The 5 management truths for building a Fun business

TTTMBF the revolution

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 third article in a monthly series on Making Business Fun: This article is about the 5 business management Truths

The last article laid out the foundations 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: The five building blocks

And the hard hitting truth about business management

TTTMBF the management truths Would you like to move out of overwhelm and start building a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come? The truth is that once you’ve laid the foundations (using the Hedgehog Principles), it’s all about learning to manage your Fun Business properly.

I won’t lie, you will need to focus on a few fundamentally dull things, small business management in other words, like goal setting, team management,  planning, systems and measuring. However, I have a few shortcuts and strategies up my sleeve that make the process markedly more exciting…

A Fun Business Has Flexible Goals

TTTMBF goal setting Everyone knows that goal setting is a good idea. It engages your team. It improves your decision-making. It helps your business deliver on its promise. What’s more, I don’t believe your business will ever become Fun if you don’t practice goal setting effectively. To manage your business well, to build a great Fun Business, you simply can’t avoid Goal setting.

Still, goal setting is surprisingly difficult to do well. It’s hard to get people onboard. It’s even tougher to keep everyone accountable. Our world is also changing every day, so goals must be continuously adjusted to suit new realities.

SMART is a well-established tool for creating impactful goals:

  • S pecific
  • M easurable
  • A chievable
  • R elevant
  • T imeframed

I like the idea, but I believe that adding three more letters to the acronym makes it exponentially more powerful:

  • S tretch (you can just see yourself reaching for it)
  • I nspiring (for you)
  • P ersonal (about your personal achievements and growth. Read: not about achieving a particular profit level or buying a Porsche because unfortunately, those material things won’t motivate your subconscious brain!).

I always invite my clients to decide on a large, visionary goal for the future (Jim Collins refers to this as the BHAG or “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” in his book, Built to Last) that meets the SMARTSIP criteria and then break it down into a medium-term goal and a goal for the year.

A Fun Business Engages Everyone

TTTMBF helping hand Lots of businesses proclaim that their people are their greatest asset (and to be honest, whenever I read that statement on someone’s website, I run a mile), but most of them generally belie their beliefs with their actions.

Most companies prefer not to think about the fact that a business IS its people, and your business only gets to make money if your people let you. Business Management is about people first and foremost.

If your employees are only interested in their paycheck, you will always struggle to make a dollar and business will feel anything but FUN. On the flip side, if your whole team is enthusiastically pulling in the same direction then your business will move mountains.

So, how can you achieve said nirvana?

  1. Hire the brightest: Find people whose attitude, energy, enthusiasm and resourcefulness matches your culture and team dynamics.
  2. Move beyond money: Listen to people, recognise their achievements and give them the right tools to do a meaningful job well.
  3. Get the team involved: Bring your people into all the processes, planning meetings and rhythms of the business.
  4. Remember that employees are people too: Don’t just dictate – get people involved in developing their own goals.
  5. Play the game of business: Get your people to start thinking like team members who are playing a game that they all enjoy and want to win.

A Fun Business Has a “Living” Business Plan That Drives It Forward

TTTMBF looking into the future, planning Human beings don’t accomplish anything without a plan. In fact, some say it is our ability to plan that sets us apart from other animals. However, most small businesses do not have a formal business plan, and if they do, it generally lives in a dusty bottom drawer.

Having a written plan (AKA one that exists outside of your head) allows other people to engage with it and understand where the business is going. It allows you and others to check progress, brainstorm, make good decisions and maintain focus on the important stuff.

Most business owners know this. I’m sure you do too.

The sticking point comes from a simple misunderstanding. It comes from believing you are expected to develop an externally focused plan in the format we are taught by accountants, consultants and government bodies (read: not designed to be useful for you, the owner) when an internal business plan is what you need.

An internal business plan is a shareable and succinct “living” document. It is created collaboratively and revised frequently. It is designed to support decision-making and internal communication about the direction of the business.

Trust me, once you let go of your idea of what a business plan “should’” look like and just get around a table with a flip chart and a group of your people, you’ll find that business planning is not actually daunting at all, but instead really powerful and Fun.

A Fun Business Has Rhythm and Regularity

TTTMBF rhythm Entrepreneurs are the busiest and most guilt-ridden people on the planet. They work long days, dream about their businesses at night and repeatedly scorn themselves for not living up to some impossible standards laid out by a critical inner voice [HYPERLINK TO BLOG POST 1].

As a result, most business owners operate as crisis managers. This situation has many undesirable consequences: dropped balls, neglected business development, burnout, missed family time, stomach ulcers, or all of the above. An atmosphere of stress and last-minute problem-solving also starts to develop company-wide, leading to low morale and high employee turnover. You get stuck in a loop where you don’t have time to foster predictability, develop systems or train people to handle the crises themselves and because of this, there will always be another crisis.

The way through this dilemma? Building rhythm and regularity into your business.

One of the best first steps you can take is to start a weekly operations meeting where everyone reviews the previous week and plans for the next one (a better one). Want to make it effective? Start and finish on time. Follow an agreed agenda. Ensure everyone is present. Don’t allow distractions. Focus on solutions.

Next, you might decide to look at the systems in the business because systemisation is an important contributor to a sense of calm predictability. This could be as simple as creating a script and a standard form/checklist for inbound office calls.

Remember, people want to feel safe, and safety starts with knowing what the future holds.

A Fun Business Measures the Fun

TTTMBF measuring fun Beyond the most obvious measurements, every business has different priorities. However, there is one key measurement that all business owners should consider starting with: Fun.

Fun is the only success factor that cuts across and influences every aspect of business.

One of the reasons Fun doesn’t usually get measured is that most people believe you can’t because it is intangible. But you can measure intangibles such as Fun. Quite easily and accurately as a matter of fact.

Let’s say you asked your team every Friday afternoon to give an anonymous rating on your Fun in Business scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most fun you’ve ever had in business and 0 being the opposite. Next you collate and average those numbers and come up with a single “Fun number” for the week in business.

You could then have a staff meeting every Monday morning and share last week’s Fun number, asking the team what you could all do to get the number just a couple of points higher in the coming week.

The first few times you do this, your team will make silly suggestions about doubling their wages and paintball outings because it is all such a novel idea. However, I guarantee that soon enough it will become obvious to everyone exactly what real business Fun is all about and you will start having practical, productive conversations that make exciting things happen.

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

Here’s a couple of steps you might take in the coming week(s) in respect of each of the management truths:

For Goal setting:
  1. Thinking about the SMARTSIP structure I describe above, pick a date, ideally no more than a year from now and no less than 6 months away ad create a Goal (or set of Goals) for you and your business that inspires you and is both a stretch, yet achievable,specific and  measurable and meaningful to you personally and motivating for your staff
  2. Create a rough draft monthly plan for achievement of your Goal with monthly milestones
For your team:
  1. Get your team involved. Organise a meeting with your team and introduce the Goal and draft plan to them and work with them to firm up the plan
  2. Assign specific tasks from the plan to team members or groups of team members
  3. Agree on monthly meetings with your team to update the plan, and agree on next months actions and responsibilities
For your business plan:
  1. Incorporate your Goal in a longer term plan. Where do you want your business to be in 5 years, what is it going to look like, what is its focus, how big is it, what new developments have taken place.
  2. On your own or with your team (or part of your team) create a SWOT and create actionable targets to address the top 3 items from each of the sections (see more about SWOT here  and also here )
For Rhythm:
  1. Start by blocking out a small amount of time each week for yourself (as little as an hour each week or as much as you can manage), to do nothing but think and plan and develop new ideas. Phone off, can’t be disturbed, go off site to a cafe if you need to make sure you’re not disturbed.
  2. Implement a weekly half hour meeting with your staff to set up the week… Celebrate the wins from last week and plan to have more wins this week. Make sure it’s quick, efficient and doesn’t talk about why certain things went wrong last week, simply acknowledge the things that went wrong and focus on making sure things go right this week instead.
For measuring the Fun:
  1. In your weekly and monthly meetings, start by asking everyone for one small tiny little thing they can do themselves to mak the week ahead more Fun
  2. In your weekly and monthly meetings ask the staff for one thing you can do to make business more fun for everyone in the week ahead
  3. Start recording the fun suggestions and the fun number (more about measuring Fun in business here)

More on this topic:

 

Becoming a Sales Machine

sales flexibility

Taking sales seriously will change your life.

Are you spending lots of time doing estimates, quoting jobs, writing proposals,  and not winning the work?

Stress It is just so frustrating isn’t it? It gets you down sometimes… What is your strike rate? 20%? 30%? 50%?

How would you like to win twice as many proposals than you currently are without doing more quotes?

Easy… you say… just drop all my prices by 15% and I’ll win everything, but I’ll be losing money hand over fist…

WRONG

Price comes last

Here are the top 9 success factors for winning quotes and proposals:

  1. The client likes you.
  2. The client trusts you.
  3. The client ‘gets’ what you are passionate about and how that relates to them.
  4. The client has experienced your professionalism.
  5. The client understands what your offer is.
  6. The client knows that other people like you (if others like you, you must be good).
  7. The client understands the benefit they are personally going to get from using you.
  8. The client can picture how good they are going to feel when you’ve completed the work.
  9. Your price is right given all of the previous factors.

Have another look at that list and notice that price is at the bottom. Don’t allow yourself to fall in the trap of thinking that you lose sales because of price… If you lose a sale because of price, you simply haven’t done a good enough job of addressing the other factors. Trust me!

The 3 success factors of Sales…

That leads us to the three basic principles of sales that you must get your head around to become more effective at it:

Firstly, in order to sell your service, you have to, sell yourself before you sell your ‘stuff’.

Secondly, selling is a skill, you can learn about it, you can train in it and you can get better at it.

Finally, sales is a function of business just like operations, marketing and distribution. It requires resources and systemisation to work well.

Point number 1 doesn’t need much explanation; clients must buy into you before they buy into your product. If people don’t like you and don’t trust you they will not buy from you. Enough said I think.

So, let me share a little case history with you about a client of mine called George that illustrates points 2 and 3

George learns about sales as a system

carpenter-builderA few years ago I met George, who is a builder in Sydney with a small team of carpenters and labourers on the payroll. George’s wife Lisa runs the office.

George mainly builds in the $500K to $2Mil range, large renovations and some upmarket new homes.

When I met him, one of the biggest issues George faced is how much time is wasted on preparing tenders for architects. His strike rate was about 20% and each tender was taking him around given 20 and 40 hours of his time, Therefore, George spent some 20 – 30 hours every week of the year to win about 6 to 8 projects.

George felt he was stuck and he was frustrated, because he felt he was missing out on the best years of his young kids’ life.

Coming from my own experience as a builder, I explained to him that the most effective way to get un-stuck was to improve his strike rate. If we could improve his strike rate from 20% to around 1 in 3, the impact on his business and his life would be enormous.

A target is set

So George set himself a two-year target to get his conversion rate to 35%. The first commitment he made was to become just as professional about Sales as he was about every other facet of his business.

We started by carefully designing and implementing a sales system that would run like a machine to manage inquiries, leads prospects and quotes.

George and Lisa invested in a high quality CRM system. Soon they were keeping track of prospects and leads at different stages in their sales cycle. Inquiries through email, phone, website, word of mouth and referrals were all entered, tagged, categorized and appropriately followed up in the system by Lisa.

George also wrote a series of scripts for answering telephone inquiries and follow up calls. And finally George enrolled himself in a 6 month sales training program.

A year later George’s strike rate reached 28%. Then he got the rate down to 36% the year after.  Just as importantly though, now that George is so much more professional in his sales approach, he doesn’t feel the need to negotiate on his prices anymore and his margins have gone up significantly.

George and Lisa are a lot happier these days and so are their kids.

The lessons

The three lessons from George and Lisa are:

Firstly: The only way to do sales well is to take it just as seriously as all the other aspects of your business

Secondly: One of the most effective approaches to making more money, finding more time and having more fun in your business is to improve your sales conversion rate.

Thirdly: To do sales well, think systems and think training.

What do you think? Is it time for you to make a commitment to become professional at sales?

My One-Month Transform Your Sales Program is a short, sharp, fun and intensive 4 week program designed to tackle your sales, in one month, and implement a series of effective and simple strategies that will start to transform your business. It starts with an obligation-free half hour Discovery Session via Skype!

Transform your sales in one month! Book in a FREE Discovery Session with me via Skype.

goal setting and planning