freak. Blog

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.

freak. Turns One

freak. Turns One

This last year has gone by so fast and been such a blur, someone else had to tell me that freak. was launched a year ago today. While this is just the beginning, I could not be more proud of what was accomplished in it’s first year and what we already have planned on the horizon. I am truthfully living my dream every day and it would not be possible without our amazing clients and the love and support of our friends and family.

Some highlights that stand out…

New York Trip On-Site:
3 days on-site with a client and their management team to revamp their organization

Montana Seminar:
Presented live on stage for two days to 190+ business owners in Big Sky, MT

84% Revenue Growth since Re-Brand:
New clients, more coaches, providing additional resources and always finding ways to provide more value.

Brought on our first additional full-time Coach in Matt Carle:
This gets me most excited about the future. I would only be able to accomplish a fraction of my Vision alone. Matt embodies all that we stand for and has only made us better.

Contracted with EMyth to deliver their Coach Certification Training:
Trained 8 new EMyth Coaches in a 12 week certification program.

Above and beyond everything else, our clients are creating the businesses they always dreamed of and hitting revenues goals some of them never thought possible.

Here’s to another year and working with more freaks. around the World!

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.

 

freak. writes guest blog for EMyth Worldwide

freak. writes guest blog for EMyth Worldwide

I was given the opportunity this week to write a guest blog for our sister-company, EMyth Worldwide. The blog focuses on Marketing and where all businesses should start.

Here is the intro and a link for the remainder of the article. Enjoy!

“We need more sales.”

At some point during the life of your business you’ve probably uttered these words. For most business owners these words have become a part of their regular vocabulary. Without sales, there’s no business. The employees need to get paid, the lights need to stay on and most companies are looking for some level of growth. I get it.

I would even say that more times than not the statement is accurate and even a necessity. But with that being said, it’s the follow-up statement that really consumes us. read more.

 

March Sadness: Why focusing on just one area doesn’t work in Business or the NCAA Tournament

March Sadness: Why focusing on just one area doesn’t work in Business or the NCAA Tournament

I waited until the last minute to fill out my bracket last night and was convinced I stumbled onto a gold mine. By no means was it rocket science but it magically started to unfold in front of me. Below is a play-by-play of that experience and how my approach was ultimately in alignment with so many business owners and the issues that arise when you focus on just one area.

It’s 9:35pm on Wednesday the 16th and the 77th running of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is less than 12 hours away. I can honestly say I have not watched a single college basketball game in its entirety this season. Needless to say, I completely ignore these facts as I scramble to complete my bracket and place my bet before midnight. How hard can it be? I know the sport, will pick an educated strategy and roll the dice.

So what’s the strategy?

OFFENSE.

Bottom line you have to score to win. Sure they say defense wins championships, but players are getting bigger and the game is getting faster. The best players in the Nation play for the top schools and do for them what they do best; score. This makes filling out my bracket fairly easy. I simply need a snap shot of each matchup, which CBS Sports so generously provides, and one stat line, PPG (Points Per Game). Ignoring all tournament seeds and season rankings, I fill out my bracket in its entirety selecting the team who has averaged the most points per game during the regular season in every matchup.

I won’t bore you with the outcome of all 63 games, but will give you the Elite Eight down to the Championship. You will quickly see why I thought I had this figured out.

Elite Eight

#1 Kansas vs. #6 Arizona

#1 North Carolina vs. #2 Xavier

#4 Iowa State vs. #2 Michigan State

#4 Duke vs. #14 Green Bay

Final Four

#1 Kansas vs. #1 North Carolina

#4 Iowa State vs. #14 Green Bay

Championship

#4 North Carolina vs. #14 Green Bay

 

Drum roll please…Your 2016 NCAA March Madness Champion is…

GREEN BAY PHOENIX.

Woof!

I imagine you are asking yourself who the Green Bay Phoenix are. Yup, that’s the exact response I had as well. And just like that my house of cards came crumbling down. Time will only tell, and sure there is an outside chance that any team can win this tournament, but if we look back at history this just won’t happen.

The strategy I had chosen was simply that, just a strategy. Sure my thought process made sense and I was able to justify it, but at the end of the day scoring is just one part of a very complicated game. Some would argue it is the most important part, say like sales in a business, but if you focus on just sales, you won’t be successful.

My bracket was playing out in a way that had me believing in something that was not sustainable. It looked good, felt good and in the end had some of the best teams where they should be. But nobody remembers second place in the NCAA Tournament and certainly not the top 8. My strategy got the ball rolling, helped me to complete my bracket, but in the end I was only fooling myself.

And this is where it connects back to the business. Focusing on only one aspect of the business is something I see too often. People tend to be really good in one area and have trouble looking outside of it. Without a doubt we want to maximize our strengths, but to be good at one thing is just too dangerous. This is both relevant internally and also for those who depend on revenues from one major client.

There are no shortcuts to mastering this tournament and there are certainly no shortcuts in the game of business. While we can only focus on one area of a company at a time, it is imperative to look at every aspect and turn over all stones.

Being great in one are area of your business is no different then having one of the Nation’s top PPG averages in College Basketball. It looks great on paper but you’ll never take home the hardware.

Prepare for Takeoff: How Southwest flight No. 324 catapulted my blog

Prepare for Takeoff: How Southwest flight No. 324 catapulted my blog

For months now I have been telling myself, “This is the week I will start blogging!” My intentions are sincere on Sunday evening and the week ahead looks like I should have no problem spending an hour lost in my own thoughts. Then life shows up on Monday morning. Getting lost in my own thoughts during the week is by no means a problem, but typically it’s between client calls and chasing by twin boys around. And if I am being honest, those moments are more about taking a breath than an actual Zen moment. Finally I found my opening…

 

DING!

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the crew I ask that you please direct your attention to the monitors above as we review the emergency procedures. There are six emergency exits on this…

 

Sitting two rows back and next to the window on my flight home, I prepare myself for the usual safety speech. While I have to imagine most of the plane is not hearing this for the first time, it is still mandatory and therefore the staff goes through their due-diligence.

 

We all know where it goes from here.

 

“If you are traveling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children.”

 

This has entirely new meaning to me. Contrary to what you may be thinking, it is less about my children and more about the importance of taking care of yourself first. I’ll save that rant for a different post and if we are going to do it any justice it will probably have to be a series.  

 

Typically at this point I am already lost in a playlist but something about today grabs my attention. It is not that I am scared for this flight and think today is the day I finally need these instructions. It is not the delivery or script this particular flight attendant has chosen. Instead it is the simple beauty that without a doubt we will forever hear this presentation when boarding a plane. Why? Because it’s just that important. Our lives are on the line and it makes perfect sense to rehearse any possible scenarios before we take-off. At the end of the day, they would rather take the extra five minutes to repeat themselves and refresh our memories. Ultimately it is for our own good.

 

And then I start to think about my own business and the work I do weekly with my clients. This is very typical for me to take a normal life moment and relate it to business and the work I do. (Ask any of my clients about sleep training my boys and how that single moment taught more about management and employees than any book ever could.) I personally believe that the root to all successful business is structure and communication. In fact, if you really think about a business, it is nothing more than a spider web of communications.  Spider web? Why would he choose to use that word? That sounds negative. I could not disagree more! I hate spider webs just as much or more than the next guy, but they are incredibly beautiful and unbelievably efficient when used for their purpose.  

 

Think about it. A business is nothing more than communication at all levels. Our financial reports and Key Financial Indicators are simply our finances communicating to us. Our Marketing is us communicating to the customers. Our position agreements and systems are an internal communication between management and employees.  I’ll stop there.

 

The point is, our goal is to get as crystal clear on this communication as possible and most importantly NEVER STOP HAVING IT! It amazes me how often we implement meetings at different levels into a company and ownership will ask me, “How long do you think we should do this?” FOREVER!

 

So next time you feel it is unnecessary or redundant to repeat a task or a meeting most of the staff has heard more than once, think of your last flight. While you’re not 35,000 feet in the air on the daily basis, your business has a higher probability of determining your life’s fate than any flight you will ever board. We should really start to treat them like our lives are on the line.

Passion: Not Just a Buzz Word

Passion: Not Just a Buzz Word

Have you heard many stories like this one: Woman quits her job to pursue her passion of teaching yoga, goes broke? Sadly these type of stories are far too common, and the reason why is a combination of two factors that are prevalent in our culture today. These two factors combine to create some toxic advice and bad road maps for many people:

 

  1. Follow Your Passion
  2. Just Jump!

 

Follow Your Passion

This advice has been prevalent throughout the last 30+ years of the self-help industry. Countless books and articles have been written extolling the virtues of only pursuing work which you are exceptionally passionate about. Well, as our friend Michael Bolton points out, that isn’t always your best option: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu2HhlTEHMc

 

The seemingly virtuous path of pursuing your passion has led to scores of failed businesses where the owner just can’t figure out what went wrong. They have started a business they’re passionate about, they’ve invested their savings, time, and energy into making it great, they scratch and claw to help their business survive, but they just can’t seem to make it work. Quickly, they’re becoming another example of why 75% of small businesses fail. What these “passion” owners don’t realize is they got bunk advice from the start – PASSION IS NOT ENOUGH.

 

Just Jump!

If you’ve spent any time reading about the life of an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard some version of an anecdote that goes like this: “I walked into work on Tuesday, I walked straight into my boss’ office and quit on the spot. Wednesday we started XYZ Partners and we’ve been going like gangbusters ever since.”

 

While these people and these situations do happen from time to time, it is far from the norm, and anyone who thinks otherwise is doing themselves a disservice. The truth of the matter is most entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of quitting whatever job they’re in now; most small businesses start as a side job or “side hustle”. Walking away from your 9-5 job and leaving behind the steady paycheck, benefits, or health insurance isn’t always your best choice (not to mention the access to vital office supplies). In today’s economy it is fully possible to maintain your full-time job while you build your business on the side; so that when you’re ready to make the leap you’ve already got a system up and running that is generating income for you and your business – you’ve got a safety net built in.

 

So what do I do?

Having a business you’re passionate about IS important – and at some point you will have to make the leap and invest yourself fully in making your new business work – but you’ve got to work smarter if you want to build something that is truly going to last. From day one you have to understand that the structure and the systems you build within your business are your safety net, they are how you ensure the business will be there for you for years and decades to come. You’ve got to start with that – not just passion – if you want to build a business that will last.

 

Your passion should be focused on building and sustaining your business – the product or service you provide doesn’t have to be the actual embodiment of your “passion”; but you need to find passion in the work that you’re doing. It is much more important to find something that works, that earns money, and that you can sustain for the long term.

 

Once you’ve got the frameworks in place – you’ve got to hustle, work hard, and dedicate your time and energy to making this thing work; even it is isn’t full-time at first. Getting your side business up and running is a crucial step for most entrepreneurs in today’s economy. Once you get to a point that the side business is generating sufficient income for you and your family, you can look at making the jump into that business full-time. This isn’t to say you need to get your business up to $80k/year before you make the switch – you just need to be at a point where you have measurable returns for your time invested and know that the additional time you put in will generate the income you need to move forward.

 

While it isn’t easy, ignoring the ubiquitous “Follow your passion & just jump” advice merchants will pay major dividends if you can manage it. While we’d all kill to build a business around an idea we love (a brewery on a beach somewhere sounds nice) we have to understand the realities we’re faced with today, and focus our entrepreneurial efforts where we can make the greatest return.

 

We want to hear from you – leave a comment below and claim your freak status today.

The Cool Business Paradox

How much time does your business spend designing logos, t-shirts, stickers and S.W.A.G.? If the answer is “more than a few minutes” you’re probably doing something wrong.

 

We’ve all seen these guys, right? They’ve got 1000 t-shirts with the company logo, trucker hats, stickers, beer coozies and stress balls. They’ve got branded merchandise from head-to-toe and if you ask them about their business they immediately launch into a diatribe about how they’re a “lifestyle brand with focus on social interactions and connecting with awesome celebrities via social media and giving them free stuff” but if you ask about their profit and loss statement you quickly learn they’re bleeding money and don’t really have a plan to change it.

 

Many wantrepreneurs devote too much of their time to designing the coolest t-shirts imaginable; they painstakingly design new logos, pick the finest quality goods, and ensure everything looks just right before they order 1000 new units and start to hand them out to employees, family, and friends. In their eyes having these t-shirts makes their business real – but they spend so much time designing their merchandise, they lose sight of what they’re really supposed to be doing – RUNNING A BUSINESS! They’re more concerned with how their business LOOKS than how their business RUNS. They’d rather impress the people they know with costly merch than impress their customers by delivering great value.

 

Some people are more worried about running a “cool” business than a successful one; and they forget they have to actually run the business for any of this to work.

 

If you spend more time on your “brand” than you do on your day-to-day business, you’re doing something wrong. Too often people get hung up on the idea of having a “cool business” that they forget that the coolest businesses are the ones that make lots of money for their owners and continue to operate for years to come. Spending huge chunks of time and money on cool t-shirts or branded merchandise is a waste of time if your business isn’t running properly, and too often business owners get the whole thing backwards.

 

Focus on building a great business first; set the course, put the systems in place for management and growth, empower your people to help your business grow. Once you’ve got things running the way they’re supposed to – then you can afford to dedicate some time to finding the right color t-shirt to feature your company logo. Once you have a quality business to back it up, you can devote some time to utilizing your brand and creating meaningful merchandise.

Remember, cool t-shirts don’t make a business – products and services, revenues, profits, these are things that make a business; where will you invest your time?

 

We want to hear from you – leave a comment below and claim your freak status today.