The Voluntary Life: 121 The Big Decisions for Entrepreneurs

16 August 2013

121 The Big Decisions for Entrepreneurs

Listen to Episode 121

Entrepreneurs have to make hundreds of decisions about their businesses every day. It is easy to lose sight of which decisions are the really big ones- the ones that have huge repercussions. The big decisions are also an opportunity to express your individuality and creativity as an entrepreneur: to make a conscious choice about the purpose and design of your business. This podcast provides an overview of what the big decisions are:

1. Choosing your own goals and motives

Why am I an entrepreneur? What is my own motivation? What do I want? How do my motives for being an entrepreneur fit in with my vision for my life? I have found that being conscious about my own motivation is key to ensuring that I can gain fulfilment from being in business.

2.  Choosing the purpose of the business

Why does my business exist? What's the purpose of the business? Deciding on a clear purpose for your business gives coherence to all your actions and decision. For me, that comes down to identifying what this business is going to do to provide value to others and make other people's lives better.

3 Choosing business partners

Am I going into business with others, or alone. Why? This choice has huge ramifications and it is extremely useful to be very conscious of why you are making any choices with regard to cofounders.

4. Choosing how to finance the venture

Why do I want funding? What am I going to do with it? It's easy to assume you need as much money as possible to start, but you have many choices as to how to approach financing the venture.

5. Choosing how to sell

How am I going to make money? Why will customers give me money? There is an interplay in this decision, as we all learn from customers as we come to understand their reasons for buying.

6. Choosing the design of your operation 

How are we going to organise the work? Why are we working in this way? There is often a temptation to recreate the processes from your last job, however being a business owner gives you the opportunity to consciously design the workflow of your business.

7. Choosing your approach to profit 

How much profit do I aim to make? How am I going to do it?

8. Choosing your approach to growth

How big do I want this business to be, and why? It's easy to assume that you want growth, but bigger means more complex.

9. Choosing how you will exit

How do you plan to exit the business? Everyone has to exit someday. Many entrepreneurs want to sell, but even those who don't will have to plan for some kind of exit, either through a succession plan or simply ceasing to trade one day.

I am currently writing a book about how to make these choices consciously as an entrepreneur.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback about this podcast and the subject as a whole!

Podcast Episode 121


  1. Not all of these things need to be big decisions, nor do plans always need to be made in advance.

    For example, it's not necessary to choose in advance how you will exit the business. That can be downright disadvantageous.

    The alternative is to keep going for as long as you find the business rewarding, but keep your eyes open around you. When you come across an opportunity that appeals to you more than your current business, that's the time to exit your current business. If you can't exit fast enough (or profitably enough) to take up that particular opportunity opportunity, it doesn't matter. You have discovered that you would rather spend your time on other projects, and the time is therefore right to exit your business and seek new opportunities.

    I think personal decisions are always bigger and more difficult decisions than business decisions. Should one get married? Should one have a child? Where should one live? With whom should one spend one's free time, and doing what?

    For example, the freedom-oriented writer Wendy McElroy wrote about her decision to move to Galt's Gulch Chile for the rest of her life. THAT's a big decision.

    1. Thanks for your Feedback Roger. I agree that plans don't need to be made in advance for these things. I realise that the word "decision" implies in advance and also implies a once only thing (which I also don't mean). The words "conscious choices" is closer to what I am trying to express. I do think it makes a huge difference whether conscious choices are made regarding these issues, or whether choices "just happen" by default. Regarding your comments on exiting, my observation would be that your available options (for things like selling your business) will be very different if you consciously seek to create choices, rather than wait to "come across an opportunity".


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