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:
Millennials are the hardest group to sell to. First of all, they have less money. Many Millennials are on a very tight budget. They are burdened with crushing debt, and many are unemployed or underemployed. Furthermore, they have been “sold to” their whole life. As a result, most conventional tactics fail. Products are overhyped to Millennials, who are used to seeing these things fail, and, as a result, there is a negative correlation between how much hype surrounds a product and how much Millennials want to buy your product.
The Oatmeal, a Millennials web comic, has an excellent illustration of this: Oatmeal Comics
Additionally, location is very important. Can Millennials walk or ride their bike to your business from their homes? Are you easily accessible from public transportation, if your city has it? Are there other businesses nearby that stand for the values that Millennials have? Millennials would much rather stop at your business after they have gone to their local coffee shop than make a special trip to visit you on the other side of town.
Millennials have different priorities on how they decide to buy things. It is very important how something is made and how the organization gives back to the community. Panera Bread is popular with Millennials partly because they give back to the community through programs such as Panera Cares. Millennials would much rather spend a little more of the money they do not have on a fair trade product that gives the workers a decent wage than buy the cheapest available product. Millennials care far more about the atmosphere of a workplace. What impression do potential customers get when they walk in the door? Is everyone smiling and happy to be there? Is there something unique that no one else has? If your workplace has that, then Millennials will flock to you.
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!
Here are three questions to ask which will help you finish the year strong:
Many of us are good at developing New Year Resolutions and goals. Some are even good about writing these goals down, but how many are really good at checking in each quarter and strategizing ways to cross the finish line? If you’re not quite sure how to make quarterly goals and reports work for your business, search the web for ideas, buy a book or call upon a trusted business coach or advisor. This year, let’s make sure your goals are more than just a New Year’s Resolution!
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.
You started out with a great idea, one that seemed to be desirable by a number of clients, and it paid off. You truly found what you loved to do and are able to get people to pay you for it! Congratulations. Now, how are you going to sustain your business? You may be fantastic at developing widgets, but how are you at the actual business competencies that will sustain your business over the long run?
An October 2012 report on Sustainability and Leadership Competencies for Business Leaders identifies top competencies as follows:
Business owners need to provide themselves with learning opportunities that will strengthen each of these core business competencies. This education can be accomplished through reading, formal training, or most effective, by utilizing a business mentor or business coach that can hold business owner accountable for actually implementing stainable changes in their company, ones that are customized to meet their company’s specific needs. However you choose to receive your small business advice and continue your education as a leader, make a plan and follow your plan to ensure you are a perpetual learning leader.
As America acknowledges the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, Jeffrey McCausland shares an insightful article in The Guardian on the top three lessons leaders can learn from the battle of Gettysburg.
I suggest reading the full article The top three leadership lessons from the battle of Gettysburg, by Jeffery D McCausland. It’s interesting to compare leadership from the past to the present. While we want to learn from the past and not make the same mistakes our predecessors made, it is the wise leader that learns from those in the past and if we are willing to look and listen, we will be gifted with great leadership lessons.
So how do you stay connected with your clients during the summer? Many business owners tend to slack off their marketing efforts during the hottest months of the year. Choosing to connect with clients during June, July, and August may bring you some sweet rewards. Here are a few ways you might celebrate the summer with your clients.
Whatever you choose to do this summer, be creative. People tend to be happier in the summer, there is more daylight to enjoy, and a great deal of opportunity to be found. You just have to jump in and not be afraid to make a splash!
There is a very old and interesting parable about blind men who were asked to describe an elephant. Each man was positioned at a different place on the animal; therefore it is not surprising to hear some of their descriptions of the elephant. One man said an elephant was a long, thin animal that twisted and coiled. He was holding the trunk. Another man said the elephant was a massive animal that stood strong and erect. He was embracing a leg. Still another said the elephant was a great winged creature. He was holding an ear. The last man said the elephant was no animal at all. It was cold and smooth and without any life. He was running his hand along the tusk. Although all the observations were correct, they were also incomplete. Each had described a specific part of an elephant, but none were able to come up with the “big picture.”
So what is your big picture? Who provides it to you? Where are you blind in your business ventures, life, and environment? The challenge for all of us is to stand back far enough to generate a big picture; to see situations for what they really are.
Where have you had the challenge of seeing the big picture and what were the results? Share with us, I would love to learn from your big pictures!
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.
Olympic athletes at the US Olympic Training Center have the opportunity to utilize a sports psychologist to help them bring home a gold medal. A couple of weeks ago I was able to spend time with one of center’s psychologist to learn more about what creates the difference between an Olympic medal winner and one that wins no medal. What I learned is that 50% or more of the reason athletes lose is due to their mental state. Some of the things that get in their way are: fear, self-doubt, personal beliefs, negative thoughts, lack of focus, and the most surprising thing is a lack of hydration. A lack of hydration (water!!) reduces metal focus, and a reduced mental focus creates self-doubt, fear etc. Therefore a lack of hydration can be the difference between winning and losing. That is an easy thing (one would think) to control, but it is a common cause for losing.
This concept is just as true for the business owner as it is for the well trained athlete. It does start with the assumption that you are good at your sport. No matter how much focus and hydration I have, I could not win an Olympic Gold Medal at running. It isn’t my passion, and I am not trained for it. However, as a business owner and coach, I train on a regular basis for my “sport”. I can win, I do win, yet all the things that get in the way of a sports athlete can get in the way for every business owner as well.
Question for you: What is the dialogue in your head right now? Is it filled with positive, challenging, focused thoughts? Or is it filled with all the things you do wrong, did wrong, will do wrong, full of self-doubt, fear and lack of focus?
Your business and personal results will be impacted by your self-talk. Change your self-talk and you will change your results.
If you want some ideas on how to make that happen, send me a note, give me a call. I look forward to our conversation.
In the past I loved multi-tasking. The more I had going on at the same time, the happier I was, the more productive I felt , and my satisfaction level was high – because I thought I was getting things done faster and more efficiently. After leaving corporate employment, I began doing research on the true efficiency of multi-tasking. Here is what I found out. I was wrong! How could that be? Multi-tasking doesn’t make me more efficient? Switching between 2 or 3 or 4 things (emailing, while talking on the phone while listening to another conversation) isn’t truly productive? Delusion – the art of telling ourselves one thing when reality is another was rampant in my life. I came by it honestly – I truly thought that my multitasking made me and my company more productive.
Here is what research has proven:
Here is a video I recommend you watch – see how you do on his quiz. It might just change how you work and increase your productivity!
In the last 2 weeks we have viewed the Boston Marathon bombing, the Waco explosions and experienced the death of two fathers of childhood friends. The fathers of our childhood friends both lived long and wonderful lives. However, it still made me stop and focus on the value of life and the shortness of it.
One of my mantras is to have balance between work and my personal life. Balance isn’t always possible so the word harmony comes to mind. Harmony allows for a blend of alto, soprano, tenor and base blended well together. Harmony allows for occasionally all soprano, or all alto, more tenor or even base at times. Harmony between work and a personal life allows for time to focus on business, but then welcomes times to focus on personal fulfillment. There is harmony when we secure time for family yet find time for friends and other activities too. It is without this harmony that we get the dull beating of a drum in the background that is ok, until it goes on and on and on and on. Work can become that relentless beating of the drum. All is well as long as the drum beat is blended with additional instruments (other parts of our lives), but becomes annoying when the drum beat is all alone.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you create your own “harmony”:
I challenge you to spend time thinking through these questions. Write out your answers, not for others to read, but for your eyes only. Then put them somewhere secure and review what you have written in a year. Then ask these questions:
Only you can control your legacy, no one else. You make the choices, you write the script. You have but one life to live – so live it to the best.
Have you ever wondered what percentage of the wealthy actually wrote out goals, created a plan of action and diligently followed their plan through to completion?
Goals are like a little compass in your mind. They keep you going the right direction. Once your brain knows where it’s going, it has a better chance of actually getting you to your destination. But not just any goals will work; you need SMART Goals.
SMART Goals are:
Specific: Saying that you want to increase revenue in your business is an ambiguous goal, but it’s not a specific one. A specific goal is one that states you want to increase revenue by five percent this fiscal quarter by engaging in newspaper advertising.
Attainable: An attainable goal is something you can actually achieve; it is within your ability to accomplish within the time you allotted and within the framework specified. It’s a goal that won’t make you work eighteen hours a day, but it will be a challenge to reach.
Measurable: A measurable goal is one that is clearly visible; you know what you need to do and how to evaluate if you accomplished your mission or not. More importantly, your clients will also see or experience the benefit of you reaching your goal. Customers know when you’ve worked to improve your business and it often creates sense of loyalty within them.
Time-based: You need to accomplish your goal in a reasonable amount of time. For example, it shouldn’t take six months to add a phone line. If it does, you are either procrastinating or you need to find a new phone company! Establish when you want the goal completed and state a date or that you want it done tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.
When making plans, set goals using the SMART Goal system. Where do you see your business in 90 days? How about six months? Six years? Do you see yourself twice as big, or do you see yourself as twice as small? What goals need to be established to reach your business plans?
Why is it important to make goals? Why does this matter? Why go “goals digging”? An MBA survey a group of students compared their wealth over a span of 25 years. Of the students participating in the survey, 70% had no goals at all, 27% had verbal goals, and 3% had written goals. The last 3% had 98% of the wealth of the group. Now the question is, “When are you going to start planning out your own goals? Will you start today?”
Have you ever watched a three-year-old play? They have no fear. They will jump on a bed until they fall off, throw rocks until they hit an object, and have an imaginary tea party with Mr. Potato Head and call him a princess. Where along the way to adulthood do we lose this wonderful lack of fear?
Developmentalist will tell you it happens as children experiment and are told by others that it isn’t right, good enough, or to do “it” exactly the way the grownup wants it to be done. This usually takes place between the ages of four and five. But ah the three-year-old, no fear here, and if you try to tell them how to do it, they just ignore you and go about doing it their own way.
Are there lessons we could learn from the three-year-old? Let’s explore a few traits of a toddler:
Maybe we need to bring the inner three-year-old out of us a bit more. Take a few more risks and dream a few more dreams.
The dictionary defines Empower as a verb and meaning to delegate power or authority to authorize or to enable or permit. Interestingly the word has become a contemporary buzzword. Yet the word empower is not new, having arisen in the mid-17th century with the legalistic meaning "to invest with authority, authorize." Shortly thereafter it began to be used with an infinitive in a more general way meaning "to enable or permit.
Being empowered provides people with a great deal of ownership, authority, and responsibility. Yet, often people are empowered to make changes yet, don’t take advantage of that responsibility and loose the opportunity being presented to them.
Being empowered really has two aspects. One is being empowered – someone else provides you with the power. The second is where I believe many are missing the point. That is empowering themselves and making things happen. We have the power within ourselves to do far more than we think we can. What stands in our way are often false walls and obstacles that we believe stand in our way.
For example, one of my clients wanted and needed to hire someone else in her department. She continued to work long hours and cover for the shortage of staff and never considered that she had the power to actually make a hire. Now she needed to do the homework, show the need, lay out the responsibilities of this new hire and present it to the President. She never believed she could even ask for the new hire. Our conversation really took her back to why did she not believe she had the power to even ask. The answer was – the president knew of the shortage of staff and if he wanted to hire someone it should come from him. Wrong. Our conversation essentially empowered her to make the case. End result was she not only got one person, she got two.
Another example is a friend of mine was talking about writing a cook book, since she is a wonderful chef. In asking why she had never written it, she stated she didn’t know how to get it published. My response was, just write it, I will help you get it published. She had been empowered all the time to make something happen, but had let a false wall and obstacle stand in her way. I removed that wall, but it is something she could have done. Now the question is whether she will really make it happen or if the not knowing how to publish was just an excuse. That is an entirely different discussion.
My challenge to you is how are you pushing away the empowerment you have been given. Stop letting things stand in your way. Empower yourself and make things happen.
I just returned from a refreshing five day journey visiting colleges in California. It was refreshing in multiple ways. One was the weather, (Colorado was being hammered by snow), but more importantly was actually seeing an excitement for learning on each campus. Hearing a student talk about how much they have learned, how excited they are to learn, and how they want to continue their education was inspiring.
Why so inspiring? We all need to continue to have a desire for learning long after we have gotten out of school. How about you? Do you continue to have an excitement to learn new things? Do you acknowledge that you don’t know everything and embrace the journey to learn more? The continued hunger for learning new things will enlarge who we are and what we will become, and needs to be central part of our daily lives.
Some people still have that yearn to learn. Some never acquired the desire to learn and some hung up the learning hat the day they graduated from school, whether that was high school, college, or graduate school. They felt they were done! We have all had a sense of that feeling. YES – no more classes, papers to write, or professors to please.
My challenge to you today is to develop a continuing education plan. What do you want to learn in this next week, next month, next year and next 30 years? I often speak of setting goals for your business and your personal life. Now I challenge you to set learning goals as well.
If you want some ideas of good books to read, then send me an email. I will help you create a learning plan to last a lifetime.
Most companies fail because they run out of cash. The following are several reasons that precipitate running out of cash and how to turn those reasons into success:
Failure! One would think it is a 4 letter word. It is probably the most dreaded thought of a business owner. My business failed therefore I am a failure. First, that is not a true statement. Second, if a business does fail then there are a number of reasons for the failure. Thought must be given to why and what can be learned from business failures of others.
When we become so busy in the day to day operations of the business, we forget to step away and try to understand what is happening within the business, around the business and out in the real world. We forget to think critically.
Critical thinking...the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself
If you don’t study your business you can’t determine what changes need to be made or how to adapt to the changing environment around you. There are movies about Transformers. They adapt to the environments, dangers, opportunities and risks around them. Without critical thinking, and the resulting transformations you incorporate into your business, you risk the initiation of your ultimate fear, failure.
Critical thinking only happens when:
The practice I follow is to step away from my business once a month for a half day, and once a quarter for a full day. This isn’t just for planning the next month or quarter, but rather a time to gather a greater vision by reflecting on successes and challenges. It allows me to get away from the distractions of the office, and away from the responsibilities of home. During this time I strategize by reflecting on recent experiences; to learn from them, and look ahead to determine an even greater vision for the business. Critical thinking only happens when you allow your mind to be empty of day to day challenges, frustrations, and demands. It is truly a discipline that allows a gathering clarity, precision, relevance, reasoning, depth of analysis and experience. It is truly an opportunity to re-energize.
Failure to think critically about your business creates a vacuum of energy, direction, momentum and agility, all which lead to that first step down the road to your greatest fear.
Beginning in 2007, the United States job market experienced a high level of sustained unemployment which unfortunately continues even today, six years later. The lack of being able to find work often stimulates the act of creating work which results in a large number of people starting their own business, or in other words, buying themselves a job.
What often motivates the employee to become the employer, or at least an owner, is the realization there is not a job in the current marketplace that will provide the same income and benefits as their previous employer. Since workers need to continue making a living, they begin to consider all options accessible to them. The buying a job concept is not wrong as long as the new business owner is able to transition from thinking and acting like an employee, to thinking and acting like a business owner. I often joke that a new business owner trades in the boss they didn’t like, for a really bad boss, the one that looks back at them in the mirror every morning, themselves. After a while, the old boss might not look so bad after all.
The following are a few things to consider when buying yourself a job:
Buying a job means taking something you know or want to know and buying into it. Franchises are often filled with people buying jobs. They may have been unsuccessful in getting a new job. They have some money to invest so they decide to buy a company or a franchise. There are many wonderful success stories of people buying into a franchise. However, it is important to remember a franchise is a business and not a hobby or a job you can easily leave.
Having sufficient capitalization will often make the deciding difference between the success and failure of a new business. The average business requires 1-2 years of capital, without the owner getting paid or being paid very little, to survive. Without adequate capital, you essentially starve the business by taking out essential funds required to make it through the tumultuous first few years.
A new business often becomes a family affair with a spouse, children, and perhaps siblings becoming involved in the business as well. Be aware all the standard opportunities and challenges that come with working with family members apply. Don’t run from the opportunity. Be realistic about what you are getting into and the potential challenges you will face.
The opportunity to work alongside your spouse can be greatly rewarding. Being able to dream, create, deliver and earn a living with your spouse who is hopefully your bestfriend, can be a reality. You may have the opportunity to travel together, solve problems together, to challenge each other to grow and to replicate the best of your skills and talents in your team members and employees. Together you can create a family like environment that makes everyone want to come to work.
The benefits of buying a job and becoming an Entrepreneur includes being able to do what you love to do and have the flexibility to do it how and when you want to. As the owner, you have the ability to leverage your time and money to benefit your family, business, and employees. It is a joy to lead your team through the creation of your dream. Your journey will include a great deal of learning, growing, and experiencing new opportunities and challenges.
If you have made the choice to buy yourself a job, be the best boss you can be to yourself and others. Build a family environment, enjoy your well-earned benefits and, most of all, embrace the journey.
Control freak is often an apt description of business owners. We like the ability to control our destiny, make our own decisions and see the impact of what we accomplish. The challenge comes with:
• understanding how little control we actually have – just a perceived control,
• learning how to relinquish control i.e. delegate, for the business to grow and
• how to leverage our controlling nature into something successful.
An employee kept watching how the business was being run, the waste that was taking place within the business, how customers were being treated and the lack of profit being generated by the business. These frustrations led to his determination to start his own business. His premise was he would treat employees much better than his current employer, eliminate the waste taking place, treat his customers better and generate more profit. In essence, he wanted control over the areas his current employer struggled. He accomplished those goals. He learned a number of lessons in the process. These were his and others primary drivers for family business ownership (and possibly entrepreneurship in general). The business owner is tired of:
• Following someone else’s lead/orders
• Believes they can serve the customer better
• Has different ideas on how to implement the product or service
• Desires flexibility in their day to day lives and a stronger balance between work and home and
• Can make more money, i.e., profit
The lessons learned are:
• Their new boss (themselves) is not the wonderful bosses they thought they would be and they have a great deal to learn. Looking in the mirror at the new boss isn’t always a pretty sight. It is the age old statement of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
• They can serve the customer better, but it is much harder than they thought and they start to understand their old company better. Customers can and often are demanding. Their interpretation of quality is different than yours. You may see value in something that the customer doesn’t care about.
• They do have different ideas on implementation – some of those ideas work and some don’t
• Flexibility is fantastic – you can work any part of the 24 hours per day that you want. Yes, you do have flexibility to take kids to school, pick them up, go to games etc., but there is a cost and that cost is often working evenings and weekends and other times that you didn’t previously work.
What makes great entrepreneurs is the desire for control, but understanding less is more. To have the utmost control, we need to leverage our skills and have others in place to do the work – therefore we stop being the bottleneck to success.
The more we want and think we have control, the less we have. There is always someone else who truly has more control. It might be customers, government, laws, acts of God. It is that desire for control that if not managed well drains the business. Lack of an ability to delegate is the result of the business owners desire to have control. They can do it better than anyone else. We serve the clients better, they know the product better, therefore they don’t delegate. We truly want the control and the ego lift that comes with it. Stop it NOW. Learn to delegate and delegate wisely. More on that topic next week.
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