By Mark Creedon
What can a six-year-old teach us about business?
I recently had a chat with my six-year-old grandson Iziah about what is important to him.
He came up with ten things that are a bit like his mantra for life. It occurred to me that each of them had an application in business as well. So here are the ten things a six-year-old can teach us about business.
1. You must budget
Iziah gets pocket money for doing chores. What he does with it is interesting. I asked him how he spends his money and his response was surprising but encouraging.
“Well” he said “ I put half of it aside for saving and I then keep the other half aside to spend on things I really want”. “Oh, and I also put some aside from my spending for charity Pa”
What a great lesson. It may sound obvious, but I meet with business owners who never budget. Often, they assess the financial performance of their business by their bank balance. That is crazy, right?
You must set up a budget, review it regularly and, most importantly, stick to it. If you are not good at budgeting, hire a bookkeeper to help you set up your budgets and then stick to them from there.
I also really like the idea of giving back, particularly to your community. It will make you feel good and it certainly will not do your business any harm.
2. Follow your Passion
We have all heard the saying that if you do what you love for work then you will never work a day in your life.
I think in business it is often the case not that we love something because we are good at it but rather that we are good at something because we love it.
At times it is hard to stay motivated but if you can find some passion is what you do, those tougher days will seem just that little bit easier.
Not only that, but if you are going to have a business that you have no passion about, it will ultimately show, to your clients, your team and it will most certainly take its toll on you.
3. Iziah always finds time to play
It may sound a bit strange, but play is such an important part of our lives. Recent research has suggested that play is as important to the human brain as oxygen. That is a big call.
Being able to play and have fun will have all sorts of neuro psychological benefits for you and on a practical level it will make your business a better place to be.
I like to think that one of the rewards for the hard work we do as entrepreneurs is to be able to play and have fun. Whatever that may mean for you. Maybe it’s time away, a car or a boat or maybe it’s just finding ways to have fun in the business.
Tom Potter, Founder of Eagle Boys Pizza always had a basketball hoop in his office for some down time. What do you do to play? How do you make sure there is some fun in your working day?
4. Ask why
Iziah said he loves to ask “why”. That way he gets to learn more, to understand better.
I suppose we could extend that to just asking lots of questions. Maintaining a level of inquisitiveness will help you to make sure you and your business stay relevant.
Perhaps rather than asking “why”, a really powerful twist on that is to ask, “why not”. Critically examining why something can or should be done or why it has not been done before is a very cool way of staying innovative.
An electric car, why not? I am sure that question made sense to Elon Musk and we all know how the answer panned out.
Asking questions about your marketplace, what your competition is doing and what your clients are looking for are all very powerful.
Here is an extra tip though. Do not let the question asking stop with you. Encourage your team, whatever that may look like to ask questions.
Questioning why something is done a certain way may just see aspects of your business leap ahead. This is what the principle of Kaizen is all about.
Kaizen is a concept of continuous small positive improvements in a process which can reap significant improvements. By its nature it comes from asking questions.
Encourage your team to ask questions. Top down approaches are long dead and the last thing you want to be is the smartest person on your team.
Encouraging positive questioning will open the door for innovation. Perhaps of equal importance though it will give your team significant buy in.
5. There are more important things than money
I asked Iziah what was more important than money? “Family” he said without a moment’s hesitation. What drives you?
My friend Michael Yardney always says that money alone is never the right motivator. You must know what it is that motivates you though.
Sure, money is great and let us be honest, more control, more time and more money are probably the three biggest motivators to having your own business.
Those three are certainly what we focus on in our Business Accelerator Mastermind program. But you see money of itself is not a motivator. What is important is what the money does for you.
What would more money do for you? Maybe it would give you more time with your family. That would undoubtedly be Iziah’s answer.
In which case it is the time with family which is the motivator and money is simply the vehicle to get you there. It is vital in business to understand what motivates you. That is how you stay committed and focussed.
Guess what? The same principle applies to those around you too. It applies to your team and to your clients. When was the last time you looked at what motivated your team?
Do you just keep throwing money at a team problem, thinking that will solve it? Getting to the core of the motivation and understanding that it is most likely more than money will make you stand out from the white noise and get a far higher level of engagement.
There are the first five things we can all learn from a six-year-old. I was very surprised when I thought back on my conversation with my grandson and how his thoughts really do apply to us in business.
Here are the next five.
6. Family is more than just your household
when I asked Iziah who his family was it was much more than just his mum, dad, and brother. He spoke about his aunts and uncles’ grandparents and cousins.
We all have a business ‘family’ which extends to our team, their families, our suppliers, alliances, contractors and referral partners.
Each of these ‘family members’ contribute to our success and so we need to make sure that we include them in our journey and share with them our goals.
Our team is the people that work with us in our business but if we extend that definition and think of it as Iziah does, then our team becomes all of the pieces of the puzzle that fit together to make a business successful.
Adopting this view is like having a large advisory board. Suddenly you have a whole range of people who you can call on and whose expertise you can draw down on to help achieve your business goals.
7. Do not keep secrets
Families should never keep secrets from each other is a great lesson. Being completely honest with your business family means you will be far more likely to have them join in wholeheartedly on the journey.
I often hear professionals and business owners lamenting the fact that their team do not treat the business like their own. But if you do not treat them like it’s their own by sharing the all the important information with them then why would they?
There is another little touch to this concept. You see, not keeping secrets reveals an element of vulnerability. That is a good thing.
Letting those closest to you in your business see where you are vulnerable improves the likelihood that they will help support and protect you.
It also gives them the opportunity to use their strengths where your weakness lies and at the end of the day that is why we have people around us. Try it and see.
8. Schedule time for fun!
I mentioned before about the importance of play. The problem is that life can get in the way. Iziah’s Mum and Dad schedule time in the day for uninterrupted play. That way they all know it will happen.
In Mastermind we talk about the concept that Cash flow follows your Calendar. Simply put this means that if you do not put the important things into your calendar you run the risk of spending time on less valuable tasks.
Taking tasks out of a To Do list and scheduling them directly into your calendar will give you greater structure, higher commitment and therefore a higher level of success in getting the important and valuable things done.
The other lesson to learn there of course is that scheduling time for fun is as important as scheduling things for Cash flow. Life in business becomes boring and a chore if we do not take some time to schedule some fun.
9. Always learn
My grandson loves going to school because he says there is always new things to learn. He reads he listens to the teacher and proudly says that we should never stop learning.
That is a great lesson for business as well. Having a mentor or a coach and a group of like-minded motivated businesspeople around you is a vital part of that learning experience.
There is an old saying in business that if you are the smartest person on your team then you’re on the wrong team and I have seen time and again where people have failed to continue to learn and so their business fails to innovate and ultimately simply fails.
10. Get back up and believe in yourself
I asked Iziah a couple of questions about failure. I asked him what happens when he falls off his bike. “I get up, get mum and dad to give me a hug and get back on the bike” he told me.
The important lesson here is that in business we are all going to get knocked off our bike at some stage. What is important is not how we got knocked off but how we got back on.
This is where having support around you is a vitally important component to being in business or professional practice. It can be a lonely journey trying to do it on your own.
It is a little bit like when Iziah is climbing high on the monkey bars. “Aren’t you afraid of falling?” I asked him. “Sure Pa” he said, “but I just think positively and believe in myself”.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Rhonda Britten from Fearlessliving.org and Rhonda spoke about this very point. It is not so much about affirmations but positive acknowledgements and continuing to stretch your comfort zone.
Getting back up and believing in yourself, practising positive acknowledgements and just acknowledging the success that you’ve had today in your business will help you to push through the times when that success can feel a little bit like a distant memory.
So, you see we often talk about the innocence of children but in addition there is lots of simple wisdom. Take these ten little gems and apply them in your business.
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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