2017-05-18 / Columns

Think Outside, No Box Needed: Advice for Growing Your Business

‘Your Business Is a Training School for Your Employees’
By Jim Plouffe

I walked into my friend’s business the other day, and when I asked him how he was doing, he said, “You know, Jim, I’m just livin’ the dream.” I could tell by the sarcastic tone in his voice that he didn’t mean a word of what he just said. His livin’ the dream statement was more like a cry for help!

Have you ever thought, “I must be crazy to do this. What have I gotten myself into? Why is everything so frustrating, hard, and stressful? How can everybody be so dense, incompetent, and irresponsible? Doesn’t anyone think anymore?”

I have thought all of those things at one time or another. There are a few times when I have thought them all at once. Sometimes it’s a customer, and sometimes it’s an employee or a vendor, but they all make me crazy at different times. What about you? Are you livin’ the dream, or the nightmare? We all want to live the dream, but just like in “The Wizard of Oz,” while following the Yellow Brick Road, it leads to the life we have dreamed of, but there are a lot of challenges along the way that require a brain, heart, and courage.

There has to be an easier, simpler, more effective way to make money and manage this organization, doesn’t there?

Do you have a normal business? Does it work the way most businesses work? Does your business have competitors? Do you consider yourself to be a normal person? Most of us do. Now, I don’t want you to be offended by this, but I’m guessing that you are, in some senses, a misfit, a bit of a maverick, and a little impatient. Does that sound like you?

Here’s something that you may not have thought about before as a small business owner or manager: We are stuck with hiring all of the oddballs, weirdos, fish out of water, square pegs in round holes, leftover freaks. The people who make up our businesses are run by all of the individuals who didn’t fit in any place else. Sometimes, you may feel that in one sense, your business is operated by misfits, because all of the really good people went to work for companies that were bigger than yours, because they can pay them more money than you can.

One of the most important parts of your job is to figure out the strengths of individuals you have working for you, so that you can put these strengths to good use. I know that you think that you are running a business, but you are also running a training school for your employees. As small business owners, we don’t have the luxury to wait, or resources to waste. That is why you find yourself doing so many different jobs in your organization. Nothing can wait if you are going to survive. It all has to be done. Starting and owning a small business feels a lot like modern day slavery.

If you take a 24-hour day and mark down all the things that you have to do, and the amount of time you think it will take to do them, you’ll discover that there really aren’t enough hours in the day or night if you are going to get a regular night’s sleep. It’s not just you. Your employees struggle with the same issues; only they have even less freedom than you have.

We all know that we could be more than we are, and it’s your job, as an employer, to train your people in all the ways that they can simply do their jobs better than anyone else. It is the “misfits and oddballs” that you are going to have to rely on to help you build trust, innovation, reliability, and results. Find their strengths, and you will differentiate your business from all of your competitors.

Need someone to figure things out with? Do you need a new business or marketing strategy? Talk to Jim by calling (906) 643-6643, or ask him a question any time or e-mail him any time at jim@ThinkOutside- NoBoxNeeded.com. Jim is also available for speeches and presentations to your company or organization.

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