The Starting Point of Business

My brother had a job as a cleaner. When his contract was about to expire he contemplated what he would do next.

As his older brother he looked for my advice. My suggestion was that he uses the skills he’s learnt to then start his own cleaning company.

So that’s what he did. He got a few clients and then a few more and next thing you know he was was growing and hiring employees to help him.

Then things started to go wrong. It became hard. He had too much on his plate. His staff was doing a poor job. Some staff never showed up – forcing him to jump back to cleaning while trying to manage other customers.

He grew to hate cleaning and worse he hated his life. Then one day it became so stressful he decided to give up.

I felt guilty because the advice I originally gave him had back fired and he was stuck owning a job that now owned him.

Together we had a long discussions about what had went wrong. On the surface it could have easly looked like it was his lack of experience, organizational skills or poor management. But the reality was that cleaning was never his “thing” in the first place. That he felt no fulfillment in the mission he was trying to achieve.

I learned something important that day. That when business gets tough (and it always does) you have to have the persistence to fight for your mission. But if that mission is “off center” to who you really are, you just won’t win against someone who does.

So we went back to the drawing board. This time we chose a different starting point and focused on what his heart wanted to do regardless of the limitations. His heart was telling him something very different from cleaning – his heart was telling him to help animals.

He remembered a summer job he once had at a zoo where he never was so happy to work overtime. His greatest moments were when he performed shows to an audience about the animals. He loved educating people about animals.

He decided to start working towards that goal when one day he met a girl who had been rescuing animals. They fell in love and jumped into business together as The Keepers – a traveling zoo that rescues animals and performs shows educating children about wildlife conservation, responsible pet ownership and the importance of releasing animals into their natural habitat.

They’ve now travelled around US and Canada performing at fairs and appearing in all sorts of media outlets. The’ve created a brand and are soon to release a children’s book.

And on a personal note, they’re both loving what they do everyday.

So before you jump into business make sure the problem you’re solving is something dear to your heart.

Also published on Medium.

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