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:

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?

[INSERT CONNECTION/INTRO AND HYPERLINK TO NEXT BLOG POST AS CTA]

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

More on this topic:

 

BQ Personal Development

How can I become a better

business owner and leader?

leadership personal development business

Business Change follows personal

development and personal Change

I believe personal development is integral to developing your business. The two always go hand in hand. It’s the reason I refer to myself as a Business – Life Coach, rather than a business coach. It all boils down to one word: Leadership.

Most business owners, in the deepest dark reaches of their mind, are afraid they’re not quite cutting it as entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, as business owners, we start our business on the back of a profession, a trade, or a skill we have learnt (plumber, architect, accountant, software developer, designer, mechanic, chef, retail manager) and we feel confident in that particular skill. Starting a new business is an enormous buzz. But once we start a business based on that profession, we suddenly realise it takes a lot more than being a great plumber to build a great plumbing business.

Where’s the toilet paper?

Few business owners have studied to be a business owner, and even those who have attained an MBA or similar qualification, find they’re not prepared for the realities of life as a small business owner. Suddenly everything is down to you, the big decisions about whether or not to bid for that contract, or hire that expensive employee.

You’ll also have to decide on the lease of the new office as well as which toilet paper to buy… and then buy it. To top it off, your people look to you to have Vision, to have the answers and to be the leader.

Three pieces of good news about your leadership

It can be a frightening place to stand in the middle off, but there are three pieces of good news:

  1. You got this far and you’re still standing, so you must be doing something right.
  2. Your people actually want you to be the leader and they’re ready to forgive you just about any stuff up you’re going to make along the way.
  3. Leadership is something you can learn, practice and get better at.

What is leadership then?

Leadership starts with this statement (more in this article too):

Your business is what it is today, because of WHO you ARE today.

That may seem obvious. But what may not be so obvious is what follows.

Because what it means is this:

If you want SOMETHING you’ve never had before,

First, you’ve got to BECOME SOMEONE you’ve never been before.

Systems and knowledge are never enough

Many business coaching companies sell a “system” that will supposedly deliver a business that generates a million dollars of profit every year. Those systems are often well thought through, well presented and well worth looking into, but they rarely work, at least not by themselves. The reason they don’t work is that Change, business Change or personal Change, is never about systems and knowledge. Just like we all know the system for losing weight (eat less, and exercise more), most of us business owners already know most of what we need to know to Change our businesses.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

And just like losing weight means becoming the kind of person who commits to a regimen of eating less and exercising more, changing our businesses means having to become the kind of person who commits to a regimen of developing as people, as managers, as communicators, as coaches… As leaders in other words.

We have to become leaders, the kind of people, who do what needs to be done, to build the kind of businesses that make a million dollars net profit (or substitute whatever figure is relevant for you).

It’s often referred to as the Be, Do, Have model.

Couldn’t I just flick a switch?

Becoming that kind of business owner, that kind of leader, who builds that kind of business, doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t flick a switch and suddenly become that person. Change is a Journey, an adventure, a process of growth. It takes time and commitment, and nobody can know, on forehand, what your adventure is going to look like or what the outcome of your Journey is going to be. Every business owner has his or her own Journey to make, and every Journey is different.

The one thing we can be sure of is this:

Change won’t happen unless you get on the Journey.

Getting on the Journey means stepping out of your comfort-zone and then staying there. You have to push off from the shore, get out onto the ocean, set a course for the horizon and not come back, because Change never happens in the safety of the harbour.

And you know this already. Take a look back over your life to date: It’s all been a Journey. Ten years ago you couldn’t have done what you do today.

But sometimes we just get stuck for a while in the safety of the harbour. Stepping out of your comfort-zone, leaving the harbour, is hard. The day-to-day of scrubbing the decks, repairing the sails and polishing the brass work gets in the way. And before you know it, the day-to-day is all there is.

The two questions you need to answer

That leads to two questions:

  1. How do you know you’re ready to get on the Journey?
  2. How do you get on that Journey?

The first question is the easiest as well as the hardest to answer:

You’re ready when you feel you’re ready.

More about the connection between personal and Business Change:

Being in the harbour

Do take a few minutes to watch this gorgeous TED talk by David Whyte, on past and future and journeys of Change.

There’s nothing wrong with being in the harbour for a while. We need to make sure the ship is seaworthy and safe, we need to make sure we know how to sail the ship, we need to learn to navigate and we need to get clear about the compass course we’re going to set once we get under way. The harbour is a great place to do all those things. But there comes a moment when the pull of the wide open ocean becomes irresistible. That’s when it’s time to go. And when you do: Set the course, hoist the sails, put your gaze on the horizon, and don’t look back.

How do you get on the Journey?

And the second question: How do you get on that Journey?

There are many ways to strike out, but one way to get onto such a Journey of discovery, is with me. I take my clients on inspiring journeys like that all the time. You could think of me like the captain of the ship. I know how to keep the ship safe, I know how to navigate, how not to hit the reefs and how to get safely back into harbour at the other end.

And I’d love to come on your next adventure with you.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

This is what the Adventure looks like with me:

Once you’ve decided that it’s time to push off and get under way, the process I will take you through is this:

  1. We’ll get very clear about the state of your business and life as it is at the moment. What are the strengths of the business? What are your strengths as the business owner? Where are the stresses in your life? What are the areas in the business that are falling behind? What are the areas you need to develop in as leader?
  2. We take several small steps first. You’ll get to put your toe in the water, feel what it’s like working with me. It’s called the Five Steps to Discovery Process, and it’s mostly free.
  3. We’ll get equally clear about what we want the other end of the Journey to look like. In 6 – 9 – 12 months what do you want your business and your life to look like, in great detail? We’ll develop an enormous set of Goals and picture of the desired future. The Goals will include tangibles, and intangibles. It will include financial targets, and KPI’s across all areas of the business and your life. It will include your state of mind and your health and wellbeing, and everything else that you need to explore and discover to build the business and the life you dream off.
  4. We’ll develop a strategic plan for the achievement of the Goal, with a wide range of monthly milestones.
  5. We’ll shake hands and commit to the Journey, get on board, set the compass course for The Goal, push off, and not come back.

Ultimately, making the decision to Change, to get on the Journey, is Fun. It may not always appear that way, when looking out onto the vastness of the ocean at first, but it will be the most satisfying decision you’ve taken in a long time… I promise you.

Further reading:

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.