What Can You Learn About Growing Your Business From a Child?

If you are a parent, you know that small children can be very persistent. My three year old daughter the other day was like an attack dog. When she wants something, she won’t let you forget about it. Now I am not talking about a “temper tantrum”, I am talking about being focused on what she wants. The other day it was a soft pretzel of all things. She loves those soft pretzels. It was ultimately her focus and persistence that won the battle so to speak. Sometimes it might be to play outside, or sometimes it is to stay up later at night. It doesn’t really matter what they want, it is how they get it.

So how does this relate to business?

Now, an adult can’t act the way a 3 year old does, but the lessons you can learn from a child can easily be carried over into your business. So what do I mean by this?

If you really want to grow your business you need to be persistent. You can’t just keep doing what you have always been doing and expect the results to change. You also can’t do something once and expect things to work out. This rarely happens. Do you realize how many modern products would not exist if people only tried making something once? There would not be any cars, or airplanes, or electricity for that matter.

Persistence in life and in business is absolutely a necessity. There is no other way to say it.

A common theme I hear when working with a business owner is “I tried that before and it didn’t work.” They are always so reluctant to actually explore why something didn’t work. Let me ask you, have you ever said that before?

If you are doing a print ad for example, and you receive no calls from the ad does that mean that advertising in general doesn’t work, or does it simply mean that your ad needs to be tweaked or improved for a better result? Many times a business or company simply gives up too quickly. That is not being persistent! You can’t expect to try something once or twice and then say something didn’t work. I agree with you, it is not working the way it is, BUT IT CAN WORK IF DONE CORRECTLY.

I hear this from businesses who have tried direct mail, website advertising, cold calling, you name it. Just doing something doesn’t mean that what you are doing can’t be improved. If you are not getting the results you want, don’t give up! You need to constantly test and tweak your marketing messages and you need to keep at it. This is rarely done to the level it needs to be in order to be effective. Do you know how often I hear business owners say that they don’t know what advertisements are working for them? They spend all this money month after month and don’t even know if it brings in any new customers, clients, or patients.

This is more than just about marketing or advertising, this is about anything that you want to accomplish in your business.

The solutions to this issue are simple…DON’T GIVE UP SO QUICKLY and BE PERSISTENT. If you don’t know what to do, that’s ok, but perhaps asking for help or looking at other ways to do things differently would be in your best interest.

Bottom line, the next time you see a young child that wants something, perhaps at the mall, pay close attention. Look at their persistent efforts and ask yourself one question… “Am I being persistent enough to achieve the level of success I want out of my business? You will be amazed how much you can learn about business from a child!

Experimenting With the Shape of Work

At the moment, these strategies are a way to deal with the reality that there’s not enough work to go around. But they set the stage for something we’ve needed to change for a long time. They are helping us let go of the assumption that every job has to be an 8 to 5, all day every day effort at a location determined by the company.

Yes, the assorted reductions and changes in work arrangements are needed for the cost savings right now. But wring all you can out of the experience on a deeper and broader basis. They are offering a window into how work might be better shaped even in good times. The winners will use that window to see the future.

Why? Three cultural changes are moving quietly into the forefront that will make new approaches to work design a key part of any company’s success once the economy swings back into the growth part of the cycle.

DEATH OF THE “CAREER MYSTIQUE”

The “career mystique” refers to the pact between employee and company that’s been entrenched since the 1950’s. In that scenario, employees sacrificed family life and personal pursuits for the company with the expectation that pay increases and advancement would follow. “Work” had the highest priority and the company usually got more than a forty-hour workweek from committed employees in anticipation of “future” benefits-like promotions.

Company loyalty has been waning since the first mass layoffs in the 1980’s, but the immensity and breadth of the current round is giving it a giant shove. Why give up the rest of your life for an outfit that might let you go tomorrow? Why put all your efforts into a company that might go under and suck your 401(k) along with it? Employee loyalty will need to be built on more than maybe’s from here on.

BOOMER RETIREMENTS

The numbers don’t lie. There are 78 million baby boomers followed by 40 million Gen X’ers. Even with 70 million in the Gen Y population after that, getting the work done will mean coaxing some of those boomers to stay in the workforce into their seventies and beyond.

In a 2005 study by Merrill Lynch, 83% of the 2300+ boomers surveyed said they expected to work in retirement. But only 16% wanted to work a traditional full-time job. Some want to start their own businesses and some want traditional part-time work, but the surprising number is that 42% want to cycle in and out of work. That’s not the way we currently have work designed. But companies who can find ways to offer that to talented older workers will have a competitive edge when the economy heats up again.

GEN Y EXPECTATIONS

Before the economy went into this swan dive, employers were worrying about how to attract the brightest and best of Gen Y. This generation has been more insistent on work/life balance in their employment choices from the get-go. The “fresh new idea” was the Results Only Work Environment, where as long as the work got accomplished timely, the employer didn’t dictate when and where it got done.

Knowledge workers can literally take the job on the road and do it perfectly well. All three generations would gain from that flexibility. But it would be nice if employers could test the arrangement before they committed to it whole hog. Same deal with other work design innovations.

Work design changes we’d never have considered in good times are now in place and can teach us a great deal about new ways to shape work. Reduced hours are commonplace now. Why not shape those reduced hours to create lifestyle benefits that enhance your value as an employer when the economy improves?