I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about Idea Planet, which I started from the bathroom in my home (OK, I have to interject here that I just used the bathtub as a “shelf.”) Obviously, we’ve come a long way since those days, and the road has been winding and occasionally, a little serpentine. But as I reflect back, it’s been a fun trip!
Here are my top 10 highlights – I promise to keep them short and sweet! And I will do my best to make them relevant to my family, friends, clients and future clients!
10. If you don’t go, you can’t come back
People don’t like change. Familiarity is comforting. But, if you have that itch, that yearn for something more, go for it! At least try. I worked for years in the advertising agency world and always wanted to “do my own thing.” Some folks keep their heads down and “graze” through their jobs every day – they “quit and stay.” I saw a lot of that. And that was not for me.
Change is scary, but it’s also exhilarating! I was pumped to pursue my passion and be more in control of my future. Give it a go, friends. Chances are you won’t go back.
9. Step out of your comfort zone
For those of you who are fitness crazies (and I know several), I’m sure you’ve heard your trainer tell you to push yourself, to do one more rep, lift 10 pounds more, run 50 yards further. Stretching your abilities helps you grow, improve and be the best at what you do. In business, however, that’s not always easy, especially if you don’t have a coach barking in your ear! In fact, it can be downright risky at times, to try things you’ve never done before.
Not to be too cliché, but if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you already have. Is that what you want?
8. Nurture your tribe
We are, by nature, social beings. We want to be part of a community. But, as you no doubt know, we are each very different, with unique beliefs, quirks, strengths, and personalities. No company will succeed if everyone is cut from the same cloth – it takes variety and diversity to research, innovate, execute and love on your customers. It also takes great leadership to manage the amazing, yet sometimes dysfunctional, work family to fuel their motivation and reward their successes.
Your people look up to you. Teach them. Guide them.
7. Time answers to no one
Ha! This is a hard truth to bear, especially for us control freaks! A deadline is a deadline. A hard stop is hard stop. The end of the month won’t move! The more time that goes by, the less time you have to do what you need to do. That’s why it’s important to understand timelines, especially in our manufacturing world. If we don’t stay on top of our schedules, we won’t finish our projects by the due date – and for our clients, that’s not acceptable.
Time lost can’t be regained. In work and in life. Make it matter.
6. Wear your client hat
As a business owner, I have many hats – operations, finances, HR, legal – you get the idea. But the one that matters most, and in the end, is the key to success, is my client hat. Even though we are in the manufacturing business, we are also in the service business. It’s our job to think like our clients and understand their needs, their communication style, their expectations, their feedback, their deadlines (see #7). With this knowledge, we proactively manage projects the way they like to work.
If you haven’t worn your client hat in a while, dust it off.
5. DO sweat the details
Speaking of clients (what would any of us do without them!), I’ve also come to realize how very important it is to clearly outline the Statement of Work. If we are to be effective at #6, then everyone needs to be on the same page with the project scope – the worst possible scenario is a misunderstanding because of how the SOW was worded. That means a detailed description of what’s included and what’s not included. Avoid areas that are open for interpretation. Clarity and transparency create a strong foundation for all projects.
Pay attention. After all, it’s the little things that make big things happen.
4. DON’T sweat the details
No, I’m not changing my mind. #5 still applies. But, as the leader of a company, you have to focus on the future, the strategic 5-year plan, new business – you know, the Big Picture. Your people are responsible for sweating the details. Keeping track of the 150 emails in their inboxes, project approvals, watering the plants in the lobby, all of it. When you’ve grown your business from the ground up, this can be very difficult – it’s your baby! But with a solid, dependable team that you’ve carefully selected, you must empower and trust them to do their jobs. No micromanaging.
As Elsa so eloquently sings, ”Let it go.”
3. Power through it
There have been times when I thought I had a little black cloud following me everywhere. Unforeseen project obstacles, a sprained ankle, a bill due right now – you’ve been there. We all have. It can be disheartening, and if you let it, debilitating. The key, as my daughter would say, is to grab a Starbucks Venti Double Shot and power through it! Perseverance and a positive attitude go far in achieving success.
It helps to stay connected to your core intentions. And never give up.
2. Create your own opportunities
Waiting around for someone to think they might need your product or services is not going to fill your bank account. If you have a great idea, find a buyer. If you have a special skill or area of expertise, join a speakers’ circuit. You never know who might get your message. Keep in touch with your network. Self promote. Be proud of what you do.
Competition can be fierce. You gotta hustle.
1. Pay it forward
Yes, business is competitive, but let’s remember that we’re all on this planet together. There’s too much conflict and negativity out there, so any chance you get, be nice to someone. A little surprise and delight. Do a little extra. Say thank-you. They can all go a long way to making this world a better place.
Life is short. Make someone smile today.
And thank you to all my readers who indulged me today! Sometimes it feels good to reflect upon past accomplishments and failures. To think about decisions we’ve made and the roads we’ve taken to get to where we’re standing right now.
Looking back is nostalgic but also inspiring! Let’s celebrate all we’ve done, whip out a compass and forge ahead!