Why Most Business Owners are not Entrepreneurs and What I’m Doing About It

The following is a repost from my previous blog…enjoy!
Have you ever discovered something that changed the way you approach each and every day? I recently discovered a book, and I want to share my discovery with you in hopes that it can help you as much as this book is helping me and my company.

The book is The E-Myth Revisited. Written in 1995, Michael Gerber outlines a way of operating a small business that sets you up for success today and success for your business long after you are gone…and you will be gone one day. The book starts with the idea that most businesses are the result of an “Entrepreunerial Seizure.” The owner is usually a great Technician…a great accountant, chef, mechanic, farmer, etc. During the course of his seizure, the Technician decides to start his own business. “Instead of cooking food for someone else, why don’t I open my own restuarant?” And so, the business begins.

What he doesn’t realize, however, is that two other personalities must also come to life in order for this new venture to succeed. A Manager who is responsible for payroll, paying bills, and ordering next week’s ingredients. And, the Entrepreuner who is responsible for charting the business’s future course. We each have different personalities, but most founders are Technicians – NOT Entrepreuners.

My greatest take away from this book, though, is the idea that “the true product of a business is the business itself.” By applying this concept, I begin working ON my business, not just IN my business. I create systems for every aspect of the business as if I were going to create 1,000 businesses just like the one I arrive at every day by using a Business Development Process of Innovation, Quantification, and Orchestration. If you wold like to learn more about the book, here is a detailed summary.

So, what does all this mean for Muscadine Products Corporation?

To begin building on our mission of Delivering Health and Hope, I need to create our organizational chart, create job descriptions for each position in the chart, and then create written procedures for every process to ensure that all responsibilities are quantified and orchestrated as we have designed. Within this one sentence lies countless hours of work. But, I know that they are hours invested working ON my business, not just IN my business. In the end, though, we will have a strong company that can operate without me and succeed for generations to come.

If you lead a team, run a small business, or farm please pick up a copy of this classic book.

One quick question: Are you more of a Technician, Manager, or Entrepreuner? I’m definitely a Technician.

I’d love to hear from you.

Four Life Lessons I Learned From Little League Baseball

I am Seth’s little league baseball team’s coach this spring…well, actually I am the assistant-to-the-assistant coach! When we signed up to play, I told my friend who is the head coach that IF our sons were on the same team; and IF he was asked to coach; and IF he needed help coaching, I would help him coach. Later, when he called me to help coach, I couldn’t help but laugh because my baseball career ended in the 2nd grade. I didn’t enjoy the sport, and I especially didn’t enjoy playing the game. My teammates always played the positions I wanted. And, the 20 extra coaches in the stands telling me what to do when I thought I only had two coaches on the field drove me crazy! I felt like I was in a pressure cooker with everyone staring and yelling at me – “Swing the bat (why would I NOT swing the bat?)! ”Watch the ball (what else would I look at?)! “Throw the ball in (where else would I throw it?)!” So, I traded in my bat and glove for a tennis racquet and didn’t look back. No teammates. No obnoxious fans. And, the point of the game is easy, right? Be the last person to hit the ball into the court?!

After serving as the assistant-to-the-assistant little league baseball coach for most of one season, I can honestly say I love this sport! Seth has a blast, and I have a blast. Here are four life lessons I have learned that changed my opinion of little league baseball:

  1. Coaches can make a positive influence in a child’s life. Heck, they can change a kid’s life! I’ve seen this through my friend as he builds self-confidence into each player.
  2. Coaches have a unique opportunity to serve each family that no one else on or off the field can do. If you serve my child, you have my attention. I’ve seen my friend serve an entire family by helping meet the need of one player.
  3. Seth is learning about humility by sitting out of the game so that others can also play. I remember riding the bench as a kid, and I hated it. I thought it was like being sent to timeout for a crime I didn’t even know about! We’ve been talking about humility at church this month and defined it as “putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve.” Humility is a tough virtue to learn early in life, but it is critically needed as leader later in life.
  4. Seth is also learning to see the big picture beyond his chance at bat. We play some talented teams who can field the ball really well. If he hits a ground ball to the infield, he is most likely thrown out at first base. But, many times he advances a runner one base…possibly even driving home a runner. So, while Seth doesn’t always get on base, he helps his team score. Getting thrown out at first is no fun, but helping win the game makes a bigger difference.

I am still a tennis player at heart. I don’t own a pair of cleats. I had to borrow a glove. But, I treasure the times spent throwing with and pitching to Seth and his friends. I also enjoy watching him play and enjoy life. I also love learning life lessons along the way with him. Maybe these lessons can help you the next time you are on a team. And, if you have the chance to help coach a little league team, do it! This assistant-to-the-assistant coach sure is glad he signed up to help!

Question: What have you learned from little league sports? I look forward to hearing from you!

Who Is In Control

Here in south Georgia we have beautiful weather. We average almost 50 inches of rainfall each year. Winter only lasts for a couple of weeks. Summer lasts for several months. And, the spring and fall seasons are the most pleasant times of year with lows in the 50s and highs in the 80s. But, the past two weeks’ weather patterns have reminded me that despite all of my family’s efforts to harness the benefits of the weather and grow muscadines, we are not in control of everything.

Two weeks ago, an EF1 tornado passed within a few miles of our farm. I was in Ocilla (15 miles away from my office) when my cell phone alerted me of the tornado warning. Jorjanne and I were together and our boys were in school, so everyone was accounted for and in safe locations. I immediately called my office to make sure everyone there knew what was coming and where to go for safety. I realized during those 30 minutes of watching the weather radar that I couldn’t do anything to redirect the tornado. My business’s and family’s safety were helpless!

Earlier this week another weather system moved through and brought near freezing temperatures. This would be normal in January. But, in April all of the muscadine vines are budding out leaves. If temperatures drop below freezing for an extended period of time, our entire annual crop could be destroyed. I realized on the morning of April 16th I couldn’t do anything to raise the outside temperature. Again, my business and family’s livelihood were helpless!

After waking up to a breezy frostless morning, I remembered a very important truth – I am not in control. I can and should make plans. I enjoy setting goals. But, at the end of the day, God is in control.

So, what in the world am I to do?

I start each morning by praying the Lord’s prayer. I heard a message on this prayer one time that revoluntionized the way I pray and approach each day. Here’s the way I pray now:

  1. I declare God’s greatness. I will not put my hope in riches but in the One who richly provides.
  2. I surrender my will to God’s will.
  3. I acknowledge my dependence on God for provision, pardon from my sins, and protection from evil.

Hopefully, extreme weather will not return. Regardless, though, I will continue making plans and setting goals. And, I will remember who is in control. Life is much more peaceful this way.

Question: What methods do you practice to gain perspective and prepare for each day? I look forward to hearing from you!

Why and How I Hire Rock Stars

Ever seen a rock star at work? We’ve all seen a rock star on stage and on TV. I’m not talking about that kind of rock star. I’m talking about those folks who are ready to step up and do what it takes to finish a job. They are friendly with customers and coworkers. They do work that matters.

I have to brag just a little… I have an entire company full of rock stars! Here’s why and how I found them.

Several years ago Matt suggested I read John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. This book changed my life, and it changed my approach to leadership. The entire book is a must-read, and it shook me up starting with the first law shook. See what you think:

The Law of the Lid – Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s (and I add, Organization’s) Level of Effectiveness.

When I read this book, MPC was in a bad financial situation. We recently lost one line of business, and I was scrambling to replace it.We were working with some new customers who were demanding lots of attention. I felt dumped on and helpless.

This first Law was the swift kick in the pants that I needed. I set the lid for my personal effectiveness. And, as the CEO of MPC, I was the determining factor in my company’s effectiveness. I devoured this book, and I kept reading in order to keep growing & pushing my Lid.

I later read Good to Great by Jim Collins… also at Matt’s suggestion! This book drove home the point that placing the right people in the right seats in an organization makes the difference. Vision, systems, and remarkable products are a must. But, having the right people in the right places comes first. People, after all, help fulfill the vision, systems, and products.

Then, I read Michael Hyatt’s blog post, “What Should You Look for in the People You Hire?” He lists four virtues that I have since adopted as our own. His claim, and now my experience, is that if you look for these virtues as you recruit and bring on new team mates, you will start to build your own team of rock stars.

Here are the qualities I look for:
1. Humility: An humble person says, “I am not the center of the universe. What can I do to help?” An humble person accepts correction and realizes that no job is beneath him.
2. Honesty: An honest person says, “Here’s the good, the bad, and ugly truth.” You can bank on the fact that he will do what he said. Honest people help build trust within the organization, which helps everything go further, faster while lowering costs.
3. Hungry: A hungry person says, “What’s next?!” She is intelectually curious. She is prepared to win. She makes me run faster and continue growing. She pushes the Lid.
4. Smart: A smart person says, “Here is the problem and solution.” He knows what to do when he walks in the room…which might also include asking a question. He is book-smart and street-smart. He knows what he knows. He knows what he doesn’t know. And, he realizes there are things in this world that he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know.

In summary, people make the difference. Borrowing from Michael Hyatt again…. If building a great team is like a scavengar hunt, you need a list in order to find the treasure. Hiring people who are Humble, Honest, Hungry, and Smart is helping me find the rock stars and build a great and enduring organization.

Question: How would you describe your ideal candidate or coworker? I look foward to hearing from you in the comments below!

5 Ways to Stop Babysitting at Work

Do you ever have trouble getting the people who work for you to do what they are suppose to do? Do you ever find yourself needing to just do things yourself since everyone around you can’t get the job done? Do you ever stay late at work doing the work others didn’t do for you? Do you feel like a baby sitter for adults?

I did at one time, but now I don’t.

Here’s why.

I know that I won’t do this forever. I will retire. I will die. Someone else will do my job, and I want them happy to come in after me.

For everyone’s sake, please do this:
1. Focus your time where are most Compentent because the less you do, the more you accomplish.
2. Show Courage because courage establishes leadership.
3. Be Clear when you speak and send that email because uncertainty demands clarity.
4. Coach those around you because coaching enables a leader to go farther, faster.
5. Live with the purest Character because character determines your legacy.

I didn’t make up this list. I am borrowing it from Andy Stanley’s book, Next Generation Leader. If you want the people you spend 40+ hours per week to accomplish more AND be happier you are at work than not, please get a copy now and become a Next Generation Leader.

PS – This is one of the best leadership books I’ve ever read and is my manual in leading MPC.

Question: Have you ever worked for a controlling leader? What lessons did you learn?

I look forward to hearing from you!

My New Job

When I was in school, I thought I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I knew that I wanted to design and build things. I wanted to be an engineer. I didn’t want to teach. I didn’t want to work in the medical field. And, I definitely didn’t want to sell things for a living. When I thought of the sales business, I pictured a slick salesman in a suit offering something I didn’t really need for a price that sounded too good to be true.

Fast forward 13 years since Georgia Tech, and what do I do? I am in the business of sales!

In his latest book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Dan Pink defines sales as the act of “moving others to give up what they have for what you have.” When we think of sales in this light, I agree with Pink that most of us are involved in the sales business. We are just in the business of non-sales selling.

As I lead my company in processesing regionally grown fruit products for people around the world desiring a healthy, natural life, I must sell our vision and goals to my teammates.

When I go home, I need to sell vegetables at dinner and a regular bed time to our boys.

Chances are, you are probably in the sales business, too. If you ever need to convince co-workers of an idea, you are in the sales business. If you are teaching students how to diagram a sentence, you are in the sales business. Or, if you farm, you are in the sales business.

Because of the variety of situations where I need someone to give up something they value for something I have, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others is my new sales handbook. I know the new ABCs of sales:
– Be in Attunement
– Be Bouyant
– Be Clear

And, I also know what to do when selling:
– Pitch
– Improvise
– Serve

So, as it turns out, I don’t mind the sales business after all. I actually enjoy it…especially since I don’t have to wear a suit to work every day!

I have a question.

Does your work involve convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you have? If so, you might want to pick up a copy of To Sell Is Human and get into the new sales business.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

How I Wake Up at 5am Every Morning

I woke up this morning at 5am to exercise, read, and pray. This is my morning habit…except this morning was only the 2nd time in a week that I’ve woken up on time. Not much of a habit, huh?

I was first inspired to wake up early with purpose in 2012 after reading [Michael Hyatt’s blog post ]http://michaelhyatt.com/slay-your-dragons-before-breakfast.html)about his morning routine. During that summer, I started getting up early with some friends to workout. A couple of the guys had gained a little weight, and I wanted to help. I bought the Insanity workout DVD set, a workout mat, and offered a section of the warehouse for us to shape up together at 5:05 every weekday morning. All was well until the summer ended. The school year started back, our routines changed, and we all went our separate ways. I took the DVDs home and decided to go at it alone. Who needs someone else to help you get out of bed anyway? I am a grown man…can’t I wake up by myself?

Well, after almost two years, I am here to tell you that waking up early by yourself is tough…really tough. I have the most intense motivation at night. But, when the alarm clock sounds the next morning, I can’t seem to get out of bed. I place my alarm clock in another room. I lay out my clothes the night before. I get 7 hours sleep. I have tried every trick in the book…and I have read several books on this topic! But, I can’t get up early every single morning.

This morning I realized I had two benefits in the beginning that I don’t have right now:

  1. Accountability – I knew that my friends would be looking for me. Not only was I the one with the key to the building, I knew that they were expecting me to work out with them. I wanted them to show up, so I needed to do my part and show up, too.
  2. A sense of urgency – I knew that my friends were going to arrive every morning at 5:05am. Waking up at 6:30 was too late.

The most useful thing about these two benefits is that they can be applied to other aspects of life. I can think of a few home improvement projects I put off until the day before guests visited. I accomplish the most in areas of my life where I have strong accountability to myself or a friend. And, I am the most intense with tasks that are due soon. The secret is to self-impose accountability and a sense of urgency to tasks that are important but not urgent.

I hope these two factors can also help you accomplish a goal or form a new habit. Now, I just need to find someone to look for me at 5am!

Question: What have accountability and a sense of urgency helped you accomplish?

I look forward to hearing from you!