Who are you? What matters? What do you stand for? What do you want to become?
At the core, the business and owners must be in synch for long-term success.
Sure you can buy a franchise for a proven business, say a muffler shop, but if you have absolutely no interest fixing cars it is going to be a long painful ride.
I've been running Sunwapta Solutions for over 9 years now and we never clearly defined this for ourselves... until now. Luckily strong ethics and doing good work were part of our core make up without thinking about it regularly.
If you just go with the flow: your customers will define you, your market will define you, and your employees will define you. But you may end up somewhere you really didn't want to be.
Who are you and what will you become?
You need to know who you are today. You need to define who you will be when your business succeeds.
Be real. You can't become something someone else wants or you think they want. It has to be something that works for you.
See, starting a business as an entrepreneur is a journey. Today there may only be you. Tomorrow there may be 100 employees, or 10 million in revenue, or 1000 customers, or whatever.... Who you are tomorrow may need to be different.
So it is not just about the money or the business. In reality it is about you. If you and your business are in alignment great things are possible and you will enjoy it a whole lot more.
Seth Godin's recent post (Who Gets to Decide What You Want? ) addresses this from a product and marketing perspective (i.e. you or the marketers?).
You need to address this for yourself. Who will define your business? You or someone else?
Then you need to make sure your employees are whistling the same tune. This is the only way the market and your customers will get the message consistently and they absolutely need to.
Know who you are and know what your business stands for.