May the FORCE be with you! “Especially written for small business owners”.

 

It can be quite challenging starting up a new company. There are many things to consider and at times, you will experience both excitement and nervousness as you embark on this journey. Your heart tells you that it is the right thing to do but your head keeps reminding you about the many pitfalls you are bound to land in. The combination of both fear and uncertainty of the future makes it a tough choice and certainly not for the faint hearted. Having successfully run my company for a good 12 years, I can tell you that it is no easy feat. Do I regret it? NO!. Would I have started it if I had my life to live over again……absolutely YES!

It has been one of the most amazing adventures of my life. I have learnt and grown as an individual in leaps and bounds. The wealth of knowledge I have been privileged at uncovering has been phenomenal. It has removed my blinkers and given me a new appreciation for Accountants, Marketers, IT Technicians, General Managers , not to mention working copiers, printers and wireless connections.   I often think back to the early days I started. I had the fortunate privilege of having an entrepreneurial husband who had run his own business for 20 years and identified with my best friends, trepidation and anxiety. His support and encouragement was instrumental in crafting my future and my determination to succeed.

Over the years, many people have asked me for advice on how to start up and run a company. I am certainly no expert and gosh, have I made mistakes!…it’s pretty much trial and error starting out. You don’t know what you don’t know. Everything seems vaque, foreign and complex. Some days you wake up excited and ready to take on the world, other days you cant help asking yourself “what was I thinking?”. This is completely normal. Small businesses require a different set of skills, innovation, entrepreneurship, resilience, persistence, faith and a belief in oneself. You cannot start a new venture without the will to succeed. Starting up a business is not just about complying with certain rules and conditions, It is also about being mindful of the reasons as to why you are embarking on this journey, the drivers behind your decision, the goals, both personal and professional that you are setting for yourself and most importantly, the impacts of this decision.

When you start a business based on passion and purpose, making money is by default. When you start a business to make money, you can easily lose sight of your passion and purpose.

I have often heard people say, “is it true that you make a lot more money running your own business then working for a boss.?” The objective of running your own business should be to pursue something you love doing. Of course, you want to make money but money doesn’t last without will and passion. Money will follow when you have heart in what you do. Remember that if you starting a business, you doing so to last a lifetime, unless you are making a conscious decision to give it up at some stage, but even then, it must be worth something. Starting a business takes deliberation, effort and commitment. It takes delicate planning, thought, a vision for the future and the desire to see it through, no matter how rough it gets. There is a strong differentiator between building a business and working for your business. Whilst you may start off your business having made many sacrifices, you must aim to get to a position where your business works for you.

The business should be the vehicle you use to drive your purpose and your passion and equally so, rewards you for your innovation. The skill you need to start a business, is not the same skill you need to stay in business. The trick is to see yourself as an investor in your business and not as an employee. If you continue to see yourself as an employee, you have not transitioned your business to start working for you, you are still very much a “worker” and not a business owner.

I thought that it would be a good idea to share some of my learnings over the years as much of it has shaped my journey and continues to guide every decision I make:-

Focus – you cannot be all things to all people. Focus on what it is you want to achieve through your company and build your solutions and value around this. When you are good at the one thing you sell, you gain credibility. People believe in you, in your brand, in what you have to offer. They no longer buy your product, they buy your company’s capability.

Originality – there are many products on the shelf. What is unique about yours? Originality sells. I don’t want to buy what everyone else has. My problem is unique, my situation is different. I don’t want to be put in a box labeled “one size fits all” How is my supplier shaping my journey to enrich my business in such a way that it speaks directly to my challenges? I don’t want to be told that everyone is using the same system, or the same product. I want to use it because it works for me not for everyone. Best practice does not always mean best fit.

Robust – build an company on solid foundations which is accompanied by strong values, principles, methodologies and expertise. The approach used in any deal with a client must offer cutting edge techniques, global thinking, a competitive lens and a holistic approach’s to addressing their challenges. A robust approach means that your company considers business continuity planning as top of mind, is not self reliant on a single person, hedges their risks against key man dependencies and is strong and healthy to stand up against competitors, rivals and masters in the game.

Client Centred – the client is at the centre of everything we do. We wouldn’t have a business if we did not have a client to sell our products to. It’s a simple rule but often not followed – we don’t know what our clients need until we ask the question. “What is it that you need? “How can we help address your challenges.? Often the approach is telling our clients what we can do rather than understanding what it is they need us to do.

Ethical – in the years that I have run my own company, I have walked away from numerous business because it did no resonate with my values. Ethics is not built on short term transactions, ethics is built on long-term relationships. When you value life, people and purpose, you see the world through different eyes.

These key principles represented by the word FORCE are easy to remember and will certainly add to sound decision making when embarking on your journey to set up and run your own business.

It is important to remember that small businesses are the heart of our economy. They inject longevity, sustainability and continuity. They create a platform for innovation, flexibility, change and opportunity. They are the foundations of economic prosperity, consumer choice, and competitive advantage. If this is your dream, pursue it, drive it and make it work for you

Until our next connect session.

Thank you for sharing.

Gravity

 

Who’s job is it to inspire us? Where do we draw inspiration from?

We can attend all the motivational conferences we want, listen to as many podcasts, watch as many videos and read as many books. It still comes down to one thing…..…what are YOU doing about your life and where its going?

No one out there can take control of your future. They can give you the tools, the techniques, they can share their lessons hoping you will learn something from it, they can even give you the opportunities but, it is You who has to want it, value it and drive it. Sometimes you may feel like venting, of course we all have those days, when we feel sorry for ourselves and we think sharing it with a friend will provide some enlightenment or make us feel better. It often does, but soon enough we return to the reality of the situation we face and we realise that despite all our complaints and justifications as to why we cannot, have not and will not, we have done nothing to help ourselves except reinforce our very own barriers, bolting us down, immersing us into nothingness and compromising all we are capable of becoming. So vent all you like, but you are not going to move an inch from being stuck in “what was”. To move ahead you must take a step forward. No one else has walked your journey, and no one else can live your dream.

So, how important is your life to you? How serious are you about it? What significance do you attach to what you do and why you are here? Surely it is not an accident, surely you have a purpose, a mission, some unfinished business!. The solutions don’t lie with others, they lie within ourselves. Our inner spirit is the beacon of light that keeps us focused, passionate and inspired.

Gravity is about the importance, significance and seriousness we attach to our life. What is the gravity of your life and how do you create “gravitas” in moving it forward?

Goals: A simple word but a tall ask for many. A goal is a roadmap, to where you are going. It gives you focus, purpose, and importance. It fuels a desire that seeks to conquer doubt, fear and uncertainty. Goals create significance in our lives, they create a journey worth sharing, worth achieving, worth living. Establishing goals are a first step towards inspiring yourself. Goals that are real, that talks to your heart, that creates meaning for you. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now? To get there, you must start today. To start today you must put a stake in the ground and ask yourself two questions: –

  1. Where am I going?
  2. How am I going to get there?

Resilience – life is a sometimes a difficult teacher. It’s easier to give up then it is to start something. It’s easier to find excuses then it is to forge ahead and make mistakes. Setting a goal and standing by it takes resilience. Setting goals means examining habits and very often changing these habits. It’s easier to default to what we are comfortable doing. No one wants to be in a place that’s unfamiliar. But it is in the unfamiliar places that we meet our greatest friend or greatest enemy – ourselves…. Goals must create stretch, they must be tough, they must challenge and they must scare the living daylights out of you. You cannot create value by taking away from something. Value comes from increasing not from diminishing. Goals create challenge and challenge brings fear, fear in turn is not fought with fear but resilience. No matter what comes your way, don’t take your eye of the ball, you know where you going…stay focused?

Action – having goals are like having the plans to a house but you have to build it to realize its true beauty and potential. Goals must therefore be followed by strong action plans. How will you get to where it is you are going?, what do you need to stop doing?, what do you need to start doing? and what do you need to continue doing?. You have heard the saying before, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Be deliberate about what you have to do. Success does not happen through osmosis. Accept that getting somewhere requires effort, inspiration and commitment. Part of our problems as adults is that we expect the reward without the effort. Nothing can yield you reward without any form of effort. It’s a universal law. To get….. you must give!.

Velocity – No one lives forever. Time certainly does not stand still. It is ticking away every day and each day that we drag our heels we lose precious moments to be better than we are. Having a plan for a building, means we must have the resilience to deal with all the difficulties we will face in building that house, being prepared to take the steps necessary to build as fast and as skilfully as we possibly can. Speed is essential for growth and success. You don’t want to be run over in the slow lane….We cannot set goals that has no timeline….how long is a piece of string? How long is long enough?. Tackle your goals with a sense of urgency, as if you have no guarantee on tomorrow…. As Budda said, “the trouble is…you think you have time.”

Inspiration  Goals need energy, they need light, spirit and soul. That’s comes from you. You give meaning to the goals, you turn action into passion and a dream into a reality. No goal has a chance at survival or growth without inspiration. That inspiration comes from within you, of course it’s easy to tell some one to be inspired but what does that really mean? Being inspired means knowing and believing in your purpose and why you are here.

Time bound – apart from being able to work swiftly and with velocity, you must be able to attach a date to your goal, to your mission, you must be able to determine where you are and when you need to change course. Timelines are important, they give you guidance on how much time you have and need to invest or reinvest to realise your dreams. Setting goals mean’s clearly identifying whether it will be achieved in 1 month or 1 year. You don’t aim to travel aimlessly, you set your sights on a destination and you work towards that. Time targets help you to realize small steps towards the goal and gives you a sense of accomplishment which propels your desire to reach the ultimate goal. Our goals must be achieved on or ahead of time!

Yardstick – so you have set your goals, adapted to the resilience needed to make it work, taken the action, approached it with speed and vigour and clearly outlined the time plan. But, you need to be able to measure your progress, the impact it has had on your life and the lives of others. Measure not just the result of your journey and your actions, measure the costs and benefits associated with accomplishing your goal and be mindful of what you are adding and taking away from your life. Constantly ask if your measure of success is the right one and remember that any answer that conflicts with your purpose is a sign that you should re-evaluate your goals, not change your purpose.

So remember!

Inspiration comes from having a purpose, a goal, a reason for being. Set your goals today, accept that you will fail at times, but it’s about rising above defeat, asserting yourself and starting again, it takes resilience. You cannot expect to achieve anything without effort so action is a given. Seize the day, and show that you achieved something worthwhile for each day you touch this earth. Don’t take your time here for granted, death does not discriminate, it strikes without warning, without guilt. Don’t waste the time you have, it is a precious gift, work fast, work passionately, work consistently, raise your own bar, draw inspiration from your own spirit, be clear on what needs to be done, muster all the energy you have and go forth with determination and power in your commitment to yourself.

This is the GRAVITY of inspiration.

Until our next connect session – keep on learning!

Human Resources- An Amazing Journey

Over the past few years I have been repeatedly asked about what it takes to have a career in Human Resources…. of course, I am always excited to tell the world what a great and awesome career it is and how, no matter what, if I had to live my life over again, I would still choose the same profession. I absolutely love HR. What other career offers you the opportunity to see the organization at a holistic level, understand how its workforce must be engineered to achieve its vision, build intellectual capital to achieve its mission and craft behavior that supports and cements the values that an organization stands for?

It is an exciting opportunity to influence, shape and create great organizations through constant appraisal of your own skills and knowledge.

So, when asked this question, I have to reflect on the following core competencies, which I believe to be fundamental to your success if you were to choose a career in Human Resources.

Competence

To be truly regarded as a credible partner, you must be competent. Competence means many things to many people. In my world, it means understanding three components: –

  • What must you know?
  • What must you do?
  • How must you behave?

Credibility comes from confidence and confidence comes from knowledge. You must learn everything you can about your profession, be hungry to constantly update your skills and strive to understand your profession at every level. This is your roadmap, to investing in yourself so that you create longevity in your own profession and future. Understand what drives your business, then you are better able to contribute and add to its success.

High level of emotional intelligence

Human resources is a profession that deals with people. At any given point in time, you are constantly interacting, engaging and working with, or on people matters. You must be able to separate the emotion from fact and make judgments based on real and tangible issues. It’s very easy as a human being to take things personally. In HR, you cannot. People are complex, there are no two people who are exactly the same and no two situations, which are exactly the same. You must be mature enough to understand the issues and focus on that. It takes a great deal of emotional intelligence to separate the person from the issue. Having a good head on your shoulders helps you to make calculated decisions that bring neutrality and consistency.

Resilient change activist

The world is constantly changing and this change manifests in everyday life through the people we engage with and the work we do. As a result organizations have to constantly embark on transformation journeys, reinvent themselves, reposition their strategies and find new grounds for staying in business. This in turn means changing the way they do business and who they do business with. It can very often mean the redeployment of people, sometimes even displacing people, reskilling people and refocusing organizational priorities. As an HR professional, you must be resilient to change, effect the change in a way that supports a culture of inclusion and cohesion. Change activism is focused at fostering enthusiasm through understanding the change and positively mobilizing the change to effect transformation, to constantly master your own fears and limitations so that you can set the tone, the pace and the example as a change activist. There is no standing still…you will get run over!

Personal credibility

You are constantly watched as an HR professional. Everything you do, everything you don’t do, gets noticed! You cannot hope to fly under the radar having a profession in HR. In HR you are out there. You are seen as the oracle, with all the answers and you are able to solve any problem. People believe everything you say and your favour over them is sometimes an endorsement on their ability and value. People rely on your word and they take it at face value. If you do not act with the integrity, truth and genuiness expected of an HR professional, you soon loose your ability to influence and impact people and soon, your credibility.

Courage

This is a key component of an HR professional’s make up. You must be able to stand up for what you believe in and have the courage to challenge what goes against the grain of your values. In HR, there are often decisions made that do not always benefit all parties, that’s the way of life. For someone to win, someone else has to lose, in some way or another. What’s important though is that your decisions are consistent and fair. As an HR professional, you have a responsibility to ensure that fairness prevails and where you are placed in a vulnerable situation, default to your values, that’s your beacon. Being consistent may not win you an award for the most likeable person, but it will certainly earn you respect.

Thats it for now ….until our next connect session.

Keep Learning!