There is no better time than now to heed the warning of sage advice, ‘never eat alone” or “dig your well before you’re thirsty”-both top selling book titles. We would all be better off, or at least have greater resources, if we had done more of this a few years ago, before the current economic crisis reigned in on our daily lives. Owning your own business is a full contact sport that can humble even the strongest, most gifted of entrepreneurs.
Today’s U.S. economic condition is simply a season of change requiring resilience, innovation, endurance and action-no different than each of our daily lives for many generations before us. It is the uncertainty of our future that gnaws at our very core, impacting our daily thoughts, choices and actions. But it’s life that wears us down. Our daily struggles, striving, regretting, embracing, saving, extending, forgiving, running away or running toward something that make the journey so overwhelming, so exhausting, so spirit crushing at times. Yet in fact, it’s the meaning one gives to what happens to them that either empowers them or consumes their life spring.
For some, life comes easy and their struggle is the business building part. For most owners of residential cleaning companies that I have met though, the work is simple, and life is hard. Doing the right thing at the right time is key. The universe provides all the knowledge, tools and mentors one needs to succeed. Proof is all around us. Getting out of our own way as owners is the toughest part.
I invite you to stay open to the possibility of the following solutions to achieving a remarkable life. Chew on this for a while like age-old beef jerky from your 8th grade summer at Camp Wanapawpak. Let it simmer with you. Drink these concepts in like a glass of water quenching your thirst after an exhausting 5 mile run on a sweltering hot August day in Texas. And then ask yourself, “What life do I want right now?” Ask, “What do I want for my company?” And ask, “Who am I going to connect with to lean on, learn from and live by as I strive for the most successful life I can lead?” Remind yourself, “My company is a part of my life, not my whole life.” Ask yourself, “How’s life working for me right now?” The most successful, truly happy and fulfilled people I have ever met all say the same thing-”I didn’t get where I am today all by myself.” Success leaves clues, but you have to know where to dig to find the gold. Here are six shovels to get you started.
Got 5 Minutes?
One day when I was 19 years old in college, having just seen Tom Peters film, In Search of Excellence, I returned to my dorm room and dialed the most famous business owners and founders I could think of at the time. My first calls were made to Sam Walton (Wal-Mart), Fred Smith (FedEx), Jack and Jeff Nordstrom. All I ever said to the executive assistant was “Hi, my name is Steven Rowell, and I was wondering if _______ would have five minutes to share the secret to his/her success?” They all took my call and they all spent more than 45 minutes with me answering every question I asked. Inspired by this life changing experience, I later repeated the experience while working as a college intern at Walt Disney World conducting 287 calls in 17 weeks. After college I joined The Walt Disney World Co. for several years. Seven times within my Disney career I received unsolicited phone calls with the voice on the other end of the line saying, “Steven, our division needs a person like you…you interested?” All five of my promotions within The Walt Disney World Co. were initiated by Disney executives I had “interviewed” when I was 20 years old. Who would you love to learn from? Make your list, and do a little Google research, and then get busy dialing the phone. Do you have 5 minutes?
Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale was one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy. He was the highest-ranking naval officer held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. When discussing how he and his fellow soldiers survived the extreme conditions of their capture, Stockdale shared that the first soldiers to break were optimists, and next were pessimists. Pragmatists (realists) survived according to Stockdale by “confronting the brutal truth of the situation, yet at the same time, never giving up hope.”
One of Stockdale’s most famed quotes serves us well today, “The test of character is not ‘hanging in’ when you expect light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty, and persistence of example when you know no light is coming.” Residential cleaning business owners will achieve greater endurance and resilience in the face of adversity when they adopt a more realistic approach to their challenges. However it is the decisions made and the actions taken that will make the difference between a successful company and a failing one. Now is a time for action.
Your Top 3
The single biggest distinction I have learned from super successful people, including three retired billionaires, is the “Power of 3.” Every night before going to bed, identify the top 3 most important tasks for the next day based upon the greatest results that need to be achieved. What 3 things must you do tomorrow in order to achieve the greatest results for your business? Increase cash flow, retain your current clients, launch your certified affiliated program, convert more of your prospects into customers, or sell more services right now to your existing customers, for example.
Schedule appointments with yourself on tomorrow’s calendar strictly focused upon your Top 3. Don’t worry about failing at first-achieving only 2 a day for four days is 8 successes with powerful impact to your company’s bottom line in less than one week.
You are the Average of 5
Jim Rohn is most often credited with the saying, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If your “circle of 5″ exchange time for money (hourly job), struggle with finances, have low credit scores, and complain more than celebrate, then you probably do much of the same. It works the same for the beliefs of your “circle of 5″ too. Dan Kennedy says, “You cannot outperform your most persistent associations.” Said differently, you cannot outperform your belief system. Consider the result of any of these common beliefs, marketing is too hard, my clients won’t pay that much, I can’t find good help these days, I hate sales, and clients saying “No” to me is a personal rejection of me.
I frequently ask my mastermind members who are owners of cleaning services just like you, “How’s that working for you?” This could be the most powerful question you ever learn to ask yourself as a way to stay on track toward the right results in your company and your life-”How’s this working for me?” Acknowledge who in your life moves you forward and who holds you back. Decide how to get more people in your life that build you up and keep you moving forward, and minimize if not eliminate the time you spend with people who limit you or hold you back professionally and personally. “Firing a negative, ‘boat anchor’ friend” or “firing a toxic employee” often is one of the most liberating moments of our lives. Get clear with whom and what you need in your business life that will challenge your current thinking and offer you new ways to see the world. This “getting out of your own way” is one of the toughest parts of achieving success at every stage of your company from now through $5 Million in sales and beyond. This is one of the greatest life changing forces for my mastermind members as well. Change your beliefs, change your choices. Change your choices, change your actions. Change your actions, change your life.
Harvard Business Review’s 1991 article, It’s Lonely at the Top, answers why being the “C.E.O.” can be so difficult, especially in terms of getting quality feedback. It can be even worse for the entrepreneur. You must build networks of people with different perspectives, from different industries with unique talents and gifts, who will give you honest feedback. Staying connected has become much easier today through online services, but picking the right connections is key. Some of the best communities you should consider joining are LinkedIn, MeetUp and ARCSI. Home Cleaner Magazine’s blog and LinkedIn group offer great discussion areas as well as MaidServiceMarketing.com. Some of the greatest tools for staying connected are available at StevenRowellRecommends.com, LittleSomething.com, NoHassleNewsletters.com, ConstantContact.com and for the perfect gift, month after month, Harry and David’s Fruit of the Month Club.
One incredible business accelerator is the concept of Masterminding which goes as far back as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. True mastermind groups provide a consistent community for its members to learn from each other with the help of a facilitator/knowledge expert. Instead of “reinventing the wheel” all alone every time an owner needs a new form, or a new procedure or faces a new challenge, the mastermind group gives every member a sounding board to discuss ideas, concerns, solutions and what has worked for them in the past. The most effective mastermind groups encourage members to hold each other accountable and encourage sharing of experiences from every member.
Give yourself the greatest gift any entrepreneur would love to have-a meaningful group of highly trusted, highly respected professionals who serve as sounding boards, confidantes, and expert resources. Assess every relationship in your life and determine whether it serves for a positive future, and if not move on. Find a mentor. Success leaves clues, and mentors help you discover these clues. Get crystal clear about what you want from your business and from your life. Get real about your current reality and what you must do now to achieve your dreams. Use these strategies. Be open to new possibilities. And most importantly, get out of your own way!
Steven Rowell is a serial entrepreneur, consultant and speaker with a passion for helping cleaning service owners build the business of their dreams faster than they ever believed possible. Several of Steven’s Mastermind Members have “retired” from their companies and now truly own a company and their lives. Discover tons of free resources at www.StevenRowellRecommends.com, www.maidservicemarketing.com, and www.myrevenuerescue.com/hc . For private one-on-one help or to apply for Steven’s Mastermind Group simply email Steven directly at email@example.com or call 1-800-268-8170.