A question I receive often from many small business leaders is this: Which is the MOST important when it comes to growing and leading a small business, people or profit? The reality of this question is you cannot have one without the other.
A small business does not operate without people, period. People play the part of representing your company, your brand, and your promise. People interface with clients, vendors and the community you serve. A company is nothing more than people serving people. Through this service and interaction, participants leave a mark on each other’s stories and paths. People invest themselves and pour into your company, your clients and the community, which will in turn produce profit.
Profit is the lifeblood of a company; a fuel that propels your company forward. Profit creates runway for your business vehicle to travel down. Run out of runway and your vehicle crashes. Profit must be retained and guarded with ultimate concern, as this profit pours into your bank account as well as the bank accounts of the people who ultimately helped produce it.
So, which of the two is the MOST important? Which of the two do you ultimately pour into and invest in growing?
People, hands down.
I spent the first decade of my entrepreneurial journey focusing on and ultimately placing the most importance in profit, and as a result, I was very profitable. I climbed a mountain of financial success very quickly, achieving the goal of becoming a millionaire before the age of 30.
However, the celebration was not so sweet. When I arrived to the top of my million-dollar mountain, I realized I did not elevate, inspire or lead the people who helped me get to the top. I did not focus on people like I should have because I did not know how; I was never given a blueprint. At this point, I had two options. Keep climbing, alone or come back down the mountain, and face my people. It would have been much easier to keep climbing along the path I knew, but something inside of me knew this was not the right thing to do.
When I came back down the mountain, I committed to getting a PHD in people. Before doing so, I had to face the fact that some of the people who had helped me were gone. They were no longer there, nor willing to come back. Some bridges were burned.
Moving forward, I learned everything I could about leadership, team building, and understanding humans and what makes them operate at their core. I invested in and poured into people with every resource I had both personally and professionally, and I am so glad I did! Today, I see a bigger mountain and a bigger climb ahead. I have bigger dreams, aspirations, and goals to accomplish.
There is now one thing very different about my dreams, goals, and aspirations. They are not MINE, they are OURS. We are now climbing. We are now trekking. We are now pursuing OUR dreams, OUR goals, and OUR aspirations together.
If you focus on the people the profit will come. If you focus on the profit, the people will run.
Want to know a secret? I stopped setting goals and New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Have you ever set a goal for yourself and not accomplished it? I have. Have you ever justified and rationalized why it was okay that you did not meet your goal? I have. Why does this happen, and more importantly, who do you really let down when this happens?
The truth is, as humans we are okay letting ourselves down but we will not let others down. We make excuses that personal failure is okay, but we will not fail others. We justify that achieving 80% of our goal is better than 70%, even though it was not 100%. What about when somebody is counting on you, is this still okay?
Instead of setting goals for yourself, create and make promises, commitments and outcomes for others. Instead of losing 20 lbs for yourself, commit to your spouse and children that losing 20lbs keeps you healthier for them. Instead of setting a goal to double your income for yourself, commit to your family that twice as much money creates a better financial family tree and legacy for them.
Start off 2018 by making a commitment to your spouse, children, team members, the families that you and your company support, the young person you mentor, your grandparents, or parents; who ever this is for you, tell them what you are doing in 2018 and then go do it. You will not let them down.
What do you commit to and who will you commit to in 2018?
This past week I have been doing some intense reflection and stepping back from the day-to-day operations of the business to consider some of the following points. These little entrepreneurial tidbits have been ruminating in my head. I hope you enjoy these:
Are the things you are thinking about, acting on and planning for things that have to do with your leaving a legacy and making a mark, or are they just urgent distractions?
Your 20, 30, 40-year and lifetime vision and end game should be broken down into daily, weekly, and monthly manageable action steps to get there.
When a potential customer calls your business for your product or service, they are saying, “Hey, I have some money I want to give you.” Call them back fast–faster than you do anything else. Serve them well–better than you serve anyone else. Do this 100% of the time, and you will make money. Continue to do this over and over, and you will make lots of money. It really is that simple!
Make customers want to buy from you by telling them all the great things about you. There is no need to throw competition under the bus in order to tell the truth about yourself. In fact, intelligent people know that if you knock your competitor, you have run out of great things to say about yourself. I just closed a big job today because my competitor knocked me big-time. Thanks for the money, buddy!!
Your raise is effective when you are!
“What a knucklehead!” I uttered again as another contractor (who will not be getting my business) left my house. The past six months been frustrating, shocking and straight up hilarious.
Quick back story.
Our family moved across town in October of 2012 into our dream home. But dreamy as it is, there was still a list of things we wanted to do to upgrade and improve—painting (We know some awesome painters by the way!), flooring, landscaping, installations, epoxy floors, blinds, and the list goes on. So shortly after moving in we started interviewing contractors. Lots of them. I have met some quality contractors, but I have unfortunately interacted with more who are awful and many who don’t even show up.
I am in the contracting industry and own M & E Painting. At M & E, we are entrepreneurs and business owners who happen to do it painting houses. Many of our competitors are painters first who have happened to fall into the role if being a business owner, and, let me tell you, there is a BIG DIFFERENCE!
There are basics of running a business. If these necessary basics aren’t nurtured, a business won’t be a business for very long. “What a knucklehead!” has become my mantra after dealing with so many loose cannons in the contractor world, so I’ve titled my blog, “Don’t be a knucklehead.” Most entries will be amusing stories of knuckleheadedness that I have witnessed in the industry, but I’ll also pepper in some inspiring stories of solid, amazing and superior service. Each story will have a little nugget of advice that you can apply to your business.
Are you an entrepreneur who happens to do _____________, (fill in the blank with your industry), or are you a _________________ (use same word from first blank), who is trying to run a business? I strongly recommend that you are an entrepreneur and business owner first. By locking down the habits of a phenomenal entrepreneur, you will become a leader in your industry, no matter what that industry is. If you focus on the details of your industry first and then try to do the business stuff second, you will repeatedly experience frustration and never be able to grow.
So, keep an eye out for the blog series “Don’t be a knucklehead.” I hope you enjoy it and have a few laughs. I would love to hear your stories and experiences to share with everyone too.
Talk to you soon!