How to Think Like an Entrepreneur

Penny for your thoughts? Actually, they’re worth a lot more!

Continual innovation and big-picture thinking is the hallmark of the entrepreneurial spirit and every business owner’s success. How you think about your business has a powerful impact on how you ultimately end up doing business; for better or for worse.

Zooming out to see the bigger picture is important to help you design your business as a tool to realise your goals. It’s not your teams’ concern to steer the ship in the right direction. As the captain, the navigation is up to you!

In Ten Tips to Improve Your Habits and Business we discussed the importance of identifying and disrupting behaviour patterns that are keeping us stagnant. Now, let’s shine a light on how you think, which ultimately has a profound influence on your behaviour.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

What is an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

The mindset of successful entrepreneurs is different from the mindset of employees. It’s a combination of beliefs, thought processes, and ways of viewing the world that drives innovative behaviour.

You probably became a business owner because you carry the entrepreneurial spirit within you. But too often, when we get into the details of running the business, we spend less and less time thinking like entrepreneurs, and more like employees.

Here are three ways of thinking like an entrepreneur:

1) Thinking Strategically

“Strategic thinking rarely occurs spontaneously.” – Michael Porter

Strategic thinking is different from thinking reactively. It’s about your big-picture goals and long-term vision, and fuels how you work strategically. It requires you to prioritise your actions every day and filter out mundane business activities so you can think from a higher level.

When you’re thinking strategically, you’re constantly asking questions like: 

  • What’s my vision for my business one year from now? Or five?
  • What is the dream lifestyle that I’m determined to make happen?
  • What are the steps needed to get me there?
  • Who is my ally or trusted advisor to help me? Who really understands my vision?
  • What organisational planning or restructuring is needed?

2) Thinking Systemically

Systemic describes what relates to an entire system and seeing how the intersection of parts affects the whole.

Do you see your business as an interconnected web of systems, or a mesh of separate, unrelated areas? Perceiving your business and its problems through a ‘systems’ lens enables you to solve problems more efficiently. 

For example, poor sales aren’t necessarily the fault of your salespeople’s performance and their lack of effort. It may be that, instead, the company’s sales processes are haphazard, or your Management System is disorganised. Or maybe they aren’t hitting your sales goals because you haven’t communicated their targets with them, or maybe you haven’t run the numbers to ascertain whether the sales targets are actually achievable.

3) Thinking Systematically

Bringing order to chaos is an inside-out job. With your strategic and systemic thinking hats on, the systematic approach now puts the needed changes into motion.

Systematic describes having a system, method or plan, and thinking systematically allows you to see the patterns that are required to create consistent and reliable results. It’s the level of thinking that emerges once you’ve recognised the larger systemic issues, and are ready to narrow down to building the systems needed to solve them.

It’s the next step in entrepreneurial thinking. Once you’re aware of the systemic problems in your business, like the example above of poor sales, you’re ready to create the systems to solve them. Systematic thinking builds the clearly defined processes and steps needed to increase sales, or onboard new clients, or improve customer service, or increase the efficiency of and accuracy of administrative tasks.

Think Your Way to Success – On Your Terms

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein

Thinking like an entrepreneur drives your actions, which ultimately determines whether your business will be successful or not. By thinking differently, you get different results. By continually asking questions, such as “Why do we do it this way?” and, “How could we do it better?” you’ll get the answers.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking here at BW Miller Dean. Get in touch if you need help with taking control of your finances and succeed in your business.

How to Build an Effective Management System

After a tough year, it’s often challenging to keep the spirits up and keep your employees motivated and productive. We see this trend every year, and usually it passes – once the team is back from their summer break, their spirits are high and they’re eager to work again. 

But what if this is a constant problem you’re battling with? What if motivation and productivity are low even in the best of months? 

“You don’t build a business, you build people, then people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar

If you have a problem in your business with keeping people motivated and productive, it may be because you don’t have an effective management system in place.  

Many business owners never think of implementing a management system, so in Part 1 of this blog, we’ll have a look at what it is, why you need it, and how to spot if your management system is not working as it should. If you’re not sure what we’re on about or how you’re faring, then make sure you read the whole blog. 

In part 2, we get down to business and show you step-by-step how to create an effective management system. If you’re already convinced that you need to up your game, then skip ahead to part 2.

PART 1: Management System 101

‘System’ can be defined as a set of processes, tools, people, and strategies that all work together.

A management team is one thing, but what is a management system? As the word implies, it’s the interconnection of the team and the system which is needed to steer the business in the right direction – in line with your strategic objective.

A management system is the foundation for how everything in your business operates, so it deserves careful consideration when creating it, and also with updating it for inevitable changes.

 

Why Should You Have a System for Management?

Systems empower managers to thrive and know where they stand in the overall vision of your business.

A management system provides structure, which promotes higher output and accountability. The structure also gives them room to be more innovative and creative – a must for any business that wants to survive and thrive in our constantly changing world.

In our blog, Why You Need to Work On Your Business – Not In It, we talked about how important processes are to help you to transition from working in your business (doing), to working on your business (leading).

Together with a management system, your business will hum like a well-oiled machine.

 

Signs Your Business Lacks a Management System

The tell-tale indicators include:

  • You can’t rely on your team to handle operations without you, leaving you with little freedom to lead or grow the business.
  • You constantly have to micro-manage or train people, or complete tasks yourself to ensure they get done properly.
  • Your team lacks clearly defined roles of responsibility and accountability, and the default go-to person for every little thing is always you.
  • You have no department or middle managers, or staff with enough technical or management skills to shoulder responsibility.
  • In other words – you guessed it; you’re caught in the ‘doing’ role to compensate for an ineffective team.

New business owners often struggle with these issues when they’re just beginning to build processes. But, they can crop up at any stage of the business, so it’s important to honestly assess if, and how much, you’re stagnating because of an ineffective management system.

Take some time to really think about the challenges you’ve faced this year. Are they because of an ineffective management system? And if so, what are you going to do to solve your conundrum? To help you with that, let’s jump into a step-by-step process on how to create an effective management system in this next part.

Part 2: 5 Steps to Building a High-Performing Management Team

A high-performing business starts with a high-performing management team.

But how do you go about creating an effective management team? Following these steps would get you there:  

 

Step #1: Create or Update Your Standards and Protocols

Your standards and protocols lay down the rules for your team and key business activities. These should be aligned with the vision and strategy of your business. The list of what this could include is endless and specific to every business, but here are some questions to get you going: 

  • Customer service: How do we handle complaints, returns, etc.?
  • Sales policies: Do we offer guarantees or refunds?
  • Marketing and promotional activities: Which activities and channels do we use?
  • Team policies: How do we conduct employee training, performance reviews and advancements?
  • Staff behaviour: What type of clothes are required/acceptable and what is our work from home protocols?

Creating a Team Handbook laying out these rules would also be helpful.

 

Step #2: Create or Update Your Organisational Chart

An organisational chart provides a visual structure of departments, sub-departments, upper and middle-management roles, and support staff roles. The chart should also illustrate how the different roles and departments work together.

 

Step #3: Create or Update Job Descriptions, with Position Agreements

You cannot hold someone accountable for something they did not agree to. 

Beyond the basics of the usual job description, position agreements establish a clear understanding of each position’s accountabilities, standards, and what resources and support they need to succeed in the role. 

We’ve found that while it’s important to have a job description, you have to carefully go through each of the items and make sure both you and the manager understands what each statement means and what is expected from the manager. There can be no grey areas and you need to get buy-in from your manager for each point.

 

Step #4: Create or Update Your Operation Manuals

Your operation manuals should be specific to each position so that every employee knows the functions of their role and what steps should be taken to complete each task. This will eliminate any guesswork or confusion. 

Don’t go overboard with this, though. Leave some room for people to think and use their creativity if they’re dealing with a scenario that is out of the ordinary. We’ve found that if you’re too detailed, people start to get lazy – they don’t think about what they’re doing and why, and if dealing with an outlier case, they don’t know how to handle it.  

 

Step #5: Hold Regular Individual and Team Meetings

One-on-one meetings provide opportunities for managers and employees to build effective relationships. It also supports employees’ growth. Company-wide meetings, whether bi-monthly or quarterly, provide you with the valuable opportunity to share updates, reaffirm the vision and strategic objective of the firm, and reinforce team spirit.

 

How Will This Look in Your Business?

When you have a management system that works like a well-oiled machine, you’ll be able to design your business around the lifestyle you dream of. At BWMD we believe that your business is a tool to help you create your ideal lifestyle – your business should not overshadow every bit of your life.

But, creating the type of business where systems work smoothly can be a challenge. We love helping SMEs like you to design and update your systems in a customised way that works for your unique business, so get in touch if you need a hand.

 

Why You Need to Work On Your Business – Not In It

Are you micro-managing every piece of your business? If so, you probably can’t see the forest for the trees – the bigger picture, instead of all the small details.

As the business owner or CEO, your job is to look ahead, imagine what your business can become, work out the business strategy, and make sure your team has the tools to bring your vision to fruition. In other words, working on your business.

Not only will the business be more successful when you work on your business, instead of in it. But you will enjoy it more as well.

The purpose of life is not to serve your business – your business’ purpose is to serve your life.

Is it time that you reimagine your business from being a burden that consumes your life, to the tool that will enable you to achieve the lifestyle you crave?

 

 

Signs that You’re Stuck on ‘In’

It may already be obvious to you where change is needed, but sometimes it’s a subtle and habitual approach that causes stagnation. If you’re caught in an employee-mindset, you often lose the entrepreneurial perspective that inspired you to be a business owner in the first place.

So, to help you identify whether you’re IN instead of ON, let’s look at some of the red flags:

  • There is no solid system of processes in place.
  • You don’t delegate enough, or ever, and are micro-managing every aspect of the business.
  • You’re constantly putting out fires.
  • You lack solid team members or department managers you can hand over responsibility to. 
  • You’re working long hours, are drained, and have little time for family, hobbies, or relaxation.
  • You’ve lost sight of your vision, creative inspiration, and goals.
  • You feel like an employee serving your business, not the business serving your life.

If you’re spending the majority of your time working in the trenches of your business, this leaves precious little time to actually focus on your business, with long-term planning, goal setting, performance tracking, or scaling. Although doable for the short-term, this approach will leave you with no energy or time for much else but managing day-to-day operations.

 

Why a Business Process System is Essential

As the business owner or CEO, your work is to design the machine-like structure of a business process system – the model of replicable actions and process automation that your team can follow.

The people on your team are vital to its success – they are on the frontline of your business. But, without the structure of solid business processes, the full potential of your employees will go to waste.

People bring systems to life. When systems work well, people have the space to, and often do, perform exceptionally.

Businesses are not built by extraordinary people, but by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” – Michael E. Gerber

 

Why Should You Design and Build a Well-Oiled Machine for Your Business?

These are some of the results you can expect:

  • Consistently providing superb services and value for your clients.
  • Cost efficiency, increased productivity, and higher employee satisfaction.
  • A structure for your team to know what to do when.
  • Easier transfer of business knowledge when someone leaves and you need to train a new staff member.
  • Structure and order which will empower you and the team, instead of chaos and confusion.

The only person in your company who will be genuinely motivated to grow your company is you. Every minute that you spend working on tasks that can be delegated is a minute that you are not planning, strategizing and building the best business possible. – Inc.com

 

How Do You Build a Well-Oiled Business Machine?

  • Take stock of everything and ask: “what can we do better?”, “where are our bottlenecks?”, “where do we not get consistent results?”, “what do we waste our time and resources on?”, and “what’s outdated?”.
  • Establish the big picture layout, and inspire an excited team effort of who’s going to do what, with clearly identified roles of responsibility.
  • Map out new procedures, fill in the blanks with the little details, and document the new processes. 
  • Test and tweak, gather feedback and adjust as required.
  • Train the team on new processes. Make sure more than one person knows how to do each task so there’s a backup for every role.
  • Establish an ongoing review and improvement plan.

 

Ready to Transition from Doing to Leading?

When the right people, structures, and processes are in place, not only will you improve the business’s agility and efficiency, you’ll finally have the freedom to step out of being a micro-manager. Instead, you’ll oversee the larger picture, lead your team, better react to change, and steer the ship in the direction that supports your vision for the business.

Need help building a process system so you can get out of IN and back to ON? Get in touch with us so we can help you to design your business to become the tool to achieve your dream.

Why You Don’t Need a 101-Point Plan of Action

When Sir William Wallace got onto his horse and gathered an army of everyday Scotts willing to bet everything – including their lives – on the vision he had, he did not waste time with a 101-point-plan-of-action. He inspired them with a simple message that caught fire immediately, and finally led to their victory.

 

Your Vision 

When you’re creating a vision for your business, ask yourself… 

  1. What does success look like to me?
  2. What do I/we want to become known for?
  3. Why do I believe so much in our solution?
  4. What is the transformation our ideal clients/buyers will go through when working with us/buying our product?
  5. How is our solution different from that of your competitors? 

As every great army general (and entrepreneur) knows, a vision alone doesn’t guarantee victory. You have to have a proper strategy to get the right troops in the right positions, train them, make sure everybody has food and equipment, and so on.  

Just like our famous red-haired Scot, you need both a great vision and a well-thought-out, actionable strategy to be successful. 

 

Your Strategy 

Many businesses don’t plan at all, while others get stuck in over-planning mode for ages. None of these approaches works. Instead, you should keep your plan simple enough for everybody to understand – and remember – but detailed enough to cover all risks and steps necessary to bring the vision to fruition.  

Where do you get stuck when planning for your business? 

  • Do you find it challenging to create a vision and put it into words that inspire? 
  • Do you get stuck in planning mode?
  • Are you planning by the seat of your pants, constantly putting out fires as you go?
  • Or is it something entirely different?

If you’re feeling stuck, not knowing how to turn your vision into reality, why not get in touch? We’ll help you to put the right pieces together to build a corona-proof business.

Your Impact Manifesto and the Role of Your Business in the World

What do you remember most from your grandparents? Maybe it’s the life lessons they taught you, the tears they wiped after your cousin said something nasty to you, or when they encouraged you to get back up again after you fell. Maybe they taught you to have fun and smell the flowers along the way.

Or maybe, what you remember most, is the inheritance they left you. The money and the stuff.

Hmm… not likely. For most people, what they value most from their grandparents is the impact they made in their lives.

It’s the same in business. Making money is good – you have to put food on the table – but the thing we’re most concerned about is the impact we make in the world and the lives around us.

Impact looks different for everyone because we all have different things we care about. But the best way to make sure you make the impact you want to, is to get clear on what your impact goals are. Then share it, and start living it.

Your impact manifesto is your anchor.

As your business changes and grows over the years, and as you learn more about business and your clients, it’s easy to veer off course – all the ideas you’ve had about the impact you wanted to make long forgotten.

But, if you have a clear Impact Manifesto, it stays in front of mind. You can weigh every business decision against it and choose the option that is most aligned with your impact goals. And if none of those options fit, then you know that you should go back to the drawing board.

 

Creating Your Impact Manifesto

When choosing your impact goals, there are broadly two categories to consider: Immediate impact and legacy impact.

Immediate impact refers to the lives you change today. Here are a few examples:

  • Your employees: Creating a working environment where they feel you value their opinion, and they know they can ask questions or raise concerns.
  • Your customers: Focusing on the difference your product or service makes in the lives of your clients. For instance, an architect or builder may want to create a house for their clients where they can live the lifestyle they desire.
  • Community and environment: Creating a product or service that is better for the environment. For instance, as a coffee shop, you can encourage customers to bring their own reusable coffee cup.

Legacy impact refers to the long-lasting difference you make. Here are a few examples:

  • Employees: Creating a culture of learning where you train and mentor your employees. You can help them develop their career so they can become the best they possibly can.
  • Customers: Being a thought-leader in your industry and championing a different approach. For instance, an architect who designs modular houses from sustainable materials that are cheaper and easier to build. They make it affordable to not only create a quality, dream house, but also do better for the environment.
  • Community and environment: Creating awareness about an important topic and shifting the way people think about something. For instance, depression used to be a taboo topic. Now people can reach out for help without being afraid of what others would say. 

 

A Few Snippets from BWMD’s Impact Manifesto

We believe that your business is a tool to help you create the lifestyle you dream of. We also believe that success looks different to everyone. For some, they want to grow their business quickly and consistently. For others, they want to make just enough money to lead a comfortable life, with lots of time for other things, like spending time with family, travelling, or pursuing a hobby.

That’s why, the first question we ask you, is “what does success look like for you?” And then we help you craft your business on your terms.

That is the legacy we want to leave. What’s yours?