In this episode, we talk about the essential skills of a business owner.
Welcome to this week’s Mastermind training! As a new entrepreneur or business owner, maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Life can seem overcomplicated. There are staffing needs, finances, marketing, taxes, sales, family, COVID protocols, and a whole host of other things that need to be looked after.
How can you make it through and not just survive, but thrive?
By making sure you have the essential skills of a business owner. You do this, by making sure you’re focused on the right thing.
Developing a skillset
In this episode, Scott Thor, Juanita Webb, and Justin Hiebert sit down and talk about the essentials skills of a business owner.
You’ll discover what you need to know about:
How to spend your time
Where to look for new ideas
Understanding business structure
How to develop strong relationships.
These are skills that we’ve used, utilized, and developed over our years in business. If you feel like shortening your learning curve by decades, be sure to give this podcast a listen.
If you’re new to the podcast, welcome!
My name is Justin, and I’m an Elite-Mindset and success coach. Throughout my career, I’ve been a pastor, educator, and serial entrepreneur. I help entrepreneurs, business owners, and world-changers attain elite mental performance through burnout prevention, habits, and compounding daily wins.
About the Mastermind
The Bakersfield Mastermind is a collaboration between Dr.’s Scott Thor and Juanita Web.
Recently, I took my oldest son on a two-day camping trip. It was the start of his milestone ceremonies as he transitions to manhood. Our theme this time was, “Everything has consequences.”
I am designing these milestone ceremonies to happen at significant moments in his biological development. At each age and stage of life, he will discover more responsibility and insights into his plan and ultimate objective into life. It’s like an extended “coming of age” ceremony.
8 – Pre-Puberty.
12 – Puberty
16 – Driving and Freedoms
18 – Adulthood and Goals
21 – Final Milestone Ceremony
Each of these trips is designed to teach him something about the way the world works, his capacity as a man, and what it means to live a life of service and dedication to others.
This first trip, happening at a primitive campground in the high desert of California, was raising him to the awareness of his body, the changes that will happen, and to start him thinking about planning his future choices.
He was (partly) responsible for packing appropriate things, and helped me set up and tear down camp. We also learned a bit about how to make a fire, hunt animal tracks. pay attention to our surroundings, and emergency medical and hazard situations.
In the heat of the Friday afternoon sun, we were blessed with what became our theme, somewhat unexpectedly.
The idea stuck: everything has consequences.
The Results of Our Choices
Underneath the hot afternoon sun, we spent time watching an ant colony work. Suddenly, two dozen beetles came and landed near the colony. Instantly, the ants swarmed and started attacking the beetles. The beetles, encumbered by the swarm of ants, tried to escape. Some were successful. Others were quickly dispatched and stuffed down the hole of the ant colony.
In the middle of our observation, Jackson turned to me and said, “Dad, are you for team beetle or team ant?”
“I dunno. I’m just interested in watching and seeing what happens. I want both to win.”
As we sat there in silence a few more minutes, I started our conversation.
In life, everything has consequences. That’s not a bad thing. Consequences don’t have to be bad. They are just the result of what we choose to do. What happens if we help all the ants kill the beetles?
All the beetles lose their lives.
Right. And what happens if we help the beetles escape?
The ants have nothing to eat.
Correct. You will make choices that affect other people. In fact, every choice you make has an effect on something. Be sure you make choices you can live with, morally, ethically, and practically.
As he sat there in silence for a few more minutes, he finally muttered. “Huh. Everything has consequences.”
Building a Life of Choices
The life you’re living today is a result of the choices you’ve made along the way.
Good, bad, or indifferent, you are exactly where you should be because of the choices you’ve made so far.
The great thing is, if you don’t like where you’re at, you can make different choices.
Chart a new path.
Create a new outcome.
Channel different energy.
Just because this is where you are, doesn’t mean this is where you have to end up.
Regardless of your industry, one of the best things you can do to generate more sales and a better customer experience is to know and define your ideal client.
Many businesses identify the ideal client through:
Interaction with key relationships
This is only a small list, but it dramatically transforms the way a business chooses to market and sell its product.
When businesses are clear on their ideal customer, it becomes easier to say no to distractions.
Clarity is freedom.
Notice the difference between Department Store A and Department Store B target demographics, both of whom sell perfume in their beauty section:
Department Store A
We target women.
Department Store B
Our ideal customer is Jane. Jane is a woman between the ages of 30 and 45. She has some college education, a husband, children, and is contemplating making a career change. Jane has always felt a little self-conscious and is looking for an unobtrusive scent that also gives her the confidence she needs to ace the interview.
Will both companies try to target Jane? Absolutely.
Which one will Jane feel most at home in? Store B.
Smart businesses always try to understand their ideal client.
But, there is one more area where your ideal client understanding needs to take center stage: how you design your own life.
You are Your Ideal Client
One of the great tragedies in life is a failure to understand our own ideals.
In coaching, we look at the ideals of morals/values, goals, calendar, and commitments. In each of these areas, we make sure we paint a perfectly clear picture of what it is you are trying to accomplish in life.
Morals and Values
As a person, what are the morals and values you cannot have infringed? Do you value family more than anything else? What about your freedom or autonomy? A flexible schedule. Do you need a set routine that doesn’t vary much?
A lot of internal conflict and tension happens when we work in a place that doesn’t honor the core values of who we are. A morals and values assessment can help you diagnose those problems and create solutions to fix them.
What are your ideal goals? Where do you want to end up in life?
Is the promotion you’re consumed with getting what you really want, or are you trying to please someone else?
I’ve worked with a number of clients who have reached the top of their profession, surveyed the landscape, and realized they didn’t want to be there. Part of their obsession with getting to the top was to seek validation from a parent, spouse or loved one. (Each of those is a poor reason….)
Make sure that the goals you have set are to help create your ideal life.
What does your ideal calendar look like? Do you want every Friday off? Looking to work remotely, after 10 am. Want to be off by 3 every day to pick your kids up from school?
One of the great problems of our modern society is the bombardment to fit as much into our calendar as possible.
It’s absolute lunacy.
Smart high-performers know that they accomplish more by doing less. They strip away the fluff from their lives and pursue only that which is meaningful.
Fill your days with intention and purpose, not more stuff.
What makes you, you? Do you want to work less and volunteer more? How much time do you want to spend with your children and grandchildren? What long-term legacy do you desire to leave on the world?
Answering questions of commitment, similar to our calendar, tell us how to spend our time. Smart financial advice is to make your money work for you, instead of you working for your money.
The same is true with time. Make the time of your life work for you, and not you work for time.
Once you know these foundational elements of a great life, you can set about understanding your ideal client … you! …. and create the life you’ve always wanted to live.
In a telling story of our priorities, James Carville and Paul Begala share the story about the lion and the mouse.
As the story goes, the lion is more than capable of hunting the mouse. He possesses the required strength, agility, and intelligence. In fact, it requires very little effort on the part of the lion. The problem is that the energy received back from eating the mouse is not worth the lion’s effort.
This is why the lion hunts the zebra, antelope, and gazelle. Though it requires significantly more strength, agility, and cunning intelligence to do so, the energy the lion receives back is well worth the investment.
The story of the lion and the mouse reminds us to stay focused on chasing big goals.
The BIG Goals
One of the questions I ask myself every day is, “What can I do today that makes the biggest difference?”
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, that focuses my attention on the single biggest task that needs to be done.
Whenever I’m tired, this question reminds me that the best thing I can do might just be to take a nap or practice some extraself-care.
In those moments where I’m conflicted about how to invest my time, asking about difference-making forces me to look at my calendar. Typically what I find is that I’ve been too work-focused and not enough family focus.
When my anxiety creeps up, I can remind myself that doing one thing today to make progress on a goal of significance and meaning helps to lower it.
Then, I invest my energy into the needed area. That frees me up to then say, “What’s next.”
The story of the lion and the mouse reminds me to invest my energy in things that really make a difference. My focus and attention go to things that only I can do for myself and my business.
Business and Life in Balance
What about you? Have you asked those questions in your life?
As a business owner, do you work intently on areas that only you can invest in?
With your spouse and your kids, do you focus on being fully present and turning off your “work brain” or do you only give them the nutritional equivalent of a mouse?
As a leader or community member, do you invest in your projects with the same intensity and vigor you do in your sales and marketing?
One of the first things we do in coaching is to give your calendar a time analysis. We make sure that you spend your time hunting antelopes, not mice.
Far too often, what I see with leaders is that they spend time on the unimportant. The temptation is to become distracted by the urgent instead of the significant.
To counteract this, we work through a priority matrix to make sure you get the most return on your time, your energy, and your passion.
Right now, make sure you’re invested in the right areas. Ask yourself the above questions and spend time on the right priorities. Invest in areas that give you the greatest return on your investment. Ask questions. Quit bad habits. Keep growing. Seek help.
We’re continuing our look at Marcus Whitney’s Book Create and Orchestrate by examining what it means to have a strong sense of business operations.
If you missed any of the previous posts, don’t worry, links are at the bottom.
At its core, the purpose of operations is the indefatigable elimination of risk in the business.*
The Structure Of Business
The United States has a dizzying array of tax codes, legal standards, and licensing requirements for businesses. I’m not a tax professional, and I understand very little about the different structures and benefits to each different type of business entity.
What I do understand, however, is risk mitigation and people management.
Yes, creating the right entity matters.
Of course, you need to have insurance, file the proper paperwork, and utilize the right tax incentives.
But above all, it’s the measure of people’s development, conflict resolution, and personal investment that really shapes the future of your business.
Effective Business Operations Includes Substantial People Development
Years ago, I was coaching an individual that often touted his own leadership capabilities. He was convinced that both his ideas and his methods were right. It came as an absolute shock then when he was passed over for a promotion.
To hear that he didn’t play well with others, handled criticism poorly, and was developing a negative reputation in the organization truly came as a surprise to him.
Early on he expressed his anger and frustration. Everyone else’s inability to see his greatness was offensive. It was then that I asked him a fundamental question about his leadership.
“Great leaders produce more leaders. Who are other people you’ve developed that would identify you as their main source of influence?”
He sat in silence for several minutes, ultimately unable to come up with a single name.
He was slowly beginning to realize the difference between ordering others with tasks and leading people effectively.
To his credit, he took the insight seriously and began to change. His method and approach to interacting with others improved greatly. He led his team more effectively and radically improved his leadership capabilities. As a result, his overall business operations improved. His happier (and more well-developed people) made for a better culture, which made for a better customer experience. Everyone won.
Your Key Three Takeaways
To effectively grow your business operations and, as a result, your overall business, you must, as they say, play well with others. Ultimately it will all come down to how well you invest in the people and culture of your organization. Here are three things for you to practice this week:
1.) Think Through the HR Logistics
One of the reasons businesses call me is because they sense that a change is needed in their HR policies. People are leaving. Customers are unhappy. Turnover is high. What’s going on? Most times, the business owner hires an employee but then stops the conversation. Outside of the occasional business meeting, there is little to no talk of promotion, a pay raise, or leadership development. If this is you, your business operations are in need of a serious overhaul. Start with people. End with people. Develop people at every step along the way. Think through those logistical questions and treat your employees with respect, trust, and goodwill. It goes farther than you think.
I almost wrote, “Don’t criticize.” It’s not that people don’t need to hear good, constructive feedback, it’s that it’s so often done poorly. Coach your people through problems. This gives them the opportunity to listen and learn from their mistakes by applying critical thinking to their own actions. The most effective way to change behavior is through good, insightful coaching.
On the positive side, be generous with public praise. I once worked with an employer that openly refused to praise their employees.
“I give them a paycheck, why should I praise them for doing their job?”
The short version of that story is that employee turnover was extraordinarily high and morale was constantly low.
Praise frequently and extravagantly.
Let someone know when they do a good job.
Better yet, make sure others know it as well.
3.) Win Relationships, Not Arguments
Several years ago, mired in a personal conflict with someone else, I learned a very harsh reality: If I win the argument but lose the relationship, I’ve lost everything.
I’m sad to say that I lost everything. My moments of weakness, poor leadership, and even worse conflict resolution ability cost me a friendship and ultimately a job. As a person in charge of business operations, this decision haunts me.
From that moment on, I was determined to never let it happen again. Since then, I’ve never been disappointed. Even when it means swallowing my pride or allowing the other person to be right (even if factually I am) it’s always been worth the extra effort and energy to win the relationship.
As a business owner or other leader, be sure to win relationships. With your employees, your customers, your superiors, and your community. Sacrifice the idol of always needing to be right and instead work towards always needing to be loving. Demonstrate grace, compassion, and empathy as a leader.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.