Masterminds observations… Love over Hate

Love over Hate

Love over Hate Business Masterminds Observations

 

The illusion of “The Power of One”

I am reading “Love over Hate, finding life by the wayside” link to the book by Graham Long, pastor and CEO of the Wayside Chapel in Sydney .This is a passage that stood out for me particularly:

“The idea that the basic human unit is a solitary individual is the established orthodoxy of the Western World. It’s an illusion and an attractive one at that, often presenting itself as “The power of one”. The power of this illusion is in its promise to an insecure individual that a dream and some willpower is all that is required to overcome life’s obstacles. It promises an individual can triumph over adversity as well as any competitors who get in the way of the prize of justice, fame, wealth or whatever other virtue is implied by the dream.”

It’s all upside down

What this says to me amongst many other things is that we (and I include myself firmly in that “we”) have got it all wrong. The library of work in books, blogs, seminars, videos and everything else by the gurus of the business growth, as well as personal development world repeat the refrain of the Power of the individual and that “The answer is within”… even in the world of religion we hear “The Kindom of God is within”… All of that is nonsense.

To me, that paragraph and the rest of the book and several other books I have been reading in the last year, have convinced me that I have to throw out the rule book, and start again… let me know what you think!

Enough And The Business Growth Myth

Or why it’s time to send Richard Branson back to his island

If you enjoy this article click here to get a copy of one of the “The Ten Truths” books for business owners for free

I’ve had an insight in the last 6 months and I have to make an admission:

BSOne of the pillars and accepted principles of my profession of business coaching, is wrong.

  •  Nonsense
  • Twadlle
  • Complete Rubbish

The principle I refer to is this:

“If your business doesn’t grow, it dies”

Every business coach, guru, mentor, consultant, author, academic and MBA student will tell you that this is a foundation principle of business, capitalism and society at large.

choirI admit that until not too long ago, I repeated the same refrain and was an enthusiastic member of the choir. (More about business growth here as well)

Today, I deeply apologise to everyone I have repeated this refrain to in the past 10 years; because I now realise that the principle sounds good, but is wrong… very wrong.

I am reminded of the quote by American Journalist H.L. Mencken :

For every complex human problem, there is a plausible

solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

I don’t know who first stated that business must grow and (and by extension, that more growth is better than less growth) and I don’t know in what context, but it’s crap.

And what’s more, it’s dangerous crap and has caused all kinds of damage to business owners, their families, their friends and society.

The idea that business must grow or else it will fail doesn’t exist in isolation from a number of other ideas on which we base the management of our society. The idea is closely related to our celebrity worship culture, the western world’s depression epidemic and other mental health issues, anorexia nervosa in young women and the basic belief in our society that nothing is ever enough.

Never enough

fistBecause in 2013, we are never:

  • Thin enough
  • Rich enough
  • Good enough parents
  • Educated enough
  • Successful enough
  • Beautiful enough
  • Clever enough

And we are definitely never good enough as business owners

The measure of success for business owners is whether or not we sell our business for $100Mil or more.

Or more specifically, the role models and shining light examples we are told we must aspire to as business owners are people such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, or Larry Page, people who started a business and ended up billionaires. And don’t get me wrong I think they are amazing people, no doubt about it, but I know many other people who I find just as amazing  and just as inspiring and they will never be billionaires, and probably not even multi-millionaires (just owning a house in a major city in Australia already qualifies you as a millionaire).

Let me explain how I have come to the conclusion that business doesn’t actually need to grow.

My favourite client

plumberI have a client who is a plumber and he has three vans on the road and employs 3 people. He might end up employing one or two more people and have one or two more vans on the road in the next few years, but that’s probably where he will stop growing. He may continue to operate his plumbing business for the next 20-30 years and then, possibly, one of his kids might take it over, or maybe one of his employees might.

But in any case, someone will probably run the same business more or less in the same form and the same size for the bulk of this century and beyond.

His business isn’t dying, far from it.

His business is providing him and his family and his employees and their families a comfortable, meaningful, rewarding life. A life that allows him to feel proud of himself, a life that allows him to look after the people he cares about and do the stuff he wants to do.

The little voice on our shoulders

whisperNow I haven’t talked about this with my client, specifically, but I can guarantee you that there is a small part of him at least, the little voice in his ear, the famous critic on his shoulder (mine is called Ted by the way… what’s yours?) that will be whispering: “You suck as a business owner”; “Obviously you aren’t fit to polish a true entrepreneurs boots, because a proper business owner would by now have built the business up to at least 20 vans and he would have set a big enormous goal to be dominating Sydney and Australia in a few years, with offices everywhere and managers and executives … ready for a lucrative take-over by LendLease or some other conglomerate like that”… “You suck”.

What does your little voice whisper to you in the quiet moments?

We are told that we have to have an abundance mindset and that there are unlimited growth opportunities and unlimited money for all of us. All we have to do is think right and have the right attitude. As long as we have the right entrepreneurial mindset, we can all do as the title of one of Richard Branson’s books suggests: “Screw It, Let’s Do It” and we too shall have an island in the Bahamas.

Allow me to be blunt:

 

You will not have an island in the Bahamas, and nor will I…

island

And you know something? That is perfectly OK (they don’t even have 4G reception on islands in the Bahamas anyway, so who needs it?

 

Daring Greatly

Famous researcher, professor at the university of Houston and author Brene Brown says in her book:  “Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”, that the opposite of Scarcity is not Abundance. Brene Brown makes the point that scarcity and abundance are two sides of the same coin. The opposite of Scarcity is Enough.

And it is.

My client the plumber will get one or two more vans, which will allow him to do a certain kind of work and employ a full time admin assistant and allow him to spend two days a week no longer “on the tools” and then it will probably be “Enough”, for him.

That doesn’t mean everyone goes to sleep… of course not… there are all sorts of things that can be improved and run smoother in his business, there are efficiencies to be gained and his people can get better and develop… the challenges don’t stop, life doesn’t stop, but business growth can stop.

The Abundance Fantasy

When we are told to let go of our scarcity believes and the abundance mindset, we are told a fantasy. The pressure to embrace the Abundance mindset, sets us up to feel bad about ourselves, it sets us up for up for failure and shame.

R bransonThere is only room for one Richard Branson and one Donald Trump (thank God) on this earth and 99.99999999999% of the people on this earth are not going to become billionaires.

Neither you nor I will sell our business for $100mil; this article may end up being read by 10,000 people. It is possible that there might be 1 or 2 people in that group who will sell their business for such an enormous amount of money but the rest of us, all 9,998 of us will simply arrive at the end of our lives and have to find another way to measure how well we’ve done with the 70 years we were given.

The entrepreneurial myth

The entrepreneurial myth, the business growth myth has done us all a lot of damage. We walk around feeling inadequate, guilty and ashamed, because deep down we know that we are not going to be the next Celebrity Entrepreneur.  Venture Capitalists are not going to stake us with a few million dollars, only to cash out a few years later. And so we walk around feeling ashamed.

Stop it…

sticky

Enough is a great place to be.

 

As Brene Brown says in her first TED talk:

…You are enough…

 

Cheers,

Roland Hanekroot

BTW, if you do plan to sell your business for $100mil… Good for you, more power to you… You’re enough too!

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… follow this link

First Steps to Establishing Your Market


the simple steps cogs First Steps to establishing a market for your business

©by Roland Hanekroot, New Perspectives Coaching 2013

What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.

In this series of articles and associated webinars by the authors of “The Simple Steps for Business Program” you will be introduced to the basic concepts and knowledge that will set you up to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.

Format

The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of “The Simple Steps for Business” program, to suggest some “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.

market3 Questions

In the second of these articles we’ll look at Your Market and ask:

What, who and where is my market?

Most of us business owners find ourselves in a market by accident. Not many of us start from scratch in a new market. We’ve either taken an existing business over from a previous owner or we’ve started our business doing something that we happen to be particularly good at and hence we’ve already had a couple of clients and a market from day 1.

Consequently we roll along doing more of what we’ve always done. Our recipe for success is our belief in ourselves and a vague notion that we’ll be able to do it better than the other guys, somehow.

The things that don’t set us apart

This situation is equally applicable to someone with a carpentry business, as it is for a mortgage broker, a café or a fashion store. When asked what sets them apart, most business owners will say 3 things:

we love customers 1)   We give great customer service

2)   For a great product

3)   At a great price.

And I have no doubt that they do, believe that they do, or at least strive to.

There are two problems with these statements though:

1)   The three statements are not special enough, they don’t offer enough value (Customers expect good service, good quality and good price from everyone… as a minimum)

2)   And most importantly, all your competitors say exactly the same thing.

Who is the cheapest?

If you and your competitors make the same promise, the customer will make a decision on price because it is the easy factor to compare on.

In small business, there is nothing worse than being forced to compete on price, because there is always someone who is prepared to do it cheaper. You cannot build a long-term sustainable small business based around being the cheapest.

Find a tight niche

One of the most effective solutions to this problem is to find a tightly defined niche market that is either not serviced at all or is underserviced.

If you can find a niche market for your product or service that has few or no other business operating in, you can set out to own that niche and dominate it. Dominating a niche is a recipe for building a long-term sustainable business, like no other.

3 Niche questions

There are 3 questions you can ask to help you find such a niche:

1)   Who does not currently use my product or service but might?

2)   What are all the factors that we and all our competitors already compete on with each other?

3)   On which factors are none of us competing?

I am going to work through a couple of examples to demonstrate how to go about finding a niche and stepping into it.

The carpet cleaners

Re question 1: ‘Who does not currently use my product or service, but might?

carpet cleaner Assume you own a carpet cleaning business and your town has heaps of carpet cleaners and they all offer more or less the same thing so that 75% of the inquiries you get from prospective new clients revolves around the question: How much do you charge per room? The question drives you mad, because you are only just making ends meet as it is and having to be the cheapest all the time just isn’t viable.

One day you decide something has to change and together with your wife you start to have a look through your database of clients and jobs from the last 3 years. You are not sure exactly what you are looking for yet, but you hope to find a specific category of client or job that is either more profitable than the rest, or more fun to do, or is easier, or all of the above.

After an exhaustive search over many evenings, your wife mentions that she’s come across a few big 21st birthday party cleanups and an idea starts to form.

cleaning the mess 21st birthday parties

You decide to create a special offering and expertise in preparation and cleanup before and after big parties. Especially 18ths and 21sts can be massive messy affairs and a lot of anxiety goes along with them. How about offering a package that includes preparing the carpets for a big party with a protective spray application and then coming back the day after the party to do a thorough clean to make the house smell like new again?

A special package like this is actually not offered by anyone in your city and addresses a great need.

John and Mary’s Party Cleaning is born… a unique product and offering at a price level that you can make good profits on and best of all, prospective customers cannot compare on price.

Your business and your life will never be the same again… I guarantee it.

The Simple Steps for Business … First steps:

As mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article, here are some “First Steps” actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the topics and principles we discuss:

1)   Read the article Blue Oceans and Empty Swimming Pools”, by Roland Hanekroot. Follow the link to the resources page

2)   In a notebook ask yourself the first of the 3 niche questions above.

Kelvin’s bike shop

bike shop Now lets have a look at the other “niche questions”. This is a story about a different set of circumstances as experienced by Kelvin who owns a bike shop.

This story relates to questions 2 and 3: What factors are you and your competitors already competing on and what factors are you not competing on:

Selling bicycles is not easy because there is a lot of competition from many different sources. There are other bike shops all around the city; there are the ever increasing number of ‘Big Box retailers’ such as Big W and Kmart and then internet is increasingly impacting traditional retail models as well.

Kelvins shop was still doing just ok but the trends were not looking good at all, and pressure on his margins was constant.

Just at this time Kelvin came across a quote from a bikeshop owner in America, Chris Zane: “The only difference between our competitors and ourselves is the service we provide”

The fish pond

fishpond Kelvin realised the obvious truth of this statement. There is effectively no difference between the bikes sold by Kelvin or any of his competitors or the pumps or the bike-shoes. Kelvin and his competitors were all fishing in the same pool trying catch exactly the same fish and the number of fish in that pond was diminishing. The only way forward was to create a new pond and attract enough of the fish away from the old pond to be able to enjoy the fishing again.

So Kelvin set about changing his approach to business completely. First Kelvin looked at all the factors he and his competitors fought over (price, range, convenience, friendly service, speed of delivery, connection with major sporting heroes etc)

Then Kelvin looked at what other factors there were that nobody competed on yet.

The insight that Kelvin had was that the greatest opportunity for his business, lay in creating long term customer loyalty through delivering truly extraordinary service, and absolute peace of mind.

Lifetime free stuff

For example, Kelvin implemented a life time free flat tire repair; Kelvin offered no questions asked replacement guarantees for any bikes and products sold if you were dissatisfied with the product for whatever reason. Kelvin taught his staff that from now on the word NO was out of bounds and no request was to be rejected.

A couple of years later, Kelvin moved his store to a new location with three times as much space.

Kelvin created his own fishing pond and he was able to dominate it, year after year.

The Simple Steps for Business … First steps:

As mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article, here are some “First Steps” actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the topics and principles we discuss:

1)   In your notebook ask yourself the remaining 2 niche questions above.

2)   Printout the “find your niche” worksheet here, and complete the worksheet. Follow the link to the resources page

3)   Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne is the Bible on this topic of finding a niche. It is a great read. Follow the link to the resources page

 

Time Management

Business Masterminds Observations

Time management for smart business owners:

double your profitsHere is a brilliant anecdote from “Double your profits in 6 months or less” by Bob Fifer. (Link to the book)

The book is full of brilliant tips and advice, I highly recommend any business owner to read it and then put stuff into action.

This about time management: “The first thing I do when I get to work in the morning is to divide everything I have to do into three lists. List 1 holds only items that brings in new business or reduces costs. List 2 includes the things I have to do to maintain existing business or to keep an internal operating process running. List 3 includes all the things that someone else expects or wants me to do but add no value to the bottom line.
I always start on list 1 and will not proceed to any item on list 2 until all of list 1 is complete and I will not start list 3 until list 2 is complete.”

I love the simplicity of this approach and one of the brilliant benefits of this process is that the most important stuff gets done when you are at your freshest and most efficient. And when you go home at night, you know that you’ve done all the stuff that matters most, even if you haven’t completed all three lists entirely.