Erle’s Random Business Thoughts – December 22, 2011

Blog Entry #1 – December 22, 2011, Erle’s Random Business Thoughts
I decided to use this venue today, to extend some random business thoughts, as they come to me.  I am doing it for my own learning.  I admit, it’s selfish. But how else?

My interests in business have always run deep.  All areas really.  Leadership, entrepreneurship, family businesses, operations, markets, products, customers, finances, and so on.  Of course, I am particularly passionate and partial to applying these “random business thoughts” to catering in a multi-unit restaurant environment (and a services and software company!), for obvious reasons.  Saying that, catering is simply just a business within a business.  And so, basic business principles apply, as they do to any business.  It’s pragmatic.  There is an accounting process, an agreed upon standard, if you will by which we all agree to track and measure.  P & L Statements, Balance Sheets, Cash Flow Statements, budgets, forecasts and the likes.  But those are just score cards for external results.  These results are dependent on many external and internal organizational factors, however, I have been thinking more and more about one specific element that is so implicit in the big picture of business.  (And in life, really)

The accumulation of money through selling goods and services is the result of something basic, but fragile.  Without this element, you just simply can’t generate profits. Not in the long run.  Not in the honest way of doing business.  One where you really do a good job for your customers.

As I am now personally working on my 9th business venture, I am in awe of how much there is that I just don’t know.  That I don’t understand.  Things that I have not even imagined.  I love that part of being in business.  No two days are the same.  It’s show business, every day.  You have flexibility.  You can make things happen.  The show must go on!  No matter what!  That’s the only way you can get to where you need to go.  You have to show up, each and every day.  If you don’t, someone else will and your venture will die.  Another opportunity lost.

This applies to businesses of all sizes.  Challenge is, the bigger you are, the harder it is.  Especially when business is bad and there are some serious decisions to make.  The bigger the company, the more paralyzed it can become. And it needs to do something fast, because the “element” is missing.

These thoughts led me to consider the following important element;

Here it is………….”believe“.  What?  You expected something new?  I said it was basic.

And so, what is this thing called “believe?”

Well, I looked up the definition and got the following explanation;

  1. to know in your heart that something is true;
  2. to feel certain of the worth or value of something
And so, I sat on these two definitions for the last week.  Thinking about the power of this word, “believe”.  How it could be used for both good and bad.  Certainly, history continues to show us that the power of this word, when applied to bad behaviours can be used for evil.  Wars.  Crime.  Hurting others.  It’s powerful when in the wrong hands.  It’s a serious weapon.  It can be manipulated unfairly.  The heart can be tricked!

But then, I started thinking about the power of this word and the impact that it can have on something good.  Something fantastic!  Of course, I could go in so many directions here; but I will stay on business.  I promised you that I would.  It’s not that I don’t feel there are more fantastic causes to apply this word to in the world, it’s just that I promised myself to use this space to discuss business only.  In any event, I just want to point out that this element is valuable in any group organization.

These thoughts, brought me back to the depth of what causes us, as organizations, as groups as individuals  to “believe”.  Clearly, as the definition above suggests, you can only “believe” if you truly accept that the statement being made is true.  Otherwise, you just can’t do it.  Your heart won’t allow it.  Don’t try to overcome it.  You can’t.  The human heart is so special and so effective, that it won’t let you do something you don’t believe in. (Unless you are under threat or attack, but that is another discussion).

Because of this, as business leaders, we must be very careful with the propaganda we put out to the world because if it’s not the truth, it will eventually come back and bite us.  We will get found out.  It’s just a matter of time.  Oh yes, some of us will just take the money and run.  And then it will get found out later.  But that’s not what this is about.

Then I thought, is “believing” a decision, a choice, an emotion, an intuition?  What is this thing?  How do you buy it?  How do you get more of it?  Because, it’s so powerful, so dynamic.  Maybe that’s why we can’t buy it.    The evil beliefs would stockpile all of it and use it to fight all the good beliefs in the world.  And so, I started figuring it out.  You CAN get more of it, it’s just that you can’t buy it.  You can only grow it.  There is no other way.  You have to grow it.

Of course, as I considered this for even a few more days, I went even deeper.  I focused in on this system, (the system of belief), because there is an ecosystem that lives there.  It needs to be watered, nurtured, fed  and cared for.  It is fragile.  It can break easily.  It is hard to earn. To cultivate.

Then I pushed further.  As it applies to business.  After all, a business is made up of a group of people.  And so, I thought it was interesting to think about the belief system in a group.  At the team level.  What keeps them believing?  Really believing?  Believing in the good parts.  Not the bad parts.

Then, I started considering each person.  I focused in and broke down the pieces to their individual belief systems.  Across all parts of their lives.

By this time, I had completely confused myself as it was so complicated when I really thought about it at a personal level.  These statements of truth fall into all aspects of our lives.  Way to much to consider here today.

Ok.  Back to how it applies to business.

The way I see it, the belief ecosystem of a business is the key to it’s long term survival.  When it is not nurtured and invested in; cared for; it just becomes words.  When that happens, there’s big trouble ahead for any business.   The telltale signs are easy to spot.  As a business person myself, I know what happens to me and my business if I stop believing.  It’s not good.  So, of course, it extends to the whole team.  It even extends to their families who depend on the business for financial well being.  So, if their “belief system” is out of whack about the business they work at, then their “belief system” in their financial security goes and it spreads an “evil belief” system.  And it spreads like wildfire!  It will destroy the business.

In order to make sure that we don’t fall victim , we must develop a way of measuring this “belief” ecosystem.  Everything we do in business has to be from a “statement of truth”.  If we cannot do it; don’t say we can.  If we can do it; then just do it.  And then after doing it, don’t make a big deal about it publicly.  It’s supposed to be this way.

This idea surfaced for me a lot this year.  I am blessed to have a team of supporters who all have a strong “belief system” in what we are doing at MonkeyMedia Software.  I am told that it starts with me.  And maybe that is so; but from what I can tell, the power of believing on my team, runs very deep.  Even when it’s hard, they continue to believe.

Then I thought to myself, how lucky for me to be working with so many “believers”.  I’ve become so accustomed, as an entrepreneur, to feeling like I am the only one that “believes”.

Guess what?  I put myself there.  So, as I move forward to another year, I am really going to find a way to make this obvious in my own business.  I am not sure how yet, but that’s the fun part.  Trying things.  Figuring it out.

Ok gang, just keep believing!  Easy to say, hard to do.  Keep working at it.  Be transparent.  Be honest.  Don’t get complacent.  Things are changing.  Invest in “believing”!  You cannot win without it.  I have done the ROI and it is fantastic.

So, as we end 2011, I am going to take this topic under further consideration.  Feel free to jump in to the conversation.

Happy Holidays!

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