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?”
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.
The family business. It is the foundation of the small business world in the US. Approximately 80% of small business are family owned. That can mean brothers, sisters, parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles and children. Why are there so many family owned businesses? One reason – blood is thicker than water. There is a trust factor that comes with working with family. I hear laughter from some of you. Some of you wouldn’t trust your family with a dollar let alone own a business with them. While that can be true, the reality is even where the family has a trust and verify. The family business has a set of dynamics that are unlike any other. Think of your family – what would it be like to work with them every day? Then, go home each night. Now I have you thinking… Yes, that is the joy and challenge of family business. It is often hard to:
Yet, it is wonderful being able to:
The list goes on for both sides. If you are considering starting a family business congratulations – you will love the journey.
What have your experiences been with family businesses? Are you in one? Have you done business with one? Share them with me, I would love to hear the stories.
Entrepreneurs and setting goals is a popular topic. Dan Sullivan had a perspective worth sharing in the May issue of Success Magazine. The concept is rather than trying to double or 2 times where you are– go for 10 times where you are. “WHAT?” I hear you all scream. “It is hard enough to achieve 2 times where I am, how on earth can I even consider a 10 X goal?” That is exactly the point.
A 2 X goal is really just pushing what you are already planning into the future (assuming you are planning). The ability to achieve the 2 X goal is a probable anyway. There really isn’t rocket science, you know the basics—hard work and you will achieve the 2X goal.
Now for the 10 X goal that starts pushing you out of your comfort zone. I can already feel the squirming. A 10X goal forces you to look at what is really going on in your business. It forces you to look at inefficiencies. It challenges you to think out of the box, to put systems in place to handle 10X, to understand your business, structure your business, and PLAN. You must now think differently, observe differently, plan differently and execute differently. Once you start thinking 10X you will notice opportunities, changes, and perspectives. Then you can start making the changes that are required.
Here are my perspectives and 4 ¾ downsides to this type of thinking:
1. Shooting for 10 X – you might not make it, you might only reach 5X.
2. 10 X thinking creates perspectives on your business and forces planning.
3. You don’t know how to think 10X? What better way to start looking at everything from a different perspective? Read, ask, get advice, reach out to others, be humble. Even if 10X is achieved, I guarantee your 3, 4 and 5X will be more profitable.
4. For 10X I need to look outside the box, and that creates FEAR. False Expectations Appearing Real – so what are your real fears? Figure them out, since they will probably keep you from achieving 2 X. There is no better time than the present.
4 ¾ Reality is I don’t see any downside to 10X type of thinking. The danger really lies in 2X thinking. Thinking too small limits your potential, who you can be, and can lead to my favorite quote: “Hell on earth is seeing the person I could have been!”
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.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and use the power of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity. In essence, it is the ability to effectively manage emotions.
Effectively manage emotions ?!?!?!? For many employees, employers, business owners, families the business is run by emotions. Emotions are a God given gift, yet when those same emotions are used as stick the emotional climate of the workplace deteriorates. For many this essentially becomes workplace bullying. Unfortunately many school yard bullies grow up to be workplace bullies. They have not figured out how to utilize the power of emotions in a positive way. Nor have they learned to walk away from situations which create negative consequences.
The resulting affect to the bottom line profitability is absolutely huge – to a level of billions of dollars wasted each year addressing these issues.
Most of the emotions that cause employee performance and then also business performance is anger and fear. These feelings are intense and impact their ability to think rationally. Here are some impacts to the business from the lack of emotional intelligence in the business:
• Creativity shrinks as panic is the enemy of creativity and learning
• Employee turnover goes up due to unhappy employees
• Business growth potential plummets as people lose the courage to speak up
• Cost of recruiting goes up due to training and retraining of staff
• And the list goes on.
What is your emotional intelligence?
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.
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