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:

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.

Change: Life is what happens when you’re making other plans

change planning coaching

From Pirates in the Bahamas to Danish women in Italian Piazzas

One of my favourite Facebook memes is:

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”

We grow up and find that the world looks quite different when we’re 30, 40, 50 and beyond, than we thought it was going to look when we were young.

I thought I was going to be a modern day pirate like Long John Silver (a fantasy recently revived with the swashbuckling Netflix series “Blacksails”), but it turned out I got violently seasick on the oceans of the world. And besides my wife and I had our first child and children don’t go that well on pirate ships.

Then I thought I was going to be a journalist of world renown, but I didn’t have the patience to make it through the ranks.

I set my sights on a boatbuilding business on Sydney Harbour, but what I knew about running a business in those days could be written on the back of a beer coaster, and the business failed.

Next I started a building business in Sydney. I developed it and ran it for about 20 years. At times it did very well, at other times not so much, but in the end I had enough of the never ending struggle between contractors, homeowners and architects. I was very happy when a former employee of mine offered to buy the business.

More or less at the same time my personal life took a 180 degree turn and where I’d always thought I would grow old as one half of a happily married couple, I suddenly found myself single (by my own choice I hasten to add).

The rest of my life

I was 45, single, without home or business or any immediate responsibilities other than to work out what to do with the rest of my life.

And I had no idea. None.

I figured I needed to create a bit of space in which to work out what direction to head and I took myself off to Italy. The idea being, that if I were to sit myself down on a piazza in Italy for long enough, the universe might speak to me.

And it did.

change planning coaching I actually remember the precise moment that it did: I was having dinner with a bunch of friends in a little restaurant in Perugia in Umbria. I got talking to a Danish woman who was in Italy for a month long sabbatical and she told me about her life coach. My ears pricked up. I’d never heard of the term life coach and I was equally intrigued and sceptical. Long story short. I did some research and decided to do a foundation coach training course when I got back to Sydney. I loved it and in the next few years I enrolled in as many studies and trainings in coaching and related fields as I could.

Various coaching practices

I set about building Life coaching, Executive coaching, personal counselling practices and combinations of all of them. In the end I created the thing I do now, which is all about helping small business owners feel great about themselves and their business and about making business Fun (with a capital “F”).

I love what I do these days and by all accounts I am actually really good at it. Until quite recently, I saw myself growing old in the inner-city of Sydney together with my new spouse, doing what I do now, connected with the community and my kids, grandkids and extended family and friends. But another change is coming down the pike, heading straight for us. Life is going to take another 90 degree turn. I can’t tell you exactly which direction this 90 degree turn is going to take, but it seems quite clear that we’ll be leaving Sydney in the next year or so.

Not happy

We’re upset and anxious about this prospect. It’s going to mean significant adjustment and changed circumstances, but really, the change is no greater than any of the changes I mentioned above, and those were just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a good chance that the changes will turn out to be really positive in the long run and that we’ll look back and smile at the memories of our anxieties and dine out on the stories, just like I do now when thinking about the changes I mentioned before.

Life is indeed what happens when we’re making other plans. Planning is guessing. I’ve said it before when writing about goalsetting in business here, but it’s no different in life.

The one thing we can be sure of is change But us humans, it seems, are hardwired to resist change as much as we can. There’s a primal instinctive fear we feel in change, I believe.

But change is coming and In any case, I’m going to remind myself how positive the experience of change can be, especially in hindsight, even if it doesn’t quite feel that way now.

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

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

FREE eBook: The 10 Truths for Making Your Business Grow

Small Business  


When Death Enters the Room Everything Changes

grim reaper

A quick dash to Holland

Musings on Death and big questions

I flew to Holland about 8 days ago. Family affairs… aging single mother… I needed to be there.

grim reaper I flew to Holland about 8 days ago. Family affairs… Ageing single mother… I needed to be there.

I hadn’t planned to go to Holland this time, I am actually booked to spend 5 weeks with family from Christmas but my mother who is 88 is going through a pretty tough time at the moment.

She is most likely in the last year of her life and possibly the last months. Growing old sucks… in case anyone was wondering, it’s not fun.

Death makes a change…

Personally I think I am reasonably calm about dying (at the very least it’s something new, and as they say, a change is as good as a holiday), but the process of becoming more and more decrepit, becoming dependent on the goodness of others and slowly losing all capacity for making your own decisions about your own life… that scares the bejeesus out of me.
I’ve thought that before, but it’s well and truly confirmed for me again being in Holland with my mother.

But it’s also a really interesting time for me. My mother and I have struggled with each other in some form for most of my life. We’re very close, but maybe we have always been too close. An older brother of mine, who died a couple of years ago used to say: “There’s a good reason you moved to the other side of the earth” … and it’s true, always when I go and see my mother or stay with her when I am in Holland, it’s great to see her… for about the first 2 hrs and then I start to climb the walls. I’m normally a relatively stable and fairly well adjusted human bean (remember Roald Dahl?)… But after more than 2 hrs with my mother, I turn into some weird kind of Jekyll and Hyde monster…

It’s different this time

This time is different though, surpisingly.
My mother is in such a difficult final stage of life that it seems that she is entirely focused on herself and hasn’t got the wherewithal to look at me and push some of my most exposed buttons. Well either that or I have recently reincarnated as the Dalai Lama and my buttons have all suddenly fallen off… It would be nice if they were, but I doubt it.

But It is fascinating this whole process of dying, I had a therapist some years ago who I saw regularly for a long time and I remember her saying: “Everything changes when Death is in the room”… and she’s right. Death is clearly in the room now… it might be a few months or it might be today, but my mother will die and there is nothing anyone can do about that, and everything has changed.

We all suddenly feel helpless, we lose a sense of control over our lives, my Jekyll and Hyde monster seems to keep it’s head down… It looks as if I’m ok with just being with her, people behave differently everywhere. Some people stand up and get involved, others hide, I’m interested to see how I will be changed by the process over the coming months. At this point I don’t feel sad so much, hard to know what I’m really feeling… I’m starting to stress about the funeral, and the fact that it will likely be expected of me that I do a Eulogy (I am clearly and sometimes frustratingly a son of my mother… all that worrying!)

The cliches of dying

The other thing I find fascinating and also frustrating is that we have no language to really express our feelings around the process of dying. We don’t seem to be able to get past the well-worn clichés and platitudes: “Well we all have to die one day”… “She’s had a good innings”… “All you can do is accept”… All the statements we make around dying are so meaningless. Saying them doesn’t make anyone happier or feel better. But what do you say to someone who’s definitely dying? Or to someone whose nearest and dearest are dying? Few people are even able to use the word dying. We talk about people passing on, as if there is something nice and gentle about dying.
Let me assure you… there isn’t… more often than not it causes intense pain, intense fear, intense discomfort and intense sadness. Nothing nice and gentle about it. I love the line from Dylan Thomas (and I’m hopeless about quoting poetry): ‘Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.’

Years of preparation

My mother has worked at preparing herself death for a long time, many years, and she had thought (naively) that she was as well prepared for it as anyone could be. Years of studying eastern and western philosophies and religions, and she had even created her own way of talking about the process, she referred to it as “removing that last coat”. Now that Death is pulling at the sleeves, she struggles against it, she panics, she is extremely scared and anxious. She’s also feeling quite disappointed that all those years of preparation seems to count for so little right now, but more than anything she hates that she’s not in control anymore.

I am really happy I made the snap decision to come over now and not let it wait until Christmas.
I had a realisation 2 weeks ago while on a Skype call to my younger brother… I was actually trying to give him some advice about this whole situation… He was struggling to decide how much support he could afford and wanted to give my mother at this at this time, and how to balance his own, his family’s and his business needs against those of being a dutiful and loving son.

A once in a lifetime experience

I said: ”Well you know I think that the only thing that matters is that how you yourself will feel, looking back on this time a few years later. We only get given one opportunity in our lives to be part of the death of our mother… it’s a once in a lifetime experience… All that matters is that you do what you need to do so that you give yourself the best chance to look back on this time in a few years and feel comfortable, proud, calm, ‘right’ about how you balanced those different needs.”
And as I was saying this to my brother, I suddenly thought…”wow, actually that means I ought to jump on a plane myself next week”.

And so, right now, I feel good about myself. I’ve been able to give her some attention and a sense that I care about her, I’ve been able to lighten a bit of the load on the people round her for a few days at least, I’ve been able to make a few arrangements that will hopefully make things a little easier. I am forever grateful that my brother suggested I rent my own apartment while I was here instead of staying with her… The Jekyll and Hyde monster might not have been so quite otherwise.

Business class

Tomorrow I’m flying back to Australia again. I’ve just played celebrity son for a week and then the weight will be back on the shoulders of my younger brother and my mother’s bossom friend.
I do think I’ve deserved a business class upgrade on my flights home, don’t you?…
Anyone at Singapore Airlines listening?… Yoohoo!

Image credit Monty Python, The Meaning of Life