Being an agency owner is tough in today’s world. Clients and employees are more fickle and demanding, the margins get tighter as you try to keep everyone happy and well cared for, and the learning curve is steep. I get all of that — both from my own reality as an agency owner and from working with 250 or so of you every year.

But, on those days when you want to sell your shop for a nickel or as April 15th approaches and you’re writing the IRS a check for their pound of flesh, I want you to slow down and look at your world from a different perspective.

First — I want you to remember all of the ways your agency funds your life. I’m a big fan of doing what I call a Total Compensation Report for our employees at the end of every year. This report adds up ALL of the ways your people get compensated from their salary, costs of benefits, time off, perks, etc. Many of your people have no idea how well they are being paid.

The truth is the same for you. You think about the money you take home in a paycheck or dividend but you forget about all the other ways your business provides for you. One the tough days, I think it is a very healthy exercise to add up all the ways your agency pays you, from paycheck to travel to cell phone to all the other perks that come with the business. When you see that number (and for most of you, the salary part is one of the smaller components) — it makes the rough days a little easier.

But, it’s so much more than money. We have freedoms that other people can’t even imagine. When my Dad was ill, I was able to re-arrange my life so I could be with him. I didn’t have to count vacation days or worry about how to pay for the plane fare. I didn’t think twice. That kind of compensation and freedom is priceless and it comes as a reward for taking the risk of business ownership.

When I say count your blessings, I mean it literally and figuratively. Do the compensation math to see what you really take out of the business and what it would cost you in after-tax dollars if you sold the shop and realize that the freedom that comes with being the boss is worth a lot of what we go through every day.

Hang in there…and if I can help — shout.

This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter.  To subscribe, click here.