This is the sixth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The sixth Priority is about not doing it all on your own. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
Do you have a little voice on your shoulder, that whispers in your ear?
Most of us do.
And a lot of what the little voice whispers in our ears is not very nice, is it?
The basic message from the little voice, is that we suck.
We’re not good enough. We’re not cutting it as parents, as lovers, as friends and especially we’re not cutting it as business owners.
And for most business owners that little voice goes from whispering to yelling, the moment we even consider committing the heinous crime of asking for help.
Asking for support in business, is almost guaranteed to get the little voice on our shoulder extremely excited.
Deep down we all believe that being a great business owner, an inspiration to our staff and customers alike, means we must do it all ourselves. We seem to think that business success is only meaningful if we’ve done it all alone.
Hogwash… Utter nonsense.
It takes a village to build a great business. One of my most successful and oldest clients has built a whole team of specialist advisers, coaches and mentors around him. (more about getting external help here)
I guarantee that no matter which inspiring business role model you interview, they’ll all tell you their success is due partly to the support of one or more mentors, coaches or advisers.
No-one can do it all alone.
You need other people to:
Hold you accountable to your plans and goals.
Brainstorm with you and be a sounding board.
Support you when you stumble.
Give you honest opinions, advice and feedback.
There are many ways to get outside support. You can join a business support group, get a business coach, or mentor, start your own advisory board, or all of the above. But whatever you do, dropkick your little voice…Forget trying to do it all on your own… You can’t … I promise you.
More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here
What’s the most important skill of a business owner?
This is the fourth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The fourth Priority is about learning to say No. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
What do you think is the most important skill for business owners to master?
You’re probably thinking, financial management, or delegating, or sales or something like that.
Important skills, obviously, but the answer I’m looking for is this:
Knowing how and when to say NO, clearly and respectfully.
As I’ve talked about in the introduction to the Ten Priorities, the life of a business owner is one where there is never enough time in a day. And so, you have to decide, every day, what to say NO to and what to say Yes to.
Saying NO is hard, much harder than saying YES, but it’s a skill you can learn and get good at. (more about saying No here)
The Big Question of Small Business
Learning to say NO starts with becoming absolutely clear on the Big Question of Small Business:
Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for and Why would anybody care?
If you struggle to answer that question, clearly, in LESS than 20 words, there’s a good chance your business will get stuck.
Here’s a few beautiful examples of answers to that question:
From Disney: Create Happiness
From BMW: Create the Ultimate Joy of Driving
From an electrician, I worked with: You’re in Safe Hands
From a Retail fitout company, I worked with: More Bang, Less buck
From an Architect, I worked with: Architecture that Inspires.
Answer the Big Question of Small Business with complete clarity, and you won’t get stuck in your business… I promise you
What is the only measurement that matters in business?
This is the third post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The third Priority is about Having Fun. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
If you could only measure one thing to know how successful your business was at any one moment in time, what would you want to measure?
Most business owners will mention profit. And profit matters a lot of course, if you’re not making profit you’re operating a hobby, not a business, simple as that. But there is something even more important than profit in your business, and that’s Fun.
It means you’re proud of the products or services your business provides
It means you have created the kind of balance in work and live that is important for you
And it means you’re engaged in something meaningful, bigger than you.
By focusing solely on money as the indicator of success in business, you are doing yourself and everyone else who is touched by the business a disservice.
Obviously, measuring Fun in Business is not as simple as looking at your bank balance and you have to get creative about how you go about measuring it, but it’s quite doable and it will change the way you think about building a Great Business and Life… I promise you.
This is the second post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The second Priority is about Doing Nothing. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
Time management, time to think
The other question I sometimes ask my clients is: What do you think is the best use of your time?
And of course, people generally walk into that little trap just as blissfully unaware as the trap I set in Priority #1.
People will mention delegating, sales, customer service, marketing, planning, leadership, quality control, systems, financial management, coaching staff, you name it. Every function in the business has at some time been offered as the answer to my question.
The answers is : No – Thing
But the most important use of your time is: No – Thing… The most valuable thing you can do with your time as a business owner is to put your feet up on the desk and do nothing for an hour. No phone, no email, no interruptions… and THINK.
There is the work of the business, and then there’s the work of the business owner. The work of the business can often be delegated or outsourced. But the work of the business owner can only ever be done by you. And thinking, reflecting, day-dreaming even, is the ultimate work of the business owner. (More about doing nothing here)
When you make the conscious decision to get rid of all other distractions for a while, your brain will blossom, you’ll start to think more clearly, you’ll be creative and resourceful again and you’ll suddenly see opportunities and solutions you never saw before.
Go to a café, go for a walk, go and sit on a bench in a park… and do … nothing … It will transform your business… I promise you
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
This is the first post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The first Priority is about You, the business owner. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
As seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on Channel 7, on 1 October:
I sometimes like asking my clients what they think is the most valuable asset of their business?
Most people I ask that question of will mention, their customers, their staff, investments, equipment, IP, etc.
Of course, it’s a trick question, because the answer is, it’s You.
All other assets, as valuable as they might be, you can buy, borrow, hire or steal more of. But you, your time, your health and your brain cells are absolutely limited.
The first responsibility of any business owner is to look after the assets of the business and to maximise the return the business gets from those assets. And so, the most important job of a responsible business owner is to look after him- or herself.
Breakfast sitting down
Responsible business owners prioritise themselves.
They ensure they get enough sleep and rest. They ensure their brain gets time to relax, so it can function optimally. They ensure they have breakfast sitting down, most days. They get some form of regular exercise and they look after their own mental health and wellbeing.
You won’t always be successful at prioritising yourself, some days things just get out of hand, but regularly, maybe at the start of every day, stop for a moment and plan some space for yourself in the day.
If you take the responsibility of looking after your most valuable asset seriously, you will start to build a Great Small Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your Life will never be the same either… I promise you
This is the first is a series of 12 posts on Change (with a capital “C”) and laying the foundations for building a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time. The following 11 weeks will see one post each week. Please also read last week’s post about Entrepreneurial Types, here.
The very strongest foundation for a great business
To become the very strongest foundation for your business, I believe you must learn to focus on 10 Priorities. They are:
Asking for Help
Over the next 10 posts I’m going to explain each of the priorities in more detail. The 10 posts are quite short (about 200 to 250 words each) and practical. I hope you’ll take the simple messages of each one to heart and experiment with them in your own life as a business owner. You can do a simple search and read all of the Priority posts at once, by clicking on the category: “Ten Priorities” in the category box in the right hand column.
The life of the harried business owner
First, let me sketch a picture of the life of a typical small business owner for you (BTW, I’d love to hear if you recognise yourself in any part of the picture):
You’re the first one in the door in the morning and the last one out at night. You run around from crisis to crisis, extinguishing brush fires all day long. You feel guilty that you don’t do the stuff you know you ought to do to develop the business. Your staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces without your supervision. Customers expect you, not your staff, to be the one who personally does all their work for them, yourself. You actually made more money before you started employing all those people anyway. And finally, you have to do your admin and catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed.
Sucked into a sea of mud
Recognise any of that picture at all? Even if you only recognise 25% of that picture, you’re most likely on first name terms with overwhelm. Overwhelm is no fun anyway, but worse is that human brains in overwhelm are ineffective, they focus on the wrong things and make the wrong decisions and that leads to more stress and overwhelm and the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle. Overwhelm affects your health and well-being and that of your families and besides, your business gets sucked into a sea of mud as well.
That’s the general state of things for many small business owners in my experience and some of the reasons many small businesses never develop to their potential.
The power of saying No
Hence I’ve written The 10 Priorities. Accompanying the 10 Priorities are also a series of videos as as seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on national TV, Channel 7 in Australia, the first video can be seen here and others will follow as they are broadcast. I have also created a survey tool to help you find your own Entrepreneurial Type, you can complete the survey here and you will receive a report with your Type and an explanation of the Types and your strengths and challenges as an Eentrepreneur, by email in 24 to 48 hrs emailed to you.
If you make it your absolute commitment to focus on The 10 Priorities in the coming year, you will create a foundation on which you truly can build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your life will never be the same either… I promise you.
Let me introduce you to the Entrepreneur Type Scale:
I believe all business owners can be placed somewhere along a scale:
At one extreme of the scale are the Sales Entrepreneurs.
And at the other end are the Delivery Entrepreneurs.
Few business owners are at either of the extremes of the scale, and that’s a good thing, because at either of the extremes it is very difficult to build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time.
Being one or the other type is neither better or worse, but it is useful to ask yourself where you sit on the scale, because Sales Entrepreneurs have different challenges and build different businesses than Delivery Entrepreneurs do.
Entrepreneur Type Survey
I have created a special survey to help you find out where you sit on the Scale, it will take no more than a couple of minutes to complete and you’ll get a unique 2-page report from me showing where you sit, along with a report outlining the common challenges of each type, you might also face and some strategies to move forward with. Go and take the survey here now
This is what life looks like at the extremes:
Sales Entrepreneurs generally build businesses that grow fast or fail fast. They chase the clients and the contracts. When they can’t meet demand for their product, they consider it “A Good Problem to Have”.
Sales entrepreneurs are passionate about closing deals, about pulling rabbits out of hats, about juggling 10 balls at once. They think quicker than anyone else around them; they have charisma; they operate on instinct; they over-promise, and trust they’ll be able to solve the problems created by their over-promising later.
When things go well for Sales-Entrepreneurs, they go very very well, and when they don’t, they DON’T. Books with exciting titles (Screw it let’s Do it”) are written about sales entrepreneurs, and the ones who make it become famous and are models of inspiration for millions (Richard Branson), while the ones who don’t are vilified (Alan Bond).
Sales Entrepreneurs are the rock stars of the business world.
At the other end of the scale are Delivery Entrepreneurs. We tend not to hear about them as much as we hear about Sales Entrepreneurs, because they just don’t have the same “Sex-Appeal” that Sales Entrepreneurs have.
Delivery Entrepreneurs are the type who roll up their sleeves and are fond of saying: “If you want a thing done properly, you’ve got to do it yourself.”
Businesses built by Delivery Entrepreneurs grow more slowly. Their businesses might become just as successful in the end, but they take much longer to get there. And when they fail, they do so by getting stuck, rather than collapsing in a big heap. They develop lead feet and frustrate the hell out of everyone, rather than leave burning wrecks in their wake.
Delivery Entrepreneurs are passionate about the product (or service) of their business; They themselves are often experts in relation to that product or service (Think architects, designers, software developers, tradespeople, lawyers, etc). Their businesses grow, because customers get to love their product and in turn they tell their friends who tell their friends etc.
As a Business-Life Coach, I specialise in working with business owners who sit on the Delivery half of the scale.
I’ve always been a Delivery-Entrepreneur myself. When I owned a building company, I was a builder first and an entrepreneur second. I was passionate about building great buildings for my clients; on time, on budget and looking gorgeous. These days, I still often drive past houses, I and my building company built, and think back to handing them over to our clients with great pride. Still now, as a coach and mentor, I obsess about how to best deliver my coaching and mentoring programs, before I worry about how to sell them.
And so, not surprisingly, most of the clients I attract are of the same bent. Extreme Sales Entrepreneurs come to my website and wonder why the words “Business Growth” aren’t more prominently featured on the home page, as that’s the only thing that keeps them awake nights.
Why your business gets stuck
And that suits me fine to be honest, because if you are a Delivery Entrepreneur, I get you. I know precisely what goes on for you. I know about the reasons your business gets stuck sometimes. I know about your sense of overwhelm, and frustrations and I know how to get past them.
If you’re a Delivery Entrepreneur, I’ve written a series of posts specially for you, called “The Ten Priorities: The Foundations of Building a Great Business and Life”. I will publish the Ten Priorities in serialised form over the next 11 weeks on the blog. You can find the whole collection of these posts by searching for Ten Priorities in the category box in the right hand column of the main blog page here
Where do you think you be on the Entrepreneurs Type Scale? I’ve created a simple little Survey to help you get clear about that. You can go and complete the questionnaire here, and when you do so I will send you a two page report showing where you sit on the Scale.
I look forward to discussing it with you. Gaining deeper insight on yourself, on who you are is the key to building a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time… I promise you.