When you’ve experienced as many birthdays as I have, people probably aren’t surprised that I’ve chosen to write about them. But this Note isn’t about my personal birthdays. Rather, it’s about the relationship between a business owner’s birthdays and the progress of their company. I might go as far as to say the unhealthy relationship that can exist between a business owner’s age and their company’s progress.
Researchers at Foundation University Islamabad in Pakistan recently found that aging anxiety leads to a poorer quality of life and lower self-esteem. It appears the more we fuss about our age, the more we give ourselves reasons to fuss about our age. With all the media sources that regularly bombard us with negative thoughts, who needs to add aging anxiety to that? And now we can also add worrying about our company’s progress.
When businesses are in their start-up phase or younger years, we often get anxious about how fast they’re growing. We compare them to other businesses or business owners—or at least to the stories we’ve heard. If we’re not careful, we can easily find ourselves trying to out-Jones all the other Joneses we’ve heard so much about, all the while completely forgetting about where we’re going or why it’s even important. When we compound this by adding in our own advancing age, it’s a guaranteed formula for wanting what everyone else has or being who everybody else is. This kind of thinking rarely ends up doing anyone any good.
Just as with personal birthdays, we should recognize business birthdays as well. They’re a time to celebrate the things we’ve accomplished and to consider the things we haven’t. And then to get to work on the latter.
When a business enters mid-life, our appreciation of its birthdays shifts slightly. A business’s age becomes an asset that can be leveraged to gain more customers. With each advancing year there’s more experience to bring. And if our hair is turning gray and we’re in the right business, we might even be able to charge a little more for our services!
As a business enters adulthood, it’s a time when we frequently become more reflective about it. We examine what all the angst and the frenzied pace of the go-go years was all about. We weigh it against the sacrifices we made and the lessons learned. While we may not have all the answers, we often have better questions. We don’t just ask how we can do things better, faster, or cheaper. We ask if we should be doing them at all.
Too often aging is perceived as a period of losses or declining health, both personally and in business. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Having more business birthdays can also be a time to appreciate the accomplishments and savor the rewards.
If we want to enjoy our birthdays more, we should commit to having more of them! The same can be true for business birthdays. The more of them we have, the more we’ve beat the business odds of survival. We’ve gained a better understanding of the game of business and how it’s played. We’ve learned what’s important and what isn’t.
The more birthdays we have, the more experience and wisdom we’ve gained. Well, at least experience! Wisdom comes if we actually learn from those experiences.