Highly Chilled Habit #7: Be Systematic

florist

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners

This is the fifth article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Habit #7:

Highly Chilled Business Owners are Systematic

systematic accuracy

In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you must always be on the prowl for parts of your processes that can be turned into repeatable systems

BTW, You can read up on Chilled habit #1: Be dependable here

If McDonald’s Did Flowers

Amanda sells bunches of flowers. It’s a simple concept, but she manages the process in a way that no one else thought of before she came along. Amanda wants her business to be the McDonald’s of floristry by keeping repeatability, dependability, expandability, speed, convenience and price at the heart of what she delivers.

In order to achieve this, Amanda has had to invent her whole business model and production process from scratch. It had never been done before in her industry because, as is the case with restaurants and chefs, the success of a floristry business relies on the creative vision and genius of the florist. Besides, flowers are natural products and one night’s unexpected frost can leave said creative vision in tatters.

florist

Be Analytical, Like Amanda

In Amanda’s business, a limited number of different bunches of flowers are created and produced in large quantities every day, 7 days a week.

The composition of each one is determined by the market purchaser on the day.

The purchaser makes decisions dependent on that early morning’s availability and market prices.

Getting the day’s bunches right was historically a hit and miss affair – and something that gave Amanda sleepless nights.

So, Amanda set about creating a database of every bunch produced in a year. By the end of the year, there were hundreds and hundreds of bunches recorded.

Each record held photos of the completed product, a list of the components, the cost of the ingredients, the total cost of the bunch and the time taken to create each one. The bunch records were further categorised by month, by the person who created it and its popularity with customers.

Making it Easy

A year later, Amanda can send her purchaser to the day’s markets with simple instructions relevant to the season and state of the markets. All the purchaser has to do is pull out a tablet with the records of previous bunches from the same season and compare what’s in stock at the right price that day. The result? Making precisely the right flower purchases for that day’s production.

What was previously a hit and miss affair has become one of the simplest aspects of Amanda’s business.

That’s because even something as creative and dependent on external factors as flowers can benefit from systemisation. Many times, you might have to imagine your own systemised solution to a problem. However, getting into the habit of looking for opportunities to systemise your business is what will turn an ordinary business into a Highly Chilled one.

Amanda’s is a Highly Chilled business and Amanda is a Highly Chilled small business owner.

Your Homework (The Chilled Kind)

Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own.

Practice Highly Chilled habit #7:

Your business consists of many, many processes (from answering the telephone and sending invoices to building the products and delivering the services you sell). Start by creating a list with as many repeating processes as you can think of in your business. Now, go and pick the low hanging fruit first.

Ask yourself: What’s the easiest process to create a simple system for? What’s the next low hanging fruit?

Don’t panic. You don’t need to tick them all off at once. Just do this exercise once a week or even once a month – but do get started this week! And remember, building a Highly Chilled business isn’t rocket science. All it takes is baby steps, time and consistency. Keep at it and you’ll be surprised by how different your business and life will look.

Next, you might like to carry out my business owners self assessment survey, I’m sure it will give you some food for thought

More on this topic:

Highly Chilled Habit #6: Be Careful

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners

This is the fifth article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Habit #6:

Highly Chilled Business Owners Find the Best Person for the Role

business mane rope balancing employment

In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you have to put great people on your team, give them every opportunity to shine and remove the ones that don’t fit.

BTW, You can read up on Chilled habit #1: Be dependable here

The Hard Stuff

Small business owners often lament the fact they can’t afford to hire great people because big corporates have so much deeper pockets. They also often complain that managing people (especially millennials!) is a nightmare because they think the world owes them a reward for turning up and as soon as you’ve finished training them, they leave again.

It’s true that finding, hiring, engaging and keeping good people is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your business.

But it’s meant to be hard because employing people is also your greatest opportunity to build a Highly Chilled business that makes money. And generally, in business (as in much of life, I suppose), the hardest things are where the greatest opportunities lie.

Be Careful, Like Adrian

I know lots of business owners who have struggled with employees their whole life. I’ve also met a bunch of them who get it right. Adrian is one of those people.

Adrian owns a Highly Chilled retail design, development and store fit-out business in Sydney. This is his website. Things have been going incredibly well for Adrian since he started his business in 2010. He employs around 30 people and half of them are young millennials. They come and go, get paid the industry average and have their good and bad days. But they deliver. The culture of the place is buzzing, and they make lots of money for Adrian and his business.

Adrian’s secrets are simple:

  • Hire the best people, not just the ones you can afford.
  • Hire for cultural fit AND skills/experience.
  • Set high expectations.
  • Give everyone lots of encouragement and genuine personal attention.
  • Get rid of them early if they don’t work out.

A couple of years ago, Adrian’s business had grown to the point where he needed a general manager. The temptation was to promote someone internally to the role. That would have been the easy, economical solution.

However, he was aware of the Peter Principle that says: “People always get promoted to one level above their ability.”

And Adrian needed someone with experience in fast-growing national and international business.

The answer was clear. The person in the business he’d considered for the role didn’t have GM experience and although a great team member, promoting this person was not what the business needed. Adrian actually knew exactly the person he wanted to have on board, a good friend, but she had a high paying job at one of the biggest corporates in Sydney (with all the perks and trappings of corporate success). What could he offer to entice her away?

She Jumped at the Opportunity

Long story short, Adrian took his friend to lunch, took the plunge and matched her corporate pay. He also offered her other financial benefits and options in the business down the track. The friend jumped at the opportunity, and they’ve been working together for 3 years with great success.

Your business is only as strong as your people. Hiring someone based on whether you can afford them, or because they happen to be there already, is a recipe for stagnation.

Adrian’s is a Highly Chilled business and Adrian is a Highly Chilled small business owner.

Your Homework (The Chilled Kind)

Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own.

Practice Highly Chilled habit #6:

You may not currently need to hire someone, but the next time you do need to find a new employee, resist the automatic temptation to consider promoting someone you already have on the team. First, take some time to visualise the person you’d ideally like for the role.

Are you a small business owner who’s feeling the heat? Explore Highly Chilled habit #7 as soon as it is live on my blog here 

More on this topic:

Highly Chilled Habit #5: Be Clear

clarity

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners

This is the fifth article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Habit #5:

Highly Chilled Business Owners Say "No" a Lot

be clear business habit 5

In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you must have a succinct, one-sentence answer to the question: “Why does your business exist and why would anybody care about that?”

BTW, You can read up on Chilled habit #1: Be dependable here

Getting Clear

In the early days of my building business, I basically tried to take on any building job that came along for any client that walked past my door. I was inexperienced in business, and I figured that we had to achieve at least 2 million dollars in turnover if I was going to have enough money left over. The upshot of this was lots of frustration and heartache (for myself and some of my clients), and very little money.

Luckily, I learnt from my mistakes. I realised what we were good at and what we weren’t so good at. Some years later, I decided to specialise and focus on renovations to old terraced houses in Sydney’s inner city. I had an affinity for them. I also understood the challenges and opportunities. We developed an expertise in these projects and offered a unique package of building and design services aimed at the owners of terraced houses.

Building Up the Courage

Picking this niche started turning my building business around. However, the biggest turning point came when I built up enough courage to start saying “no” to building projects that fell outside of our narrow speciality.

I became happier, as did our customers. We started making money. We even went well beyond the turnover target I had dreamt about early on.

That was the first time I understood how important it is to be able to answer the Big Question of Small Business: “Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care about that?”

Our Purpose (with a capital “P”) in the building company became: “To make the process of renovating your terraced house a joy.”

Be Focused, Like Jo

In the past 12 years, I’ve helped many small business owners become completely clear about the Big Question and then watched them build Highly Chilled small businesses. One of these people is named Jo and she has built a Highly Chilled web development business. This is her website.

When I met Jo, she was struggling on many fronts. She worked day and night, but she still made very little money. Essentially, Jo was in the same place I’d been in the early stages of my building career. She felt frustrated and stressed because she took on every job that came up.

Over a 6-month period, we set about discovering her strengths and weaknesses, what gets her out of bed in the morning and who her perfect clients are. We ended up with this Purpose statement: “We make it easy for companies to do business online.”

The day we nailed that statement, things started to turn around for Jo. It suddenly became easy to decide where to direct her focus, which opportunities to say “yes” to and most importantly, which to say “no” to.

6 months later and Jo is still working hard, but she’s having fun, her customers love her and she’s making money. Jo’s is a Highly Chilled business and Jo is a Highly Chilled small business owner.

Your Homework (The Chilled Kind)

Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own.

Practice Highly Chilled habit #5:

Grab a coffee or a wine and a piece of paper and pen. Brainstorm 50 sentences that start with the statement: “In my business, we strive to X”. It doesn’t matter if some of the sentences you write down feel silly. Simply scribbling lots and lots of options will help you get closer to the Purpose of your business.

Are you a small business owner who’s feeling the heat? Explore Highly Chilled habit #6 here as soon as it is live on my blog here 

More on this topic:

Highly Chilled Habit #4: Be Thrifty With Your Time

time management business habits

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners

This is the fourth article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Highly Chilled Habit #4:

Be Thrifty With Your Time

7 habits num 4 time management

In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you must get into the habit of always asking yourself: Is what I am doing at this moment the best use and management of my time?

BTW, You can read up on Chilled habit #1 here. And Chilled habit #2, here And Chilled Habit #3 here

Be disciplined, like Jacob

Jacob is disciplined time manager I’ve met in small business. Jacob started his IT business a little over 20 years ago and now he employs more than 100 people across Australia and New Zealand. The business runs largely without him. So much so, that Jacob travels the world in style and has found time to start a new and totally different business besides his IT venture. This is the website of his IT business. If there’s one habit that Jacob has disciplined himself to internalise, it’s to constantly remind himself of the question: Is this the best use or management of my time?

Time is the one thing you can’t buy more of

I sometimes ask small business owners what they think is the most valuable resource of their business. Generally, people mention contracts, customers, stock, equipment, IP, property or their people. While all of those things are extremely important, none are as valuable as your time. Your time, as the business owner, is the only thing you cannot buy, rent, hire, beg or steal more of. Therefore, whenever you say “YES” to doing one thing, it means, by definition, you’re saying “NO” to doing something else. Jacob has learnt this over the years, and he’s become rigorous in applying that principle every day. Whenever Jacob is confronted with a demand on his time, he’s committed to asking himself the following 6 questions:
  • Does this thing HAVE to be done now?
  • If not by me, who else can this thing be done by?
  • What would happen if I say “NO” to this thing?
  • If I say “YES”, what will not get done?
  • Is doing this thing really the BEST use of my time?
  • What would be a better use of my time?
Thanks to this practice, Jacob has lots of time to do the stuff that matters most in his business; the stuff that only he, the business owner, can do. He can focus on the tasks that make the business grow, develop and bring in more money. Jacob’s is a Highly Chilled business and Jacob is a Highly Chilled small business owner.

Your Homework (the chilled kind)

Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own. Every Sunday night or Monday morning, ask yourself: What are the three main things I want to do this week, to feel that I’ve moved forward in my business? (Remember, as a small business owner, there will always be more things for you to do than time allows.) Practice Highly Chilled habit #4: Block the appropriate time to do those three things in your diary and only allow them to be moved in a DIRE emergency. Are you a small business owner who’s wondering how to start playing it cool? Explore Highly Chilled habit #5 here [INSERT LINK WHEN COMPLETED].

More on this topic:

Highly Chilled Habit #3: Be on top of the Numbers

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners

This is the third article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Highly Chilled Habit #3:

Be On Top of the Numbers

In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you must keep your fingers on the pulse of all your business’ key health indicators, every week

BTW, You can read up on Chilled habit #1 here. And Chilled habit #2, here

Be Nerdy like Narinder

met!) is Narinder. I could tell a story about Narinder to illustrate almost all of the 7 Habits of Highly Chilled business owners, but this one about numbers is probably the most important. More than 15 years ago, Narinder started his first small supermarket business in Sydney. This is his website. Over time, the business has grown enormously, and his stores are starting to pop up across the inner city. Each of Narinder’s stores is profitable, his staff love working there and when he opens a new store, customers bring flowers to welcome him to the neighbourhood. As I said, there are many things Narinder does well, but the habit he’s developed to an art form is that of being on top of the numbers religiously, every day and every week.

Investigate the Numbers

Narinder was awakened to the power of numbers early on. He and I concluded that his first store was not performing to its full potential and we wondered what was wrong, so we decided to investigate. We started by measuring which products and categories sold well and which didn’t. We also analysed which sections of the store realised most of the sales he made. Narinder divided the store into 12 different sections and (with the help of his staff and some simple checklists) set about getting deeper insight into the shopping behaviours of his customers. A month later we had the stats. It was immediately obvious that 2 sections of the store were visited much less than any of the others. The numbers made it very clear that people simply didn’t walk through those areas. We decided that the store needed to be re-organised and reconfigured. The 2 struggling sections needed lower shelving, more lighting and a different mix of product categories. Narinder pulled out all stops and within a week, the store had a completely different look and feel. After just a month, we were looking at a 9% increase in turnover. 6 months later, sales had grown by 25% with an improved gross margin.

Become a Devotee at the Church of Business Numbers

These days, Narinder measures everything on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. He has developed the habit of having his teeth in the numbers – and he’s never letting go. Remember, if you want to become a Highly Chilled business owner, you must learn to love the numbers and regularly measure the ones that matter most to your business.

Your Homework (The Chilled Kind)

Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own. Ask yourself: What would be the 15 (or so) key indicators of the health of your business? Next, ask yourself: How could you have each of those indicators expressed as a number on a scale? Practice Highly Chilled habit #3: Instruct someone else in your business to get you those 15 numbers every week and every month for you a in a single report. Are you a small business owner in need of a chill pill? Explore Highly Chilled habit #4: Be Thrifty (with your time).

More on this topic:

Highly chilled habit #2: Be Specific

7 habits woman relaxed

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business owners

This is the second article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Highly Chilled Habit #2:

Develop a Deep Niche

In order to build a Highly Chilled business, you must develop a niche that’s an inch wide and a mile deep.

P.S. You can read up on #1 here. Be Realistic, Like Andrew In 2004, I was working with Andrew. At some stage, we were discussing the challenges he was having with selling one of his IT services. I asked him to consider if there was enough of a market for this specific offering. Andrew said, “Good question. I might sell the world’s best buggy whips, but the market for buggy whips just isn’t that buoyant anymore.” Andrew had a great insight. He ended up ditching this particular service and focusing his energy on two other core services. His business never looked back. However, in today’s world, with the ever-increasing globalisation of commerce and traffic, it may actually be possible to build a Highly Chilled small business selling the best buggy whips in the world. Better Yet: Be Specific, Like Sebastiaan I have a brother named Sebastiaan who is doing just that. He is building a Highly Chilled small business selling services that are so niche, so narrowly defined, that there are probably less than 10 businesses in the entire world that offer what he offers – and even fewer that are as good as he is. This is his website. What’s more, there is only a tiny number of customers for his product in most countries of the world. Mining Deep Narrow Holes Sebastiaan has developed a niche that’s only a tenth of an inch wide, but its depth goes right through to the core of the earth. He has even built special little shovels, a tenth of an inch wide, to ensure his business doesn’t stray outside that niche. Sebastiaan’s team have arguably become the best “buggy whip makers” on the planet, and because of that, their customers come to him from all corners of the world to have their super-specialised projects completed. These people know they have only one shot at getting it 100% right and Sebastiaan’s business simply offers the best chance at that shot. Highly Chilled business owners know they have to stand out from the crowd, so they develop a clearly defined niche, mine it as deep as it goes and intentionally develop an iron habit, never to stray outside it. Your Homework (The Chilled Kind) Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own. Ask yourself: What am I really, really good at? What am I SO good at that I can be the best in my world at doing that one specific thing? Practice Highly Chilled habit #2: Consider focusing your offer to your customers on “that thing”. Are you a small business owner in need of a chill pill? Explore Highly Chilled habit #3: Be on top of the numbers. Coming soon on this blog.

More on this topic:

Highly Chilled Business Habit #1: Be dependable

7 habits woman relaxed

The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled

Small Business owners

This is the first article in a monthly series on small business owners I have met or worked with over the years who developed beautiful successful businesses.

Stories of successful real business owners

In 35 years of doing business and working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned a very important lesson: Success in small business starts by building great habits. I call these practices the “7 Highly Chilled Habits” and I find they’re best illustrated with the stories of real business owners who I happen to have had the pleasure of coaching.

The articles are based on my E-book, The 7 Habits of Highly Chilled Small Business Owners. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Highly Chilled Habit #1:

To be successful in business, be Dependable

7 habits trust

I can’t sell what I don’t stock… Colin

A client I once worked with imports wine from Europe and sells it to restaurants around Australia. One day, a particularly cheeky rosé from his range sold out and his Italian suppliers were running behind with fulfilling orders. The situation wasn’t going to be resolved for at least a month and some of my client’s favourite eateries were going to have to put a different rosé on their menu. Not only were sales lost in that month, some of the substitute rosé from other distributors stuck. My client lost several big accounts and tens of thousands of dollars in revenue throughout that year alone. When working through this challenge with my wine importing client, I was reminded of Colin. I first met Colin in the eighties during my early days as a builder in Sydney. Colin owned a builder’s timber and hardware store in the inner city, and I became a regular customer of his. This is his website: http://www.swadlingstimberandhardware.com.au/ . Colin was a grumpy bugger, but he ran an incredibly successful business that was far superior to most of his competitors.

It’s All About Trust

One of the things that made Colin’s business so successful was that they always had what we needed in stock. The team virtually never ran out of their product lines and on top of that, they generally provided same-day delivery. I asked Colin once about the enormous range and quantity of stock he carried. It looked, to my inexperienced self, like an expensive business to run. All that money tied up in stock. Colin’s response was brilliant in its simplicity and I’ve always remembered it: “I can’t sell what I don’t stock,”. Colin continued to build a Highly Chilled business as a Highly Chilled small business owner. By the time I left the building industry, he had 6 massive stores in locations all across Sydney and most local professional builders had a trading account with one of them. We all relied on that simple philosophy of his. My wine importing client now holds at least a 3-month supply of any label he sells because Highly Chilled business owners make a habit of making great promises to their customers. What’s more, their customers know they’re in the habit of keeping them!

Your Homework (The Chilled Kind)

Here’s a short exercise you could carry out to start the process of making this habit your own. Practice Highly Chilled habit #1: Take a look at all of the promises you make to your clients. Ask yourself: Do I go to every length I can in order to fulfil every promise I make? Do I, like Colin, have everything that my clients expect me to have in stock? Or, if I say that I deliver in 24 hrs, do I actually deliver in 24 hrs – every time? Hungry for less Netflix, more chill? Explore all 7 habits. you can download the whole E-book for free here

Next Month, We’ll talk about Habit #2: Be Specific and my brother Sebastiaan in Holland

More on this topic:

The Truth about Change in business (and life)

TTTMBF change
TTTMBF The Ten Truths for making business Fun

The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun

And building a business that sustains you for years to come:

This is the seventh article in a monthly series on Making Business Fun: This article is about how to make change happen in your business and it’s the last Truth

The last article explains how growth is not the be and end all and that there is such a thing as enough in a Fun Business and you can read it here

The articles are based on my book, The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun, published in 2011. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Many small steps lead to

Big Change in your business

Change is all about having Fun on the Journey

TTTMBF small steps suport
Most business owners know they need to change, because they operate in a constant state of overwhelm because but they don’t know how to change and where to start. Does that sound familiar to you? In my experience, the way out of overwhelm and towards “Fun” (that deep sense of reward and satisfaction you get as a result of building a business that hums along like a well-oiled machine) is primarily about knowing what step to take next and feeling confident about your ability to carry out the task, whatever it may be.

Consistency is Key

There’s a famous Chinese saying that tells us “the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step” and although this is obviously true, we sometimes forget that we have to take the second, third and fourth steps as well. I, just like every other human on this planet, am guilty of making this mistake, and when we make this mistake we don’t change and neither does our business change. Consistency is the key to progress. It is the one thing that makes everything come together in the end. Just as the only way to get fitter is to exercise more today, tomorrow and the day after, consistently, you will only achieve your goals in business if you practice consistency too.

Consistency is Hard

Consistency is hard for everyone, but it is especially difficult for small business owners because you are all alone out there. One of the things I hear most often from new business owners is how surprised they are about all the little things that eat their time. They talk about how tough it is to get anything done because of the endless list of small and big things that need doing. There is no one else to do them and no one else to talk to. As a business owner, there is no one to keep you accountable. No one will pull you into line or keep you focused on the things that are important in the medium and long term. There is no one to brainstorm with and no one to help keep you steady when the floor under your feet starts to wobble. Friends, family, partners and staff cannot give you this kind of support. Every client I’ve ever had the pleasure of helping initially comes to me with feelings of loneliness and overwhelm. It is an entrepreneurial epidemic! Yet you know as well as I do that anyone who operates on their own, in this troubling state, simply doesn’t function as well as they can. Their brains don’t operate at anywhere near optimum capacity.

Building a Support System

For some reason, many business owners believe they need to do it all themselves and, if they can’t, it means they have failed some mythical test of entrepreneurship. Believe me: nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is, almost every business owner needs external support to build a Fun Business that sustains them for years to come. This assistance can come in many forms, such as a mentor, a board of advisers (formal or informal) or someone like me. The bottom line: if you want to finally start enjoying your business (and your life!), then I urge you to go out and find some kind of external support. After all, two heads are better than one.

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

I would be very happy to talk to you about the range of support programs that I offer to small business owners, both online and face-to-face. Please feel free to have a look at my website www.newperspectives.com.au or contact me by email at roland@newperspectives.com.au. Whether you reach out to me or someone else, let me assure you: if you truly want to build a business that sustains you for years to come, it is so much more Fun when you don’t try to do it all on your own. I promise you.

Next Month, I’ll start a new series about the 7 Habits of Highly Chilled small business owners

More on this topic:

The Truth about Business Growth: Enough is Enough

TTTMBF growth

The Ten Truths for making business Fun

The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun

And building a business that sustains you for years to come:

This is the sixth article in a monthly series on Making Business Fun: This article is about the myth of business growth and it’s the 10th Truth

The last article explains what it takes to be the Leader of a fun business and you can read it here

The articles are based on my book, The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun, published in 2011. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Building (and growing) a Fun business: Enough is Enough

Everything we’ve been taught about business growth is a myth

too much growth ois too much

More is not necessarily better

Over the years, I have been on a journey in my thinking about entrepreneurship. Part of this has involved noticing a nagging feeling that I later realised was coming from a deep discomfort around the business world’s obsession with growth.

My second book is called “The Ten Truths for making your business grow” [you can download it for free here]. Whenever I re-read sections of this work, I still come away feeling excited and pleased with the content. However, pausing on the term “great growth company”, specifically, makes me realise that I have stopped believing in the business growth myth and the entrepreneurial model.

Here’s what I now believe to be true:

  1. A business doesn’t have to grow to be healthy.
  2. Enough is a good place to be.

The Myth

The myth sounds something like this: Every healthy business must grow and a business that doesn’t grow, dies.

TTTMBF singging from the same song sheet This is a foundation principle of business, capitalism and society at large. Every business coach, guru, mentor, consultant, author, academic and MBA student will tell you this. I admit that until not long ago, I sang from the same songbook too.

Today, I realise that the principle sounds good but is wrong… quite wrong. I am reminded of the quote by American journalist HL 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 businesses must grow (and by extension, that more growth is better than less growth), but I do know that this “rule” is dangerous rubbish that has caused all kinds of damage to business owners, their families, their friends and society.

In fact, I think the idea that a business must grow or else it will fail exists alongside a number of other nonsensical notions on which we base the management of our society, such as celebrity worship culture and the basic belief that nothing is ever enough.

Never Enough

In the 21st century, 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. Well, unless we get to sell our business for $100 million or more.

The list of role models that we are told we must aspire to usually includes grass-roots entrepreneurs turned gazillionaires, such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Larry Page. Don’t get me wrong, I think these are all amazing individuals, but I know many other people who are just as inspiring, yet they will never become billionaires (probably not even millionaires).

My Favourite Client

I have a client who is a plumber. He has three vans and employs three people. He might end up hiring one or two more people and having one or two more vans over 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 to 30 years and then, possibly, one of his kids or employees might take over. In any case, someone will probably run the same business in almost the same format and size for the bulk of this century and beyond.

His business isn’t dying, though. Far from it.

My client’s business is providing him, his family, his employees and their families with a good, meaningful and rewarding life – a life that allows him to feel proud, look after the people he cares about and do the stuff he wants to do.

In my eyes, this is a perfect model of a business that sustains the owner and everyone in the business and will do so for years to come.

The Little Voice

Now, I haven’t talked about this with my client specifically, but I can guarantee there is a small part of him, the little voice in his ear, the famous critic on his shoulder (mine is called Ted, by the way. What’s yours?), who will be whispering:

“You suck as a business owner.”

“You obviously aren’t fit to polish a true entrepreneur’s boots because a proper business owner would be well on his way to dominating Australia with offices and operations everywhere, ready for a lucrative take-over by Lend Lease or some other conglomerate like that.”

“You suck.”

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

We are told by all the self-help gurus, business coaches and entrepreneurs who have already “made it” that we have to have an “abundance mindset” and that there are unlimited growth opportunities offering unlimited money for everyone.

TTTMBF enough tropical island All we have to do is think right and have the right attitude: “Screw It, Let’s Do It”, as the title of one of Richard Branson’s books suggests, and you 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, but you know something? That is perfectly okay. Who needs all that sun, sand and sea without 4G mobile reception anyway, right?!

Daring Greatly

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. She states that scarcity and abundance are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. Instead, the opposite of scarcity is enough, or sufficiency.

And it is. In time, my client’s plumbing business will enable him to employ a full-time admin assistant and then spend two days per week no longer “on the tools”. This will probably be “enough” growth for him.

That doesn’t mean the business goes to sleep and stagnates. There are all sorts of things that can be improved and run more smoothly. There are efficiencies to be gained and his people can get better. The business can steadily become more profitable as well. The challenges don’t stop, life doesn’t stop, but business growth can.

The Abundance Fantasy

When we are told to let go of our scarcity beliefs and embrace the abundance mindset, we are sold a fantasy. The pressure to embrace this mentality sets us up to feel bad about ourselves. It sets us up for failure and shame.

There is only room for one Richard Branson and one Donald Trump on this earth. 99.99999999999% of the rest of us are not going to become billionaires.

Neither you nor I will likely sell our businesses for $100 million. This book may end up being read by 100,000 people, for example, and it is possible there might be one or two in that group who will sell their business for some enormous amount of money. The rest 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 75 years (hopefully more!) we were given.

The Entrepreneurial Myth

The entrepreneurial myth has done us all a lot of damage. We walk around with feelings of inadequacy, guilt and shame because deep down we know that we are not going to be the next celebrity entrepreneur and wealthy venture capitalists are not going to stake us with a few million dollars, only to cash out a few years later.

Stop it.

Enough is a great place to be. As Brene Brown says in her first TED talk, “You are enough.”

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

So, I want to encourage you to ask yourself what “enough” looks like. What constitutes “enough” for you in your business? What do you need to achieve in your business that would mean you would be content with your achievements?

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Next Month, I’ll be talking about what next and how to make it all come together for you in your business

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The Truth about Leadership for Building a Fun Business

leadership

The Ten Truths for making business Fun

The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun

And building a business that sustains you for years to come:

This is the fifth article in a monthly series on Making Business Fun: This article is about the Leadership in small business Truth

The last article laid out the five building blocks of management of a fun business and you can read it here

The articles are based on my book, The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun, published in 2011. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Building a Fun business: Leadership

What does it take to be the leader of a Fun business

leadership in a fun business

Great leadership in business can (for a while at least!) compensate for less than perfect scores when it comes to profit, passion, planning and many other pivotal aspects of running a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.

If you are a great business leader of your people, then you’ve taken the Leadership Truth from my first book (download it for free here) to heart: “Your time, your health and your brain cells are gold,”. It’s also likely that you live the Truth from my second book (download it for free here) about leadership: “You have passionate beliefs, you walk the talk, and you are not afraid to dream,”. If so, you will more than likely have a business that does better than most.

I also once wrote that “a leader is simply someone we trust, and who is courageous, authentic and passionate.” This is clearly a great starting point because if your people don’t trust you, then no amount of systemisation, marketing or planning will get your business past a subsistence level. Inversely, when your people do trust you, see your courage and feel your passion, you will be forgiven for many other shortcomings.

Now, I’m going to invite you to take this thinking one step further.

Fun for Everyone

A Fun Business should be Fun for everyone involved. It should also sustain everyone – not just the owner – for years to come.

When I say everyone, I actually do mean Everyone (with a capital “E”): you, your family, your staff, your staff’s family, your suppliers, your contractors, your customers, your investors and even your community.

In fact, I am completely convinced (from everything I’ve seen and studied over the past 35 years!) that truly great small businesses are founded by and built around a leader who is committed to building such a business, for everyone.

Servant First, Leader Second

TTTMBF helping hand In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins talks about the concept of “Level 5 Leadership”. Leaders who operate at this level are passionate, authentic, driven and ambitious – but not for themselves.

Level 5 leaders are ambitious for their organisation and their people. Their ego doesn’t get in the way of how they run their businesses. They might be heading up massive global corporations, but they still fly economy (like the founder of Ikea) or do their own shopping at the supermarket on Saturdays (like the founder of Walmart) or answer their own phones (like the CEO of Nucor Steel).

This concept has a lot of parallels with “servant leadership”. Robert Greenleaf at Harvard University coined the term in the 1970s, but the idea has been around for much longer (a famous Chinese general wrote about something similar thousands of years ago). As Robert Greenleaf explains: “The servant leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead… (versus one who is leader first…).”

In my experience, every small, medium and large Fun Business that sustains all for years to come is run by a leader who sees their role as servant first and leader second.

Small Supermarket

A great example of this “leader as servant” notion comes from a client of mine who owns supermarkets. I remember the day we were discussing the structure of his business and we had drawn a new organisational chart in the traditional hierarchical model – the classic pyramid structure.

My client sat on top of the pyramid as the CEO. He had two different top managers below him, a bunch of store managers in the middle and all the shop staff at the bottom. We spent a lot of time talking about the structure and it became clear that my client was feeling uncomfortable.

We got up and walked around the room a little and suddenly his eyes lit up while he was stood on the opposite side of the table. “That’s it,” he said, “I am going to turn the pyramid upside down! I see my role as being at the bottom, not the top. My role is to support everyone in the business to do great work and grow as people.”

My client had that insight in 2010 and now his company has grown into a Fun Business that sustains everyone and will undoubtedly do so for years to come.

There is a quote by sales guru Zig Ziglar that illustrates the same principle: “You can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

Think about some of the greatest business leaders of the modern era. Don’t imagine the rock star leaders who are household names for a while and then cash out and let everything fall apart behind them. Focus on the quiet, enlightened leaders of businesses that grow and develop year after year without fanfare.

In order to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come, you need to strive to become an enlightened leader. These leaders are committed, driven and ambitious. However, they don’t do it for themselves. They do it for the business and its people.

What can you do to embody enlightened leadership? It could be anything from regularly sharing helpful insights and nuggets of wisdom with your team to honing your emotional intelligence in order to find more empathy for others. No guru necessary – I promise!

Remember, if you want to have something you’ve never had before, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before.

Next Month, I’ll be talking about the myths of business growth, click here

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