I talk with business owners and professional people all the time. I’m a great networker and meet people throughout New York at their offices, at networking events, and at the professional club where I’m a member. I see that people are at certain points in their business or career choices and they fall into one of five categories. These five categories are self selected because of the choices they make everyday. They are also results because we reap what we sow. In many ways these categories reflect the world view of the people that hold them. And our world view reflects how we see ourselves as well as the world outside ourselves. If inner attitude yields behavior that yields results, then results reflects behavior that reflects attitudes. It works both ways. So what are the stages that reflect our self images? Which one do you identify with?
The inspired business owner or professional is always thinking: What I did yesterday is yesterday’s news. I can achieve more. I have more potential. I think bigger. I’m capable of more. What do I need to do to get to the next level? Invest in myself. Invest in my people. I believe they have more potential, too. Let’s empower them (and me) to be more creative, more committed, think smarter, get more aligned to important meaningful goals that are inspirational and motivating.
Just like an elite athlete, the inspired person knows that an edge may be all that’s required to excel and realizes if he could think of it by himself, he would have already done it. He wants help from someone else with an objective view and more experience. He wants suggestions from outside his world and his comfort zone. He’s willing to bring in specialists. He realizes the return on investment will be huge because he takes responsibility to be fully engaged. He’s more afraid of the risk of losing growth opportunities because he and his team are not ready, than he is of investment in the coaching/consulting not bringing the expected ROI. He takes proactive responsibility for continuously moving the company or his career forward.
The complacent business owner or professional is happy about where his company or career has grown to and is satisfied with staying at that level or with small incremental changes that don’t involve any extra risk or effort. They are in a holding pattern and are satisfied if they are not going backwards. They have achieved a level of comfort and are happy to be stable. Their employees do things the way they’ve always done them and are reasonably happy but not creative. They handle problems as fires with standard types of responses. They have a reasonable margin of success both financially and with their clients as long as nothing changes. As long as the economy is stable, their critical staff don’t get the itch to move on, no important client wants to take their business elsewhere, no big competitor comes into their market, they’ll be fine. Of course, when something changes (and it will sooner or later), they’ll be up a creek without a paddle. They are aware of coaching/consulting and are sophisticated enough to see how it helps others but they are not motivated because they are happy just the way they are. They are blind to how much risk they face when things change.
The oblivious business owner or professional is not tuned into what is available in terms of how to grow his business or career. He believes he has to do everything himself, the independent pioneer. Conversation about getting help to grow his business falls on deaf ears because it doesn’t register. He doesn’t have any picture of himself where outside help is part of the picture. Career individuals can’t picture themselves getting suggestions on personal branding, becoming a better leader or communicator, or the value of increased self-knowledge.
Both the oblivious business owner and professional are focused on themselves, sometimes running around in circles and complaining about all they have to do and how there’s no time. They just keep on doing what they’re doing without a thought that someone else could help them work smarter, not harder. Their world just includes themselves and their immediate employees, not professionals who could help them get out of the rut. Deep down they don’t feel they deserve to be out of the rut. They’ve been in it so long it’s become comfortable. They talk about growth but have no realistic plans to make it happen because they think so small and are unaware of the power of investing in the owner’s and employees’ growth. Same for the career professional. He doesn’t even consider how his career would be changed by getting outside help. Most business owners and professionals are in this category. They are living in an old world where resources weren’t available.
These business owners and career professionals have been going around in circles for years. Every year they say: we’re going to do better, make changes, get to the next level. It doesn’t happen. They are starting to realize that they can’t do it by themselves. They’ve been on a gerbil wheel being very active but not making any progress. They are aware of coaching/consulting, but are still considering because they are scared to spend the money. Money is available but in short supply. It has to be spent well because the return on investment has to be there. They don’t realize that by their very commitment to spend the money, they are taking the first step to becoming fully engaged in change. It’s their skin in the game. They don’t yet get it that the ROI comes ultimately from themselves, from their efforts and commitment to be open to a new way, even though the coach/consultant may be a catalyst. These people stand on a crossroads. They can invest and see great rewards or they can act small and scared and stay stuck. If they invest, they move to the Inspired. If they don’t invest, they become Desperate.
The desperate business owner or professional is losing money and is in survival mode. He is thinking only about how to take care of basic needs for his business or job or personal life. It’s hard for him to think beyond the next customer payment, vendor invoice or rent check. This person is not ready for coaching/consulting because he is too worried about present emergencies and cash flow to concentrate on planning changes, investing in coaching/consulting or the big picture. Too many businesses or professionals in transition are at this stage because of the recession. They used to be Stuck, or Oblivious or Complacent, and through inaction became Desperate. It’s a shame they didn’t make a move sooner because now they have many fewer choices.
So how about you? Where do you fit? What risks are you facing based on the category you fit in? If you are reading this article, you are no longer Oblivious. Are the owners of your company Oblivious? Are you working for the right company if you feel your company is Complacent, Oblivious or Desperate? If you work in a Stuck company, are you helping to choose a new way? If you work in a company led by an Inspired leader, you might belong to a high performance team. Leaders of Inspired companies often win awards and their companies are voted ‘Top place to work in …’. Stuck companies that choose to move forward instead of staying stuck can become Inspired. Complacent companies can easily become Stuck companies when change happens. Then they face the same crossroad, to become Inspired or Desperate.
As a coach/consultant I work with small business owners and professionals who are either Inspired or Stuck. Those are the ones that see the value in the work I do. The results are truly amazing. If that’s where you are, let’s talk. Please contact me for a complimentary strategy session.
Please leave a comment on your view of the five categories of business owners and professionals.