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Are you working harder for less?
April 6, 2015 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments
Owning and leading a successful business has always been about giving it all you’ve got. You willfully give your time to the point where working a forty-hour week would feel like a vacation. You give your personal resources in terms of money, taking on debt and using personal assets as collateral. More than any other factor, you give your passion, energy and emotional capacities to pursue your business vision. In so many profound ways, what you give … and sacrifice … for your business is a commitment to perpetually live at or beyond the brink of your comfort zone.
Given all the sacrifice, what is the upside of owning and leading a business? For me, it is to control my own destiny, to build something truly unique, and to create a better life for myself, my family, my employees and those my company serves. Of course it’s about making money – but money has never been the number one driver. The purpose and content of the work has always been my number one driver. Do it right, do it to the best of my ability … and the money will come. Profit and money is an outcome.
There comes a time in the evolution of a business where the owner’s work changes. All businesses go through survival mode where hard work, long hours and sacrifice are non-negotiable. But survival mode is a portion of the journey that you and your business should eventually pass through. Like a jet climbs to reach cruising altitude, so must a business climb through survival mode to a state of sustainability.
Here are some No-Compromise Leadership strategies to help you climb out of survival mode and put an end to the cycle of working harder for less:
- Change your business model: If you and your business are stuck in survival mode, then your current business model is designed to function in survival mode. This is the toughest concept for many entrepreneurs to grasp. Their thinking is that by “working harder” things will get better. In reality, working harder at an inefficient or poorly designed business model won’t make it go faster or lift it out of survival mode. The moment an owner realizes that he or she is working harder for less … the business model must change. By business model I’m referring to the leadership approach, culture upgrade, new and better systems to inspire employee engagement, financial controls, standards of performance, accountability and a complete overhaul of customer service practices. My only warning here is that the longer you’ve been in survival mode, the more embedded the thinking and behavior – the more challenging upgrading to a new business model will be. If you want to get out of survival mode bad enough, this is your only path out. Get business a coach.
- Change your focus: If you’re stuck in survival mode your focus is on plugging leaks, fighting cash flow problems, employee indifference and just trying to make it through another day, week or month. It’s like watching your feet walk and hoping you’ll make it to a better place. The problem is that by watching your feet, you can’t see obstacles ahead of you … or even a cliff coming up. Change your focus means stepping back for a bit to honestly and brutally assess where you are (current reality) and where you want to go (vision). It is impossible to set your business GPS to a destination of “get better.” It is very doable to set your business GPS on achieving a specific destination (goals) that includes milestones, tasks, accountabilities, measurable critical numbers, and other performance and growth factors. Changing your focus requires a high level of personal discipline to avoid reverting back to survival mode behavior. Get a business coach.
- Change your work: If you’re stuck in survival mode, you’re stuck in your daily work doing a bad superhero impersonation of trying to carry and lift your business on your own back. Now that is the definition of insanity and a recipe for burnout. The next step after changing your business model and changing your focus to a new destination is to change your work. And the only way to change your work is to blow up your daily work schedule and rebuild it with work content designed to lift you out of survival mode. Simply put, if you’re tired of working harder for less … then work smarter for more. Again, old work habits die hard. Working smarter for more always requires new business and leadership skills and the discipline to master those skills. Get a business coach.
- Change your choice: Yes, survival mode and working harder for less is not a good place to get stuck. It wears you down, burns you out and feeds negativity, finger- pointing and feelings of self-doubt. The hard truth about being stuck in survival mode is that it is a choice. Survival mode and working harder for less is nothing more than a toxic collection of one’s own thinking and behavior patterns. By changing your choice to a new and positive set of thinking and behavior patterns, you simultaneously change your perspective on life, business and the possibilities of a better future. Get a business coach.
I’m not trying to “sell” anyone on the benefits of business coaching. I simply know what it’s like to be stuck in survival mode and what it takes to lift yourself and your business out of it. Transformations move at the speed of the individual’s ability to change, learn and master the disciplines of business and leadership. Being held accountable to the change process is perhaps the greatest gift of coaching. So, if you’re tired of working harder for less … it’s time to change your approach and learn how to work smarter for more.
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