New Book Helps Business Owners Find Joy in Their Work

Gwen Catherine

Matt Ward’s new book The High-Five Effect is a groundbreaking business book that will especially be welcomed by seasoned business owners who are still operating from a startup mentality.

Matt begins by discussing the different stages of a business owner’s life: survival stage, security stage, discovery stage, and respect stage. He clarifies how to determine what stage you are in and then how to move into the next stage. As an owner of several businesses himself over the last couple of decades, he knows these stages very well. He understands that when we first go into business, we are so desperate that we will say yes to any client and do just about anything to keep their business. He understands how this dedication leads to working long hours, giving up time with family and friends, losing sleep, and ultimately, having our passion and joy for our business decline.

Instead, for Matt, being in business should be about experiencing joy. The book’s title reflects that his greatest desire is to experience such a level of joy in his business and in his business relationships that he will want to be high-fiving his clients. But to achieve that goal, a business owner has to shift from being in the survival stage to the respect stage where they learn to respect themselves. They have to come to the same realization that Jason Cutter, business owner and author of the book’s foreword, came to. Jason states:

“Over the last two years, I have realized two things: 1) I know I can provide massive value to my client’s business, and when I do my job correctly, I should get compensated well for it; and 2) Life is too short to do things you hate. And life will feel really long and painful if you have to do business with people you don’t like.”

Matt wrote this book to help small business owners have such realizations and then move from a business that creates anxiety and controls them to a more fulfilling business that includes greater joy.

Finding that joy requires working through five phases. Matt devotes a section of the book to each phase: assess, value, identify, strengthen, and engage. I won’t discuss all of them here, but they begin with assessing where your business is currently so you can determine where you want to go. By working our way through these phases, we can find more time and freedom, earn more money doing what we do best, feel joy in what we are doing, and create relationships with the kinds of clients we enjoy doing business with.

Personally, I felt the discussion about finding the right clients was alone worth my time investment in this book. Matt defines the different types of clients, the warning signs of bad clients, including surprisingly but wisely the importance of listening to your intuition and gut, how to have difficult conversations with clients that can help them become better clients, and how to value yourself and your services so that others will value you and you will follow your joy and not just the money.

Much of this process also has to do with learning to value ourselves rather than just doing what we have to do to make money. When we come to value ourselves and overcome the imposter syndrome-the questioning ourselves and our worth, especially when unreasonable clients complain-we can become confident business owners who do not let anyone take advantage of us.

The High-Five Effect is a refreshing voice among all the business books that too often teach us how to hustle to make a living, but not how to be true to ourselves and what we most need in life. Ultimately, being a business owner is not just about business transactions and pleasing customers; it is about developing a lifestyle that will make us happy. It’s easy to lose sight of that initial goal as our business grows and takes over our lives, but Matt Ward brings us back to ground zero-our personal happiness is more important than any business-and shows how balance can be found. The High-Five Effect is the perfect place to start to find or rekindle the passion and joy that made you go into business in the first place.

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