So, if you’re still with me, that's a good sign. Let me explain what I’m going to be writing (my wife would say ranting) about over the next several weeks. I’m going to be writing about the things every business owner needs to know but that very few business coaches, consultants and advisors are prepared to teach them. I’m going to tell it like it is. I'm not going to tell you that all your problems are nails just because I happen to sell hammers. I'm not going to blow smoke up your arse. I already talk to too many business owners that just don’t want to face up to the facts. So I'm not going to write this blog with that audience in mind. In many cases, these same business owners with their heads in the sand are the ones who buy in to some program that promises to sort all their biggest problems out for them. But the kind of stuff I’m going to be writing about can’t be distilled into a 12-week program that everyone can use to “ build a business that works for you!” One size fits all, top ten tips, systematic framework kind of stuff is mostly useless and I won’t be pushing any of that kind of crap.
If you can stick with me, read (critically) the ideas I write about here, then absorb it and DO something about it to make yourself better off, I promise you won’t regret it. Because ultimately, it’s not about what you read or don’t read. It’s not about what you know. Knowledge is NOT power. You have to sift through a lot of garbage to get to the gold – especially in the world of business books and advice. I read on average one book a week, sometimes two. So what? Why should you care about that? Some people think I'm arrogant when I say that. But I don't say that to impress you or to make you think I'm some guru. Gurus write their own damn books, I read what I read to give myself some perspective on the kind of ideas that are being spread around out there and determine what’s worth doing something about and what should be ignored.
The ideas that have the potential to spark action - ideas that you can do something with are the ones that become catalysts for change. If an idea doesn’t compel you to DO something, then it’s just more knowledge taking up space in your head. The way to achieve something remarkable is to run with an idea that challenges you to think or behave differently to how you think or behave today. I’m not talking about remarkable in the sense of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or making it on to the latest “rich list”, but remarkable in the sense of being able to achieve exactly what is most important to you as an individual.
In my experience, there are two types of business owners. When someone asks to meet with me seeking advice for improving some aspect of their business – profitability, systems, sales, strategy – whatever; they either believe that, as the leader of their business, the changes that need to be made are largely down to themselves or they believe that everyone else is to blame for whatever isn’t working. If they’re not willing to look at themselves first, to at least consider the six inches between their own ears, I have to wonder why they bothered to call me in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. Running a business is difficult and many things happen that are out of a business owner’s control. However, the things that we do have control over are too often the things that we ignore when it comes to our “organisational change” agenda. And that’s another thing. Just believing that so-called organisational change is possible is part of the problem. Organisations don’t change, people do. Moreover, when you want things to get better, things staying the same isn’t a viable option. The two desired outcomes are mutually exclusive. In any organisation, changing things for the better begins with changing the mindsets and behaviours of the business leaders. Therein lies the problem. In my experience, individual behavioural change is one of the most difficult things to achieve in this universe, this difficulty compounded by the fact that most people are inclined to assume that everybody else is the problem.
And that’s exactly why I’ve said that this series isn’t going to be popular. Essentially, what I’m selling is, “If you want to improve your business, you’re going to have to recognise that (for the most part) the problem with your business is you.” That message doesn’t make for the most effective marketing campaign. But here’s the encouraging part. If you start with the understanding that it’s you that has to change to make your business better, it puts you in control. You have the choice now to do what you have to do to make things better. Embedded in that good news is the shocking terror that comes from realising that, if it’s up to you to change and make things better, it’s also your fault if everything goes to hell. I understand that fear. I’ve felt that fear. That fear is all about facing up to the fact that you don’t have all the answers, that what you’re about to try might not work, that what you attempt might actually make things worse instead of better. Welcome to business ownership. Welcome to self-aware leadership.
We take the words “ownership” and “leadership” far too lightly when we consider them in the context of what it means to OWN a business. Because a few too many business owners I’ve met do a lot of disowning when it comes to admitting to themselves what it is about their businesses that isn’t living up to their expectations. I believe that most business owners start out with a vision of what it’s going to be like to “run the show”. They have a purpose they want to achieve, a dent they want to make in the universe. Then, two years in (if they manage to get that far), it’s not happening. For a lot of them, it feels like the business owns them. It feels like they’re working too many hours a week for a miniscule paycheque. And I say, “feels like”, but in reality, it doesn’t just feel like that – it IS like that. When you start to feel like you’re no longer in control of your business, it is a natural reaction to start looking for the culprit. Who’s not doing their job? Who isn’t committed to the goals of the business? These are the wrong questions to ask if you’re the one in charge. The right questions are introspective and focus on the behaviours and mindsets that are getting in the way of you achieving what is most important to you.
So I’ve told you what this series is NOT about. It’s not about telling you what you want to hear. It’s not about letting you off the hook. And it’s not about making you feel all warm and fuzzy. If you want warm and fuzzy, buy a dog. If you want to improve your business – actually, forget that – if you want to improve your LIFE, it starts with building a success mindset. When I say that, I’m not talking about all that “believe and achieve” or “name it and claim it” bullshit. I’m talking about taking a long, hard look at yourself and determining what mindsets and behaviours you need to leave behind and what new ones you need to develop to take their place and steer you towards your personal definition of success. If you know what you want to achieve, but it’s not happening – it’s time to take ownership and do something about it. That’s what this series will be about. In each post, I’ll point out a commonly held misconception, a mindset that is contradictory to success or a behaviour that will sabotage you along the road to achieving what you want to achieve.
Just do me a favour. Don’t like or share any of these posts. Yes, you read that right. I’m not writing to improve my Klout score; I’m trying to change people’s lives for the better – to make an IMPACT. That means I’d rather you read these posts and then went back out into the real world and DID something differently as a result. Then, if what you’ve tried works for you and makes a positive difference in your life and business – share that story. Tell everyone that will listen about the situation you found yourself in, the changes you made and the action you took and then, tell them what the result was. What was the outcome? Because without those kind of stories, people are doomed to repeat the cycle of blame and disappointment that characterises so many small businesses today.
One last request before you go on and begin reading the series. Don’t comment on any of the posts either. With one exception. You can comment if you DISAGREE with me or think I’m full of it. I don’t need or want people commenting with things like, “Right on!” or “I totally agree!” If you want to give me positive feedback, go out, do something remarkable, and then tag me in your post that you write about the experience.
Thanks for sticking with me. But don’t stop there! Go make great things happen!