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 At the same time however it can be said that all plans are out of date the moment they’re created.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

 

FREE Download: The 10 Truths for Making Business Fun

It’s very easy to get caught up in your business, especially when you are working hard to make it work. Learn to have more fun in your business with my start-of-the-year freebie– The 10 Truths for Making Business Fun. Because you created your business to live life on your terms – so do it!

The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun


Successful Entrepreneurs are Resilient People

Successful entrepreneurs and Resilience

Prepare for the bad stuff in your business and back yourself to get through it.

resilience tree in business

Nervous Entrepreneurs and Bouncebackability

Famous entrepreneur Richard Branson wrote an international bestseller with the title: Screw it, let’s do it. It’s a great book and I am a fan of Sir Branson. I wish more of the giga entrepreneurs were like him (as opposed to some whose name shall not be mentioned in this blog, but whose new office has no corners). But the title of the book has done much to confirm the myth that successful entrepreneurs are wild risk takers. I think that’s a shame, entrepreneurs actually take as little risk as they possibly can, and from what I’ve seen in 30-odd years in and around business, it’s all about mental strength instead.

Business owners who do well are resilient people (more on resilience here), they have mental fortitude, they have the ability to bounce back from adversity and set backs.

When growing a business, adversity is part of the package, it gets thrown in for free. Being a business owner is not for the faint hearted. The highs and the lows can follow each other in quick succession. I always think getting a business off the ground, is a journey out past the horizon of an unexplored ocean, and I have yet to meet a business owner for whom it’s been smooth sailing. Sometimes we’ll receive favourable winds and sometimes we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of an unexpected storm.

I’m reminded of the joke we used to make in the early days of the PC revolution: “You can divide the world in two camps: Those who have experienced a catastrophic hard drive failure, and those who are about to.” The business owners of the world can be divided in two camps as well: Those who’ve had a significant setback and those who are about to have one. And so it follows: entrepreneurs who have achieved a measure of success, have bounced back at least once after facing setbacks; Successful entrepreneurs are resilient people.

The two principles of resilience

There are two principles of resilience that are characterised by the following two quotes:

Accepting that anything could happen, good stuff as well as bad stuff, doesn’t make one a pessimist. There is a big difference between pessimism and being an optimistic realist. Pessimists will imagine the worst and not be able to see a positive way out. Optimistic realists on the other hand, acknowledge that bad stuff will likely come their way. They simply accept that it is part of the adventure, but they back themselves to be able to manage their way out.

Successful entrepreneurs and Resilience Nervous Nellies

Successful entrepreneurs do not walk around with their fingers crossed, hoping it will all be ok, somehow. They know that anything can happen, and they prepare for it. Great small business owners are generally ‘Nervous Nellies’ with active imaginations. But that doesn’t make them pessimists, far from it. They’re constantly on the lookout for what may go wrong and they plan for those eventualities. They ask themselves: If XYZ were to happen, how could I respond to minimize the impact of it? And they trust themselves to be able to get out from under the hammer when it falls. (More about planning here).

I cannot stress enough how important it is in business to look all possibilities straight in the eye. Positive thinkers, personal and business development gurus alike, often beseech us not to visualise the bad stuff in life. Instead, they say, we must focus on the positive things we want to manifest and we’re assured that because of the universal “Law of Attraction” and our “Abundance Mindset”, it will all fall into place, and if not, we’ve somehow not thought positively enough.

Positive Thinking is Nonsense

Successful entrepreneurs and Resilience Believe me: Positive Thinking is nonsense. Instead, accept that the bad stuff will hit you at some point, as it undoubtedly will, plan for it, learn to trust yourself that you’ll have what it takes to weather the storm, remind yourself that the storm is not caused by an intrinsic shortcoming in your personality and finally, take the quote from Ms Grotberg above to heart.

Why I like Edith Grotberg’s quote so much is that it reminds me that we can all become more resilient. If resilience were a character trait that only special people like Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Warren Buffet are born with, there is no hope for the rest of us. But just like we can learn to manage our anger better, become more assertive, or teach ourselves to become better listeners, we can also learn to become more resilient.

These are some of the steps that will lead to improving your resilience over time:

First of all, it’s really important to understand that Resilience is not about being unaffected by the storms;

Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure

You will be knocked sideways when the bad stuff happens. That’s ok, what matters is what you do next. Ms Grotberg suggests three statements to repeat to yourself and to remind yourself off often:

  • I Have: strong relationships, community and structures; these are external supports I can rely on;
  • I Am: a person who has hope and faith, cares about others, is capable and proud of myself; these are inner strengths that can be developed;
  • I Can: communicate, solve problems, gauge the temperament of others, seek good relationships—all interpersonal and problem-solving skills that I have acquired.

These statements are what are often referred to in various psychology disciplines, as a “Reframe”. While simply reading them here won’t turn you into a resilient rock overnight, they are powerful nevertheless. I suggest printing those three statements out and hanging them above your desk and read them out to yourself regularly. If you do, you will slowly start to strengthen your optimistic realism and change your self-belief, especially when combined with a focus on self-compassion, being kinder to yourself (more about kindness in business here).

Optimistic realism, reminding yourself of the “I Have, I Am, I Can” statements combined with practicing Kindness to yourself will mean you’ll recover from the bad stuff, quickly, and continue build a Great Small Business… I promise you.

Further reading

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

#BusinessResilience #startup #entrepreneurmindset #realtalk #motivateyourself #NeverGiveUp #Resilience #FunInBusiness

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Small Business

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

How to make your small business not suck

Small Business, Business development

Business Development is the way out of the tunnel

Small Business, Business development Launching a small business is just like raising a baby and no -one can prepare you for it

I came across a question on a small business development forum the other day that caught my attention:

“I’m into my sixth month of developing my business and I’m making just enough to keep the company afloat. It’s a damn hustle and it sucks. Do most people who start small businesses feel this way?”

Great question and I started answering it in the forum, but realised after a few minutes of writing, that this is a question worth reflecting on in a bit more depth.

So the first thing to say is that the short answer to the question is: Yes, absolutely, most people do.

And the slightly longer version is: Yes, most people do, although some people experience that feeling in the first year and others experience in the second or third … But most people do “feel this way”, absolutely.

I’ll try and explain how the experience comes about in greater depth though, and what to do about it.

Business owners doing it for themselves

Most small business owners come to business because they arrive at a point in their lives where they say: I’m going to be doing it for myself, because I think I can do a better job of it than my boss.

And then they take the jump.

Detour

At this point I am going to take a little detour, with your permission: Have you ever heard new parents say: My mother and my aunt and my best friend tried to warn me, but I was still completely unprepared for parenthood. I simply didn’t appreciate what an incredible upheaval it would be to be a mother/father.

Small Business, Business development Most new parents will experience that feeling and they’ll try to pass the warning on to their own friends down the line. They’ll say something like: “Imagine how tough you think parenthood could be and then multiply that by 5”, to their friend who is contemplating starting a family. And when this friend has a child nevertheless, she remembers the warnings a year later and she’ll say: “I heard your warning, but I just didn’t understand”

It’s impossible to imagine what it’s like to be a new parent, no-one can tell you.

Raising a Healthy Bouncy Business

Here’s where the detour connects back with the main story again: A few years ago, I wrote a book called: “The Ten Truths for Raising a Healthy Bouncy Business”. (The title obviously makes a pun on Book-1_3D-250 raising a baby, and you can download the book as Ebook or Audiobook for free here). I do think that building a business has a lot of parallels with raising a baby. I believe that after creating a baby, creating a business is one of the greatest creative processes that human beings can undertake. The process starts with an idea in your head and then you go and give it a concrete form in the real world. And then you have to mother it along for years sometimes and finally you have to allow it to become independent; able to stand on its own two feet.

And just like new parents say: “We simply don’t understand what’s happened to us, everything has somehow gone to shit and yet we love our child and we love being parents”, most new business owners have a similar experience. The demands that a newly born small business can make on you as it’s parent can be shocking: Suddenly you come to believe that you must be the first one in the door in the morning, the last one out the door in the afternoon and that the only reasonable time to do the admin, the marketing, the business development, the quoting and the ordering, is at night after the kids have gone to bed, or on the weekends.

It’s all down to you

The thing that new business owners generally don’t appreciate, if they haven’t had previous small business experience, is that it’s all down to you. Every single decision is to be made by you, and every single decision you make has consequences for profitability and cashflow and development of the business. Often you’ll feel under-qualified to make those decisions and sometimes you’ll actually feel overqualified and frustrated to have to give time and attention to such decisions. (Do we have a coffee machine in the office canteen and if so what kind and where do we get the coffee from?).

It’s all on your shoulders and even if you have staff, you still have to make sure that someone actually deals with the coffee situation, not to mention the irate client on the phone or the supplier who wants to be paid or the council inspector who threatens to close your business down, because the new wheelchair ramp into your shop, doesn’t meet minimum specifications.

No-one can prepare you for what it’s like, being a small business owner. Once the initial excitement wears off, you may feel like a deer caught in the cross lights and many business owners become overwhelmed and feel stuck.

The light at the end of the tunnel

But the good news is this: There is light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not a freight train).

Small Business, Business development The day you realise that you are like the proverbial deer and that you want to get out of those lights is the day you can start to move out of overwhelm.

The way out is with small steps and the first small step is always this:

Set aside 1 hr per week, during business hours, for the work of the business owner, as opposed to the work of the business. (Read more about the work of the business owner here). Every week for example on Monday morning at 10 am, turn off your phone, put on headphones, or go to a café and divert your email. Whatever it takes so you will not be interrupted. Take a notebook, and plan and think and strategise. Ask yourself, where do I want to be by the end of this year? To get there, what do I have to create and implement… By when… And what does that mean for this coming week?

Start small, give yourself some easy wins: very small little tasks, that take maybe 15 minutes to no more than half an hour to complete.

If you keep putting one foot in front of the other like that every week, you will get out of the tunnel and like the new parents, you will get to sleep through the night again… One day.

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

#FuninBusiness #BusinessDevelopment #Coaching #Smallbiz #Entrepreneur

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 15 minutes, but taking those little steps every week will start to change your life… I promise you.

One Minute Business Tips

Why I’m Glad You’re Not An Entrepreneur, But A Small Business Owner

Entrepreneurs vs Small Business Owner

entrepreneur and small business owners awards
So I am sometimes asked if I work with entrepreneurs, and my answer is that, no, I don’t, I work with small business owners.

I think it is actually important to make a distinction between small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The difference between an entrepreneur and a small business owner and why it matters

The word entrepreneur has come to describe the people that books are written about. Richard Branson, Larry Paige, Bill Gates, Anita Roddick. You’d never refer to Bill Gates as a small business owner, even though Microsoft was a tiny company operating from Bill’s bedroom once.

Entrepreneurs are the rock stars of our age. They are like the celebrity chefs of the business world. But for every Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey, there are thousands of cooks, men and women who put together a great pasta carbonara or scotch fillet, day in day out, they’re referred to as the cooks of the line.

You’ll never read about them in books or watch them on TV, because they are just great professionals and trades people and they’re passionate about food and cooking and seeing empty plates returned to the kitchen.

They’re great great cooks and they run great restaurants, but they’re not celebrity chefs.

And neither are most small business owners, entrepreneurs.

To be an undertaker

Entrepreneurs vs Small Business Owner: Mark ZuckerbergOriginally, the word entrepreneur comes from the French ‘entreprendre’, which translates as to undertake. To be an entrepreneur therefore meant, someone who undertakes things. And on that reading, anybody who undertakes a business is an entrepreneur. But since the advent of the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world the word has taken on this added meaning of someone who builds something that in a few years gets sold for umpteen billion dollars.

Ok, so what’s in a word… why does it matter if you refer to yourself as a small business owner or an entrepreneur?

Words matter

Well, words matter. Words take on meanings over time and those implied meanings start to have an impact beyond the simple dictionary definition. For example, if I mention the word policeman, it is simply impossible for you to imagine a female police officer and thus we perpetuate the stereotype.

If you are an architect, or a plumber or a graphic designer or an accountant or a hairdresser or mechanic, or an engineer and you have a business that exists to deliver that service, you are in all likelihood a small business owner, in my book, not an entrepreneur. And why that matters is that if you are such a small business owner and you describe yourself as an entrepreneur, there is a good chance that you will always feel a little bit disappointed with yourself. After all, if you were a true entrepreneur you’d be on the way to building a business that gets sold for $100 million dollars in the next two years and you’re looking forward to buying your own island in the Bahamas with the lifestyle to suit.

But you won’t sell your architecture business for $100 million, probably not even for $1Million. Very very few small business owners ever do sell their business for an amount of money that allows them anything more than simple retirement.

Comfortable retirement

Most small businesses get sold or passed on to one of its employees and the sale is funded out of future earnings of the business. The former owner may get to pay of his or her mortgage with the proceeds which, combined with some modest superannuation investments, allows for a relatively comfortable retirement.

And that’s great.

If you manage to do that as a small business owner, you’ve done a wonderful thing. It means you’ve raised a healthy bouncy business. It means you and a bunch of people have been and continue to be able to send their kids to school and pay their mortgages. If you’ve built such a small business, it means you’ve created the kind of thing that makes the world go round.

To be a small business owner is something you ought to be exceedingly proud of… I promise you.

And if you ever need help in moving past your challenges in developing your business, here’s my treat for you:

Join the FREE Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinars!

Walk away with clarity, insight and focus and you’ll be able to implement one or more simple practical actions that will start to move you past your stumbling blocks in running your small business.

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Reverse Mentoring

old dog

Teaching old dogs new tricks

old dog

Find a mentor… At your daughter’s high school

I just read an article in .the Sydney Morning Herald about “reverse mentoring”. The idea is that especially in respect of modern communications and use of social media, senior (and older) business people should acknowledge that they might be be wise and experienced, but largely clueless about the developments in social media and new forms of communicating and marketing. One acknowledged… the article suggests to take on a mentor who is half your age to move forward.

Being a very old and experienced and wise business person myself(!), I found myself nodding my head when reading the article by Sylvia Pennington. I’ve turned 56 and although I pride myself to be reasonably up with the times, I’m often confronted with my limitations in understanding how younger generations communicate and want to be communicated with. Having a Facebook account and taking the odd photo of my breakfast might rate as being on the cutting edge with my friends, but there is a whole world of new opportunities out there that I barely know about, let alone understand.

So yes, I’ve taken on a 25 year old marketing assistant, who works with me every week. She patiently tries to explain what she does for me every now and then, and I patiently try to understand, and somehow we muddle through and the partnership seems to work… Even if I do wonder why anyone would want to spend time on the latest app/widget/thingo/craze that she directs me to.

But it’s a good point that Sylvia makes. Just because we’ve been around for a while, doesn’t mean we know it all… we may know something about something, but we know nothing about a whole heap of stuff… ask for help from the people that do… people the age of your kids … or younger. You can be sure of one thing, it will drag you out of your comfort zone… and that’s always a good thing… I promise you.

 

Small Business Can Change The World

boy with megaphone

I want your help to spread the word

2015 is going to be an interesting year for me

Musings on the completion of my latest book.

I’m back in Holland again after only a short absence of about 6 weeks this time. As I wrote in one of my previous musings, the situation with my mother is still precarious and so I am spending more time here.

Just before I left, I received the first printed copies of my new book: ‘The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun… And for building a business that sustains you for years to come’.

3 books Exciting moment, not least because I have now completed The Ten Truths Trilogy (a more beautiful alliteration ne’er was seen).

Some really interesting things happened when I saw the first completed book in PDF version on my screen. I was pleased and proud and relieved that I completed the project before Christmas and that I would be able to take a copy to give to my mother in Holland, but besides that I suddenly realised that this was changing the game for me.

I’ve always referred to my books as business books for people who don’t like reading business books (but ought to). The books were designed to be quick to read, easily accessible and practical and the content was all about translating the best business knowledge in the world in language and forms that would be meaningful and useful for my audience of small business owners. As such I think they were a success.

A new Game

But the landscape has changed for me with my new book. In this book I no longer only explain to small business owners what others have said about business, I now have my own messages to deliver. Two specific messages to be exact:

  1. That profit, although a crucial component of business, can not be the ultimate measure of it’s success and there is a much higher measure by which we can determine how well we’re doing in our businesses (I call that thing ‘Fun in Business’).
  2. That there is such a thing as enough and that, at the very least in small business, we would do well to let go of the “growth is good” mantra and myth.

Of course I’m not the first one to question the growth model of our society nor am I the first one to question that “maximising shareholder value” is the prime purpose of business, but I believe I have something new and practical to add.

I suddenly have a message

boy with megaphone BTW, It is typical of how my brain operates, that I actually only fully realised this after the book was written, edited, designed, illustrated and printed.

I rarely do anything to a big Plan, I tend to start somewhere and then see what happens next, but that may be the topic of another article in the new year.

But be that as it may… I now suddenly find myself in the unusual position that I have an actual message, and that I want to spread it. I suddenly feel that I want to contribute in some small way to the conversation around the world about how we build true sustainability in our businesses and in our world.

Because there is no doubt that this conversation is building around the world, and many great minds and great organisations are getting involved. And although I am glad that that is the case, I mostly see the conversation taking place in and about big economic and government structures. That’s a shame I think, because I believe we are missing a great opportunity to involve small business in the conversation so far.

The Age of Aquarius

nimbin Of course hippies and tree changers have talked about this stuff since the Age of Aquarius. (Maybe we should bow our heads and beg forgiveness of the growers of Nimbin) But the every day regular small businesses that keep our economies running, the plumbers,  architects, web-developers, shops, small manufacturers and couriers who employ 80% percent of the population in most (western) economies, should be encouraged to be part of this conversation. Small business is often referred to as the engine-room of the economy, and I believe it can also be an engine-room for change.

Change will come, it can’t help but come. At the risk of being accused of being alarmist… I have two grandkids and if there is to be any hope for a long, happy, healthy future for those two, I believe we must Change (with a big ‘C’). If we don’t organise the Change ourselves, I’m convinced the planet will organise it for us and I’m absolutely convinced my grandkids won’t enjoy that one bit.

The Great Barrier Reef

So although I agree that we should hold Shell accountable for the potential damage to our world when they drill for oil in the arctic and I’m grateful that there are people who are prepared to climb the barricades to protect the Great Barrier Reef from coal ships and dredging, it’s also high time we started thinking about business at a small scale. Smart efficient 21st century small business. What does it mean to build healthy responsible businesses when your staff is counted in single and double digits. How do you go about building businesses that sustain you and your community for now and for generations to come, when your revenue is measured in single millions or less.

And suddenly I find myself with an actual honest to goodness message in this conversation, one worth spreading and incorporating into the worldwide conversation about how we continue on this planet.

Oops

Oops, I didn’t see that coming. As they say: Careful what you ask for… you might just get it.

It’s weird, because for the last few years I’ve been saying that the problems of the world are too big for little old me to concern myself with any more and all I can do is concern myself with the people immediately around me, family and friends and the few small business owners I work with… but now I find I have to reassess that thought.

Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting that my little book is going to change the world, I’m happy with the outcome and I’m pleased with what I have to say in it and I think the book might prove to be valuable for the small business owners who read it, but I doubt that it’s going to sit next the Das Kapital as one of the foundations of a revolution.

I do think though that it (and I) can add something to the conversation, and that it would be wrong for me to ignore that opportunity.

What next?, No Idea

ten truths I have of course absolutely no idea what I can and should and want to do with that realisation exactly yet… As usual I’ll take one step at a time and see what comes next.

I did make one decision as a result of this insight and that is that I am not going to sell the book, I’m going to give it away to as many people as I can, in Ebook and Audiobook and Kindle and paperback versions. By giving it away, I hope the message might reach a lot more people than if I tried to sell it… and who knows where it goes from there.

Spread the word and download the book

What that means for you of course is that I’d love you to go and download the book yourself. You can do so here: www.funinbusiness.biz . As one of my favourite small business clients wrote in a testimonial for the book: “You may not agree with everything Roland writes in this book but you should definitely read it and ask yourself the questions that his book asks of you as a business owner”… I agree with him of course

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I would especially love to have many conversations and intense discussions about it with lots of you.

And finally, I’d love your help to spread the message, and what that means is that I’d love you to send this article or just the link  www.funinbusiness.biz to as many people as possible Small business owners of course, anywhere in the world, but also anyone who knows a small business person and that’s all of us.

And for me? Well it means 2015 is going to be a really interesting year.

I’ll keep you posted… I promise you.