Wednesday, 21 December 2011

3 Steps to Right Side Up Goals

The new year is fast approaching, and for many of us that means goal setting time! Of course, goal setting is something that can be done and re-done throughout the year, but it seems to be that feeling of a fresh start that comes with January 1st that encourages up to really look at where we are and where we want to be.

There are generally 3 steps to setting goals. If a person uses them correctly, it can really become an inspirational force to push you to where you want to be. The problem is, most people set them backwards!

Here is how it usually works:

1. Numbers - We say things like, "Alright...I did $750,000 in sales last year. This year I will do $800,000."

2. Achievements/Milestones - "If I do that much business I will need an assistant to take some stuff off my plate. I know I was working way too much just to keep up this year. So that will be a goal for this year, hire an assistant."

3. Rewards - "Well, after paying that assistant, my net might not be a whole lot different. I do need to reward myself though. Ok. I will take a 2 week trip to Mexico again like I did this year. I should be able to afford that."

Starting with the numbers limits everything. If your goals are limited, so is your imagination. If your imagination is limited, so is your excitement. If your excitement is limited, so is your determination. If your determination is limited, so is your result.

To set an effective goal, flip this system over!

1. Rewards - "I enjoyed my 2 weeks in Mexico last year. This year I want 2 trips. Two weeks in Mexico and 3 weeks in Ireland."

2. Accomplishments/Milestones - "If I am going to be away, I will need someone competent to handle things when I am gone. An assistant won't be enough. I need someone who can actually manage the place. I will hire an manager to work under me in the first half of this year."

3. Numbers - "I know what I want and the major change that will have to happen to make it a reality. I need to pay for it. After crunching the numbers I realize that my business needs to do $900,000 to pay for all of this. I will do at least $900,000 in sales this year. Having that manager in place will take a lot of work off my plate so I can concentrate on sales so I should easily be able to reach that number and not have to work insane hours like last year."

This way creates motivation, drive and determination because it is based on something you want as a person, not just cold numbers at the accountant's office.

In the first system it sounds like this, "I will pick a number that is bigger than last year because that is what businesses are supposed to do right? (P.S. I don't agree that is the case). Then if I hit that number, I will do something nice for myself."

The second is much more powerful because it sounds like this, "I know what I want in my personal life and my business is my tool to provide those things. Here is what I want and here is what my business needs to do to get it for me." Much more powerful! (On a side note, do not be surprised if you need to scale your business back a bit to meet your personal goals. Especially if you are in the case where your business is starting to consume your life)

This year, when you sit down to set your business goals remember, you are a person. You have things that you want to experience in this life and you have people that you want to share your life with. Your business is simply a tool to make those things happen. Set your personal goals and then set your business goals in a way that supports them.

Your personal goals may not be a trip. They may be a new house, more time with your family, more time for yourself, to give a certain amount to a cause or to volunteer more of your time. It is all up to you and there are infinite possibilities. Just concentrate on what you want out of your life, then build your goals around that.

If you set your goals in this way, you will find much more drive to make your business a success. That is because you will be working toward providing what you see as a fulfilled life. Not just shooting for empty numbers.

Working on the person behind the business is key to being a success in business and life. Click here for more information on how to reach your goals. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The 4 Parts of an Entrepreneur (Part 2)

In Part 1 you read about the artist and the analyst working together within you. Those two come to light at the beginning. They get all the ideas rolling and find ways to make them a reality, if they are working together properly. Once they get to a certain point with their ideas, they need two more parts of your inner entrepreneur to step in. They are the manager and the motivator.

The Manager
Ideas that your artist and analyst create are wonderful, but at some point they need systems and actions put into place to drive them forward. That is where your manager comes in. She is the part of you that takes the ideas and says, "Ok, if this is going to work then we need to do this, this and this...." She makes the plans that will take your realistic idea and make it a profitable business. Your manager is the one that will watch everything that goes on in your business, see what works and make adjustments to the things that don't. She will crunch the numbers and decide how to make them better. She will often come up with problems that she can hand back to the artist and analyst to solve. She will also delegate a certain role to the next character ...

The Motivator
The motivator is the communication specialist within you. This is the part of you that can turn on the charm, do the negotiating, encourage, convince and argue. The motivator is the part of your inner entrepreneur that is shown to the world. Everything created by the artist, analyst and manager come to light through the motivator. She is the part of you helping others to see the value in your dream. She makes sales, gets buy in from employees and shows the public what you are all about.

By combining these 4 parts of you properly; The Artist, The Analyst, The Manager, The Motivator; you will be able to bring your business into the world and know that you have all your basis covered.

Often, one of these 4 will stand out due to an entrepreneurs unique personality. It is very important not to let that happen. To be a well rounded business owner, the 4 must operate in a balanced fashion, aiding each other and performing their specific roles.

In my workshop, "Discovering the Entrepreneur Within" we explore the relationship between these 4 parts. You will learn to identify them, bring their strengths to the surface and make them work as a well oiled machine.

Find these parts of you, give them faces, get to know them and see how easy it becomes to make and act on decisions.

Friday, 16 December 2011

The 4 Parts of an Entrepreneur (Part 1)

Most entrepreneurs find themselves walking through stages in their business as they build it to success. In each of those stages, a certain mindset is needed. The temptation is to completely change your mindset once your business moves into the next stage. Instead, it is important to keep each mindset active as you build your business to success.

I look at my inner entrepreneur as 4 parts. They are the artist, the analyst, the manager and the motivator. (Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I actually have a character built up for each one, that I can see in my mind as I consult with them.) Perfection is to have all of them active in any decision, working together as a team.

 Today I want to introduce you to two of them; the artist and the analyst.  Here is what they do:

The Artist
This is the part of you that is present right from the start. He is probably the one who came up with your business idea, then ran with it. The artist is the one that got you all excited and pointed out all of the possibilities to you; some realistic, some maybe out of reach (for now). The artist may not always be the most practical but he is always full of imagination and creativity. Unfortunately, after the initial excitement dies down, the artist often gets pushed aside by the next character, but don't let it. Keep the artist alive and strong at all times.

Who is that next character?

The Analyst
When the analyst steps in he takes everything the artist has dreamed up and says, "Ok, this won't work, that will, this is great,... What on earth were you thinking here?...This part is genius, that part isn't...". Basically, the analyst puts the artists work up against the present reality. Of course, that is a necessary part of bringing your dream to life. Unfortunately it is where many potential entrepreneurs give up. If they see too many objections from the analyst, they completely forget about the artist and forget their dream.

Instead, you must embrace both of these two and get them to work together. The artist creates ideas, the analyst tests them. The analyst identifies challenges and gives it back to the artist. The artist then creates solutions to hand back to the analyst. This cycle continues until a clear and reasonable path to success is found.

If you build this wonderful relationship between your artist and your analyst, you will find that decision making and problem solving become much easier and more fruitful. You will see challenges as things that can be solved or maybe even used to your advantage. Your dream and vision for your idea will stay clear in front of you with a defined path toward it.

In my "Discovering the Entrepreneur Within" workshops, I teach people to first identify and accept their artist and analyst. We learn strategies to draw out the power of each one. Then we explore how to make them work together to make your business a success. We also look at how the other two characters, the manager and the motivator, must be brought into this picture. I will write about those two in another blog article soon.

Until then, work with your artist and analyst. Make them see how they need to work in unison to bring your vision of a successful business to life.

On to Part 2

Monday, 12 December 2011

Business Grade 6 Style!

Today I finished up a series of classes called "A Business of Our Own" with a grade 6 class in Glenora school. The program is provided by Junior Achievement and delivered by volunteers like myself. The idea is for the kids to plan, build and operate their own business within their school. It comes completely from their own ideas and I act only as a consultant and guide.

I worked with this class over a period of 5 weeks. Their business was a snack stand to be operated during a book sale at their school. They borrowed $200 from a class fund they had as their initial investment. They divided themselves into groups that would be responsible for different parts of the business and they went to work.

They experienced all of the phases a new business would go through. The initial excitement, the pie-in-the-sky ideas, the slap of reality, the realistic business plan that follows the slap, the vision of a common goal, the squabbling on how to reach that goal, the productivity that comes from teamwork and finally the reward of seeing a functioning and very successful business in the end. Most entrepreneurs go through these stages over the course of several months, if not years. This group of kids dealt with it in a few weeks.

They saw a gross income of over $500 from the $200 investment. That is a 150% return on investment for a month of work! If only we could see that kind of return in our own businesses on a regular basis.

If there is one thing I see in them and wish I could give to every entrepreneur I know, it is their lack of fear. Granted, they were working in a safe environment, (if they lost money it wouldn't mean they would have to pay it back out of their pocket) but it was amazing to watch how they would make decisions when they didn't have fear of failure blinding them.

These kids had no business knowledge but that would not stop them. They looked at what they had to do, asked questions and found ways to learn the things they needed to know. They used creativity and curiosity to find ways to make their business work.

Personally, I will strive to have that same attitude when I face business decisions in areas I am not so skilled in. Like those kids, I will set the fear aside so that it doesn't block my view. Then look around for the answer. If it isn't there in the open, I will find creative ways to dig for it. Once I find it, I will implement it confidently. Operating outside of fear can lead only to progress. An earlier article I wrote asks the question, "What would you do if your weren't afraid?" I think the kids in that class were a living answer to that.

Do the same for yourself! Just try it! I know fear will always be there, especially in the early stages of business, but try ignoring it. Don't let it be a factor! Focus on removing fear from situations you face as you build your business. See the clear paths that appear when you remove that hindering emotion. Then walk down those paths confidently knowing that fear did not influence you or hold you back.

In the end, all of the profits they created were donated to the Stollery Children's Hospital, providing yet another good example for this world to look at.

So thank you to the grade 6 class of Glenora school for being a great example to the business world in many ways. If any of you from the class are reading this, I sincerely hope you learned something valuable that will help you in the future. Please know that I have learned some very valuable lessons from all of you as well.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

You are Not Your Business

For entrepreneurs, a constant danger is getting eaten by your business. (Normally I would use the word "consumed" there, but that just isn't graphic enough). You can get eaten! If you aren't careful, your business can take you and wrap you up so tightly within itself that you start to believe you are a single creature.

I see this in every industry but it really stood out to me during my time in real estate. So many real estate agents had sacrificed their own personal goals and replaced them with business goals. So many had lost meaningful touch with their families while trying to further their business. So many had started basing their own personal self worth on how many sales they were making. This type of behavior exists in every industry. It is a slippery slope that ends in bitterness, even if the business that has eaten you does well.

You and your business are two separate entities and you must constantly remind yourself to keep it that way. If you don't, you will start to experience some of the things I listed in the last paragraph. Your personal values and feelings of worth will end up being dependent on the success of your business. Your businesses operates on a different field than your personal life. If you let the business take over how you run your life it will end up being a hollow experience. You see, a business cannot provide what a fulfilled life needs. It can provide the tools to gaining a fulfilled life, but only you as a person (not as a business) can truly experience your life to the fullest based on your personal values (not on those of your business).

I know, I know. This line can be very grey, especially if you run a business that was based on something that makes you feel fulfilled as a person. But it is imperative that you retain your personal identity outside of your business to keep your life and your business healthy. As soon as the two start to become one, bad decisions get made on both ends. Business decisions end up having too much of your personal interests involved (i.e. hiring your very unqualified nephew to avoid offending a family member). Your personal interests end up being dictated by your business (i.e. You're time at home with your family is dictated by how much work needs to get done each day.)

To keep these two separate, start with making two sets of goals. One for your business and one for yourself. Your business goals may include a certain sales volume or profit, a milestone of some sort or possibly an expansion. Your personal goal list will be things that you want for yourself and those you love. Maybe a trip or a house or a certain amount of time spent with someone. Only you know what should be on your lists. After you see what your two separate lists of goals look like, then give attention to making them BOTH successful. Clearly define what you must do as a person and what your business must do. Do not mix them!

When you are working toward your business goals, make decisions and carry out actions that reflect the values and interests of the business. Have a place where you think only in business terms. An office that when you walk in, your mind says, "It's business time."

When you are working on your personal goals, enjoy it! Don't let your mind start working while you are spending time with family or friends. Know that your business is doing its thing off in the distance and that right now you are being a person and enjoying your life.

When you are working on your business, focus on it! When you are working toward your personal goals and enjoying your personal life, focus on it! Keep them separate, give them both the attention they need. You and your business will both benefit and you will not get eaten.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Icy Roads, Country Music and Self Discovery

Last night I was driving back to Edmonton from Calgary after looking at venues to host a "Discover the Entrepreneur Within" workshop. It was a relatively slow drive due to falling snow and I was getting tired of my usual music playlist. Digging into my console, I found an old CD with mostly '90's country music. Putting it in brought back all sorts of memories that I hadn't visited in a long time. Among them was a Clint Black song called "No Time To Kill". I remember listening to it as a teenager and not really "getting it". Last night a line stuck out to me like it never had before and I started to "get it".

The line went like this, "If we'd know 10 years ago today would be 10 years from now, would we spend tomorrow's yesterdays and make it last somehow."

That's a real mouthful and will probably take a couple reads to wrap your brain around if you are anything like me. In essence, it made me think back on all the time I had "wasted" over the past decade. I know that there were times where I could have accomplished more than I did. I could have worked harder to build business faster. But just when I started to think that I should make sure I pour tons of work into every moment from now until I die, another line caught me.

"No time to kill but time to change the kind of hurry I've been in."

If I am going to look back on the last 10 years and decide if I wasted time or not, I had better decide what is important to me first.

Sure, I probably could have pushed harder in business to make more money. I could have spent more time analyzing and growing my business. But you know what? When I look back, I am more than happy with where things are in that part of my life. I take pride in the fact that I spend a lot of time and energy enjoying time with my kids, family and my close friends. I see no "wasted time" in either of those realms. Where I do feel I "killed time" was in rewarding myself. Times that I could have done something nice for myself I often filled with chores or some other thing that really wasn't that important. So, I decided on that drive home that, over my next 10 years, I am going to make some time for me.

Look back at your last decade. What parts are you happy about? What parts would you change? Decide now to take control of that. Decide now to spend the next 10 years using time to the advantage of things that are important to you.

One last line from the song to sum all this up. If you get a chance, take a listen (And yes I sang this at the top of my lungs about 6 times over during that drive. My steering wheel is my biggest fan.)

"The highest cost livin's dyin' and that's one everybody pays. So have it spent before you get the bill, there's no time to kill."

Friday, 2 December 2011

Entrepreneur: Crazy or Genius?

Dear Entrepreneur, society has been trained to think you are crazy. 

Because of the risks involved in entrepreneurship, most of your family, friends and other people around you are going to think you are crazy. They may not say it to your face, but they will probably be thinking it inside. They have seen the stats, they have heard the horror stories and the failures. They will dwell on those negative thoughts out of concern for you. What they will fail to realize is that every bit of shopping they do and every service they use is a success story. They will not be able to visualize what you do and will have trouble seeing you as one of the successes. You know differently though and must look past their doubt so that you can build your dream into a reality and prove them wrong.

The funny thing is, when you succeed, society will suddenly think you are a genius!
Then they will be coming to you asking how you did it. Asking if you could help them do the same.

My entrepreneurial hero is Sir Richard Branson, the owner of the Virgin group of companies with over 400 companies under his private umbrella. He left school when he was 16 years old as he was having trouble with his studies due to dyslexia. He tried selling Christmas trees and budgies with no success. Then he started a newspaper for students. This found great success and he expanded, bringing a small staff into a crypt to use as an office. Once the paper seemed to be maxing out their circulation, he started selling records by mail order on the side, using his own paper to advertise. From there, Virgin records was born. Over the years he branched into retail record stores, soft drinks, airlines, television, radio, financial services, cellular communications and even space travel! The thing that I love the most is that he did not venture into these ventures because he understood them. He entered them because he saw a need and wanted to fill it for the consumer. He had the vision and then surrounded himself with people with the technical know how. He then motivated them and managed then to a mutual success. He is no were near finished either. I am always excited to hear of his next idea.

I am sure Mr. Branson had his share of people telling him he was insane (he probably still hears it from time to time) but is now seen by most as an absolute business genius.

Don't let it bother you that people think you are crazy for wanting to build your own business. Listen to constructive criticism but dismiss those that just write off entrepreneurship as a whole. They think you are crazy now, but wait until they see you 5 years from now. They will marvel at what you have built.