Even the most passionate dedicated entrepreneur will experience occasions when they just don’t like their business. It may be just a bad day filled with unsatisfied customers, disappointing sales or other unfulfilled expectations. However, when a variety of mishaps transpire over a consistent period of time, it can really wear on the business owner and rob him/her of the joy of being in business. When situations arise that diminishes the passion which caused you to enter into the world of business in the first place, try a few of these tips.
We all experience difficult times through the journey of entrepreneurship. It is the strong, the dedicated, and the committed that focus more on the successful days then the challenging ones. These entrepreneurs see their vision revitalized and become as passionate as they were on first day they opened the door of their business.
A common workplace credo is “Think outside the box.” It is an ideal that is held up as the pinnacle of innovation and a credo of progress. Unfortunately, when this principle is implemented, it is often received with a crescendo of complaints, shock and disapproval. We say that new ideas are good, but if anyone comes up with a new idea, we shrink away. Stop that!
Innovation is always scary. People form habits; they find a specific way of doing things, and never want to change. Companies may run the same way for fifty years, even though the methodology the business was built upon became inefficient thirty years ago. Unfortunately, some businesses create a culture where those who may have a new idea, become afraid to speak up, and the managers often don’t even realize it. As in the picture above, people cower in their boxes, doing what they are told, and keeping their good ideas to themselves. Some employees are reminded of Dr. Kelso’s suggestion box in Scrubs; his trash can. As a result of this policy, the other doctors hated Kelso and did everything possible to undercut him. While this makes for good television, it makes for really bad business. As a business owner, you cannot afford to be afraid of new ideas, especially when they come from employees or customers. You don’t need to take every suggestion you receive, but make a conscious effort to listen! Create a culture where customer feedback is an integral part of your business planning. Your customers and employees know what they want and have experience working with your product; their input is invaluable to the success of your business.
As children return to school after a busy summer, teachers are busy preparing activities to assess the knowledge they have retained from the previous year. As a business leader, you must take the time to annually assess your business plan in order to grow your business. You might look at your business plan as the “answer” to the test of what you have learned about growing a successful business. The following are three tests that show what you have learned along the way.
Have you met your time line goals during the year and are you on track to finish the year strong. This shows you have learned valuable lessons in time management and project management including the development of good work flow systems. If you are behind in achieving your goals, put them through the SMART test. Are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely? If they are and you are having trouble meeting your goals, this may indicate you need a bit of extra support and a business coach may be needed to help you succeed in your attaining your business plan.
Is your financial picture is on target or exceeds expectations for the year. A healthy financial bottom line is a good indicator that your business goals for the year are being met. However, closer scrutiny of both income and expenses is essential to ensure any financial gains and drains were derived from expected sources. Any deviation may indicate a need for an adjustment in your business plan. If you are unsure of where your money came from or went to give me a call and we can lay out a plan for getting your business financials in order.
Are you ready to provide added value to your product line or services for the upcoming new year. It is a satisfying feeling to review your business plan and check off the successes and milestones achieved. A successful business is developed by scaffolding the lessons we’ve learn along the way, the lessons learned are simply a foundation for those yet to come. You’ve heard the Marshall Goldsmith saying, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
Test yourself throughout the year and be ready to evaluate what you have learned and what you need to learn to grow your business and achieve the success you deserve!
(Photo compliments of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net)
Millennials are often not ready to settle down. They move from town to town, job to job looking for what really excites them. Some will change jobs their entire life. Your mission should be to convince Millennials to stay at your company by doing the following:
As a business owner you know by now that you can’t do it all. In fact, depending on the size of your business, you may not even be able to do half the work it takes to produce the goods or services of your company. Any good business coach will encourage you to grow a great team of employees and empower them to do the work you can’t do, don’t have time to do, or don’t want to do. It all begins with the art of delegation.
The employees who are most successful in taking responsibilities off your plate are those you hire with the end in mind. Regardless of the position opened, when interviewing prospective employees always look for those who have had leadership experience in the areas similar to your company’s structure or exhibit emerging leadership characteristics.
Business owners are often quick to promote hot shots that talk a great talk or have quick success with a project. Remember the “Peter Principle, Employees will rise to the level of their incompetence.” Rather than having a “promote until they fail” philosophy, introduce leadership responsibilities one delegated task at a time. If the employee shows a consistent level of handling the tasks delegated, then you know you have a winner and a good candidate to promote into leadership.
Start with these three tips for delegating:
When the project is finished, review with the employee what they did well and challenge them to increase their skills in specific areas on the next project. If they can’t handle the responsibility, acknowledge their willingness to try. When a project turns out spectacular, be sure to share credit where credit is due, besides, it makes you look good for hiring such great talent!
As the leader of your business, division, or other responsible position, do you ever find yourself feeling alone? Many leaders do, but here’s the thing, you shouldn’t ever find yourself becoming lonely as a leader. If you do, you’ve missed a step along the way. Here are three missteps that often happen and ways to motivate you to fix the step.
The bottom line is that leaders are known to take initiative. So if you are feeling “lonely at the top”, it’s time to do something about it.
Lately a few books I have read and Cd’s I have listened to have focused on the concept of the ability to learn and the desire to learn. What makes one business owner great, record profits, obtain raving fans for customers, and secure balance within their lives; while another business struggling to make ends meet, experiences challenges with building a team, watch their profit being squeezed and have a decided lack of balance in their lives? One could say many things make them different; however one common character trait of most successful business owners is genuine sense of Humility. They recognize that they don’t know how to do everything. They lost the negative side of ego many years ago. They know the difference between self-confidence and ego and utilize the strength of each.
Ego (the positive side) is:
We all know the negative side of ego.
Humility (the opposite of Ego) is:
Where do you stand with response to Ego, Self-confidence and humility?
Last week’s blog on the Mind Game introduced the topic of results; how what you tell yourself hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly directly impacts the outcome of our actions. Now as your self-talk begins to become more positive we can put it into even greater perspective. For every negative thought you have, “I can’t do this”, “I am not good at doing anything or this one thing”, or “You screwed up again”, (whatever your negative self-talk includes), it takes at least 12 affirmations to counteract that one negative statement. WOW! Does that become a motivator to stop telling yourself what you can’t do? This doesn’t even take into consideration what others may say to you, it only pertains to the one negative conversation you had with yourself. So here is what it looks like:
Negative self-talk: “I really blew that meeting! You aren’t any good at running meetings.”
And the list goes on.
We all eventually make a mess of things, do something wrong, bring to light an area we need to improve upon. Those are all facts. It is how we look at those mistakes, failures, whatever you want to call them that helps us pick up the pieces learn and move on.
If you aren’t failing you are not growing. So embrace the failure, give yourself credit, and create a plan of self-talk of how to improve the next time without beating yourself up.
Our discussion came to the concept of being able to close the door of her office, turn off email, phones and focus on doing one thing without interruption for an hour. She erupted. “That isn’t possible with my job. People stand at my door waiting for answers, the phone is constantly ringing. That won’t work!” I paused, allowed her to finish and asked her a question: So what is happening right now while you are in this workshop – (which happened to be a 5 hour workshop)? She was silent for a moment and then stated, “Well things are piling up while I am in here.” My challenge to her was to just try it – if it didn’t work, she could go back to how she was handling things now. I chose not to challenge her further in front of her peers at that time and we moved on to another topic.
Since I was coaching her individually, the following week during our conversation she started off with an apology for coming on so strong to me during the meeting. Also, she had tried my suggestion. The previous day she had communicated to her team that she had some stuff to complete. She was going to close her door, put a sign on it stating do not disturb, closed email and also put her phone on do not disturb. In that hour she accomplished more than she had in the previous 3 days and was sold on the value.
The January issue of Success Magazine (which I highly recommend you subscribe to) had an interview with Mike Vardy. He has done a number of studies that indicate the average executive/business owner focuses on one thing for no more than 11 minutes. For every interruption they get, it takes about 25 minutes to recover where they were and start making progress.
The concept of multi-tasking is killing our productivity. It has been proven that our mind cannot multi-task. It actually switches gears from one topic to another, but doesn’t multi-task. We have all been in situations where we have been concentrating to get something accomplished, been interrupted and then either had to start over our thought process, or really wondered where we were and never get back to that same state.
Mike Vardy also stated in his research that multi-tasking actually diminishes our IQ by 10 points. Even smoking pot only diminishes our IQ by 5 points. Chew on that concept for a while!
Yes, there are situations in jobs that require us to juggle a number of things at one time. If that is your job then great, enjoy! I use to be called the “queen of multi-tasking”. I could be processing multiple things at one time fairly well and keep all the balls up in the air. However, when I needed to focus, complete a project, plan for a conference, review a sales proposal, that was all I did. The door was closed, email ignored, phones on do not disturb because I knew that missing one small item could be the difference between success and failure. I also had the benefit of being able to work from home a couple days per week and I scheduled my focus times for those days.
This is essentially about self-management. Who is running your day, you or others? Do you determine your action items for the day the day before? If not, then consider planning tomorrow today, next week this week, next month this month. Make sure you leave time to plan. Without planning you leave yourself and your life in a reactive vs. proactive mode. You wonder why things happen to you, why you need to work late, why it is taking longer than you anticipated. Most of these reactions are due to lack of planning.
So, have you decided if you can manage time? I often ask this in my workshops and get a mixed reaction of yes and no. Reality is no, you can’t manage time. Time moves on no matter what we do. What we can do is manage ourselves. Self-management is the most critical aspect. Like eating frogs – figure out what you are avoiding, do it first get it done. Plan your day. You say it doesn’t work, then step back and take a hard look as to why. You are in a situation with a high interrupt factor, then plan for it. Get in early and get those projects done before everyone else arrives. Put on your calendar time to complete your action list for the day. If you haven’t planned for when the action items will get accomplished you have a much lower chance at getting things done.
The Law of Consistency is the difference between motivation and discipline.
However, what happens when the road gets rough, the rocks get bigger, and fatigue sets in? That’s where discipline steps in. Without discipline, motivation is useless.
The Law of the Environment is where your growth happens.
It can be as simple as rearranging the furniture or as complex as moving your office. If you live in confusion and chaos then make the changes necessary. If lack of organization keeps you from moving forward then get help to get organized. Learn new skills to make the change.
Personal development cannot be in a small-minded environment. You need to think big and dream big. Our society creates more negative than positive messages on a daily basis. The news, the economy, and often our friends and family, will tell us all the reasons we can’t succeed but not the reasons we can succeed. It is up to you to find fresh thinking, find new things, and create your new environment.
The seventh law is the Law of Design. To maximize personal growth you must intentionally develop strategies. Think -
A focus on weakness will at best make you average unless you want to make it a strength. Let me give you an example. If your weakness is public speaking and you want to grow in that area, then go for it. Get a speaking coach, read books, learn how
to be a good public speaker. However if you don’t like detail (like accounting) then don’t try to get good at accounting, hire someone else to do it for you. At best, you might become a mediocre accountant.
The critical impact of attitude is seen every day in the business world. What one business owner sees as a disaster, another sees as opportunity, and capitalizes on that opportunity. Those who have spent their lives in below the line thinking don’t even realize the impact it has not only on them personally, but their families, businesses, customers and potential. If their team is below the line, where did they learn it from? Most likely they learned it from the business owner. An owner who is below the line will hire staff who also first turn to blame, excuses and denial. It is someone else’s fault that the project is delivered late, someone else’s fault that the customer is upset. To change they will need someone to hold them accountable to point out where they are below the line.
As I work with clients on this concept, the tendency is to swing to a point where issues in the business are not discussed with the excuse (notice the tendency again) that the issue is below the line. This doesn’t give permission for a business to white wash issues in the business. What is does change is the ownership and responsibility for changing the issue at hand. If projects are late, that is a fact. The question is what must change in the business to ensure projects are not delivered late, that your customers have the experience stated in all the promotional material.
Businesses have lived for years in below the line thinking and attitude. They stay in business, they grow, they pay the bills and serve customers. What impact would the business make with an above the line attitude? Profits would increase. Less time would be spent on blame and poor productivity. Productivity would increase with energy due to the positive atmosphere in the business. The examples abound.
Yet, you must be ready to make the change. Your dissatisfaction with the results, profitability, long work hours, people avoiding you since they dislike being around negative, blaming people, etc., must be at a point where it is higher than your resistance to making the change. It is easy to live below the line. It may not be fun, but it is easy and there is a great deal of company. When I ask my clients do they want to be average, the resounding answer is NO. They want to be above average. To make that happen, your mindset must change to one of excellence—above the line thinking— and you will be amazed at the results.
Embrace Conflict – it is good for you.
Conflict is part of everyday life. If you have a business, marriage, relationship without conflict then you essentially are an ostrich with your head in the sand, which is the equivalent to being a yes man – which means you agree to things even if you don’t agree to avoid conflict – which is in and of itself conflict. One class I would recommend every business owner take is a mediation or conflict resolution class. There are books on the subject. One is “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher. For me it was a hard book to read – but I really enjoyed it on audio. The sooner you learn how to deal with conflict the better off life will be.
One of my clients was engaged at the time. Life was sweet for both of them. They enjoyed being together, they were obviously in love with each other, yet trouble was brewing. Every time he wanted something and she disagreed, she caved in. This was very evident in the business environment. It had been his business; she was new to his business, yet was very accomplished on her own and actually has better business sense than he did. Yet, what happened every time she suggested something and he disagreed, she would back down, both in business and personal. He even stated that he wondered when she was going to stop becoming so agreeable. It will happen and for both of them it will be a time of rude awakening as neither had really learned how to negotiate. They hadn’t learned the art of give and take and how to move both their ideas forward without squelching the spirit of the other person.
Couple of points on conflict resolution:
1. It isn’t always about getting what you want – learn the art of compromise.
2. If it is all about you – then the “we” part of any relationship won’t be long term.
3. Make sure you get the complete picture – stop assuming – remember what assume means. If you don’t know – then break out the word assume into 3 syllables – you get the picture.
4. Life is about negotiating – learn how to do it well, then apply the same art within your business and within your family.
Curiosity is critical in business. Accepting status quo, what others tell you is right and looking at the world the way everyone else does will and does get you in trouble.
Instead we need to step back and watch a 2 year old. What do they do?
• The explore everything, hold it upside down and look at it in every way possible.
• They challenge what others say and ask WHY? and keep asking WHY?
• “I can do it myself” is their mantra (well maybe we need to moderate that perspective.)
• There is nothing they can’t do in their mind.
• They are ready to take on the world.
Have you lost your natural desire to be curious, ask questions, challenge how others think you should act? If so then stop, slow down and watch a 2 year old. Start exploring your own world. There is so much at our fingertips that passes us by every day.
Curiosity may have killed the cat – but it will grow your business!
Part 2: Building a high emotional intelligent business is well worth the time and effort.
For a starter Being effective means:
• Understand when and what to say in certain situations.
• Knowing when to stay quiet (yes this is different than the above item.)
• Having empathy for the situation and/or individuals with whom you are dealing. That also means knowing the definition of empathy – so you can have empathy.
• Knowing and having a plan for WIIFM – what is in it for (me/them)
• Using diplomacy. There is a difference between being direct, diplomatic and being candid. Each of them has their place and time. My perspective:
o Being direct is telling it like it is without beating around the bush. There is no roundabout way it is straight through
o Being diplomatic gets the same point across, but there is a ramp up time, setting the stage, understanding where the other party is coming from BEFORE you deliver your message. Diplomacy is critical, yet sometimes the message gets lost in the process.
o Candid includes a level of openness, sincerity, not rehearsed. The message can be direct, yet it also takes into consideration the message and how it will be received.
Here are some practical tips:
• Ensure your leaders have the right emotional behavior
• Always be training on how to improve. You can’t improve your IQ, but you can improve your Emotional Quotient or EQ – so create a plan.
• Have a culture of continuous improvement and get buy in from everyone – or buy out (i.e., a path for them to leave the organization).
• Celebrate success which is the same for all aspects of the business. Too little is done to celebrate and too much focus is on what wasn’t accomplished. This will affect your EQ.
How does this affect profitability? According to John Maxwell, people leave people not companies. A company full of people with no EQ will be a revolving door. There will be a continual hiring process with no one staying long enough to be really good. Therefore profitability suffers due to lack of continuous improvement. One of my clients has had this issue and we continue to work on the impact the lack of EQ has on the organization. Staff is tired, demoralized and looking for opportunities that value them for their work, value them for what they offer and help them enjoy doing their job. If correcting that issues doesn’t improve profitability then give me a call, that is just the tip of the ice berg.
How well does your business understand EQ?
For the last few months I have been working on a book. The working name is: Running a “Successful” Family Business Without Destroying the Family.
The process has been fun, the compilation of information has been interesting the writing has been enjoyable. Here is a bit of the very rough draft of the introduction. Be looking out for more to come, many more stories and practical hints and the publication in Q1 of 2013. Let me know if you want to pre-order a copy, there are some additional bonuses for pre-orders.
The book focuses on the joys, challenges, opportunities and threats encountered in the family business… those many little realities you wish you’d known about beforehand. Your family, employees and the future of your business depend on your inter-relationships to each other and to the team in a charged, multi-generational environment. The outside worlds, i.e. your customers, win when your family business succeeds.
There is an old saying: Blood is thicker than water. This is usually true even when the families are not close and/or don’t get along. I may not like my brother, but you had better not pick on him, or I will come out fighting. Family ties are far stronger than normal relationships of employer to employee, friend to friend and even spouse to sibling.
Families are at the heart of most all societies. Statistics indicate there are more than 16 million small businesses in the US alone. Small businesses range from home based environments to structured operational businesses environments with employees and multimillions or tens of millions of dollars in revenue. Family business is at the heart of 80 % of small businesses in the US. Working for a family business – when you are not family can have great rewards and great challenges.
This book focuses on the joys, challenges, opportunities and threats encountered in the family business, both to the family, the employees and the future of the business. The inter relationships between the family members to each other, to the team, the generational environments and the outside world i.e., their customers.
The research from the book is based on years of up close and practical experience. Yes, there is research proven in standard research methodology, however most of the stories and research is from years of running businesses and business coaching. It is that real life experience that is mostly at play here. Volumes of research in standard research methods are critical, but don’t account for the up close and personal reality.
My journey in life has taken me through a number of family businesses. This starts with my Dad and being involved in a family business growing up – it was called a farm. Grandpa was the business owner, Dad and his 5 brothers were the employees, Grandma also ran the business from the house. Employees were hired during the busy season and they moved on during the slow season. Work needed to be done, crops needed to be harvested, bills needed to be paid and the future needed to be secured. It was a family business in all ways. Much was learned and from that family business 2 of the brothers continued in the tradition, yet in what is very common, it didn’t make it past the second generation. The brothers chose to sell that family business and either retire in one case and move on to a job in the other. The 3rd generation wanted no part of it.
What is your family business story? Let me know.
Being thankful for struggles???
There are so many articles, comments, posts on Thanksgiving that the thought of adding to the list almost stopped me from writing this. Then I stopped and realized all the things I am thankful for. The one you probably don’t expect is at the bottom of the page. Here is my short list:
• My relationship with God. He is the source of my strength, the peace which passes all understanding (especially mine) and my guiding light so I am never in darkness.
• My husband who is patient (you have to be when living with me!!) He teaches me patience and how to serve with a continual good attitude
• My son who is turning out to be a wonderful young man. Full of deep thoughts, challenging the thought processes of others (in a good way). He is articulate and more mature than many adults I know.
• My friends. Where would I be without them? The older I get the more I appreciate the value of true friendship and the loneliness that comes when they aren’t around.
• My family. We don’t choose them, but love them for who they are and what they teach us. Some good, some bad, but they are still family and we are entwined with each other
• My clients. They motivate me, encourage me, and challenge me. I love seeing their growth and I am thankful for the trust they put in me to coach them toward the growth they desire.
• My country. There has been much frustration lately through the election. I am saddened by the division I see and there is much I don’t understand. Yet, we can’t lose sight of what we have in this country. We must fight to preserve what we have and understand how to grow in a new world. I am thankful to be able to live in Colorado Springs.
• My struggles. Bet you didn’t expect that one. Without struggles I would not grow. Without struggles I would not appreciate the good days. I would be uprooted by the smallest issue without the daily challenges that life brings. Struggles/challenges what ever word you want to use become the core of what makes us strong. At each moment I may not appreciate the struggle, yet the refection allows me to learn, apply, grow and become who I am meant to be. Failure isn’t an event it is a process. When we were children and learning to walk we fell countless times, but had the perseverance to try again. We also learned how to fall which built up the strength in our legs and arms so walking would come more naturally. Embrace your struggles, be thankful for them – I am.
I have much to be thankful for and I am thankful. Every day is Thanksgiving Day – let’s start that habit right now.
Call or contact Janna Hoiberg online to schedule a free, initial consultation.
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