I was at an ABC meeting recently and asked the group what they would like me to speak about and I gave them a choice of Donald Trump or The Barn! All but one of them chose the barn, so, here is the same story for you…
Last summer my wife Sarah and I moved to the middle of nowhere in the Weald of Kent, it’s that quiet that the road where we live has grass growing in the middle of it. One of the attractions of the house for me is that there is a barn in the garden which is about 12m x 40m in size, the perfect man cave!
I had visions of a gym, pool table, cinema room and other boy type things. I started with getting the gym sorted and having a good area to train and all was going well when a client of mine asked if I could help him out with a favour by storing a little bit of his furniture?
Of course I said yes; now imagine my surprise when this articulated lorry turned up outside of my house… It blocked the road for nearly two hours while they unloaded all of the Rattan garden furniture which was stock that he hadn’t sold through the summer and wanted to store for next spring. The barn was full and had just about left me with a training area that was about 3m x 4m, tight was an understatement.
Like most things in my life I just get on and do it and look at the positives of any situation and thought it would all be back to normal come April.
In January two young ABC members challenged me and my mate Jamie to a little fitness competition, which in itself is great fun, however, if you know me you will know that I don’t enter anything half-hearted and I expect to win! So, we have five weeks to train for the competition on the 6th February. Training five days out of seven, three in my now confined gym space and two with Ross my personal trainer.
Two weeks into the training regime and Ross is off on his jaunt to Thailand with no consideration for me and this very important competition! (Just joking) Jamie and I decided to train together one a week at his place and once at mine. The first session at my place and Jamie walks into the barn and says “Bloody hell, this is tight, why don’t you move the stuff around and make some more room?” I said “No, I’ve looked and I think it’s about the best it can be.”
An hour later and some Tetris like thinking from Jamie we have moved all of this boxed up Rattan furniture into a completely new order and doubled the space for the training.
Now then, you might be saying what has this got to do with anything? Well, it reminded me that sometimes we can be too close to the problem to see the solution and sometimes to even see that there is a problem in the first place.
Maybe stand back from your life and business and look at where you are too close to see what you need to see to make the change that will give you the result that you are looking for.
Are you reinventing the wheel with your business? The first five years of my life were in a council flat in the East End of London, the only natural greenery I had seen was the river Thames (It was very dirty). Imagine what was going on in my head when my mum and dad moved us out to Sevenoaks and I saw grass for the first time….
Not only did I see grass, flowers and trees for the first time I came across the humble honey bee! I asked my dad what it was and he went into great detail explaining that the honey bee is the source of all food because without it’s pollination of the plants the human race would starve. This information started my lifelong fascination with bees.
Two years ago (quite a few years after the first bee encounter) I fulfilled that lifelong ambition of acquiring my first bee hive; little did I realise what a journey of discovery I was embarking upon. If I knew anything, I knew that I knew nothing about beekeeping and if I wanted to be the best beekeeper I could be, I would need some help.
One of our ABC Networks members had a stepson that had been keeping bees for ten years since he was seven, so I asked him if I could pay him to teach me, as we all know the quickest way to acquire a new skill is to learn from someone that’s been there, seen it and done it! He agreed and I’m now a proficient beekeeper.
Back to the present day and I have done with the bees what I do with businesses; I have ten hives and at the height of summer about one million bees. Growth requires different skills and trying to do things in a large apiary is like doing things in a large business, in order for it to be scalable we have to have a different set of systems and processes because we can’t do ALL of the work ourselves.
With an apiary once you have taken the honey from the frames you must clean the frames and prepare them for the next season, now, on average that took me about 15minutes per frame, 24 frames, in total six hours. As a hobby that’s great, but as a business with ten hives it’s a whole different ball game.
Realising that I needed help again, I went to a commercial apiary and asked how they cleaned up the frames at the end of each year. They showed me this very grand steamer and showed me how it would work. It was certainly an impressive machine, however it was more for the next stage of bee keeping to where I currently was, so I went home and designed my own. An old plastic dustbin, a new wallpaper steamer and some ingenuity and within half hour I had built my own steamer. Another hour and I had cleaned all of the frames ready for next year.
The lessons from this are two-fold; firstly, as business owners we should always be looking for better ways to do what we are currently doing and ultimately be looking for the best way to do it. Secondly, we can’t do it alone! Very few of us have an absolutely unique business and the likelihood is that someone somewhere is doing it a lot better than we are, so find out who they are and ask them how they are doing it and emulate what things they are doing better than us. Reinventing the wheel is time consuming and not necessary in most cases, so finding a inspirational coach or mentor is fundamental to personal and business growth.
About 3 years ago I was challenged to do 22 press ups for 22 days to bring awareness to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for British service men and woman returning from war zones. It moved me to find out that 22 ex-service men and women are committing suicide every day so I decided to give it a go. My mind-set was that if I could help raise awareness with my social media following and help save just one of those lives along the line then it would all be worthwhile.
I had to film myself doing 22 press ups every day for 22 days and then upload it to Facebook along with my nomination for someone else to take up the challenge each day. Those of you that know me will understand when I say I’m not very good at sticking to the rules, so I nominated six people to do the challenge instead of one. Two ex-professional footballers, two clients, my personal trainer and my best mate of 40 plus years, so you would think that there was a very good chance of them ALL doing the challenge.
Be ready to be surprised… Or am I just wishful thinking that six people that I’m quite close to would put others in front of themselves? Only one of the footballers and my personal trainer actually took up the challenge! In my mind there can only be four reasons;
They can’t do 22 press ups!
They are worried what other people might think of them!
They haven’t got time!
They don’t give a toss about a cause bigger than themselves!
Their behaviour reminded me of this quote by Richard Bach from his book Jonathan Livingstone Seagull “Nothing happens by chance, my friend… No such thing as luck. A meaning behind every little thing, and as such a meaning behind this. Part for you, part for me, we may not see it all real clear right now, but we will, before long.”
As a performance psychologist I am very aware of behaviour and language patterns that people use on a daily basis and I know that about 85% of our daily actions are habit, so it got me thinking where else is this behaviour showing up in other areas of these four people’s lives?
Let me go through the four reasons and connect it with other areas of life;
They can’t do 22 press ups! Where else in their life or business are they not doing their press ups? In other words not doing what it takes to get the job done. I see lots of “Wantrepreneurs” that want the results in their business but are not prepared to do what it takes, they talk a good game but when it comes to actually getting down and doing the press ups they can’t do it because they haven’t been practising. My personal trainer can show me how to do a perfect press up, however, I have to actually do it. I may be able to show the “Wantrepreneur” how to make more money, but he/she has to actually do it! If you can’t do a full press up at the moment, do it on your knees until you can.
They are worried what other people might think of them! With the best will in the world we will only get 80% of the people to love us, which means 20% will hate us, and if the 20% that hated us loved us then another 20% would hate us just because that 20% loved us! Can you see the foolishness in expecting everyone to love us? Most people judge other people by their own standards and who’s to say that their standards are right in the first place. Trying to please everyone is fruitless journey which will never be achieved and stems from a low self-esteem and compounded by a compulsive negative habit pattern. This will have been learned in childhood from a perceived withdrawal of a parents love and continued in adulthood as the desire to please everyone. My favourite quote from Dr Wayne Dyer is “True happiness comes from being independent of the good opinion of other people!” If you or anyone you know has a low self-esteem then have a read of this book by Maxwell Maltz called Psycho-Cybernetics.
They haven’t got time! This may come as a shock to you… All of us only have 24 hours in each and every day. Why do some people get loads done in a day when others simply seem to struggle to do anything productive? It’s not about time management, it’s about task management. Those of us that get a lot done in our 24 hours tend to prioritise everything into a list and work on the things that make the biggest difference to our lives. Watching Eastenders or doing something to make my business better? I know what I’d choose…
They don’t give a toss about a cause bigger than themselves! Bob Burg has written a great book called “It’s not about you!” This sums up the purpose of life for me, life is all about how we can contribute to the greater good and focus on how we can help others less fortunate than ourselves. A lot of mental illness comes from being self-obsessed and in a lot of cases the route to getting better is to start helping other people. Just think, if each of us could help just one person each day what a better place this world would be? If you can’t help one person each day, start with helping one person each month, then each week. Whichever way you look at it, life would be so much better if we helped each other instead of using each other. A quote from the Dalai Lama “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used!”
There you have it, four tips for you and your business;
Do your press ups in your life and business!
Stop worrying about what other people think about you!
I’ve just had a week in Sorrento in Italy finishing my latest book. Sarah and I were sitting having lunch when this northern gentleman approached our table and said “Excuse me have you got a travel lion?” As he had a really strong northern accent I didn’t understand what he had said, however, Sarah asked him what was a travel lion? He replied “It’s the same as a normal iron but smaller that you take travelling!” Sarah said “No sorry” and the guy moved onto the next table and asked the same question while Sarah and I looked on and realised what he had actually said.
The people on the next table (From Newcastle) said “Yes, what would you like ironed?” At which point we just burst out laughing at our inability to hear what was actually being said…
Now then, this got me to thinking where else is communication lost on the recipient and where could we make sure that what we are trying to communicate is clearly heard…
How many times have you said something to someone and they were offended, only for you to say “Sorry I didn’t mean that, I meant this!” A lot of disagreements come from miscommunication in one form or another.
I once heard someone say “I’m responsible for what I say, not for what you hear!” and I think a lot of people also believe the responsibility lays with the other person to understand what is being said, however, I believe that great communicators have a plan and make sure that the language they are using is the correct one for the person on the other end…
Here are six tips for top communication…
Learn to ask great questions… Every question you ask should help you gather either facts or an opinion. Know which kind of information you need and frame your questions accordingly. Ask open questions, unlike simple yes-or-no questions, open-ended questions invite the respondent to talk and enable you to gather much more information. “What do you like best about this hotel?” is likely to generate more valuable information than “Do you like this hotel?” Another tactic is to ask a question in the declarative format, “Tell me about that.” People who won’t answer questions sometimes respond better to a direct order.
Practice your attention paying skills… When others are speaking are you really listening? We often confuse ‘listening’ with ‘being quiet’ but just because you aren’t talking while others are talking does not mean you’re really listening. Learn to turn off your own internal dialogue and truly tune into what others are saying. It often helps to repeat what you’ve heard so that you know you’re paying attention and they know it too.
Listen to understand… Steven Covey once said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Often we are waiting for the gaps, or the breaks, or when we think the speaker has finished or had enough time, so that we can add our piece of communication. A lot of the time we break the sequence of discussion, or add content of little value, or just say the same thing again. We listen to respond. We build our own ideas, not necessarily creatively building on the ideas of others. Our behaviours are less supportive and more directive. We miss messages, and opportunities. We just fail to listen. Our agenda not theirs. It’s not about you; it’s about the other person.
Be interested in what they have to say… One of the key aspects of effective communication is the ability to show genuine interest. What do I mean by genuine interest? I mean that not only do you act as though you care, but you really do care and listen to what people are saying. It is easier said than done. Especially when you just want to get the job done and you may not care about that person at all. If that is your case then face the sad truth: you are likely to be a poor communicator. Some people are more adept at this, they have more empathy and are more people oriented.
Learn to paraphrase… Paraphrasing is repeating in your words what you interpreted someone else to be saying. Paraphrasing is powerful means to further the understanding of the other person and yourself, and can greatly increase the impact of another’s comments. It can translate comments so that even more people can understand them. Perhaps even reflect the answers back to demonstrate that you are listening in a positive and constructive way. Remember what you have been told! It can be useful to make notes after a meeting – their children’s names, hobbies, points of particular interest. Showing an interest in what someone thinks and feels helps to build a relationship with the person. By asking relevant questions it helps to reinforce that you have an interest in what the speaker has been saying.
Remember their name… Dale Carnegie said “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those we don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate. Take your time when you are introduced and make a conscious note of the name, my tip here is when you shake hands hold on for a fraction of a second longer and this will remind you to focus on their name.
So there you are, six communication skills for you to practice and if you do take action on what you have just read notice what a different result you get when someone asks you if you have a travel lion!
It never ceases to amaze me when I meet someone and they say to me networking doesn’t work.
A classic example of this happened last week when an ABC member (let’s call him Charlie) emailed me to say that he wouldn’t be coming to ABC anymore because he hadn’t had a single referral in 2 years and although he had made some good friends he didn’t feel it was working for him. Now the interesting thing here is I had referred two people to Charlie, one of which he didn’t contact and the other chose to use someone else.
I also connected Charlie with another client of mine who said that he could give Charlie between £40-60k per year in referrals as that was what he was currently doing with another company and was purely transactional with no relationship. Charlie had one meeting with my client and didn’t see him again or contact him or make any attempt to build the relationship. Another client of mine also connected Charlie with a great referral source and Charlie sent them a two page sales pitch.
So, my question is “Was it the network that didn’t work or Charlie that didn’t netWORK?”
If you are experiencing a poor return on your networking then here is my PACE method of networking that may help you get a better result…
P = Pre-judge…
A couple of years ago I was the keynote speaker at a London teaching hospital and I had to address 150 surgeons and anaesthetists. As I was the keynote I was last to speak and I had had a couple of visits to the refreshment table and attempted to speak to several of the delegates without much luck. I suspect it was because I was dressed in Flip-Flops, shorts and my trusty Tottenham football shirt. When I jumped up on the stage and took my place behind the lectern there were some very puzzled faces in the audience.
I started to tell a story about being summoned to court for a charge of assaulting a police officer; I described the setup of the court with the magistrates, police officer and the accused. When I stopped the story and asked the audience who thought I was the defendant and over 90% put their hand up to confirm my suspicion. Everyone of that 90% had pre-judged me because of the way I was dressed… They didn’t know that I was the chair of the magistrates or that I also had a PhD…
When you go to a network meeting and someone stands up to say their name, profession and pitch, most people will judge them and if they have no immediate need for that persons skill, product or service and will discount them, and what they have to say will generally not register in the memory banks.
What about that persons circle of influence? Everyone in business will probably know at least a couple of hundred other people, so when you pre-judge them you are also losing a potential two hundred other connections. When you pre-judge someone you stop a journey with a multitude of potential destinations.
The next network meeting you attend practice not judging anyone…
A = Attitude…
I had just launched a new ABC group in South east London and was just setting up when this quite large gentleman staggered in to the reception area and said “Oi, you, get me a chair!” So I obliged and found a chair for him at which point he said “Not that one, that’s too soft and no good for my back!” I found him another chair and asked him what he was doing here at this time of day? He said he was here for this ‘bloody breakfast meeting’ because people had told him that he had to network.
When we had finished the formal part of the meeting I was doing a small closing speech about ABC being not about making money for me as the network owner and was focused on making money for the businesses that attended and helping each other achieve our goals, at which point he interrupted and said “What a load of rubbish, nobody does anything for nothing!” Luckily, there were a lot of other members in the room that appreciated the value of helping each other rather than thinking “What’s in it for me!”
Yes of course we all network to increase our leads; however a bit of reverse psychology is what works the best. Think about it from the other way around. If you have an attitude of how can I help the other people rather than who can I sell to or what’s in it for me, the law of reciprocation will ensure you will get more referrals than you can handle in the long game! As Bob Burg says in his excellent book Endless Referrals“It’s not about you!”
My attitude at any network meeting or gathering of people is very much “How can I turn these strangers into friends?”or “How can I connect this person with another referrer?” Rather than “What’s in it for me?”
So the next network meeting you go to adjust your attitude and ditch the WIIFM and look to turn strangers into friends and friends into clients.
C = Communication…
I’m sure that you have been for a coffee, following meeting someone at a network group. I met a lady at the first ABC Ashford about 4 years ago and she asked if I would like to meet for coffee, which I duly obliged. We arranged a local hotel reception area and I turned up after her, she already had her coffee and as soon as I got there she didn’t ask if I wanted a drink she launched into telling me how wonderful her multi-level marketing product was and drew a diagram of how I could earn as much as I wanted to each month but the average was a £1000 for just 16 hours per week. She went on to tell me how I deserved a secondary income stream and I could will it to my beneficiaries in the event of my early demise.
Now then, as much as I would love to help people get a better deal on their utilities there was a fundamental flaw with her approach; she was TELLING me what she thought I wanted to hear. So I drew her a diagram of the multiple income streams that I already had and explained that I earned more from my book sales working zero hours than the £1000 per month for 64 of my precious hours that she wanted to steal from me.
The lesson here is that communication is more about listening than it is about talking. She didn’t ask a single question about me or my current circumstance, she was trying to sell me something I didn’t need or want. If she had asked me about what I did at the network meeting instead of trying to sell to me she could have saved a lot of time. If you ask better questions you will get a better response and if you are TELLING you are definitely NOT selling.
You will get a better result communicating if you ask some great questions and then listen with the intent to understand the reply rather than respond with your pre-arranged agenda. Two ears and one mouth that is how you should communicate listen twice as much as you speak and remember if you’re telling, you’re not selling.
E = Engagement…
Many years ago I had a gentleman come on my second ever Millionaire Mind-set course, unfortunately he was what I call a KIAC (Check the link) he thought he knew it all and didn’t implement anything that he had learned. It’s not about the information; it’s about the implementation! He had been networking for a while and had had very few referrals. He came to me and said “Ash, this networking malarkey really doesn’t work and I won’t be coming anymore.” I wished him luck and we parted company.
Imagine my surprise when 3 years later at ABC Gravesend he walked through the door and announced that he was back! I asked him what had made him change his opinion of networking and he said “I’ve read this great book and it says networking is the best form of marketing and I already knew all of the people I needed to know!” I asked him what the book was and he said Endless Referrals by Bob Burg… Funny that!! I had recommended it to him on the Millionaire Mind-set course 6 years previously.
I welcomed him back and he went to get a coffee and sat down at the table, he didn’t speak to anyone until his turn to speak. He stood up said he was a business coach and he could help everyone in the room grow their business and that they should all come over and see him during breakfast. He sat down, waited for the presentation round to end, got up, collected his breakfast which he ate in record time and then left.
He didn’t engage with anyone for the whole two hours; he pitched his business and expected everyone to go and see him afterwards (Which they didn’t) and then left as soon as he had eaten his breakfast. So once again he had learned nothing.
In order to turn strangers into friends we must engage with people, we must be genuinely interested in them which you can’t do if you’re not going to talk to them. Get in amongst the people and speak to them. I’ll talk to anyone anywhere; my mates take the proverbial when I talk to the doormen at the pub when we go and see Tottenham play. They may well laugh but I’ve turned those strangers into friends and one of them is now a client.
I’m going to indulge you in a little time travel back to May 1985. My second son Adam had just been born in February, business was booming, new Mercedes 280e in the garage and I was treating myself to an all singing and dancing lawn mower. A Honda with a Briggs and Stratton engine, 51cm cutting deck and multi-speed self-drive, all for the princely sum of £595 which in 1985 was a bloody lot of money.
Now I can hear you all saying “He needs to get out more!” and you’re probably right…
Fast forward to May 2016, thirty one years later almost to the day. The Honda lawnmower affectionately named Daisy was a bit like triggers broom, four new wheels, one new cutting deck, 5 new blades and a new engine (but she was original) finally bit the dust. It was on a tough uphill stretch that the front nearside wheel fell off! Gutted or what! On close inspection the supporting metalwork was now un-supporting rust work and definitely beyond repair.
Off to the mower shop I went and purchased the 31 year modern equivalent, which, funny enough was about the same cost. I lifted the box with said new mower into the back of the car and thought to myself “That’s surprisingly light!” On arrival home I carried the box across the lawn and into the barn for assembly, which took all of 15 minutes. The original took over an hour to put together if I recall. One pull on the starter cord and it burst into life; old daisy used to take six or seven hard pulls to even get her to cough a bit before she would slowly chug up to full running speed.
Out of the barn onto the lawn and the first strip cut… Easy! In fact so easy I was shocked. The complete lawn was cut in two hours, a full hour less than previously. No back ache, no cursing because the grass collection bag consistently fell off and only half a tank of petrol compared with one and half tanks. Why oh why hadn’t I bought a new mower earlier??
Now you might be wondering what this has to do with anything….. Well, it reminds me very much of our businesses and our life; where else are we holding onto old things that are outdated, inefficient and dammed right hard work? I see lots of business owners that hold on to old systems and processes, destructive habits and ways of doing things that cost them time and money. It’s because they have become so accustomed to struggling they think it’s normal.
Where are we holding onto old things in our personal lives? Stagnant relationships, wardrobes full of old clothes, attics full of stuff we will never use, thoughts and beliefs that are clearly holding us back and which clearly we refuse to acknowledge?
Sometimes we have to let go of the old things, thoughts and habits in order for us to experience the new things.
My challenge to you is each day for the next twenty one days let go of one old habit, belief or attitude that is just not serving you anymore and replace it with something newer, better more efficient or just different.
Recently my book STUFF for Business has been selling very well and a lot of happy people that have bought it have asked me if I would do a regular blog with my favourite tips for business and life.
So for the next month I’ve decided to add a once a week blog with seven tips for that week. If you like it please let me know and if there is enough response I’ll keep it going after the month is up. Come on don’t be shy, let me know what you think, and remember, social media is about engagement!
Here we go then;
Monday… Stop expecting other people to agree with you. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life you are excited about. Don’t let the opinions of others make you forget that. You are not in this world to live up to the expectations of others, and neither should you feel that others are here to live up to your expectations. In fact, the more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less approval you need from everyone else. You have to be yourself, and follow your own intuition, however scary that may feel or prove to be. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t get discouraged by their progress or success. Follow your own path and stay true to your own purpose. Success is ultimately about spending your life happily in your own way.
Tuesday… Stop expecting them to suddenly change. If there’s a specific behaviour someone you care about has that you’re hoping disappears over time, it probably won’t. If you really need them to change something, be honest and put all the cards on the table so this person knows how you feel and what you need them to do. For the most part though, you can’t change people and you shouldn’t try. Either you accept who they are or you choose to live without them. It might sound harsh, but it’s not. When you try to change people, they often remain the same, but when you don’t try to change them – when you support them and allow them the freedom to be as they are – they will gradually change and in the most beautiful way. Because what really changes is the way you see them.
Wednesday… Try one new thing every day. – Variety truly is the spice of life. You can see or do something a million times, but you can only see or do it for the first time once. As a result, first time experiences often leave reflective marks in our minds for the rest of our lives. Make an effort to try something new every day for the next rest of the month. It can be a whole new activity or just a small experience, such as talking to a stranger. Once you get the ball rolling many of these new experiences will open doors to life changing opportunities.
Thursday… Concentrate on being positive at all times. – The real winners in life cultivate optimism. They have the ability to manufacture their own happiness and inner drive. No matter what the situation, the successful person will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. They know that failure is only an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
Friday… Get uncomfortable and face a fear every day. – With a strategy of continuous small steps into uncomfortable territory we are often able to sidestep the biggest barrier to positive change: Fear. Sometimes we’re afraid that we will fail. Sometimes we’re subconsciously afraid we’ll succeed and then we’d have to deal with all the disruption, growth and change that follows success. Other times it’s our fear of rejection or simply our fear of looking like a idiot. The best way to defeat fear is to face it. Connect to your fear, feel it in your body, realise it and steadily address it. Greet it by name if you have to: “Welcome, fear.” Fear can be a guiding friend if you learn how to swallow it, and listen to it only when it serves its true purpose of warning you when you are in danger. Spend an hour every day for the next 7 days addressing a fear that is holding you back. Beyond your greatest fear you will find your greatest success.
Saturday… Stop playing the blame game.– Either you own your present situation or it will own you. Either you take responsibility for your life, or someone else will. Blame is an excuse – it’s an easy way out of taking responsibility for your own outcomes. It’s a lot easier to point a finger at someone or something else instead of looking within yourself. Blame is not constructive; it does not help you or anyone else – nobody wins in the blame game. The amount of energy and stress it takes to place blame elsewhere takes away from your power to move forward and find a real solution. It’s time to care more; it’s time to take more responsibility, it’s time to lead from within, it’s time for a change, it’s time to stop blaming others and grab life by the horns! No one is coming to save you so take responsibility for your results!
Sunday… Know what you know, what you don’t know and who knows what you don’t. No one knows everything, so don’t come off as a know-it-all. Surround yourself with advisors and mentors who will nurture you to become a better leader and businessman. Find successful, knowledgeable individuals with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals that see value in working with you for the long-term.
Married couples in business together have extreme opinions when asked about it. It’s either the best thing that happened to them, or the worst. Very few couples, if any, are indifferent about running a business with their life partner.
Married couples have long established and run successful family businesses, one third of the fastest growing private companies in the UK were owned and operated by husband-and-wife teams.
The benefits are innumerable for those couples who can work closely together and share a passion for their business. In addition to having the opportunity to spend more time together, they also tend to enjoy peace and harmony in their personal lives as well.
This may not always be the case, however, for those who try to raise a family and run a business together. Both require a lot of tough decisions that ultimately might only highlight the differences between partners.
The couples that can’t work it out usually end up in a long-winded divorce, arguing about who did what in the business, and who deserves to get more. I’m sure we all know at least one or two people that have experienced this.
As a result, companies can be torn apart if the domestic relationship begins to fall apart. Misunderstandings at home can lead to trouble in the boardroom, eventually leading to a lack of harmony in the office, bad decisions, and a loss of business. Worst case scenario, because it’s often the single greatest asset in the marriage, the business becomes a pawn in the divorce settlement.
This doesn’t have to happen though. If you’ve been married or life partners for a while, you know that the relationship takes a lot of work and compromise. The same goes for good and prosperous business partnerships.
What happens when a couple sees themselves heading down the divorce path, but truly want to save the marriage? One person will usually end up leaving the business to let the other run it. Only then, can they work on salvaging their marriage and actually succeed.
Being able to successfully work with your life partner depends on many factors. It’s not easy. If you do decide to do it, have a look at these 10 tips.
Same goals from the business. Successful partners are equally devoted to their business. Yes, one may appear to be the outward driver, but in reality, both partners are dedicating equal time and energy to growing their business. They feed each other power and energy in their own respective ways. But if one is constantly trying to grow the company, while the other is content with standing still, resentment and anger will build, and the marriage or business (or both) will fail. Just because you are committed to spending the rest of your lives together, it doesn’t mean you have the same goals or vision for your company. If one wants a lifestyle business, while the other wants to make the business scalable, you’ve got a huge problem. It’s impossible for a company to evolve when the visions are not aligned.
Divide the responsibilities. Separate your areas of responsibility and then let each other work without interfering. Much like at home or within a family, a division of labour in the office is the key to maintaining good working relationships, as well achieving your business goals.
Do what you are good at. Sometimes when a couple starts a business together, they end up in their respective roles whether they like it or not. If at some point one or both of the partners realise they are not suited for the position, the couple has to make a decision. Either switch roles, or step away. Staying in a role that is proving detrimental to the business will only hurt the business – and ultimately the marriage. It’s not easy to admit that you are not cut out to running a certain aspect of the company that you helped build. But if the goal is to build a successful business, you need to leave pride and ego out of the equation.
Respect each other. Have you ever come across a married couple that deeply respected each other in their business, but had zero respect for each other personally? What about vice versa? Probably not. Happily-married couples that start a business together usually end up respecting each other even more, or losing respect entirely. Personal and business respect go hand-in-hand for a married couple. Couples will likely lose respect for each other if they consistently disagree on how to run the business. An easy way to find out if a couple respects each other is to ask their employees. They are the first ones to sense it and can usually foresee if the couple will last. The sad part is a marriage that may have worked pre-business partnership, will likely fail once they lose respect for each other in business.
Leave the intimacy and issues at home. When you’re at home you wouldn’t expect your spouse or partner to talk with you as you would expect him or her to address others at a business meeting. The same goes for time spent in the office together. Public displays of affection, heated arguments or personal conversations can embarrass or alienate others. Worse, they can disrupt the smooth flow of business. That’s why it is important that you conduct yourselves in a professional manner anytime you’re on “company time.”
Keep business out of the bedroom. The same applies when you and your spouse or partner leave the office and return home. Although you may find that you are so busy all day long that you haven’t had much time to talk about business with your partner, it is important to set limits. To make a smooth transition from business to domestic partners, you can limit the time you take each day to catch up to half an hour or so after you leave the office, after which you agree not talk business again until you’re both back in the office.
Know how to shut off. Running a business is difficult and stressful enough. Add marriage to it? That’s quite the challenge. When a couple knows how to turn off the business switch and enjoy their personal lives, they are one step ahead of the game. Unfortunately, most couples that work together can’t shut it off. Their entire lives revolve around their business. In fact, the only moments where they really have time talk about their business issues are when they are eating dinner or lying in bed! The problem gets worse when one spouse wants to shut it off, and the other one can’t or won’t.
Get away with each other. A short break from work together can do wonders for both your relationship and the business. A getaway weekend can quickly remind you why you love being in business together.
Get away from each other. In addition to occasionally needing a break from the stress of the business; it can be just as healthy to take a break from each other. Couples who are not in business together are often separated everyday by the usual office hours and the extra time and distant of the commute. However, when you’re in business with your spouse or partner you can find yourselves together 24 hours a day for weeks on end. Give each other some space and breathing room by regularly engaging in personal interests and activities that belong only to you.
Protect your investment. If one of you suddenly dies or becomes disabled, are you prepared for the business or your lifestyle to continue? Unlike other business owners, since you are partners with your spouse your needs will be unique. Develop a contingency plan with the help of your lawyer, accountant and/or insurance broker that protects both of you in the event of death, divorce or other unforeseen events.
Running a business with your life partner can be extremely challenging – especially if you married your polar opposite. Think of it as trying to juggle two marriages simultaneously. You can imagine how much effort that involves!
Do It Now!
If you would like to improve your chances of your business and life partnership surviving have a look at this one day seminar! Couples in Business!
Rushing into December last year and in the run up to Christmas I had several people say to me “I just don’t know where this year has gone!” or “Time must be moving faster than ever!” or “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” or derivations of these statements relating to time.
It got me thinking about why these people had the illusion of “Time passing quicker than ever!” Those of you that have been on one of my seminars or heard me speak at an event will know that I talk about our conscious mind. This part of our cognitive thought process can only effectively retain seven, plus or minus two things and most people are constantly trying to juggle a lot more things than that.
With all of the mediums of communication and the amount of information that is coming at us at every second of our waking day, (approximately 2 million bytes every minute) is it any wonder that our focus jumps from one thing to another and thereby creates the illusion that time is going faster. If we are not focused on the passage of time during whatever we are doing then that illusion is exaggerated. In order to slow it down we need to focus on one task at a time and be very aware of each moment.
Now then…. This may come as a shock to you, but we all have the same 24 hours in each day and each of those hours has 60 minutes and each of those minutes has 60 seconds, so why is it that some people get so much more done in there allocation of time?
“It’s not about time management, it is about task management!”
So here are 8 areas where your focus shouldn’t be;
Distractions that keep you from special moments with special people. – Pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together. Go for long walks. Indulge in great conversations. Count your mutual blessings. Let go for a little while and just BE together.
Regrets of any kind. – You don’t have to be defined by the things you once did or didn’t do. Don’t let yourself be controlled by regret. Maybe there’s something you could have done differently, or maybe not. Either way, it’s merely something that has already happened. Leave the unchangeable past behind you as you give yourself to the present moment.
Resentment. – Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, or forgiveness for acceptance. It’s about knowing that resentment is not on the path to happiness. Remember, you don’t forgive people because you’re weak. You forgive them because you’re strong enough to know that people make mistakes.
Other people’s mistakes and oversights. – Be tolerant of people’s mistakes and oversights. Sometimes good people make bad choices. It doesn’t mean they’re bad; it simply means they are human. Open your mind before you open your mouth. Don’t hate what you don’t know. The mind is like a parachute; it doesn’t work when it’s closed.
Trying to impress everyone. – One of the most freeing things we learn in life is that we don’t have to like everyone, everyone doesn’t have to like us, and that’s perfectly OK. No matter how you live, someone will be disappointed. So just live your truth and be sure YOU aren’t the one who is disappointed in the end. Don’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you; they do things because of them. You honestly can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react and who you choose to be around. Remember SW,SW,SW! Some Will, Some Won’t, So What!
People who are negative about your dreams. – It’s better to be lonely than allow negative people and their opinions derail you from your destiny. Don’t let others crush your dreams. Do just once what they say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their negativity again.
The desire for everything you don’t have. – No, you won’t always get exactly what you want, but remember this: There are lots of people who will never have what you have right now. The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they already have.
Every point in time other than right now. – Don’t cry over the past, it’s gone. Don’t stress too much about the future, it hasn’t arrived. Do your best to live NOW and make this moment worth living.
So there you have it… Stop speeding up time and enjoy the moment you are living in.
When I was a young man of 23, my business partner and best mate Jamie and I used to stop off on a Friday night and have a beer in a pub called the Queens Head and as we were enjoying our pint a young ex public school boy used to drop in and have a drink with us.
Chris worked in the City as a financial analyst and he would say to us, “I’ve got a great tip, if you invest just £200 in this share or that bit of stock, it will make you rich!” Now, Jamie and I being working class type men were a bit skeptical of get rich quick schemes, however plausible they might seem and to add to that we were already well on our way to having a few quid!
We didn’t invest! What we did do was check young Chris out and found that he lived in a rented one bed flat in a very poor area and was in debt up to his eyebrows. So the question we did have for Chris the next time he came in the pub and sat down with us was “Why if these stocks and shares are so good why are you skint?”Chris didn’t practice what he preached!
Needless to say we didn’t see Chris for a very long time.
One of my key learning points in life is to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. The delegates that come on my Millionaire Mind-set course will know that I recommend everyone getting a coach/mentor in their life and business. The main reason for this is that we can’t fix a problem with the same level of thinking that created the problem in the first place and as creatures of habit we tend to look for solutions in the same place as we always have.
A lot of small business owners look around at successful business owners and think that they did it all by themselves. Let me tell you this, there are very few successful business people that have done it totally on their own. Every one of them has had some help somewhere; they will have made sure that the people in their lives and business are of the highest quality. I have a mentor and part of her role with me is to keep me focused and accountable.
Every entrepreneur needs a coach/mentor, because the fastest way to learn any business is to study someone who has been successful at it. This person has already paid the price of experience. You must absorb all of the information that you can out of him or her and take action! Does the coach/Mentor that you are considering run successful training courses?
Over the years, I’ve met many people who desperately want to be successful but who are ultimately unwilling to invest in themselves. They think, “I can teach myself. I can learn this on my own.” I’m always gobsmacked by this attitude. If I can avoid making a few mistakes by being mentored by someone that has already been there and done it, then I’m going to.
If a business owner won’t invest in themselves how do they expect other people to invest in them? They are happy to go out on a Friday and Saturday night and pour fifty quid’s worth of alcohol down their neck but won’t pour fifty quid into their head. If only they realised that by pouring the money into their head they could pour as much as they like down their neck in the future!
The wiser people will often come to me and ask me to work with them and others that I meet at network meetings or other business events ask me if I could recommend them to a great coach/mentor, which I do. However, it goes without saying that some coaches/mentors are better than others. There are so many people these days offering their services to entrepreneurs online. Before you jump into a new relationship, take some time to get to know a potential coach/mentor.
I have some basic rules that I use when recommending other coaches/mentors and which, I believe are six great tips before you choose a coach/mentor to take you and your business forward.
So here you go six tips for choosing a business coach/mentor;
Congruency – The number-one thing to look for on someone’s resume is his or her experience.
What exactly have they accomplished? Is it the same as you want to accomplish? Your coach/mentor must have walked the walk. I feel strongly about this.
Find someone that has truly paid their dues and can speak of their real-life experiences. Ideally, this person will have failed and succeeded. Their insight will help you avoid making costly mistakes and increase your chance of success immensely.
Does the coach/mentor you are about to choose have a track record of building successful businesses?
Is the coach/mentor’s current business successful? If not why not? I see a lot of business coaches/mentors out there telling other people how to run their business and make more money and they are skint themselves.
Make sure the coach/mentor you choose practices what they preach, and actually walk their talk!
Recommendations – Have they got a string of recommendations from real customers?
The chances are if you are picking a great coach/mentor they will have a portfolio of testimonials from satisfied clients.
Have they got social proof?
Have a look at their Linkedin profile and their recommendations. If they haven’t got any, why not?
Honesty – Will they tell you how it is or will they tell you what you want to hear?
If you are looking for someone to tell you what you already know, ask yourself is having a YES man doing you any good? You have to want to be challenged!
The mentor needs to be honest with you and you need to be honest with yourself.
Ask them if they have failed with their past business ventures? If they say no, I would suggest that they are less than honest.
Most successful business owners have failed and more importantly they have learned from the experience and then moved on to business success.
Attitude – I have met some business coaches/mentors that are very negative and spend most of their time finding what’s wrong with life rather than what they could do to get a better result. In my experience, having a great attitude comes with time and experience. The right coach/mentor will have been through it all – and come out the other side knowing a sense of humour goes a long way in business.
They are able to see the big picture.
They don’t get too upset or emotional.
An ideal coach/mentor is very patient, but also persistent and determined.
Positive energy is very important in any relationship and if your mentor has a negative attitude it will drag you down with them.
Make sure that they have a positive outlook on everything and look to find a way to make things happen rather than find reasons why they won’t.
KPI – Are they a Key Person of Influence?
Does your potential coach/mentor regularly give talks?
A great coach/mentor will have longstanding relationships with people who could benefit you. Ask him or her if they’re willing to open doors for you.
Sometimes, it is about who you know rather than just what you know.
If this person offers a long list of services, exercise caution. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone, and nor is it desirable.
Accountability – A great coach/mentor will not simply let you disappear.
They will hold you accountable. It’s a lonely place owning a business and in a lot of cases you are not accountable to anyone.
Yes, things get in the way. But he or she cares about how you’re doing.
If you’re lucky enough to find a coach/mentor that you gel with, as I have, you will make a great friend for life.
They will enjoy sharing in your success and feeling like they were part of it.
Remember Jim Rohn’s quote “You will become the average of the five people you spend most of your time with!” So surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like and who fill you with positive energy!
Finally I was driving on the motorway to give a talk to a group of business owners when I passed a van and the sign writing said “Don’t drive around with that dent in your car, or that scratch along the door. Let us fix it for you!” Yes you guessed it; in the front wing was a bloody great dent! And to cap it off, guess who was driving the van….. Chris!
Are you a new business or solopreneur? Then look at this video…
“Don’t ask for financial advice from skint people, don’t ask business advice from people that haven’t had a successful business and make sure you have your dents and scratches sorted by someone that looks after their own vehicle!” 🙂
On a daily basis I get asked for a tip for business or advice on how to fix a problem in one of my clients life. So I’ve put together 10 little bits of wisdom that might just change the way you see things going forward. My challenge to you is to pick one that you like and try it for the next 21 days and see what difference it makes to your life or business. 21 days is about the time it takes to create a habit and if it becomes a positive habit in your life, just think what results you could get…
If it does make a difference to you please leave a comment at the bottom of the page so that others will benefit as well.
Spend more time with the right people.– These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in positive and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only accept who you are now, but also accept and encourage who you want to be, unconditionally.
Help other people around you. – Care about people. Guide them if you know a better way. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness begets love and kindness. And so on and so forth. Remember it’s not about you! Remember the law of reciprocation.
Be honest with yourself about everything.– Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become. Be honest with every aspect of your life, always. Because you are the one person you can forever count on. Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there.
Value the lessons that your mistakes teach you. – Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of growth. If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning. Take risks, trip, fall, and then get up and try again. Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, learning, growing and improving. Significant achievements are almost invariably realised at the end of a long road of failures. One of the ‘mistakes’ you fear might just be the link to your greatest achievement yet. “A mistake is only a mistake if you make it twice; the first time it’s a beautiful lesson”.
Face your problems head on. – It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them. Problems will not disappear unless you take action. Burying your head in the sand leaves your bum in the air and someone will kick it! Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done. It’s all about taking small steps in the right direction, inch by inch. These inches count, they add up to yards and the yards add up to miles.
Take full responsibility for your own life. – No one is going to save you! Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them. Either you take responsibility for your life or someone else will. And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a creator of your own. You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. And no, it won’t always be easy. Every person has a stack of challenges in front of them. You must take responsibility for your situation and overcome these challenges. Choosing not to, is choosing a lifetime of mere existence.
Look for the silver lining in every situation. – When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small rays of hope. Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times. And stay conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right. Focus on all of the great things that you already have, not on those that you don’t.
Be more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. If you don’t love who you are, no one else will.
Move towards your goals every single day. – Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. (Lao Tzu) Whatever it is you dream about, start taking small, logical steps every day to make it happen. Get out there and DO something! The harder you work the luckier you will become. While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it. By ‘working on it,’ I mean consistently devoting oneself to the end result. Email me for my goal funnel.
Focus on the possibility of positive outcomes. – The mind must believe it CAN do something before it is capable of actually doing it. The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful. Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Regardless of how a situation seems, focus on what you DO WANT to happen, and then take the next positive step forward. No, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you react to things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether or not you’re happy and successful in the long run depends greatly on which aspects you focus on. What you think about, you bring about!