Lifes True ROI

By: Charles McCaron

al debt load and ROI, whether the industry as a whole is in a slump, whether there are too many partner or legal problems, whether future demand will materialize and so on and so forth. While these questions are certainly relevant, the most important question that a small or medium-sized business owner should ask him/herself is:

"How else can I make a living and would I like it?"

Yes, the advantages of being a corporate employee are great. Easy work, fewer hours, no stress, more security and all for more money than your struggling business (for now) can provide. But do you really want to go back to that?

My grandfather was an architect who built boring glass boxes in overcrowded and polluted cities for obnoxious, cheap and arrogant millionaire and billionaire bosses and clients. My grandfather was also a poet who loved to write short, life-affirming sayings that raised the soul and redeemed the human spirit.

He was on his way to making large amounts of money building these glass boxes, until one day he could no longer handle it another minute, so he stood up in a meeting while the billionaires were bickering, declared that he was quitting, packed up his office and drove home to my grandmother and their two young children.

The conversation at home went something like this:

"What the heck were you thinking?"

"I cant go back Alice, I just cant.

That world is slowly killing my soul by the minute. I want to breathe, I want to live, I want to smile and I want to laugh."

"How are we going to afford the mortgage and the BMWs and the vacation home and the kids college funds and ..."

"We will figure it out tomorrow."

They figured it out. Grandpa turned his love for poetry into cute little life affirming sayings that he wrote in greeting cards and on the headings of agendas and in small self- published books that barely sold enough copies to pay for the paper they were printed on. In his best year, my grandfather made just enough money to barely creep over the poverty line.

Many years afterwards, seeing me stressed out over some inane thing or the other at the big corporation I worked for (in one of those big glass boxes), my grandfather said:

"Are they killing your soul Charlie? Are they taking away what makes your heart fly and your mind shine and your eyes sing?" (I told you Grandpa was a poet).

"I think they are, Grandpa." I said, almost in tears.

"You will only be here for a short time, Charlie. Dont let anyone take away your joy for even one minute of your precious life." (Once again, I told you Grandpa was a poet)

This brings me back to the topic of this article. Yes, Business owner, you should do all the analysis that you can to decide if you should keep your business alive. There are lots of services, ranging in price from free to millions of dollars, that will help you decide if there is a future for your business.

But in your analysis, when adding up the pluses and minuses and comparing financial and personal gains and losses, do one thing. Add the issue of "How else can I make a living and would I like it?" to the equation and give that topic an important score in your analysis.

Grandpa never regretted having less money for a much more fulfilling life. Nor did grandma once she realized how much happier the whole family was once they were living a less stressful and more simplified life in a healthy and scenic part of the country. One year after his decision, and in celebration, my grandparents burned their "___ Hours til the weekend" and "___ Days til retirement" gag calendars they had received when Grandpa had started his corporate career.

So dear reader, before you throw in the towel, I, the business consultant, and my grandfather, the lover of life, professionally advise you to make sure the towel remaining is better than the one you want to throw away.

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