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

More on this topic:

The foundations of a Fun business

TTTMBF hedgehog professor

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 second article in a series on Making Business Fun: Building a fun business starts with Why; Purpose, Passion and Profit.

The first article in the series, explaining why Fun in Business is the key to building a business that sustains you for years to come is here

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

Building a Fun Business: The Foundations

Introducing the hedgehog

introducing the hedgehogOne of the greatest business management books of the last 20 years is called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. The book explores what makes average companies become great, and a number of the conclusions translate just as well into the world of small business. In particular, I have seen time and time again with clients, friends, colleagues and in my own business that what Jim Collins refers to as the “Hedgehog Principles” are the absolute foundations upon which to build a Fun Business (and a business that sustains you for years to come).

The Big Question of Small Business: Purpose, Passion and Profit

I call it The Big Question of Small Business: Why does your business exist and why would anybody care? The answer is all about the three Ps: Purpose, Passion and Profit.

Jim Collins in his book talks about the simplicity and single-mindedness of the hedgehog.

In order to stay alive, hedgehogs do one thing really well: roll up into a spikey ball when under attack. They do this over and over again, never tempted to vary their approach. The Hedgehog Principles state that a long-term successful business must be able to answer three questions unequivocally and, like the humble hedgehog, never waiver from its commitment to the answers. The three questions are about Purpose, Passion and Profit and together they combine into the one big question I mentioned above, The Big Question of Small Business and

Many businesses can answer one of the three, some can answer two, but very few can satisfy all three. Long-term sustainable success is absolutely dependent on there being complete clarity for all three questions at once.

1) Purpose: A Fun Business Strives to be the Best in the World at ‘Something’

I'm the best there is Question 1: What will we strive to be the best in the world at, day in and day out, without fail?

In the 21st century, it is simply not good enough to answer this question the way most business owners do:

“I give really good customer service.”

“My prices are fantastic.”

“I provide great products and services.”

Why? Because all of your competitors are saying exactly the same thing. Customers want to know what makes you different to everyone else. If you don’t clearly communicate the answer to the first Hedgehog Question, you are essentially leaving it in your customers’ hands to work out what sets you and your competition apart.

Oh, and I know it might feel a little unrealistic to aim to be “the best plumber in the world”, but you can sure as hell strive to be the best plumber in your world (perhaps your suburb) and for your narrow niche or sub-speciality.

Remember, customers always want to know what’s in it for them.

2: Passion: A Fun Business is Passionate About That ‘Something’

passion in business Question 2: What are we absolutely passionate about and will happily jump out of bed for, day in and day out, year after year?

Many business authors have written about the importance of this question:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek (It All Starts with Why)

It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For – Roy Spence

There is no doubt that there is deep truth in these statements. People want to know what you stand for: your core values and beliefs. It is this information, more than anything else, that helps them decide to do business with you over your competitors.

You can be passionate about so many things in relation to your business: making people smile, being a trendsetter, helping people achieve their dreams, building partnerships, or even seeing people improve their diet. These are passions that can be clearly connected to and expressed in the purpose of your business, and customers will understand why they’d want to do business with you.

If you don’t care about your business then your customers certainly won’t either, so you must honestly consider what gets you out of bed in the morning and how that relates to what your business does. Oh, and let me give you a hint: your passion for making money won’t do as the answer to this question (sorry!).

I promise, if your passion and your business purpose coincide, you will find it so much easier to take the next steps to building a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.

Remember, it’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for.

3: Profit: A Fun Business Makes Sustainable Profits from That ‘Something’

tttmbf profit Question 3: How can we create a long-term sustainable economic model around the answers that we gave to questions one and two?

This question is actually more complicated than it seems, and most businesses never really sit down to work it out properly.

Firstly, just because we are passionate about something and we are the best in the world at delivering that something doesn’t guarantee we can build a business out of it: Is there enough of a market to win consistent work in your area? Do you need to expand into other complementary services or build a flexible team that can manage peaks and troughs in demand?

Secondly, a business must make money to survive. How much money the business needs to make is a complex question to answer. Your business will likely need to provide for your financial needs, and it will also need to make enough profit to provide a return on investment to the shareholders or investors (even if that’s just you and your financial input). A business also needs funds to grow – actual cash that you can use to pay your bills. Businesses in a growth phase will be particularly thirsty for cash and the best way to quench it is by having profits.

Thirdly, it’s important to think about your business’ ability to generate steady long-term profit and cash flow. In other words, if you don’t think about the sustainability of your business model, you might end up with a flash in the pan. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your business is not reliant on one customer for more than 10% of its revenue.

Finally, the last reason why a business must make profit: Making money is a lot of fun. It is simply a heap of fun to make money and to see the balance sheet grow!

Remember, a business that doesn’t generate profits and cash is a hobby.

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

If you make sustainable profits from doing something you are passionate about and committed to being the best in the world at, all the steps towards building a Fun Business will fall into place – I promise. And the way I see it, if you are not in business to have a lot of fun then I suggest you find an easier way to make a living!

Still eager to stick with this messy-and-tricky-yet-incredibly-fun entrepreneurial stuff? Ask yourself the following question today:

  • What first steps can I take in the next few weeks to focus my business on the three Hedgehog Questions?

More on this topic:

 

The key step to take control of your business and your life

How do I take control of my business
how do I take control of my business

Bang crash! Watch out! Duck! Hang on! Oh no! Here we go again!

My life as a business owner feels like a roller coaster ride, I’m hanging on for dear life half the time… How can I slow it all down a bit and take control of my business and my life?
Running your own business can feel like a constant juggling act and most of the time, all you do is hold on for the ride and try to make sure you duck at the right time. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Running your own business is never something you should because you want to have an easy life, because it’s never going to be easy. But you can make sure the business works for you rather than the other way round.

The Big Question of Small Business

It all starts with this question, The Big Question of Small Business:
Why does your business exist and why would anybody care?
Most business owners can’t answer that question clearly, in a single power sentence. And if you can’t answer that question, there is one really important thing you can never do, with confidence and clarity, and that is to say NO.

Saying NO is probably the one, most important thing that you have to learn to be able to do well in your business in order to to get off the roller coaster and to take control. I’ll give you an example from my own experience that happened to me only last week. That question, the Big Question I talk about above: Why does your business exist? My answer to it is this:
I help small business owners feel great about themselves and about their business, by helping them discover and build their own unique Beautiful Business and Life
That’s what I get up to do, each and every morning. So last week I received an email from the health and wellbeing officer of one of the Big Four Banks here in Sydney.  This person is running a personal wellness program for the entire staff of the bank in Sydney and she was looking for a coach to be involved with the program. The opportunity was enormous. This bank employs thousands, if not tens of thousands of people in Sydney alone and being offered a sponsored opportunity to get in front of all those employees is incredible… For the right person.

I wasn’t the right person for the job

And there’s the rub. I’m not the right person for the an opportunity. I work with small business owners, not with employees in the corporate world. Now I’m sure I could have done something for this wellbeing officer and made it work and I would have done a good job, I have no doubt about that, but I actually know someone who is much better equiped to take on this project. She specialises in working with employees in the corporate world to help them feel better about themselves and advance in their careers. So I thanked the Wellbeing officer and I introduced her to my friend and two days later, my friend had signed up the gig. There’s a good chance that this is the best gig my friend has landed in years and I am absolutely sure she’ll lay them in the isles… She’s brilliant at this kind of thing. I didn’t get the gig, I won’t make any money from the gig, but I also didn’t get the stress from doing something that wasn’t absolutely in my area of expertise. I’ve learnt over the years, that I’m really good at some things and not others, and I need to stick with those. My friend is really excited and will have a lot of fun with the project, probably make a lot of money and do really well. What’s more, she’s super motivated to return the favour and I have no doubt something will come my way at some stage that’s right up my alley. Learning what to say No to, and do it in such a way that means everybody is happy is absolutely a core skill if want to get off the roller coaster and take control of your business. So: Why does your business exist, and Why would anybody care about that? I’d love to hear, drop me a line. Cheers, Roland Hanekroot

Read more:

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

The Ten Priorities; Priority #4: Saying No

ten priorities, saying no in business
ten priorities, saying no

What’s the most important skill of a business owner?

This is the fourth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The fourth Priority is about learning to say No. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

As seen on Kochie’s Business Builders

What do you think is the most important skill for business owners to master?

You’re probably thinking, financial management, or delegating, or sales or something like that.

Important skills, obviously, but the answer I’m looking for is this:

Knowing how and when to say NO, clearly and respectfully.

As I’ve talked about in the introduction to the Ten Priorities, the life of a business owner is one where there is never enough time in a day. And so, you have to decide, every day, what to say NO to and what to say Yes to.

Saying NO is hard, much harder than saying YES, but it’s a skill you can learn and get good at. (more about saying No here)

The Big Question of Small Business

Learning to say NO starts with becoming absolutely clear on the Big Question of Small Business:

Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for and Why would anybody care?

If you struggle to answer that question, clearly, in LESS than 20 words, there’s a good chance your business will get stuck.

Here’s a few beautiful examples of answers to that question:

  • From Disney: Create Happiness
  • From BMW: Create the Ultimate Joy of Driving
  • From an electrician, I worked with: You’re in Safe Hands
  • From a Retail fitout company, I worked with: More Bang, Less buck
  • From an Architect, I worked with: Architecture that Inspires.

Answer the Big Question of Small Business with complete clarity, and you won’t get stuck in your business… I promise you

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

Next week, Priority #5: Guessing

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

BQ Business Growth

How can I grow my business?

business growth strategy

The 11 biggest business growth strategies:

Growth is the most enduring topic of the 7 big questions of small business. There are literally thousands of business growth strategies bandied about by business experts and gurus. Every business owner that ever was has felt frustrated and stuck at some stage while wondering how they can grow their business to the next level. Which are the growth strategies that are going to work for your business?

This page lays out the 11 most important strategies to grow your business to where you want it to be. All of the 11 growth strategies are solid and proven, it’s up to you to mix and match. It’s a bit like baking a cake. Most cakes have eggs, flour and sugar in them, but you can’t make a cake just with flour or with nothing but eggs, you need a mixture of ingredients. So it is with building and growing your business. You may not need all the 11 business growth strategies, but you certainly need a mixture of them.

So … Get yourself to the kitchen and bake something beautiful.

Seth Godin

seth godin

Everybody’s favourite business guru, Seth Godin, once summed up the solution perfectly:

“To build and grow a great business, you really only have to do two things:

  1. Build a great product or deliver a great service.
  2. Make sure lots of people know about it.”

(I’ve also written about Seth Godin’s two rules here)

In other words, easier said than done. Thanks, Seth!

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Those two simple statements cover many different aspects of business growth, but I believe we can keep things much simpler than they may seem at first glance. Let’s break each one down.

Skip ahead to the following sections:

1. Grow your business with vision and purpose:

If you want to grow a beautiful business that stands the test of time, you must be able to answer the question: Why does your business exist and why would anybody care?

Most business owners can’t answer that question succinctly and powerfully. That’s bad because:

  1. If you don’t know why your business exists, your customers certainly won’t either and that makes price the only differentiator. Competing on price is a dog’s game (unless you’re Aldi, where price is your purpose).
  2. If you don’t know where to focus your energy, you will never master the greatest skill of effective business owners: the ability to say “NO”.

More about purpose here:

2. Grow your business by setting goals:

We’ve all heard that the first step towards business growth is goal setting. However, effective goal setting is more complicated than you might initially think.

Most of the goals we set for ourselves are ineffective at best, and at worst, actually hinder our progress. They’re often arbitrary, unrealistic and unrelated to what truly matters in our lives.

For instance, a goal to make $2 million revenue is meaningless. Why $2 million? Why not $1,956,384.13? And what happens when you reach that goal? Will you be better off somehow? What if you fall short by $100 or even $100,000? Does that mean you are a failure? Goal setting only makes a difference if you understand that goals are like a compass; they provide a direction on your journey, they are not the destination.

More about goal setting here:

3. Grow your business with marketing:

Marketing is about creating opportunities to sell your stuff. As such, I fervently believe that:

“Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.”

That’s why, if you want to grow your business, you must analyse every aspect of your business.

Yes, marketing is about branding, advertising campaigns, social media and your website, but it’s also about how you answer the phone, your pricing policies and ensuring your customers are happy with what you sell them. It’s about how you dress, how you present your quotes, your PR strategies and your warranty return policies.

In fact, one of the most powerful marketing strategies is maintaining a relentless focus on quality in everything the business does in order to create “raving fans”. Why? Because if your customers are all raving fans, they will do your marketing for you.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about marketing here:

4. Grow your business with DIGITAL marketing:

business-growth-strategies I don’t mean to imply that digital marketing is something wildly different from all other forms of marketing. However, it is useful to pay special attention to the online space because it has become such a critical component of any growth-driving marketing strategy.

Whether your business serves food, builds houses, crunches numbers, imports widgets or makes whatsits, you can’t ignore digital marketing activities, like email marketing, content marketing, social media and influencer/affiliate marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and online PR. The list is almost endless and constantly changing with emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence, voice search, chatbots, virtual reality, drones, and progressive web apps.

You could easily argue that the core principles of marketing haven’t changed, we’ve simply got a bunch of new tools to use. At one level that’s true because people still want to get to know, like and trust you before they will do business with you. However, on another level, things have changed drastically.

Ten years ago, you’d give someone a business card with your web address on it and they would immediately want to know if you also had a bricks and mortar store. These days, people want to know you’ve got a high-functioning, active web presence, including a Facebook and Instagram page, a Google My Business listing and ideally, a bunch of 5-star ratings on all the major review platforms.

The reality is, often your physical presence doesn’t even matter anymore. If you want to be taken seriously today, online engagement across all mediums and channels must be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about digital marketing here:

5. Grow your business with sales:

“Nothing happens until we sell something.”

That’s a quote I once saw hanging on the wall at a big office. And it’s true. You won’t achieve any business growth (or even have a business!) without sales. No matter how great your product is, how beautiful your logo is, how smart your website is or how wonderful your employee culture is – if you’re not selling, your business will cease to exist. Simple.

Sales is often seen as a subset of marketing, but I’m giving it a solo section because I think of marketing as getting the customers to your door and sales as getting them to hand over the money. Lead generation vs lead conversion.

Sales is about skill, mindset and systems, but above all, it’s about making things easy for people. And that last word is the key to the whole shebang: it’s always about people. The old saying goes:

“People do business with people they know, like and trust.”

It’s especially important to remember this in small business because people do business with people. Your entire approach to sales must be built on a people-to-people philosophy.

More about sales here:

6. Grow your business with planning:

“A business without a plan achieves everything in it.”

Nothing in other words.

Your business growth depends on planning. No human endeavour ever amounted to anything without a plan. Yet planning is guessing. It can never be anything more than guessing, because we can not know the future. So if planning is guessing, why does it matter so much and how can we do it so it works?  There are two important answers to those questions:

  1. You must understand that there are two entirely different types of business plans: internal plans and external plans.External plans are designed to impress others about your business. They form part of the documentation to obtain a loan (or other type of funding) or make a proposal to a third party. Internal Plans are designed to help the business focus. They are drawn up using meaningful goals (see above), and they help people with their day-to-day decision-making processes.
  2. Planning is a verb. It’s not static, it’s an activity that never stops. As soon as one plan is created, we start again.John Lennon once said, “Life’s what happens when we’re making other plans,”. Planning is like that. We make a bunch of assumptions and map our actions accordingly. Next, we check reality as it unfolds and make changes to suit those new realities – every day, every week, every month and every year.

The bottom line? Business plans that truly work and make a difference are living documents.

More about planning here:

7. Grow your business with customer service:

Customer service is also a subset of marketing, and if done well, it leads to more business from those customers (plus, as I said above, everything is marketing and marketing is everything). However, it’s worth mentioning separately because of the concept of “raving fans”.

Ken Blanchard wrote a little book called “Ravings Fans” that talks about how your business should always be working to do one better for your customers than they expect. If you do so successfully, your customers will become advocates that go out of their way to help your business grow. They will talk to their friends about you, drag their colleagues to your door, defend your business against the competition and best of all, they won’t quibble about the price. If you focus on turning your customers into raving fans, you will ultimately be able to slash your marketing budget in half and achieve a long-lasting competitive edge.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about customer service here:

8. Grow your business with systems and quality improvement:

making monye from death and hamburgers business-growth-strategies My clients often ask me to help grow their business and I often tell them to stop worrying about that. Getting more customers is the easy part. The hard bit about business is delivering what you say you will by the time you say you will for the price you say you will at the quality you say you will… with a smile!

If you can do that all the time, even as your business grows, then customers will come flocking to your door and you won’t need to spend much money on marketing (largely because you’ll be creating raving fans !).

I can’t tell you how many businesses I have seen struggle and fail because they couldn’t maintain their product/service quality, dependability and price once they scaled.

When your business starts to grow and you are no longer in charge of every step in the process, things often start going wrong. Quality becomes inconsistent, delivery times become unreliable, prices go up or profitability suffers – and your smile disappears. Once the rot sets in like that, your reputation nosedives and customers begin to look elsewhere.

There are only two answers to this dilemma:

  1. Stay small: Don’t grow and learn to say “NO” often.
  2. Systematise: Develop systems for all aspects of your operation, including estimating, quality checking, calendar management, inventory management, callbacks, warranty repair, marketing, hiring, firing and even how the phone is answered. Systems allow you to create continuous improvement loops in your organisation (and that’s the Holy Grail of business. It’s what made companies like Toyota great).

More about systems and quality here:

9. Grow your business with inventory management:

Inventory management is a big, specialised topic. It’s really a subset of the systems section above. There are whole management libraries written about the various philosophical approaches to managing stock when building and growing a beautiful business that stands the test of time.

My earliest inventory management lessons came from Colin, the owner of a large hardware store who I dealt with a lot during my days as a builder. One of the reasons I bought so much of my material from Colin was that he always had everything in stock. Colin clearly knew what it took to create business growth because his business was booming.

I once asked Colin if keeping such high stock levels of everything that a builder might need from time to time was economical for him. I imagined that it was a very expensive way to run a business, having all that money tied up in timber, hardware and bits and bobs. His answer was:

“If I don’t stock it, I can’t sell it.”

I have often thought about that statement, particularly now that most operations run on the principle of “just in time”. Supermarkets have made an art form of stocking just enough and not a jar more than required in order to minimise shelf space and inventory cost.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that Colin got all my business for 20 years and most Sydney builders had an account with him because everything we needed was always ready to collect.

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about inventory management here:

10. Grow your business with hiring, firing and engaging people:

staff engagement business-growth-strategies In his famous book “The E-Myth”, Michael Gerber wrote that it is impossible to manage people, so great businesses focus on systems and manage those instead. That’s certainly what grew McDonald’s into the enormous business it is today. And as I’ve written elsewhere before, if you set out to make as much money as possible from selling restaurant food, it is undeniably the case that the McDonald’s model is the one to emulate (that doesn’t mean I like it!). This philosophy can be applied to any industry.

If you’d like to build and grow a unique business, a business with an individual character, you’re going to have to manage people. You’re going to have to get good at putting the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats, facing the right direction while also knowing which others should get off. If you don’t learn how to find (and keep!) the right people and get them to do great work, your business will always struggle. That means:

  • Developing strategic hiring policies
  • Being prepared to employ people who might be better than you at certain things
  • Learning how to conduct great interviews
  • Implementing meaningful induction and development training programs
  • Learning how to coach, encourage and hold your people accountable
  • Getting better at delegating
  • Doing HR admin and compliance effectively
  • Writing job descriptions
  • Scheduling performance reviews
  • Learning what it takes to be a leader
  • Making tough decisions when required (quickly and respectfully)

More about hiring, firing and engaging people here:

11. Grow your business with innovation:

If you want to build and grow a beautiful business that stands the test of time, you can’t afford to get left behind. The pace of change and innovation is relentless. What was acceptable even a few years ago is no longer acceptable now.

Not long ago, it was still okay for a cafe to have a sign that said, “cash only”. Today, you’ll lose a lot of business if you don’t accept card payments. Even with a business as simple as mine, people still expect the option to make online bookings. Cloud computing combined with smartphone technology and advanced GPS systems mean that customers now even expect to be informed that their plumber is on the way and will pull up in front of their house in 13 minutes.

You don’t need to be Uber or Airbnb to implement new technology or come up with new ways of doing business. A few years ago, I bought a house in a different state of Australia. The real estate agent gave me a private showing of the house via Skype. I engaged the conveyancer, the building inspector and a surveyor all without setting foot in the house or even the state.

A client of mine with a creative marketing agency has a team of designers, copywriters and marketing assistants all over the world and she rarely even meets her clients face to face. Another client with a small supermarket chain has technology in his stores that allows him to see what’s going on in every area as well as getting live access to each of the store’s point-of-sale (POS) systems. He’s also put a bunch of tablet screens in his stores that allow people to find dinner recipes incorporating the fresh vegetables he has on special.

And all this stuff is only the beginning. It won’t be long before artificial intelligence is integrated into doctor’s surgeries, lawyer’s offices and copywriting agencies. If you think that technology and innovation won’t have a massive impact on the way you do business and how you create business growth, you are kidding yourself.

More about innovation here:

Your next step:

Click here to download my free guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

First Things First: What is the Purpose of your business?

big question purpose of business

The Big Question of Small Business

Purpose and the accidental small business owner

big question purpose of business

I’m often asked what the secret of small business is. I was recently asked this question by a new internet support service for micro and home based businesses called Brazzlebox . I told them there’s only one thing to get right and that is be able to answer the Big Question of Small Business, What’s the Purpose of your business?

It’s actually a really interesting question, and one that few business owners stop to think about before they get their business underway. I’ve also written about the Big Question here on Medium.com and in other pages on my website here as well as in this podcast for example. To be honest, I think that most business are started more or less by accident.

Of course there are startup entrepreneurs who plan the development of the next widget, they take a shared office space in some kind of incubator and plan to sell their widget to Facebook for 25 trazillion dollars one day, but I believe that those business owners are in a tiny minority.

The small business owners I meet everywhere (and the ones I support) start their business when an ever increasing level of frustration with their  job or career to date simply overflows the bucket and they decide to take control of their life in their own hand.

And when that moment arrives they run around doing the practical logistical things; bank accounts, business names, email addresses, business cards… the basics, but the really important questions are not usually addressed until much later, sometimes never.

Strategic Direction

The really important questions that we should all attempt to answer right from the word go are the questions about the strategic direction of the business, the Goals (short, medium and long term) and the biggest question of all:

Why does your business exists; What’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care?

Purpose of small business Big Question Mission business card exchangeWhenever I am at a networking function talking to business owners I always ask them what is special, or different about their business, why I would want to do business with them and how I could refer business to them. It’s actually surprising how difficult most business owners find it to a give a clear answer to those questions. Mostly people try and tell me that they have a Great product (Our widget comes in 23 different colours) and they give Great customer service (We re smaller than the competition so we care more about our customers) and their prices are Great too (we’re really efficient and run a tight ship and we have few overheads and we’re committed to “adding value”).

These days I have hardened up a bit so I don’t feel the pain so much anymore and mostly I remain polite and nod with interest and make engaged noises, but deep down I think to myself: “Oh Please… not another one!”

D’OH

Of course you have a great product with a great price and great customer service, “D’OH” as Homer Simpson would say… I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a business owner who told me their product was average, their prices were average and they kind of looked after their customers in an average manner either. The competition has those three covered as well as you do (otherwise they wouldn’t be your competition in the first place) and your potential customers assume you will deliver them those three as a minimum, otherwise they wouldn’t be talking to you.

You have to find what sets you apart, what makes you different, because if you don’t, your customers only have one way to decide who they’ll use and that is by comparing your price and competing on price is a dog’s game, it might work for Walmart and Ikea but few others.

So… Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care about that?

  • I have a client who is an architect, he defined the purpose of his business as “Architecture that Inspires”
  • I have a client who owns a gym and he defined the purpose of his business as: “To build the finest resistance training community in the world”
  • I have a client who has a video production business and the Purpose of his business is: “It’s a joy to work with us”

Being remembered

When I meet someone at a networking function and I ask them what’s special about their business and they give me a powerful short statement like that, I sit up and take note and I’ll remember them and I will be able to introduce them to potential clients.

Also when your business rests on such a strong statement, it suddenly makes everything so much easier:

  • It’s suddenly easy to make decisions about which jobs to bid for and which opportunities to say No to
  • It’s suddenly clear which employees to hire
  • It’s suddenly clear what prices you should be charging
  • etc etc

Finding the Purpose of your business and being able to express it with complete clarity is absolutely the biggest step you can take to building a sustainable, fun and rewarding business.

Masterminds

masterminds As it happens I have run many webinars on this exact topic. Here is a link to a recording of a recent Small Business Masterminds on Purpose

So I hear you ask: “Ok smartie pants, what’s the Purpose of your own business then?”, and I am so glad you asked, because this is what I get out of bed for every morning:

To help family business owners feel great about themselves and about their business by making Business Fun again

How do you like them apples?… Does that work for you?

I thought so….

Check out the Masterminds webinar and I’ll help you take the first steps to discovering your own Purpose (with a capital “P)… You’ll never look back… I promise you.

Further reading

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of the 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here

Here are some other insights on the Big Question of Business and the Purpose of Business:

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Making Money from Death and Hamburgers

making money

making money from death

How to build a great businesses that create not only money

McDonalds is the most effective business model to make lots of money from selling food in a restaurant setting.

I think we’d all agree with that statement.

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Does that mean I’m a fan of McDonalds? No not much, I am an admirer of the model and I make use of McDonalds from time to time, but I’m really really glad there are many other types of restaurants out there, besides McDonalds, even if they don’t make as much money or are as efficient. It would be a poor world if all restaurants were running a business model based on that of McDonalds. But if your aim in life is to make as much money as you possibly can from selling food, you can do a lot worse than read everything you can about the history and business philosphy of Ray Kroc and  The Golden Arches.

And the same goes for any other type of business you can think of, from funeral parlors to medical practices and everything in between. Ray Kroc, was a genius, there is no doubt about that and Michael Gerber and many other business gurus since have analysed the McDonalds model and explained how to apply it to every other Small Business out there.

Making money from death

If you own a funeral parlour and you want to absolutely make more money than anyone has ever made from burying people, read “The E-Myth” and apply every word Michael Gerber wrote about the lessons from McDonalds to your business with single minded focus and you’ll never look back … guaranteed.

But if you believe there are other things in life that are important to you besides making money from selling mince meat patties… Read on my friend.

But just like I would be sad (and we would all be very unhealthy) to live in a world where the only restaurants we can eat at are McDonalds, likewise I’d hate to live in a world where all the funeral parlours were run by 18 yr olds who were trained to ask me: “Do you want roses with that?”

The disconnect lies in the misunderstanding most business owners have about the Purpose of Business. Most business owners, business analysts, gurus and advisers will repeat the manta that the purpose of business is to “Maximise Shareholder Value”, to make lots of money in other words.

But if, like me, you believe that making money is a sad and short sighted reason to be in business, all kinds of things become possible instead of McDonalds.

Breaking the law

Don’t get me wrong, a business must make money. There are many things a business must do in order to survive however. It must operate within the law for example, but we would never maintain that the Mission of our business is to not break the law.

Similarly the notion of making money, the business must make money so that it’s able to do what it is meant to do. In other words, a business that delivers on it’s promise has a reason for existing far beyond “Maximising Shareholder Value”.

In the restaurant industry it may be that the reason for the existence of your business is that you are passionate about unexpected cuisine combinations, French with an Australian twist, for example, or maybe you’re passionate about the sustainability of food, or maybe your passion is about educating disadvantaged youth in the hospitality industry.

There can be many reasons you have started your restaurant. As long as the business makes enough money to be sustainable in the long run, it doesn’t mean you have to turn it into a McDonalds for it to be a great business. Your business is a great business, when it delivers you what you want from it, month in month out, year in year out.

Anchovies and chocolate

So please do yourself (and my stomach) a favour: don’t listen to others’ judgements about your business, and ignore the little voice on your shoulder that tells you to build a McDonalds, because I’d much rather come and eat your pig trotter rolls with anchovy and chocolate sauce than be forced to eat another Big Mac.

Here is the Big question (with a capital “B”) I’d like you to think about: Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care about that?

Answer that question, decisively, in one bold sentence, and your business and your life will never be the same… I promise you.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

SBP The One-Month Business Transformation Programs

Transform Your Business in a Month

How would you like to blow away the biggest hurdle you face right now?

Skip ahead to the individual program details

If you’re anything like most other small business owners (and like me when I ran my building companies), you spend a lot of your days in a state of overwhelm and feeling like you are stuck.

For many business owners those feelings originate in one major issue. One challenge above all others needs to be tackled effectively right now before you and the business can start to move forward again:

  • Maybe it’s your marketing that isn’t working and you are not getting enough new inquiries
  • Or maybe you’re not converting enough inquiries into new sales, or
  • You’re always struggling to pay the bills on time, or
  • Maybe your staff are not delivering for you, or
  • Your business plan is way out of date
  • Or you simply feel that you are drifting from job to job, client to client, without a sense of direction.

Lifting the fog

It was certainly like that for me in my days as a builder in Sydney and I believe most of us experience at least one of those challenges at some stage in our journey. When we are in the midst of such a challenge it can feel like we are surrounded by a fog through which we can see very little else.
What we need at a time like that is to fix that issue and lift the fog… Nothing else. Book a free Discovery Coaching Session with me to explore how to lift the fog.

“Roland’s keen perception has helped me get to the heart of my issues extremely quickly”.

(Rebecca Wells, Clear Horizon Coaching)

Tackle one issue at a time

If you find yourself in that situation from time to time, I want to help you. The One-Month-Business-Transformation programs are short, sharp, fun and intensive 4 week programs designed to tackle one specific business development priority in your business, in one month, and implement a series of effective and simple strategies that will start to transform that specific aspect of your business.

One Month… One Issue… Fix it now!

I will customise each program specifically to your circumstances and your business needs.

The programs consist of a Discovery session (see below) and up to 4 one-on-one 1hr coaching sessions with me via Skype, spread out over no more than one month.

The Programs:

Each of the One-Month Business Transformation Programs tackle one of the following topics (click on each one for more information):

  1. Transform Your Purpose
  2. Transform Your Business Plan
  3. Transform Your Cashflow
  4. Transform Your Marketing
  5. Transform Your Sales
  6. Transform Your Staff

Structure and investment:

All programs come with a workbook or worksheets and relevant resources and tools, such as videos, podcast stories, webinars, articles, surveys and templates.

Each of the programs will be customised to suit your business and your circumstances, we will only be working on the stuff that really matters to you.

Your investment for each of the One-Month Business Transformation Program will be between AUD $1500 and $2500 (plus GST if you are in Australia).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Read about all my business coaching programs here

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Transform Your Purpose

A Business without True Purpose and Passion, isn’t

Why does your business exist?

What’s it on this earth for? And why would anybody care?

purpose of business Many times when I’ve asked business owners those questions, they answer with a variant of the three standards replies:

  • We deliver a great product.
  • For a great price.
  • With great customer service.

Is that maybe what you would have said?

Probably, right? But the problem is that all your competitors say the same thing (they do, believe me), and so you make it very difficult for your prospective customers to make a decision based on anything other than price, and we all know that competing on price is a dog’s game; We’d all like to stay away from competing on price if we could, right?

Read the chapter on the Purpose of your Business in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy books for business owners.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Purpose program we find the unique answer for you and your business to the question of why your business exists, what it’s Greater Purpose is, and why anyone else would care about that. When you nail that answer, once and for all, your business and your life will never be the same again…

I promise you.

“I always leave our meetings feeling aligned, confident and positive about the direction I am heading.”

(Colin Garrett, Colin the Butcher)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Transform your Business Plan

A business without a plan achieves everything in it

plan We all know we should have a business plan, all the business gurus, all the business books, our accountants and even aunt Sally have told us so for years… Or maybe you actually did write a business plan a couple of years ago, but you haven’t looked at the thing for over a year and it’s gathering dust in the bottom of a filing cabinet somewhere.

So how do we write a business plan that actually works, a business plan that functions as a tool for the development of our businesses, a business plan that makes a difference.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Business-Plan program you get to understand how to write a business plan that transforms your business, and depending on your circumstances you’ll either create your first ever living business plan or get well under way to creating one, in a great position to complete it and implement it in your business.

Read the chapter about business planning in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

Creating a business plan that works for your business is the first step to transforming your business and your life,

I promise you

“I implemented a range of enormous changes in my business and in my life.”

(Dave Scott, Invenco)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Transform Your Cashflow

A business that doesn’t make Profit and generate Cash is a hobby

cat Many times have I spoken to business owners who tell me they are confused about the fact that they make profit, but they don’t know where the money is. In my days as a builder I also saw lots of business owners get into trouble, because they thought that because they had lots of money in the bank, they must be doing alright.

The fact is that the connection between profit and cash is a loose one generally speaking, unless your business operates entirely on a cash on delivery basis, and very few businesses are.

To build a fun business you simply must keep your eyes on 4 things:

  1. Sales
  2. Production
  3. Invoicing
  4. Collections

Drop your attention from any one of those 4 factors and as sure as God made little apples, you’ll get into trouble.

Read the chapter about financial management in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Cash-Flow program you’ll learn how to measure those 4 factors. You’ll also learn which one of the four is the most important and how to watch it and manage it like a hawk.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come you have to be all over those 4 factors, like a rash…

I promise you

“Roland helped me focus on the fundamentals and that has now given me peace of mind and control over my business.”

(Brad Chapman, BIC construction)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Transform Your Marketing

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing

markeing stand out from the crowd Most of us think of marketing in terms of advertising, and doing social media, sponsoring the local under 10’s footy team or going networking at the local chamber of commerce.

And all of those things fall in the marketing camp, no doubt. But marketing is so much more. The price you charge for your product is a marketing decision. How you answer the phones in your business is about marketing and so is the wording you use on the reminder letters your accounts receivable person sends out to your customers.

Everything you do and every decision you take in your business has a marketing angle to it. In fact if there is anything you do in your business that doesn’t have a marketing angle associated with it you could argue you shouldn’t be doing it at all. The Granddaddy of all the 20th century business gurus, Peter Drucker, used to say that the the purpose of business is to get and keep a customer, so anything that doesn’t contribute to doing that, doesn’t belong in your business. Does that sound a bit extreme? Maybe, but let’s find out what it means for your business.

Read the chapter about marketing in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Marketing program we’ll examine the opportunities in your business to improve your marketing so that you’ll start to bring more customers through your doors.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you have to learn to think about marketing in everything you do…

I promise you.

“Roland forced me to address the hard issues and in doing so, I have made changes which have saved me over $50,000 per year.”

(James France, Vanguard)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Transform Your Sales

Nothing happens until we sell something

sales is hard girl selling Without sales there are no customers, without customers there is no income and without income there is no business. It truly doesn’t matter how gorgeous your website looks, how well your apple peeler works or how silently your IT systems are humming along in the background. Business can not exist without sales.

But sales can be hard. There are some people for whom sales comes easily, but you may not be one of those people. The temptation for many small business owners is to believe that if we deliver good enough products or services, the customers will somehow flock to our doors. But the customers rarely will cue up  for our stuff the way they do for the latest Iphone. Somehow we have to get our stuff in front of enough of the right people and then we have to make it so attractive to buy from us that they’ll do so with a smile

Read the chapter about sales in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Sales Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business to make sales much easier for you and your business, so that you’ll convert a greater percentage of the people that walk through your doors into paying customers.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must get good at sales…

I promise you

“Working with Roland, was the most productive time I have ever dedicated to me and my business.”

(Anna Field, Paddington Beauty Room)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Transform Your Staff

A fun business hires the brightest and keeps the brightest

the right people on the bus The Right people on the bus,
in the right seats,
facing the Right direction.

An old business mentor of mine used to say: “You could have such a great business if it wasn’t for the staff”, and famous business author Michael Gerber said in The E-Myth: “It’s impossible to manage people, because people actively resist being managed and they are unpredictable, only systems can be managed”.

I’m not sure that I entirely agree with Michael Gerber, but he had a point. People complicate things. It’s much easier to manage an office after hours, when everyone else has gone home. But the nature of business is that it’s with people that business creates value. It’s the combined effort and creativity and knowledge of the people of the business, that allow a business to make profit and grow and develop.

But all people are not created equal, some are definitely more equal than others, and some start out looking really good, but half a year down the track we’re not so sure anymore. Maybe that’s even a pattern that seems to repeat itself a lot in your business?

So how do we go about finding the right people and once we have them how do we keep them engaged?

Read the chapter about staff in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Staff Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business for finding and keeping the right people and maximising the opportunities we have to get our people to do great work.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must have the right people on the bus, and facing in the right direction…

I promise you

“Roland has created a simple, effective, and repeatable process that makes his coaching strategy work.”

(Wendy Lloyd Curley, WLC Enterprises).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

The Purpose of Business Podcast

boy with megaphone

 Subscribe in a reader

 
Download this episode (right click and save)

Tell the world:  We’re on a Crusade! boy with megaphone

The podcast of the Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinar on the Purpose of your business (with a capital “P”)

Small business Masterminds Foundation webinars are held every second Thursday… for Free… Go to this link to register for the next one now.

The Purpose of Your Business

Have you ever asked yourself:

Why does your business exist

and why would anybody care?

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

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 and workshops by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge need 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 New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.

The Purpose Question

In the fourth of these articles we’ll look at Purpose and ask: What is the Purpose of your Business?

conscious-capitalismContrary to what most people think, the Purpose of your business is not to make lots of money.

As John Mackey, author of the book “Conscious Capitalism” (More info here) and founder of “Wholefoods Markets” says: “Thinking that the purpose of business is to make money, is like thinking that human beings are on this earth to eat. Eating allows us to fulfil our purpose in life and it is the same for business. Profit allows Business to make good on its Greater Purpose”

Shame really, because life was so much easier when us business owners could just focus on “maximising shareholder value”, but in the 21st century we have to rethink the Purpose of business.

Allow me to illustrate what I mean with one of my Business Bedtime Stories.

A Business Bedtime Story

(The ‘Business Bedtime Stories’ are real world case histories that illustrate the different aspects of business that the various New Perspectives Business Coaching programs deal with. See it in pictures here)

Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… John owned a cornershop in the inner city of Sydney…

Running a cornershop in the inner city is hard, there are corner shops everywhere and then there are the 7-Elevens and city express stores and even Woolworths and Coles get in on the act from time to time.
The hours are insane, profitability is minimal and the Competition is just crazy.

John often caught himself thinking: “How can I escape this trap of deadly competition with my neighbours, so we can all have a better life?”

Working with me as his business coach, John came to realise that the only way to escape the competition trap was to make the competition irrelevant.
supermarketThe way to make the competition irrelevant is by making yourself truly unique, by creating something that is completely different from everything else out there.

And so he did, John decided to become “The Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.

The day he made this decision, everything changed. Sydney has great corner-stores, handy convenience stores, big Coles and Woolworths, sexy delis and grocers, but there is only one “Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.

2 Years later, John opened a second store, a year after that his third and a year later again his fourth. John’s customers love him and love his stores, profits are many times what they were 3 years ago and John is creating something really special in the Inner City of Sydney.

And John and all his satisfied customers lived happily ever after…

The End

Lessons from John:

So let’s have a look at what we can learn from John:
First: Competing on price is not a strategy for sustainable success of your business.
Second: In order to avoid having to compete on price, you need to be clear about the Purpose of your business.
Third: The Purpose of your business has to relate to your customer’s needs.

The Problem with Profit

start-with-whyFocusing on profit as the Purpose of your business, has one major flaw: Your customers have no interest in supporting you to make money. They are quite happy for you to make a profit, but only after you have met their needs first.

There is a beautiful video on Youtube by Simon Sinek (watch the video) another bestselling business author and management guru. In the video Simon states that “People don’t buy What you do, they buy Why you do it”.

In other words, your customers want you to explain to them why your business exists, what it is on this earth for and why they should care.

In working with my clients to find the deeper Purpose of their business, I always ask them those questions first and invariably I get the following three answers:
1.    We do great work
2.    At a great price
3.    And we give great customer service

Undoubtedly true, but first of all your customers expect those three qualities as a bare minimum, a starting point and secondly, your competition makes exactly the same three claims. Have you ever met a business owner who proudly claims to produce and average product at an average price with average customer service?

This is why you must find the deeper Purpose of your business.

Here are some example of deeper business Purposes:
1.   An Architect’s business: Architecture that Inspires
2.   A furniture factory: The Most Beautiful Tables in the World
3.  An Electrical contracting business: You’re in Safe Hands

table If you were in the market for a table, wouldn’t you like to check out the furniture factory at number 2? Of course you would… I know I did.

You might be interested to know that all three of these businesses have been wildly successful and bucked their respective industry trends for years now.

How do you find it?

The process of finding and developing the deeper Purpose of your own business starts with asking yourself the following 7 questions:

1)    What are my 5 most important personal values, as they relate to business?
2)    What core beliefs do I hold about my business and industry?
3)    What do I get really excited about in business; what do I get out of bed for; what am I passionate about?
4)    What do I want my business to be the best in the world at?
5)    Who are my ideal customers?
6)    What do my ideal customers need or want that they are not getting at present?
7)     How can I address all 6 questions above and develop a long term sustainable, profitable business model around that?

I encourage you to involve others in brainstorming these questions with you. Working your way through them will put your business on an entirely different footing, I guarantee it.

This is the topic we will be talking about at the November Masterminds ‘live’ workshop as well as the Masterminds online webinar, both on 14 November. If you would like to attend either the webinar or the workshop, register here

Your First Steps:

As mentioned at the start of this article, here are some resources and actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the principles I discussed.

Go to the resources page to find the following resources that will help you clarify your Purpose and Passion in your business:
1)    The Simon Sinek Video about the “Why” of your business
2)    An article from business guru Jim Collins about the importance of “Vision”
3)    A worksheet and tool I have created to help you step through the 7 questions above.