Money matters but starting your own business must be an affair of the heart not just a question of the head.
I'm a capitalist who's made lots of money. Millions actually. So of course I'm focused on wealth creation. No investment can be counted as successful unless and until it generates a return. Yet for me business is primarily about passion not money and, especially as an owner, you need to love what you do. Here's how.
It's wonderful if you can build a successful business around your hobby but most companies carry out functions that are unlikely to set our hearts racing. For example, I'm in freight. Now there are challenges in moving people's goods around and we do get to work for some great companies but fundamentally freight's quite dull! Yet I absolutely love Baxter Freight!
First and foremost, I love Baxter Freight because it's an expression of me. I chose the name, the business concept, my partners, our team, the branding, our strategy, our values, the premises, the furniture in the premises etcetera, etcetera. Well you get the gist. It's my baby. And like all babies although it can keep me awake at night it's fundamentally enjoyable and dare I say it, it has its father's eyes. Maybe.
Secondly, I love Baxter Freight because it's a challenge and I love and frankly need a challenge. It's tough and sometimes stressful but it's different every day and never boring or mundane. The things we do matter. To our customers and to us.
I'm proud of what we do. I take pride that we are one of the most competitive and reliable businesses in our sector, well on our way to a market leading position. From a standing start just twelve months ago we now deliver thousands of shipments every month. It's great that we have been able to help so many fantastic companies (including some well-known brands) with their logistics saving them money and getting their goods there on time. I love the fact that we do business ethically treating everyone fairly, whatever the situation.
Next, I love the people. Of course people can be grumpy, unreasonable, ungrateful and annoying. Have you looked in the mirror recently? But they can also be hard working, generous, creative, funny and show tremendous commitment and enthusiasm for the cause. I try to think the best of people, whether customers, suppliers or staff. Good relationships are at the absolute core of what it is to do business well. When people visit us we are often complimented on how friendly everyone is. This isn't just because we have selected a disproportionately friendly group of people to work here - it's because people react to how they're treated and we're passionate about treating people well.
Which brings me to fun. At Baxter Freight we like to celebrate success so we applaud every time someone wins a new account. When a customer sends a compliment we stick it on our "wall of praise". We want to build community so we regularly go out together, to play football, watch cricket, have some drinks or share a meal. If it's your birthday, we'll even sing to you and people normally bring in cakes.
I'm conscious that I've painted quite a rosy picture. Yet I know as much as anyone that business is never all "honey and sunshine". Starting out on your own is tough and sometimes scary. Many new businesses fail and money is usually very tight. It's wonderful to have the freedom to make all your own decisions, but it can be lonely when all the decisions are yours alone to make. It truly is a brilliant learning curve but that's only because there are so many new things to master - and many of them are difficult.
I'm not arguing that you should love what you do because everything is lovely. In truth my business life has been a rollercoaster of high and lows. I just believe that in business you have to set your state of mind to positive. Train yourself to celebrate even the smallest success, focus on enjoying working with and serving people, relish the challenges, opportunities and freedom that running your business gives and above all remember not to beat yourself up when things go wrong. Learn to love what you do.
Follow Ian on Twitter @BaxterFreight @IanBaxter66Suggest a correction