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.
Why are we, as a society, having such a hard time dreaming? As children, we dream on a regular basis. We fly, conquer the world, create imaginary friends, and plan to accomplish things never considered by anyone 20 years older. Then the aging process starts and conformity begins. We conform not only in our behavior (which is mostly good), but in our ability to dream. One by one, we are told (and often not outright), that our dreams are impossible. Our dreams are unreasonable, not possible, or even why would you ever try that – you might FAIL!
What this creates is a society of control freaks. These control freaks become business owners who want it done their way, as that way is the only right way. What they are losing is the ability to leverage the world to get things done for them. They don’t hire for new ideas, they hire for fitting into the box the business owner created. The problem: business owner wealth creation is often best accomplished by people with the desire to dream in a world without boxes.
Dream without boxes – what does that mean? It means stepping out and doing things differently. A perfect example is Steve Jobs, he created something that was new and different that we didn’t know we needed (actually we didn’t), yet how many of us want to go back to what life was like prior to Apple creations. You need to get away from the day to day so you have time to dream. It is learning to always challenge your own thinking and be open. You also must be willing to let others challenge your thinking – they also have dreams that might just allow you to fly, conquer the world, and accomplish things you were told were impossible.
Dream dreams for yourself, your family, and your business. Dreams do come true, but only if there is a dream in the first place.
What does trust mean? Webster’s dictionary uses words to define
trust as: confidence, dependence, assured reliance, strength, in charge, credit, hope and a few others.
What does it take for you to trust a leader? All of the words described above are critical to your ability to be trusted as a leader. Yet it takes time. The old adage my Dad taughtme – It takes years (or a lifetime) to build trust, but one moment to tear it down points this out. That saying is often a guiding light for me as I look at how to handle situations and what action should I take in certain situations. Trust is truly the foundation for effective leadership. There are no shortcuts, it takes time.
Trust cannot be carried from one person to another. Your reputation as being trustworthy can lay the foundation for a new person, yet that foundation must be laid with each and every individual.
Building trust requires competence, connection and character. It takes patience and perseverance. It takes leadership at a foundational level. What are you doing today to build trust with your team, co-workers, family, and friends? Each day is a building block that is in your control.
Leader vs. Manager – Which are YOU? There are many articles and books written
about both topics. They focus on how to improve and become the best. Improving
those skills are at the foundation of becoming a better leader and manager. Before you begin that journey you must really start at the foundation of the leader and that is YOU. It is very much like a building, if it doesn’t have a strong foundation – one made of rock and not sand, the building will fail at the first sign of a storm.
If the building isn’t square all other parts of the construction are
harder, and creates more work for those trying to build the remaining
building. I could even start at the design of the building. The design needs
to be well thought out, well planned, and then well executed.
If this is true of leadership – which I believe it is, then why do we spend so little time on our own personal growth plan? John Maxwell highlighted a number of these points in a recent leadership certification program in Florida by introducing
the 15 Laws of Personal Growth.
Let me ask you, if you aren’t growing as an individual will your organization grow? The first law of Leadership is the law of the lid. Your organization won’t grow past your level of leadership. I recommend one earlier step – and that is a
personal leadership and growth plan. One of the first laws of Personal Growth is the law of intentionality. We must have a plan. Growth doesn’t happen accidentally. You must add value to yourself. After all if you don’t add value to yourself then why should others follow you to the next level? Here are questions for you to consider:
The second law is the law of awareness. Do you know yourself? What are your gifts and strengths? Are you capitalizing on those strengths? Is building on those strengths in your law of intentionality? This truly takes time. It is difficult to look internally. It isn’t always a pretty picture and one that many don’t want to face.
What are you running from?
This is a continuation of our series on Personal Leadership. Previously we reviewed the first and second law.
The third law is the Law of the Mirror. This is your self-image. This happens after the law of awareness. It is about being honest with yourself and understanding where your self- image is suffering. Self image is what you tell yourself when no one is around, when no one is listening. It is often a very loud voice that screams you screwed up – or you rock! A strong self image will get you further in life that most anything else. It will get you through the rough times as you will pick yourself up and keep moving. It will shout louder than the
negatives around you that say it can’t be done – or you can’t do it. Work on your self image and make it as strong as you can. I don’t care who you are, you are unique in a positive way. You have value. You can share that value with those around you, so start telling yourself this each and every day!
The fourth law is the law of reflection. Each one of us needs to STOP, pause, and reflect on what we are doing, have done and create a plan of what we need to stop doing and what we need to start doing.
One of my favorite YouTube videos is with Bob Newhart http://youtu.be/Ow0lr63y4Mw Watch this video, it will give you perspective. The law of reflection is about those I am spending time with and asking the question – who do I need to add to my sphere of influence? Reflect on the experiences you have. Experience means nothing unless you reflect on it and learn something. Wisdom is reflection on experiences. Without reflection wisdom does not show up. The law of Reflection challenges you to Stop, Pause and Reflect.
Here is what I do.
Each week I reflect back on the prior week. What is working and what isn’t (this doesn’t take long – maybe 15 minutes). Each month, I reflect back on the month. Did I use my time wisely, what changes do I need to make in the coming month. Each quarter I do the same. Now on an annual basis as a part of my planning I reflect on the prior year.
Here are questions I ask at each juncture:
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.
This is a continuation of my series on the 15 Laws of Personal Growth
The 8th Law is the Law of Pain – Without the pain there will be no growth. Just ask anyone who competes in sports, business, and life. There is an old saying of “no pain, no gain” and it is true. Good management of bad situations leads to great growth. When you manage a bad or painful circumstance well, you gain much. We actually learn far more from the pain than we do pleasure. We don’t remember the pleasure for nearly as long as we do the pain. The reason people don’t sustain success is people believe success sustains itself. That isn’t true, we can stumble upon success, but it won’t continue if don’t learn how to work through the pain, or what might also be called failure.
What isfailure – but pain? How we react tofailure, how we (to quote an old song) “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again” will be the true measure of our success. If we back off because of the pain and never push through it, we will never see the reward, the success, and learn from the pain.
I have found when I am the most frustrated, in the most pain, and at the end of my rope is when I am most able to succeed. I am more open to learning and more ready for the end goal. Actually, putting myself in the situation where failure is not an option, no matter what the pain ensures my success.
Many of you know I like to climb 14’rs and we have many of them in Colorado. On the way up the mountain, there are many times it would be easiest to just turn around and go home. Yet, turning around isn’t an option (unless health and safety are at issue).
Turning around because I am tired (and trust me I am), or it is hard (yes it is hard) or any other reason is just not on the menu of options. By pushing through the pain, through the hurt ad making it to the top – I am able to experience the success (and the view) and it is so worth the pain. Every time I grow, apply, learn, and continue on the journey – how about you?
This is a continuation of my blog series on Personal Leadership
The 9th Law is the Law of the Ladder. This ties to John Maxwell’s Law of the Lid. Your organization can only grow to where you are in leadership. If you have a cap on your leadership then your business growth will reflect that cap. The same is true personally. Character growth determines the height of our personal growth. We all must have a solid foundation. Just like my house, if the foundation isn’t built on solid rock, level, and firm, then the house will sway with the wind, storms, and weather. We are the same way. If your character isn’t firm, we aren’t firm on our character and values. Each new idea, situation, and opportunity will cause the ladder of our life to sway and sometimes fall. I often see this in business. Owners have a firm course of action until something comes along that is a new bright shinny object. Their focus, thoughts, and activity follow this new shinny object. Then we wonder why the results desired aren’t what we wanted, we aren’t getting ahead, and the profits we depended on are negative and not positive.
What is your character? What are your values? I look at these as nonnegotiable. These are the items that if you had to compromise, a piece of you would die. A value to me is my spiritual compass and guide to a fulfilled and meaningful life.
My values are:
Relationships: With God, Family and Friends and clients
Freedom: One reason I own my own business, desire to have control, ability to travel
Congruent: Being true to my word
Mental Growth: Desire to learn
Health: Desire to not be dependent on others as I age
Financial Independence: Desire to not be in debt, not rely on others for financial matters
Structure: Desire to have things in their place and be clean
Challenging: Never wanting to be bored, always ready to step out of my comfort zone, ready to do new things
So what are yours?
Law 10 is the Law of the Rubber Band – The only time a rubber band is worth anything is when it has tension. The value is the stretch. Yet if we lose the tension of growth, we lose. No great discovery of life was found by a satisfied person. Be grateful for the tension in your life, it shows you are alive. Where do you want to be? What tension are you creating to help you be there? Then what is the next level you strive for.
I lived in Massachusetts for 30 years. The last few years were all about determining where we would get to live. See we were making a choice to move, making a choice to get out of our comfort zone. We spent time researching, learning, visiting and making a decision. It was fun, it was challenging, it was scary. We were leaving where we had lived for a long time, going to a place where we knew no one, we had never lived, and jobs were unknown. We did it, survived, loved it and have always been thankful we made the change. Yet, the challenge really came after the move, there was a time of restlessness – especially for me. What was the new challenge, what was next on the horizon? I needed a new tension. My rubber band was all out of tension. I wasn’t growing, stretching and pursing a new goal. That had to change – which it did – it was called opening my own business.
What I learned was – never complete the stretch without choosing the new stretch, the new place to go and grow. When there is no tension you are under the ground – and I am not ready for that!
One opportunity I have is to work with the local Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce on their Chamber University. These monthly workshops are provided to the local business community as a tool to help them in their business.
During the last 2 years of assisting with the planning of Chamber U it amazes me that the only topic people want month after month is marketing. If the title of the topic includes marketing people attend, if it doesn’t then they don’t attend. So what is the mystic about marketing? Why is there such a “demand” for marketing information and education, yet what most business lack is systems and sales processes?
You can have the best marketing plan on the planet, yet if the team can’t close the sale, why bother. If there aren’t systems in place to follow up with the leads that marketing generates then it is a waste of money. If the target market for the business is not identified, then throwing $100 bills off the highest building might generate better results. Marketing is math nothing more nothing less. If the calculations don’t add up then the results become questionable. Here are a couple of tips for your marketing math:
Last week we highlighted the challenges of marketing. Marketing without sales is a waste of time and money. Yet, as a business coach, that is what I see continually in businesses I meet. The marketing team (even if it is a team of 1) does the marketing activities: advertising, networking, strategic alliances etc. Yet, when the phone rings does the sales team know how to close the sale? Statistic indicate that almost 70% of sales are not closed due to the sales person never asking for the sale. If you don’t ask for the sale, you probably won’t get it. The sales team needs training. I have joked that the sales team needs WEEKLY training, only to have sales people agree with me. It isn’t a joke, train your sales team, train them well and train them often!
Who is your sales team? My answer – every employee in the company? Who needs sales training – every employee. Who is the core sales team? The team of people who regularly talk, meet with customers and prospects. That includes receptionists, customer service, Presidents, management etc. All it takes is one word to make the difference in a sale.
What do you train the sales team on?
What is an executive coach and why would I want one?
Advance a career.
Transform a company.
Achieve incredible results.
With Executive Coaching all this is possible. Plus more.
For executives who want to take their career to the next level – certified practicing executive coaching can get you there.
So why executive coaching for your organization?
In business, the only thing that really counts is results. Executive coaching promises to deliver results within a relatively short span of time.
High achievers continually deliver results and they do it by performing at their best each and every day.
In today’s dynamic business world, these high achievers also need the guidance, support and motivation of an executive coach to accomplish this.
Peak performance is based on a few key factors, and no matter what business you may be in, the fact is:
• High performing executives achieve more
• High performing teams deliver more
• High performing companies make more profits and enjoy more market share.
All this is made possible through executive coaching.
How can you leverage your current skills, experience and resources in today’s fast-paced economy? How can you stay competitive in an increasingly competitive business world? How can you remain a top performer in a top performing company?
The answer is simple –by using the services of an executive coach.
So how do I pick one? How do I know they can really help?
Here are 4 tips for choosing an executive coach:
If you have any questions – give me a call – I will help you find the right coach for you.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
Entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders, managers need to step back on a regular basis and get back to basics. The temptation when running your own enterprise is to stop doing the foundational elements that made you successful in your business. What are the basics for you? Could they be?
• Marketing: Testing and measuring what is working in your marketing program and what isn’t. Are you guessing as to which marketing programs work and which don’t. One of my clients swore that one of their marketing programs worked and worked well, until we ran the numbers. They were investing about $14,000 per year in this program and got about $6,000 back. Even taking into account lifetime value of the new customers, it was an expense and not an investment. Both revenue and profitability went up when they stopped that marketing program.
• Sales: It is documented that sales people must be trained and retrained on a regular basis to refine their skills and ensure the basic blocking and tackling is being done. What old sales techniques need to be revisited and are there new ones? Selling today is very different than 5 years ago, however some of the basics like communicating with your prospect are foundations which often get forgotten due to bad habits.
• Closing: Are you asking for the close in the sale? I have a client that lost the potential of a big new account because the prospects perception was that they didn’t want it enough. They asked for the close, but not often enough during the final presentation. Their competition asked for the sale more.
• Advertising: Are you running the same old ad that you always do? It works – great, but could it be better. What is your shock and awe with your advertising? Do you get their attention, or are they yawning through the whole process?
Basics are critical. Innovation is critical, yet if the innovation is built on a rocky foundation the whole business may fail before you know it.
Basics are critical. Innovation is paramount, yet if the innovation is built on a rocky foundation the whole business may fail before you know it. The foundation of your business is the same as the foundation of a building. If the wrong materials, wrong design, wrong measurements have been used then the foundation begins to crack under the pressure. Pressure for a building can be weight, weathering, erosion of soil and much more. Crumbling of a business can also come from pressure of the growth of the business. Cracking appears when the systems are not in place to handle the growth or changing in the business. How do you know if the basics are failing within your business?
Key Business and Sales Performance Indicators:
o Are your leads increasing or decreasing? If you don’t know then that is the first sign that the basic foundation has a few cracks.
o Do you measure your closing ratios now to a year ago, last quarter, last month? Do you measure them by sales person?
o Each lead that you receive you should know where it originated? Was it a referral from a customer, generated by networking, an ad in the paper, pay for click, SEO etc.
Innovation in your business is paramount. If you have always done something the exact same way, do you need to stop and consider a new way to address the situations. Even a 1 degree difference can make a tremendous difference in the future and especially the profitability of the business.
What are your KPI’s? How often do you measure them?
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.
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