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Does Your Business Still Work to Cultivate Your Passions?
Author: Stephanie Taylor Christensen
Thursday, October 30, 2014

The harvest season in agriculture terms traditionally represents a time of “reaping what one sows” and transitioning from external factors to the internal.  This shift in seasons, behavior, and mindset also represents a time business owners can leverage to check in with the state of business to assess how the fruits of their labor have paid off thus far, and determine if you’re still running the type of business that speaks to your passions and interests.  Here are a few questions to help assess if your business, and the role you play in it, still nourishes your internal passions. 

How much of your attention is on doing what you love?

Studies performed by positive psychologist Martin Seligman indicate that the things people pay the most attention to most impact how they perceive the world around them.  If you’re currently placing most of your focus on business tasks that inherently involve negativity, like tending to customer complaints, or dissatisfied vendors, for example, it’s likely that you’ll take on a negative perception of your business, too.  The same can be true when most of your focus is dedicated to tasks you’re not particularly well-suited for, or interested in, but find yourself managing regularly as a business owner, whether it’s accounting, human resources, operations, or vendor negotiation. That said, Seligman’s work also shows that by consciously changing your mindset and what you “notice, you can shift a negative focus into a positive one.  Start by taking an honest look at how the bulk of typical workweek is spent, and why.  Note the tasks that you handle, how you feel about them, and why you’re handling them, to formulate an action plan to course correct where needed. While you may not be able to outsource every aspect of your work you don’t enjoy, remember that you can always shift you perceive the task. Instead of viewing vendor negotiations as an uncomfortable conversation, for example, focus on the new skills you’re learning, and honing, as a result. 

Is your mission still personally relevant?

If you wrote a formal business plan before you opened your doors, revisit the relevance of your mission statement; read through old emails and communications that serve to remind you of the mindset you had when business began.  Be honest about whether the mission you identified when you started your business still matters to you; if it doesn’t, consider how you might evolve the focus of your business, product, or service to match what you care about in the here and now. Though there’s nothing wrong with admitting that the business you started no longer pulls on your heart strings, there’s inherent risk in failing to acknowledge when it’s time to change—before your market makes the decision for you.  When you proactively formulate a plan for how to re-identify what makes you feel excited about your business, the more likely you’ll continue the momentum you’ve established.

What is your overall mindset of your company?

One of the greatest gifts you have as business owner is control of the “happiness factor” you cultivate in your business environment. Focusing on positivity, recognizing every small “win,” and taking time to be thankful for all the things that are going “right” (when it may seem like more are going “wrong) can make your business a positive, productive, engaged workplace. Consider the impact former Burt’s Bees CEO John Replogle positive focus had on the company when it was undergoing a massive global expansion. As a 1) Harvard Business Review  article explains, Replogle made a point to acknowledge team members daily for a job well done, and continually reminded his team to focus on positivity and happiness—even in the wake of stress and pressing business needs related to the expansion. As a result, the culture of the company remained fully functioning and “in tact”-- in the face of great change. Examine your attitude as leader, and how it relates to your other managers, and that of your staff. If everyone on your team doesn’t feel excited about the company, the mission at hand, or the importance of their individual contribution, reconsider how you can make every day at work feel more fulfilling—for all involved. 



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