SBM #66 – Change Someday to Today

Someday I’ll be able to slow down. Someday I’ll be able to take more than just a couple of days off. Someday, someday, someday. This refrain is repeated daily by millions of overworked and underpaid entrepreneurs. Some feel trapped in a design of their own making.

Others feel they have traded their soul or some other part of their being for the sake of their company. Still others are oblivious to what’s happening and just accept, whether it’s right or wrong, that this is what they signed up for.

They kid themselves every day into believing that someday is just around the corner, when in fact, it’s nothing more than just a shimmering mirage far off in the distance.

Entrepreneurial lifestyle

Self employment is an insidious
lover that knows no boundaries

When we take the entrepreneurial plunge, we readily accept certain realities, like long hours and reduced or no income. But if the truth be told, the list is much longer and it’s not until we are knee deep in it, do we realize how little we know about this thing called, the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Self employment is an insidious lover that knows no boundaries. Left unchecked, it will consume your every waking moment with thoughts of opportunities, challenges, self doubt or euphoria and of course the promise of someday having a better future.

Throughout this journey, many never realize that as time creeps by, they have given up activities, interests and even friendships. They justify it by saying they don’t have time and the business requires all they’ve got, and someday they’ll reengage.

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle unlike others and those that are successful have realized that they must either manage this lifestyle or risk being managed by this lifestyle. Entrepreneurship can provide an individual with tremendous freedom or enslave you to a life of servitude. The choice is yours and to blame the demands of the business on limiting the free time you have, is doing yourself and the business a disservice.

Why did you go into business in the first place? Like everyone else, you had a list of goals you hoped to achieve when you set out on your own, but again like most, we can longer find that list and we end up in someday mode.

Someday mode

If you’re one of the millions of entrepreneurs who find themselves in this someday mode, it’s time to do something about it. This is not to be taken as an intervention, but more of an attitude adjustment. Take a moment and think about what you’ve given up to date. It may be that you’re saying no a little more frequently to taking your children to their soccer practice. Maybe your turning down every invite to golf or some other activity you used to participate in, because your busy. When’s the last time you went for a bike ride or yoga or to the gym

What if you just said yes once in while? The work will always be there, but your friends and family may not. And what about your soul? You know you could use the distraction, so what’s stopping you, other than yourself?

Work life balance

Work life balance is tough to achieve on a daily basis, but not difficult occasionally. What about today? If you’re self employed, call your boss and tell them you’re taking the afternoon off, I’m sure they’ll understand and change someday to today!

I’m Greg Weatherdon and this has been your Small Business Minute.

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SBM #65- Decision Making-Engage Your Employees

Decision Making- Engage Your Employees

Why is it that so many owners think they and they alone have all the answers, to every problem in their business?

When you consider that most owners started their companies as the only employee, it’s easy to understand how this attitude got started but why it continues is the question? Granted, there will always be those technical, legal or safety issues that require the owners input, but what about those day-to-day operational, sales and marketing challenges that arise?

Businesses are not democracies

Contrary to all the discussions about managing in the new millennium, businesses are not democracies and the final decision still rests with the owner. However, there are plenty of opportunities to engage employees in the problem solving process.

Owners who think that the only opinion that counts is theirs, are doing their employees a great injustice. What they fail to realize is that they are hurting themselves even more by being the choke point for every decision within their company. The risk of operational paralysis increases exponentially.

It’s interesting to note that this frustration of having to make every decision, usually manifests itself in longer tenured entrepreneurs. It is my opinion, that the compounding effect of always being called upon to make every decision, has just depleted their patience. Their younger self, would have relished in the control and prided themselves in being the go to person for everything. That’s one of the reasons they went into business in the first place, to be in control of their destiny. It got their blood pumping.

But as a company grows and time goes by, there are many more decisions to be made. Finding the time to deal with everything then becomes a herculean task and develops into a source of anxiety and stress. The thing is, it’s a situation of their own doing and can be easily rectified, given enough time.

“Isn’t that one of the reasons

we went into business?”

Like everything in business, adopting a new approach and moving away from old habits can be daunting. But learning to engage your employees in the decision making process can bring with it tremendous freedom, and isn’t that another reason we went into business?

But before we go any farther, we must first understand that there are limits to engaging employees. If you’ve never asked for their input before, you need to contain it to their areas of responsibility and not strategic issues facing the company. My rationale is quite simple. First, by keeping them focused within their operational area, they suddenly don’t become distracted into what could be someone else’s area of responsibility. Let’s face it, everyone has opinions about other areas of the company. Keeping their input to their operational area, forces them to look inward at a deeper level.

Secondly, when you stop and think about it. Who better to help than the people doing the job in the first place? There are countless stories of large corporations ignoring input from the front line employees only to have near death experiences. What they finally realized is that they could have avoided the problem in the first place, had they just asked these same people. The same hold true for many small enterprises.

So, if you find yourself in the situation of having to make every decision and want to affect change, it needs to start with you. As challenging as this may be, you must first transform your approach and embrace the change. So, the next time one of your employees brings you a problem, instead of blurting out the solution try asking these simple primer questions:

1. What do you think we should do?
2. Why do you think that?
3. If we do that, what are the downsides?
4. Do you have another solution?
5. What are the downsides to this solution?
6. Which solution do you prefer?

Don’t give them answers

Because of your experience, there may be additional solutions that they haven’t thought about. This now becomes another teaching moment. Through this teaching opportunity, try to help them uncover those additional solutions by asking even more simple thought provoking questions. If they are unable to uncover additional solutions, don’t just give them the answer, but make sure you explain why. By explaining, you broaden their perspective and help them to understand your thinking about the business.

To make this an effective exercise, they need to know that you’ve got their back and that any of the solution you both agree to initiate could fail and that it’ll never be held against them.

This is one of those evolutionary processes that can take time to fully realize its potential. Consider it an investment that will have tremendous payoff in the future.

Taking the time to engage your employees in the decision making process, may just turn you from being a cynical employer, who can’t get employees to make decisions, to one whereby your staff is fully engaged.

When this all comes together, it’ll free you to focus on those higher value activities that should be your priority. But remember, it all starts with you!

I’m Greg Weatherdon and this has been your Small Business Minute.

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SBM #64 – Defining Moments

Defining Moments

Reading time: 3 minutes

 

 

Many successful entrepreneurs get asked, “What was their defining moment?” or some similar question. Several have never even thought about it, nor can they easily identify that special moment. Those that do, will admit that they didn’t recognize it at the time as a defining moment, because no trumpets blared or some similar event. It was only through hindsight that it became evident.

Defining moments just happen

The point is, nobody sets out to create defining moments. They aren’t goals in and of themselves, they just happen. What these individuals do though, is they get up every day and work hard to realize their goals and have been doing so long before they became entrepreneurs. What I’ve come to realize is that successful people work hard at everything they do, it’s just part of their DNA.

Working hard doesn’t just mean physically working hard, although that may be part of it. No, they just spend most waking moments thinking about the work they do and how to do it better. Hands on experiences, studying the best practices of not only their industry but even unrelated industries. It’s all fair game. And they do so on their own time and on their own dime.

Polish the stone

Entrepreneurial or not, most successful people didn’t wait for someone to enroll them in a skill improving courses or to pick up a book, no they just did it on their own. They were driven to be better or to “polish the stone” as I like to say. I have found that once this quest for knowledge is acquired, it just becomes second nature.

Throughout their careers, they have strived to be the best at every job they had. They took the time to understand what was expected of them and endeavoured to excel. Is that because of the competitive nature evident in so many successful entrepreneurs? Is it pride that drives them? Or is it just their need to be better? I posit that it’s a combination of these factors. But regardless of their motivation, they are constantly trying to improve their companies and not accept the status quo.

Successful people fail

There are millions of successful people that you’ll never hear about but successful they are. They figured out what they wanted and applied tremendous focus to achieving it. Ask successful people how they did it and I guarantee that most will tell you they never stopped learning, even when they failed, they just kept trying to gain more knowledge. It was their hedge against failing the next time, because most successful people have failed more than once.

Regardless of all the noise about successful people that bombards us every day, very few did so without tremendous effort. We never hear how hard they toiled. We only see the final result. They don’t work hard because they’re successful, they’re successful because they worked hard.

Don’t go looking for defining moments but define your own moments everyday by the choices you make.

You may also enjoy : Successful People Do The Hard Stuff

I’m Greg Weatherdon and this has been your Small Business Minute.

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