Business Everywhere: Get out and vote! Then, get back to work!

Business Everywhere: Get out and vote! Then, get back to work!

As Americans, we have a civic duty to vote for our elected officials. As you know, there is a hotly contested election happening in the United States right now, with people from all parties and all walks of life campaigning strongly in favor of their candidate of choice. It’s unavoidable, the news covers it every moment of every day, your social media streams are filled with armchair commentators, and the yard signs and bumper stickers silently scream about their preferred candidate. I believe strongly that everyone should do their duty to vote, as Americans we owe it to our neighbors, our families, future generations to exercise that right. Get out and vote! Then, get back to work!

The outcome of the election, at the federal, state, even the local level, is not going to decide the fate of your company. There is not a single presidential candidate who is going to come in and stop your business from going on – no congressperson is going to raise your sales or increase revenues. The results you get from your business will be a direct reflection of the energy and effort that you invest in your company. The political climate or the next President will not have the final word on whether or not your business makes it. No laws that the President can put in place will change the need for sales and revenues in your business. No tax policy is going to sink a well-managed business. No cabinet nominee will affect your bottom line. These things are wholly irrelevant to what happens in your business, and we’ll all do well to remember that.

The politicians and the elected leaders of our country will undoubtedly change some things when they take office, it is inevitable that laws will change, agreements will be made, the landscape will shift. But at the end of the day – how much will any of that really impact you? Because the fact of the matter is that no matter who is elected President on November 8, on November 9 – your business is still going to open the doors, turn on the lights, and get to work. That is a piece of reality that we cannot ignore.

What successful business owners do differently, especially when things are uncertain, sets them apart. Here are three ideas that will help you build an “election-proof” business:

Long-Term Planning

While it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about the election, focused on the issues, or who said what; the focus on your business needs to be on your Vision for the company. Having a picture of how your business will look and operate for years in the future is one of the most powerful tools an owner can possess. Getting specific and clear on your long-term plan for the company allows you to focus less on the short-term, it gives you a focal point that you can control, and allows you to ignore the noise in the political arena because you’re taking control of the fate of your business.

Setting your long-term vision for the company gives you the ability to stop worrying about the short-term changes going on around you. The goal is to build a business that can carry on for more than the length of the next president’s term, so whoever gets in office no longer has power over the outcome of the company. We’ve found that 3-5 years is the ideal amount of time for looking ahead, because it’s tangible (the mind can comprehend that far down the line) but still a stretch for owners (you will have more than enough time to address whatever short-term issues are currently facing the business).

By setting your sights on the long-term plan for your business, you’re taking control of the future of the business. Having a clear picture allows you to make decisions that will benefit your company for years to come, and build a business that is sustainable and profitable, regardless of the political environment. You’re saying that you alone will decide the fate of the business and you’re not going to give the power to anyone else to determine what is going to happen; and that is a powerful idea.

Keep an eye on your Indicators

Every business owner should have a set of Key Indicators they know and track within their business. What these are will vary based on the business, but every business can and should have them. These indicators serve as your scorecard for the business operations, telling both a financial and practical story about how the business is running. Your Key Indicators show you trends within the business, and give you a solid backstop to confirm or deny your hunches and gut feelings about the things you’re seeing in the business.

We identify the Key Indicators based on our Vision; we pull out the key points, both tangible and intangible, and determine how they will be measured. This helps make the Vision more concrete; we can track how our decisions are moving us toward our Vision, and measure the steps we’re taking to get there. You can’t manage based on feel alone; obviously you know your business as well as anyone, but the power that your Indicators give you should not be discounted. They can help you see your blind spots, or where you might be overlooking something in the business because you’re too close to it. They help you measure your progress toward achieving your Vision, accomplishing your goals, and getting what you want from your business. Key Indicators can help you measure the unobservable things that are happening in your business, and give you important ways to track things like Customer Satisfaction, Employee Satisfaction, and Morale.

Determining your Key Indicators, and making a commitment to track them helps you take hold of the steering wheel and continue navigating toward your business goals. By focusing on the things you can measure and control in your business you’re once again staking your ownership and leadership in the company. By focusing on your Key Indicators you’re showing that you’re in control of the business and that you’ll be aware of any impact that outside influences might have; this gives you the ability to track, analyze, and adjust to anything. It gives you control of your business and helps you stay focused on the things that really matter to your bottom line.

Know your numbers

The Key Indicators listed above are crucial to the health and success of your business, but knowing your financials is absolutely critical. Because ultimately, the bottom line of your business is the most important piece of information you have. The line that says Net Profit at the end of your reports is the one everyone focuses on, but knowing what happens in your business to give you that number is just as important. Without an understanding of your finances, you’re navigating without a map, you’re shooting in the dark with no feedback on whether or not you’re even close to your target.

There are many business owners who aren’t comfortable talking about their finances, because they’re unhappy with them, or because they don’t know what the financials say. Many people ignore the finances until they absolutely have to, and some only go as far as making sure there is enough in the checking account to make payroll this month. This approach is setting your business up for failure just as much as assuming that one Presidential candidate is going to ruin your business and another is going to save it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because there is money in the back account that the business is fine; or that just because the Income Statement shows a profit that you’ve got the money you need to pay your bills. You have to look beneath the surface to get the whole story.

You don’t have to be an expert to track your finances; small business owners are often anxious about diving into their finances for fear of what they might find. But the truth of the matter is much less scary – making a commitment to track your numbers and ask why they are the way they are is always the first step. You don’t have to be able to produce complicated reports to have an idea of the financial health of your business. We always start with the statements from last month, simply looking through it and asking questions. The goal is to develop a habit of looking at your finances regularly and asking questions about the information you find. You don’t have to have all the answers at the outset, the practice of asking questions will help you gain an understanding and build a relationship with the numbers. Make the commitment to know and understand your financial position, because it might be the single most powerful thing you can do for the future of your company.

Now, don’t take this as me washing my hands of the election, I believe that many important things will be decided during this election cycle, and that the next four (or eight) years of our country will shape the world where my future children and grandchildren will grow up. I plan to vote based on the issues most important to me and I encourage you to do the same; again, it is our duty as Americans.

But once your ballot has been turned in, once the confetti falls on the President-elect, don’t use the outcome as an excuse about your business. No matter the result, you can create a crystal clear Vision for what the business will become, you can track your Key Indicators to move you toward that Vision and most importantly you can manage your business by the numbers . Don’t lose sight of that for any reason. Get out and vote! Then, get back to work!

Business Everywhere: A Chef’s Vision

Business Everywhere: A Chef’s Vision

Business Everywhere is a series about looking for and finding business lessons in our everyday activities. Every day we see the lessons we learn in working with businesses popping up all around us. If you take a moment to look, you’ll start to see them too. You can read more by clicking on the “Business Everywhere” category above.

Oftentimes on the weekends, I find myself watching Netflix as my wife drifts off to sleep next to me on the couch. She’ll doze off and I usually switch from whatever we were watching to something else, and more often than not I find myself drawn to cooking shows; shows about renowned chefs and their incredible restaurants. (Chef’s Table is my latest go-to)

Now this is probably for a number of reasons; personally, food has always been an important part of my memories and my life growing up. Almost every holiday, every life event revolves around the special food we’ll be eating that day. My grandma, and now my mom, spend days preparing huge meals for our family and I have countless memories of helping them in the kitchen.

But beyond my personal attachments, I’ve come to realize something: these chefs are freaks. They fit every characteristic that we preach in our work at freak. They are extraordinarily passionate and strive to perfect their craft, they want to share their gifts with others, and they work fearlessly to deliver an exceptional experience.

I’m fascinated by the people who run the restaurants, by the chefs who have changed how dining is done, who have shifted the expectations for what “good food” really means. The chefs’ stories are as interesting to me as any of the food they cook. And I think that is because I can see so many similarities in the restaurants they run and the businesses we help. The parallels between the crafting of a meal in a restaurant and owning a business appear when looking at things from the right perspective. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed recently:

 

Vision

One of the most important things that any of the chefs possess is a vision for their food and the restaurant they are running. They are crystal clear on what they want to do and they have a perfectly produced picture in their head of what the finished restaurant will be. Often the chefs tell stories about the formative moments in their lives, how they’ve worked in various kitchens and taken lessons from all of those places. How the apprenticeships and all of the jobs they’ve had have shaped the person and the chef that they are today. This is exactly the same process as creating a vision for your business – using every resource available to them, they’ve created the picture of the restaurant as they want it to be. The only thing left to do is to get there.

These fine-dining chefs have eaten food all over the world, they have references in their mind from countless cuisines, and that gives them the ability to create something that is unique to them. They cook using unique combinations of flavors and techniques to create something truly special. They use their references in creating their own food, their own version of something they enjoyed, and it belongs only to them. That is a really powerful idea, and something that applies as much in business as it does in the kitchen.

As a business owner you have a unique set of experiences that have shaped who you are – and you can draw on all of them when you’re creating the business you want to create. You may have ideas from previous jobs of exactly what you want to do, and how you’re going to do it. But you’ll discover as you create your processes, things look a little different, you add your own personal touches, and you take ownership of the thing that once belonged to someone else’s company. Having this palette to draw from is crucial as you’re creating the vision for how you want the company to be when it is finished.

 

Customer Experience

In these fine-dining restaurants, you’re paying for more than the food – the entire experience is curated and created to leave you feeling incredible as you walk out the door. From the moment you walk in until the moment you depart, you’re inside the world that the restaurant has created. You’re there for the experience not just food. You may forget what ingredients were in a dish, you might not remember each course in detail, but you’ll never forget what it felt like to sit in that restaurant, to have your needs catered to, and to experience all that they had to offer. This idea applies to your business vision as well.

If your customers are only going to remember what they got and how much they paid, you’re not likely to keep them coming back; you start competing on price and instead of being a fine dining destination – you’re McDonald’s. (Now, maybe you want to be McDonald’s, and that’s fine. But remember, the experience you have at a McDonald’s has been curated to leave you feeling a certain way too) There are countless ways to leave an impression on your customers and you shouldn’t neglect them. Pay attention to the details, your staff’s attire, how they greet your customers, the decor on the walls of the office – all of these things help create the experience your customers will have, and they shouldn’t be left to chance.

 

Excellence

Finally, one of the most important things I’ve noticed across countless restaurants and chefs on these shows – they’re constantly evaluating and evolving their processes. Whether they’re trying new techniques, experimenting with ingredients, or changing the presentation on a dish – they’re never satisfied with the status quo. Sitting back and accepting that the way things are done now is the only way they can ever be done is a sure way to fail. There is always a way to improve, there is always something that can be done better, and they know they have to be on the lookout for these opportunities. Innovation and improvement are built into the DNA of the restaurants, so they’re constantly looking for a way to improve. Your business should be no different.

While you want the innovations to fit within the big picture goals you’ve set for yourself, the quest to improve, the desire to see things done better should be a part of the foundation of your business. The EMyth idea of Innovation-Orchestration-Quantification is something that has to live within your business if you want to to continue to grow. There are always areas where you can improve your business practices. As in the restaurants, there may be times when you have to throw out the entire menu and start fresh – and there will be times when a small tweak to something can have a huge impact. You can only know what you need by being truly in touch with the pulse of the business, and by knowing what things are most important to you. One advantage we have in business that many chef’s may not – is the data we can collect. We have numbers to study that will help us make decisions and measure outcomes (this is quantification). If this idea is built into the DNA of your company you’ll be well served for a long time to come.

 

As with any good restaurant, a great business has a vision for what it should be. Everyone who works there understands what they are trying to achieve and why. The staff know what their role is and why it is important. The employees feel engaged with the work and know they’re part of a team. The leaders have painted a clear picture of what they’re going to do and given the staff a road map for success. The leaders have crafted an experience that will wow their customers and draw them back again and again. Everyone on staff looks for ways to improve and are encouraged to share their ideas to move forward. The leaders understand that stagnation is nearly as bad as death, so they’re always looking for ways to improve. In business, and in the kitchen, this is a recipe for success.

Passionate About the Work

Passionate About the Work

We’ve already debunked the myth that passion is all you need to be successful in business – it’s not. But this isn’t to say that passion doesn’t have a place in your business – because it does, and understanding it’s role is absolutely crucial. Most people think you’ve got to be incredibly passionate about the product or service you’re selling – that the idea of has to “light you up” for it to ever work. Instead, we need to understand the idea of being passionate about the work.

This is to say, the time and effort you put toward working in and working on your business must be passionate hours. While you don’t have to revel in the idea of building out financial projections, or measuring your marketing dollars, you need to be passionate about the idea of seeing the results of your business in hard numbers, and you need to be passionate about wanting to see your business grow.

The passion we’re talking about is the one that drives you to work long hours and dive back into your work long after your kids have gone to bed, because you know their college fund rides on your business continuing to grow. You don’t have to be “passionately in love” with your business, but you must love what you’re getting out of it; and what you’re getting out of it needs to be revenue, growth, and new challenges.

Revenue is what makes a business – and it needs to be your primary focus as a business owner at pretty much every stage of your enterprise. Without revenue, without money coming in your business will die; it doesn’t matter how deeply you care about your non-profit hot yoga studio for cats, if it doesn’t bring in revenue, it will die. If as a business owner you can understand that your work, your passion, your drive, need to be focused on generating revenue for your business, you’re well on your way. The quest for this revenue should consume your passion – it should light you up in the morning and put you to sleep each night.

Growth is the second driver – if your business is standing still, you’re already falling behind. The push for more is a driving factor in almost every successful entrepreneur. Knowing there is more out there for your business, and working as hard as you can to get yourself there is absolutely crucial. The hunger for more, for growth, for expansion, should fuel your passion – the desire to see your business continue to grow should push you when you’re tired and worn down. This yearning for what is possible is crucial when we talk about passion for the work.

New Challenges drive every entrepreneur forward, and ignite the passion we must have to be successful. Anticipating the next trend in your industry and putting yourself ahead of the curve, finding new features offered by a competitor, or opening a new market segment are the type of challenges that keep small businesses growing, thriving, and successful. The need to look ahead, drive the business toward new goals, and always seek something MORE is a trait shared by many entrepreneurs; and these are the ones that uncover the root of their passion for their work. This need for new challenges, new struggles, and new goals drives the passion for the work that sees so many small businesses succeed, grow, and thrive, even in challenging economic times.

While “passion” as it is normally discussed won’t save your business, every successful entrepreneur will manifest their passion in other ways. You’ll see their drive, energy, and effort points them towards the new challenges, along with the growth, and the revenue that comes along with their burning desire to see the business succeed.

I’m sure many of you can relate to these feelings of passion, or drive, or desire, or however you characterize it personally. These goals and benchmarks should serve as a guide as you move along your entrepreneurial journey. The crucial piece to this puzzle comes next – once you understand your passion for the work, it’s time to make sure you have the proper roadmaps, and signposts along the way to reach your final destination. Passion without direction could land you almost anywhere, including the unemployment office, so you need the right systems to guide you.

The Advantages of Being a freak.

The Advantages of Being a freak.

When I signed on with Matt and freak. Business Coaching I already knew how big the potential was for the brand and the company. I talked through the early stages of freak. with Matt when it was just an idea, just a potential answer to a question he had. The business that he has created is exciting, inspiring, and powerful. I knew I was in the right place, because I’m a freak. too. I’m excited to help Matt build this brand and this company into the future, I’m looking forward to all of the challenges that we’ll face and the victories that will follow.

Not everyone understands what it means to be a freak., not everyone is going to “get it” off the bat, or ever. But there is a freak in all of us, you just have to make the decision to let it out and see where it takes you. Today I want to talk about some of the upside, some of the highlights, the reasons that freaks. are so powerful; if you see yourself in these descriptions, you’re already a freak. If the words inspire you, stir something inside you – that’s your inner freak trying to get out, listen to that voice and see where it takes you, there is something there and it can be powerful.

Today I present to you:

The Advantages of Being a freak.

Freaks are always getting better.

It is in the freak’s nature to strive for more, to always be looking ahead and seeking the next reward. The freaks are the people who know they’re capable of great things and are doing whatever they can to pursue their goals. They’re always striving to get better, to improve, and develop themselves to the peak of their potential.

No matter where they stand now – financially, emotionally, physically – they know there are ways to improve. That doesn’t mean they’re ignoring all of the success or not being grateful for the things that they have. But it does mean that they’re aware of the areas where they could be doing more, and they’re looking for ways to improve them. They know they’re capable of more, and they’re willing to do the work to get there.

Freaks live by the maxim coined by Jim Rohn: “Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” They know that in order to really be successful you have to focus on improving yourself, and that success will follow. They’re always looking at how they can get better, and trusting that the rewards will come after. They know this is true because they’ve seen it happen. They know that it works and they are proof of it every day.

Freaks don’t care what other people think.

One of the core values at freak. Business Coaching is FEARLESS and this trait is true for every freak we know. They’re willing to seem a little odd or a little strange to others in pursuit of their goals. They don’t let other people’s judgements deter them from achieving what they set out to achieve. They don’t live their lives by any standards other than their own, and they know there is power in choosing to live in that way. They know that living life fearlessly doesn’t mean living in the absence of fear; but it means choosing to ignore those fears and push forward anyway.

Because they’re unbound by other people’s opinions, freaks choose to live life according to their own rules. They get to define success and failure in their own terms. They choose how they will measure their growth and they take ownership of seeing those things through. They will not allow others to dictate how they live, but instead they choose to set their own pace. They only measure themselves on standards they set, and only compare themselves to the people they were in the past. Their own growth is the only thing that they measure.

Freaks are willing to do the work.

One of the most important attributes of all – freaks are always ready to work hard; both in their companies, and on themselves. Freaks know that nothing else matters unless they’re willing to do the work that is required of them. The real freaks relish the hard work, they cherish the challenges that come with growth, personally and professionally. They know that they have to keep striving, keep growing, and keep hustling to get where they want to go. And they look forward to the challenges.

They are humble enough to know their current level of skills might not be enough, and they’re willing to work hard to get to where they need to be. They are a balance of humility and ego; their ego tells them to believe in their abilities, and their humility tells them to keep improving every day. Freaks understand there is always room for growth, but they know to get to the next level is going to take hard work. Nothing is given away and nothing worth achieving will be easy – but the reward for doing the hard work is priceless.

They know they don’t have all the answers themselves and they’re willing to ask for help when they need it. They trust advisors and experienced freaks to help show the way. They learn everything they can and look for ways to apply it to their lives; they know they can learn from other’s success or failure, and there are lessons to learn every step of the way. Their very nature is to keep learning, growing, and grinding toward success – they embrace that nature and it fuels their fire.

Freaks always bet on themselves.

Most of the freaks we work with are entrepreneurs – and they are betting on themselves every day. But even those who aren’t business owners and choosing to play the game in an unconventional way. For many people, the safe bet is always on someone else – the company who gives you a job, the government who decides the tax policy – but freaks know the only sure bet is the one they place on themselves. Freaks ignore the tired tropes of corporate life and know they can accomplish more by playing the game their own way.

Freaks build lives for themselves that rely on their own skills and abilities – and that is very much on purpose. This allows them to control their fate as much as possible, to trust that the outcome will be a measure of their skills. And since they’re always striving to improve and focused on their development, they know their skills are finely tuned and capable of stacking up with anyone. They would rather lose by putting themselves out there and coming up short, than sitting on the side watching someone else play the game.

Finally, and maybe most importantly freaks never give up. Even when the inevitable failures come along, and when ‘will and belief’ is tested, freaks know that all of these things are part of the road to success. They know that one shortfall isn’t going to be fatal and they know that every failure is a new opportunity to learn and to grow. They’ll be back, stronger, smarter, sharper the next time. Each challenge will feed their desire to improve, each set back will help remind them to focus on their own measure of success, and every victory will feel that much sweeter when it comes.

Freaks are a unique bunch of people, not everyone is ready to embrace their inner freak – are you?

I hope this peek into the psyche of a freak helps you understand what freak. Business Coaching is all about, and how we carry ourselves in our lives and our business. We hope you’ll join us on this journey.