Have you ever ridden a unicycle? I tried one as a kid, and remember how wobbly that first ride was. The cycle had one wheel, one rider, no handlebars for support. All it took to navigate it was a strong set of legs and a good sense of balance. I remember how exhilarating it was to stay upright, and the humility when I realized there was no one but myself to blame when I fell.
Some equate business ownership to walking a tight line or being on a unicycle. “It’s lonely at the top,” one business owner told me. And yes, keeping everything in balance, leading, managing, hiring, firing, tracking is a lot to juggle. But being alone is not one of the rules of business or leadership. Being on top of things, aware of trends, educated, and involved is. Getting help is an admirable trait, not a fault.
Business is a very unique game. Imagine making the decision to go into sports without knowing anything about the game.
If you know nothing of the sport, then court is a place you go to pay tickets, and a racquet is what the kids were making when you were trying to get to sleep. And “Love alll?” Isn’t that a common phrase from the 60s?
Sports teams have coaches. Business owners have business coaches. Why? Because, like sports, business is a game – a very strategic game with very specific rules, processes, and systems. The playing field might be different than a tennis court, football field, baseball diamond, bowling alley, but there are specific things found in both sports and business that are similar and imperative. These include:
* Rules. In sports, the rules are the specific guidelines that must be adhered to. In business, these are the policies, systems, and regulations you put into place that are not to be broken.
* Connection. To get home, you have to hit the ball. In business, you have to connect. It’s great to have a product or service, but if you can’t get it to the customer, you’re not in the game.
* Systems. Imagine if you orchestrated the same play, play after play. There’s arguments for consistency, but there are arguments for switching things up; when one play doesn’t work, try another. There are some systems that are set, but within those systems are options to magnetize efficiency. Those options are called strategies.
* Team. Clearly if the team is not on the same page as you or each other, things will fall apart. It’s no different in business. I’m sure you can come up with more parallels, the point is business owners wouldn’t think of having a sport that didn’t have these key “spokes” in place, yet often don’t equate the same importance with running a business.
Rules are pretty straight forward. What do you accept and not accept as permissible in your place of business? What do you need to make clear to employees so that they are clear on what is acceptable and what isn’t? Don’t chalk good behavior up to common sense. You’d be surprised at how many employees don’t share the same values. Clue them in.
Connection is all part of the business cycle. The business owner supports the team. The team supports the customer. The customer supports the business. The business supports the business owner and round and round it goes.
Systems in sports are well laid-out and practiced plans of action. In business, systems are applied to each department and to each project. The areas to systemize are:
* People and training/education
* Delivery and distribution
* Testing and Measuring
* Technology and processes
What’s better? To train and then retrain employees or to put effective training manuals in place so that training is systemized?
What’s better? To reinvent the wheel every time something needs to be delivered and distributed, or to have a system in place to automate delivery and distribution?
What’s better? To guess on numbers and hope traffic converts, or to have a system in place to test and measure everything, giving you real numbers in real time with real results to work with?
What’s better? Is it more effective and efficient to cut corners and keep ancient equipment and outdated processes in place, or to keep up with software and technology and keep current with modern forms of communication?
While the answers may seem clear, you’d be surprised at how many business owners don’t have employee handbooks or manuals in place, don’t have a delivery and distribution system in place, don’t test and measure anything in place, and barely know how to do basic computer navigation, let alone tackling anything dealing with social media. In a short amount of time, they burn out, and burnout is the #1 cause of businesses failing.
Ultimately, the daily cycle of business may leave you feeling like you’re all by yourself, but you’re not alone.
Business Coaches are business owners themselves. They know what goes into running businesses, systemizing, testing and measuring, and staying current with technology, and they can help you get in the game. After all, isn’t that what a coach is for? To teach, train, encourage, help, and hold you accountable for reaching the goals set forth?
Okay! Ready for the triple play? Remember that business cycle? Let’s add a key spoke. In this new cycle:
The business coach supports the business owner. The business owner supports the team. The team supports the customer. The customer supports the business. The business supports the business owner. The business owner is supported by the business coach and round and round it goes.
Business is not a unicycle. It’s not a tight rope. It’s not even a juggling act, though it might at times feel like all of these. Business is business.