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Are you letting the Beast run your business?

Do you know why you’re running your business? When was the last time you asked yourself that question? A few years ago Chris and I realized we hadn’t asked ourselves this in a long time. We found ourselves in a dark place emotionally. The business was in a plateau, and we didn't love coming to work anymore. It took some deep soul searching to get ourselves out. And what saved us was asking ourselves Why we wanted to run a business in the first place.

It turns out, when you don’t have the reasons clearly defined in your mind, you start moving in the wrong direction.

The reasons for being a founder—for running a business—vary from person to person. What doesn’t vary is that a lot of us forget the Why very quickly. Why did you choose the risk of doing it yourself? Why are you still on this journey? Why aren’t you quitting?

Here are our reasons for starting Wildbit:

  • Financial independence - which is defined differently founder to founder
  • Control - I want to be in control of how I reach that independence
  • Ego - I want to prove that I can build and grow a great company
  • Fun - I want to love coming to work

What I learned in this soul searching is important: The bigger you become, the easier it is for you to leave your reasons behind and replace them with something else.

Those reasons for starting your company will often be forgotten as you move through the life of your business. In 17 years we've forgotten them a bunch of times. But it’s not intentional, there is a powerful force that pushes you to forget those founding principles.

I've started affectionately referring to this force as "the Beast." And the Beast is someone you’re all very familiar with.

An illustration of a business beast in an office chewing on a phone and a clock with paper flying everywhere.

It turns out that the greatest force against you in building what you want is actually your own business.

There’s a crazy thing that happens as you’re growing a business. While you're not looking, the business starts breathing on its own. It starts to take on a life of its own. It tries to be real. It starts asking for things.

It has a never-ending appetite. It will never have enough or be enough. Because it was designed to never have enough.

  • It wants to be bigger.
  • It wants to be more important.
  • It wants to grow at any and all costs.

And what’s worse is it’s always any your head, making you think more, bigger, faster. Hire more? Work more? Raise money? Sales team? It goes on and on.

And the way the beast sneaks in and does it simply by changing the entire conversation. It tricks you.

You started by asking yourself simple questions: "What do I want? What do I need?" The beast just changes the sentence. Now you’re asking: "What does the Business need?"

There's an important difference in those sentences. The beast always wants more. It's always better for the beast to grow. But you started your business for a bunch of other reasons. And you or your team want other things too. Sure, you want to grow. But you want to be happy? Accomplished? Relaxed? You want to have fun?

We have to fight against this because the business isn’t real. We’ve invented it. We created it. It does not exist in and of itself.

But we have to fight against this because the business isn’t real. We’ve invented it. We created it. It does not exist in and of itself.

Illustration of a woman with a chair and a whip trying to fight back the business beast.

We have to fight for what’s real. What is real are the people around the business and in the business. Its constituents. They are you, the founder. The foundation of why the business exists. Your team, the ones who enable your vision, your goals to come true. And of course, your customers and your community.

Our biggest challenge as founders is to tame the beast. To keep the beast from becoming the voice in your head. The beast is directly responsible for when it's not fun anymore.

An illustration of the business beast smiling and laying on its back playing with a dangling bow like a cat.

Chris and I built a business so it could bring us things. So that it could make our lives more fulfilled. It belongs to us and it needs to serve us. Quit serving the business and letting it control the reasons for why you’re here. We deserve to be doing it for ourselves.