retail business

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Rite of Passage

For the first half of our life, passages are fairly easily marked. We go to school, get a job, find a mate, raise a family and contribute to our community.

But a strange thing happens on the way to the finish line. The built in “life detector” begins to ask why are we here, and what is this all for. Questions begin to form. We wonder about retirement-from what, to what? How will we cope with maintaining health in an aging body? We question our ability to mentor younger people, begin to experience the loss of loved ones, and face the eventual certainty of our own mortality.

Big questions, huh?

Passageways, not aging, are on my mind.

Retailers are presented with rites of passage daily. How do I get the sales staff to move? How do I get more cash in the bank account? How do I get rid of excess inventory? These are all questions that require movement from where you are to where you want to be (or at least a step in the right direction).

Your rites of passage will take you over thresholds and through gates. A threshold is something we cross, a place we tread, turn, twist, and flail. Thresholds often mentally move us to the brink of something. A gate, on the other hand, is a passageway into sacred ground, or holy land, or a place of protection, testing, and/or spiritual depth.

Fear neither. Go through both. Move From Success to Significance.

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Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Hotcakes & Outtakes

“Hangin’ On To The Good Times.” The catchy riff of the lyric is repeated over and over…

“and we were fightin’ the good fight, hangin’ on to the good times.”

This past week I had the pleasure of talking with (or emailing with) more than ten different retail store owners. We talked about business, human resources, sales management, topline volume, financial challenges and personal family issues.

Nowadays I read almost exclusively articles, magazines, and books relating to Generational Transfer (the working title of my book which will hopefully be out before Christmas). On my desk this morning is “The Heroes Farewell,” “When Generations Collide” and “Millennials & the Pop Culture.” Each of these books in their own way is trying to teach us about the strange feelings associated with passing the torch.

Wayne Rivers is co-founder and President of The Family Business Institute. I’m an avid reader of their website and newsletter. In a recent news letter he talks about the built differences created when families work together.

Consider the paradox

  • Unconditional love and relationships v. conditional business roles
  • Family-business v. accountable business behavior
  • Emotion v. dispassionate decision-making
  • Family support motivation v. profit motivation
  • Leadership by the heart v. leadership by the book

I could write for hours on the disappointment seen on the faces of family members struggling in meetings, in customer service, sales and human resources situations. Just because one family member “would have done it differently,” a firestorm of pain and suffering can begin to spread. Each generation believes their solution would produce a different outcome.

Father travels south for the winter. Upon his return this spring the father looked at the sales figures from the first several months of the year and decided that “he could have done better.” It is impossible to relive the prior months. So assuming business is even a little better during the next 4-5 months while father is home the assumption will be, “I told you so.” This is fine so long as the father wants to stay and run the business. It would be his right. However, if father plans on heading to the sunny south again next year, then the pain and disjointedness caused by this sort of communication will not further the family firm.

Enough said

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