Is it Groundhog Day, Every Day?
You remember the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray? Murray's character is Phil Connors, a self-important TV weatherman who, while on assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. Nothing changes for him, day after day, until [SPOILER ALERT] he changes his attitude, makes positive changes and gets things right with the people he cares about.
Are you experiencing Groundhog Day? Is every new day really just the same, with recurring issues and 90 fires to put out?
The sad fact is, this reality has become the accepted norm for 95% of entrepreneurs- and they never end up getting what they want. But this doesn't have to be you.
In 20 years, I've owned four businesses. After a successful exit, I now work with and serve other established entrepreneurs and their leadership teams, as a trusted advisor. I even serve on the state level as an advisor to the NYS Small Business Development Center. I've been there, done that, seen it again and again. Nothing that happens to small businesses surprises me anymore.
What do business owners really want?
One of my first questions when meeting new clients is: "What do you really want from your business?". After a bit of surface reasons like "I just want the business to be better", we get down to their core issues, which usually boil down into one of these eight "wants":
- ...To not be chained to the business on a day to day basis. While I enjoy being a part of the business, I don't want it to define me, and be my focus every day, every night, all the time. Getting some sleep at night not having to worry about tomorrow would do wonders for my well-being".
- ...To be able to enjoy the business again. Fighting fires on a daily basis is no fun - for me, my employees, or even my customers. Heck, I wish there was a way to not have fires start in the first place and we could focus on proactive service instead of reactive service. The reason I got into business was to fill a niche that I was good at, could serve my customer, have fun, and be paid well for it. To have fun again would be great".
- ...To have my business actually perform in a consistent manner. I'm sick of being a slave to "yo-yo" performance issues: a good month, followed by a bad month, followed by a fearful yet frenetic month to 'get things back on track'. I'd love to be able to predict what will happen next and adjust for it".
- ...My 'team' to actually be a team, not a collection of individuals doing things their own way, in-fighting and passive-aggressive, only for their own good or only for their departments or co-workers. I'd love it if we could work as a real team that was working together for the good of the company. Don't they know that if they do that, everyone will be happier?"
- ...Good smart people that I can delegate things that I don't do well, or don't want to do, or don't have time to do. I'd love it if I could take a long vacation and on my return, that everything would still be running great because work is getting done and people are accountable to it".
- ...to not be 'held hostage' by a few bad employees. Unfortunately, they know so much about the business, and are in positions that don't have backup or are easy to replace. I know they are really souring the entire culture, and I suspect the good ones are fed up, too and might be looking for other opportunities soon".
- ...To be make more money, to have great cash flow. Sure, compared to some I make a decent living. But not at the expense of my time with my family, or for the risks that I take daily to have this business. I don't want to have to personally monitor checks coming in the door on a daily basis to cover payroll. It would be nice to be able to have cash in the bank to be able to do other things with money".
- ....To be able to pass this business on to my family, or to a good buyer who will take it to the next level. What I'm really saying is that I want this business to help fund my retirement and my family's future".
Why the 5% of entrepreneurs do get what they want
Sadly, even if outwardly or financially successful, 95% of business owners get very little of the things they really want from their business. The 5% of business ones that do? Having had a number of businesses, and having worked with hundreds of businesses, I've seen what these 5%, these 'great ones' do.
You can see it in how they operate and how they get what they want. Each of them has one thing in common: an operating system.
I don't mean an operating system like Windows or Mac OS. I'm talking about a business operating system, a process in which a company defines a clarity of purpose, a method to achieving that purpose, and one that focuses the company. Most importantly, a system that results in employees knowing their part, being accountable, following the system and doing what is in the best interest of the company. All the time.
System? What system?
After trying to do things my own way for many years, I'd discovered several such systems that do this: The E-Myth®, Gazelles/The Rockefeller Habits®, and EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (some call this "Traction", based on the book Traction, Get a Grip on Your Business that outlines EOS). All of them are fine systems. For me, the one that eventually stuck was EOS.
EOS is a simple, proven system, used by thousands of entrepreneurs around the U.S. It unabashedly borrows ideas from the other systems (and from gurus Jim Collins and Patrick Lencioni), but the beauty of the EOS Process™, in my opinion, is that it distills those other down into a set of straightforward business tools and a simple process - to align the leadership, the staff, and all the components of your business. The goal of using EOS is is to streamline and simplify your business, to improve morale, to increase productivity and the efficiency level.
Some people say it sounds too good to be true. It can't be that simple.
People who tell me this point to the eight point "want list" above and they tell me that "sure, maybe one of two of those are possible - but all eight? No way". This was my reaction initially, too. I was swimming in chaos despair, just like most entrepreneurs. But my companies changed course. I've helped and seen companies change course. And thousands of other companies have hit this 'utopia', too. The fact is, you can achieve it, too - with a system like EOS.
What's the catch on this simple system?
The real catch: it's a 'simple' system. But it's not an 'easy' process. Changing your company doesn't happen in a day or a week or a month. EOS (or any system) takes time to 'buy into', first as a leadership team, and then as a company. It's work, and with someone guidance, training and coaching, typically takes 1-2 years to fully implement. See some EOS FAQ's.
Does that sound like a long time? Imagine the alternative a year from now: continuing doing what you are doing right now, frustratingly spinning your wheels, yielding the same results. Instead, in one to two years, imagine the freedom when you can look at that "want" list above, and be solidly on the road to calling it a "have" list.
Be the 5%
Do you want to be among the most successful companies? Research operating systems like EOS, pick one, find help implementing the system, and get started.
Dave Borland is an EOS Implementer™. He helps leadership teams of established businesses to become a healthy, functional, and cohesive, by facilitating, coaching and training them using the tools of the EOS Operating System.