Productivity Tips: How To Get The Important Stuff Done In Your Business

productivity business

When other people’s priorities are not yours

productivity business

The Work-of-the-business v the Work-of-the-business-owner

Small business owners often ask me if I can help them become more productive. Or rather the complaint is that there are always a thousand other things getting in the way of the stuff you would much rather spend your time on, instead of the never-ending emails, phone calls, crises, admin, quoting, employees calling in sick or needing help tying their shoe laces. No one ever seems to be able to get anything done without you.

It’s one of the great frustrations of small business. Everything is down to you, the owner. When a client is irate, when a supplier is unhappy, the bank has an issue or when the toilet paper runs out, it’s down to you.

And of course, you being you, you do fix it all, you are the ultimate juggler and the balls rarely ever crash when you’re on the job, but it means the work you actually want to do, gets put off and off and off.

No simple answers

All small business owners have to face this challenge and, sadly, I have no simple answers.

Move along folks… Nothing to see here.

I can suggest a few principles, though, that may help make you more productive and actually get the things you want to get done, done:

  • Other people’s priorities don’t always have to be your priorities.
  • The important work you want to get onto, the business development work is the only work in your business that cannot be delegated to others.
  • The important work you want to get onto can always be put off another day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
  • If you don’t make the business development work your priority and set dedicated time aside for it every week, it will not get done and your business will struggle.

Covey and the 4 Quadrants

productivity business One of the classic works of personal development of the eighties is Stephen Covey’s book: “The 7 Habits of highly effective people”. In The 7 Habits, Covey talks about the 4 quadrants of time management (see the image).

Covey explains that all tasks can be put into one of 4 quadrants. Tasks can be:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Important and not Urgent
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Neither Important nor Urgent

If you experience the problems I outlined in the first three paragraphs above, I know you have little trouble getting the tasks done that are in quadrant 1. The Quadrant 1 stuff is the stuff that must get done now, or else, and I bet you’re generally fine with that It’s the reason your business has survived as long as it has.

Mostly, small business owners don’t struggle too much with the Quadrant 4 stuff either, there’s not enough time in a day as it is, let alone spend time on stuff that is meaningless.

The problems are always in Quadrants 2 and 3. The Quadrant 3 stuff is all the tasks that are generated by other people. It’s the client ringing up and saying I need to have that quote first thing tomorrow morning, it’s the supplier saying I want to deliver this widget after lunch, can you be on site to receive it. Because the client and the supplier sound like it’s really really important to them, you set aside the thing you would have preferred to do and you make it happen. Other people’s priorities. They say “Jump”, your immediate response is “How High”? And when you jump you put aside the Quadrant 2 stuff. The Quadrant 2 stuff is the stuff that is important to you, but it can always be put off another day. The world doesn’t end if you start writing that business plan tomorrow instead of today and the world doesn’t end if you put off writing the new safety procedure for another day.

The world won’t end when you postpone

And the world really won’t end when you do that. After all you’ve managed alright without the business plan and the safety procedure to date… What’s another day? The problem is of course that tomorrow there will be another phone call and another crisis and the day after another one etc.

Obviously, sometimes when a client asks if you can do this thing for them by this afternoon, it really does need to be done, but many times it doesn’t. Often it’s perfectly ok to say: “Sorry I am busy this afternoon and tomorrow. I can get onto it on Thursday and have it to you by lunch time, would that be ok?” I can guarantee you that in most cases the client is going to be fine with that, as long as you are clear and decisive and as long as you actually deliver by Thursday lunchtime.

Other peoples urgencies

We are trained to respond to other people’s urgencies as if they are our own. They aren’t and it’s worth keeping that in mind.

I have worked with and met hundreds if not thousands of small business owners in the past 13 years. From my experience, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the one key difference between the business owners who have built and are building Great Small Businesses and those who struggle, is how much time they manage to dedicate every week to building their business. I call it “The work of the business owner” as opposed to “The work of the business”.

If you start by dedicating as little as an hour per week to business building and business development, every week, regular as clockwork, no interruptions, phone off, email off, go to a café if you have to, block it out in your diary, nothing short of death is more important… You will start to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come… I promise you

#Productivity #Efficient #WorkOfTheBusinessOwner #BusinessDevelopment #Coaching

 

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The 5 Things to Master in your Small Business in 2017

2017 new year

New Year’s advice from your business coach

5 P’s for your Small Business

As your favourite small business coach, I am supposed to tell you how to start the new year off with a bang. We’re already a few weeks into 2017, but in Australia the year never starts properly until after the Australia Day weekend of 26 January (also known as the Invasion Day weekend,) so I have a bit more time to give you my top 5 things to do in your business in 2017.

It’s not that there is anything particularly special about 2017, but the start of any year is a good place to set some powerful intentions.

These are the five intentions you should set for yourself at the start of 2017:

  • Purpose
  • Planning
  • Your fingers on the pulse
  • Systems, systems, systems
  • Social media

If you nail those 5 in 2017, you’ll truly start to build a Business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come.

Here’s the low down on each one of the five:

Purpose:

The most important question any entrepreneur must be able to answer in his business is this one:

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

Small Business Coach Entrepreneur Obvious? Maybe, but let me tell you: the answer to that question will have nothing to do with money. (Money is never the Point, it’s a by-product at best). Neither will the answer be a variant on “We deliver a Great product with Great customer service for a Great price” (because everyone else does that too), and nor is the answer: “Because I need to pay the mortgage” (Your customers do not care about your need to pay the mortgage, they really don’t, sadly)

Nobody, but you can tell you what the answer is, but once you answer it in one short powerful statement, in a way that sends a shiver down your spine, 2017 will be a great year.

Planning:

No human endeavour has ever amounted to anything without a plan. At the same time however it can be said that all plans are out of date the moment they’re created. Planning is guessing, but that doesn’t mean we might as well stop planning. On the contrary, the secret is to always be planning. Planning is a verb that must continuously be carried out. Plan every week, every month and every year. Ideally on one page, no more.

If you are focused on planning with regularly, I guarantee you that 2017 will be the most exciting year you’ve experienced in your small business.

Finger on the Pulse:

Small Business Coach Entrepreneur In 2017, make it your focus to start to measure the important functions of your business. What gets measured, gets managed is the old saying and that wisdom holds true as much in 2017 as it did a hundred years ago. Think about the 10 or 15 key indicators of the health of your business and how you might get a weekly and monthly single measurement of those to look at. Obviously, a few of those numbers will come directly out of your bookkeeping program, such as your bank balance and gross and net profit and your revenue figures. But there are a bunch of other numbers that will give you powerful insight into how your business is going, as well.

Keeping your fingers on the pulse of the key indicators of the health of your business, I call it. If you want your business to start humming in 2017, focus on learning to measure the key numbers.

One tip though: You as the entrepreneur should not be involved in obtaining these numbers yourself. You should delegate getting the numbers to others and ensure that those key numbers land on your desk every Friday afternoon for the week just past. Delegating the reporting on the numbers to others in your business is a really important part of the process.

Systems, systems, systems:

I suppose it goes without saying, but systemisation is the secret of any entrepreneur. It’s all about predictability. I’m not suggesting that every small business must go through a process of McDonaldisation, far from it, but we shouldn’t ignore the lessons from McDonalds either. When you send one of your plumbers out to do a job, you want to feel confident that he’ll do the job smoothly, safely and profitably and that he leaves a satisfied customer behind. And when someone in your business answers the phone, you don’t want to have to hold your breath hoping they’ll not annoy the person on the other end of the line because of bad phone manners.

Systemisation is about the opposite of “Managing by keeping your fingers crossed”. Systemisation can be about small things such as answering the telephone with a simple little script as well as big things like a complete safety management systems. Only you can decide the balance between the cost of developing and implementing a system and the cost of not having one. Some things will always have to come down to common sense, but not all of them.

Read all about Money, Profit, cash flow and keeping your fingers on the pulse here

Social Media:

Facebook is here to stay

Small Business Coach EntrepreneurSo is Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and YouTube and Yelp and TripAdvisor and LinkedIn and Google and a whole bunch of others that haven’t even really been though about yet. They will become more and more important and you simply must get on board with them if you still want to have a business a few years from now. People ask their Facebook friends for recommendations to plumbers, restaurants, holiday accommodation and accountants and then they expect to click straight to a Facebook page of that business and see reviews and opening hours and star ratings.

You may still be getting the bulk of your business outside of social media, but if you are, I bet it’s already getting harder and in 5 years I guarantee you’ll be left behind eking out a living in the margin.

20 years ago you effectively couldn’t run a business without an ad in the Yellow pages… These days the same goes for social media, whether you like it or not.

Don’t resist it any longer, make it a priority to really learn how to maximise your opportunities in social media and you’ll have great years from 2017 onwards… I promise you.

#FunInBusiness #Coaching #Entrepreneur #SmallBiz #Goalsetting #TopFiveThingsNewYear #NewYearsResolution

 

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How to transform an ordinary conversation into an extraordinary one

Conversations Listening Business Coach

Beautiful things can happen in the meeting space between two people

Conversations Listening Business Coach

Powerful conversations lead to unexpected outcomes

I talk a lot… I get paid for it actually… Specifically, I have conversations… Powerful conversations with my business coaching clients, so I do as much listening, as I do talking.

You may have heard it said that we have two ears and one mouth and that we ought to use them in that ratio.

Obviously, the math’s doesn’t really add up. Unless your conversations involve three people, it’ll lead to a lot of awkward silences (sorry that’s a dad-joke). But the point is valid. Most of us listen for the opportunity to speak next. I sat in a large gathering once and the facilitator announced that there would be no questions, because, she said, the moment we put up our hands to ask questions, we stop listening.

I think our conversations are like that a lot of the time. We look for an opportunity to put our own two-bob’s-worth in and while on the lookout for that, we cease to listen to the other half of the conversation.

Listening Between The Lines

One of the greatest skills we can all learn is listening, deep listening. Listening between the lines as someone once said to me. What is person who is talking really saying; What are they feeling; What is underneath the words they use; What are they looking for from the conversation; How can we take the conversation up a notch?

Not long ago I sat down with a client to do one of my trial business coaching sessions. Both the client and I had more or less decided that at the end of the trial session she would sign a coaching agreement with me and that we would be working together for the next year. At the start of the session, I reminded the client and myself that it was important to be open to whatever the outcome of the conversation might be, no attachments, no agendas. We spent an hour and a half digging and exploring and opening up every box we found and examining the contents. Slowly but surely it became evident for both of us, that engaging in a coaching agreement with me was not what the client needed at this point in her business. A bunch of other things needed to be seen to first.

The Conclusion Comes From The Middle

The conversation was incredibly powerful, we both lost track of time and it felt we reached entirely the right outcome for her. We both felt the conclusion was unavoidable, it simply presented itself in the space between us. Although it was an outcome that was contrary to the interest of my business, I felt right and the client was energised and grateful.

Conversations Listening Business Coach A hero of mine, Graham Long, minister of the Wayside Chapel in Sydney, often tells me that the greatest thing we can do for our fellow human beings is to “meet” them. He refers to a meeting than can sometimes be allowed to occur in the space between two people. Graham says that this is the only space where the holy fire burns. I’m not particularly religious, so I find it difficult to think in terms of holiness, but I do know that the outcome of the conversation with the client above came neither from my brain nor that of the client, it came out of space between us.

The client and I were committed to let the conversation go wherever it wanted to go, neither of us had an agenda other than to have the most powerful conversation we could have, and amazing things happened.

It has taken me many years to learn not to be attached to the outcome of a conversation. As a matter of fact, it continues to be one of the greatest challenges of my life. Whenever I go into any conversation the temptation immediately rises in me to give advice, to help, to fix things, to tell people what I think, how to do life differently, and impress them with my wisdom, experience or cleverness. But every time I give in to those temptations, the conversation goes nowhere.

The Siren Voice of the Smart-arse

Conversations Listening Business Coach From time to time I do catch the siren voice of being the smartarse who’ll fix things. When I do, as I did in the recent trial session with the client, beautiful things happen.

I remember I first started learning about the value of simply being with people when I was a volunteer crisis counsellor for Lifeline in Sydney. Every now and then I experienced that “meeting” that Graham Long told me about later. True “Meeting” would normally only come about at 3 am on the midnight shift, when I could barely keep my eyes open. In those moments, I think I simply forgot to be clever and “useful” and was just there for the caller.

There was a call once that went for nearly 2 hrs, just me and the voice of the caller in the middle of a Sunday night. I don’t know what happened for the caller afterwards, Lifeline calls are anonymous, but for me the call was life changing. We “met” as Graham describes it and something truly special happened for both of us, I have no doubt.

The conversation with the client a few weeks ago, wasn’t life changing in the same way, but it left me glowing deep inside and I know the client felt the same way.

The best conversations in life are that way. We remember them forever, if not for the detail of the conversation, but for the feeling it created between us.

I wish I could force those “meetings” to happen, but I can’t and nobody can, that’s the point of them. The harder we try the less successful we are. In the early days of my coaching journey I used to have a reminder hanging on the wall in front of me that said:

The harder I try to be useful, the less useful I am.

The only way to make true “meetings” happen is to be open to allow them to happen, and that requires us to have no attachment to the outcome of the meeting, to practice deep listening, listening between the lines, and to be in the conversation, nowhere else.

Easier said than done, but I’m learning

Slowly

Ever so slowly…

More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here

#SmallTalk #conversations #FunInBusiness #Coaching #startup #entrepreneurmindset #realtalk

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How to Make a Family Business Work

Family Business

Family business the godfather

The pitfalls and the secrets of hiring family members in your business

Business and family don’t mix, is the old adage. And I’ve certainly seen the mixture blow up in a bunch of instances, but what about the many many family businesses out there that have done very well and been around a long time. Say what you will, but the Murdochs, Packers and Trumps are nothing if not succesful business families. So why are we so concerned about introducing family members into our businesses, and how can we avoid the worst of the pitfalls?

First of all, I think the problem with family and business, or for that matter friends and business, is not so much that it is more likely to fail than a normal business, but that if it fails it can cause so much collateral damage. Whole families can be ripped apart over a family partnership that disintegrates. If the manager of department X turns out to be an incompetent idiot, you as his direct report can simply leave. It may be inconvenient, but you’ll find another job and life moves on. But if that same manager is uncle Jimmy and the company was started by your father, and you have to sit at the same Christmas lunch table with Uncle Jimmy next month, then the situation becomes much more complicated.

The business owner’s dream

Family Business I’m not going to sit here and tell you never to hire a family member into your business. Most business owners dream of having their children join the business and have the thing they created be a vehicle for bringing the family closer and making life more comfortable for the family. In my days as a builder I often imagined that it would be really nice to have one or all of my kids become involved in my business. It’s how we roll as business owners, and it’s one of the reasons, I believe business owners on average are happier people as a group (more about business and happiness here) .

So how do we minimise the inherent risks of causing major family dramas when getting the clan involved in The Business.

4 Secrets

From everything I’ve seen over the years I think there are four principles to managing family business well:

    • Acknowledge that it isn’t always going to be easy. Allow for the fact that just because we are family, doesn’t mean we all have the same values and beliefs or the same work ethic or for that matter the same priorities in life. Sure, family is important for most of us, but my own kids are still more important to me than uncle Jimmy’s kids.
    • Depending on the size of the organisation, ensure you have regular meetings (monthly ideally) in which issues can be tabled and resolved. The format of the meetings is dependent on circumstances. If there are two family members in a large organisation, it’s probably a good idea for those two people to go and have a drink every month and compare notes. But if a significant number of the employees of a business are all part of your family, organise a once a month family meeting, in which irritations and grievances are aired and worked through.
    • Take the time to set up job-role-descriptions and expectations for all employees in the business, but especially for the family members. There is nothing so destructive as a family member in a business who doesn’t actually know what is expected from him or her. Job descriptions, clarity about what constitutes “great work”, clarity on deliverables and KPIs… Take the trouble to set them up and hold people, family members especially, accountable to them.
    • Ensure that there is great clarity about how people move up the ladder in the company. Family members especially must know that there is a quid pro quo: Not unless you deliver XYZ and you have proven to be good at your current role, will you be considered for promotion: Just because you are my son, doesn’t mean you will be promoted beyond what you proven yourself capable of.

I’ve written various other articles about the highs and lows of being in a family business here, as well as my own experiences in family business here, and there is a page with resources about family business on my website here, and finally I have a page about the services I offer husband and wife family businesses here.

Involving your family in your business can destroy your family just as much as it can bring your family closer together and be an incredibly rewarding experience. Follow the four principles above and you give yourself the best opportunity to create the latter… I promise you.

#FunInBusiness #Happiness #FamilyBusiness #ClarityInBusiness

Btw, if you want to be guided on how to make your family business work, I have created The Fun in Business Intensive program to make it safe for business owners like you to go on a great journey of change in their business, their family, and life. Click below to learn more!

Fun in Business Intensive


What I learned about business and myself in 2016

Careful what you wish for, Business

Careful what you wish for in your business, you might just get it

Careful what you wish for, Business

The weary traveler makes a wish

December has come around and we’re officially in the silly season, end of 2016 in sight. I think it’s time to do some reflecting.

I learned a couple of big lessons this year about myself and business.

First, I learned that Kindness is a key success factor in small business. I published a whole newsletter on the topic of Kindness in October. It’s a nice collection of articles and videos from some great writers, as well as some of my own musings on the matter. Learning to be more Kind to myself and everyone else is one of my projects now, maybe for the rest of my life.

And second I learned the value of the old warning: “Careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.”

Here’s what that’s about:

Three and a half years ago, I decided I wanted to spend a lot more time with my family in Holland every year. Until then I’d do the regular family visits, but those were expensive, and exhausting, and you don’t really get to develop your relationships on those kind of annual flyin – flyout trips.

Reorganising my business and my life

I decided that what I wanted to do, was to reorganise my business and life in such a way that would allow me to travel to Holland and live and work from there for 3 months every year. It’s been my project over the past 3.5 years to make that come together, and I did it.

This year I’ve been in Holland for a total of 4 months, in two trips, and my business hasn’t suffered… If anything it’s healthier now than it’s been for years.

I have a really great marketing assistant in the Philippines now who continuously improves my findability. I have created lots of useful articles, videos, webinars, newsletters and my three books. I have implemented two sophisticated Marketing Automation Systems to connect with and build relationships with my audience. My clients are entirely happy to work with me via Skype and because of VOIP telephony I can simply make phonecalls to Australia from anywhere in the world.

It’s taken a lot of effort, time and money, and I wasn’t always sure if it would work out in the end, but it did, and now it simply doesn’t matter where in the world I am anymore.

I have so little to do

And that’s what is such a strange experience for me, because suddenly, I have so little to do. I stopped nearly all of my previous marketing activities. I resigned from the business referral group I was a committed member of for 10 years. I stopped going to networking events, I’m not doing “coffees” anymore and my online activities are nearly all automated. All I do, in terms of business development, is that I write articles and read interesting blogs in order to offer my audience useful Food-for-Thought, but that’s it. And as a consequence I have all this time available; time to do with as I please.

It’s a mighty weird experience, because I haven’t had time like that for such a long time. I’ve always had work to do, business to generate, quotes to complete, networking, sales follow up, proposals to write, admin to carry out… Never enough time in a day to get everything done as a matter of fact.

But now, I’ve found myself considering what kind of hobbies I might take up, or if I might volunteer somewhere. I didn’t truly appreciate what was going on most of this year; I struggled with myself a lot this year. I felt I was procrastinating and lazy and ill-disciplined and distracted most days. I’d sit down behind my computer determined to do some work, but I’d waste whole days doing nothing much at all.

Stuck in the procrastination swamp

Careful what you wish for, Business I’ve written about procrastination before and I said in the article, that one of the reasons we procrastinate is that we aren’t clear on what it is we are meant to be doing. I suddenly realised a few months ago, that I was stuck in the middle of exactly that kind of procrastination swamp. I didn’t know what I was meant to be doing, because there was nothing to do.

Since that realisation I feel great about myself. I actually achieved what I set out to do in 2013 and now I have to learn how to live in this new reality.

Have you ever set yourself a challenge and then when you’ve achieved it, made it work, you suddenly find yourself wondering: So What’s Next?”

And so we go from challenge to challenge in life, but I tell you what, I’m up for this challenge!

#FuninBusiness #dreamscometrue #YourWishInBusiness #feelgood #secretstosuccess #Coaching #Smallbiz #Entrepreneur

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One Minute Business Tips

Slow and Steady Wins the Race in Small Business

Small Business Competition

Get the boring stuff right in your business and make the competition irrelevant

Small Business Competition

It’s not hard to sell more, what’s hard is to deliver on your promises, week in week out

Early in my days as a business coach I read a book by Jason Jennings: “It’s not the Big that eat the Small, it’s the Fast that eat the Slow.”

Besides the unwieldy nature of the title, it became one of my bibles. There are various chapters in the book that I have re-read several times and I often find myself quoting from the book to my clients.

But I’ve decided that Jason Jennings and I part company on one specific idea about business. The premise of the book is that in the modern world, small fast business always outcompetes big slow business. Mr Jennings uses a number of examples to illustrate that every time a big powerful Goliath of a business comes up against a nimble little David, the Goliath gets defeated time and again, and hence the book encourages small business to grow fast and stay nimble.

I’ve stopped believing in fast growth as a strategy. These days, I believe in the “Slow and Steady Wins the Race” principle.

Growth is the easy part

As I have written previously on Smallville, growing your business is the easy part. If you do what you say you’re going to do, for the price you say you’ll charge, by the time you say you’ll do it, your customers will find you and flock to your door… guaranteed. The hard part is doing those three things… under-promise and over-deliver… every time, and make a profit… every time.

It’s relatively easy to deliver on your promises, and control your costs and your income, when it’s just you and a really small team, but once you’re not actually doing the work of the business yourself anymore and you don’t meet every client and see every job and you don’t know how your staff are doing the work every moment of the day anymore, that’s when it becomes challenging to continue to deliver your three promises and remain profitable.

Jane’s worried about the competition

Small Business Competition I’ve written before about my client Jane whose business sells flowers online in little bunches (Read about Jane here). Jane’s has a unique business model and when I first started working with Jane, she was nervous, because she thought others might, steal her business model. She was keen to grow really quickly, expand into other markets around Australia and move to the UK, Europe and the USA in the shortest possible time.

I helped her to stop worrying and to slow down. When we started working, the business wasn’t profitable yet. A lot of details in the business needed ironing out yet, nearly all of them in operations and cost control.

Boring stuff, like finding new couriers and negotiating better rates, working with her staff to increase their productivity, improving the work environment, developing better online systems, implementing better financial control systems, simplifying the admin.

Doing the boring stuff

None of it was very exciting, none of it got Jane’s creative juices flowing, none of it seemed important when seen against the threat of armies of competitors flooding in and taking away her markets.

And a bunch of different competitors did come into the Sydney market and at last count there have been three different competitors trying to get something similar off the ground in Melbourne.

But now, two years later, Jane’s business is consistently making close to $10K net profit every month (That’s after paying Jan and everyone else in the business a proper wage of course).

Because Jane knuckled down and dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s, all the boring stuff, and now the business is humming like a well-oiled machine. Everything that can be systemised is, from going to the flower markets, to making the bunches, to marketing, ordering, delivery and payment.

Jane’s customers love her business, the staff love working there, it’s growing steadily and the bank account is building steadily.

Read all about Money, Profit, cash flow and keeping your fingers on the pulse here

Making the competition irrelevant

The competition is irrelevant. Most of them started up and fell over again, or in any case are not heard from again. The ones that are still there are barely hanging in it seems. They haven’t dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s. If anything the competitors have prepared the other markets for the arrival of Jane’s business.

Jane will expand to Melbourne, and then she’ll make sure Melbourne runs like a well-oiled machine and making money, before she opens in Brisbane, and so on.

That’s how you build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come… Slow and steady… 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

#smallbusiness #coaching #funinbusiness #businesspassion #secretstosuccess #CompetitionIrrelevant

Sign Up to Receive My Weekly Tips Email!

I publish a weekly “One-Minute-Business-Tips” newsletter which is designed to help small business owners take these very small simple steps every week… Each tip I send out on Friday morning, is designed to take less than half an hour, but taking those little 10 minute steps every week will start to change your life… I promise you.

One Minute Business Tips

The One Thing That Matters Most in Business Management

small-business-fun

Are you having fun yet?

Fun in business management matters rubber duck

Nobody teaches you about Fun in business at an MBA

Ask any business owner, accountant, management consultant, business coach or other business guru what matters most in business, and you’re likely to be told about the importance of profit, cash, sales, customer retention, staff, leadership, or maybe you’ll be regaled with the importance of quality, systems, innovation or maybe planning and strategic thinking (not a complete list nor necessarily in the right order).

Obviously, those are all important. Without sales, there is no business. If you don’t generate enough cash, your business will fall over in no time as well but there is one factor that’s much more important than all of those. I refer to that factor as Fun in Business.

Fun in Business management is not one of the success factors we learn about in MBA schools, but I can assure you it matters more than anything else. (Read here on Inc.com about the traditional success factors in business)

You see, if you focus on profit as the greatest success factor of your business. It means you’ll never be able to achieve anything beyond profit, and that’s like saying that the greatest measure of success of human beings is how much food we get to eat. Obviously we need to eat food, but we do so in order to achieve what we want to achieve in life. It’s the same with Business and money as well as any of the other success factors mentioned above. We need to make profit and we need to make sales and we need to make our customers happy, but those things are not an end in themselves. Our business needs to do these things, so that it gets to achieve what it wants to achieve in this world.

Think differently about business

It’s time we started to think differently about business than we traditionally have and learn to accept that there is something greater for us to achieve than make sales, improve our systems and generate cash.

A really interesting place to start, I believe, is to focus on the concept of Fun in Business and management. You see when business is Fun, it means everything is working. When business itself is Fun it means that:

  • You are making money and generating cash flow
  • You’re making sales
  • You’re getting better all the time
  • You know where you’re going
  • Your staff are highly engaged
  • Your customers love you
  • You’re proud of the stuff your business produces
  • You creating the kind of balance in your life that is important to you.

Focusing on Fun in Business as the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of the health of your business and understanding that all the other KPI’s we are used to measuring and thinking about are merely drivers to the main KPI of Fun in Business, will change your business and your life.

“Sounds lovely and all warm and fuzzy, but in the here and now, as the owner of a business I have all these responsibilities and if I don’t focus on money, every day, people are going to start losing their jobs and that’s the end of everything. I need to look at a couple of numbers in the morning and see whether we are achieving our targets and I can’t even begin to measure Fun!”

That’s an objection I am often given. You can’t measure “soft” concepts like Fun in business anymore than you can measure Love or Kindness or Frustration in business or anywhere in life, can you?

But it turns out you can measure Fun in Business in a useful manner, quite easily actually.

Measuring Happiness

In the same way you can measure happiness for example. Imagine I asked you to think of a scale from 0 to 10. 10 on the scale means that you are the happiest you’ve ever been in your life and 0 means the opposite, you are totally depressed; I have no doubt that if I asked you that question right at this moment, you’d have no trouble giving me a number, like 7.3 for example. now if I asked you that same question again tomorrow, you’d probably give me a different number, say 8.1 for example and that would tell us that you are feeling a little happier than you did today when I asked the question for the first time. This way of measurement is referred to as relative scaling. The technique is well established in various forms of psychology.

We can apply the same system of measurement to measuring Fun in business in our business and you can even choose to involve your team with this measurement system as well. I have helped many clients implement such a measurement system in their business and the impact of doing so consistently has been nothing short of amazing.

Obviously, just knowing how much Fun in Business we had last week is not going to change anything on it’s own. The old saying is: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. The point of measuring something is that we want to manage (and improve) that operation or section of the business. This principle goes for managing (and therefore measuring) Fun as it is for managing and measuring any other KPI in business, such as how many widgets we produce in an hour.

Fun in Business Management system

Measuring Fun in Business with the scaling question I described is therefore merely the first step in the Fun in Business management system. The next steps are all about the follow up questions.

After establishing what the relative Fun in Business number was for last week, we have to ask what would make next week a better week, how can we ensure we move the Fun in Business number from 5.7 to 6.1 this coming week for example? What do we have to do to make that happen?

The conversation that follows is where the rubber hits the road. It may be for example that you decide that one of the things that causes the Fun number to be lower than you’d like it to be, is that every second phone call into the office is from a supplier who wants to be paid. The reason those phone calls are uncomfortable is that you are always ‘robbing Peter to pay PAul’ because you yourself have an excessively large Aged Debtors list, in other words people haven’t been paying you on time. You are owed too much money in other words and what you need to do this coming week is to dedicate a full hour on Monday to debt collecting. If you reduce your aged debtors from $70,000 to $35,000 in the next couple of weeks, you can pay all your suppliers and suddenly you don’t have to feel so uncomfortable answering the phone every time it rings.

Or maybe you and your team decide that the business would be more fun to work at if people could work to a more flexible time schedule. Start earlier, finish earlier. Work on Saturday instead of Monday and maybe it is conceivable that you can reorganise life to suit such flexibility. There are any number of issues that can and will come up when you start having these kind of focused discussions in your business

That’s called ‘managing by the numbers’ and that’s why Fun is all that matters in business.

The process of asking: “What is one thing we can do next week, that will mean that we move one increment up our ‘Fun in Business Scale’ will flush out the most important small steps to take to move the business forward and start to make business fun again like it was when you first started it… I promise you!

More reading and resources about Fun in Business management:

  • How focusing on profit can ruin a great business, on Smallville.com.au
  • What’s Fun got to do with it on Medium.com
  • How business doesn’t have to be like playing a game of “Whack the Mole
  • The 7 Secrets to building a Fun Business
  • The five management truths for making business fun
  • My Fun in Business coaching and mentoring programs
  • A Small Business Masterminds Webinar recording about why Fun is all that matters in Business as well as the podcast here
  • For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here
  • A series of 4 articles where I go into a lot more depth on how to make Business Fun

Book-3_3D-250w-137 Free book: The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun

You can download my book, The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun, for free, on this page https://www.newperspectives.com.au/business-fun-ebook/

Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Podcast Interview

Business Journeys

Stories of change and development in business

 

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Episode 1: Heath Felton, Global Grapevine

Heath was my client during 2014 and 2015. I ask him to describe how the development of his business is like a journey.

Heath’s company is Global Grapevine in Sydney and the import amazing wines from Southern Italy, selected regions in France and Spain.. Most of the best restaurants in Sydney have Global Grapevine wines on their list http://www.globalgrapevine.com.au/

 

Fun is All That Matters: A Small Business Masterminds Webinar Podcast

Fun in Business

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Whyis Fun in Business more important than any other KPI?

fun in business

The podcast of the Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinar on Fin in business, why it matters so much and what it takes to build a Fun business that sustains you for years to come

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

The Most Important Reason for Taking on a Business Coach

shhhhhhhhhhh

A business coach will change your life

But here’s the secret no coach will tell you

shh hush shush secret red sexy lips I read a great article in Leaders in Heels, online the other day (read it here) about the reasons for taking on a business coach.

The article got me thinking about my profession, about what I do and why working with me and people like me can make such an enormous difference to your business growth and development, and hence why I firmly believe that taking on a coach from time to time is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make in your business.

There is one reason above all others, that you should know about and noone tells you about. And that is this… it’s not the brilliance of the coach, rather it is the commitment you make that makes the difference.

The conventional factors

The article by Ros Cardinal mentions a number of important benefits from taking on a coach, such as:

Time management and prioritisation, clarity, brainstorming and accountability. and those are absolutely great benefits you’ll gain from having a coach (a good one anyway) and there a bunch of others, depending on the coach and the relationship you and your coach may have.

But the biggest one is rarely mentioned, because it actually is not dependent on the qualities, knowledge and experience of your coach… It is the commitment made by you, the client. Obviously coaches don’t like to mention this too much, because they want you to think they are brilliant and that their singular brilliance is going to make you rich and successful… I’m no different really, I am similarly convinced of my genius… but in the depth of the night, when noone is listening, I know it hasn’t got anywhere near as much to do with my talents as I like to make out.

The commitment

To take on a business coach costs significant time, energy and money. To sign a contract or shake hands with a business coach is not a decision to be taken lightly. It takes a lot of faith and trust and actually not going to make your life easier in the short term. I say to my clients that taking me on as their coach: “Is full-on, it’s intense, it’s made grown men cry… but it works”

And one of the reasons it works is that it is a big commitment, and once you make the big commitment it means you become highly invested to make it work for you by hook or by crook.

Once you make the commitment and I am up to the job of “holding the space” and being there for you every step of the way, the change becomes relentless and unavoidable.

It’s the reason I actually make it quite hard to engage with me (which doesn’t help my business model of course but then the dentists kids have holes in their teeth… maybe I need a new business coach!)

Next time you talk to a business coach who wants to make it easy to sign you up… go and find someone else… I promise you.

More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here