The economy is always changing, your customer base is growing and changing, and buying habits change. Your world is always changing, yet in many ways it remains the same, as business is still business. The reality is a combination, with the fundamentals of business mostly unchanged, yet the business environment completely different than ever before – not better or worse, just different. So how do you navigate your business and your team through the uncharted waters? It’s simple really…you must be the leader that your team and business needs and lead them through it. The first reaction I often get to that last statement is “but I’m not a great leader” or “leadership doesn’t come naturally to me”.
I just got back from an amazing trip to Edinburgh, Scotland (google “Royal Military Tattoo” if you’re interested in going) for our annual coaches conference, and I thought I’d take a minute to share some of my learnings. When I go to these conferences I always try to spend time with the Top Performers to learn what it is they are doing to excel at such high levels. One of these Top Performers is my own coach, so I already know some of his secrets, and I wanted to learn from the others as well.
When I recently asked a room full of business owners what their biggest challenges were, one of the themes that rose to the top was the problem of not having enough time, most of them labeled it a Time Management problem. Well the good news for everyone out there who thinks they have a Time Management problem is that I can solve that one easily! There is no such thing as Time Management, so therefore no problem! However, there is still this problem of not having enough time to get everything done, and that can also be solved, but only if you recognize the source of the problem. The source is not time, the real source of the problem is YOU, and the problem is more appropriately named Self Management.
I spend a lot of time observing other businesses and business owners, always looking to pick up an idea or two that I can apply to my own business or teach my clients. One of the things I’ve recently noticed is business owners who put everything and everyone ahead of themselves. While I understand (and believe in) the servant leadership model, it doesn’t require us to stop caring for ourselves ahead of others, and in fact might even require us to take better care of ourselves.
I started asking my clients who their #1 Client was, and across the board I got one of two answers, both wrong.
According to the United Nations’ estimate in May of 2019 the world’s population was 7.7 billion people. That’s a pretty big number to try and wrap your head around. So let’s drill down a little more and focus on the population of the United States of America, which stands at approximately 329,122,997. For some this might also be a number that’s hard to comprehend, but it’s important to know for our conversation today. Whether you started your business to serve your local community, the entire US, or had a vision of serving the global market place, you can be sure that you will be competing against others selling the same product or service. With all the different marketing channels available today, how do you stand out instead of getting lost in the shuffle?
Two weeks ago I got to check off an item on my Bucket List, which was to train new Coaches and Franchisees how to be great coaches. In the process of preparing to train, I spent several hours going through the training materials, and quickly realized that I was going to learn as much, if not more, than the trainees would!
After 15 years of coaching, I realized that I’ve probably forgotten more than I remember! The hours spent preparing and the 3 days spent training were a less than subtle reminder to get back to the basics of how we become successful.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Each year as we approach the celebration of Independence Day here in the United States, I set aside time to read the Declaration of Independence and reflect on what this document means to me. The impact of this document and the country created by it has resonated around the world for the past 243 years, giving those seeking opportunity a place to achieve greatness. For those of you who were brave enough to take a chance on your dream of starting a business, and who now reap the rewards that came with taking that risk, congratulations! My hope is that your business is providing you with the following: Life, Liberty, and Happiness. How would you rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 in each of those areas?
Whether you are a business owner, an employee, a student, an athlete, or any other label you wish to use to describe yourself, you probably have dreams and goals for yourself that you are not yet achieving. Over the past 15 years of working with a wide variety of businesses and entrepreneurs in dozens of industries, from startups to 3rd generation family businesses, I have seen dreams come and go, some fulfilled but many not. Looking back at my own experiences and listening to and learning from others much wiser than I am, it is clear that the number one reason people do not achieve their goals and dreams is that they are unable to get out of their own way! We tend to blame pretty much everyone and everything else for our failures to achieve, but in the end it really comes down to each and every one of us and our own personal limitations.
One of the biggest fallacies in the business world related to coaching is that coaching is for struggling businesses and business owners. The reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth! Coaching works best for businesses and owners that have already reached a level of success, and are ready for the next level, which gets harder and harder as you grow. Best Selling author and business thought leader Marshall Goldsmith’s book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” is all about the challenges of moving up to new levels, and what you need to leave behind, to let go of, in order to take on the new challenges. Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common growth challenges you might be experiencing despite your success.
Do you ever get tired of reminding employees to do their jobs in accordance with the documented policies, procedures, and systems? Do you feel like a kindergarten teacher trying to get your children to stay in line? Have you experienced any of these challenges lately: missing deadlines, customer complaints, and recurring annoyances? How often? What is it costing you in time, productivity, and customer retention? Well, few things in business are less glamorous than reviewing your office or operations policies and procedures. It’s way more fun to sell things and make money than it is to make and uphold the rules. However, the successful growth of your company will depend on your staff’s ability to execute these policies and procedures consistently.
You see it everywhere, on plumbing trucks, heating and cooling vans, in shop windows, and posted to every social media platform under the sun…it’s the phrase, “We’re Hiring!” Through April of 2019 the national unemployment rate was at 3.6%, which indicates individuals looking for work are finding work (source: ncsl.org). That’s great news, right? Not for most business owners I speak with…they’re having trouble finding good people to hire. They dangle their help wanted signs out there like fishing hooks waiting to see who bites. The challenge with this approach is, while you might catch that prized employee, you also might land someone you didn’t want, and be afraid to throw them back for fear you won’t find anyone else.
Many business owners find themselves in the trap of trying to do too much and not allowing their employees (team) to help them. This is probably the single biggest inhibitor to growth that I have witnessed over the last eight years of coaching businesses – the failure of the owner to get out of the way, and to empower their team. Too many owners feel that it is their responsibility to personally take care of everything, because “I can do it better” than anyone else. All that this approach provides is the guarantee that you will be the busiest and least paid (on a per-hour basis) employee in your business, the only one who comes in early and stays late. If you enjoy being a slave to your business and your customers, stop here. If you need to get past that, read on.