.
Now that he has come out the other side of this process, however, he has started to think about the future. As we talked, it occurred to me that we have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly rethink who we are, both personally and in terms of our businesses.
The question is, are we able to take the opportunity?
The endowment effect
In my other work, that of financial wellbeing, one area of great interest is the various behavioural biases that make us who we are.
One of these is called the endowment effect. It is a tendency within all of us (but stronger in some than others) to value what we already own more than something that we do not.
It is a person putting their house on the market for a certain value, and refusing to budge even though no one comes to view.
It explains the tendency to hold onto things when, maybe, we should let them go.
Amongst other implications, it can stop us from thinking with real freedom about the future, as we tend to cling to the life we already lead.
I’d like to illustrate this with a story. A number of years ago, a friend of mine, a really smart thinking lady called Judith who owned a marketing practice, took me for lunch. She explained that she and her husband had decided to take a year out.
They were, however, going to do it in style. They were going to move abroad and live on a remote island, with no contact with the outside world other than through the internet. Food shopping would be done once a week, there was no central heating. They would spend their days gathering fuel and growing food.
I asked Judith what she would do for mental stimulation. She replied that she had a lot of innovative ideas about marketing. She therefore would take this chance to finally get down those ideas on paper, and write the marketing book that she had been thinking about for so long.
Judith looked at me suspiciously. She asked what I was smiling about. I asked if I could play back to her what I have just heard.
She had just told me that she was taking a year to get away from everything, especially her marketing business, and was going to use that time to… write about marketing.
Right at the moment, many businesses are having to reinvent themselves. There will also be some owners who will be wondering what their own lives will look like post pandemic.
Why not take this opportunity to truly think about what you would like your future to be. This could be a change in direction for the business, or for yourself.
It could be finally taking that step towards selling the business to an Employee Ownership Trust.
Or it could be deciding that the EOT is not the route for your business after all.
Because of the endowment effect, and other cognitive biases, it is not always easy to truly see all the options available to you. It is, in fact, very difficult to challenge one’s own assumptions.
This is where a qualified business coach really comes into their own – they can challenge your existing thinking, and help you to work out new possibilities. The Eternal Business has several associates, many of whom are qualified business coaches, all from differing backgrounds and some who are also experts in employee ownership. These associates will be able to step in wherever needed to assist you, wherever you are in your own business owner’s journey.