Those “Stupid” business books were right

We’re coming up on 1 year of Smart Strength and I’ve been amazed, humbled, enlightened, and challenged in ways that I never would have guessed. I understand why white collar types gravitate toward endurance sports: building a business is basically an adventure race with a cartographer operating from a map that only somewhat explains the terrain, which of course is ever-shifting.

I am so willing to eat crow: all of that stupid business bullshit, the stuff that many of my trainer friends and colleagues roll their eyes at, is valuable. Let me first talk about personal mission statements.

You have a PMS, whether you know it or not.

What are the values by which you live your life? If you’re devout, they were decided for you. If you’re from the secular West…well, that’s the tyranny of choice. You are free to live your life by whichever values you choose.

This presents a problem: how do you choose to define success in your life? If, as so wonderfully explained in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, you value something tangible or external you will only be happy if you reach it. He gives the example of Dave Mustaine, lead shredder of Megadeth who, in spite selling millions and millions of albums, still feels like a failure because Metallica (the group the fired him early on) sold like 10x more. His goal, his value, was to be bigger than Metallica.

So the goal of a personal mission statement (PMS, huck yuck) is to define your mission and values to help keep you from being distracted by shiny things that aren’t part of your value set. They also act as a constant check to the following question:

Are my short-term actions in service of my long-term values?

Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Define your core mission and values, and you have a map to help keep you on track.

This is all the business “Mission/Vision/Values” statement is!

Businesses are made de novo, so they also do not come with a guiding mission. So often a practitioner/technician/problem solver starts the business with a very narrow focus, often perfectly aligned with their skill set. As the business grows, they wing it, treating the business as an extension of their interests, no matter how much they shift. These are the “shiny things” above. The quippy example would be like how if your orthopedist decided that, since they’re good at knee, they should go into brain surgery. They’re both medicine, right?

The MVV is there to keep that silly behavior from happening at the executive level, even if the “executive level” is you with your single other employee.

Act like a franchise, even if you’re not

Another key point many of these books make is that you should try to systematize as many processes as possible so as to build a business that does not NEED you to have your hands in it in order to deliver your product. You may still want to, but if your business requires YOU to operate, you don’t have a business.

This has been what I’ve been doing the first year. Yes, I’ve been training far more than I ever have in my life. I’ve spent a lot of money learning what doesn’t work regarding market traction in order to learn what does. Most important, I’ve built systems around communication and initial client interaction so that when I finally take on interns or hire my first employee, they deliver a consistent product at the most critical time of the initial client interaction with the business.

Onward.

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