Why Self-awareness is Crucial for Small & Local Business Owners?

Growing up, my dad always told me not to waste time. He forbid me to watch TV, take singing, dancing, painting classes because he believed working on various academic subjects were more worthy of my time, and that I should stay focused on my academics.  In general the Chinese culture values time and money equally and compares them in literature: “一寸光阴一寸金, 寸金难买寸光阴 (Time is money, an ounce of gold will not buy an interval of time).”

I strongly agree with this saying. But when I was still a preschooler, I unknowingly allowed the time to pass. When I was asked to practice Chinese calligraphy, I was thinking of playing outside. When I was forced to work on extra Math problems, I was thinking of watching TV.  By the end of any studying period, I didn’t make much progress, because I didn’t finish what supposed to be finished at a certain time period. I was aimless without a focus.

Once I was older I was able to control when to study what, and I realized that it was more about specific schedule planning, self-reflection, and implementation, which led to my many accomplishments.

Moreover, this realization brought me the awareness to easily spot a situation when a person is lacking efficiency.  For example, the owner of a Japanese grocery store I like to shop at provides excellent service.  He always separates items and puts them in different bags according to the categories such as frozen food, can foods, boxes, etc.  Sometimes he carries the bags to my car after I check out.  It is O.K. when I am the only customer, and it slows down the checkout process when there are two or more customers waiting to check out.  He should skip this step when there are more customers while providing the extra service when there is no one waiting in line.  I would completely understand as a customer if he does it and I imagine most of his customers will also understand.

The other day, I was talking with  Joe Stauffacher, he gave me two examples that highlight the mindset of a small business owner.  One small business owner who owns an electrical business might spend a lot of his time fixing the electrical problems, which is a job for an electrician. And as the business owner their time might be better spent on thinking of and building sales, increasing more customers and marketing strategies.

The other example is that some small business owners tend to easily hire a person without proper training on sales and the business process, so eventually when a customer comes, they have to do most of the talking and selling for the person hired to do that job. Their businesses are O.K., yet these business owners have created a job for themselves vs being a strategic thinker.  To have a big picture point of view, starting a small business is not about simply creating a job for yourself, it has a more meaningful mission to serve others – creating more jobs for people and sadly, far too often they fail to do so successfully.

A change will make a difference.

Do you know what percentage of American businesses are small businesses?

They represent more than 99.7% of all employers!

Over 50% of the working population (120 million individuals) works in a small businesses,

and have generated over 65% of the new jobs since 1995.

The small businesses are actually the backbone of the nation’s economy.  For any small business owners, you should feel proud of yourself, no matter if you are a one person employer, or if you are hiring 20+ people, you are creating jobs for the country. If you make a minor change, it will first have positive impact on yourself, your business, your community, and possibly even your industry nationwide or globally.

Here are the areas I would suggest is best for small business owners to apply their attention and focus.

Time Management

Due to the limitation of financial resources, small business owners usually need to take care of most aspects of the business. Some of them get caught up in day-to-day tasks because they feel they are responsible for everything.

With appropriate time management it’s possible to become more productive by making some adjustments.

  • Start tracking how you spend your day
  • Begin to notice where you are focused, are you paying attention to boosting your sales
  • Find where you waste your time
  • Start to assign a minor task on the time slot when you tend to waste time, then gradually move to more important ones
  • For yourself and your team: create a daily schedule, a checklist for the week, and be sure to set intentions each month
  • For example, decide on and divide the tasks needed to do for the following week the Friday before
  • Prioritize and finish the most important/urgent task first
  • Delegate the tasks you don’t know, don’t have the professional skills, or don’t have to do
  • Focus on the professional development of yourself and your team, which will directly boost growth

 

Build a Team

Hire the right person who has the right behaviors and is capable of the necessary skills.  Create a list of behaviors and discover if the potential hire has them. Often business owners hire based on skills and in reality the person has the wrong behavior and personality to fit the position.

Hire the right person who has the right attitude and that alone will help to attract more customers. Here are two articles explaining this idea: Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill; Hire for Attitude.

Let’s discuss how personality affects the team.  Sometimes the employees’ advantageous personalities will complement the employers’ dormant personalities and other times they will cause friction with the employers’.  Some organizations use Gallup Strength Finder Test or DISC assessments.

I personally have found Fascinate speaks to me.  For example, according to Sally Hogshead’s Fascination Personality Test,  Joe is the Maverick leader who has innovation and power as his main advantages while I am the Intrigue with mystique and passion. And Joe’s main focus is to build authority to cause positive changes.  While I focus on getting things done. That is to say, he like to see things from a marco and ideal point of view while mine is more micro and practical. We complement each other in work productively because of our different personalities.

No matter how many people you supervise, I suggest you and your employees take this test and read Sally’s book to discover the combination of personalities amongst your team.  Understanding the employers’ and employees’ personalities will improve the dynamic of your business. This helped us, Joe and I, to be better communicators and have greater understanding for one another, even we are from different cultures (American and Chinese).

Another thing I have noticed is that some men have better working relationships if they work with women, while some naturally bond well with other men. And some women are more productive if led by other women, and some are more creative if led by men. You can probably determine which case is true by taking various factors into consideration, such as how people are raised, what are the core values they believe, or how they view the world.

For example, if a man who views the world more like a woman, he might have better understanding of the situation working with a woman in in a working environment or some difficulties for getting her job done caused by her personal life. He might be more likable than the other male employees in his organization, and form a more harmonious working relationship with women.

Here is a picture about how man and woman world views differ, hope you will find it useful.

Cited from Page 82, Why She Buys, Bridget Brennan
Cited from Page 82, Why She Buys, Bridget Brennan

 

All in all, factors I mentioned earlier influence their behaviors, thinking and decision making.

A great resource if you are looking to hire or get help finding an employee to match your personality with the right behavior and attitude to fill a position is Fail Proof Hiring.

 

Inspire Others

Think about those who inspire you, they actually build their personal brands, which inspire people in all kinds of ways. For example, I follow Tony Robbins on YouTube because his speeches sometimes encourage me and make me feel more confident. If he wants to sell me a product, I am more likely to purchase from him because I find him inspiring.

Consider how your business inspires others in your community. Does receiving your service or using your products inspire the person to feel better, proud, or help them deliver a better self-image to other people? Do you give useful advice to your customers when they seek for your suggestion?

Case in point, Joe aligns his brand with bigger ideas, healthy lifestyle, and a pure political philosophy.  His mission is to edify ethical, empathetic, and ecological business practices.  If you follow him on Instagram or Facebook you will see many posts expressing these three ideas.

He has the willpower to drink juice about every day for many years. He clearly states his political position to people he meets while at the same time respecting others political preference and beliefs. His constant doing of a minor thing for a long time shows people that he is worthy to follow, which gains good reputation for his business.

He has a real passion for helping alternative health practitioners market their 5 Star Reputation in their local community online.

And this is what I believe.

The effect from self-awareness and those positive changes don’t happen overnight, it takes time, energy and concentration. But you will see how growth of yourself leads to the growth of your business and the world around you.

 

Here is  a self-awareness test → Click on me

 

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