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 truths 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 and it helps your business grow. 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 and becoming a business leader 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)

Next Month:

Next month’s post will be about leadership in a Fun business. Here’s the link

More on this topic:

First Things First: What is the Purpose of your business?

big question purpose of business

The Big Question of Small Business

Purpose and the accidental small business owner

big question purpose of business

I’m often asked what the secret of small business is. I was recently asked this question by a new internet support service for micro and home based businesses called Brazzlebox . I told them there’s only one thing to get right and that is be able to answer the Big Question of Small Business, What’s the Purpose of your business?

It’s actually a really interesting question, and one that few business owners stop to think about before they get their business underway. I’ve also written about the Big Question here on and in other pages on my website here as well as in this podcast for example. To be honest, I think that most business are started more or less by accident.

Of course there are startup entrepreneurs who plan the development of the next widget, they take a shared office space in some kind of incubator and plan to sell their widget to Facebook for 25 trazillion dollars one day, but I believe that those business owners are in a tiny minority.

The small business owners I meet everywhere (and the ones I support) start their business when an ever increasing level of frustration with their  job or career to date simply overflows the bucket and they decide to take control of their life in their own hand.

And when that moment arrives they run around doing the practical logistical things; bank accounts, business names, email addresses, business cards… the basics, but the really important questions are not usually addressed until much later, sometimes never.

Strategic Direction

The really important questions that we should all attempt to answer right from the word go are the questions about the strategic direction of the business, the Goals (short, medium and long term) and the biggest question of all:

Why does your business exists; What’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care?

Purpose of small business Big Question Mission business card exchangeWhenever I am at a networking function talking to business owners I always ask them what is special, or different about their business, why I would want to do business with them and how I could refer business to them. It’s actually surprising how difficult most business owners find it to a give a clear answer to those questions. Mostly people try and tell me that they have a Great product (Our widget comes in 23 different colours) and they give Great customer service (We re smaller than the competition so we care more about our customers) and their prices are Great too (we’re really efficient and run a tight ship and we have few overheads and we’re committed to “adding value”).

These days I have hardened up a bit so I don’t feel the pain so much anymore and mostly I remain polite and nod with interest and make engaged noises, but deep down I think to myself: “Oh Please… not another one!”


Of course you have a great product with a great price and great customer service, “D’OH” as Homer Simpson would say… I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a business owner who told me their product was average, their prices were average and they kind of looked after their customers in an average manner either. The competition has those three covered as well as you do (otherwise they wouldn’t be your competition in the first place) and your potential customers assume you will deliver them those three as a minimum, otherwise they wouldn’t be talking to you.

You have to find what sets you apart, what makes you different, because if you don’t, your customers only have one way to decide who they’ll use and that is by comparing your price and competing on price is a dog’s game, it might work for Walmart and Ikea but few others.

So… Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care about that?

  • I have a client who is an architect, he defined the purpose of his business as “Architecture that Inspires”
  • I have a client who owns a gym and he defined the purpose of his business as: “To build the finest resistance training community in the world”
  • I have a client who has a video production business and the Purpose of his business is: “It’s a joy to work with us”

Being remembered

When I meet someone at a networking function and I ask them what’s special about their business and they give me a powerful short statement like that, I sit up and take note and I’ll remember them and I will be able to introduce them to potential clients.

Also when your business rests on such a strong statement, it suddenly makes everything so much easier:

  • It’s suddenly easy to make decisions about which jobs to bid for and which opportunities to say No to
  • It’s suddenly clear which employees to hire
  • It’s suddenly clear what prices you should be charging
  • etc etc

Finding the Purpose of your business and being able to express it with complete clarity is absolutely the biggest step you can take to building a sustainable, fun and rewarding business.


masterminds As it happens I have run many webinars on this exact topic. Here is a link to a recording of a recent Small Business Masterminds on Purpose

So I hear you ask: “Ok smartie pants, what’s the Purpose of your own business then?”, and I am so glad you asked, because this is what I get out of bed for every morning:

To help family business owners feel great about themselves and about their business by making Business Fun again

How do you like them apples?… Does that work for you?

I thought so….

Check out the Masterminds webinar and I’ll help you take the first steps to discovering your own Purpose (with a capital “P)… You’ll never look back… I promise you.

Further reading

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

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

Here are some other insights on the Big Question of Business and the Purpose of Business:

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

Business Journeys, Sarah Regan

Business Journeys, Sarah Regan Little Flowers

Allow time for the good stuff
Interview with Sarah Regan, founder of Little Flowers ( in Sydney.
Sarah talks about the curve balls and the changes in direction she had to work through during the time she worked with me and how where she is now is a totally different place than she imagined herself when she started the business 3 years previously.
Business journeys are interviews and stories of business owners about what it’s like to be going on big journeys of change with Roland Hanekroot from New Perspectives Business Coaching and Mentoring


Staff engagement and the Germans in Brazil

winning kid

How to build a team that fires?

staff engagement germans champions I have spent the last few weeks getting very excited about World Cup soccer, and whether or not you like soccer or you get more excited about other footbal games with pointy balls… one thing is clear some teams sparkle (Germany for example) and some teams don’t (who can forget the crying distressed faces of the Brazillian supporters at the end of the semi finals?)

Thinking about staff and employees I often flash on what a friend of mine who is a nurse used to say (half-jokingly): “I could run such a great hospital if it wasn’t for all those ruddy patients.”

But the business owner’s lament is a different one: I know I could run such a great business if it wasn’t for those pesky staff

Michael Gerber, in his famous book: The E-Myth told us 25 years ago to give up trying to manage people, and focus on systems instead.

Gen Y

And in his time, Michael Gerber hadn’t even met a Gen-X employee yet, let alone Gen-Y! Ask your Gen-Y staff member to do something simple like smile at a customer and make them feel welcome when they walk into the shop and they look at you as if you just asked them to kiss a cockroach.

We all know that employing people is tough and it can be the toughest challenge any business owner faces when trying to develop and grow his or her business. And yet, it is also where the greatest opportunity lies for your business, because the essence of just about any business model ever invented is about charging a margin on labour, employees of some form in other words. And that statement holds true equally for either product or service business and even fully digital businesses will find it hard to be successful without employees of some sort.

So how do you engage those pesky staff members, so that you get the best out of them, and you don’t go grey prematurely?

I believe it all starts with this Golden Rule:

Hire for attitude and train for skill.

When you recruit for new employees I urge you to keep this Rule in the forefront of your mind – Always look for attitude first.

dee hockThe founder of Visa International, Dee Hock shared this about hiring staff: “Hire first on the basis of Integrity; second on the basis of motivation; third, capacity; fourth understanding; fifth, knowledge and last and least, experience.”

Integrity and motivation are what makes a great team member. Most other skills can be taught.

Prepare Prepare Prepare

So how do you hire for attitude?

  1. 1)   Prepare, prepare, prepare… Put together a simple series of questions that give you the opportunity to get a clear insight into this person, what they’re really like.
  2. 2)   Organise trial days.
  3. 3)   Experiment with role plays,
  4. 4)   Involve your manager in the hiring process
  5. 5)   Check references.

This is what happens when you don’t check references:

beauty salonA client of mine, Wendy, runs an upmarket beauty salon in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.  6 months ago she fired one of her staff for unfailing laziness.   Recently, Wendy received a phone call from the owner of another beauty salon in Sydney who had employed the previously ‘fired’ employee for some months, on the strength of the fact that she had worked for Wendy before. She rang Wendy, confused and disappointed, because of the bad attitude and performance of her new employee.

A simple reference check, before hiring a new employee can save you a whole heap of aggravation.

Second step

The second step in engaging your people is a little less obvious.

You see, your staff aren’t actually all that different to you, they are actually normal people, just like you, honest they are, trust me.

And people like to be engaged, they like to enjoy life, they like to collaborate with other people and they like to win.

It’s the reason so many of us play team sports. In my experience of working with many small business owners, the most effective approach to engage a bunch of employees in small business is to think of business as if it is a game of rugby.

Fun and winning

winning The reason we join a soccer team is to have fun and enjoy ourselves and the object of the game is to win.

I encourage all of my clients to start to think of their business as a soccer team (But maybe not the Brazilian world cup team at the moment!!) and their staff as fellow team members, with yourself as the captain and coach of the team.

As the captain you understand that your staff joined your team for exactly the same reasons you created it, to have fun and enjoy themselves and to win the game (That is as long as you hire for attitude). Furthermore you must help them understand how the whole team depends on each other.

As the coach you know that you must take the time to teach your team members the rules of the game, you have to train them to become more effective in their roles, and you have to show them how their actions have a direct impact on the outcome of the game.

Finally the team members need to feel they have a ‘stake in the outcome’; they have to feel that winning is good for them as individuals as much as it is for the team as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong, implementing what I just described isn’t easy, and no doubt there will be plenty of times when you will want to pull your hair out (there’s a good reason I don’t have any hair left). But by making it your prime responsibility as the business owner to become a great coach and captain of your team, you will be well on your way to building a Fun business that sustains you for years to come … I promise you.

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

The Rhythm of Business

swiss clock cropped

cuckoo clock

Predictability and Swiss Clocks

How would you like to predict the future?

The holy grail of business is to have a business that behaves like a Swiss clock… Tick TockTick Tock… No surprises… it just works, day in day out. Clients walk in the front door… every day, Tick Tock… the products or services get delivered out the backdoor… every day, Tick Tock… The invoices get sent by the bookkeeper… every day, Tick Tock… and the money drops into the bank… every day, Tick Tock, Tick Tock.

Is that your dream too? Do you dream of Swiss clocks?

Fun Businesses Have Rhythm

A Fun business that sustains you for years to come has rhythm, because with rhythm comes predictability and that’s precisely what you are looking for: to know with a fair degree of certainty what is going to happen tomorrow, next week and next month means you can plan and prepare and be pro-active.

Think about it… If you knew with a high degree of accuracy how many contracts you’d sign next month, or how much money would come in the door, or how many widgets you’d produce, or how many emergency callouts you’d have or warranty repairs you’d have to carry out… What difference would that make to how you managed your business and how much Fun you’d have in your business?

If you knew for sure that 3 months from now your business would have 25% more work to carry out than you have right now, you can start looking for the right people now and have them ready for the onslaught in time, instead of managing in crisis, madly running around trying to find someone at the last minute and begging everyone to stay back to finish the work… I know what situation I’d rather be in, don’t you?

Two Mechanisms of Business Predictability

But how can you know all that? Predicting the future is crystal ball gazing, right? The best you’ll ever do is guess, right?

Well no. You can predict the future in business through two mechanisms:

  1. Measuring
  2. Meeting

Measuring / Dashboard Management

business dashboard ‘Measuring’ is about taking regular measurements of various systems in your business and looking for trends. I often refer to this aspect of business as “dashboard management” and I have written about the topic extensively in various other places, for example here: , so I won’t get into further detail about numbers and measurement right now but it is important to know that ‘Meetings’ without ‘Measurement’ are a waste of time… you need both to build predictability into your business.


So the second mechanism is about meetings. A business that sustains you for years to come will have a schedule of regular meetings, daily, weekly, monthly, annually. It can be no other way.

The size of the business will determine the number of meetings but an average small business in a single location based around a service, profession or trade with 5 to 15 employees will likely have a 15-minute catch up at the beginning of each day at a team level; a weekly 1-hour production team “Work in Progresss (WIP)” meeting and a weekly company-wide half hour “huddle”. The last two meetings may be expanded into more comprehensive meetings at the start of every month.

Besides these meetings there may be regular sales team meetings and management team meetings, and last but certainly not least, individual progress or performance meetings between managers and their direct reports, ideally no more than monthly but certainly no more than quarterly.

Jamie’s Panel Beating Shop

spray paint To illustrate what I’m talking about I’ll tell you about a client of mine called Jamie who owns a panel beating and spray painting business and who I worked with a few years ago:

Jamie employed about 18 people and the business ran from brushfire to crisis and back to brushfire most of the time, things used to go wrong and profits tended to get lost in the daily and weekly efforts to fix the things that went wrong.

When Jamie and I started working together we quickly realised that the crises were usually caused by a lack of effective communications throughout the business and a lack of cooperation amongst different sections of the business.

So Jamie started by implementing a weekly staff breakfast on Friday mornings. At those times the business would open a little later than normal and a nice spread was laid out for breakfast and everyone took part. At the breakfast Jamie would facilitate discussion amongst his staff to a set agenda that always included a recap of the week… what went well last week, what didn’t go so well last week… and a plan for the next week to address the question: What can we put in place as simple actions that will help us improve next week.

Jamie couldn’t believe how quickly things started to improve. Literally in weeks, he noticed a drop off in crises and the mood in the shop just totally changed.

At the end of that quarter, Jamie couldn’t believe his eyes when he printed out his profit and loss report that showed an increase in net profit of 20% over the previous quarter. Suspicious about the accuracy of the numbers he decided to wait and see what the next few months looked like and the numbers were just as staggering. After 4 months Jamie also noticed that the backlog had shrunk by 50%.

A couple of years later, Jamie has extended the lessons from those first breakfast meetings and has implemented all kinds of rhythms into the business and together with his increased focus on measuring and systems, Jamie’s business actually does run like a Swiss clock these days… Tick TockTick Tock.

Importance of Staff Meetings

huddleA simple weekly breakfast meeting like the one that Jamie instigated in his panel beating shop has two big benefits. First of all it builds team spirit and motivation. For a team to work well together there has to be a certain level of trust and the better you get to know someone the easier it is to learn to trust them.

Most importantly though, the point of a weekly company-wide meeting such as Jamie’s breakfast is that it allows the team to start to become engaged with the company goals. By sharing what went well last week and what didn’t go so well and what to put in place to get the best possible outcomes for the next week, around the table, everyone starts to understand how they fit in the Big Picture and how their efforts have a direct impact on the company as a whole. I refer to these meetings as Huddles. You often see a sporting team doing a huddle before they get onto the field and it’s designed to get everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction.

The Huddle

Wouldn’t you want your staff to operate like a focused sporting team as well?

A system of formal, regular, structured meeting is an absolute pre-requisite for building a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come… I promise you… Tick TockTick Tock.

What’s Worse Than Tough Choices?

measure love

Making Hard Decisions is Hard

But what might be worse?

ruth chang I watched a fantastic TED talk this weekend by a philosopher named Ruth Chang. I had never heard of Ruth Chang and that is what is so wonderful about the whole TED phenomenon, you get to see and hear amazing people you might otherwise never come across.

Ruth Chang in her Ted talk explains some of the misunderstandings about decision making that lead to our frustrations when faced with difficult choices.

Those of you who have read some of my thoughts in the past will know that one of my passions is to encourage people to be kinder to themselves. Beating up on ourselves and allowing our “critic on the shoulder’ free reign is not healthy. Sometimes the best we can do for our health and wellbeing is to give the ‘critic’ the night off.

It’s always lovely to hear other people, coming from a different standpoint, reach similar conclusions to your own and Ruth Chang clearly does just that.

Better or worse?

The thing I’d never really thought about in decision making was this: In many truly difficult decisions, one choice won’t actually be better than the other. But when we find ourselves paralysed by a difficult decision, we will often berate ourselves for not thinking clearly enough and letting emotion get in the way of a rational decision: One choice must be better than another, it doesn’t make sense to think that a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ to a marriage proposal or to a decision about opening a business in Melbourne can be of equal value… either ‘Yes’ is the best choice or ‘No’ is the right answer given all the circumstances…. Clearly… all our friends/partners/mothers certainly seem to think so too.

So we go off and do an exhaustive pro’s and con’s list and at the end of that exercise, we still don’t know which is the right decision and so we often don’t make one at all.

choices Not making a decision means we feel stuck and it gives us another opportunity to berate ourselves over our indecisiveness. Some people will drift around in that place forever. And sometimes we do make a choice by flipping a coin, or by listening to our friends/partners/mothers, only to switch back to the other choice again a short while later, and in this way we see-saw from one choice to another… At other times we’ll make a choice and stick with it, but regret the decision for ever after and always wonder what our lives would have been like if we’d made the other choice.


Ruth Chang made the point that our society and upbringing has not equipped us very well to weigh up and choose amongst the relative merits of two conflicting choices, we believe (and I have said so myself many times in the past) that we can’t manage what we can’t measure. It’s a lovely simple statement, and it’s also one of the many clichés we ‘business gurus’ love to quote as gospel… Simple, Obvious, Profound… and… Wrong

Or at least not right all the time. Yes if you want to lose weight, you need to use some kind of measurement to see how you’re going, similarly if you want to be more profitable next month and you decide to do so by producing and selling more widgets, you can only achieve that outcome and manage the process by taking one or more measurements… undoubtedly


But some things can’t be measured.

measure loveI can’t measure how much I love my wife or my children and I can’t measure if their mother loves them more than me.

I can’t measure how important money is to me and nor can I measure how important freedom or creativity is to me.

These things are in the realm of values and values are immeasurable.

Tough decisions are nearly always about values… weighing one set of values up against another.

  • Do I take the redundancy and start my own business or stay where I am?
  • Do I take the promotion and move to a different city, uprooting my family in the process, or stay in this job?
  • Do I invest in this new technology or don’t I?
  • Do I continue to expand the company or stop growing?
  • Do I fire the employee who isn’t performing as well as she used to, or keep her on?
  • Do I take on this highly profitable contract even though we’ve never done something like this before, or say no to it?
  • Do I sack this client because she’s hard work or persist with her?

Imagine yourself facing those kinds of dilemmas; your friends/partners/mothers (and business coach) may all have an opinion about the choice you should go with but for you it may not be so clear-cut.

Core Values

These choices all come down to your core personal values, not mine, not your mother’s.

Two people faced with the exact same choices in exact same circumstances may make opposing choices and do so entirely appropriately.

Choices such as those above do not come down to weighing up relative quantities of ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ … that’s why they are so hard.

And that’s as it should be.

Because confronting choices like those, is what it means to be human.

what do you stand forTo be able to make a choice like one of those you have to ask yourself to commit to who you are being, to decide what you stand for and what your core values are.

The question is not: ‘Should I sack this employee or shouldn’t I, what’s the better choice?’. I can make a compelling argument either way for you in such circumstances and so can you. The question you should ask yourself is: ‘Am I the kind the person who sacks this employee or am I the kind of person who doesn’t?’

The question is not: ‘Should I continue to expand the company, Or shouldn’t I?’. Again I can give you an equally compelling argument for either choice. Rather, the question should be: ‘Am I the kind of person who is happy to consolidate the company at this stage it is or am I the kind of person who keeps growing it?’

Being confronted with hard choices in life forces us to ask ourselves the questions: “Who am I? What do I stand for? What do I passionately believe in? What am I prepared to fight for? What is truly most important for me in my life?”

Now those are actually the kind of questions I want to be confronted with in my life… don’t you?

Next time you find yourself facing a tough decision, remind yourself that it may indeed be tough, difficult and frustrating, but it could be worse…

It could be easy.

Masterminds Observations… Lunch

verne harnish Business Masterminds Observations



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

I read Verne Harnish ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’ on camping holiday a year and half ago.

Thinking about the Rhythm of business and focusing on making business as predictable as possible, Verne relates how the famous John D Rockefeller had lunch with his key people, every day. Verne says: “Consciously or not, Rockefeller understood that the word company means: To Share Bread. He knew that by gathering his top people every day for a meal that their professional and personal relationships would be strengthened.”

I love that quote by Verne Harnish, because I think it is really useful be reminded what the word company actually means. It is absolutely about a group of people – we are in company with people, we don’t create and run a company on our own, it is all about the people.



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: ) 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 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.


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.


Captain Grandfather Roland

Enough And The Business Growth Myth

Or why it’s time to send Richard Branson back to his island

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

I’ve had an insight in the last 6 months and I have to make an admission:

BSOne of the pillars and accepted principles of my profession of business coaching, is wrong.

  •  Nonsense
  • Twadlle
  • Complete Rubbish

The principle I refer to is this:

“If your business doesn’t grow, it dies”

Every business coach, guru, mentor, consultant, author, academic and MBA student will tell you that this is a foundation principle of business, capitalism and society at large.

choirI admit that until not too long ago, I repeated the same refrain and was an enthusiastic member of the choir. (More about business growth here as well)

Today, I deeply apologise to everyone I have repeated this refrain to in the past 10 years; because I now realise that the principle sounds good, but is wrong… very wrong.

I am reminded of the quote by American Journalist H.L. Mencken :

For every complex human problem, there is a plausible

solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

I don’t know who first stated that business must grow and (and by extension, that more growth is better than less growth) and I don’t know in what context, but it’s crap.

And what’s more, it’s dangerous crap and has caused all kinds of damage to business owners, their families, their friends and society.

The idea that business must grow or else it will fail doesn’t exist in isolation from a number of other ideas on which we base the management of our society. The idea is closely related to our celebrity worship culture, the western world’s depression epidemic and other mental health issues, anorexia nervosa in young women and the basic belief in our society that nothing is ever enough.

Never enough

fistBecause in 2013, we are never:

  • Thin enough
  • Rich enough
  • Good enough parents
  • Educated enough
  • Successful enough
  • Beautiful enough
  • Clever enough

And we are definitely never good enough as business owners

The measure of success for business owners is whether or not we sell our business for $100Mil or more.

Or more specifically, the role models and shining light examples we are told we must aspire to as business owners are people such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, or Larry Page, people who started a business and ended up billionaires. And don’t get me wrong I think they are amazing people, no doubt about it, but I know many other people who I find just as amazing  and just as inspiring and they will never be billionaires, and probably not even multi-millionaires (just owning a house in a major city in Australia already qualifies you as a millionaire).

Let me explain how I have come to the conclusion that business doesn’t actually need to grow.

My favourite client

plumberI have a client who is a plumber and he has three vans on the road and employs 3 people. He might end up employing one or two more people and have one or two more vans on the road in the next few years, but that’s probably where he will stop growing. He may continue to operate his plumbing business for the next 20-30 years and then, possibly, one of his kids might take it over, or maybe one of his employees might.

But in any case, someone will probably run the same business more or less in the same form and the same size for the bulk of this century and beyond.

His business isn’t dying, far from it.

His business is providing him and his family and his employees and their families a comfortable, meaningful, rewarding life. A life that allows him to feel proud of himself, a life that allows him to look after the people he cares about and do the stuff he wants to do.

The little voice on our shoulders

whisperNow I haven’t talked about this with my client, specifically, but I can guarantee you that there is a small part of him at least, the little voice in his ear, the famous critic on his shoulder (mine is called Ted by the way… what’s yours?) that will be whispering: “You suck as a business owner”; “Obviously you aren’t fit to polish a true entrepreneurs boots, because a proper business owner would by now have built the business up to at least 20 vans and he would have set a big enormous goal to be dominating Sydney and Australia in a few years, with offices everywhere and managers and executives … ready for a lucrative take-over by LendLease or some other conglomerate like that”… “You suck”.

What does your little voice whisper to you in the quiet moments?

We are told that we have to have an abundance mindset and that there are unlimited growth opportunities and unlimited money for all of us. All we have to do is think right and have the right attitude. As long as we have the right entrepreneurial mindset, we can all do as the title of one of Richard Branson’s books suggests: “Screw It, Let’s Do It” and we too shall have an island in the Bahamas.

Allow me to be blunt:

You will not have an island in the Bahamas, and nor will I…


And you know something? That is perfectly OK (they don’t even have 4G reception on islands in the Bahamas anyway, so who needs it?

Daring Greatly

Famous researcher, professor at the university of Houston and author Brene Brown says in her book:  “Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”, that the opposite of Scarcity is not Abundance. Brene Brown makes the point that scarcity and abundance are two sides of the same coin. The opposite of Scarcity is Enough.

And it is.

My client the plumber will get one or two more vans, which will allow him to do a certain kind of work and employ a full time admin assistant and allow him to spend two days a week no longer “on the tools” and then it will probably be “Enough”, for him.

That doesn’t mean everyone goes to sleep… of course not… there are all sorts of things that can be improved and run smoother in his business, there are efficiencies to be gained and his people can get better and develop… the challenges don’t stop, life doesn’t stop, but business growth can stop.

The Abundance Fantasy

When we are told to let go of our scarcity believes and the abundance mindset, we are told a fantasy. The pressure to embrace the Abundance mindset, sets us up to feel bad about ourselves, it sets us up for up for failure and shame.

R bransonThere is only room for one Richard Branson and one Donald Trump (thank God) on this earth and 99.99999999999% of the people on this earth are not going to become billionaires.

Neither you nor I will sell our business for $100mil; this article may end up being read by 10,000 people. It is possible that there might be 1 or 2 people in that group who will sell their business for such an enormous amount of money but the rest of us, all 9,998 of us will simply arrive at the end of our lives and have to find another way to measure how well we’ve done with the 70 years we were given.

The entrepreneurial myth

The entrepreneurial myth, the business growth myth has done us all a lot of damage. We walk around feeling inadequate, guilty and ashamed, because deep down we know that we are not going to be the next Celebrity Entrepreneur.  Venture Capitalists are not going to stake us with a few million dollars, only to cash out a few years later. And so we walk around feeling ashamed.

Stop it…


Enough is a great place to be.

As Brene Brown says in her first TED talk:

…You are enough…


Roland Hanekroot

BTW, if you do plan to sell your business for $100mil… Good for you, more power to you… You’re enough too!

Call me if you’d like to explore how I can help you have more FUN in your business. Or come to the next Small Business Masterminds workshop… follow this link

The Fun in Business Program

The Fun in Business Intensive Program

The adventure of a lifetime: discover your unique, beautiful business and life

The New Perspectives Fun in Business Intensive program is a transformative 6-12 month business-life coaching, mentoring and support program designed for individual business owners, business partners and husband-and-wife teams who want to build their own unique, beautiful business and life – while having more Fun in business!

Are you stuck in your business, and would you like to get unstuck?:

The Fun in Business Intensive program is designed for business owners who find themselves operating in a near constant state of overwhelm and frustration. If you’re fed up with the struggle and ready to roll up your sleeves, I can help you start building a beautiful business today.

The Fun in Business program is based on the core principles of my book series “The Ten Truths Trilogy: Business books for people who don’t read business books but should”. I would suggest you check out the third one, in particular: “The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun” (a fun read, of course). You can download all my books for free here [link].

My all-inclusive method involves combining visioning, planning, strategy, accountability, support, guidance, brainstorming and advice with coaching and mentoring methodologies, resources and tools that simply work.

The 6 components of the Fun in Business Intensive program:

  1. Comprehensive online business health check report.
  2. Webinar series: “The Small Business Masterminds™” [link to masterminds info].
  3. My book: “The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun” [link to book download page].
  4. Weekly or fortnightly 1:1 coaching and mentoring sessions (face-to-face, Skype or phone).
  5. Unlimited phone and email support.
  6. Access to an extensive library of business development resources and tools.

“Make no mistake; for one person, Roland is a powerhouse of ability, knowledge, support and wisdom.” (Tony Isgrove, Isgrove Painting and Decorating)

What’s fun got to do with building a beautiful business and life?:

Does this situation sound familiar?

You run around dealing with crisis after crisis all day, extinguishing brush fires along the way. You’re the first one in the door each morning and the last one to leave at night. You’re always catching up on admin, emails and quoting after dinner. Your staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoelaces. Clients expect you 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 thinking differently about business. It’s time to appreciate that there is something far greater for us to achieve than making sales, improving systems and generating cash.

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

Focusing on the concept of “Fun in Business” is a really effective way to start moving out of overwhelm, stress and “stuckness”. You see, when business is fun, it means that everything is working. It means that you are:

  • Making money and generating cash flow,
  • Making sales,
  • Getting better all the time,
  • Clear on where you’re going,
  • Leading highly engaged staff,
  • Loved by your customers,
  • Proud of the stuff your business produces,
  • Creating the kind of balance in life that is important to you.

Focusing on “Fun in Business” as the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of the health of your business while understanding that all the other KPIs that we are used to measuring are merely drivers to the main KPI (of “Fun in Business”) will change your business and your life.

What makes the Fun in Business Intensive program different?:

My thoughts about business coaching and change are possibly a bit different to what you might expect or what you might have heard from others: I don’t love focusing on hard, inflexible goals. I spend more time working on the person than the business. I believe our partnership’s success is much more about your commitment than my skills (although I will give my genius some credit too). And that’s just the beginning.

If you’d like to get a deeper insight into my “alternative” approach and perspective, feel free to explore these articles:

What makes the Fun in Business Intensive program so important to you?

fun in business program

The Fun in Business program is about going on a journey. A big journey. An adventure even. Why? Because change 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 that we must step out of our comfort zones to create change (and stay there). We need to get out on the ocean because nothing exciting ever happened in the safety of the harbour. Poking your nose out, 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 must hoist our sails, set a course, and above all, we must not turn back. When you are ready to do that, you might want me to tag along on your adventure because:

  • I will help you set a course and adjust it as circumstances change.
  • I will keep you focused on your route and destination.
  • I will teach you the skills you need to keep the ship safe and headed in the right direction.
  • I will make sure you know when to row (and row hard!) and when to let the wind move you 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 a journey with me in the Fun in Business Intensive program will truly change your business and your life forever. I promise you.

 Testimonial by Mathew Stubbs from Stubbs Design Tribe

Free Five Steps to Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my full coaching programs, I always advise we follow my “Five Steps to Discovery Process” [link], starting with a free initial chat and then a free 60-minute Discovery Session (via Skype or similar) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book these through any of the contact forms on this page.

In the Discovery Session, we’ll get to know each other, and I’ll gain some insight into what stage you and your business are at. We’ll also discuss your challenges, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the process for you.

Your next step:

Click here to go straight to my online booking calendar to book in a free initial chat, to explore if and how I might support you on your journey of adventure in developing your beautiful business and life. Alternatively, you can read about my 5 step discovery process that is designed specifically to find it if we have the right fit to do great work together.

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

Further reading about overwhelm, stress and fun in business