I seem to be on a mission lately to discover exactly what makes me tick, particularly in terms of business. I seem to have these brilliant (well I think they are brilliant and only my opinion counts here) ideas and that’s where they end. Sure, everyone who hears what I have to say also thinks my idea(s) are great, but still, nothing happens – clearly, I have to change something. A little research got me to this.
1. Thinking and planning ahead.
How difficult can that be I thought! Ja right – apparently the trick is to go forward in time to 50 or even 100 years from now irrespective of whether you see your product and/or service (not to mention to yourself haha) lasting that long. It has something to do with shifting your mindset and allowing it to project into the future. Anyway, I digress – from there you have to work backward and create a ‘vision’ plan. You do this in blocks of ten years at a time and it is very important to ask and answer the questions of “who, what, where, when, why, and how”. For example, who will be your target market and whether it is local, national, or international. The “what” would be either the product(s) and/or the services that you provide and so on. Getting this practice right will tell you exactly how you are going to achieve your objectives and therefore your business goals.
2. Getting hold of the data inside our own heads.
I am sure you’ve all heard about how little capacity we actually use of our brains. It has been suggested that we use something like 10% of our ‘conscious’ minds and the rest of all the information, memories, data, knowledge and what else have you is then stored in our ‘sub-conscious’ – how one would actually measure this is beyond me, but then again I am no expert. In any event, the idea here is that we should try and get into our ‘sub-conscious’ minds in order to access this very valuable data that is stored there. Now the experts say that for a period of 21 days (I suppose to get us into the habit) we should write something brief on whatever we want to improve on our ‘leadership process’. So for example if we have a problem with dealing with customers or staff, the more we write about it the more we’ll access our sub-conscious mind and the easier we will find solutions to the problem.
3. Improving and increasing productivity.
I am sure that you will agree that your staff will never have the same level of energy as you do, particularly when they are selling your product and/or service. It stands to reason that they will never be as passionate about your business as you are – so logic must tell you that you need to motivate them to be, well almost as energetic or passionate as you are. To do this you need to get them to participate in the exercise – you need to find out what it is that ‘drives’ them in terms of the work that they do or what would drive them and then use that information to empower them. This means of course, that you would need to tailor their specific talents or skills or needs to what you need to be done. It will become a win/win relationship and you will be amazed at the difference it will make.
4. Being Innovative and Creative.
Oh here is one for the history books! Use your staff – I don’t mean in a nasty way, but use their individuality, their passion, and their creativity to help you (and them) see things more clearly. One of the most common things that I am told by small business owners is that they often feel ‘lonely’ in business. In a Corporate environment, it is easy to ‘bounce’ ideas off colleagues or have ‘brainstorming’ sessions – when you are in business for yourself, however, you often don’t feel that you can ‘talk’ much less brainstorm with anyone. Just because your staff ‘work’ for you, doesn’t mean that they will not have some great ideas – so talk to them, encourage them to come to you with those ideas. If you have a problem – get the staff around the table and let them brainstorm with you, to find a solution to whatever your problem is. You’d be amazed at what comes out of these sessions. One of my clients does this once a month, usually about ideas on how to bring in new business and they have a prize, once a quarter for the best idea. Several of those ‘ideas’ now are bring in handsome profits.
5. Take responsibility
Taking responsibility for our own actions is one thing, but taking responsibility for something that someone else does is very difficult. I had a friend once who, when her daughter and she were at loggerheads, would often stand back and say ‘She is acting like that because of what is happening in my life!’ Often who we are and what we are going through influences those around us and then their behaviour is a direct result of what we have done or are doing. So when your staff are acting up or acting out – it’s a good idea for us you step back from the situation and see what is happening in you life that may have influenced their actions. Remember you are responsible for putting food on their tables and they may just be trying to protect that. Obviously, I am not talking about someone who is, say stealing – they would need to take responsibility for that, but someone who is out of sorts or is moody or is not doing the job in the way in which you want it done. Take a look and see what the underlying problem is – look at the cause rather than just the symptom. Talk to them, ask the question, open up the avenues of communication – let them know that you are willing to talk about issues. It will make a great deal of difference to the way that they perceive you and often will be enough to ensure that perceptions and expectations are met.
Whatever you do and whatever your challenge may be, remember why you got into business for yourself in the first place – and don’t forget to have lots of fun!