I must have missed the class where they taught us to dream big, that dreaming is important, and, most importantly, how to dream big.
Maybe in all our education and early jobs we focus on the here, now and how a little too much. Maybe our elders want to prepare the majority of us for sustainable, productive jobs which will earn us a living. Maybe we are just too busy with what is going on around us, and we forget to look inside ourselves and envision our own future. Maybe it is the Matrix?
My father said to me a few times when I was growing up that “today is not practice.” This life is the only one you get, and if you do not live it the way you want, the way you envision, the way you dream, then you will regret it in the end.
How do you learn to dream big again?
So, the question becomes, how does an entrepreneur, business owner or anyone for that matter, stop what they are doing, turn off the merry-go-round, and get down to dreaming big again?
One thing to do is take your goals (you have those handy, right?), and multiply them by five.
Why five? Who knows? My point is, your goals are not set high enough.
For anyone who has been trained in negotiation techniques, you know the strategy of high, medium and low pricing. As a seller, there is a high price you start with, there is an intermediate (perfectly acceptable) price that you would be happy to get, and there is a rock-hard bottom line price that you will not go below under any circumstances. If it comes to pass that you cannot get even the rock bottom price, you are prepared to walk away from the sale instead of selling at a price at or below your rock bottom price.
If you are a salesperson, you start off a negotiation with a certain figure (price) with the knowledge that you can easily come down off that price and still be very satisfied in the result. You are prepared for a little give-and-take with your prospective buyer, so that you can try to come to some sort of happy agreement between buyer and seller.
Most people, if they set any goals at all for themselves, generally set goals they are confident they will easily achieve. Why? Well, it certainly would feel better if you achieve your goal than it is to miss it, right?
Yes, you’ve nailed your goal. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a middle-of-the-road, pure vanilla, average existence. You’ve achieved an absolutely meaningless goal.
At least you can be satisfied that you made your goal!
Set the Stretch Goal
Why not set a big, lofty wonderful dream of a goal for your business (and your life)? Sure it would be hard to achieve everything that you picture in this made-up dream. Maybe you won’t end up with 5,000 employees or $10 billion in revenue or own castle in France or London (or whatever your particular dream). That’s not the point.
Maybe you just end up with a successful business with 50 employees and $20 million in revenue and a paycheck of a half million dollars.
Even though you did not reach your “stretch” goal, it certainly would be no failure in the end.
There is a great book called “Write it Down, Make it Happen” by Henriette Anne Klauser, which discusses the incredible power of written goals. (see on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Write-Down-Make-Happen-Knowing/dp/0684850028). In this powerful book, the author gives example after example of people who have written down their goals, and even lost or forgotten all about them, only to find out some time later in life that they had actually achieved – or surpassed – their biggest goals!
By the way, this is the precise purpose of business plans. Write it down, make it happen. Yes, indeed.
Remember what one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history, Andrew Carnegie, said over and over: “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
It is the power of the mind, along with hard work, which will get us to our destination. You determine the destination, whether it high, medium or low. What is your dream?
Interim & Part-Time Chief Operating Officer Services
The management of a successful, thriving business requires the application and commitment of a wide range of business skills. It also takes the combined energy, ideas, focus and expertise of experienced, knowledgeable executives.
To truly succeed, entrepreneurs should spend their valuable time and energy on what they are expert at, and delegate other responsibilities to the best resources available.
This is where Endorphin Advisors can help.
Know What You Know, and Know What You Don’t Know
Time and money are perishable resources. Why not focus your time, energy and attention on what you know best, where you can be efficient, and focus on where you can have the most impact?
Endorphin Advisors provides Interim and Part-Time COO Services which can help a business owner most effectively run their business, while freeing up valuable time and money to build the business.
Endorphin Advisors helps manage business development issues, strategic planning, product development, pricing strategies, revenue and expense forecasting, margin optimization and strategic marketing strategies.
Chief Operating Officer (COO) Services
Our COO services include:
Increase Margins with Cost Effective Solutions
As experienced business advisors, we can be highly cost effective, too. Imagine hiring a senior, experienced executive for strategic planning, business development and management activities. How much would that cost? Why not just pay for the hours that you need, when you need them?
Center for Economic Growth
15th Annual Technology Awards
June 29, 2011
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Albany, NY
Keynote Speaker: Jon Gordon
Jon spoke of the 4 critical qualities needed for successful companies, which are:
3. Trusting Relationships
He also drew a comparison between the need for these characteristics in successful businesses as well as in a successful regional economy. He was specifically complimenting CEG, Tech Valley and the valuable local business culture we have here in the Capital Region of upstate New York.
Many other speakers, including award winners, spoke of two additional ingredients evident in successful businesses, which are passion and persistence.
Inspirational, well-attended awards event in Albany, from which I came away full of endorphins.
Time to get back to work!
Here is a run-down of the 2011 CEG Tech Award Winners:
PROMISING NEW START-UP, Carma Systems, Inc. (www.carmasys.com): An aspiring high-growth start-up company whose venture is showing promise.
ECONOMIC WINNER, Autotask (www.autotask.com): A company that exhibits substantial and sustained growth in sales and profitability, contributing to the overall regional economy and employment.
TECHNOLOGY IN PRODUCTION, Automated Dynamics (www.automateddynamics.com): A company that has developed or utilized new technology to significantly improve its production processes.
TECHNOLOGY MENTOR, Amy M. Johnson, President, Capstone, Inc.: An individual who champions the vision of Tech Valley, as well as offering their time, expertise and knowledge networks in support of individual technology companies.
TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEUR, Stephen J. Petti: An individual who has contributed to the development of the technology economy through the formation of new businesses, generation of wealth and exemplifying the risk-taking entrepreneurial spirit.
LEADERS OF TOMORROW, Lindsay A. Tucker, Greane Tree Technology and Ted Ottey, Intellidemia: A student intern who has made a significant contribution to his or her company going above and beyond the expectations of his/her employer.
Since 1987, the Center for Economic Growth (CEG) has been committed to fostering visionary economic growth throughout the 11-county Capital Region, as well as a significant portion of the Tech Valley corridor.
As a private, not-for-profit organization we work with a diverse group of members and partners to advance the ability of the region and its assets to succeed in the global marketplace. With a focused and strategic approach we work to:
1. GROW local companies by offering tactical business development strategies and services;
2. ATTRACT opportunities for technology investment and expansion throughout Tech Valley, and
3. PREPARE communities to achieve their desired economic growth while enhancing the region’s excellent quality of life.
In addition to support from its dedicated members, CEG receives funding and resources from the NYS Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), New York’s high-technology economic development agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) / Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and National Grid. Learn more at http://www.ceg.org/.
Why is planning so important? Time
The act of planning, whether in business, for a trip, or just planning out your day, is important because of time.
As we all know, time marches on regardless. In business, that means your expenses march on regardless of what is happening on the “revenue” side of the operation. If your revenue side does not exceed your costs (expenses) side then you lose money. This is a scenario that cannot go on forever. For small businesses, particularly those with limited resources or without other sources of revenue, this will inevitably lead to the failure of the business.
“The plan is useless, but planning is essential.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander of Forces in Europe during World War II and 34th President of the United States
To use a mundane (yet very attractive) example, think about planning a ski trip to Chamonix, France. Very few people have the resources, flexibility and, frankly, the personality to conceive of the idea of a ski trip to France (if they live in, for example, San Francisco, California) and just take off the next day for a week (or month) in this amazing French mountain paradise 5,864 miles away from their – well, my – home (yes, I checked Google maps).
Most normal people would need to plan a vacation from their jobs, coordinate schedules with their family, buy plane tickets, research and book lodgings, and perhaps spend some time saving up some money or researching what else they might do when they are not hurling themselves down some of the most treacherous slopes in the French Alps (or recovering from said hurling).
In other words, taking a trip like this would benefit from some amount of planning
Now, all but the most diligent people are probably not going to write up a Business Plan (or in this case a “Trip Plan”), but most people will do some amount of research, preparation, planning and even dreaming well before this trip happens. You might make a list of things to do (goals), create a budget (forecast) and check the calendar (timeframe) to coordinate schedules. You’ll probably share this info with family and your boss, and maybe a friend or two for the jealousy factor.
Planning a big trip or other large projects are not unlike building, or selling, a business
Business planning of course is far more complicated than planning a trip. It is also a far more critical and difficult discipline when related to building a successful business venture.
In my experience working with, talking with, and researching, the activities and operations of small business owners and entrepreneurs, two clear deficiencies appear. Those are, first, the lack of effective, disciplined business planning and, second, the lack of available resources.
Unfortunately, those two items go hand-in-hand when it comes to running a business. If you foolishly use up your available resources (or fail to appropriately and carefully consume those resources), then you vastly increase the odds of failure.
Why Not Plan?
Why is it that so many small businesses do not adequately plan out their expenses and revenues, and make the appropriate “business model” work out, at least on paper?
I think it is because it is hard work to create a real, comprehensive business plan. It is time consuming, minute in detail, abstract and requires discipline. It requires careful thought and a great deal of creativity to imagine the future and see where you might be able to take your business over some finite period of time. There is also implicit accountability that some might find unappealing.
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it”
– Andrew Carnegie
Let’s go against the grain here and challenge ourselves to perform at a higher level than we believe possible. Andrew Carnegie was an innovative thinker in his belief in the power of the imagination and the importance of written goals. (See an extraordinary book from Henriette Anne Klauser called “Write It Down, Make It Happen.”)
How about using the business plan to set out some goals that stretch the limits of what we believe we can do? Wouldn’t it be exhilarating to revisit these goals and to see what can be achieved? Perhaps to see some of the goals we have achieved that we only dared to dream?
Wouldn’t that exhilaration be worth a little work in the business planning area today?
“What Are You Prepared To Do?”
As my father used to say, and sometimes still does, “this is not practice.” This life we lead today is the only life we get. This is not practice. Or to fall back on one of my favorite sayings, which comes from Sean Connery in the film, “The Untouchables,” “What are you prepared to do?
I love that line. Maybe it can spur some of us on to set high goals and work like hell to try and achieve them. Now, that would be a worthy goal.
What Are You Prepared To Do Now?
Feeling some energy from this article? Contact us Today to Take Your next Big, Bold Step Forward!
In this new video, Erik Bunaes from Endorphin Advisors discusses the philosophy of Endorphin Advisors and how our unique, consultative and coaching-oriented approach to management consulting has brought new energy, confidence, clarity and success to our clients.
For more information about Endorphin Advisors, please see the following venues:
Web Site: http://www.EndorphinAdvisors.com
Endorphin Blog: http://blog.EndorphinAdvisors.com
Thank you for your time and support.
I have worked with – and interacted with even more – small businesses over my consulting career. Often, I am inspired, impressed and occasionally totally blown away by the talent of many of the small businesses and their owners. These professionals and work-a-day folks alike are all trying to live their dream, make a living, compete on their own or build a company out of a hobby or skill they have seen in themselves and enjoy.
I’d like to talk today about the businesses and business owners that do not fit into this group. Today I’d like to talk about the business owners that I have seen, met and worked with that are small for a reason. Perhaps they are small for many reasons.
Let’s not ruminate today on specific businesses, business owners or examples. Let’s try and learn something from our experiences and observations, so that the business owners and professionals out there trying to survive, grow and build lasting businesses and companies can learn from – and hopefully avoid – some prevailing mistakes made by small business owners.
Briefly, here are some of our top observations preventing small business owners from successfully building larger businesses:
1. Failure to understand the selling process, and prepare for the selling cycle.
2. Not understanding the importance of the lifetime value of a customer.
3. Allowing ego to override requirements of bringing onboard talented help (whether full-time, part-time or outside consulting services).
4. Allowing ego also to prevent business owner from seeking help, in new ideas, capital, etc.
5. Negligence in defining and communicating a clear vision and purpose for the organization and its employees.
6. Ill-defined target customers
7. Failure to follow through on efforts to build and promote their brand effectively at all times.
I’ll come back to explaining my thinking in future blog posts, however, I will make the following comments.
It is surprising how business owners who are staking their livelihoods, careers and sometimes their dreams on their businesses fail to follow through on building up the brand of their business. This is often true even for experienced business owners, and it is often clear to even the business owner themselves.
In fact, if there was a court of law for small business owners where observers could walk in and tell a judge that the business owner knows or has an idea what to do, but that they are not doing it and know it, we’d have business owners being convicted of negligence.
Now I am not talking about legality here. I am talking about just plain failure to act on what is known – or good ideas that you are aware of – in detriment to your own business. I’m clearly stretching and distorting the term negligence here, but it is congruent enough to meet our needs in this situation.
Don’t be negligent with your business. Act on what you know and see and hear and learn.
Perhaps we will single out some particularly horrific examples of grossly negligent business owners as case studies in future posts.
In the meantime, thank you for your continued interest and support.
Some of The Smartest Folks Around Use Strategic Advisors or Executive Coaches. What Can a Professional Advisor or Coach Do For You?
If we think of this from an athlete’s point of view, top athletes have a host of coaches. From Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees to 7-time Tour De France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, from Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup overall champion alpine skier Lyndey Vonn to football quarterback Brett Favre. They all have coaches. Strength coaches, skills coaches, nutrition coaches, business advisors, agents and even media coaches.
Why not have advisors and coaches for what is likely one of the top two or three priorities in your life, next to your family? That is, your career. It may be wise to think of your career as if you were a professional athlete. Get coaching, practice and drill skills, learn new skills, strategize and role play for big meetings, presentations or sales calls, learn new approaches to your business or career.
If you are a business owner or experienced professional, you know how many different skill sets you need. These include:
1. Practicing and continuing to develop your particular skill, service or product
2. Creating new marketing strategies, products and services
3. Marketing your business
4. Building new customer relationships and maintain existing relationships
5. Hiring, motivating and managing employees
6. Hiring outside vendors
7. Managing the financial, accounting and tax side of your business.
8. Envisioning, purchasing (or building) and managing complex technology.
9. Keeping up with federal, state and local regulations.
That’s just a start.
Do you honestly excel at all of these, and can you with a busy work schedule maintain and manage all of these on your own?
As a business owner or entrepreneur, you have no choice. You must manage and excel at all of these skills, and more. Even as a professional or an employee working at a company, you must excel at one or more of these areas, too.
Who do you talk to for help in managing your work (as an owner, entrepreneur, executive or career professional)?
If you think that having a strategic advisor or executive coach on your side might benefit you, give us a call and let’s talk about it and how we have helped others.
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