Put the Heart Back into Your Business

Too many business owners lose sight of their original vision and the reasons they went into business, says Rasheed Ogunlaru (pictured), a U.K.-based business coach and author of the new book Soul Trader: Putting the Heart Back into Your Business. But, with a little re-prioritizing, it’s possible to rekindle your passion and achieve work-life balance.

The Intuit Small Business Blog recently spoke with Ogunlaru about the importance of clarity and compassion in business.

ISBB: What prompted you to write Soul Trader?

Ogunlaru: There are so many people now who want to do things to follow their heart. Many of those people feel that business isn’t for them, but many of them are brilliant people with brilliant ideas. I really wanted to help them by writing a book that shows them how to use their passion and their skills and their talents to build the business their way. Very often business books are written from this perspective of “here are all the things that you’ve got to do” and it’s very, very technical. But for a lot of people, their strong point isn’t the technical; their strong point is their heart and what they’re really passionate about.

The other impetus was all of those people who want to do social good in business. They want to do something that’s ethical, or they’re healers or therapists or coaches like me. … I wanted to write a book to simplify and to make business open to all of those people [who want] to grow their business their way by following their own heart.

Often work-life balance and profits seem to be at odds. Do you think that small-business owners really can have both?

I do think so, but it does require a lot of care. The problem is that we have the words “work-life balance” in the wrong order. It really should be called “life-work,” because you only run your business in terms of how it fits with you and with your life.

When I’m coaching people, the first thing I do is find out from them what’s really important in their life. We put their life things in the diary first. Otherwise, you’re always going to be in the office or in front of your desk at home, and you’re always going to be putting off that family time and so on. Sometimes taking that time out will bring you far more clarity, and you’ll be far more nourished and far more energized in terms of your business.

What is the most important takeaway that you hope readers will get from the book?

The most important thing is clarity. The book deliberately starts with clarity, because unless you’re clear about who you are, what’s really important to you, what’s really important in a business, and why you’re running a business in the first place, nothing else will be clear. So, it’s that invitation to first stop and just be absolutely clear who you are, what you’re about, and to follow your passion. If you’ve got that passion and that clarity, then you’re going to have the drive and the momentum to be able to move your business forward and to withstand all the ups and downs and challenges of business.

Anything else you’d like to add?

One of the things that’s really important for small-business owners is to be compassionate. So many people are doing magical things, they’re running amazing businesses, but they’re often not being compassionate to themselves. They’re not taking the time out they need, they’re not looking after their own health and well-being, or they’re not really caring about their customers.

If you really love you, love what you do, and love the people that you serve, then you will have a business that is nourishing to you and that is really nourishing to others — and that’s going to give you the edge over other people in the marketplace.

About Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in writing about business and personal finance. Her articles have appeared in or on The Boston Globe, Dance Retailer News, GetCurrency.com, Mint.com, PARADE Magazine, WomenEntrepreneur.com, and other places.
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