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:

 

Getting clear about the perfect clients for your business

perfect client target niche marketing

How to avoid the Spray-and-Pray approach to your marketing strategy

I had a interesting experience at a networking and business building event a few days ago. We met over breakfast and there were various activities designed to get to know each other and to support each other in the development of our businesses.

One of the exercises we did was a group hot seat, where one of our fellow business owners presented himself and his business to the group and asked for help with his greatest challenges.

The business owner in question, let’s call him Adam, told us about all the amazing projects he’s been involved in and how smart the solutions were that he implemented for his clients.

But Adam also shared that he sometimes found it difficult to find new clients.

So we asked him who his ideal clients are, how we would recognise them if we tripped over them and how we could introduce him to them effectively.

Designing solutions for the challenges

In response, Adam, told us he’s worked with government departments, global machinery manufacturers as well as dog kennels and everything in between. He told us how he sits down with business owners and gets to really understand their businesses and challenges, designs solutions to resolve those challenges and implements the solutions for them.

All very well of course, but it didn’t help us much in our quest to support Adam. Most service based businesses do exactly that, they find out about the challenges a client has and then they offer a solution. But we never really got any further with Adam. Every time we asked him to get more specific he gave us more details of the wide range and varied types of clients he’d worked with. Although Adam left us impressed with his experience, his knowledge, and his expertise, at the end of the 15 minute hotseat, the group was no closer to understanding how we could help him find more new clients.

How can we help you?

In the end we left Adam to ponder the following question:

“Let’s say someone wanted to help you, really help you, and they were prepared to set an hour aside today, to do exactly that. Further more, let’s say that person had database of 6000 direct connections in LinkedIn. All business owners, largely in Australia and most of them in Sydney. Amongst such a database, it seems likely for there to be 5 or 10 people who are actual prospects for Adam.

Obviously, it’s not possible for such a person, to send a direct email to all 6000 people in a kind of “spray and pray” marketing outreach. So the question we left Adam to ponder was: How can such a person go about identifying those 5 to 10 perfect introductions for you from amongst the database of 6000?

Because you see, Adam really struggled to answer that question. Adam couldn’t tell us how to filter out 5 or 10 people in such a database of LinkedIn connections.

And I think most of us have that challenge. We don’t actually know how to identify our prospects.

Who are my prospects?

I find it difficult in my own business as well sometimes. I’ve thought about it a lot and often, and the best I can do is this:

  • I’m looking to connect with business owners
  • In Sydney
  • That are in design (Architecture, Interior design, Graphic design) technical services (IT, Communications, Software and Web development) or trades (Building trades, Motor trades, Hospitality trades)
  • With between 3 and 20 employees
  • And that have operated the business for 2+ years

Confronted with the same question we left Adam to ponder, using the above criteria I could narrow the search down a little and have a slightly more focused list, but there’s probably still a lot more than a 100 people in that database of 6000 that meet all the criteria.

A direct introduction strategy is very powerful but it can only work with a very limited number of people.

Who cares?

So why does it matter?

Well, I do want to help Adam, he’s a good guy and very good at what he does, and as it happens I do have a database of 6000 direct connections, but I simply don’t know how to help him.

And what’s more, because Adam isn’t clear on who his clients are, he can’t craft a clear marketing message himself either and he can’t focus his own messages on the right people.

If Adam isn’t clear, his prospects won’t be either.

Most of us face that dilemma.

For me, it’s clear that small building and trades contractors, builders, electricians, plumbers, painters, carpenters, architects and engineers are absolutely the people I should to be talking to. Those kinds of people are right in my sweet spot. So if you know any of those, I’d love you to make an introduction, and I’ll send them my weekly tips.

But how would you answer the question we asked Adam to ponder?

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Let me help you

I suggest you get a pencil and paper and write down the answer.

And when you find the answer, I make you this proposal:

Send me your criteria. The definition of your perfect clients, and I will spend some time searching in my database for one or two great introductions for you.

Getting totally clear about who your perfect clients are will totally change your marketing approach… I promise you.

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

Small Business Innovation and My Beautiful Laundrette

This is a guest post by Bruce Allison of Commscloud, more details at the end of this post.

laundry innovation in business

A story about innovation turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones

In my experience, in business, you will always come across stumbling blocks and it is the ability to turn these into stepping stones that has the greatest effect. Successful entrepreneurs I have known have always focused on the solution not the problem. 22 years ago I needed a sea change after spending many years building a successful insurance business. I bought a struggling laundry business in Maroubra called Lucy’s.

I had no experience in retail services and soon came across a real hurdle, a lack of revenue and a small market. The laundry was located in an area where using a laundry was a luxury and the former owner had reduced the price of services to an unsustainable level to try to get people through the door.

The laundry had a 2 shop frontage and a huge operating area and was operating way under capacity. That revenue hurdle was compounded by the cost associated with the underutilised area.

The first thing I did was turn it into a laundry café to add value to the customer experience as they had to spend 2 hours to do their own laundry. It offered a point of difference to competitors in the area and encouraged them to spend their money at Lucy’s. I partnered with a local dry cleaner to expand my offering. Initially I knocked on every gym and hairdresser door building a steady business and still the business was just breaking even as long as there were a few days of rain each month. I needed a new approach.

Getting the city to come to Maroubra

I needed to focus on a solution, on the positive things about the business. It still had a lot of available capacity, the rent was very good and it occurred to me we were only 20 minutes from the Sydney CBD. I remembered that in my research when looking for a laundry I had looked at businesses in the CBD.  They were too expensive. The rent was too high but the turnover looked great. The big question was how I could get the great turnover of a city laundry in Maroubra. The stumbling block appeared to be being located in Maroubra but in fact that became my stepping stone. All I had to do was create a way to collect laundry in the CBD and get it out to Lucy’s to process and return it.

That’s when Lucy’s Laundry Bins was created.

While putting some clothed in a recycle bin, I had an epiphany.

Why couldn’t I install a bin into every apartment block in the city to collect laundry to wash or dry clean? I set up a trial service into the Connaught Building in Sydney’s CBD cutting a deal with the building management to split a percentage with them for the use of the common area, Installed the bin into their garage area where customers could deposit the clothes in bags with their apartment number included by 8:30am to be returned by 6:00pm that night. I installed lockers which I rented to the apartment owners for the cleaned clothes to be returned to.

Offering something valuable

The service was a real value add to the apartment block, promoted by the building management and direct to the occupants. It was more successful than I could have hoped for and proved there was market demand for the service that added value and encouraged me to expand to other apartment blocks in the city.

The stumbling block I had of being in the wrong location for local laundry services was the reason the rent was good. This became the stepping stone as the low rent provided me with the cash to be able to invest in laundry vans for laundry runs into the city.

I am a restless soul so after 5 years I sold Lucy’s to concentrate on a new passion – Technology.

17 years later my communications business Commscloud provides real value to clients requiring an independent broker that understands the applications for business messaging solutions using SMS, voice broadcast, email and fax. We provide VoIP and internet connectivity solutions from a number of providers.

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

www.commscloud.com.au


Business Journeys GlowWorm Podcast

bike shop

Business Journeys, Maurice Wells

From Solar panels to electric bikes, babies and moving countries.

Maurice wells takes us through the journey of his life as a business owner, listen to the podcast now


 

SBP The One-Month Business Transformation Programs

Transform Your Business in a Month

Transform your business in a month

How would you like to blow away the biggest hurdle you face right now?

Skip ahead to the individual program details

If you’re anything like most other small business owners (and like me when I ran my building companies), you spend a lot of your days in a state of overwhelm and feeling like you are stuck.

For many business owners those feelings originate in one major issue. One challenge above all others needs to be tackled effectively right now before you and the business can start to move forward again:

  • Maybe it’s your marketing that isn’t working and you are not getting enough new inquiries
  • Or maybe you’re not converting enough inquiries into new sales, or
  • You’re always struggling to pay the bills on time, or
  • Maybe your staff are not delivering for you, or
  • Your business plan is way out of date
  • Or you simply feel that you are drifting from job to job, client to client, without a sense of direction.
Lifting the fog

It was certainly like that for me in my days as a builder in Sydney and I believe most of us experience at least one of those challenges at some stage in our journey. When we are in the midst of such a challenge it can feel like we are surrounded by a fog through which we can see very little else.
What we need at a time like that is to fix that issue and lift the fog… Nothing else. Book a free Discovery Coaching Session with me to explore how to lift the fog.

“Roland’s keen perception has helped me get to the heart of my issues extremely quickly”.

(Rebecca Wells, Clear Horizon Coaching)

Tackle one issue at a time

If you find yourself in that situation from time to time, I want to help you. The One-Month-Business-Transformation programs are short, sharp, fun and intensive 4 week programs designed to tackle one specific business development priority in your business, in one month, and implement a series of effective and simple strategies that will start to transform that specific aspect of your business.

One Month… One Issue… Fix it now!

I will customise each program specifically to your circumstances and your business needs.

The programs consist of a Discovery session (see below) and up to 4 one-on-one 1hr coaching sessions with me via Skype, spread out over no more than one month.

The Programs:

Each of the One-Month Business Transformation Programs tackle one of the following topics (click on each one for more information):

  1. Transform Your Purpose
  2. Transform Your Business Plan
  3. Transform Your Cashflow
  4. Transform Your Marketing
  5. Transform Your Sales
  6. Transform Your Staff
Structure and investment:

All programs come with a workbook or worksheets and relevant resources and tools, such as videos, podcast stories, webinars, articles, surveys and templates.

Each of the programs will be customised to suit your business and your circumstances, we will only be working on the stuff that really matters to you.

Your investment for each of the One-Month Business Transformation Program will be between AUD $1500 and $2500 (plus GST if you are in Australia).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Read about all my business coaching programs here

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Purpose

A Business without True Purpose and Passion, isn’t

Why does your business exist?

What’s it on this earth for? And why would anybody care?

purpose of business Many times when I’ve asked business owners those questions, they answer with a variant of the three standards replies:

  • We deliver a great product.
  • For a great price.
  • With great customer service.

Is that maybe what you would have said?

Probably, right? But the problem is that all your competitors say the same thing (they do, believe me), and so you make it very difficult for your prospective customers to make a decision based on anything other than price, and we all know that competing on price is a dog’s game; We’d all like to stay away from competing on price if we could, right?

Read the chapter on the Purpose of your Business in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy books for business owners.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Purpose program we find the unique answer for you and your business to the question of why your business exists, what it’s Greater Purpose is, and why anyone else would care about that. When you nail that answer, once and for all, your business and your life will never be the same again…

I promise you.

“I always leave our meetings feeling aligned, confident and positive about the direction I am heading.”

(Colin Garrett, Colin the Butcher)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform your Business Plan

A business without a plan achieves everything in it

plan We all know we should have a business plan, all the business gurus, all the business books, our accountants and even aunt Sally have told us so for years… Or maybe you actually did write a business plan a couple of years ago, but you haven’t looked at the thing for over a year and it’s gathering dust in the bottom of a filing cabinet somewhere.

So how do we write a business plan that actually works, a business plan that functions as a tool for the development of our businesses, a business plan that makes a difference.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Business-Plan program you get to understand how to write a business plan that transforms your business, and depending on your circumstances you’ll either create your first ever living business plan or get well under way to creating one, in a great position to complete it and implement it in your business.

Read the chapter about business planning in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

Creating a business plan that works for your business is the first step to transforming your business and your life,

I promise you

“I implemented a range of enormous changes in my business and in my life.”

(Dave Scott, Invenco)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Cashflow

A business that doesn’t make Profit and generate Cash is a hobby

cat Many times have I spoken to business owners who tell me they are confused about the fact that they make profit, but they don’t know where the money is. In my days as a builder I also saw lots of business owners get into trouble, because they thought that because they had lots of money in the bank, they must be doing alright.

The fact is that the connection between profit and cash is a loose one generally speaking, unless your business operates entirely on a cash on delivery basis, and very few businesses are.

To build a fun business you simply must keep your eyes on 4 things:

  1. Sales
  2. Production
  3. Invoicing
  4. Collections

Drop your attention from any one of those 4 factors and as sure as God made little apples, you’ll get into trouble.

Read the chapter about financial management in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Cash-Flow program you’ll learn how to measure those 4 factors. You’ll also learn which one of the four is the most important and how to watch it and manage it like a hawk.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come you have to be all over those 4 factors, like a rash…

I promise you

“Roland helped me focus on the fundamentals and that has now given me peace of mind and control over my business.”

(Brad Chapman, BIC construction)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Marketing

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing

markeing stand out from the crowd Most of us think of marketing in terms of advertising, and doing social media, sponsoring the local under 10’s footy team or going networking at the local chamber of commerce.

And all of those things fall in the marketing camp, no doubt. But marketing is so much more. The price you charge for your product is a marketing decision. How you answer the phones in your business is about marketing and so is the wording you use on the reminder letters your accounts receivable person sends out to your customers.

Everything you do and every decision you take in your business has a marketing angle to it. In fact if there is anything you do in your business that doesn’t have a marketing angle associated with it you could argue you shouldn’t be doing it at all. The Granddaddy of all the 20th century business gurus, Peter Drucker, used to say that the the purpose of business is to get and keep a customer, so anything that doesn’t contribute to doing that, doesn’t belong in your business. Does that sound a bit extreme? Maybe, but let’s find out what it means for your business.

Read the chapter about marketing in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Marketing program we’ll examine the opportunities in your business to improve your marketing so that you’ll start to bring more customers through your doors.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you have to learn to think about marketing in everything you do…

I promise you.

“Roland forced me to address the hard issues and in doing so, I have made changes which have saved me over $50,000 per year.”

(James France, Vanguard)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Sales

Nothing happens until we sell something

sales is hard girl selling Without sales there are no customers, without customers there is no income and without income there is no business. It truly doesn’t matter how gorgeous your website looks, how well your apple peeler works or how silently your IT systems are humming along in the background. Business can not exist without sales.

But sales can be hard. There are some people for whom sales comes easily, but you may not be one of those people. The temptation for many small business owners is to believe that if we deliver good enough products or services, the customers will somehow flock to our doors. But the customers rarely will cue up  for our stuff the way they do for the latest Iphone. Somehow we have to get our stuff in front of enough of the right people and then we have to make it so attractive to buy from us that they’ll do so with a smile

Read the chapter about sales in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Sales Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business to make sales much easier for you and your business, so that you’ll convert a greater percentage of the people that walk through your doors into paying customers.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must get good at sales…

I promise you

“Working with Roland, was the most productive time I have ever dedicated to me and my business.”

(Anna Field, Paddington Beauty Room)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Staff

A fun business hires the brightest and keeps the brightest

the right people on the bus The Right people on the bus,
in the right seats,
facing the Right direction.

An old business mentor of mine used to say: “You could have such a great business if it wasn’t for the staff”, and famous business author Michael Gerber said in The E-Myth: “It’s impossible to manage people, because people actively resist being managed and they are unpredictable, only systems can be managed”.

I’m not sure that I entirely agree with Michael Gerber, but he had a point. People complicate things. It’s much easier to manage an office after hours, when everyone else has gone home. But the nature of business is that it’s with people that business creates value. It’s the combined effort and creativity and knowledge of the people of the business, that allow a business to make profit and grow and develop.

But all people are not created equal, some are definitely more equal than others, and some start out looking really good, but half a year down the track we’re not so sure anymore. Maybe that’s even a pattern that seems to repeat itself a lot in your business?

So how do we go about finding the right people and once we have them how do we keep them engaged?

Read the chapter about staff in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Staff Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business for finding and keeping the right people and maximising the opportunities we have to get our people to do great work.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must have the right people on the bus, and facing in the right direction…

I promise you

“Roland has created a simple, effective, and repeatable process that makes his coaching strategy work.”

(Wendy Lloyd Curley, WLC Enterprises).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Resilience is the Key to Building a Great Business

The one thing you need

resilience

My time at Lifeline and what I learnt about business

I was thinking about resilience the other day, it came up in a conversation somewhere.

I’ve said it before… in fact I sound like a broken record sometimes, but being in small business can be tough. The life of a business owner does not generally go over roses and small and large setbacks are part of the territory. Paraphrasing an old joke:” You can divide the business owners of the world in two groups: those who’ve had a serious setback and those who are about to have one”.

I’ve certainly experienced significant setbacks in my career in business over the last 30 years and most of my clients have as well. I’ve come to believe that the difference between those of us who get to build Fun Businesses that sustain us for years to come and those that don’t is one word:

Resilience

This is the Wikipedia definition of resilience: “Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. “

To be a successful small business owner I believe you must live higher up the resilience scale than the average person, because the journey of building a small business is full of traps and snags and rapids; full of stress and adversity. A resilient business owner doesn’t sit around and lick her wounds for too long when she’s hit a snag, because she knows she’ll drown if she does..

jacob ohlson A good example of resilience is a friend of mine Jacob Ohlson. His is the founder of Powernet It and he is building a really great business. Jacob is one of the most resilient people I know. Last night he took the CEO sleep out challenge in Sydney, which is all about raising money for homeless people. As it was, it rained all night and Jacob got soaked and freezing and he would be feeling miserable. But I know he’s hard at work, back in his business today… Jacob is resilient (and you can donate to his appeal here)

So if Resilience is key to building a healthy business, let’s explore where it comes from and how we can get more of it.

My romantic business failure

I think am fairly resilient in business myself, or I certainly believe I have been in the past. I’ve experienced all kinds of setbacks when developing my various businesses in the past 30 years. I remember my first exploration of business in the mid eighties, was an unmitigated disaster. I’d started out a boat repair and maintenance business on Sydney Harbour. It was a truly romantic affair, and I felt that this was what I was put on this earth for. The reality was though, that I truly had no idea what running a business meant or how I should go about it. After a year or so, I’d totally run out of money, I was insolvent and I’d generally made a mess of things. So much for romance. I decided to branch out into house carpentry and building from boats, because it looked like an easier path, but I had bills to pay then and there (we’d bought our first home and there was a mortgage to pay). So I decided to get a taxi license, because I could drive taxis in the evenings and on the weekends while developing the building business. The plan worked and I dug myself out of the hole and survived.

So yes I was resilient and my resilience meant I didn’t crumble and I came back for more.

My circumstances were quite fortunate though in many ways. We’d recently emigrated to Australia from Holland. My wife at the time was Australian, we had a big support group in Sydney and she had a job as a teacher with a solid regular income (and we bought the house for $50,000 which we thought was a fortune at the time … wry smile… )

So how do you find resilience when you are not so fortunate?

Resilience when there is no hope

I have spent a number of years working as a Volunteer Telephone Crisis Counsellor in the past 11 years (at Lifeline in Sydney) and I came across people in much much tougher circumstances than I’ve ever experienced. I’ll never forget this one woman who rang in frequently. The woman was known as ‘M’ at Lifeline. ‘M’ was permanently bedridden and alone. She could not get herself to the toilet so a carer would come in a lot of the day. She was increasingly blind and in permanent overwhelming pain throughout her body and she never slept at all; all she could do was listen to the radio all day and night. And yet, ‘M’ managed to make us counsellors smile sometimes and I remember many conversations  with her in the middle of the night sometimes, where I’d come off the phone with a lump in my throat, thankful for the half hour I spent talking with her. ‘M’ was inspiring and amazing, even though, for her, there was no hope, she would never get better, her life would simply get progressively worse and worse until she’d die one day.

‘M’ was more resilient than anyone I’ve ever met before or since, the kind of resilience I don’t think I could ever possess.

But ‘‘M’ and I did have something in common that has helped both of us find resilience in trying times, and that was that we were able to access support. I’ve had people around me who I trusted and cared about, who believed in me and supported me and bolstered my confidence most of my life. Lifeline gave that to ‘M’ in some small way as well. It’s the reason ‘M’ rang Lifeline most days, she just needed to hear that someone cared about her and that she “was doing alright” and just hearing that every day, combined with what must have been an amazing inner reservoir of strength, allowed her to hang in somehow.

Support team

That’s why I believe it’s so important to create a support team around you when you are developing a business. As I said before, setbacks are part of the journey of developing a business and when the setbacks happen they can knock your confidence and your hope. Having people you care about and especially people you respect as equals in business demonstrating that they believe in you will have an enormous impact in how you deal with the setback and how you get back on your feet to fight the next battle.

As a business coach I often find myself taking the role of chief supporter of my clients when the “s%$t hits the fan”. I am convinced that having me by their side increases their level of resilience. I have seen the evidence of it many times. My most successful clients have taken it even a step further and have put together a small team of trusted advisers and mentors  that they can lean on when required. One of my clients has two coaches, a financial management mentor, another mentor who has been wildly successful in the same industry before him, a human resources adviser and a marketing adviser who he leans on from time to time. All of us support him, bolster his confidence, hold him accountable and generally stand by the sidelines, cheering him on. As a consequence, he is probably one of the most resilient people in small business I know.

To build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come, you’ll need to be resilient, and the best way I know to make sure you are as resilient as you can be is to make sure you have a bunch of great people around you, who believe in you… I promise you.

 

Masterminds Observations…Passion and Purpose

rework

Masterminds Observations…Passion and Purpose

If you enjoy this article click here to get a copy of one of the “The Ten Truths” books for business owners for free

One of my favourite books is “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of software company 37Signals. In the reworkchapter “Building to Flip is Building to Flop” they say this: “When you build a company with the intention of selling it, you focus on the wrong things. Instead of focusing on getting customers to Love you, you worry about who is going to buy you. That is the wrong thing to obsess over”

That is exactly what I think when I hear all the gurus and business coaches talking about the exit strategies and the need to focus on that.

There is only one thing to focus on every day when you want to start a business, and that is: How do I build something that my customers will love more than any other business out there?

All the greatest and most Fun small businesses that have ever been built, ask themselves one question, every day: “What else would my customers love?”

If you focus on that and nothing else, everything will fall into place and you’ll have as much Fun as you can handle

Grandfather

grandfather

Sep 2013

What becoming a Grandfather taught me about Business

If you enjoy this article click here to get a copy of one of the “The Ten Truths” books for business owners for free

The Hat and the Beard I’ve become a Grandfather in the last few months.

Of twins even….

Everybody’s very happy and the girls are gorgeous and cute and they’re eating as if the world’s running out of food soon.

These are my first grandchildren and the experience is really interesting… but more about that later.

Another thing that happened is that I just finished reading a book by Dan Pink: “To Sell is Human”. The book is all about selling (in all its forms) in today’s world and how to do it well.

My client

Coincidentally I found myself working with a client who employs a number of consultants. The development of my client’s business is hampered by the fact that many of his consultants are challenged in the area of sales. My client is a great sales person and has always been able to make sales and now finds it very challenging to work out how best to manage and coach his consultants to improve their sales performance. The consultants are mostly very willing and excited, but they experience all sorts of fears and anxieties in the area of sales and would rather poke their own eyes out with a blunt stick than to “ask for the business” at the right moment.

So what is the connection between my grandfather-hood, the book by Dan Pink and my client’s consultants?

Vincent and the Captain

captainIn a recent article I wrote about Change and the Comfort Zone, (Read the article here: https://www.newperspectives.com.au/archives/change-why/ ) I told a story from my recent past. I’d come to realise that a self-belief and self-image I had was no longer serving me and that it was time to change. I had come to the realisation that my self-image of being a ”Struggling Artist”, Vincent,  had to be replaced by that of a “Captain”, Captain Roland.

What I didn’t write about was the process I went through, and the experience I had while replacing Vincent with the Captain.

The process was quite tough, but also really powerful.

Transitions
transitions Famous management consultant and author William Bridges explains that any change process must go through three stages or transition.

Stage 1: Endings (or leaving the “Comfort Zone”)

Stage 2: The “Neutral Zone” (or being in the Wilderness)

Stage 3: New Beginnings, arriving in the “New Zone” (or getting to “The Promised Land”)

Every human Change-process goes through these three stages.

And each stage is integral to the process of Change, you can’t step from stage 1, The Comfort Zone, straight into stage 3, The Promised Land, however much you might like to.

What actually happened

So when I wrote in my article that I went from seeing myself as a struggling artist to believing myself to be “The Captain”, I omitted what actually happened in between.

What actually happened was that I found myself in the Wilderness for a considerable length of time and what is more, The Wilderness was a very uncomfortable place to be. The whole process probably took 6 months and the first month especially was extremely uncomfortable, painful even, for me.

Welcome to the Wilderness

wilderness Here is what we all experience, when we embark on, or are forced into a process of Change:

When you step out of your Comfort Zone you will immediately find yourself in a strange place, where you don’t recognise the world and yourself anymore and you will you feel lost. This is the Wilderness.

Much as you’d like to, you can’t actually get to The Promised Land yet, because it simply doesn’t exist yet. You actually have to create The Promised Land before you can get to it. In other words, you have to develop the new “You” first, and the only place you can create the new “You” is in the Wilderness. It is only when we are totally free from the constraints of the Comfort Zone that we are able to develop our new “selves”.

The new You

signThere is no other way. The Wilderness without its boundaries is the zone of maximum resourcefulness and maximum creativity; it is where you can start to shape the new “You”, that will allow you to move ahead into the Promised Land.

This was exactly my experience when I decided to leave Vincent the struggling artist behind and set out to become “The Captain”, Captain Roland.

I did lot of soul-searching and for a number of weeks I’d get up early in the morning and sit on a park bench by the water just writing and thinking.

Slowly but surely I started seeing my way forward. I realised that I had to start by changing my look and behaviour and how I sounded. If I was going to be The Captain, I had to behave, look and sound like The Captain.

The Captain’s uniform

captain's hatFrom that day I decided to only wear a certain kind of outfit (the Captain’s uniform). I also had a piece of jewellery made in the shape of my company logo that I wore on my lapel (the Captain’s insignia). I practiced walking into rooms differently and I wrote and rehearsed scripts for how to introduce myself. I actually even introduced myself as Captain Roland in some environments.

I can assure you this felt awkward for a while, but over time it became more comfortable and I slowly started to identify with being the Captain.

Grandfather

Now I’m back to becoming a grandfather a few months ago. Let me explain how that experience is connected with the story of the Captain, the conversation I had with my client and the book I read by Dan Pink.

dan pink Firstly: Dan Pink makes a number of powerful points about what it takes to sell products, services and ideas in all human contexts. Some of the main points he makes are that selling is a normal human condition, and that it is about a lot more than selling used cars; That selling isn’t only done well by “natural sales people’, everyone can learn to do it well and finally that to do it well involves fostering a new mindset… Change in other words.

Secondly: My client’s consultants have to change. They have to take on board what Dan Pink says about what it takes to sell well and they have to change their mindset about sales. In other words, they have to change their self-belief and they have to change how they see themselves, their self-image.

Thirdly: Grandfather-hood has had an interesting impact on me. It is just another change process, a transition, for me and I realised last week that I am in the middle of The Wilderness in relation to this Change in my life. Yes I do feel weird about being a grandfather, the only one amongst my friends and peers.

Looking in the mirror

I simply don’t know what it means yet for me to be a grandfather and I have trouble picturing myself as a grandfather. The classic image or archetype of a grandfather is not what I see when I look at myself in the mirror.

But that is exactly how it should be… it’s perfectly ok, I can trust that I will get out the other end of this experience and that I will work out what being a grandfather means for me. I will become clear about what I want to see when I look in the mirror, 6 months from now.

Changing all the time

moses We go through change all the time. As I said in the previous article, our business (and our life) is what it is because of who we are today, so if we want to change an aspect of our business (or life), one thing is certain: we have to change first.

My client’s consultants have to go through Change too. They have to step out of their Comfort Zone, close the door behind them and stay there. And while sitting in the discomfort of the Wilderness, they have to start creating their new selves, so that they can enter the Promised Land. The Promised Land where they have become the kind of person that can go out and make sales, good sales.

As friends, partners, employers and bosses of people who are going through the Wilderness the best thing we can do to support them is to acknowledge that change is hard and weird and can often be frightening. We can reassure them that they do have the courage and resourcefulness to create their new selves and enter The Promised Land. And we can hold their hand (as it were) and be with them while they are in the midst of the turmoil and weirdness. By doing so we might make it a little more bearable for them to stay in the wilderness and hence employ their resourcefulness to create their new selves.

Hold their hand

So my client can best support his consultants by helping them to picture themselves as great sales people, to imagine the world from that vantage point and to start to feel what that is like. All the while “holding their hand” as it were while being in that unfamiliar place, until they start to feel more comfortable, bit by bit.

The moral of the story is this: Learn to accept that the discomfort you are feeling is ok. It is actually ok to be scared and anxious and to feel a bit lost or out of control. You have every reason to trust yourself. After all, you got this far… didn’t you!

babies I’ve consciously experienced a number of these transitions in the past 10 years and the outcome of each one of them has been unexpected and very positive. I see no reason to believe that learning how to be a Grandfather will be any different …

Especially not if you knew how cute those two little girls are.

I suggest You can Trust yourself too.

Honest,

Captain Grandfather Roland

Time Management

Business Masterminds Observations

Time management for smart business owners:

double your profitsHere is a brilliant anecdote from “Double your profits in 6 months or less” by Bob Fifer. (Link to the book)

The book is full of brilliant tips and advice, I highly recommend any business owner to read it and then put stuff into action.

This about time management: “The first thing I do when I get to work in the morning is to divide everything I have to do into three lists. List 1 holds only items that brings in new business or reduces costs. List 2 includes the things I have to do to maintain existing business or to keep an internal operating process running. List 3 includes all the things that someone else expects or wants me to do but add no value to the bottom line.
I always start on list 1 and will not proceed to any item on list 2 until all of list 1 is complete and I will not start list 3 until list 2 is complete.”

I love the simplicity of this approach and one of the brilliant benefits of this process is that the most important stuff gets done when you are at your freshest and most efficient. And when you go home at night, you know that you’ve done all the stuff that matters most, even if you haven’t completed all three lists entirely.

SBP Overwhelm and the Fun in Business Intensive Program

Overwhelm, being Stuck and the

“Fun in Business Intensive”

Are you overwhelmed in business and would you like to get unstuck?

Find out about the 5 Steps to Discovery of your Beautiful Business here

The New Perspectives Fun in Business Intensive is a transformative 6 – 12 month Business and Life coaching, mentoring and guidance program designed for individual small business owners, business partners and husband and wife family business owners, who want to build their own unique Beautiful Business and Life and have more Fun in Business.

The Intensive is designed for small business owners who find themselves operating in a state of overwhelm and stress and who feel stuck in their business. They are frustrated and are ready to roll up their sleeves to start to build their Beautiful Business now. (Also read more about husband and wife family business partnerships here)

The foundation of the Fun in Business Intensive program are my books: “The Ten Truths Trilogy: Business books for people who don’t read business books, but should”. I suggest you might like to read my third book: “The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun” especially (It’s a Fun read, of course). You can download any of my books for free from the main resources download page in the website here. The Fun in Business Intensive combines Visioning, Goalsetting, Planning, Strategy, accountability, support, guidance, brainstorming and advice with coaching and mentoring methodologies, resources and tools that simply work.

What’s Fun in Business got to do with building a Beautiful Business and Life?

I believe most small business owners operate in a state of overwhelm and stress and they often feel their businesses and lives are stuck. You run around from crisis to crisis all day extinguishing brush fires along the way. You’re the first one in the door in the morning and the last one out the door at night, and you have to catch up on your admin, email and quoting after dinner. Your staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces, clients expect you yourself to serve their needs, personally, whenever they have even a slight cough, even though you’ve got a bunch of perfectly qualified staff to do the work, and to top it all off you’re barely making any more money now than you were 5 years ago.

Well, I think it’s time we started to think differently about business than we traditionally have and learn to appreciate that there is something greater for us to achieve than make sales, improve our systems and generate cash.

More reading and resources about Overwhelm, Stress, Change and Fun in Business:

Business is Fun when everything is working as you want it to.

To start moving out of that overwhelm, stress and stuckness, a really effective place to start, I believe, is to focus on the concept of Fun in Business. Because you see, when business is Fun, it means everything is working. Fun in Business is the opposite of Overwhelm, Stress and feeling Stuck. When business itself is Fun it means that:

  • You are making money and generating cash flow
  • You’re making sales
  • You’re getting better all the time
  • You know where you’re going
  • Your staff are highly engaged
  • Your customers love you
  • You’re proud of the stuff your business produces
  • You’re creating the kind of balance in your life that is important to you.

Focusing on Fun in Business as the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of the health of your business and understanding that all the other KPI’s we are used to measuring and thinking about are merely drivers to the main KPI of Fun in Business, will change your business and your life.

What’s different about the Fun in Business Intensive program?

My thoughts about Change and Business coaching are possibly a bit different to what you might expect or what you might have heard from others. You might find it interesting to read some of my articles about those topics:

overwhelm stuck fun in business program

What makes the Intensive so important to you?

The Fun in Business Intensive program is about going on a journey; A big journey, an adventure even. That’s as it should be, because Change (with a big “C”) can only ever happen on a journey. You can never just flick a switch to implement Change. You’ve heard people talk about stepping out of their comfort zone. I agree, we must step out of our comfortzones to create Change, and stay there. We need to get out on the ocean. Nothing important ever changed in the safety of the harbour. Poking your nose out the heads, looking at the horizon and turning back again in time for lunch is not going to Change your business or your life.

To change our business and our life we have to hoist our sails, set a course for the horizon and above all we must not turn back.

When you are ready to change your business and your life, the reason you would want me to come on that journey and adventure with you, is that:

  • I will help you set a course and help you adjust it as we travel along and circumstances change.
  • I will keep you focused on the course.
  • I will teach you the skills you need to keep the ship safe and headed in the right direction
  • I make sure that you know when to row and row hard and when to let the wind take you along for a while.

And finally, I have been out on the ocean many many times… I know how to keep your ship safe.

Coming on the Journey with me in the Fun in Business Intensive will truly change your business and your life for ever…

I promise you.

 Testimonial by
Mathew Stubbs from
Stubbs Design Tribe

The 6 components of the Intensive:

  1. A comprehensive online business health check report
  2. The book: “The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun” (Download my books here)
  3. Webinar series: “The Small Business Masterminds™ (More info about the Masterminds)
  4. Weekly or fortnightly one-on-one coaching and mentoring sessions, either face-to-face, by Skype or telephone.
  5. Unlimited phone and email support
  6. Access to a comprehensive library of business development resources
  7. A vast range of business development tools as required

“Make no mistake; for one person, Roland is a power house of ability, knowledge, support and wisdom.”

(Tony Isgrove, Isgrove Painting a decorating)

Free Five Steps to Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my full coaching programs, first, I always advice we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (via Skype or similar) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get insight into what stage you and your business are at and what your challenges are, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process for you.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more to book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Further Reading about overwhelm and fun:

For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here