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.
For most small business owners, the crises never end. You have, staff, suppliers, and clients, inspectors, assessors, OH&S, landlords, councils, work-cover, insurance claims, license renewals, compulsory professional development points, tax, the bank, paperwork, marketing, IT, sales, quality assurance and the list goes on. You run around from brushfire to brushfire all day, and no one seems to be able to do anything without you. As a result, you just don’t get around to doing the stuff you would actually like to do.
And to top it off, your health suffers, your family barely see you and even when you do take a holiday, you are always on the phone, just so the business will still be there when you get back.
Most business owners feel overwhelmed and stressed and unsure where to focus their attention next.
Nobody “gets” it
Try and explain your life to someone who doesn’t run their own business and the chances are their eyes will glaze over before you’ve even finished the first sentence.
Nobody else “gets” it… You may be surrounded by well-meaning partners and friends, but they rarely understand what it is like to be in charge every day, wearing all the hats of marketing, sales, finance, customer satisfaction, quality control, tax, work cover, staff wellbeing, systems and innovation etc etc. etc The buck always stops with you and nobody else.
The feeling of being alone adds to the consistent feelings of overwhelm and stress and can cost the business owner dearly on a personal level, and on a business level from bad decision making and stifled business development.
Yet most business owners just “soldier on” regardless, because they don’t know what else to do and they often feel trapped.
Is any of this starting to feel familiar?
So what can you do to get out of this trap and start to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come?
As a business coach who specialises in working with people in trade businesses, I often ask my clients what they believe is the most valuable resources of their business.
The most frequent answers are:
In actual fact though, nothing will ever be as valuable to your business as your time and your health. Everything else in your business you can hire, buy or borrow more off, but your time and your health are the only truly limited resources that your business can not live without.
Time to look after you?
So take a deep breath and ask yourself: Is it time to treat those two key resources with the respect they deserve? Time to start to look after yourself and acknowledge that you just can’t do it all on your own?
The good news is this: There are other people out there who ‘Get it’ – honestly – they are called fellow business owners and getting involved with fellow business owners may be one of the most effective things you can do to lower your stress – and build your business.
One of the most effective ways to build a business that sustain you for years to come is to take the time to get involved with local business communities.
The benefits of doing this are well documented and include:
Support and feedback from others who do get it!
Shared Knowledge and access to experts.
Building relationships and alliances for future business development.
Support when you are struggling.
Assistance from those who have probably ‘been there and done that’ before.
Jamie gets involved
A client of mine, Jamie, has a small plumbing business based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. A few years ago Jamie’s life looked just like I described above, he wasn’t sleeping and was stressed and worn out.
One day a mate of Jamie’s with an electrical business invited Jamie to come along to a weekly business breakfast group. Although Jamie had never been much of a networker he decided to attend.
The meeting was a revelation for Jamie, because there, at the breakfast table, were 35 small business owners who were all ‘in the same boat’ and they met every week to support each other in the development of their businesses.
To cut a long story short, Jamie joined the group, and has attended the business breakfast every week for the last three years. The change in Jamie’s outlook on life and business has been amazing. He said to me: “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel again and for once, it’s not a train”.
Besides attending the breakfast meeting each week, Jamie also regularly meets with his fellow members one-on-one. He’s often asked for advice and for once, people’s eyes don’t glaze over when he talks about a pressing issue. On the contrary, they roll up their sleeves and want to know more.
One of the objectives of the group is also to refer business to each other, and by the end of year three of his membership, Jamie’s business has grown by 50%, largely as a result of joining the group.
The best news is that Jamie doesn’t feel so isolated anymore, he is even sleeping again and his family get to see him again as well.
Here are some options for getting involved:
Join your local professional body’s barbeques, trainings and other gatherings.
Join your local or State Chamber of Commerce and get involved.
Join a business referral group, such as BNI (BNI.com.au) and get involved
Join an advisory board program.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will reduce your stress levels and be one of the best business decisions you ever make… I promise you.
Jamie will be involved with his community for years to come… What will you get involved with?
I am reading “Love over Hate, finding life by the wayside” link to the book by Graham Long, pastor and CEO of the Wayside Chapel in Sydney .This is a passage that stood out for me particularly:
“The idea that the basic human unit is a solitary individual is the established orthodoxy of the Western World. It’s an illusion and an attractive one at that, often presenting itself as “The power of one”. The power of this illusion is in its promise to an insecure individual that a dream and some willpower is all that is required to overcome life’s obstacles. It promises an individual can triumph over adversity as well as any competitors who get in the way of the prize of justice, fame, wealth or whatever other virtue is implied by the dream.”
It’s all upside down
What this says to me amongst many other things is that we (and I include myself firmly in that “we”) have got it all wrong. The library of work in books, blogs, seminars, videos and everything else by the gurus of the business growth, as well as personal development world repeat the refrain of the Power of the individual and that “The answer is within”… even in the world of religion we hear “The Kindom of God is within”… All of that is nonsense.
To me, that paragraph and the rest of the book and several other books I have been reading in the last year, have convinced me that I have to throw out the rule book, and start again… let me know what you think!
So in this part – part 3 – I want to talk to you about how to keep track of how much fun we are having… how to measure the fun we are having in other words.
All of us business owners know that to be able to improve on something a process or a behaviour in a business (or anywhere for that matter) you need to start with measuring the outcome of the process, otherwise you are sailing blind.
There is an old saying in business: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.
The problem with a concept such as fun is that most people believe you can’t measure fun… it is intangible, like happiness and sadness and all those emotion concepts.
But You Can Measure Fun
Quite accurately as a matter of fact.
Let me explain:
As human beings we are actually able to put measurements to all kinds of fuzzy notions. For example if I were to ask you to think of a scale between 0 and 10, where the number 10 on the scale means that you are the happiest you have ever been and can even imagine being and 0 means that you are the opposite… depressed.
You would be able to give me an answer and depending on your mood and where you were and what kind of day you’ve been having and whether the hot girl you met the other day returned your text message you might say 6.
If I came back tomorrow and asked you the same question you might say 8.
Obviously these scores are not scientific numbers in the sense that being a 6 on a personal happiness scale is something a scientist can do much with, but we can be absolutely clear that when you gave an 8 on the scale after giving a 6 on the scale the day before that the 8 means you are feeling happier than you did the day before.
This is called relative scaling. Volumes are written about the process and concepts in several streams of psychology and it turns out that we can apply the concepts of relative scaling very effectively to business management.
Richard’s Weekly FUN Rating Scale
A client of mine with a graphic design business with 6 staff, let’s call him Richard, and I designed a simple a relative scaling system based on the concept of FUN in his business.
Every Friday afternoon, Richard asks his staff to give him an anonymous rating on a scale from 0 to 100 about how much FUN the week in business has been, with 100 being that the person feels the week in business has been as much FUN as it could be and 0 is that the week has been a disaster.
Richard adds his own FUN score to the weekly rating as well. And then he averages the ratings across all the numbers and comes up with a single FUN number.
Monday Morning Staff Meeting
On Monday mornings Richard has his company wide staff meeting and the team spends 15 to 20 minutes discussing why the FUN number has turned out the way it has last week and what they can do to get the number up some increments in the coming week.
I sat in on this staff meeting recently and the question was asked: “What can we do to move the “Fun number” up this coming week. A number of people suggested that what would be really good is if a big push could be made with one particular big project that was running over time. There was simply was too much stress in the office around that project at the moment.
So Richard decided to assign a couple of extra people to that project for the week, in order to get it to completion as quickly as possible.
Richard’s business is flourishing like never before and Richard credits this consistent, disciplined weekly focus on FUN as a business measurement tool as the basis for his team’s current success.
So that is how we can measure Fun and how we apply the whole idea of Fun as our primary KPI to our business.
In the fourth part of this series (June) I am going to run through a couple of examples and pull the whole thing together and get you on your way to start having some REAL FUN yourself.
Have a go…
In the mean time, I’d love you to start thinking about how to start measuring how much Fun you are having in your business… why don’t you call a staff meeting and discuss it… brainstorm it… see what people think?
You might be surprised how even a few conversations on these topics might start to introduce a little bit more fun in your business.