Are you having fun yet?
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.
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
- Change now: Five steps to Fun in Business
- 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
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/