Have you always dreamed of being the one that makes all the decisions – the one that calls all the shots? Are you tired of working for someone else? Before you take the plunge and jump into the deep end of the pool have you done the market research – put a business plan together – and really thought it through? Have you thought about the impact it will have on your family and your personal life?
Before you quit your job and strike out on your own you might be interested in my answers to a series of questions I was asked by a former business student of mine. I hope my answers provide you with some valuable insight into what it takes to be successful.
What made you decide to get into business for yourself? Timing – it really boiled down to timing. I knew I wanted to make a career change. I was beginning to feel stuck and unfulfilled. For me – it’s never been about how much money I made. Now don’t get me wrong – money is important – but if it’s your only reason for getting into business for yourself – then you’re going to be disappointed – especially in your first few years. Make sure you have enough money saved up to pay your bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over your head for at least a year.
What are some of the challenges you faced in starting your own small business? I faced – and continue to face some of the same challenges everyone entrepreneur faces. Self-employed persons don’t have the luxury of a steady pay-cheque coming in. That puts a great deal of strain on your personal and family life. Everyone must give up something to get something. You need to decide what you and your family are willing to give up so that you can live your dream. Everybody needs to be on board. You need to be committed to doing whatever you need to do to be successful. If you and or your family aren’t willing to pay that price – then it’s best you stay where you are.
Any lessons learned that you can pass on to anyone wanting to start their own business? You need to be really passionate about what you are doing. You need to be prepared to work 80 hours a week for very little money. Have a budget and stick to it. Don’t spend money you haven’t generated yet. Find your niche Become an expert in something not a generalist in everything. What do you know or what product are you selling that someone else will pay you money to learn or have?
Food for thought: The two major reasons businesses fail are (1) Lack of management skills – and (2) Lack of financing. Most businesses fail within the first three years of start-up. (When I say most I mean over 90% fail) We have a tendency to overestimate revenue so divide your sales projections by half and run it by those numbers. You need to live and die by the numbers. Make business decisions – keep your emotions out of it. Always think worst-case scenario. That will help keep you grounded.
If I haven’t talked you out of getting into business for yourself after reading this article – then maybe – just maybe you have what it takes. Maybe you’ll make it to year five. I’ve been self-employed since 1998 and I’m still having fun. I wish you all the best.
Copyright (c) 2019. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you visit: https://briansmithpld.com
Have you ever licked a 9-volt battery? (I’m not suggesting that you do – I’m just asking if you have). When adults do something that makes them feel good – that gets them excited – what are they more apt to do? If you licked a 9-volt battery and you liked that sensation – then more than likely you’d lick it again. I believe the key to motivating someone is to figure out what turns their crank – figure out what they are looking to get out of the deal. People do things for their own reason – not yours. All you have to do is figure out what’s in it for them and use that to get them to do what you need to get done.
#Worth Remembering – It’s only when a person has their own generator that we can talk about motivation. They need no outside stimulation. – Frederick Herzberg
What motivates you to do what you do? I believe everyone can be motivated. I’m certain of that. But not everyone is motivated by the same thing – or in the same way. Some people are motivated by money. Some people are motivated by a fancy job title or that premier parking spot. You need to create an environment where people will want to motivate themselves. Trust me – if you have the means to help them get what’s in it for them – then you have their attention. If you don’t – they won’t be motivated enough to try.
#Worth Remembering – Smith’s Motivation Equation: Personal Want + Goal-Directed Behaviour = What’s in for me. People will act in a way that will get them what they want.
If you can’t find a way to motivate others, you can’t lead. Motivation is inside out – never outside in. Most people are self-serving and will only do something if they are going to get something out of the deal. Even someone who volunteers their time and energy is getting something from it or they wouldn’t keep volunteering. The next time you need to motivate someone to do what needs to be done – try the carrot, what’s in it for them, instead of using the stick approach. Trust me – it works every time. It’s like licking a 9-volt battery.
Copyright (c) 2018. Brian Smith-PLD. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian’s available for keynote speeches or facilitating workshops on a variety of soft-skills topics. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit: https://briansmithpld.com
Yes, I admit it. I was once a control freak! I was an “old school” micro-manager. Trust me – in my 40+ year career as an award-winning entrepreneur and general manager for a major corporation, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. I’m here to confess my number one sin in the hope that first-time supervisors, managers and business leaders will learn what not to do. I also think there’s a lesson here for seasoned veterans who developed their management style in the late 1960’s like I did. Social psychologist Douglas McGregor referred to it as a “Theory X” style of management. Managers who adopted this style believed that workers were inherently lazy and needed to be bullied or brow-beaten into performing their work. Employees were never to question authority. “Do as I say – not as I do. When I tell you to jump – the only thing you can ask is how high”. There are still a number of managers and business leaders out there who continue to manage and lead that way. They manage and lead by intimidation. I’m here to tell you the days of the “Bully Boss” are over.
#Worth Remembering …The definition of insanity is doing the same thing – expecting a different result” – Albert Einstein
Times have certainly changed for the better. If I knew then what I know now there is no question I would have managed differently. After reading this article I hope you’ll manage differently too. What you need to decide is – will the management style that got you here – be the same style that will help you be as successful moving forward? I believe we’re not born knowing how to manage or lead others effectively. I believe it’s a learned behaviour. We all start out making certain assumptions, based on our past experiences and perceptions, as to the kind of role we think managers and leaders need to play. But we also know, based on our experiences, that our perceptions may not always be correct and that sometimes we have to change our way of thinking to become better at what we do. Today’s managers and business leaders need to change the way they manage others to stay in step with an ever-changing workforce. Different folks require different stokes. It’s now about inclusion – not exclusion. It’s now about building collaborative teams.
#Worth Remembering … One of the most important things about being a good manager is to rule with a heart. You have to know the business, but you have to know what’s at the heart of a business and that’s people. – Oprah Winfrey
Daniel Goleman, in his groundbreaking book – “Working with Emotional Intelligence”, might have said it best. “We are being judged by a new yardstick; not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other”. Emotional intelligence often referred to as soft-skills now plays a more pivotal role in how we manage and lead others. If you can’t connect on an emotional level with the people you work with and interact with – then you stand little chance of being successful. Productivity and profitability is still the name of the game. That will never change. But how we get there has. People like to work with people they like. And the only way to get people to like you is to work with them in a way that they like. It’s no longer about your technical ability. It’s about your ability to connect with others, communicate, educate and delegate in a style that they like. If you can’t do that then you can’t manage or lead. It’s no longer my way or the highway. It’s about our way. You need to learn to manage and lead the 21st Century way. You need to change because they aren’t going to.
Copyright (c) 2018. Brian Smith-PLD. Not to be reproduced without permission. Are you looking for a keynote speaker or workshop facilitator who can deliver an entertaining and informative session on a variety of soft skills topics? To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit https://briansmithpld.com
Why women make better leaders can be summed up in just one word – “Empathy”. (The ability to see it from another person’s point of view). Women seem to come by it naturally, while most men have to work at it. Dee Dee Myers – author of “Why Women Should Rule The World” believes that women are more successful at managing small businesses because women can make people accountable for their actions but, they are also there to support them. “Females have the trait, where maybe most males do not”. Mary Matalin, former counsellor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney was quoted as saying – “Women around the world are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without mans permission”. It’s easy to argue that men haven’t been doing such a good job lately of managing things. That’s not a political statement – I’m just stating the facts. In the words of Bob Dylan – “The times they are a changing”.
It’s great to see that more and more women are taking up a seat at the boardroom table and leading Fortune 500 Companies. Women are outpacing men in starting their own small businesses. According to research conducted by The Centre for Women’s Business – 1 in 5 of all firms generating 1 million dollars or more in sales is owned by women. The Seventh Annual Business Report, commisioned by American Express, finds that the number of businesses owned by women has more than doubled in 20 years, as has their revenue. Women are starting an average of 849 new businesses per day, up 3% from 2016. There are 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States, employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than 1.7 trillion in revenue. Facts and figures published by Statistics Canada on Canadian Women Entrepreneurs tell a similar story. Of all the small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada – 47% are entirely or partly owned by women. The average net profit of female-owned businesses has increased from 52% of male-owned businesses to 89%. Based on these numbers I think it’s safe to say the glass ceiling has been shattered.
Putting gender aside, what does it really take to be a successful owner or manage a small business?
Successful small business owners and managers:
- Understand themselves and how their attitude affects others.
- Understand how their reaction to any given situation affects the outcome.
- Have a positive attitude about themselves – which causes others to have confidence in them.
- Understand that every situation is different, so they know they must behave and respond differently.
- Realize that they need their people more than their people need them. They would look pretty silly trying to run things by themselves. There’s strength in numbers.
- Know they don’t have to have all the answers, all of the time. If they surround themselves with capable people, someone on their team will.
- Must lead by example. That sounds easy to do but it means never compromising your principles and honouring what you hold to be true – honesty, integrity and always doing what is right.
I could go on and on – but I think you get the point. Women deserve far more credit then they have been given. It’s time that ALL men realize a women’s place is far more than being barefoot and pregnant. If you’re looking to develop 21st Century leadership skills, start with empathy. Learn to count to 10 or 20 if need be, before you react. See things from the other person’s point of view. Trust me – you’ll be glad you did and so will the people who work with you.
Copyright (c) 2017. Brian Smith – Power Link Dynamics. Are you looking for a professional speaker or seminar leader who can entertain and inform on a variety of soft-skills topics? Give Brian a call. He will customize a program that is right for you, your people and your organization. To find out more visit https://briansmithpld.com