There is some territory I am feeling compelled to explore these days with my readers, clients, students, and colleagues. I want to talk about the true to life business.

Those of you who, like myself, are small business owners, solo entrepreneurs, and self-employed people have a particular dilemma. We are constantly seeking the sweet spot — the place where this enterprise we are running falls into alignment with our strengths, interests, values, and higher purpose — while still earning us a decent living. I spent some time searching for just the right phrase to express my take on the kind of business I believe so many of us are seeking. I’ve settled on “true to life.”

What we want and need is a business that fits into our lives, not jamming it in with a shoehorn, but with some room left to move and grow. Our business must be true to who we are in the world and how we wish to live. It must be of a realistic design, not just pie in the sky, taking into consideration the conditions within which we exist, our needs, and our desires. And it goes beyond being true to ourselves; it trues up to a higher purpose for our lives and the lives we care about.

Running a true to life business is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. Yes, it requires careful design at the outset, but then it needs monitoring and nurturing. Businesses so easily go astray. We are seduced by possibilities of income and exposure. We are misled by rascals and well-meaning people. Our egos pull us in directions our hearts wouldn’t choose. We make mistakes.

So let’s have a conversation about these topics, my friends. We all need companionship on this challenging road. Let us see what we can learn together about keeping our businesses true to life.