Interview of myself by Tom Poland from the B.O.M.B. The Business Owners Marketing Brief.
A quick 5 minute take on why focusing on having Fun in business is the most effective way to ensure that your business does everything it is meant to do, while actually having as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
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How to drive your business forward with an Advisory Board
By Roland Hanekroot, May 2013
Life as a business owner often consists of running from client emergency to cash flow crisis, extinguishing a “shoddy work” brushfire on the way, while juggling a supplier disaster and ending the day with a staff meltdown – only to do it all again the next day.
Most business owners feel overwhelmed, in information overload and at a loss of where to focus their attention next. Because as a business owner, there are very few people you can talk to about the challenges and opportunities you have from day to day and week to week.
Rarely do you get a pat on the back; rarely do you get encouraged to pull a little harder. Rarely do you get challenged about where your focus is and how you spend your time. And rarely do you get high-quality independent advice and input. It is all down to you.
How do Successful CEOs do it all?
Successful CEOs of big companies seem to manage to focus their attention on four aspects of business only, namely:
Strategy – Where to drive the business
Brand – How the business is perceived in the market
Performance – Making sure the business runs at maximum profitability, long- and short-term
People – Developing individuals and teams, for now and the future
The Lonely Road of the Business Owner
How good would that be? You’d like some of that, too, of course… right after you deal with this irate client…
What life is actually like for you in your business, is that you spend most of your time worrying about:
Making the right decisions
Focusing on the right things
How you compare against your competitors
If you are following the right strategy (or any strategy at all)
Having stretch-goals and if you are pulling hard enough
If you are micro managing your people or the opposite
If you have the business model right
If you spend enough time developing your people
If you spend enough time with your family
How would it be to…?
Instead of all of that, how much better would it be:
To feel confident that you were focused on the stuff that matters?
To feel excited about the direction you are steering the business?
To know that your team is all pulling in that same direction?
To make decisions confidently, knowing that they were the right ones?
To have powerful goals and strategies in place, and to feel yourself and your business making steps every day that get you closer and closer to those goals?
>> How large, do you think, would the impact of that on your business (and you and your personal life) be?
>> How big a difference would this make to the growth and bottom line of your business, do you think?
>> Pause for a moment – and imagine being in that blissful state every day, and picture what business and life will look like for you then. Nice, right?
So, how do they do it?
Successful CEOs in big corporations seem to be able to do it somehow, and they generally have many more crises to deal with on a daily basis than you do.
How do they manage to keep their focus, cut through the crap, and know what to delegate and what to hold on to?
This is how they do it:
CEOs have a board to support them; with executive as well as non-executive directors with lots of experience and knowledge.
Their shareholders, through the board of directors, hold them accountable to focusing on the right things all the time.
CEOs have one or more mentors, whom they rely on to brainstorm with and use as sounding boards.
They have executive coaches to help them stay focused on doing “the right things right” and they work with once a month or fortnight.
How can you get this support?
As a lonely business owner, this is what you can do to become one of those successful CEOs:
Get a Partner. Go into partnership with someone who injects new energy and brings with them specific skills, knowledge and resources that you don’t have. Sometimes a great way to create a partnership can be to talk to one of your competitors and suggest a merger of the two businesses. The whole may turn out to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Find one (or more) Mentors in your Industry. Often there are retired business owners and entrepreneurs in your industry who would love to mentor someone and who have “been there, done that”. Contact your professional association as a starting point, your local business chambers, or AIM, the Australian Institute of Management.
Get a Business Coach (a good one). There are lots of business coaches around these days. Good ones and bad ones. They have different methodologies, approaches and experience. Get referrals from friends, interview a number of coaches and even try out a couple of different ones – until you find the one with just the right mix of experience and everything else you want and need.
Put together a Voluntary Advisory Board. Again, often there are people who are retired or otherwise can afford to “give back” and enjoy doing so. Keep this to three to five people maximum. Sometimes you might offer people like that a minor remuneration.
Engage a paid Board of Advisers. This board could be made up of your accountant (as long as they can and will function as a financial management adviser rather than a tax accountant only), your favourite commercial lawyer, and an uncle or friend who is a business owner in a non-competing business.
What are the Benefits of engaging this Type of Support?
There is no substitute for external, independent input, advice and insight – and, possibly even more important, is to have external accountability.
A good coach, a mentor or an advisory board will pull you back every time you stray and get distracted from the path. Each of them will help you to focus on the stuff that really matters for the long-term success of the business.
With this support, you will start to:
Make better decisions
Focus on the stuff that matters
Learn to delegate more effectively
Fine tune your business model
Engage your staff more effectively
Have happier customers
Make more money
Enjoy yourself a lot more in your business
Good business coaches and well-structured advisory boards will help you develop strategies and business plans, and set short-, medium- and long-term goals with you. They will support you, work with you and keep you accountable to achieving those goals. Week by week, month by month.
Your Uncle on Your Board?
The five options above are excellent options, though they may not be appropriate for you right now, because:
Partnerships can also be fraught with danger
Working individually with a business coach can be demanding time-wise and associated costs can also be prohibitive
Finding an appropriate mentor or voluntary advisory board may be challenging
Relying on volunteers, either individually or on as a board, is sometimes problematic, because volunteers can’t or won’t always commit to give you as much attention and time as you’d like (or they would if they were paid)
Engaging a paid board can become a very expensive exercise
You have heaps of respect for your uncle, but putting him on your Board is an entirely different matter again!
One more Option for You
There is also sixth option you can explore.
A number of organisations run ‘CEO Clubs’ or ‘Virtual Boards’.
The essence of a CEO Club is that a small group of fellow business owners, who are at a similar stage of business development, get together with a professional facilitator/ business coach on a regular basis (monthly, for example). They then function as a board of advisers for each other’s businesses.
Each of the different organisations that run CEO Clubs have given them their own flavour, structure, format and frequency.
A well run CEO Club incorporate the best of all worlds. Members of a club get the benefits of an experienced business coach paired with a group of fellow business owners: peers who are supporting you and hold you accountable to your business goals. All at a fraction of the cost of some of the other options CEOs of large organisations can fall back on.
A simple Google search will lead you to a number of different CEO Clubs in your area.
Introducing the Business Growth Clubs
My own business-coaching clients asked me to create such a CEO Club-style group program a little while ago. As a result, I now regularly run two such clubs in Sydney, called “The Business Growth Clubs”.
These clubs have become a great support and success with all members agreeing that they are getting fantastic results and value from their participation.
I therefore have started to run regular, free information and introductory sessions for business owners who would like to explore whether being part of a Business Growth Club could be beneficial to them. Just follow the links below to find out where and when the next free information session will take place.
Roland Hanekroot is a business coach based in Sydney, and the founder of New Perspectives.Roland focuses on helping his clients grow their business, make more money, find more time and, above all, have more fun in their business.Roland is the author of the “Ten Truths for Business Owners” series of business books (see http://thetentruths.com.au).
I read ‘It’s not the big that eat the small, it is the fast that eat the slow’ by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton years ago (follow this link) and was reminded of that book when reading an article in INC magazine, recently
Have you celebrated a failure today? You should. I was reading about a CEO who instigated a ‘Failure of the Month’ award in his organisation.
Why would he do that?
Failure happens when we try stuff, when we are curious and ask “I wonder what will happen if…” Failure happens when we skate close to the edge, and when we’re not skating close to the edge we fall asleep and then nothing develops at all.
So celebrate your greatest failure this month, because from failure comes innovation.
So in part 2, I am going to tell you how to go about creating more fun in your business…
As much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
There are 4 major steps to creating more fun in your business.
Step 1: Purpose, Passion, Profit
The first step is called “The Hedgehog Principle” as defined by Jim Collins, author “Good to Great” and other classic business books.Jim Collins writes in “Good to Great”, that a sustainable, long term profitable business must be about having absolute clarity about three questions:
What can we be the best in the world at?
What are we absolutely passionate about?
How can we create a profitable business model around that
In nearly 10 years of coaching small business owners I have come to see that it absolutely starts with those three questions. And most importantly… none of those three are optional; you must answer 3 out of 3…
Step 2: People
Business is about people. Many businesses proudly state that their staff are their most important assets yet they rarely walk the talk, because it is a feel-good statement only… and besides the reality is actually much more stark:
People ARE your business, and your business only gets to make profit at the discretion of your people.You will only make profit in your business if your people let youSo your people must be completely on board with those three questions above, Purpose, Passion and Business Model. And that means they have to be communicated with and involved in the answering of those three questions.
Step 3 Goal setting
The Chesire Cat in Alice in Wonderland said it best: “If you don’t know where you are going, my dear, any road will do.”
So the next step is Goal setting: What are our long term, medium and short term Goals of the business? And again you must get high level involvement from your people.
The most powerful business Goal setting process I know is:
Start with a big long term vision, 10 to 25 years out (often referred to as a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, the BHAG)
Next create a 3 to 5 yr target that is a big step on the way to achievement of the BHAG
Then create a Goal for the current year. The current year goal is the first step on the way to the Target and the BHAG
Finally break the 1 yr goal up into monthly milestones
Again, goal setting in a business can have an incredible impact on the business as whole, but only if all the people in the business are engaged in the development of the Goals
Step 4: Measurement
The last step is measurement and keeping track of what goes on, on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis… Measurement is what I’ll talk about in the next newsletter
Those 4 steps are what it takes to start to create REAL FUN in your business.
How does that sound? Feasible or is the little voice on your shoulder having a field day?
Ok… As I said, In the next newsletter (May) I will go into a bit more depth on the topic of measurement and then in the June newsletter I will show you how all of it comes together to creating REAL FUN and how we can even become really clear and exact about exactly how much fun we are actually creating, so that we can ask ourselves: “Are we having Fun yet?”
Have a go yourself…
In the mean time … I’d love you to start thinking about those first 3 steps I talk about in this article:
How many of the steps have you taken some action on already
Which of those can you take a small step with tomorrow or next week…just a small step
Maybe have an informal chat with some of the key people in your business about the hedgehog principle?
You might be surprised how even a few conversations on these topics might start to introduce a little bit more fun in your business.
Call me if you’d like to explore how I can help you have more FUN in your business.
Or come to the next Small Business Masterminds workshop… click here