small business


Friday, July 18th, 2008

Are you kidding me? 2,630,000 hits in .07 seconds

“Jack of all trades, master of none” turns up more than 2 ½ million hits with a Google search. The phrase is the title of a book, a CD, a blog, a TV sitcom, and I’m certain a number of other things.

Thinking about this old standby as it relates to small independent family business owners led me to the realization that being a jack of all trades is nothing to brag about. Remember the second half of the saying: “master of none.”

Haven’t you often wondered why you always feel one step ahead of the customer, the bill collector, the janitor, and one step behind a good night’s rest?

You should read The Technician’s Addiction. Any addict will tell you the cold turkey method of habit changing is painful at best, and deadly at its worst. The same is true for those addicted to small business ownership.

I know because I’m recovering daily from the illness.

Might I suggest you check yourself into recovery and let the game of life come to you?

Constant work in the trenches doesn’t make you a real business owner; it makes you, as the story goes, a dull-boy (or girl!)

What’s the boldest, most frightening move that a business owner can make? It is to stop being the “answer guy.”

It’s time to realize that in order to do necessary strategic work, you’ll have to break your addiction. Addicts often spend weeks away from the office, focused completely on resolving life’s most important problems.

I’ll bet that after you go through the DT’s of withdraw, you’ll realize your employees’ potential, be able to embrace your financial challenges, have a clear vision of your market, re-define productivity, and know for the first time in a long time the business you are really in.

Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly these promises are being fulfilled among us every day.

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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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