Many people define their burning ambitions in what’s termed as a “bucket list,” which is basically a wish list of milestone achievements to accomplish before they “kick the bucket” (or, if we are going to be direct here, before they die).
Now these lifetime goals can consist of anything, from travelling to some extremely exotic location to skydiving to performing opera on stage in front of a large audience– you name it.
But beyond those personal life bucket list ambitions, what about the business side of things? Surely every company owner should have a “business bucket list” of extraordinary accomplishments to be achieved in the course of his or her entrepreneurial journey?
We certainly believe so. And so in this article we create a sample bucket list that should serve as a definitive list of achievements to tick off as you climb the ladder of success.
1. Meet a business giant
Today, there is a bracket of businesspeople that are more like rockstars. They are cool, inspirational, constantly in the spotlight. Men such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Elon Musk; and women like Indra Nooyi, Sheryl Sandberg and Ginni Rometty. These people know how to steer a business empire– and to do so with style.
So to the point: for item one on this bucket list, we want you to go out and meet a business hero. Of course it does not have to be someone as famous as the likes of a Zuckerberg or a Brin. There are plenty of powerful business magnates in your backyard who may not be world famous but have certainly achieved massive things.
But why would want to try and run into such types? Different reasons, really. It is helpful, for example, to hear that they were just like you once, armed with an idea and no money, full of hope and insecurity, ambition and fear. And who knows what kind of gems they might pass on to you in terms of business advice that might help you see things in a whole new light?
As for how you do it, that is up to you, but the schedules of the business giants are often made public. They may be appearing at this or that conference, having a charity lunch, attending the opening of a new business, and so on. It shouldn’t be too difficult for you to eventually cross paths with just about anyone you wish to run into.
Related: What Real Discipline Looks Like
2. Sell your company
While the daily focus is to keep building your company into something bigger and bigger– there is always that ultimate idea among most entrepreneurs of perhaps one day selling that company for a substantial life-changing sum. Let’s face it, many of us are driven by the attractive idea of never having to worry about money again– and never having to work again if we choose not to. So item two on our entrepreneur bucket list: selling the biz and handing over the keys.
But be warned that the stats show this won’t be easy. Only around 20% of businesses actually manage to close a sale. Of course, that makes the dream all the more aspirational, and let’s keep in mind that a bucket list task is not meant to be something easy to achieve.
As for what does it feel like if you do end up being one of the 20%: one entrepreneur, Guillaume Decugis, who sold his business Musiwave, said it was a “life-changing moment” and “one of the best acknowledgements of the value (he) created”. And of course, said Decugis, “there’s the money.”
There is also this– which is very common for those who achieve this particular bucket list task: they usually just take the payoff and use part of it to launch the next business. Ah, for the true entrepreneur, business is indeed in the blood.
3. Write your autobiography
Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Sheryl Sandberg –in fact, most of the business greats– have written autobiographies or have biographies written about them. There are different reasons for wanting to do this: it could be they simply want to share their journey to success; or perhaps they want to make their mark official and leave a clear and detailed legacy of their achievements.
Now I know what you are thinking: what if I never become famous? Why would anyone care to read anything about me? Well, everyone has plenty of interesting things to say, and anyone who has spent years at building a business or businesses –whether they got big or not– will have an incredible amount of insight to pass on.
And then there’s the doing it for you. Writing an autobiography can be deeply satisfying, cathartic and can help you learn about yourself. You don’t even have to publish it. It can be something you keep hidden away, or share with friends and family only.
Of course if you are a good writer and present your entrepreneurial journey in the right way, it is certainly realistic to one day imagine your name on the cover of a hardback sitting in that bookstore window, or on that downloadable e-book.
4. Do something substantial for the less fortunate
Some of the most memorable business news headlines have to do with the super wealthy deciding to give away massive proportions of their fortune to charitable causes. We have seen this many times: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg famously announced on his website at the end of 2015 that he was donating 99% of his tens of billions of dollars in Facebook shares to various causes; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is helping to allocate most of Bill Gates fortune, also in the tens of billions of dollars, to educational and healthcare related projects for underprivileged communities around the world.
It might be a case of getting things into perspective, finding a balance between the gritty, cold world of growing profit margins and making sure some good comes out of the mountain of cash that has amassed. Or it might just be a case of wanting to be a part of building a better world, and being in the fortunate position to do so.
And so now to our fourth businessperson’s bucket list entry: giving back. And let’s not pretend we have to be on the “super wealthy” list to do this. If you have a business and you are turning any kind of profit, give a small percentage of that away each year to help others in need.
Remember that you would have had help along the way on the road to your success, so this is a powerful way for you to give something back to “the system.” And if you really are hesitant to part with some of your funds, keep in mind that you cannot take money with you when you die.
For all the bucket list entries, this is a goal that will really make a difference, not just to those you help with the money, but ultimately to you as a human being. As they say, giving is good for the soul.
5. Become a great industry speaker
Industry events that gather together everyone who is “someone” usually line up a few key speakers. And while you can wait to get the invite to speak, you may want to force the issue a bit and demand to get up on that stage– and then continue refining your art as a speaker until they beg you to headline every time.
Why is this one on the bucket list? Simply put, it sits you at the center of your industry, which can end up having untold benefits. On the one hand, you will be required to think carefully through all that you want to say, and that in turn will help you stay on the cutting edge of the industry. Another way to put it is that it will almost force you to become a thought leader in your industry, which will help enhance your reputation, and in turn your company brand, and in turn your top and bottom line.
Plenty of benefits here. The only thing required is a bit of upfront bravery to help you take the leap.
Why the bucket list?
Think of it as just another way of listing some important goals to aspire towards. And also think of it as a way to bring a little bit of perspective to what will likely be a long journey of entrepreneurialism. On that journey you don’t only need to be thinking about how to feed your business, but also about how to keep a balance overall– one that extends beyond your office walls, to other entrepreneurs, to your personal life, to your community, and so on.
To that end, your bucket list should be a good mix of potential achievements that will help bring you more than just money. In fact, the pursuit of money, while an important part of the business world, is in itself not all that rewarding, and in some ways if that is your only goal you are likely to end up feeling a bit empty at some point.
So the bottom line is that you should use your bucket list to help you work towards business success, sure, but also to help you keep a healthy mindset and outlook throughout. So with that in mind, sit down and take some time to think about what needs to go on your bucket list, and see what you come up with. You’ll know when it feels right, and when it does, set it aside somewhere private or hang it from your office wall, and see where it all takes you.