So many people who talk about living an abundant lifestyle. It’s a big subject, particularly when you’re not feeling abundant. When you are at the top of the cycle, having big wins, everything fills our buckets. But at the bottom of the cycle, where there are no wins and things don’t happen, we don’t feel abundant.
When we’re at bottom of the cycle, we must realize that abundance and the path to abundance starts with one. Just one small win, one small act of kindness. What we focus on, act on, align with, and measure will get done and come into our lives.
One thing can become many when we focus on it. What we focus on becomes true. What we spend our time on gets bigger. Where your attention goes, your focus goes. So abundance starts with one.
Think of one thing that went right today - why did it go right? What did you contribute? Think of one time you led someone to a higher and better result, one time you coached someone, one time you made a connection, and how it all came together.
The reverse is true too: when you focus on one bad thing, it becomes everything. So make that one right thing the center of your focus. Because abundance starts with one.
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Take Action is a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, and the focus is on the small, 1% improvements we can make in our businesses and lives. Small changes make a big difference!
This podcast will help you make small changes that will change your world, so we can together save the world one entrepreneur and small business at a time!
The business math equation S (sales) – E (expenses) = P (profit) has been widely accepted for years. However, entrepreneur and author Mike Michalowicz doesn’t quite see it that way. “83% of small businesses in the US are surviving check to check, some of whom follow this model. From a behavioral perspective, what happens last matters least,” Mike says, “Take your profit first and you will reverse engineer your profit forever.” While some may scoff at this notion, in today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom, he explains how a shift in thought process and subsequent actions can revolutionize small businesses forever.
This concept is best compared to Parkinson’s Law, which states that our behavior adjusts around the supply. Take toothpaste, for example. Upon purchasing a new tube of toothpaste, most people are less frugal with it than when they’re on their last squeeze of the same tube. To apply this theory to business, Mike argues that if companies follow a different equation – S- P = E – they will reduce spending and maximize their bottom line. It’s similar to a popular personal finance method – the 401k. By readjusting your spending based on what you’re bringing in, it will increase your bottom line over time.
Additionally, operating this way forces business owners to become radically innovative. One of the businesses Mike owns, a leather manufacturing company based out of St. Louis, was running into a problem. The equipment they needed to develop their product cost a whopping $40,000. Instead of making that investment, which would have greatly reduced their profit, they got crafty. After a few trips to Home Depot and some trial and error, they invented a molding mechanism that only costs around $200 to produce. “Our competitors were using the same [$40,000 machine], and our profit margins sky rocketed,” he says. He urges that using this model forces businesses to think outside of the box.
But in 2008, Mike would have probably initially scoffed at this advice. He had sold two companies and became an angel investor, which he recalls being a horrible experience. He hit rock bottom. “I was $50,000 in credit card debt, and I was driving a beat up Durango that only had two radio stations,” he admits. Deciding that it was time for a change, he began reading The Richest Man in Babylon and similar books. A light bulb went off – he realized that while people had applied the “Pay Yourself First” mentality to personal finances, no one had taken that approach to business. He began to test the concept with his own business and the businesses of friends, and noticed he was on to something.
So, how can a company go from their current approach to Mike’s method? He suggests starting small -open a separate savings account and allocate 1% of every check into this separate account. “If you can run your business on $10,000, you can probably run it on $9,900. Set that extra $900 aside. While you may not amass a life changing sum of money, your mind set will definitely shift,” he advises.
After making these changes, Mike urges businesses to not reinvest that money into the business, “When it’s not profitable, we will start to resent our business. Those distributions and profits help you celebrate your entrepreneurship and your innovation.” Every quarter, he has a quarterly pause where he and his business partner discuss their successes from the month, along with any failures. This occurs after they both receive their quarterly distribution. While Mike doesn’t reinvest his distributions into the company, he does ensure that he reinvests the profit into his employees. “It’s very important that everyone has a vested interest in the success of the business,” he says. While the profits may not be publicized, he does make sure to explain to each team member how they can benefit from being frugal with company funds.
By combining a shift in mindset with a pivot from traditional methods, Mike’s formula has led to profit increases for hundreds of businesses. What do you think of his method? Tweet us with your answers at @WiseNapkin.
In an age where everyone can pick up their smartphones and become an instant “expert” on any topic, how can entrepreneurs market their knowledge to their consumers? Millennial money expert and author of The Broke and the Beautiful Life, Stefanie O’Connell thinks it has a lot to do with packaging. No, she isn’t referring to big bows or pretty wrapping paper. She poses that while information isn’t propriety, experiences are. Instead of hoarding knowledge, entrepreneurs should find a way to package their experiences in a way that’s meaningful for other people.
In 2008, Stefanie was a recent college graduate, utilizing her degree in theater to travel the world and live her dream. However, due to the late 2008 recession, she was forced to return to New York. “I got a job that paid $225. While it was very fulfilling, it wasn’t exactly financially viable. I was the epitome of a starving artist,” she recalls. After taking up a friend’s offer to read Suze Orman’s The Young, Broke & Fabulous, she became enthralled with the idea of money management. She ended up becoming a resource for her friends and began sharing her money management advice on a blog. This turned into a book (The Broke & Beautiful Life).
“Financial advice is pretty straightforward and some view it as boring,” says Stefanie. However, she paired her own experiences with age old financial advice to develop a platform that was both relatable and helpful. Instead of telling readers to start an emergency fund, she details the time when she broke down in tears at a dentist’s office because she was unable to pay $2000 for a necessary procedure. “By tapping into the details, you evoke an immediate emotional response from a reader or consumer. I create the urgency by sharing my experiences,” Stefanie says.
Balancing information and experiences can often be tough, especially when entrepreneurs find themselves in situations where they’re not driving the conversation. Stefanie likes to have “talking points with a point of view” for these situations. She draws on her drama background to pair words together to drive home certain points for her audience. “The aspect of storytelling is very valuable, no matter what industry. No one is going to care what you know if you’re not coming across in a way that’s relatable,” she says. Stefanie also stresses the importance of knowing the audience and finding ways to add segmented value.
Being relatable and changing the conversation from a monologue to a dialogue means doing research to discover your audience’s needs. Stefanie spends a lot of time dialoguing with her audience in order to do just that. “I even look up Amazon book reviews to see which books in my sector have received two or three stars and check to see what was missing,” she says. Additionally, as a financial advisor who specifically focuses on women and millennials, she takes caution to only listen to feedback which will add value to her audience. “If someone begins to tell me that I need to focus on providing Baby Boomers with retirement advice, I typically shy away from that because it doesn’t speak to my niche,” she says.
For entrepreneurs that worry they will run out of experiences to share, Stefanie says that she hunts down other experiences by simply taking interesting people out for coffee. “I know that the first thing financial advisors typically say is to cut out coffee from your budget. But I have enjoyed an incredible ROI from that tactic,” she laughs. And, when talking about what experiences she plans to share in the future, she started doing a dream bio exercise, where she writes up her dream bio then compares it to her to-do list. “It’s very important that I’m intentional about that alignment,” she notes.
What are some ways you can package your experiences into something that’s helpful for your audience/customers? Tweet us with your answers at @WiseNapkin!
The African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”, speaks on the value of having support from your tribe. In this podcast, Bill Dost – entrepreneur and friend to the show – discusses why family is so important and how he began to incorporate them into his entrepreneurial journey.
His napkin wisdom which reads, “Give me my family and I can do anything”, stems from his belief that you can do anything if your family is backing you. “But without that strength, what good is it to win anything?” mused Mr. Dost. It is important to note that “family” could be substituted for friends, a tribe or any group that supports and motivates you.
He learned this the hard way when he and his wife of twelve years, Maggie, began drifting apart a few years ago. “When my business was in a good place, I focused on the growth of “me” and not the growth of “us”,” Bill says. This led the couple to drifting apart. Because she wasn’t being kept in the loop, Maggie didn’t feel any sense of connection to Bill’s entrepreneurial journey – and even worse, she was beginning to feel the same sentiment towards Bill.
“I was a jerk,” Bill admits. During the 2008 recession, Bill took a step back and realized that he had neglected to grow with his wife during the entrepreneurial process. “I was investing in myself but not my significant other. This led to my family becoming a “single person household”,” says Bill.
However, he knew things needed to change. He apologized to his wife and began to include her in more – they began reading the same books, attending conferences together and more. And, slowly but surely, the relationship improved. He had learned a very important lesson that had almost cost him his marriage: “We need to provide the room for our spouses to have the same journey.
For so long it was all about me, and my growth. I would rather personally growth slower as a partner, than to grow faster and alone,” says Bill. Check out the podcast by clicking the link below and tweet us with ways you keep your tribe in the loop on your journey.
Over the past decade or so, the phrase “company culture” has become embedded in our vocabularies and used as an HR tool to attract the best and the brightest. It’s indisputable that today’s employees want to love the companies they work for. But let’s go beyond the buzzwords and get to the heart of what company culture really means and why it’s important. Tristan White, described by Smart Company as “one of Australia's next generation of business leaders” and founder of The Physio Co., breaks down four key building blocks.
“Company culture is not just about the good times and the parties. A strong culture helps you and your team get through tough times in business,” says Tristan. And he would know: The Physio Co, a patient care facility that focuses on elderly care, has been listed as one of “Australia’s Best Places to Work” for the past seven of the twelve years they’ve been in business.
His emphasis on company culture dates back to the start of his business. After five years of successfully running his company, he realized that he didn’t particularly enjoy going into the office anymore. “I had twenty team members, business had grown but there was no culture or vision for the company.”
In 2009, he and his wife took a trip to North America. There, they researched similar businesses and decided to take a values based approach to running their company back home. “Culture is built with vision, purpose, repetition and love. It’s a really big word that has so many layers, but at the end of the day, culture boils down to alignment,” he says.
Keeping employees aware and engaged with the BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) and shorter term goals is a great way to maintain this alignment. Tristan has found success in connecting employee’s day to day responsibilities with the overarching company goals. “When we achieve our goals, we celebrate! However, when these goals aren’t achieved – which is sometimes the case – authenticity and honesty is important. Ask your team for help. Tell them what worked and what hasn’t worked,” remarks Tristan.
While some may think they’re similar, Tristan breaks down the dichotomy between vision and purpose: “Vision is where you’re headed; purpose is why you exist. When you seek to define your purpose, I like to refer people to Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, Start with Why.” When your purpose is made clear, hiring people who share the same values becomes a breeze. The third tenet of a solid culture, repetition, can sound a bit boring, which is why Tristan refers to it as “relentless execution”. While it can bring back memories of a boring summer job as a teenager, age old concepts like having a daily huddle or tracking certain metrics periodically can have a profound impact on culture.
“Use repetition to tie actions back to the purpose,” says Tristan. In addition to the mundane tasks, he also subscribes to a “rhythm of celebrations.” Employees are celebrated once they come onboard as well as when they leave. Consistently implementing these initiatives allows for the company culture to infiltrate every aspect of the business.
The final building block of a solid company culture is love. Showing employees that you care about them for more than their output can make a difference. “Lead with care, lead with love and you’ll get long term loyalty in return,” says Tristan. Using these four metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your company culture will pay dividends in the short and long term. What are some tactics you use to keep your employees engaged? Tweet them to us after listening to the podcast.