“You’re the problem, you’ve always been the problem, and you will always be the problem, until you change!” That’s a quote from Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth book. In other words, he’s saying that by pruning your life, you will prune your business.
We’ve been working with hundreds of small business owners and leaders for over a decade and a half, helping them organize their businesses, using systematic methods. That’s organization that sticks!
What we’ve learned during these years is that most business frustrations materialize and grow from unattended personal issues with some owners. As a result, we’ve been able to identify many of those underlying causes that negatively affect a business.
Lack of focus, procrastination, lack of confidence, too many irons in the fire, lack of time, burn-out, fatigue, family interference, poor management skills, bad habits, hoarder mentality, wimpy/weak personality, compulsive-overspending, starting a project and not completing it, etc.
Where Do You Start Pruning Your Life?
In the same manner as someone wanting to lose weight, a business leader must make the DECISION to begin pruning. In short, this is the most crucial step.
Once you make the decision, the next step is to WRITE DOWN all the frustrations causing chaos in your business. Not to mention, frustrations that cause lost revenue and sleepless nights.
For example: Production and Service errors, employees not adhering to procedures or polices, late deliveries, lost tools, employees absent/tardy, tracking sales people’s activities, family feuding.
Once you’ve written down all your business frustrations, it’s now time to be HONEST WITH YOURSELF, in the light of Mr. Gerber’s quote above.
Given that, write down your own personal issues and weaknesses. Review the frustrations we’ve mentioned above to see if any look familiar.
Write down next to the business frustrations you’ve listed, any personal issues that may contribute to the continuation of that frustration.
Applying Truth to the Root Cause | Forward Motion Begins
How do personal issues affect business frustrations? Let’s use for example, one of the business frustrations above, like Production and Service Errors.
When we began systematizing our business, I started with the biggest hole first. In other words, the business frustration that caused me the most pain and cost the most money. Production errors were my main frustration.
Facing Truth in the light of the Gerber quote—to solve Production Errors:
1. I had to confessed, I was a PROCRASTINATOR! To clarify, I had never written down what I expected my employees to check/verify before processing a job. They needed a step-by-step checklist that ensures correct performance. When an employee follows and checks each prompt on their work checklist, the job will be error free.
2. I had to admit at times, I was a WIMPY BOSS. It takes courage to look an employee in the eye and inform them with NO hesitation, what you expect; moreover, informing them of consequences for non-conformance. Note: Before holding an employee accountable for mistakes and any non-conformance, you should give them the TOOL to do their job correctly. In short, don’t start demanding conformance until you have the tool ready and the employee has trained on the tool. A Quality Control Checklist is a TOOL!
3. More truth: I also had TOO MANY IRONS IN THE FIRE; too many activities going on in my life. I had a 100-plus acre farm and other entrepreneurial ideas I was spending valuable time developing. In other words, my busy-ness was my excuse for not developing procedures and needed controls to stop the chaos in my business! Conclusion, I was stepping in the same horse manure over and over, and wondering WHY my business life stunk!
I could go on, as I have enough material here to write a book about my stupidity. But, I think you get the point.
Pruning Begins | Cleaning Up Stupid | Success
To prune my business, by pruning my life, I immediately sold my 100-acre farm. In addition, I put aside ALL my less important entrepreneurial activities to prioritize my life. The new order would be God, family, and then the business that provided by livelihood. I put all those side-tracking ideas in a special folder for a later time.
I knew that if I pruned by life, and turn-keyed my business to operate whether I was onsite or not, then I would have time to do those other things I’ve always wanted to do.
I’m NOT putting forth a theory, but a FACT. After spending the time to complete the mission of systematizing our business, I pulled out those old ideas I’d stored away, and had fun seeing them to completion.
In fact, I wrote and published a BOOK about how I systematized our business from start to finish.
During that time, I restored a 100-year-old home on sixteen acres with a barn. I built a Website for my deceased father, a pastor and evangelist; also, a website for my wife’s musical play and another website for the music I had recorded in my earlier years as a traveling rock-n-roller. I spent memorable times on country roads in my antique convertible, picking for old collectables and antiques. We also bought and remodeled a building for our business, including a 1950’s- style lunchroom. You can take a tour of lean which shows this building and lunchroom.
NOT meaning to be boastful—but it’s a witness to what can happen, when you Prune Your Business by Pruning Your Life!
Did I mention? Great systems work!