When Your Business Eats YOU For Breakfast

Entrepreneurs, coaches, authors, and speakers are very creative.

We create ALL the time.

Especially when we’re in growth mode and looking for ways to increase our revenue.

The challenge is, EVERYTHING WE CREATE WE MUST MAINTAIN.

In a big company, with departments and teams, some people create and other people maintain. But in a coach, author, speaker space the lines are blurry. Everything you create takes space in your brain OR on your calendar:

  • If you create a team, you need to manage & maintain it.
  • If you create a membership site, you need to run & maintain it.
  • If you create a coaching program, you have to deliver it monthly & maintain it.
  • If you build a community, you need to nurture, grow & maintain it.
  • If you sell a mastermind program, you need to run & maintain it all year long.

SO WHAT DO YOU WANT TO MAINTAIN?

I’ve always been a fan of passive income. In all of my previous businesses, I focused on “creating and forgetting.”

When I started my last company, I was so excited by the idea itself I didn’t even think about what my life might look like after it was up and running.

As the initial excitement passed and the weekly routine set in, I realized that I was no longer enjoying it. I had a lot of fun creating it, but now I needed to maintain it. Yes, I had a team, but that just became another to maintain.

Business got too serious. 

And I know I am not alone in this.

In the last few months I spoke to dozens of successful business owners who have been feeling the pressure of having to maintain what they’ve created. They’re on an entrepreneurial treadmill and cannot stop. I could feel their pain and exhaustion. Their business is wearing them out and they’re feeling trapped.

They created a “monster” and now need to feed it.

So here’s some food for thought as you’re growing your business:

  • Before you add or create anything in your business, ask yourself “Do I want to maintain this?” Then see if you still want to move forward in that direction. This question will add instant clarity and guide your decisions more powerfully.
  • Sometimes we have to try new things and even make mistakes to discover what we don’t want to maintain. And sometimes we have to experiment with new ideas in case we end up absolutely loving it!
  • You may not always know the answer. I never knew that I wouldn’t like having a big team. Or that I would eventually get tired of recording a weekly podcast. Or that blogging would only be fun when I am inspired to share something, not as a weekly commitment.

That’s why, as I am starting my new company, I am very careful about what I say “yes” to. I want to make sure I can sustain and maintain what I create. I ask myself at every decision point:

“Do I want to maintain this? Will I be happy doing it this way six months from now?”

The key is to be totally honest with yourself – anything else will lead you to unhappiness in business. And you may end up being “trapped in paradise.”

I’d love to hear from you now…

  • What do YOU want to maintain?
  • If you’re currently maintaining something you don’t enjoy, how long are you willing to tolerate it?
  • And what needs to happen before you’re ready to make a change?

50 thoughts on “When Your Business Eats YOU For Breakfast

  1. Cloris Kylie

    Great post, MIlana! I made that mistake earlier in my business. The group coaching schedule I had set up was so convoluted! I had several groups running simultaneously–crazy. So one day someone asked me, why not have ONE time to do all your group coaching? Of course! I didn’t see it before. I was too consumed with “doing.” And that’s when things changed for the better 🙂

    Reply
  2. Tim Gillette

    This is exactly why I sold my car wash business almost 13 years ago now. I did not want to maintain it anymore.
    When Zig told me to be a speaker, the first thing I thought about was how much work it would be to maintain. My first thoughts when actually starting in this field was the build it big hire the team.
    So glad I was able to use my love for motorcycles as I started this business, it was on a long road trip that idea of “how much do I want, or need to carry”?
    That road trip is what helped me create a simple business, I work by my rules and think of everything I create just like you said “how much do I want to maintain?”
    Thanks Milana for your great inspiration.

    Reply
  3. Paul

    Great post Milana!

    The corollary of this is… what you start today, you don’t need to maintain forever.

    The idea of maintaining certain things has stopped me from doing so many things that could have been powerful (and profitable) in the near term.

    “Do I really want to do this forever?”

    I have to continually remind myself that I’m not saying I’ll do this thing “forever”… and that I can do it now, for now, and can choose to stop it later, if I want to.

    Reply
    1. Milana Post author

      Very true Paul, great observation!! I think many new business owners see this as a forever thing, because after all when you start building something, you have to imagine what it might look like in a few years. That’s how I personally get in trouble – I over-plan.

      Reply
  4. Peter

    Great post Milana. I ran an audio newsletter for 13 years (156 issues) and reached the point when I didn’t want to maintain it; despite the income it produced. Now 6 years later I’m relaunching it online – having serious considered the commitment. Thanks for the reminder today. Peter

    Reply
  5. Amy

    Yes, I guess that is why I have been dragging my feet on certain projects. Not only what do you want to maintain, how do you want to spend your day? And if you hire people to run things, they can quit on your and you are left running the store yourself (I had a women’s clothing boutique at one point in my life with a staff of over 8). And where do you want to spend your time? In front of a computer? I am in the space to decide which direction I want to go with my business. Some exciting possibilities- a cost to each way you go on my personal life.

    Reply
    1. Milana Post author

      Exactly! I found that I needed a lot of white space in my days. That’s how I process life. Hyperactivity that so many business owners have has not worked for me, even though I used to think I had an unlimited capacity.

      Reply
  6. ALice Wheaton

    Great article…imagine the dis-stress of using up precious gigajules of energy in something that no longer serves but to which we are handcuffed. Thanks for being so transparent and letting us learn from you.

    Reply
  7. Denis

    Very profound statement. I think we all rush to create things, without thinking of the hassle of maintaining them or if it’s something in our long term interest or plans.

    Reply
    1. Dawn

      This article has been eye-opener for me because I’m new to all this stuff. Now I have some thinking to do before I begin to launch my business. I think I almost go caught up with the “hype” of it all. Thanks Milana for this post.

      Reply
  8. Su

    Great post Milana. I’ve been spending some time working further on my ‘authentic self’ during December – as I think it’s so easy to get lost in the ‘busyness of business’ just as you suggest and I think it’s what we need to make good decisions … and never be afraid to change what isn’t working for whatever reason. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Beth Ellen Nash

    I am learning that I have to take the time to create a thorough protocol for everything after I figure out the system initially myself. And then thoroughly delegate it to a team member. And take the time to train them well. Then, trust them to follow through. But, of course, monitor to make sure it is happening.

    I love the creating and tweaking phase. Definitely need to spend the time in building team and systems to continue stuff so I don’t have to be involved in the day-to-day details once I’ve got it created though as I do NOT enjoy that part.

    Reply
  10. Sharon L. Hibbard

    Bravo, Milana! First, I am very selective about the blogs I read/subscribe to, and I am even more selective about making comments. But I must say, this is the first post (by anyone) in a long time that stopped me in my tracks and caused me to just sit and think – for almost 20 minutes – followed by another half hour of journaling my own thoughts around this.
    i, too, am in a state of search-and-transition in my business, brought on by an increasing lack of motivation when doing the things I once loved to do that keep my business viable.
    I especially love you choice of graphics – referencing the Venus flytrap plant from “Little Shop of Horrors” – as this seems to be a perfect metaphor for what my business is becoming lately. Every time I turn around, I feel my business “tapping me on the shoulder” insistently demanding “Feed me!”
    This is not what I envisioned when I began, and your article not only validated my suspicion that something has to change, but has also motivated me to amp up my efforts in exploring what comes next.
    Thank you so much! It feels good to be motivated again about something related to my business. Although my clients are happy, I was beginning to fade fast, just going through the motions. Now I am determined to find a modified way to continue to serve my clients that is more in alignment with where I am currently, <3

    Reply
    1. Milana Post author

      Sharon, what a great compliment, thank you!!! That was my goal – to have people to stop and THINK!! 🙂

      Reply
  11. Kathryn Yarborough

    Milana – I love reading about all that you’ve been learning! I, too, learned the hard way that I needed to love to maintain what I create. I’ve decided to have a part-time coaching practice because I love supporting heart-based entrepreneurs and getting to know them in 1-1 sessions. And I also want to have a couple creative projects I work on every year. Because I NEED to be creative in a way that serves others. These are new decisions and I think / hope they’re good ones for me.

    Reply
  12. Dennis Clegg

    This is the first piece of honesty I’ve seen. I’ve been through many big names’ trainings and spent a lot of money. But as I endured all the hype, I kept seeing just how much I must produce if I hit that 7 digit launch. I’d be buried in obligations to give value for the money I was making…or would I make in the end when I had to hire, train, set up financial management, create masses of materials, schedule venues, create videos, create more written materials.
    I’m a small fish offering a value to people, but when I step into the arena of 6 and 7 digit launches I also have to immediately start producing, producing, producing, and do I even have the endurance to start doing so much of what I don’t want to be doing in the first place? I do what I do because I love it. Should I have to give it up to administer…well I have then taken myself away from my initial goal to do more of what I love which feeds me and clients.
    First I become an uber professional marketer and what time is left for clients?
    The internet is a cruel sinkhole of time trying to figure out how to get people to click and stay…if I can find a way to get an email list in the first place, something of a full time job itself.
    I and everyone I know delete when we open our accounts. And the time of catchy titles was over when everyone started doing it.

    Reply
  13. Brenda Lamb

    Milana, Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
    I will definitely reflect on the strategy outlined. I interpret your message as a way to develop a more long-term thought process, opposed to being impulsive. There are so many ideas and businesses out there it’s easy to get caught up in busyness and miss out on the opportunity to create and build a business that one truly has a passion for.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog posts!

    Reply
  14. Bryan

    Very wise words Milana!
    I am in the process of launching and I am struggling because I fear that I may not be able to keep up with the need.

    Reply
  15. Dr. Cat Shrier

    After my first big launch failed – taking with it all of my remaining savings – I began focusing on doing whatever it was I thought I needed to do to make money. My coaches encouraged this – to drop the things I was passionate about and focus instead on making money. I worked hard on those other projects – and tried to come up with idea after idea based on an analysis of what would be the most profitable, with the greatest ROI for what little cash I could scrape together. None of these ideas paid off – and I got a reputation for having “bright shiny object syndrome” and changing my focus constantly – when I was really just trying to find a way to keep a roof over my head. Eventually, I lost my home and everything else. Recently, one of my coaches – Alex Mandossian – challenged me to FOCUS ON JUST ONE THING FOR 13 WEEKS. Now, I can work up a certain level of excitement and passion for just about anything – for a time. But the idea of MAINTAINING that passion for an entire season – to focus my time and energy on things that left me feeling energized and joyful, not burned out and drained – that was a real wakeup call. I asked myself what I could see caring about for that long (and longer)? I ended up deciding to go back to water – and, in particular, to go back to getting a job with one of the innovative and entrepreneurial water communications firms here in California -to be part of a team again, an expert among experts working on the most interesting challenges with the greatest clients on the most impactful projects – while working with WaterCitizen’s new “Brain Trust” and business plan to allow that organization to become self-sustaining and impactful (WaterCitizen was never intended to become my own “job”).

    Reply
  16. Joan Hughes

    I’m with you on this, Milana. What needs to happen before I’m ready to make a change? It’s already happened – at the end of last year. I ran out of steam and it forced me to look deeply inside myself and ask, “Do I like my life?” The answer was “no”, and I am still in the process of removing things one by one from my business day, until I get to a place where I love what I’m doing.

    Of course, the question came up, “How much can I remove from my business activities without starting to affect my bottom line?” But I’m not concerned about that. For me, it’s about coming 100% from my heart with focus. That’s got to be better than running myself into the ground from fatigue.

    Reply
  17. Dina

    What an excellent post Milana! And serious food for thought. You are so right, we can become trapped by our success. In my case it is a constant struggle not to fall for the next shiny object – another expert webinar or giveaway that distracts me from what I really need to focus on to grow my business. My theme for the year is Flow in Simplicity and I am working on doing what I love and doing less of distracting myself. Reading your post has inspired me to really take a moment and decide who and what will really help me moving forward. I definitely need white space!

    Reply
  18. lynn

    yes you are totally right, and i find non of the other marketers that promote their 6 figure incomes, have comeup with this. You certainly are coming from a total point of facing the truth, which many do not warn anyone about. all they are pushing is how to turn clients in buying machines and it really sounds too rosy to be true, yet they say they have made millions but still dont cut any slack to suffering entrepreneurs. How much more greed to you see in this. If i was making millions i would be giving away courses dirt cheap.
    I dont see this happening its like those millions are not enough.
    So i do appreciate you posting this eye opener for 2017, before people jump into excitement and then suffer the downer after
    thanks
    lynn

    Reply
  19. Patricia Pagan

    Milana,
    Thank you for the perfect pause before I launch my next set of ventures! I will be pondering this at least for the rest of today, but more likely for the rest of my life.
    Blessings!
    Patricia

    Reply
  20. Deb Peretz

    Loved this post, Milana. It all spoke to me. But the point that spoke the loudest was this: “Sometimes we have to try new things and even make mistakes.” Part of me believes that I have to get it all right the first time. But as I always tell me students, mistakes are valuable opportunities for learning and we need to embrace them rather than fear them.

    Reply
  21. Mike

    Milana, I have followed your emails describing your recent journey. All have made me sit up and notice. Your honesty, openness, and ability to see through the bullshit to a deeper reality is inspiring.

    This blog has hit ME the hardest. The question about what am I willing to maintain actually hurts. As hard as facing it is, thank you!

    Reply
  22. Justine

    The most fruitful partnership is when one takes joy from creating and another from submerging themselves in the daily doing. Few of us have both characteristics and it can be hard to find the right person to partner with. It’s serendipitous if it happens.

    Reply
  23. Marianne Cherico

    Milana
    I absolutely love the direction you are going in. I had my “come to Jesus” yeab after burning myself out ” to the core” 4 years ago. Things are so different now because I worked really hard on myself and changed everything so that I now I am running 2 businesses that I love and keeping it simple (as much as possible) I worked with Jeanna Gabellini for 2 years and that really helped me transition. I have been in your JVIC program and watched your career and I have no doubt that you will be a rock star in your new venture.
    Warm Regards,
    Marianne Cherico

    Reply
    1. Milana Post author

      Thank you for sharing Marianne. I tend to get a lot of stories like this, ever since I shared my own burnout. Love what you do!!

      Reply
  24. Wendy

    I love this! Thank you for your insight. A great thing to remember. I just spent several days organizing my files and paperwork. I am having to maintain all of that too! I realized how much money and missed opportunities I’ve had with not following through on leads and maintaining the clients I have. Time to rethink some things!

    Reply
  25. Veronique Eberhart

    Very good point, Milana!
    If I’m dragging to send my first ‘monthly’ newsletter, how can I trust myself to want to maintain it?
    Like you, I’m a musician… I love the idea of keeping performing, but I can’t maintain the organisation around it… Time to take decisions, I guess!

    Reply
  26. Celeste Bonnet

    Brilliant, Milana! Wonderful advice as I too, create a new business. The questions are also timely as I am overhauling our family’s entire possessions and schedule. Need to jettison the high-maintenance stuff to leave room for family joy and growth.

    Thank you for the edgy coaching questions….the ones that transform pain into growth.

    Reply
  27. Stina Kerans

    Fully comprehend where you are coming from – we are looking to creating something that will support us – it is not the amount of money you have in the bank but the number of people within walking distance from you. Yes, I agree – forming a ‘one off’ community is not the way – our work is/has been to create ‘synergies’ of people via a new ‘repeatable’ model of housing that is financially accessible to all and without the responsibility of loans – I call it ‘social sustainability’ which then becomes the pre-curser to freedom in so many way – this multiplier effect creates a freedom that most of us presently can only dream about and some have never imagined as possible.

    Reply
  28. Linda Larson Schlitz

    GREAT timing Milana!! I have a JV meeting in a few minutes and another tomorrow to talk about a new venture. My vision is always too big and my time estimates always way under reality. I just did a business plan and already see I have set myself up. Thanks for the practical advice!

    Reply
  29. Povl Henningsen

    Great post! Same thing in Denmark. The plate tends to get too full.
    Maintain is a good word. Another might be follow up. Do you follow up on iniatives taken?
    You might also need to others to help you maintain. It is difficult to do everything on your own. So you might want to include others in the process of deciding what to maintain and what to throw away.
    Finally a great design of your blog. Do you handle that on your own?
    Transatlantic greetings.

    Reply
  30. Terry Lee Brussel

    When Your Business eats YOU for breakfast is excellent! Having been a coach/hypnotherapist since 1969, I now work with other coaches and hypnotherapists to build their practices by phone in the US and around the world. I will be sharing this info with them.

    Reply
  31. James Shoemark

    Very poignant article Milana and I see people making this mistake over and over.

    Indeed, I have spent years struggling to do things that I didn’t enjoy or easily add value to. This resulted in my productivity dropping to 10 – 20% some times.

    One of the best tools that helped me to gain an insight into myself and identify exactly what I want to maintain is Wealth Dynamics by Roger Hamilton.

    He has used personality types combined with Chinese philosophy to identify the following eight paths to wealth:

    The Creator – The Creators can’t help creating! They are good at creating profitable ideas and businesses, but not so good with the day to day running of a business. Successful creators will delegate everything, except the creative process. Example: Richard Branson

    The Mechanic – Mechanics are perfectionists who like to finish things, rather than create them. They want to make everything better – fine tune them. Example: Jess Bezos.

    The Star – It is easy to spot a star. Obviously, you have film, music and sports stars, but high profile CEOs can also be thought of stars. They rely on the strength of their personality and are aware of the pressure of always having to deliver. Example: Oprah Winfrey

    The Supporter – Supporters are great networkers with loads of energy and enthusiasm. Their greatest wealth can be achieved when they join forces with a Star, Creator, Deal Maker, or Mechanic. Example: Steve Ballmer

    The Deal Maker – A deal maker relies on relationships, connections and being able to react intuitively when the best opportunities present themselves. Example: Donald Trump

    The Trader – A trader is someone who naturally hunts out bargains, naturally loves haggling and gets immense satisfaction from a great deal. They are equally as good at finding high price buyers. Example: George Soros

    The Accumulator – Incremental growth is the key to this wealth dynamics profile. They are patient and disciplined and will stick fast to a successful system. Example: Warren Buffet

    The Lord – The Lord likes to control everything. You can find a lord where there are fixed assets generating cash. They don’t want attention like the stars and like to create wealth quietly. Example: Andrew Carnegie

    These carefully thought out profiles are the result of years of studying the approaches of hundreds of successful wealth creators.

    I wonder which you would be Milana – The Lord or Mechanic perhaps?

    Reply
  32. Rennie

    Hi Milana,
    What you wrote here is SO ON TRACK with the decisions we need to make for any new project. And I have personally been wrestling with this ever since I joined the JVIC. Do I want to maintain an online business, build a team, continually deliver online content, facilitate masterminds, write blogs, on and on. What I enjoy doing is whatever I want. I paid the price of working 7 days a week for 8 years to create my multi-six figure passive income. So now I am very leery of what I create next. You put my fears in the words I did not have. Thank you.

    Reply
  33. Peggy

    Milana, this was a phenomenal post. It confirmed troubling suspicions I have had for a long time concerning online businesses. I am so grateful that you shared your wisdom and experiences, and so eloquently, so we can go into things with open eyes. No one else that I know of is talking about this! I hope you will write much more on this topic, such as more details on the “cost” to your inner self and your life of doing various different things online (e.g. blogs, courses, podcasts, launches, coaching and so on).

    As spectacular an opportunity as the online world is, I keep catching a sense that at least some of the very successful online entrepreneurs have become slaves to the businesses they have created, and have gotten extremely burned out–within just a few years. Not only do they hardly ever stop, but their minds hardly ever do, either. (For instance, I have often wondered why anybody would commit to writing frequent blog posts.) Thank you for caring deeply that we start only the things that mean the most to us and that

    Reply
  34. Peggy

    Milana, this was a phenomenal post. It confirmed troubling suspicions I have had for a long time concerning online businesses. I am so grateful that you shared your wisdom and experiences, and so eloquently, so we can go into things with open eyes. No one else that I know of is talking about this! I hope you will write much more on this topic, such as more details on the “cost” to your inner self and your life of doing various different things online (e.g. blogs, courses, podcasts, launches, coaching and so on).

    As spectacular an opportunity as the online world is, I keep catching a sense that at least some of the very successful online entrepreneurs have become slaves to the businesses they have created, and have gotten extremely burned out–within just a few years. Not only do they hardly ever stop, but their minds hardly ever do, either. (For instance, I have often wondered why anybody would commit to writing frequent blog posts.) Thank you for caring deeply that we start only the things that mean the most to us and that we are sure we want to maintain.

    Reply
    1. Milana Post author

      I think that this is not specific to online business – any business can become a high-maintenance business if we allow it, right?

      Reply

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