I tend to encounter two types of entrepreneurs in my work as an Executive Coach, those who “chase cash” and those who “seek revenue”. Now before you think it is the same thing, or that is too simplistic or even judgemental, hear me out a little as I try and demonstrate the difference and the characteristics that each provides. I have come to see that one is about ‘surviving today’ and the other about ‘thriving tomorrow’. To illustrate let’s give you some frameworks.
First, people generally become an entrepreneur for several reasons: to be their own boss, to provide a unique service based on their skillset or passion, to offer a unique product that meets a need in the market, to experience financial freedom, or just because they can’t work for somebody else anymore. I am sure there are other reasons, but that is a good start.
Second, when people get started at something, sure they ‘just do it”. They take whatever work they can and keep the bank balance positive. However, over time, as they ‘figure it out”, they begin to decide what they want, who they want to serve, and why they are doing what they are doing. And that is when the rubber hits the road - they can “chase cash” or “seek revenue”.
If they choose “chase cash” then they enter the endless olympics of “doing it all”. They say “yes” to the most pressing or most lucrative option before them, they get it done (eventually without a sense of service as it becomes “a task to get done”), they forget why they became an entrepreneur (if they ever really took time to ask themselves), and eventually their “word” means little, their reputation means less, their staff and client turnover is high, their relationships are strained, and the only thing that is actually happening is they are growing tired from all the chasing.
All of that does not happen overnight. Actually at first “chasing cash” seems successful. At first you are “busy”, your phone is ringing, and your calendar is full. But slowly you also sense yourself pulled in every direction. You are reacting, not deciding. But there is “cash”, so it must be alright. But soon the pace of “just do it” and “yes to everything” catches up to you because you cannot keep up with it. Anxiety increases, your reputation wobbles, details fall through the cracks, and envisioning tomorrow is replaced with surviving today.
Now, those who “seek revenue”, are deciding a different pathway. Yes they want “cash”, but they are deciding there is a calmer (albeit at times slower) way to get it. They chose “productive” vs “busy” and they begin by asking a few “who” questions before they embark upon “do”.
They ask themselves “who” they want to be known as, “who” do they want to best serve, “who” do they want people saying they are. Taking time to ask the “who” questions defines your lane in the race you are about to enter, and enables you to begin to “seek revenue” for the long term. Let me illustrate this for you.
If you discern you want to get into landscaping, you set forth ….. you obtain the equipment, set up a website, put your name on the truck and just knock on every door until someone says yes. Not a bad start, and one most entrepreneurs can relate to.
After the first yes, you seek the second yes, and so on and so on. With each yes, a different job. One person wants a lawn cut, another wants flower beds pruned, a third wants bushes trimmed. All are “cash” and so all get a “yes”. As the seasons change someone asks: “do you shovel snow?”, “do you trim trees?”, “can you gather leaves?” They all get a “yes”. After all, you tell yourself, it’s all landscaping and that is what I “do”, and it keeps the bank balance healthy. Again, nothing bad here. After all, it’s the start.
Eventually someone asks about a paved walked way, another inquires about a pool installation, and before you know it you have lots to “do”, and it all fits “landscaping”. It is good, you are ‘busy’ and the bank balance looks good. You are hustling and you are landscaping everything you can. But then, the first three call back, and still want their lawn, flower beds and bushes done. Now comes the moment… will you chase the cash or will you begin to “seek revenue”?
At first, you say, ‘good problem to have’, and you hire someone to do the smaller job in your name in the short term, or even “get the smaller job done when you can”, but the problem will expand and repeat. Lots of little jobs, and a growing number of larger jobs. You are pulled and streched and you do not want to "say no" or turn away work. Maybe you will get smaller jobs done, get fast "cash" and enable yourself to do larger ones, but, what if the larger ones go elsewhere. So you "chase cash" and keeping saying yes to everything and "busy" becomes your bumper sticker!
Sooner or later, however, you have to decide what will guide you, “the job (“do”) of the day” or “the vision (“who”) of tomorrow”? You see the “do” is motivated by cash, the “who” is powered by revenue.
The “who” is about knowing your values, your priorities, envisioning your larger expression of getting it done. It is about knowing when to say “not yet” or maybe even “not anymore”, and when to “yes now”.
It is about defining the “do” by discerning the “who”: having a ‘rally cry” to guide, the right team to assist you, a sense of where you add value to propel you, and determination to ‘stay in your lane” as you seek revenue not only to survive today, but a better tomorrow. Doing this helps you respond, not react. Serve not just finish. Accomplish with pride, not just complete with sweat.
Too often, entrepreneurs are afraid to ask “who” questions and just keep deciding to be about “do”, but the pace gets you and “busy” bites you. Worst of all, you ‘loose” yourself. If you came into being an entrepreneur “to serve” you lose that and “just get it done”. You begin to resent the phone ringing, the client calling, the supplier seeking. You are tired of chasing. As I said before, busy bites you. Productive motivates you.
When productive is your motivator, then you see purpose, keep perspective and are focussed on principle. Your name matters, your quality counts and your vision is soundly not on accomplish, but achieve!
Take a listen to this Podcast episode I did on “who” before “do” and consider working with an Executive Coach to help you discern your “who”. You can learn a bit about me and what I do here.
I am sure you will agree “seeking” is a lot less strenuous than “chasing”, and “productive” sounds so much better than “busy”. #letsgetafterit #makeitso