With the national celebration of the fourth of July, having just past, I decided to write on what that means to me, and to all business owners…
Fourth of July, Independence Day, the celebration of freedom.
What is freedom? What does Freedom really mean?
Is it the possibility to do anything I want? No, not really, not if I what I want is not inside of the law…
So, does law mean no Freedom?
In one sense, yes. However, without law there is no order and the possibility then occurs for no freedom if someone decides to limit another’s freedom.
This can be a tricky thing to look at. How much freedom should, and needs to, be allowed inside of the law, and how does one decide in what areas should freedom be allowed, or not, so that everyone can experience being free? I can see that this would have been a difficult issue for our founding fathers to debate and I am glad that they were able to come to an agreement that allowed for this nation to be created, where we enjoy a number of freedoms that are not allowed in many societies.
And then, of course, there are many things that are limited by law and are they all really for the good?
Sometimes I think that many of the laws that are passed, that limit our freedoms, are self-serving for one interest, or another. However, I think that overall freedom of our country still exists.
And, what is that freedom?
The freedom to be whatever you want to be! There is no limit to what you can be. You are not limited to what is allowed by your lineage, your cast, your skin color, your sexual orientation, or anything else.
Now, many will say that there are limitations that are disguised. For example, if you want to be an engineer, you have to go to a university to earn a degree in engineering and that costs a lot of money. And, if your parents are poor, you can’t afford the tuition to go to a university, therefore you are not free to be that.
In one sense, this is correct. However, if you were in this situation and you really wanted to go to a university and become an engineer, there are ways that you could get the funding, or even get into the university without funding! It is not impossible!
It may not be easy, but what in life, that is really worth it, ever is?
Mostly, I say that the odds are only stacked against those that believe they are!
If you are willing to be committed to your goals and go the extra mile – even when it seems impossible, even when everyone else says you can’t do it, even when you have failed again and again – then you can achieve anything.
I want to talk to you today about one of the three pitfalls all small business owners face.
Today’s pitfall is about structures; insufficient structures.
There is a trend today of having a free and open work environment, flexible hours, The Four Hour Work Week, work life balance…
Does this sound familiar?
Have you seen this happening?
Where all of this is great, it can only be effectively achieved inside of a great structure. So, what do I mean by a structure.
I’m not talking about a physical structure like a building. Although, the physical structures can be important.
What I’m talking about, is having the structures that support the business succeeding.
These are the structures of accountability, procedures, workflows and, dare I say it, policies.
When the business is small, with only a couple of people on the team, the need for these structures isn’t as apparent. However, as soon as the business starts to grow, the structures quickly become the things that can make or break the company.
One company that I worked with was nearing disaster when we met. As a matter of fact, they were considering bankruptcy.
They were a small store run by two brothers. They had taken over the business from their parents.
Their parents had always kept the store as a small local store but the brothers had loftier goals. They started to grow the staff, grow the revenues, but they couldn’t figure out why the more they grew, the more burned out they became.
Have you ever known anyone like that? Maybe you’ve met them in the mirror.
They couldn’t keep team members. They had a problem with quality control when they weren’t there. They actually started to ignore areas of the store to focus on what they preferred because they just couldn’t manage at all…
And the team watched it happen, did as little as they could get away with, and either got fired for not doing their job, or left because they were bored.
All because there were in sufficient structures!
So you can start to see how important the structures are in a business.
Please download the ebook on the three dangerous pitfalls that all small business owners face that keep them overwhelmed, putting out fires and chained to their business.
How much time do you spend working in your business? How much time do you spend working on your business?
Be careful. Those questions are NOT the same. There is a difference between working IN your business and working ON your business. That difference is at the heart of the best and worse business growth plans.
Working In the Business
When someone starts up a business, that person spends the majority of his or her time working in the business. That means working on the day-to-day activities that keep the business going. A typical day might include:
Serving customers and clients.
Managing the team
Handling the billing
Putting in purchase orders
Keeping the bookkeeping straight.
Now all of those activities are important when it comes to keeping the business going. But, it is not necessarily what is going to give the company a stable foundation for growth.
Working On The Business
Working on the business is what makes the foundation strong and allows the company to grow in the right direction. When you are working on the business, you are strengthening your foundations and creating the basis for future business growth. What activities are included?
Defining and revising your business model. Many companies have an ever-changing business model that does not have much thought behind it. Spending time defining and refining that model can make the business more efficient and even more profitable. It may also show opportunities for growing the business in new directions.
Defining business goals and planning how to make them happen. Your company needs clear goals to strive towards and meet. You need to spend time thinking on where you want the business to go. Once you know the direction, you need concrete plans on how you will make each goal a reality. This planning is what keeps your company on track and moving forward.
Developing and establishing written systems. This is one of those business growth plans that most company owners don’t adopt. Developing systems to handle most of the functions and processes in your business is sound business practice. You make your business more efficient with systems that produce quality results every time. It reduces training time and makes it easy for one team member to help another.
Managing the company’s budget and finances. Your numbers are what tell you if your company is growing, if you are meeting your goals, and if you are having troubles. You need to spend time each day looking at daily numbers, each week with the weekly numbers, and so on. You also need solid financial planning to handle catastrophic or unforeseen events.
Editing your company. One of the most important things you can do for your company is to get rid of the things that are not doing the business any good. You may have products that were never popular. You might offer services which few customers want. You may have a team member that is not performing at the level you need. Releasing what is not working will allow the things that are working to grow and thrive.
Among business growth plans, working on your business is at the top of the list. If you fail to spend time in the endeavors which strengthen your business, your company will not survive. Take the time, make the time, to do the work needed to keep your company strong and moving forward.
How much time are you going to spend today working on your business?
Transcript: I’m laughing because I said I want to talk in this episode today about CRMs, contact relationship management and got quite an odd response.
However, contact management systems are one of the most important systems that you can have in your business.
So let me share with you why that is. It houses all of the data about your prospects and your clients. And, if you have a good one, it can actually upload documents, it can keep track of emails, it can send e-mails, it has a calendar in it, it can do workflows…
I mean, there are contact management systems out there that are spectacular. And some of them are free all the way up through however much… They can be a couple hundred dollars, it depends on what you want and need them to do.
However. One of the ones that I like, we use Infusionsoft, one of the ones that I like is Zoho CRM. And I like it because it’s inexpensive and it has a lot of different modules that you can add onto it could do many things so you can kind of build your own so to speak.
And, when people do quotes, for certain businesses that have long sales cycles, you can lose track of them.
Sometimes people keep them in Excel or they just keep them in email or they try to Calendarize it in outlook or something like that. But, actually, if it’s done in a contact management system, a report can be run, and then you can go back and you can actually look at what stage is this quote in in my sales process, and then take the next appropriate action.
You can put templates in there so that you’re not inventing what you’re going to write in response to something, from nothing, but this can be the bones, or the bullet points, of something that you then customize.
So the time saver that it is, the tracking ability that it has, the housing that it is for your clients and prospects, and the ability to run reports is priceless information for business owners.
So, yeah, I really push people to have a contact management system. One that they utilize and that they continually build out so that they can automate more and more things, get the information they need, so that the time that they have available can be directed at the specific thing they want to say to that person.
I’m not talking about mass automation of email marketing or any of that kind of thing. I’m talking about, if you have that automated, you can actually invest your time in being very personable with the person that you’re speaking with and interacting with and have the information you need to take appropriate next steps.
Today what I want to talk with you about is leadership, inspiration and motivation. While leadership is really important, and we want to be inspiring our teams, we can’t motivate them!
What did you say?
I said: we can’t motivate our teams. Motivation is self-generated.
What we can do is create an environment in which motivation can happen. So, what does that look like?
People want three things, according to Daniel Pink, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. When they come into our businesses and they align with our culture, align with what we’re up to, and we create something bigger than the business of the day in and day out, whether we’re aligning with something like B1G1, business for good, or we’re involved in some kind of giving back in the world, people align with a purpose.
And, many of the millennials are now asking my clients, you know, what do you do to be socially responsible.
But I want to talk about autonomy. They say it’s something new, but it isn’t really anything new. Think about the times when you react to something someone tells you to do with, I don’t want to and you can’t make me. Consciously or not, it’s present for all of us.
I know when I was back working in the emergency department, I worked the night shift and I worked the E.R. because I had autonomy, and that was 20 years ago!
It’s important to everyone for people to have the choice to work on the things that they want to work on. So that’s one area that you can actually use in the business to help people to have that experience of autonomy.
Also when they’re working to a natural talent or strength, when they’re in their flow, autonomy is a natural self-expression.
And then mastery. How can you as a business owner create levels? Whether it’s training and development that happens in-house, like they do at FrameWork’s, where one of them master techs is teaching the younger ones different skills so that they can become better at what they do. Or, it’s sending them to a course of that they can get better at a SEO. Or, whatever it is that they’re able to create mastery.
How are you going to keep your team in this day and age, when it’s an employee marketplace?
You’re going to provide these three things:
a great purpose;
you’re going to give them opportunities to develop mastery;
and create autonomy in them being able to do the things that they love to do.
That’s it for today. What I would love is for you to comment where you’ve actually implemented this and seen it work or where you’ve had challenges and I love to support you with that.
Today I want to be talking with you about retaining your best employees. You may have noticed if you’re out recruiting for any new roles in your company that it is an employees marketplace. I want to speak with you about retaining your good ones.
Just this morning I was with a client, she was saying well, you know, I don’t know if she’s worth this kind of a salary, she’s made some mistakes.
I know that this employees has only been with her for about a month. So the expectation that the employee is not going to be making mistakes is fairly unrealistic. Just because they come from the industry with some level of experience, doesn’t necessarily mean they know how things get done in your business.
I often say it takes about nine months for your new hire to even know what planet they landed on, much less be a real asset to you. By developing a good employee into a great employee has them be worth their weight in gold.
And that’s on you.
So the employee experience is something that you can control and it’s a lot more critical than you may have thought it was in the past. We come out of the recession with like they’re lucky to get a job.
That’s not the case today.
Today you’re lucky if you can find and keep good help.
In my “Humanity, Transcending The Digital Age” keynote, I talk about the stages in evolution that we’ve gone through. And, let’s just talk about the last two and the current one that we’re entering. The industrial age what we were dealing with was people doing tasks that were mainly done with their hands, so we needed a body.
In the Information Age, it was knowledge workers that drove the economy. So your engineers and your scientists and knowledge people really were the ones who were creating value.
In the new age that were entering, sometimes called the conceptual age or the cognitive age, my favorite – the imagination age, is where we’re bringing the level of a person’s creative ability and their capacity to think and combining it with the new technologies that are out there.
Where the world is gone from this scarcity kind of mentality, to the abundance of: through prosperity, people are no longer struggling the way that they did for home or food and so on.
And, so now they’re searching a lot more for what meaning they can have out of their work.
So the purpose of your business, having a purpose in the business that’s bigger than just simply putting something out the door, they care about that.
They care about the happiness in the workplace.
They care about being able to grow and develop themselves through mastery, through autonomy.
In a recent research paper that I was reading from IBM and Globoforce, it was talking about employee experience, that what matters to them is their sense of achievement, their sense of purpose in the work that they’re doing, whether or not they feel that they belong in the business, they’re day in and day out happiness, and is the environment one of enthusiasm and vigor.
Our job as employers, and business leaders, is to go beyond that “Hey I just need help, so let me have a body here” and begin to engage the hearts and the minds of the people who come onto our teams, so that they experience those things I spoke about just a few moments ago, of Happiness, of Belonging.
And that is where we can have increased performance and a sustainable competitive advantage.
So, if you got value from this short conversation then like or share. And I’d love to hear from you: your comments or questions. Then please enter those and I’ll get back to you just as quickly as possible. I’m not in here every hour of every day but I will get back to you.
Customer referrals are gold when it comes to building your business. Your customers know your products/services, your company, and your people. Any small business expert will tell you that if a customer thinks well enough of your business to refer you to a friend or family member, you have received the best sales referral possible.
The good news is that you can actually turn your customers into your best sales team.
How Do You Do It?
Building your customer sales team can be done in three easy steps:
Build a relationship with each of your customers. People want to buy from people, not some faceless, nameless automaton. Even if you do most of your business online, you need to make sure that every communication you have with your customers is personal and focused on their needs. Offer clear communications. Enhance your customer service. Be flexible. Make them feel important. Maybe even have them be part of the family.
Continue to innovate. You need to offer your customers the products and services that address their particular pain points. Even if you have a solution, continue innovating and finding new solutions. Look for new pain points to address. By offering more solutions and better products/services, you will gain your customer’s continued patronage and strengthen the relationship you have developed.
Wow them. You need to have the mindset that you and your team will do whatever it takes to get the job done. That is key to move from satisfying your customers to wowing them. Wowing your customers means having them go “Wow, no one has ever done THAT before!” Offer your customers solutions, even if it means referring them to a competitor. You cannot be everything to everyone. But, you can be the company that wants to help the customer at all costs.Add personality to every interaction that your customer has with you. You are talking to a person, use his or her name. Treat every customer the same, no matter if they are your smallest or your largest.
This is not something that is going to happen in a day or even a week. It will take time to build the relationships and put things in place to make your customers want to join your sales team. But, it is time well spent.
Today I want to talk with you about giving up your habit of trying to get better at something that you’re not good at.
For the last decade of working with business owners and their teams, I often come across people who are trying to get better at what they’re not good at.
Now I know, that there’s a lot of talk out in the world about “you can do anything just put your mind to it”. And yes you can gain competency in something that you’re not naturally wired, but, you will never do this.
So, Investing a whole lot of time in trying to get better at something, that you’re only ever going to just become competent in, is a huge waste of your time. Not only is it a waste of your time, there’s an experience of bouncing up against something that is a struggle and strife to try to get to that point.
As opposed to, actually investing more time, energy and joy, may I say joy, into getting better at what you are naturally wired for. The place where you’re going to resonate with what you’re working on. A place where you lose track of time.
Now, if you’re a small business, you may have to do some things that you’re not naturally wired for. But, the sooner you can begin to outsource those things, or hire someone to take those things off your plate, and begin to invest in those things that are a natural self-expression, where you are in your flow, where you have natural capacity, the happier you’re going to be.
I don’t really know why it is. Maybe it’s because of the last few hundred years of our education system where we got graded A B C D E and F, and God knows what after that, that people were left with “Oh my God. it’s not good for me to not be good at everything!” And, you’ve got these kids they’re like if they don’t get an A, they don’t even want to go home and tell their parents what their grades were. It’s really actually quite damaging.
And, our school system has not been designed for every kind of learning style that there is. It’s largely a visual learning style. Meanwhile there are six other learning styles and I can tell you that I know people, including my son, who didn’t fit into the traditional educational model.
So, as that relates to your business and what you’re learning and doing and mastering in your business and that of your team members, we use profiling all the way from the design of the role – It’s like what are the tasks this person is going to do, what is the natural wiring of a person who will be good at those tasks – through the recruitment into their training and development pathways, so that they’re naturally going to be creating value, because it’s easy for them.
And, You create an environment where people have the experience of accomplishment, of gaining.
Now, they still have to work at it, it’s not that it’s, you know, all roses, but that they have the experience of taking ground on things that they’re naturally good at. And when you build that team out in that way, everybody wins in the company.
As an example, in the org chart of a business, you’ve got the business itself and then you have three key domains. You have your admin and finance side. Then, you have your operational side and then you have your sales and marketing side. Now, you will resonate, and be most in your flow, in one of those areas.
So I have a client, who’s stellar at sales and marketing. Operationally, he’s competent. In the admin finance side, forget it it’s hopeless.
So your capacity, its not that you can’t do those things, you can probably do those things, but where you’re going to add the greatest amount of value, the place where people are going to trust you the most, is in the area of your flow.
So, stop trying to get better at something that you’re never going to get a whole lot better at, and focus on those areas where you have exponential growth.
And, make sure that the people on your team are in the right spot for them, where they’re naturally going to be adding value. And, if you find that there are gaps, then go back and look at what are the tasks that this person would need to do and then design that position and that ad and that recruitment and that training and development for the person who’s ideally suited for that.
If you got value from this video then please share it with others. And I’d love to hear your comments or questions like “Where have you struggled in your business that you just may not be in your flow?” I’d love to hear about that and to support you with it.
Today you’re going to discover a pathway to get to your creativity.
So, when we’re kids we start off being very curious, and very creative. So we’re exploring things, we’re building forts out of cardboard boxes, I mean we’re just in the world exploring and being curious. Then we go to school, and we’re taught to conform.
And inside of conforming, we’re taught to build and learn how to have a career and we go and we started our career. And, in our career, we’re taught to work really, really, really, really hard. And then, we get comfortable at that, like we’ve arrived. We have enough capacity and talent to be, you know, comfortable.
What happens to successful people often is they become complacent.
And inside of that complacency, they let down their guard. They’re no longer innovating. They’re not being competitive. They’re not out there looking for the Kaizen of constant and never-ending improvement. So then what happens. Crisis. Either the revenues start dipping we lose key employees like something happens and unfolds into complete and total chaos.
From there. How do we get out. We have to go back to being curious. And Curiosity of looking at what was the root cause of this. Being willing to take a look at ourselves our leadership where we started holding back. Being able to confront what’s working and not working in the business. Being able to go out and look in our industry, and go, hey you know there’s a lot of disrupt out here I wasn’t prepared for and become curious about how you can begin to be prepared for this next five years this next decade. And in the curiosity, comes back the creativity.
And I just finished reading a book called Rest. That builds the case for how important it is to take time to actually rest. Rest physically. Rest mentally. The importance of having a hobby, taking a sabbatical, even actually taking a nap. And, how that contributes to our capacity to be creative and to bring together disparate pieces of our lives to form something new.
Well in the keynote that I wrote on humanity transcending the digital age I talk a lot about the different ages that we’ve gone through from the Agrarian all the way up to what’s now being referred to as the imagination age and how rest is so critical.
You cannot create, not you, not anyone, not me. No, none of us can actually be as creative as we possibly can when we’re exhausted either physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually bankrupt. So the importance of bringing rest. And recognizing this pattern that I learned from Sharon Lechter, last week at Global Conference, of what stage am I at, and what do I need to do next in order for me to stay in that curious, creative space.
That will make all the difference not just for my business, but also for the quality of my life, and your life.
So I invite you to the see where are you, and then share that with me. If you’re confronted by something, or you are actually involved in the curious, creative stage, what are you doing that’s actually allowing for that. And if you’re in any of the other stages and I can support you, that would be my pleasure. So like it, subscribe to it, and share it. Thank you.
Today we’re going to discover how can you integrate a culture by design into your company.
So first of all, you’ve got your vision, you’ve got your mission, you’ve got your culture, your core values.
Are you using it in your onboarding process?
Are you using it in your performance reviews?
Is it included in your training and development pathways for your team in your career ladders?
Are you using it in every communication that goes out from your company, to a vendor, to a client, to a prospect?
Every piece of your company, every part of your company, that you can integrate it to, whether it’s business development, operations, customer service, even your I.T., your H.R., and your admin / financial functions.
The more alive you can make this in the fabric of the company. The more the culture of how we do things around here will be real for you and everyone you come in contact with.
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