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The Most Important Job as a Business Owner

DEFINE & DEFENDIf you have a business that has employees your most important job is maintaining your culture. If you do that all the other stuff will begin to fall into place.

I am not just talking about being nice to everyone either. Culture is much more than that. It is the entire feeling of your business. How everyone looks at everyone else and what they expect to happen.

Before you can defend your culture, you have to define your culture.

You must be able to clearly define exactly what you want the feeling of your business to be. Our culture is based on respect and responsibility for staff and customers. Yours may be the same or different, but you have to know what it is and be able to clearly communicate it to your employees.

When we started Elements we wanted to make sure it was a place that people liked coming to work. We wanted to create an environment of mutual respect and responsibility. Some place where people knew what to expect from co-workers, clients and the owners.

The culture of your business must be guarded with everything you have.

You don’t have to make everyone fit into some sort of mold. Diversity can and should be part of the workplace culture, but it is very important that everyone understands they are part of something bigger than themselves. Gary Vaynerchuck said in one of his shows (if you are not watching or reading any of his stuff I highly recommend it as a business owner/operator) that the most important thing for an employee of Vayner Media to do is play nice with the other staff. He didn’t say they had to be the best at social media marketing…that can be taught…they have to be a good team member. [click to continue…]

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Daddy, what did you do all day?

DADDYOver the years I have read a lot of “so you want to own your own business?” kind of books and articles and most of them seemed to be designed to scare you off. Not this one!

I have wanted to write one of these for a while now and I had a great day on Tuesday of this week that I thought I would share my “day in the life of” post.  My idea isn’t to scare you.  It also isn’t to show you how easy it is to be the owner.  I just want to share a day I had that I thought was telling about all the different things you can do in a single day as the owner of a small business.  And besides, its a question my kids ask me all the time!

This day revolved completely around me and my involvement with our massage studio, Elements.  I didn’t physically go to the golf course that day, although I did have several email and phone interactions with them. [click to continue…]

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6 WAYS TO DEAL WITH THE OFThere are a lot of things that mirror business and a relationship.  In the beginning the excitement is palpable and you can’t wait for the next thing you are going to together.  The excitement is bound to wear off somewhere just after the honeymoon…that is when real life sets it in and for us it really happened when we had kids.  All of the sudden all of your time is just spent dealing with what is right in front of you.  What a client is asking for at the moment or who needs their diaper changed…neither one of those can wait very long and tend to trump all the other stuff you would like to be doing.

After elements had been open for a while the reality that all of these people are depending on us to make their work situation viable set in.  Everything we do in our lives has to take the studio into account. Much like when you get married, you have another person (or business entity…) that is part of all of your decision making.

We have found some things that can really help get you through the end of the honeymoon period as you work towards the stability and longevity period.

Remember and define why you are doing what you are doing.

We joke that we started Elements for minivan money.  We did it because of our kids and we wanted to be able to provide for their future.  Our “Why” is education and experiences for our kids. [click to continue…]

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Terminating an Employee…Sucks

ITIf you have employees in your business it is bound to happen that eventually you are going to have to terminate someone. And it sucks. It sucks even if they deserve it. Most of the people I have had to let go over the years have made the decision on their own by not following assigned protocol or not changing a behavior they have been asked to adjust. They have fired themselves. It still sucks. I have terminated people that have been long term employees and I have terminated people shortly after they have started with us. And it sucks. 

This is not about when you should and shouldn’t fire someone or about what is right and wrong or legal and illegal-that is for you and your attorney to work out.  But, rather about you the employer.  It can be as hard to terminate someone as it is to be terminated, especially if it is someone you have come to know on a personal level. [click to continue…]

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Ways to Deal with a Brown Bag Moment

And How to Deal with Brown Bag Moments(1)With the start of a new business we think and plan for a variety of scenarios but not until it has a life of its own do we find out what obstacles we will overcome easily and what will prove extremely challenging.  About a year into our opening I had my first brown bag moment.

What do I mean?

Well… a year of tackling obstacles and experiencing all sorts of new, self growth moments I felt dumped on and alone in it.  On this particular day I had a handful of stressful situations to deal with and then I had an employee unexpectedly quit.  [click to continue…]

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Rocks, Birds & Motivating Your Staff

Rocks and Birds (1)I was just watching a show on healthcare in the US and a doctor had a great analogy for patients and doctors that is perfect for employers and employees too.

If you have a rock and a target you can train yourself to throw the rock at the target. If you do it enough you can hit the target almost every time, and the times you miss you won’t miss by much.  You have the power over the inanimate rock.  You can exert your will on the rock through force and the rock doesn’t have anything to say or do about it.

If you have a bird in your hand and you want it to go at the target you have another situation on your hand.  In one way it should be easier, the bird is built and meant to fly.  But no matter how hard to try to coerce the bird to go towards the target, after your force is gone (a couple feet after you release the bird in the direction of the target) the bird can go almost anywhere and will almost certainly not go towards the target-why should it? It has its own free will and desires.  If you put the birds nest on that same target and release the bird in the direction of the target you have a much greater chance of getting that bird to the target. [click to continue…]

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Resilience and Camping

ResilienceWhen I was in fifth or sixth grade my mom sent me to a primitive two week camp. I had been to overnight camps before and generally loved them. In the camps I loved the bathrooms were close and the facilities comfortable. But this camp was P.R.I.M.I.T.I.V.E, at least from my perspective, but we did have a rusty old cabin to sleep in, along with a family of mice.

It is a perfect week for me to have received this weeks’ Time Magazine, the article “Bounce Back”, by Mandy Oaklander, on personal resilience speaks strongly to me. I had to laugh when the author tells a story of a father and son kayaking in miserable conditions and when it was all over the son told his father he “never wanted to speak to him again.” I had similar feelings towards my mom who abandoned me at the worst camp ever!

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How to deal with tough business days with your spouseOpening a business with a partner who is a spouse or friend has benefits but it also can be really difficult.  It is wonderful to be mutually invested and excited over your company wins.  However, it can be stressful on the relationship when in a rough patch.  There is no real separation of church and state… you still have to have dinner together and get the kids to bed even if you are angry or disappointed about something.  It’s draining to be angry and it’s a bad feeling if you think you’ve let your partner down, this issue is worse when it is tied to your family.  [click to continue…]

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SBA_NSBW2015_FINAL_v2For Small Business Week 2015 it only seems appropriate to write about what I like about small business ownership and operation.

I like being in charge.

Not that I want to be in charge of what others are doing or everything that happens at our business.  I want to be in charge of my destiny.  I want to be in charge of my own financial future.  I like being in charge of my own personal growth.  I don’t have to ask someone for a raise hoping they see my value the same way I do.  I get to prove my value by creating a better business to earn more money.

It means the world to me to be part of my community.

Working with other local business owners and supporting local efforts to make our city a better place is an amazing feeling.   [click to continue…]

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Hiring and Skywriting

Hiring and Skywriting

I have an associate degree in aviation and a bachelors in liberal arts with a concentration in communications and advertising from Purdue Universtiy.  Upon completion my mom said I was prepared to be a sky writer.

A Bit About Megan

In high school I worked for a family business that had a handful of year round employees (I was one of these) and a large amount of seasonal staff.  In college I interned at United Airlines World Headquarters, that was the largest business I’ve been apart of and honestly hiring at that level is outside of my scope of knowledge.

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