Conway Daily Sun March 23, 2011
Ok, this week I admit, I’m intentionally being provocative in my title! However, we’re going to cover all three topics and learn something in the process. The world has changed almost immeasurably in the last month. Between Japan and the middle east, I wouldn’t know where to begin. The great teacher Dr. Stephen Covey suggest we put all these things that concern us into our “circle of concern” and put everything we have some influence over into a smaller “circle of influence”. The more we focus our energy on our circle of influence, the larger it grows and the more effective we will be.
In our local circle of influence during March, we had the school budget, our response (if any), to Charlie Sheen, and the annual Chilly Chili Cook-off in N. Conway Village. All three have lessons and observations worth considering.
Last year, I spoke at the Annual Business Expo and talked about four major challenges facing business today and what to do about them – they were Execution Failure, a Lack of Trust, Doing More with Less and Dealing with Fear. Well hello future! Here we are experiencing exactly these challenges in business, government and local boards.
The school budget seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. I’m sorry I missed it; it’s just not the same watching a recorded version and hearing the analysis of others. I’m pleased to see so many people caring enough to turn out and express themselves. I’m also grateful for the few who volunteer to serve on these boards for what must be the most thank-less job ever.
What have we learned from the big meeting? We’ve learned that angry mobs win in Conway, not so much in Wisconsin. We’ve learned that bullying is a problem in schools and sometimes it even involves students. We’ve learned that most people want their own needs satisfied first before they will listen to the position of others. This last one is at the route of most stalemates and is most unfortunate. If it were a different day, at a different meeting, say on taxes, the same people who wanted to lynch the budget committee would have elected them to the legislature – I think they might have been called tea-partiers, who won a lot of elections with generalized anti-tax talk that pleases people until the people discover they were the ones to be cut.
None of this is easy, but it is pretty simple. We as a community, like any business or organization, need to decide on our priorities. Is it low taxes or better education or some combination? To do this, we need to be able to communicate intelligently and with good data and without fear or intimidation. A good time to do this would be at the many, many meetings that happen all year long; not just to complain after the hard work is completed by others. Then we need leadership to focus on what the organization (community, in this case) wants, regardless of their personal feelings or agenda. Priorities, focus and communication are paramount during these turbulent times. Building trust has to take place before we can expect real negotiations with employees or unions or taxpayers or parents. Taking full advantage of every available resource is critical – that means getting these good and caring people off the bleachers and onto the committees and attending meetings year-round to give their valuable input and creativity. This also means appreciating the talent we have in our teachers, most of whom give more than they get. We also need to appreciate and respect the taxpayer and look for efficiencies wherever they might be found.
Thank goodness Charlie Sheen wasn’t on our budget committee, and that’s all I have to say on that subject!
The annual Chilly Chili Stroll was a fantastic example of how well our community works together when there is vision, leadership, trust and communication. Forty three (yes, 43) different chili chefs, thirteen separate venues throughout N. Conway Village, and numerous volunteers to deal with traffic, parking, setup, take down, clean up, promotions, supplies, judging, etc. One seemingly simple event (they’re never simple), brilliantly executed, delivered enjoyment to hundreds of visitors and locals alike, while driving foot traffic to our local stores and restaurants while building friendships and community. Yes, it was easier than running a school district, but harder than running some small businesses. My point is, it’s a great example of how well we can work together one little project at a time. I can hardly wait to be amazed once again by Valley Pride day on May 7th and Kindness Weekend May 28th. We’re lucky to live where we do and to enjoy seemingly endless opportunities to be happy and to constantly be getting better at anything we decide to make better. We just need to decide.
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He may be reached through his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail, email@example.com.
There was a time in your past when you were the best employee for someone else. Eventually you grew weary of answering to someone who wasn’t even as good as you, and you spent your unhappy days making money for them! It was time to be your own boss.So now you proudly declare that you work for yourself. You are your business! If it wasn’t for you, there wouldn’t even be a business! Since most small businesses fail, and you’re still at it after all this time, you must be doing something right! Is that a reasonable assumption? Well, are you succeeding at what you originally wanted? Or just succeeding at not failing? Are you making more money than you would be paid working for someone else? That is, can your business afford to pay you what you’re really worth for the time and talent you put into it? Are you working more hours than you should for the money you take home? Do you give yourself the benefits, retirement, security and paid vacations you could have as an employee? Are you building equity in your business that you can sell one day when you want to retire or move on? The big final summary question is this: You probably started a business with the goal of attaining the personal and financial freedom only business ownership can provide. Do you have personal and financial freedom? Do you have the time to do what you want, with whom you want, when you want and the money to do it?If you answered yes to the above questions, stop reading and contact me! If you said no to any of the above questions, let’s talk about how a business becomes all that for its owner. The primary difference is the business owner reaping the most rewards is not just self-employed. They separate their own identity from that of their business. They spend more time working on their business, not in their business. If you spend all your time doing the tactical work your business does, (working in your business) who is doing the strategic work (working on your business)? Right, no one. One of the best examples of this is any fast food chain. How much time does the owner spend behind the counter or in the kitchen? Do they care any less? Does the quality or predictability of service change when the owner is there or away? Of course not. Do they sit at home counting money? Well of course, but that’s not all they do; they work hard, but they work on their business, not in their business. We spend five months a year away from our stores in N. Conway. Do we have good staff? You bet we do, but so do you! If you have to be at your store, what do I and every chain store know that you don’t? Why do the big name stores at the outlet malls run with managers not owners, and those managers make more money than most independent store owners? By the way, this is true for professional services, too, not just restaurants and retailers. So if you accept that you own a job that you can’t quit, has low pay, long hours, no benefits and you may be working for an idiot, what do you do about it? How do you transition to owning a business that works for you instead of the other way around? Due to the limits of what we can cover in one article, I’ll just throw out one place to start. Make an organizational chart for every position in your company – even if you are only 2 or 3 people, make the chart with a box for every position – janitor, deliveries, receiving, bookkeeping, sales, service, receptionist, manager, sales manager, quality control manager, etc. Even if your name goes in almost all the boxes, the point is to define the responsibilities and work toward replacing yourself in as many boxes as possible as quickly as possible. This will cause you to create systems that work if you are to have others replace you. It becomes about the work, not the person doing the work. This will also requrie a combination of delegating responsibility to others as well as growing your business to justify hiring people to fill some of the boxes. Suddenly, growing your business is more important, isn’t it?! The goal for you and everyone on the chart is to replace yourself – that’s the only way to move out of the boxes you want to leave behind and spend more time in the boxes you like. As long as you’re always planning to grow, you will always have many more boxes than you have staff. Your staff has the job of building helping other people; to build them up take their job instead of protecting their turf and keeping coworkers down. Imagine the power in that attitude shift alone! Your job is to spend more time working on your business and less time working in your business. Most owners need to properly delegate(with detailed goals, procedures, resources and authority), limit interruptions (email and social media can be a big time thief) and set deadlines for yourself and others (meet those deadlines). Most importantly, establish top priorities and without sealing your kid's Ritalin, stay focused.
Recommended reading - many of the lessons discussed here are covered in Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited. For help in applying the ideas to your real life business, contact me for a free consultation.Our next article will discuss priorities and getting company-wide alignment to focus on your top priority.