Since I can remember Thomas Edison was the inventor of the light bulb.
Until I read Richard Friday’s insightful book The Great Reset and found out Edison in fact did not invent the lightbulb.
In the early 1800’s Sir Humphrey Davy began inventing a variety of safety lamps for coal miners and presented them to the Royal Society in return for accolades.
On into the mid-1800’s lamp technology began to be encased in a glass bulb through other adventurous English inventors.
It wasn’t until the latter half of the 1800’s that Edison would form the Edison Light Company and begin commercially perfecting and lighting up entire cities.
Although Edison did not invent the light bulb, he and his Menlo Park team certainly perfected the light bulb and even more importantly created a system for mass delivery which would go on to revolutionize an entire planet and it’s ensuing economic revolutions.
Last night, a massive storm rolled through our town and the dog woke us up freaked out. The power went out while we were awake, and it reminded me how grateful I am for the systematic delivery of power and light.
Building one lightbulb is transforming. Building a system to light a thousand lightbulbs is exponential.
When you build a product you impact one person. That very well may be good enough.
When you build a system you impact tens, hundreds, or thousands, or millions.
When you build a product you feel satisfied.
When you build a system for that product you satisfy tens, hundreds, thousands, or millions.
Sometimes building a system is unnecessary.
Systematizing conversations with my wife in the privacy of our walks down the street would be invasive and harmful.
Systematizing building a puzzle around our dinner table during a pandemic quarantine would position us to miss the point of that private moment.
Sometimes building a system is entirely necessary.
Sometimes building a system is entirely compassionate and thoughtful. I’m glad our healthcare workers operate within the system to help impact human life.
We are in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and a significant economic decline. Business owners are going to need a system for building a business that will be able to withstand this type of storm in the future.
Just in the United States there are reported to be over 30 million small businesses, and even more business owners (think partnerships). You cannot impact hundreds or thousands of business owners with one person delivering one product door to door. There is not enough time to combat the speed of chaos.
We have the necessary product in the Business On Purpose Roadmap, now we rely on a growing and compassionate system to light up entire towns and cities to liberate business owners from the chaos of working in the dark.
What is your product? Regardless of your inventive authorship of that product, the more important product is the system to deliver your product...but only if it aligns with your mission.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.
I’ve been working through the true account of Earnest Shackleton’s 1914 voyage from England to Antarctica where Shackleton, and an entire British nation were hoping he would be the first man to cross the Antarctic continent on foot.
I’m a little more than three fourths of the way through Alfred Lansing’s powerfully descriptive book “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” and already the principles of leadership in light of our current global pandemic are glaring.
Leadership is no longer a nice-to-have conference topic with palatable nuggets to fill mandatory business training time. Leadership, as it stands today, is literally life and death as unemployment towers over what during the Great Recession now seems mild, and healthcare workers in certain locales throughout the world are teetering on acute burnout.
The idea behind endurance is the motion to push through hard things. The assumption in the definition is that things are hard. Today, things are hard.
This was such a challenging expedition, Shackleton reportedly posted this advertisement in the London Times newspaper:
“Men wanted for a hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
The increased spike of pandemic infection and death, along with the unemployment chart in contrast to the bottoming out of the stock market chart are visual indicators that things are in the beginning stages of hard, and will likely get harder as the long hard winter of the health and economic challenge sets in.
In temperatures and conditions far worse than where many of us are situated right now, Shackleton led through unimaginable burden and courage. Here are five takeaways that we can practically install right now so that in a decade or century, future generations may look back at our actions today and name it with the banner of endurance.
First, leadership requires an internal resolve and conviction based on truth and experience. Shackleton had spent a lifetime studying, thinking, and exploring putting him in a position to have a steely, but mindful resolve.
Second, Shackleton would often go out alone late into the night and early morning to stand and walk alone.
It is not lost on me that all of this is happening in and around holy week. Likely the most infamous lonely, dark-knight-of-the-soul experience is accounted in the gospels of the Christian Bible, where Jesus is shown to have walked into a Middle Eastern garden and began sweating blood due to the immense pressure he was experiencing in anticipation for what was about to come.
Both leaders needed to retreat to have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Third, Shackleton surrounded himself with legitimate others-centered experts and allowed them to BE the expert.
On the Endurance voyage were dog handlers, navigators, boat pilots, rowers, engine mechanics, etc. The entire expedition was fueled by experts in each area. This was not the Shackleton-show...he was the producer and everyone else was an actor on the main stage. Shackleton called the plays and the team executed in Arctic temperatures and with self-less-ness.
Fourth, Shackleton had to be decisive because the Antarctic ice waits for no man. Throughout being stranded on various ice drifts, Shackleton would call the men at a moments notice to completely pack camp, load up the life-boats and switch to an adjacent drift on an experiential hunch that it would help navigate them to their rescue destination.
The Antarctic sea was unpredictable, fluid (no pun intended), and unforgiving. Activing decisively was fraught with risk, but indecisiveness was certain death.
Fifth, Shackleton ran his days within the gift of a schedule. When there were things to do a schedule made plenty of sense due to the entire crew of 28 men needing rest and rhythm. Even the menu each day was a careful selection of nutrition, preservation, and rationing. More interesting to me was Shackleton’s adherence to a strict schedule when there was absolutely nothing today while the team was stranded for days and weeks.
In the Antarctic it could be dark day and night, or it could be light day and night depending on the season. Shackleton always laid down a schedule for his team to follow.
For some of you the days are filled with darkness, for others the days are filled with light. Regardless, let’s be practitioners of good leadership. Let’s build and demonstrate resolve and courage, spend time alone to see and hear in the quiet, surround ourselves with experts and empower them to share their expertise, be decisive, and operate via a helpful and mindful schedule.
We may never have another opportunity to lead like we have right now. Let’s lead with endurance.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.
Jason had the job of his dreams. He was mostly working with people aligned with his values. Working for people who were considered vulnerable and in need. And was responsible to a board of directors who, for the most part, were cheering him on and providing the insight and support that he needed to lead this important organization towards its vision.
Daily Jason was meeting with team members and stakeholders.
Weekly Jason was holding leadership meetings to cast vision, follow up, and implement important details of their work all aligned with their mission and values.
Jason was visiting the work sites to encourage, train, audit, understand, strategize, and lead. Jason was learning more than he had ever learned, struggling through more than he had ever slugged through, and was truly working within his skillset and growing his skillset.
Jason also had a helpful team to delegate things to and run new ideas. Periodically there was frustration and misalignment, but it usually was worked through with intentionality and unity.
On an extended trip to a few of the work sites, Jason had decided to perform a simple audit of operations for the different sites. He ran through operational process, financials, and culture alignment.
Of course, as with any organization Jason found that some things needed special attention, a little extra fertilizer, and some time to grow and improve.
Jason brought the full audit to the CHairman of the board of the organization.
After a series of surprising discussions within the Board, the audit actually outed some other things that were happening that neither Jason or the majority of the board new were happening behind the scenes. Nothing illegal, but not healthy either...and even more than that, the Board felt mis-informed by some of its members.
An internal Board battle ensued, the majority of the board made a decision to resign on the spot, dissolve Jasons’ executive role due to by-law issues, and there Jason was.
Thirty nine years old, married, three kids, and totally unemployed. Silence. The tide of Jasons’ professional life had just gone out.
In life, the tide comes in and the tide goes out. The sun goes up, and the sun comes down. The clouds roll in, and the clouds roll out.
For many of us right now it feels like the tide is out and for many of us, we have never seen a tide that appears this low...or that at least seems to be getting lower by the hour.
Unknown and unexpected things have a way of breeding anxiety and uncertainty.
All of the sudden schools are out and now YOU are the homeschool teacher trying to juggle kids, a job, a home, and relationships.
All of the sudden your business is ordered to close down and YOU are the employer trying to juggle finances, employees, families, customers, banks, creditors, vendors, and inventory.
All of the sudden your throat starts to get sore and it makes you wonder…”has it come to me?”
Today I have a very simple goal: to persuade you to not live in a sesspool of fear and anxiety, worry and hopelessness, AND instead live in the bright light of belief, empathy, capability, and a sound mind.
My goal = “work on the dock while the tide is out”
We will NOT live in fear...but we will live believing that amazing things are just beyond the storm.
It is true...for many of you, your tide is going out right now.
The stock market looks like this, but all you hear is this:
RIGHT NOW you have a choice.
Will you mourn the loss of the tide? Will you be saddened over the possible lack of luxury and wealth found in money, expensive stuff, and overextended housing in our subtle effort to impress people we don’t even really like?
Will you find NEW wealth in a walk around the block with your spouse, in four straight nights of dinner at home around your rickety table eating on mis-matched plates, cups, and plastic wear?
Will you find NEW wealth in a lingering conversation with a friend? New wealth in a quiet moment standing on a marsh flat throwing a fly rod? New wealth playing four rounds of ping pong at home because there is really nothing else to do?
When the tide is out...there is either mourning and sadness...OR there is opportunity and hope.
In the Business On Purpose community we are making a declaration, planting our flag in the ground that THIS will be a community of hope...THIS will be a community of opportunity...and
THIS will be a community where the anxious find freedom
There are three real challenges to acknowledge when the tide goes out in your life:
BUT, There are also three subtle opportunities to acknowledge when the tide goes out in your life:
When you work on the dock while the tide is out it affords you time to RE-INVEST in the things that matter most
While the tide is out we must…
While the tide is out…
While the tide is out, and as long as you are a member of the Business ON Purpose family and community…
While the tide is out, and when the tide comes back in (and it will come back in)...
While the tide is out, we will plan well for when the tide comes back in.
We will not speculate...we will build a simple 12 week plan.
We will not moan and grumble...we will build a simple 12 week plan.
And when news breaks tomorrow...we will go back to our 12 week plan.
And when the news breaks next week...we will go back to our 12 week plan.
Earlier I told you about Jason and where we left Jason was in a place of confusion, despair, loneliness, and not knowing what was coming for himself, his wife, and his three kids.
I lied, his name was not Jason.
Just over five years ago on Friday February 27, 2015, I walked out of a North Texas boardroom unemployed.
On Monday March 2, 2015 we started The On Purpose Group LLC...or what you know as our DBA Business On Purpose.
Mollie Sandman sat across the bank desk and opened our bank accounts.
Chris Dalzell, Justin Harvey, and Gerrick Taylor all risked a coaching fee and a long 12 hour day in a small conference room to determine their vision...and today Business On Purpose has had the privilege of walking with hundreds of heroic business owners in over 40 countries around the world.
All for one purpose, to liberate heroic business owners from chaos.
For many of you this time feels like chaos.
Please let me persuade you otherwise and encourage you with this…
The tide is out…NOW is the time to make old things new
NOW is the time to work on your dock and in the words of Michele Williams let’s begin asking a simple question…
“What does this make possible”
TAKE 5 MINUTES TO WRITE DOWN EITHER BY YOURSELF, or WITH YOUR TEAM new ideas, new dreams, new visions that you have because the shift that we are living...and in 5 minutes I’ll give you instruction on your 12 week plan and then we will send you off to spend 1 hour working on the tactics of your 12 Week Plan
Starting out in the survival stage of your business meant you spent most days dreaming, doing, and making sure that everything is being held together.
Growth slowly (sometimes not so slowly) begins to creep in and before you know it you are maxed out not knowing how to get it all done in a 24 hour day.
Jason has spent years on this hamster wheel and his health and family are starting to really pay the price. Sure, he has some access to cash and resources but absolutely no time to enjoy any of it.
Part of the reason he started his business is to create margin to spend more time with his family and more time giving to the passions that he and his wife share. Instead, Jason is spending the majority of his time with other families making sure their home is maintained...neglecting his own maintenance.
How do you jump off the hamster wheel and start to grab and enjoy the margin that is so widely promoted to entrepreneurs (aka, “you can be your own boss...set your own hours…”)?
There is a high likelihood that as a business owner you have a driven personality...you’re a dreamer, a pioneer; an “out there” thinker. You take risks and often fire before ever really aiming.
Aiming is important...but you don’t have to be the one doing it all of the time.
How do you find someone to complement your skills and your responsibility as an owner?
How do you work with that person in a way that doesn’t drive them or you crazy?
For goodness sake...how do you afford them?
First, let’s just step back a minute and take a deep breath...although it may feel like your world is imploding let’s just remember that the world is not. The sun still comes up and goes down...the tide comes in and goes out...the rain comes and goes.
In most businesses that operate with great purpose there is a Visionary and another person who acts as an Implementer or what Dan Sullivan would call a Project Manager (not the same as a Construction Project Manager).
In most cases you are the Visionary which means in most cases you are on the hunt for an Implementer.
But where are they and who are they?
The role of the visionary is pretty straightforward; dream, pioneer, see, push and try your best to describe what you’ve concocted in words that the Implementer can understand.
The Implementer then takes that jumbled, fast, and often confusing collection of words, ideas, and concepts back to their workstation and goes to work in three major areas.
First, the Implementer translates all of your dreams and visions into an articulate form so others can understand it.
Next, the Implementer begins the hard work of distilling all of that vision down into a collection of systems, processes, and easy-to-digest implementables. Essentially that are “packaging” the vision into a brand that the Doers can understand and go to work IN.
Third, the Implementer embeds this new vision “package” into the rhythm of the Doer-team via team meetings, 12 week plans, dashboards, and reporting so progress can begin on the destination (aka - the vision).
Finally, the Implementer updates both the Visionary and the Doers of the progress towards the vision while the Implementer heads back out to pioneer the open country to see what other visions await in an effort to constantly exercise their mission.
So how do you afford an Implementer? You begin saving up NOW. Setup a separate bank account and title it “New Hire Account” (literally, have your bank title that account) and begin adding the salary you think you’ll have to pay an Implementer into that account every month.
If you don’t have enough each month, then you know you're not ready. But as you accrue it will help provide the confidence you need. In the meantime, be on the hunt for your Implementer.
They will be the ones dressed in the variegated colors of vision, the muted colors of process, and the pleasant colors of collaboration.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.
The first time I stepped foot onto Nigerian soil it was clear, “this was way different than home.”
We have been traveling in and out of Nigeria since 2006 and have developed some dear friends and partners during that time allowing us to work on important projects.
While in Nigeria the climate feels different, the food tastes different, the accents are different, the business climate is different...it’s just different.
Yet still when I look up in the evening against a dark sky what I see is exactly the same. The same stars and moon as I am used to back home.
When you coach business owners their offices look different, their teams look different, their products look different, their customers look different...they are all different.
So how do you systematically liberate business owners from chaos when everything is different?
I realized a few years back that the coaching playbook I would walk business owners through was not a set of strategies but instead a toolbox of principles. It is a toolbox that has not changed over hundreds and thousands of year.
This toolbox would have been useful to a silk trader in the Ancient Near East in 100 BC, a Middle Eastern tent-maker in 100 AD, an entrepreneurial printer in 1713 AD, and an ice cream shop owner in 2020 AD.
A toolbox of principles is differentiated from a set of strategies in regards to their change-ability. Strategies change all of the time (think of soap operas in the 1950’s vs. Facebook ads in 2020). Principles never change (think vision, mission, values, systems, and process).
The Business On Purpose Roadmap (aka Four Steps) is a system that I built while in the trench-like laboratory of coaching business owners at a pace of 800-1000 hours per year.
Each day I would sit with a heroic business owner and listen to the chaos they were submitting to. Themes tended to center around employees, lack of process, lack of clarity, and the unpredictability of people, schedule, or capital.
As we worked to situationally resolve each of their major and minor challenges a pattern began to emerge leading to the question, “what are the non-negotiable basics that every business owner must install whether they are selling art, ice cream, medical surgery, or roofing shingles?”
We were able to reduce what we saw into a construction metaphor that mapped out into three major layers.
The first layer holds the five foundational cornerstones of a business: vision, mission, unique core values, team meetings and huddles, and the hiring process.
The second layer holds around 13 ingredients which make up the “concrete slab” of a business (Dashboards, Bank Accounts, Job Roles, Org Chart, Process Roadmap, etc.)
Finally, the four major wall structures or the “systems” of the business; administration, operations, marketing, and sales.
Business owners must first commit to what’s behind the aesthetic, stop obsessing about marketing, product design, office interiors, and logos before obsessing about the foundational principles all of those strategies are sitting on top of.
To own a business is to commit to building a principled substructure that lays a predictable, stable foundation for every else that sits on top that the world sees with their eyes.
Without these layers, your business is a house of cards.
With the daily implementation of these layers your business becomes (over time) a force for sincere transformation...personal, professional, local, and global.
It’s been five years to the day since we launched Business On Purpose and the stories that are shared with us of genuine life-change are powerful...exciting...moving.
We press on with our laser-focused mission to liberate business owners from the chaos of working IN their business.
As you go, we hope that you will make time for the hard work of liberation so that others will benefit.
Over the weekend I devoured John Eldredge’s new book, Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices For A World Gone Mad.
A line in his introduction had me hooked as he was laying out the purpose of the book, “I found myself flinching when a friend texted and asked for some time. I didn’t want to open email for fear of the demands I’d find there…It made me wonder -- am I becoming a less loving person?”
How I wish that line didn’t resonate when I read it. But it did.
Towards the final pages of the book Eldredge diagnoses what is really going on, “these are symptoms that we’re running on fumes.”
Chaos is a gas-guzzler and has a high emotional fuel burn rate especially for those in the service and “helper” industries.
As you build and grow your business, here are low to no-cost steps you can take to both re-fuel while burning less fuel.
First, make time for a daily walk. This may or may not be your regular sweat-exercise. The goal with a walk is to get outside. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend 93% of their life indoors.
Eldredge puts it in a deeper perspective saying that if you live to be 100 years old, 93 of those years have been spent indoors.
In her article The Daily Routines Of Geniuses, Sarah Green Carmichael reflects on the outdoor walking habits of the greats like Dickens (3 hours per day), Tchaikovsky (2 hours per day), and Kierkegaard who would “often rush back to his desk and resume writing, still wearing his hat and carrying his walking stick.
I have been taking a walk most days just around my street (it’s a big circle) for the last few years. It is restorative.
Second, time block your week. We have business owners tell us regularly that time blocking their week has been one of the most clarifying disciplines they have installed. One business owner even told me a few weeks ago, “it has literally changed my life.”
Time blocking your week means that you own your week instead of your week owning you. Time blocking means that when someone reaches out to you to connect, then you get the share the times you are available while feeling confident in the times that you are not available.
We delivered a powerful webinar called Owning Your Schedule: Stop Wasting Hours Every Week On Small, Boring Tasks That Never Really Add To Your Life. You can watch the replay here:
One humble suggestion as you layout the hours of each day in your time block. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. There is typically not much good happening late, and there is a whole lot of peace and quiet if you are willing to get up early.
Third, find a private workspace without distractions. The open office concept is cool to look at and yet is killing focus and deep work.
We rent a space in town where we have the majority of our in person, and online client interactions, but then I retreat to my upstairs home office overlooking my backyard most Mondays and Fridays.
Those are the days that I spend preparing for the Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Although we have minimal general foot tracker in our conference room space, distractions still abound.
In most cases, your workspace as an owner is too accessible. You don’t have to rent a separate space. Do you have a home office, or a study room at the local public library, or a corner booth at Panera bread with a powerful set of headphones?
Time block segments of your week at your private office where no one except your loved-ones can find you.
Finally, ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
I wish I had come up with that, but it is a line from my favorite author and thinker Dallas Willard.
Theologian Robert Banks points out that “our society is rich in things, but poor in time”.
Last week I sat with a dear friend in Nigeria for a little over an hour and then mentioned that I needed to head to the next meeting, his response was quiet and simple, “you can be late.”
The West African context is rich in relationships and time, but poor(er) in things.
Even writing this I am already looking forward to the next thing...as I am sure you are too as you read or listen.
Go for a walk.
But you respond, “none of that will work for me...you don’t understand my world.”
Then you will need to embrace chaos.
But you don’t have to.
Want to invest more time in building a business on purpose? You can register for our next Business On Purpose Webinar free here at BOPWebinar.com.
There are seven things you will have to obsess over and implement if you wish to be the “leader that your looking for is looking for”
BONUS POINT! The leader you're looking for is looking for a leader who MAKES TIME FOR solitude to read and write.
Want to invest more time in building a business on purpose? You can register for our next Business On Purpose Webinar free here at BOPWebinar.com.
We are wrapping our fifth calendar year as a business and in pursuit of our mission to liberate business owners from the chaos of working IN their business so they can build a business on purpose and leverage their business AS their mission in life.
Why We Are Doing This Work
E.F. Schumacher says there are three purposes to work:
To us, our work is a display of our faith. Faith is the conviction of something that does not exist, and work is the creation of that thing that we see only in our minds that would be useful to others.
When we coach, plan, prepare, market, support, encourage, and research we are doing so to create something useful to others and to ourselves.
As to our mission, we have an enemy that hastles our dear business owners. Chaos.
Chaos has set the ground work for many of our beloved, heroic business owners (those we work with and those we do not) to be distracted from their purposed work. It is our work to help liberate them from the stubborn and filthy grips of chaos and instead guide them into the diligent world of healthy and fruitful work so they themselves can fulfill each of Schumacher’s three purposes of their own work.
When they enter this world of what Schumacker calls “Good Work” then we have the joy of knowing our work was useful.
2019: The year of “Aha”
Looking back I am compelled to see 2019 as the year we arrived at the peak of a very small mountain.
Of course this mountain seemed unscalable in March of 2015 but now is a source of incredible joy when we think about the business owners who have been able to climb their own mountains with our encouragement, coaching and support.
Between the one-on-one coaching, our new LIVE/LOCAL group coaching, the BOP Roadmap, and Architect’s Coaching program, we have had the honor and responsibility of directly impacting a powerful numbers of owners and key leaders in just this year. To our best estimate, at least…
...this does not include subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers.
2020: A little nervous...a LOT EXCITED!
I’ve got loads of clarity both for our Business On Purpose business and for our heroic business owners and their key leaders in 2020.
I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous about two things. Greed and Complacency.
In 2019 a critical mass of our business owners really figured out how to recognize real cash profit thanks to the a) multi-bank account structure, the b) level two dashboard, c) financial barn, and d) a lot of discipline. It worked! The profit accounts started filling up and will continue to do so in 2020.
If we’re not careful it can lead to a mindset of coasting, or even worse...greed.
To push beyond that, our word for 2020 is REINVEST, and I am A LOT EXCITED about that.
We are going to be relentless with our heroic business owners to REINVEST in vision, mission, values, systems, and process.
REINVEST in identifying purpose.
REINVEST in team meetings.
REINVEST in processes and process roadmaps.
REINVEST in knowing our team through roles, org charts, and personality profiles.
REINVEST in knowing your numbers through our accounts, dashboards, financial barns, budget, etc.
REINVEST in owners connecting with other owners and key leaders connecting with each other.
REINVEST in our 12 week plan LIVE event.
REINVEST in our common goal and responsibility of building a business on purpose.
I’ll use Business On Purpose as an example. Our major internal business focus is broken down into three tracks…
In March of 2020 we will celebrate five years of liberating business owners from chaos. Over the next five years, we WILL see overwhelming waves of liberation among existing and new businesses and their owners that will lead to a bona fide movement of purpose, generosity, and progress in marriages, families, and communities. This WILL happen and we want you to be a part.
You can begin to REINVEST in your own business by joining us for our next powerful, free webinar “Stop Hiring The Wrong People”, where I will build a hiring process from scratch right in front of your eyes!
You can register for free here at BOPWebinar.com.
Michael Beaumont was doing a masterful job yesterday of teaching about the priority and necessity of vision. I was in my happy place. There were friends who I could here in our small church meeting space snickering and chuckling as Michael talked about vision, as if to say, “Scott must be lapping this stuff up!!”
Michael then shared a story about Matthew Emmons that made me immediately think of you, the business owner.
Emmons is University trained in finance and management and moonlights as one of the world’s premier rifle marksman having won multiple Olympic medals.
Emmons was competing in Athens, Greece during the 2004 Olympics and was on his way to winning a gold medal. It was time for the three positions competition where competitors “fire .22 caliber smallbore rifles from the prone, standing, and kneeling positions at targets 50 meters downrange. The bullseye is 10.4 millimeters in diameter, smaller than a dime” (Washington Post).
It was time for his final shot and he drilled it. A bullseye.
The official score was posted and Emmons was confused. It read “0”.
What happened? It was a bullseye.
Emmons was aiming at the target in the next lane over. Zero. He would not earn the gold medal.
Sometimes we have vision but find we are aiming at the wrong thing. The Independent later reported Emmons admitting, “I didn't look at the number above the target before the last shot...I usually always look [through the scope] at the number first and then drop down to the target. I was just working on calming myself down and getting a good shot off. I should have looked.”
Over the past month I had multiple conversations with people who want to start their owxn business. I asked them one simple question, “do you have anything written down?” Typically the answer is “no”.
Here are three realities to know when we choose not to take a look at the right target. Three realities of not writing your vision down on paper.
First, if you do not have a vision you will feel chaos. Do not be surprised by that feeling of restlessness, confusion, frustration, and detachment like things seem out of control. That is is the natural result of a lack of vision.
The question now becomes, “do you wish to continue living in the uncertainty of chaos?” If you do, and believe it or not some go looking for chaos, then please be a solopreneur and do not bring others into your chaos. It’s cruel and we have seen it lead to damaged relationships.
If you wish to not spend your time in chaos, then let’s move onto the second reality.
Second, if you do not write your vision down then you do not have a vision.
There is clear historical precedent in understanding vision and seeing out vision gets distributed. A Jewish story gives us insight into the priority of writing a vision down. The Jewish prophet Habakkuk is in a tense conversation with God and God responds, “write the vision down so those who read it may run” (Habakkuk 2:2).
Think of all of the visions, ideologies, convictions, instructions, and master plans in history that have been written down. You cannot imagine walking into the Pentagon to a high level meeting among four-star Generals with battle plans...in your head. “Greetings Generals, I had this idea…”
Global religions do not lean on the oral traditions along, they all have a “book”.
I heard it said, “if you do not write it down it does not exist.”
The reason we do not rush to write things down is because it is hard, and because it feels so elementary. We have got to get over both.
Hard things breed endurance and thoughtfulness. Elementary things usually remind us that life is a series of living out fundamentals.
Do the hard, elementary discipline of writing down your vision either with pen on a real piece of paper, or on a digital document that you will review regularly.
Final reality. If you do not have a written vision then no one will run with you. You will be alone.
Periodic isolation can be restorative and valuable. Continual isolation is predictably damaging and punitive in most societies.
What may be worse is perceived companionship where you think you are surrounded by like-minded people and wake up one day realizing that you are running alone.
How does that happen? Not having or communicating your written vision.
Let me encourage, motivate, and persuade you. Please...
Write your vision down so you have confidence in the target you are aiming at.
Write your vision down so your kids know what Mom or Dad’s ambitions are when you are not around to share them.
Write your vision down so you don’t live a life in the slow drain of chaos.
Write your vision down because WE WANT TO RUN WITH YOU!
You can write out your own vision by going to our website at mybusinessonpurpose.com and click “Get Your Free Vision Story Here”.
We want to help you run and liberate you from business chaos.
Over the holiday break I had a chance to restructure my bookshelves and do one of my favorite things...meander through my books!
Books are NOT just for nerds like me. Books are a wise conversation with an old soul.
Hemingway said, “no friend is as loyal as a book.”
Jefferson said simply, “I cannot live without books.”
Or how about this more modern Game Of Thrones reference, “... a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
You will need to keep your edge throughout 2020 as it is an important year, and books will sharpen you.
Here are four books that I recommend you load up for 2020 and spend time re-investing in yourself (in no particular order)...
This is not a list of my top books of all time (that may come later this year)...but some powerful reads to keep you engaged in this important year of re-investment.
Re-invest in yourself...set a timer for 10 minutes per day and commit to reading.
“But reading is boring!” Read anyway until that mindset changes:).
Be like my buddy TJ who does not consider himself a reader but realized last year the impact that reading has on his family...look closely at one of my favorite pictures...
It is a life-discipline that will TRANSFORM you.
P.s. - you can add my book Let Your Business Burn to your list, and while you’re at it register for our next free BOP Webinar in February RIGHT HERE “Start Hiring The RIGHT PEOPLE: Watch Me Build A Predictable Hiring Process Right In Front Of Your Eyes”
Last month we hosted our 9th BOP 12 Week Plan LIVE Event with over 130 business owners and key leaders in the room all culminating with each person working on their next 12 week plan.
Each event we ask for feedback on what people are struggling with, it was overwhelmingly clear what the current headache is in owning a business. One owner said it this way, “I need to cut the distractions, and get a real employee to help me!”
The curse of the business owner is taking the superhero mindset into their business and setting a stage where they are the promoter, the actor, the director, the stage hand, the writer, the ticket seller, the janitor, and everything in between.
We believe that no one is equipped to help. We say things like, “I hate having to have employees.”
In reality, employees generally want to be useful and valuable to the organization that they are a part of. We tend to be the missing link.
Here are five clear things you can do to make sure that your mission gets the help it needs.
First, do you really believe in your mission? If you do, there is no way to do it alone. If you do not have a written mission then go to work to create one sentence that is less than 12 words that will capture why you do what you do.
At Business On Purpose we are obsessed with liberating business owners from the chaos of working IN their business.
Second, write out every task that you are currently doing yourself or that you know needs to be done. Once you can visually see those tasks and how much time they take each week you will awaken to the sober realization that you cannot do it all yourself and remain healthy.
Third, write out a simple job role. Take those tasks, lump them into a role, articulate how each of those tasks are done and then go find the right person. Make sure to spend the extra time putting together a budget for the role based on your actual financials...do not guess.
Fourth, go find a person to match the role. Don’t focus on a person with a pulse, instead focus on someone who has the personality, the skill, and the desire to work this role towards the mission you have laid out.
Finally, empower, equip, deploy, rinse and repeat. Take the role and the processes of each task and walk through them with your new team member. Send them out to do the task and provide a weekly (at minimum) set time and place to follow up with progress of their deployment.
Let’s put an end to the mindset that we “hope they do it right”, and instead own the mindset that will work to empower, equip, and deploy so you can have some real help so you can impact your real mission.
You don’t have to do it all yourself. You yourself can be liberated from the chaos of working IN your business.
Now is about the time that owners and key leaders think, “we need a plan for next year!”
You are right...you do. What about last years plan? Did it work? Did you stick to it?
Do goals and plans even work?
Through our in depth research we have uncovered the secret in what plans and goal-setting tools work and which do not. Stay tunes and I will answer that in a minute.
But first, why do we need a goal setting plan in the first place?
This is a story of two boats. Both boats were planning to leave the safe harbour of Ft. Lauderdale with their destination (vision) set on Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas.
One boat arrived safely in Marsh Harbor the same afternoon they departed Ft. Lauderdale ...the other boat was lost at sea, frustrated and cursing God for not “blessing” them with a safe arrival.
When we dig a bit deeper we find some helpful information learned from both situations.
The first boat that arrived safely had spent two weeks preparing for the trip with a simple, written checklist on a simple sheet of notebook paper.
Fresh batteries, check.
Safety equipment, check.
The second boat decided on a whim to go.
Fuel, not enough.
Fresh batteries...nope, drained.
Food, couple packs of crackers.
Water, a few water bottles
Weather, never bothered to look.
Safety equipment, a child’s life vest and a whistle.
The people in the second boat were rescued by a charter sportfishing boat and their crew and brought safely back to the coast of Florida, but their boat was badly damaged.
Upon return, the captain of the misshapen boat talked with disdain and jealousy about the boat that had safely made it to Marsh Harbor without incident using language that made it sound like the successfully arrived boat was “lucky”.
Meanwhile, the shattered and unprepared captain continued telling harrowed sea stories at the local watering hole about the time he made it back safe to shore after he had beaten back the winds and the waves, enduring dehydration, a lack of food and lifejackets and on and on and on...as if he were a hero.
Business owners can sometimes confuse unpreparedness and a lack of planning with unforeseen persecution and suffering. They will tell others, “the market was against me” or “employees are impossible” or “we could never catch a break”.
In reality what they meant to say was, “I was unprepared”.
Here is the easiest preparation tool we have found; Brian Moran’s 12 Week Year.
We have adapted his principles into a simple 12 Week Plan tool that everyone of our heroic small business owners use and refresh every 12 weeks.
Here are three reasons it works so well and why you should try it beginning on Thursday December 19th, 2019…
First, twelve months is TOO LONG!
With twelve month plans we get to April and think, “well we haven’t done anything with our twelve month plan, but we still have nine months.”
Then we get to July and think, “well we haven’t done anything with our twelve month plan, but we still have six months.”
Then we get to October and huff frustratingly, ““well we haven’t done anything with our twelve month plan, but we only have three months till the new year so we’ll scrap this one and do one next year.”
And the cycle repeats into insanity.
Second, the twelve week plan only allows for three goals. Moran defines goals simply as “outcomes”. In other words, what are the three major outcomes you hope to achieve over the next twelve weeks?
Is it to “clean up your bookkeeping” or to “finalize a hiring process”? Perfect. Whatever it is, it is ok for the goal itself to be broad (I know, I know...it feels like a violation of the S.M.A.R.T. goal process...stay tuned).
Finally, each goal has an unlimited number of tactics with Moran defines simply as “actions”.
In other words, if your goal is to “finalize a hiring process” then your list of tactics may look like this…
By principle, when all of the tactics (actions) are completed, then the goal is completed...all within the timeline of twelve weeks.
It’s simple. Twelve weeks, three goals, unlimited actions steps.
So what is the secret to finding a plan and goal-setting tool works? The one you IMPLEMENT and DO!
MAKE the time on your calendar, get out a sheet of paper, and IMPLEMENT. Then create a line item in your weekly team meeting agenda for each person to review progress to their twelve week plan so you can track their progress to “Marsh Harbor”.
What about the ones who don’t implement? They will likely be the ones griping and complaining about how they braved the elements and were left in a hopeless goal of reaching their vision. Not sure if they are a good fit for what you are building.
FYI, we are hosting our next Business On Purpose 12 Week Plan LIVE Event on Thursday December 19th, 2019 in Bluffton, SC at 9amEST. You can sign you and your team up here.
In his book Work The System Sam Carpenter writes, “systems are the invisible threads that hold the fabric of our lives together.”
Carpenter goes on in his book to describe how his spiritual atheistic worldview was even changed not because to typical religious education or training but instead because of the systems he saw around him.
In order for you to read or listen to (check out the Business On Purpose YouTube channel and the My Business On Purpose Podcast) this article, thousands of systems must have been working in symphony. The electricity grid, my Macbook Pro, the internet connection, my bluetooth keyboard, operating systems, Google Docs, the English language, your education and ability to read, and on and on. All of these systems must be functioning in concert with predictable repetition so that I could share this message with you.
Once I complete this article we will then create images and headlines that we hope will appeal to you based on the system that we have designed to help us understand what you are struggling with. I will then take the written article record and broadcast it on Facebook Live, send that recording to be edited as a YouTube post, a podcast, and a LinkedIn article. We will use all of those content locations and use a system to share it with you around the world.
It is all a system.
We hear frequently this pushback, “systems make everything feel robotic, and we want to be a people-centered business.”
Good news, we are a people-centered business and the only way we continue to deliver on that the best possible way is with thoughtful, intentional, compassionate, and kind systems.
I cannot imagine having a business that coaches even just one client without having a system to help steward and support that client.
It is currently Monday and I have a document that I print out each Monday called the “Monday Checklist Master - BOP”. It is an incredibly simple system that reminds me exactly what needs to be done with great repetition each Monday so that I serve our heroic business owners with consistency, predictability, and a personal word from me.
One of the tasks on that checklist is writing this article which requires human creativity, intuition, awareness, and a constantly adjusted empathy pushing me to ask the question, “what is the chaos that is keeping our heroic business owners from experiencing the freedom that is front of them?”
I am due to fly on a plane next week and the captain of the commercial plane I will board will likely have thousands of hours of experience in the left seat of a commercial airliner. Regardless of the number of hours, maneuvers, delays, takeoffs and touchdowns (which we hope that number always stay equal) I will only feel comfortable flying that particular plane knowing that the captain has done the robotic work of her pre-flight checklist.
If the pilot is so experienced why should they even bother with the checklist?
1935 near Dayton, Ohio Major Ployer P. Hill barrels down the runway of Wright airfield and is set for lift off in what was the most sophisticated airplane in human history to that point. Everything was perfect until just seconds after liftoff when the plane stalled, banked, and crashed.
Everyone on board was killed.
The crash was investigated and studied and the determination made was not that the airplane was marred due to complexity, instead it was found that the Boeing 299 (The Flying Fortress) was, “too much plane for one man to fly.”
With all of the complexities of this massive airplane in motion, the crew simply forgot to release the control gust locks. That’s all. One tick of a checklist forgotten, and everyone paid.
Boeing responded in the most human AND robotic way they could and built the most innovative and life-saving piece of aviation technology still in use today…
The pilot’s checklist.
Your business is “too much business for one person to fly.”
Systems help by offering three powerful realities in the face of the simple complexities of business.
First, systems communicate to everyone, “we care enough about you to put in the hard, repetitive work.”
In business we are noticing an epidemic that is being intensified in a market of low unemployment. Many business owners need talented people and need them “yesterday.” One of the five stages of business that we teach our business owners about is the “pulse and passion” stage (stage two of a business). It derived its stage name because so many owners simply want to know, “Do you have a pulse? Do you have some level of passion for this work? YOU’RE HIRED!”
The new hire then is introduced to the center of chaos with a lack of clear direction and true understanding about what they are being asked to do. The assumption is that because this new employee has “common sense” then they will figure it out.
Just because a new hire has managed projects or sold mattresses before does not mean they know how you manage projects or how you sell mattresses. A captured system (or process) allows others to see that you spent time putting in the work to allow others to feel comfortable coming in. Capturing systems is a most human discipline.
Second, systems invite and set the stage for the human mind to expend energy on creativity innovation.
Can you imagine a world where you woke and had to go through the months-long process of remembering how to walk? How to drink without spilling? How to brush your teeth without jamming a toothbrush in your ear?
If we were to all live in a constant state of amnesia, that would be a world without systems. In order to write, to draft, to design, to construct, to teach, to drive, or to manage, we must not spend our valuable time doing things that systems can easily automate.
Allow systems to automate while you create and innovate!
Finally, systems scale, scale, scale.
As systems automate the monotonous, we are able to bring more production, more conversation, and more serving into our lives and the lives of the clients we serve. Without systems we are stuck performing one task to one person.
With systems a business coach can serve hundreds, restaurateurs can feed thousands, comedians can sketch comedy to millions, and engineers can deliver power to billions.
Without systems...we go dark.
To celebrate the power of systems watch this time-lapsed video put together by Mitch Brown and Boat Float company who captured the natural beauty of systems. Watch the solar system, the tidal system, and the ecological system all working like clockwork so that Mitch and his team can build a dock and a homeowner can enjoy an incredible view!
An article from Gettysburg College tells us we will spend roughly 90,000 hours of our life at work.
That is one third of every day of our life...working.
Owners have a responsibility for creating businesses that produce value for customers, profit for the business, and jobs for millions of people.
As you build your business in whatever stage you are in (typically five different stages from “Survival” to “Legacy”), people are going to be a part of it.
If you are a solopreneur, a gig-er, or a freelancer, at some point you will outsource bookkeeping, taxes, graphic design, marketing, or some other service that will dramatically help you focus on your narrow brilliance.
Surveying heroic business owners for the past five years we have found that outside of managing time, their biggest headache is found in one simple word; employees.
It does not have to be that way.
Life is loaded with concrete reality and fluid emotion.
Employees and owners alike both bring that dualistic reality with them at home and to work, it is why the sentiment “it’s just business” cannot be right.
Owners have an opportunity to create a powerful human experience for employees within the platform of their business if they will only slow down.
I received this email from a co-owner (Matt) at Modern Door in Maryland. They began intentionally following the methodical hiring process that we built together and this was a result...
Another owner “caught” a key leader in the act of using their printed Hiring Process to bring on a new team member.
THIS IS HUMAN!
Following a hiring and onboarding process does three things for you, your business, your new team members, your existing team members, and the families at home.
First, a hiring and onboarding process gives you and your team clarity on who fits what role in the business. Too many times we bring someone into the business because we are desperate and conclude that this person can be the ibuprofen to our headache.
When we bring them in without a process, without a clear role, and without a 90 day onboarding plan, instead of ibuprofen, it feels more like another knife in the back.
We then blame our frustration on the new person when in reality, we are the problem. We were too caught up in “needing help” that we forgot (or neglected) to “help the need”.
Second, a hiring process intentionally slows down the entire process. Historical wisdom has prioritized slown-ness verses speed. Rarely have solid, decisions with great longevity been made in haste. Proverbs 19:2 minces no words in saying, “it is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”
Hiring has been notoriously hasty. Currently Amazon is needing to hire over 50,000 people. Wow. Haste may have to be an option for Amazon but it certainly does not for you.
Write the process down, communicate it with your team and your potential hires, and follow the process...every jot and tittle.
Third, a clear process puts the potential hire on alert declaring “this is the type of company you are dealing with.” It has been overwhelming to hear the number of times a potential hire will tell an owner or key leader, “wow, you all really have your stuff together” or “I’ve never interviewed with a company like this.”
The truth is you made the hiring up from scratch, you didn’t consult an HR manual or a professional hiring service, you just thought through, what are the key elements we need to know and what are the key elements they need to know before we join up for a long term relationship.
Rarely will you find a good talent fit, instead choose to make a good talent fit for your business.
What is the next step? Go grab a sheet of paper, lose the distractions for 30 minutes and write down everything you want to be a part of your hiring process. Share it with your existing team (or just with yourself if you are solo), and follow the process!
When you follow the process, you create a human experience.
Recently I received an email from a client who is a part of our Architects coaching program which is known as the Architecture Firm Freedom Formula (Dream Practice Accelerator) serving Architects, Engineers, and Interior Designers..
It is a program that Enoch Sears and I have run jointly for four years and we’ve had the privilege of seeing more than 100 Architects through the program around the world from Namibia, to Croatia, China, to Scotland, Canada, and the United States.
We hear regular feedback from our heroic firm owners about real life challenges they are facing, and struggles of running a successful firm.
This is an honest peek into the life of one such firm owner who was literally about to throw in the towel, but has been refreshed and recommitted after seeing the simple power of serving her widowed mother.
Dear Scott and Enoch,
This is just an email to touch base and let you know I'm still alive:)) But more importantly, that I had a break through recently, thanks to the influence of you guys, that has me super excited and pumped to press forward with our company and renew/refresh....again!
I had hit a bad place of uncertainty mid-year that derailed intentions initiated at the start of this year when I signed up for AFF. I may have shared snippets between Thursday calls and the one time chat with Enoch (which was meant to discuss technical road block i have with trello), that indicated the turmoil & overwhelming state I'd arrived at with so much changing so fast in our company/structure/culture/vision, which left David and I very unsure what we wanted out of the business anymore. Vision temporarily lost! Confusion was compounded by us both turning 50/51 and re-evaluating goals and means to accomplish them. We called into question if it made sense to keep Fusion going or take our experience/skills/knowledge to alt career paths as employees elsewhere.
Meanwhile, we continued to be busier than expected this year, but unfortunately not all due to new revenue generating business, but rather, a considerable amount devoted to trouble-shooting and fixing unacceptable/inaccurate work performed by our ex-young team who had since moved on (we had taken time to train, or so we thought, but they didn't care enough apparently), but left us plenty of potentially liable mess ups to follow up and deal with. Needless to say, the motivation to keep the business going waned even further as I evaluated our numbers, implementing AFF lessons, etc.
Then October rolled around and suddenly it was time for my almost 3 week solo trip to India (booked months ago) to visit and help my mom. Now a widow, she has relocated to her birthplace in a beautiful but remote town and I was there to help her finish out a construction project she stubbornly started at age 85, with the desire to reside on the small lakeside lot of land she inherited, next to the chapel she had built over 20 years ago for her community, from her retirement savings. The place is fairly remote, natural, with no internet connection at her place (attaching a pic taken from roof terrace of her new final home). So I'd hoped I'd have plenty of quiet blocks of time to really catch up on AFF modules, plus some reading, in this potentially peaceful setting. I took both books you guys sent us (Profit First and E-Myth)...had only half finished the former in January, implemented immediately, but never finished the book. This was going to be my time to read both! Well, turned out to be wishful thinking!!
My 3 weeks flew at a very busy pace, as I found myself having to manage union/communist mentality labor taking advantage of a single old lady; having to communicate strictly in a foreign language that I only have basic conversational skills with, amidst heavy rain storms, etc. Kept me so fully busy every day, with no energy to read or think beyond what my mom needed. But i was there for her primarily, so it was cool. Accomplished a lot to settle her. Left her happy and comfortable, and excited that I will be back next month with David and the girls. Something for her to look forward to this Christmas:)
But...as I boarded the plane on Nov 11th to head back, I recognized I was still hungry to gain some clarity and sense of thoughtful professional gameplan before returning to USA, but had exhausted time, and quite frankly, my energy. Not quite ready to give up, I decided to try something I've never succeeded at doing in the past....to stay awake in flight and read!
I deliberately slept my first 4.5 hours flight from Kochi to Doha. That refreshed me from immense fatigue I had felt from intense pace through day of departure. Then on 2nd leg of journey, 14.5 hours to go before touchdown in Atlanta, I buckled down with Michael Gerber. I thought I'd at least get the book started before I returned to David.
Simply put....Wow! What a great read. Just a couple of chapters in, I was hooked. I could relate to so much, and every page resonated with sense. I devoured the book cover to cover without inflight movies or sleep for 14 hours straight -- much to the annoyance of my fellow passengers who probably wanted my light turned off. But selfishly I wasn't about to turn it off when so many mini lightbulbs were mentally being triggered as I read on.
The book helped me better understand the systematic modules you have organized for us to implement. I feel stupid for waiting this long to read it! It even inspired me to crack open my notepad and think through a different ORG chart with fresh perspective (I've attached my sloppy inflight sketch here for your amusement -- lots to still iron out -- have some questions I hope AFF team can help clarify before finalizing). I realized, the Entrepreneur in me wasn't ready to give up. Not just like that after more than 16 years of a fairly profitable business -- messy and sloppy as it has been. So much room for improvement, and with some clarity gained, I know Fusion can be so much better and stronger, even if maintaining our desire not to get much bigger! I am convinced we've just experienced really painful adolescence as a company, and I am so ready to grow up/mature, but recognize the need to reset bad childhood habits and practices first. So...I am ready to implement from basics again.
The most exciting result of this trip for me is that i've returned EXCITED and believing in the purpose of my business in our life's goals again. This trip gave me time to recognize in deep gratitude the many luxuries our small business has provided us as a family. Not just the financial means and freedom to travel internationally as a family every other year, but especially for the blessing to allow me personally the freedom to take as many trips across the seas to reach my parents to help whenever needed.
When in 2015 my dad was diagnosed with ALS, he and my mom needed my help and I ended up making 5 trips to India over the next 12 months, 2-3 weeks each; the last of which was to bury dad. Had I been an employee anywhere, I would have been fired or had to have quit. Which employer would allow for that kind of time? Or which small company, unsystematic as we are in many ways, could tolerate a COO in absent minded/depression/anger/grief for the next 12-18 months and still generate adequate returns to keep all staff compensated while finishing several big projects to full client satisfaction? Somehow that's what my business has afforded and provided us.
The recent years seem a blur so I don't know how we did it, but we did. No doubt being blessed with a handful of key people on my team is definitely part of the 'how'; but boy, thinking back to the intense stress and toll we've experienced through these last 4 adolescent years, while it's been a decent business it could've been so much better had I known and implemented then what I am learning now. I recognize that while the business hasn't been a lucrative one unfortunately, it has been a blessing in disguise that has afforded us significant and priceless life experiences. And I believe it still has purpose for at least a few more years.
So I want to re-commit to my initial intent at the start of 2019, to renew and refresh Fusion A.I. Design. Really thankful to have discovered AFF to help guide me to accomplish that intent. Now it is time. I aim to IMPLEMENT!
Thank you both for sharing what you know and doing what you do!
What role does your business play in serving others? Alice is working to build a business on purpose...and we hope you’ll do the same!
Three things Alice did that I challenge you to do…
My very first job in High School was working for my neighbors who owned Country Boy’s Home & Garden Center in Greenville, SC.
My office space was an outdoor nursery filled with plants, herbs, shrubs, pine needles and produce. Allen and Lucy were generous to provide me with more responsibility than a 15 year old kid should have had. It was a great training ground.
From there my office spaces consisted of a cubicle, a car, an airplane, and now a secluded space overlooking a beautiful lowcountry view.
Even with seclusion, distraction is just a click away. Owners and key leaders must have incredible discipline to resist distraction and to set space where distraction is a minimum.
Enter the “owners space”.
While working with a non-governmental organization I spent time with a number of stakeholders of the organization. One such stakeholder was a much older man who was a land developer and philanthropist in North Texas. In the 2000’s, his office still carried the interior design touches of an office outfitted in the late 1960’s. Not much had changed; mustard yellow kitchen appliances, retro toilets, shag carpet, and brown panel walls. It was gross and touching.
What struck me was the desktop computer in his office that was never powered on. On one occasion I walked into his office and asked to pull up and article, he spun around in his chair and called for his assistant to come power up his computer. He had no desire to even learn the simple power button. Just another distraction.
This owner was focused and locked in on developing land and giving away money.
Your workspace is important. We are constantly encouraging owners and their key leaders to paint the walls of their space with heads-up-displays of mission, values, process, and workflow.
Recently, during one of our Architect coaching calls (Architecture Firm Freedom Formula with myself and Enoch Sears), one of the firm owners shared this picture with us...
This is the owner's space. Notice a Master Process Roadmap (the large printed image), an updated Org Chart (the smaller printed image), printed process, books, notebooks, and no computer.
Obviously we are not saying you do not need technology, you do, but it needs to be harnessed in boundaries.
The owner’s space should be setup like the dashboard of a cockpit with all of the necessary instruments to fly your business. What are those?
First, every business owner should have their vision story, mission statement, and unique core values printed out, posted and reviewed continually. These are the ultimate leveling tools to help you the owner determine if you are on course with the correct heading.
I write about how to develop a vision story, mission statement, and unique core values in full detail in my book Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters.
Write them, print them, post them, and implement over and over.
Second, every business owner should have copies of a current Org Chart, Weekly Schedule, and Master Process Roadmap (all processes that exist in the business...see the larger printed image in the picture above) printed out and posted on the wall.
Also, owners should consider using our Business On Purpose Implementation Dashboard. It is a brief snapshot of what you should be thinking through daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semesterly, and annually as a business owner.
Finally, every business owner should have completed and printed their updated 12 Week Plan. Brian Moran has written a powerful book, 12 Week Year: Get More Done In 12 Weeks Than Others Do In 12 Months.
We have sent hundreds of these books to people over the past couple of years. We even run an entire event based on these principles every 12 weeks so our local and virtual business owners and their teams are on the same page with their 12 week plans.
Your space should be set apart, special, unique, and should facilitate your highest and deepest level of work.
If technology or those trophies from 10th grade are distracting you, move them somewhere else and setup your office on purpose. The owner’s space should be an intentional place to think, to lead, to vision, to innovate, to build, to design, and a place that empowers you to say “yes” to the right things and “no” to the wrong things.
Too many owners see their businesses either as an irritation to endure or as a machine merely for profit-generation.
A business is so much more.
Business and commerce are incredible tools in the hands of thoughtful owners that can be leveraged as a powerful force for life transformation in the major areas of life-- faith, family, finances, friends, etc.
Ryan O’Shaugnessey’s is a growing Project Manager at Premier Exteriors LLC. Ryan and his wife are an intentional young couple who have been working hard to set up into adulthood found themselves, as so many do, in debt that placed a constriction to the household.
Zack Howard, the head of Operations for Taylors Quality Landscape Supply likewise found himself swimming both in “big boy toys” and swimming equally in debt.
Culturally it has become the norm to look down the proverbial block and see what “The Joneses” have and make a subtle, often subconscious, and consequential decision thinking, “surely if they can afford that then I can too.”
Credit lenders abound in both their availability and often their simplicity in extending what Dave Ramsey so comically and truthfully stated is money to “... buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”
For some it is the “Joneses” mindset, for others it may be student loans. Regardless, owing other people money stinks and is well cautioned, “the borrower is slave to the lender”, I’ll add, no matter the purpose, the terms nor the interest.
Owing a debt is usually a weight.
Justin Harvey owns Premier Exteriors and Gerrick Taylor owns Taylors Quality Landscape Supply. Both owners separately saw an opportunity to leverage their business as a force for personal transformation and began to offer Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to their team members as a means for personal growth and development.
Gerrick partnered with Live Oak Christian Church who provided trained facilitators for the course.
After the entire 13 week course was complete for both Premier and Taylors team members, the results were almost unimaginable.
The O'Shaughnessy's systematically and courageously paid off $68,000 in 15 months! That is a weight of $151 every day for 450 days they got rid and whimsically whisked away to the beach to celebrate! This letter from Ryan and Amber is a tangible momento for Justin and proof that you can build a business on purpose.
For Zack, he single-handedly starting barreling down his debt to the point he paid off $50,000 during the course of the program. Gerrick as the owner provided the opportunity and the vision, Zack brought the hard work and implementation. Vision without implementation is hallucination.
To prove Zack’s lack of hallucination he courageously stood in front of the entire Taylors team and shared, numbers and all, his journey and success. It led to eight other team members filling up another Financial Peace class so the momentum could continue.
Your business IS your mission. Your business can transform the lives of real people. As the owner, leverage your business for profit, leverage your business for connection, leverage your business for impact, and leverage your business for the transformation of lives!
Here are three ways to leverage your business for the transformation of your team and the people they influence.
First, write your business vision down on paper and share it with your team. Seriously. Don’t just think, “oh, that’s a neat idea!” Do it. Write it down. Share it openly.
Your business vision should have seven categories you write out: duration (18-36 months ideally), family and freedom, financial, product and/or service, team and employees, client type, and what your culture will be.
Once you have shared your vision invite your team to write a vision for their family or household. What do they want for their family, their faith, fitness, finances, and friendships?
Next, teach financial literacy in your business and provide opportunities for your team to work on their own financial stewardship. Talk about how a dollar that comes into the business does not remain as a whole dollar. Explain that every dollar gets fractionated out in payroll, taxes, cost of goods, etc.
Also, talk about the importance of personal financial stewardship both at work and at home. Bad stewardship should never determine compensation either way.
Finally, tie a team members work back to the community they serve and the purpose they have in their life. Of course this requires that team members know their purpose. Walk with them through a simple process of asking each person, “what motivates you?”
Real transformation will not take place the first time you take advantage of any of these opportunities but instead evolves over time and repetition. Team meetings and intentional time calendaring serves as the invitation for solid repetition.
Coaching business owners has allowed us some pretty exciting highs. Coaching also requires the thickening of a coach's skin. There are plenty of days where I show up to “practice” ready to coach and the response is a subtle eye roll from an owner, “Really? We’re going to talk about this again?”
Most Tuesday nights throughout the school year we have a group of teenage emerging-men to our house for “Man Up Night”. It’s really a case study in teenage male interaction. Shiny squirrels, bazaar sounds, curious thoughts, unrealistic competition, and the world's newest game, plunger wars (don’t ask).
One of these young emerging men walked into the house on a Tuesday and I asked him, “how was practice?” His response, “just like always...it sucked.”
The truth of that statement is that it is hard. What gets missed in our bemoaning practice is when that young emerging-man shows up this Friday night to his live game, he will be overwhelmingly grateful and satisfied that he put in the hard work of repetitious, enduring, methodical practice.
As your coach, at least for this moment, I am inviting you into the methodical, repetitous, sometimes painful work of writing.
Writing down your vision. Writing down your mission. Writing down your unique core values.
Why write them and not just discuss them?
Michael Gerber said, “if you don’t write it down you don’t own it.”
I am not sure who said this statement but it is true nonetheless, “if you do not write it down it does not exist.”
My first book Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters only exists because I took the time to write it down. Obvious huh? Think through the inverse. If I do not write it down, the book does not exist.
We have written down tutorials, modules, documents, and templates, and now they all exist and bring enduring value for others. Just this year over 1,000 people have my book, my thoughts, my perspective in their hand. Just this year our tutorials and templates have been used thousands of times.
How? I wrote it down.
Author, psychologist, and educator Kelly McGonigal reinforces the intentional act of writing, in this case, your values. McGonigal writes, “It turns out that writing about your values is one of the most effective psychological interventions ever studied. In the short term, writing about personal values makes people feel more powerful, in control, proud, and strong. It also makes them feel more loving, connected, and empathetic toward others. It increases pain tolerance, enhances self-control, and reduces unhelpful rumination after a stressful experience.
In the long term, writing about values has been shown to boost GPAs, reduce doctor visits, improve mental health, and help with everything from weight loss to quitting smoking and reducing drinking. It helps people persevere in the face of discrimination and reduces self-handicapping. In many cases, these benefits are a result of a one-time mindset intervention. People who write about their values once, for ten minutes, show benefits months or even years later.”
Why do we resist?
First, writing feels so “9th-grade-English”. We wrote in 9th grade because we were forced to write. Many of us found no joy or purpose in the writing other than simply to write. There was no “Friday night game” that rewarded the joy of writing, to the detriment of this great skill.
I walked into my son’s room as he was pounding away at a keyboard the other night working on a short essay. As I write and speak this out now I am thinking, “we need to have a Friday night game experience for his collection of writings.” The old adage is true, “what gets rewarded gets done.”
Second, we resist writing because writing feels so beneath us. We are smart people, we don’t need to write it down! We think, “I’m a grown adult, I’ll leave the writing to the 9th graders.” I get it, but we are wrong when we think this. Writing, documenting, capturing, recording is one of the most thoughtful, human, empowering tools you have in your toolbelt.
When you write and capture a process, a value, a vision, a mission, an idea, that written statement transforms into a powerful motivator and invitation that forces the rest of us to either run towards what you have written (in agreement), or run away from what you have written (in disagreement).
If you want me to know where you stand, write it down, otherwise it is just hot air.
You need to hire someone? Write the role down.
You need to bring on a partner? Write it down.
You need to have a tough conversation? First, write it down.
You need to praise someone? Write it down.
Finally, we resist writing because it is hard. To spend time writing this right now means that I have elected to not sleep, text, email, or eat ice cream (although I’m still in debate). Writing this means that I have chosen to forego the easy work of responding to fires and instead invest in the hard work of writing it down, so now it exists allowing you to think through how you bring things into existence.
Write your vision, write your mission, write your values, write your systems, write your process, write thank you notes, write your thoughts and then repeat them over and over and over and over so we can read them and RUN!
Put in the hard work of writing and watch the reality of what Kelly McGonigal wrote play out in real time, it will “show benefits months or even years later.” How? Just start writing.
Oh yeah, I failed my 9th grade English class, so no excuses.
The headline landed this past week that so many thought might be coming…
Since 2008 virtually every business owner has thought, “when will the next recession come and how bad will it be?”
Yours truly has wrestled with the same question during moments of emotional and mental weakness in my well-documented struggle with fear.
Recently though I have wondered, “could I approach a market dip with enthusiasm and expectation rather than doom and gloom?”
I believe so, here is what I mean.
The lowcountry of South Carolina, where our family lives, has been on the receiving end of active hurricanes each of the past three years. It is nice to believe that we can hurricane-proof our home. The reality though is that the best we can possibly work towards is a thoughtfully hurricane-reinforced home.
My neighbor Fred actually owns a small hurricane-shutter business allowing homes and businesses to provide reinforcement in nasty weather. But if that hurricane barrels in as a direct Category 5, not even Fred’s storm panels will do much to assist in the event the entire house was blown from its foundation.
Even some well run businesses were knocked off of their foundations during the Great Recession. But in most cases, the businesses that were recession-reinforced were able to withstand.
Here are a few non-negotiables to reinforce your business so that if a market dip comes you can go into the storm with expectation and anticipation instead of doom and gloom. These are in no particular order.
First, your Vision story is even more important than cash.
Liquidity (accessible cash) is a delightful tool that we would all love to have in excess, but what is more crucial is vision.
In a market-storm debris usually gets thrown around and if your perspective is lost your course can get easily thrown off.
Ed Sheeran says in his song Lego House, “I think the braces are breaking…” In a storm braces have a chance to break and equilibrium thrown for a bit. While the storm is raging, and when the storm is complete it is both refreshing, comforting, and re-centering to know and have confidence in your heading. Ship captains and airplane pilots would surely agree.
The only way you can lead a team to run is to write the vision down (literally...write it down) and communicate it with incredible repetition.
Second, cash will offer buoyancy and give you options.
In a typical room full of business owners if I had everyone raise their hand who could make it through three months of business with no revenue...not many would be able to respond.
The hurricanes here in the lowcountry exposed some businesses to the reality that they could not even survive one week of zero revenue generation let alone a few months of market correction.
We recommend that businesses have an accessible reserve of three to six months of cash reserve to live on under the assumption that no new revenue was generated. This is not a move based on fear, but instead on wisdom.
A decision based on fear (or greed) is to have two years of cash built up (unless maybe you are a farmer:). Hoarding is not healthy either.
The likelihood of zero revenue is not very high in most industries. If you have cash, you have options.
One option is to float the entire business with no reduction of overhead, personnel, etc.
Another option is to thoughtfully trim the business expense in line with the new revenue. Obviously this is easier to do with a team of subcontractors verses a team of full time employees.
The most exciting option is to have cash available to purchase other businesses at a discount. Remember all of those hands in the room that would not go up? Many of those represent good products that are simply poorly managed and can be revived by your leadership. You may be able to purchase their business (assets, people, contracts, relationships, etc.) at a discount during a stormy market. You cannot do that though if you do not have cash.
The smoothest way to build cash that we have seen and exposed hundreds of business owners to is found in Mike Michalowicz’ simple book Profit First. Read it and do it. No excuses.
Third, team meetings will ensure that the right things will be communicated in the right way.
Having endured the geographical displacement of a few hurricanes now has helped train us on the importance of predictable communication channels.
Obviously our family is together so we are able to communicate in real time and with frequency.
Our mayor did a great job of communicating certain times where she would communicate to displaced citizens using Facebook Live.
Our local Sheriff would also hold regularly scheduled updates accessible to anyone anywhere.
If you do not have a regular method and frequency of communication (i.e. - agenda driven, leader led, regularly set team meetings), then a market-storm will further exacerbate the irregularity, frustration, and unpredictability of a communication-challenged culture. Don’t wait for a market storm to communicate using team meetings, build that habit now.
If you have clarity of knowing where your business is going, cash to keep you afloat, and a reliable method of predictable communication then your braces are less-likely to break and Ed Sheeran will be a musical companion during an opportunity rather than a prophet of doom through a storm.
“Wig”, as most call him, sat in front of me over the simplicity of a Subway sandwich shop table and motioned his arm with a fist up and down saying thoughtfully and slowly, “it’s about wisdom.”
Last week I was with a group of Cross Country athletes from our local High School and had them answer this question, “What is wisdom?”
Their answers were thoughtful and aware-- sincere and slow.
These student-athletes were genuinely thinking about the question. It was not a case of “let me just spit out an answer so this guy can move on and we can go do anything other than this!”
Wisdom forces us to slow down and listen closely.
Wisdom invites us to lean in and fine tune our ears to hear.
Wisdom speaks in truth, prudence, good judgement, plain-terms, knowledge, discernment, insight, strength, service, eagerness, right-ness, experience, longevity, instruction, joy, and life.
Business Owners are invited daily to walk away from Wisdom and instead to go down the wide, inviting, luxurious path of deception, feeling-above-truth, injustice, confusion, apathy, gossip, and near-term assumption. Of course it never feels or seems that way in the moment.
There are two reasons why Wisdom must be the primary value that hovers above all other published values in your business (and everywhere else).
First, Wisdom was around long before you were.
The personification of wisdom is well written and documented in the Jewish Proverbs.
“Rulers lead with my (Wisdom’s) help…”
“I (Wisdom) have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice.”
“My (Wisdom’s) gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver.”
As you read through you begin to uncover the game-changing option you have in embracing Wisdom.
Those values and benefits are within Wisdom in part because of how long Wisdom has existed. “The Lord formed me (Wisdom) from the beginning, before he created anything else. I was appointed in ages past, at the very first, before the earth began. I was born before the oceans were created, before the springs bubbled their waters…”
Working through a recent parenting challenge I reached out to a mentor who is older and more experienced than I am. He walked me through a similar challenge their family experienced which gave me loads of confidence and courage to walk through in our family.
The majority of insight you receive will likely be categorized as opinion, the minority of insight you receive is Wisdom.
He had been there before, and his challenge instilled bravery in me.
Wisdom has been there before, which is why the secret to wisdom is simply, “Go get wisdom!” (Prov 4:7)
Second, Wisdom’s foundation is solid when everything else is flimsy.
All that time spent strategizing, marketing, thinking, and wondering can make our businesses feel like a house of cards.
Most businesses are built as a house of cards, fancy exteriors with very little substructure underneath. We see it all of the time and appreciate when a business owner takes time to become aware and admit it. Only then can transformation begin.
When we are fragile and in chaos we will do anything possible not to have our flimsiness exposed. Fingers crossed and arms clutched we hope that “everything will just work out.” Or we believe the consequence of the “everything will just work out” mentality won’t be as bad as the pain of putting in the work on the front end.
Wisdom says “put in the work while no one is looking and reap the reward on the back end.” The opposite of wisdom is “everything will just work out.”
Here are a few helpful ways to “go get wisdom”.
Once you begin the long discipline of procuring wisdom you will then be able to deploy wisdom. Once you deploy wisdom be ready for counter punches which you will then combat with…
Everything else moves, shifts, and fades out. Wisdom endures.