Now that the New Year has come and gone, I’m sure you’ve spent some time writing out your goals, resolutions, hopes and dreams for 2016. It’s a good time to look at where you are and decide where you want to be. Your plans may include increased market share, buying another truck, and hiring new employees. Unfortunately, what may not be included is a resolution for personal change. That’s scary stuff but it’s also where you’ll gain the most ground. We are always looking for ways to do better, and build and grow, but most of us set goals based on numbers or things outside of our control and wonder why nothing changes. I’m suggesting that you try looking at a few of the things you can control and possibly change what you don’t like.
I’ve compiled a list of 5 lessons you can use to change yourself in a good way that will have the residual effect of growing your business.
Forget About Your Reputation
We all have an inner compass that guides every decision we make. It determines our needs and devises strategies to get those needs satisfied. Many times though, there are strategies that can easily meet the corresponding need but we don’t put them in motion because other needs take precedence. For example: You may own a well-established towing business, one that’s been around for decades. Everyone knows your company name and the colors of your trucks. But lately you’re experiencing a downturn due to increased competition. So you now have a need for increased business. And one strategy to fulfill that need might mean a fresh new look…to gain attention. But the fear of disrupting your reputation (by changing the colors of your trucks) causes you to do nothing. You’re telling yourself some variation of this story: “If I make a change then I’ll be showing my hand…and they’ll know I’m hurting for business.” The underlying need is to protect your great reputation. I say forget about your reputation…if it’s such a good thing then why are you losing market share? Besides everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves and their own lives to give a damn about what you’re doing. Do what needs to be done and make the necessary changes.
Whether you sit behind a desk or sit in your truck, by today’s standards, if you do it for more than 5 hours a day you lead a sedentary lifestyle. Which means you have a higher chance of heart disease, diabetes, and a whole host of related problems. But the biggest problem about leading a sedentary life is the fact that your brain stops growing and you start to become a cranky, cantankerous old man. But, not to worry…there is a solution. It’s not the fountain of youth…but it’s close.
We’ve all heard that keeping in shape is a good idea, and compared to a weight workout or getting in a round of golf, nothing does a better job of keeping your brain working well than a good old fashioned run around town. In a Runner’s World Article entitled “5 Ways Running Boosts Brain Power” they say that running stimulates the creation of new nerve cells and blood vessels in the brain, and promotes the release of endorphins that help your brain hold on to mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. But the best part is running boosts your ability to learn and have better focus. So you can juggle more stuff, and make better, quicker decisions. This means that, not only can you do your job better, but you won’t fly off the handle and get angry as quick as before. This will allow you to keep your mind open to new opportunities. You’ll be happier and healthier, and you’ll be able to enjoy your business because you’ll live much longer.
Pay Yourself First
You started this business to make money. To have the ability to pay for a better way of life for you and your family. And things have gotten better over the years. But after so many years of doing it, you still only take a small amount of money home, just enough to pay the bills. Your reasoning includes statements like: “So that the business stays healthy”… “What if I need a new motor?” or “I’ll need to buy a new truck if X happens.” This causes you to keep larger and larger sums of cash socked-away for what-if’s. And all the while you’re wittling away at your job complaining that you’re not making enough money.
And…your entire life is your business. All your hopes and fears are tied up in that one entity. The problem is you’re not putting money away for your eventual separation. I know it’s a hard thing to imagine but, one day you will eventually, not be doing what you’re doing. And yes, you’ll have money when you sell, but paying yourself first now, by investing in the future will help you much more in the short run that it does in the long run. You see the more that you can see that the fruits of your efforts have not been wasted and are growing and building something that will outlast you and your business the happier you’ll be about doing what you’re doing in the present.
So what does this mean? Am I suggesting that you should not keep money back for what-if’s? No…I’m saying that you should pay yourself an income that, not only pays the bills, but allows you to save and invest in an alternate reality…your eventual retirement. Doing so will give you peace of mind and strengthen your resolve to work smart and grow your business.
Promote Yourself Shamelessly
My wife loves Facebook and Pinterest. Many times she’ll see a video or a fancy screened-in-porch that she just can’t wait to show me. But, by the time I come back in the room, she’ll have lost it because she’s been distracted by one of the thousand other posts coming through each second.
On Facebook alone there are more than 300 million photos uploaded every day.
It’s getting harder and harder to be seen and heard. Your voice is like a starving baby bird, begging to be fed, amongst a billion other starving baby birds.
It’s nice to think that people will just notice us. That they’ll recognize our good deeds and see that we’re good at what we do. But the reality is you must make some noise to be heard. Now, “My Name Ain’t Nathan Arizona” I’m not suggesting that you be obnoxious and crazy, selling your unpainted furniture like he did in the movie “Raising Arizona”, what I’m saying is you can’t be timid when it comes to self-promotion.
You are your business and the only way that people are going to know that YOU have something to sell is if you tell them. That means wearing your uniform everywhere, driving your tow truck everywhere, and allowing the entire world to see that you are 100% devoted-to and immersed-in your business. Go to church in your uniform, go to breakfast in your uniform, got to little league, choir practice, PTO, graduations, and funerals. Be relentless about it.
You see even though there are thousands upon thousands of distractions available, the people at these functions, who know you, can’t wait to find out what you’re doing. They’re just salivating with curiosity. That is until they know. Then they’ll file you away into a little drawer in their mind labeled: Tow Truck Driver. And…Later on…when they find themselves in need of some of the services you provide….Bingo…They’ll access that file and call you.
Help Someone Selflessly
Have you ever been in another town out of your element, and forgotten something that you had to have in order to complete a tow? For example: You’re 45 miles from home and you don’t have the right wrench to pull a drive shaft. It was there in the toolbox before, and you swear that when you get back you’re going to hunt down and kill whoever drove the truck last. But now you’re running out of options. In a last ditch effort to solve your problem you do an online search for the nearest towing company. You call and they quickly run out and give you the right-sized wrench. You’re saved and appreciative of what they’ve done, and offer to pay…but “your money aint no good”. “Maybe I’ll be in your town and need help one day.” They say. You thank them and head on your way.
What a good feeling…to know that you’re not alone.
You know what feels even better? When you help someone without expecting anything in return. Now I’m not suggesting that you provide your services for free. What I’m saying is help someone in a way that has nothing to do with your business. It doesn’t need to be huge. It can be as simple as putting your neighbor’s paper on his porch, or retrieving his trash can. Or if you want you can join an organization that allows its members the opportunity to provide anonymous support to those who haven’t yet made it to your station in life.
So what does this do to help your business?
Well first of all, there’s no such thing as helping someone selflessly. It’ a paradox we just can’t escape. When you help someone, even without their knowledge, you always get something in return. Some call it, Karma, Inner Peace, A bigger cloud in heaven. I believe it’s much more than any of that. When you help someone without expecting any of those things you become a better person. And when you become a better person, automatically, without any outside approval, you are more deserving and your inner voice quietens. What once was incessant chatter that questioned your worthiness around every bend is now acceptance and gratitude for all that you receive. You get so much in return…when you give “selflessly” and you allow good things to happen in your life.
People do business with people. To have a better 2016 you need a more people-friendly business. To get that you need to work on yourself first.