Here is a fun metaphor, “My business is my baby.”
Throughout my years working alongside SMB marketing strategists as a sales funnel architect, I heard this metaphor more times than I could count. Additionally, as a touring musician between 2013 and 2017, the same metaphor was heard again, but in different context, “My guitar/bass is my baby.” For years, I assumed I fully understood the message this metaphor implied, but after becoming a parent, I finally get it. Businesses are indeed like children. They are brought into this world without the knowledge of where they want to go or how to get there, but like unto children, with a proper foundation to build upon, they can grow and become successful.
Growth is directly influenced by the foundation we build on top of. With no solid footings, the building would only get so high before experiencing dramatic issues. The same ideology can be applied to businesses, or more importantly, people. As a new parent, I have taken time over the last few years to reflect about my own childhood and how my mother and father laid a foundation for me to build upon. Doing so, I uncovered many core ingredients that have helped lay my foundation as a business professional, a musician, a person, and a father. Today, I apply these three ingredients along with many others in all aspects of growing my business, enhancing my career, and raising my son.
Core Ingredients of a Solid Foundation in Life and Business from the Mind of a New Parent:
Family: The Webster Dictionary scientifically defines the word family as a group of things related by common characteristics… What characteristics do you have? How do they affect you in life, business, and as a parent? Did you enable them on your own? Were they introduced to you by important figures of your inner circle? The Social Proximity Effect or, “your friend’s habits will become your habits,” rings true for many of us because we continually find ourselves speaking, acting, and living in-sync with the people we surround ourselves with. Whether it be through blood, brotherhood, or business, it is important to realize that many of your personal characteristics are simply a reflection of the teachings and influences of others.
It didn’t take long for me to realize children are like sponges, absorbing virtually all information shown to them and squeezing out the responses to the information. Much like a sponge, the dirt and grime sticks until the sponge is rinsed a few times. However, if the sponge is being used on a clean surface to begin with, there would be no need to rinse because it did not receive any negative information. By practicing a positive, supportive, and “clean” family environment, my partner and I pave avenues of success for our child. A potent, family-based ingredient to my personal foundation is key and it translates to my career and business each workday.
According to a large enterprise’s work space survey, 56% of their full-time employees answered, “I spend more time with my work family than my actual family.” Additionally, the study shows that 83% of U.S. employees agree that their work family makes them feel happier each day and 63% say they are more successful at work because of these close, family-like connections. It is also worth mentioning that currently, it is not uncommon to have a work spouse who resembles our significant other by practicing high levels of disclosure and support, mutual trust, honesty, loyalty and respect. In fact, the acknowledgment of these work-based relationships has increased year-over-year from 32% in 2006 to over 75% in 2017.
By enabling employees to build these relationships through family-oriented work spaces, we boost productivity and retention, thus equipping the company with a culture that allows us the opportunity to grow and scale happiness within the company from day one.
Reputation: When we set a goal, then later achieve that goal, we experience a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. This not only adds forward momentum to our life, but it builds a sense of confidence within ourselves and a ‘can do’ reputation among our peers. If we repeatedly cross milestones, our audience will witness our progression as we receive the rewards of doing so, thus creating a positive track record. I apply this process to parenting by setting goals for my son. At 3 years old, his goals are not complicated by any means. However, they do follow a structure of completing tasks toward achieving a goal, then receiving a reward for doing so. For example, as he tears apart his playroom during the day, I remind him that he must pick up all toys that were displaced (task) to make sure his playroom stays safe and clean (goal). If he does this, he will receive extra time in the tub with his toys, a glass of chocolate milk after dinner, or even some screen time (reward). By setting goals for him regularly, we provide more opportunity for him to experience fulfillment, but more importantly, we enable him to build a positive reputation among our family; knowing he is equipped with good habits and characteristics that will allow him to shine in the world.
Why reputation? Legacy? Honor and integrity? For starters, Forbes states “97% of business owners say online reputation management is important…” In fact, businesses risk losing 22% of potential business when customers see one negative [result] on the first page of a search. This should not come as a shocker to any of us because I predict we ALL fall subject to buying from a 4.8-star Amazon supplier over a 3-star. It is important that we meet deadlines and complete goals with integrity, honesty, and transparency. Having an 80% (4-star) rank may appear as a passing grade for many, but this ultimately results in eliminating thousands of dollars in potential business. By holding ourselves accountable for a positive reputation and aiming for a 95% rank starting day one, we drastically improve our sales, revenue, and performance over the life of our business.
Knowledge: The power of knowledge is backed by centuries of indisputable truth. The world’s most famous people and their innovative solutions derive from a vast amount of knowledge and insight. From Newton to Einstein, we know that knowledge acquired through education, experience, and the wisdom of others provides us with the capacity to solve everyday problems. In a western society, applying this ingredient to a foundation of growth doesn’t seem farfetched as we have access public schooling, university infrastructure, the internet, and extensive libraries of information in our pockets.
It is imperative that we utilize these tools to their fullest potential to obtain a high level of wisdom. From adding a bookshelf containing critical-thinking books with inviting illustrations to your children’s room, to assisting employees with tuition; seek to promote a continuous flow of knowledge and education from the beginning. This not only influences growth but improves your organization in many ways. In a 2016 survey, 79% of recipients said tuition assistance was an important or very important factor in joining their company, and 81% agreed that “their employer’s tuition assistance program makes them more likely to stay with the organization.” Additionally, analytics prove that industry training, coaching, and ramping efforts within a company increases productivity, results, and ROI. Developing an education plan and system, in any field, proves time and time again to be worth it’s weight in gold in the future.
Choosing to build upon a foundation made up of core ingredients sets us up for greater rewards in life. Each of us are responsible for defining how much of each ingredient to use for ourselves, our children and our businesses. Among family, reputation, and knowledge, I choose to build my life and career upon additional ingredients like a code of ethics, assets, ownership, competition, and more. When I feel like my career is shaking, my son is unhappy, or my life is beginning to crash downward, I step back and remind myself that I stand upon a solid foundation. Being mindful of this, I address challenges head on with the equipment necessary to grow and continue toward a goal of true success.
From the aspect of a new parent, a young business professional, and a musician…
What are your core ingredients for a solid foundation of growth?
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