This post was originally published on this site January 2010, but still very relevant today!
I recently came across an interesting discussion in one of the social networking groups that I found quite intriguing, and downright enjoyable to read. It wasn’t about franchising. Nothing about social media. There was no mention of business. Money or finances weren’t a major part of the equation. And, surprisingly, just a few mentions about the poor economy. The discussion was actually about the concept of dreams and goals. It was enlightening that there were over one hundred responses in a relatively short period of time. Definitely a considerable amount when compared to other discussions within the same group. Often, the responses were being posted one right after the other. It seemed like people wanted to talk about their dreams and goals, almost as if they had been prohibited from doing so before.
In light of the economic troubles surrounding us today, it seems the subject of dreams and goals has hibernated like bears for winter. During good times, dreams and goals are out in the open, shared by many. Actually bragged about by some, and the end results, often materialistic, flaunted by others. It’s ironic that we’re taught that in order to achieve a goal, a key element in doing so is to enlist the assistance of people that can help us achieve the goal. Yet, in the current economic climate, discussions about dreams and goals have subsided, and almost disappeared. It’s almost like we feel guilty to have such discussions at this time. Or, that we should just be thankful for what we have and dismiss our dreams and goals as frivolous. What about the dreams and goals that are not financially driven or rewarding? Why have they been put on the back burner? Well, to all of this, I say “enough is enough.” Yes, enough of the poor me attitudes. Enough of the pity parties. And, enough of the social “rubbernecking.” (Social rubbernecking is when people excitedly talk about other people’s miseries – i.e. neighbor lost his job, their house was foreclosed on, he was having an affair – it’s just like slowing down to look at the horrific car wreck!)
NOW is definitely the time to put all the negatives aside and re-ignite the passion behind our dreams. It’s the perfect time to pull out those lists of goals and remember why we wrote them down in the first place. Why they’re important. How they’re important to people close to us. And, how our lives would be positively affected upon achieving our goals and making our dreams come true. Certainly, it’s time to face the realization that it’s up to us to make our dreams and goals a reality. They’re ours. We own them. No one can take them from us. To paraphrase a quote I’ve seen many times (in many different forms) in discussions about success, “There are people that make things happen, some that watch things happen, and others that wonder what the hell happened?” Could you tell which group of people are most successful at achieving their goals and making their dreams come true?
Yes, progress is being made and franchising is being recognized more and more by American Express in their Small Business Saturday efforts. When launched in 2010, franchises were not included in Small Business Saturday, being excluded with a specific clause in Small Business Saturday literature to merchants interested in participating in the new program. I was definitely surprised and although we still have a way to go I’m happy to say the past two years have seen franchises included in the list participating businesses. And that is great!
When I first realized franchising had been excluded I was quite surprised. Sure, as many are aware, I did flood the social media space with several blog posts about franchising being excluded. No need to regurgitate that any further and I’m not including links to those posts here as American Express did respond, and in a very positive way. They truly wanted to learn more about franchising and its role in small business today and I was more than willing to help. You see, despite the role American Express plays in business today and despite the fact that AMEX executives are very well-educated and understand business, they had huge misperceptions about franchising. Several of the AMEX executives I met with actually thought all franchises were just like McDonald’s – big and powerful! They also incorrectly thought McDonald’s and other [large] franchisors paid for all advertising on behalf of its franchisees. Thus, they excluded franchising, thinking all along that all franchisees had it made in the shade over independent small business owners.
Well, I was happy to share many statistics about franchising and the fact that many franchisees are the same Mom & Pop operators that built their businesses on Main Street USA. Just like many independent small business owners, they have invested their life savings in pursuit of the American Dream. And just like small business owners everywhere, they continue to fight off big box retailers and department stores alike for a slice of every dollars expended by today’s consumer.
Fortunately, American Express listened, and I was quite impressed. Unfortunately, and to my dismay things did not move along as quickly as I would have liked and although progress was made and franchising was included, but limited in the subsequent years since 2010, I was extremely anxious and wanted full inclusion for franchising, and I wanted it now! What I was missing and fully realize now, thanks in part to Tom Epstein, CEO at Franchise Payments Network, is that American Express, albeit a huge organization has a difficult time making abrupt changes to programs as there are many considerations… many financial ones that I had not even considered such as the sheer cost of marketing materials, just to name one of many.
In any event, I was excited to see Tom contribute to the effort of getting franchising more involved in Small Business Saturday. He has spent a great deal of time learning as much as he could from his various contacts at American Express. I believe the efforts are paying off and will continue to do so year after year. Others within the franchise community, including the International Franchise Association have contributed as well, and I applaud their efforts. Speaking of the IFA, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for all they do in promoting franchising as without those ongoing efforts we’d truly be dead in the water. You see, just as American Express promotes “Membership has its Privileges” so, does membership in the IFA.
So, on this Small Business Saturday, let’s pull out those AMEX cards, whether they be green, gold, platinum, blue, plum or black and spend away at small businesses across our great nation. Happy shopping!
I do believe, in many cases, the level of business success contributes to the decision on whether or not a high performer is let go because their style is detrimental to the culture. In the case of a high performer in a business that is barely making it, that high performer probably stays. This situation works for the immediate time being but not for long-term growth. It’s difficult to build a team in this scenario. A high performer with a bad attitude in an environment with other high performers, probably should go. But not without trying to get the person in line first. Bad attitudes are detrimental to team building. However, often times a bad attitude actually develops as a result of how people are treated by management, or by a particular manager. There are various other scenarios as well.
Culture lives and breathes in all organizations. It must be nurtured – fed and taken care of. If sick, the virus causing the sickness must be addressed. In the case of cancer, it must be identified, isolated and removed – making sure to properly treat closely affected areas to be sure of total elimination. If healthy, it must continue to be fortified – an immune system built and new well-being programs developed.
At the end of the day, Culture is a work in progress! It must be fluid. It must fill in the cracks and gaps, and reach it’s own level. It must be understood by all. It must be allowed to grow. But, it must be managed. The key is whether you do so reactively or proactively!
Recently, I read an interesting article about strategy and its affect on culture. Key paragraphs and link to the article follows…
Does strategy matter?
If you do not think that it matters then you are in good company. There are many who question the value of strategy. And I see many companies where there is no formal strategy; the informal strategy is to keep doing what has worked in the past or to chase what is fashionable today.
Strategy v Execution
When it comes to questioning strategy there are two schools that are particularly prominent. First, there is the school of execution. The execution school which says that strategy is waste of time. Why? Because strategies are generic-obvious and what matters is execution. The ability to turn strategy into the daily live of the organization. Clearly, there is some truth in this school. Strategy which cannot be operationalized is waste of time-resource.
Strategy v Culture
Then there is the school that says “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Yes, culture is powerful. Culture determines what gets done and how it gets done. A strategy that does not take into account the fit with culture will meet lots of resistance. Getting people to enact such a strategy will be like fighting a guerilla war with an enemy who is patient and cunning. What is forgotten is that culture can be and is influenced-shaped-shifted through strategy.
To see strategy and culture as being separate and distinct is a gross misunderstanding. This misunderstanding arises due to our reductionist-analytical thinking. Strategy and culture are interlinked. Put differently, if you change strategy, you will take actions that will influence the culture. And if you change culture it will eventually influence the strategy.
Read more HERE.
According to author, Kris Dunn in her blog post, Keys to Developing Corporate Culture, “Corporate culture is all about really what you value as a company, what you value in terms of how you serve your customers, how business gets done, and what you value from a performance perspective across your talent base.” Although he concedes that there is no single definition that could be overlaid across all of corporate America, Dunn stresses that, at its core, culture represents the manifestation of the guiding principles that underpin every part of your company.
“Like style,” Dunn says, “you kind of know good culture when you see it.”
Culture is less about “free soda and ping pong tables” and more about performance, Dunn argues. Keeping a fun workplace atmosphere may be part of the image that your company presents, but what culture should actually be built on is an unrelenting focus on factors that “create a DNA map of the type of employee that a company looks for.” Find the characteristics that lead to high-performing team members, and your company becomes stronger and more successful.
Recently, I shared Dunn’s blog on within the Franchise Executives group on LinkedIn and posed the questions, “What are your thoughts on developing corporate culture? Would you be willing to let go of top performers if their management style is detrimental to your culture?” Here’s what various members of the group had to say…
“There is no question that any company is only as strong as their weakest link. Too many leaders wait too long before they let poor performers or those with poor attitudes go. They are afraid of legal repercussions or more commonly, those “difficult conversations.” The biggest error is not clearly knowing and expressing the caliber of work expected from the team, giving the team the tools to be successful, and them holding them to account. Leaders don’t consistently document performance. They wing it. Just because someone is in charge doesn’t mean he or she has the knowledge or training on how to create and implement a company culture that endures and helps the company thrive.” – Nancy Fox
“In our business, not one person can be above the values or culture that we have established. Most franchises, good ones at least, have that culture built into the fabric of their operations and in everything that they do. It’s one of the reasons that people invest in therm. It is what helps make them successful. I have had to relieve some top performers before because their method or interpretation of our culture was not in alignment with what was important at the client level and the staff/store level. It looks on paper like it may be painful to the business, but in each case it was the best decision for the business. Ours is an owner/investor model so day to day is run by an on site manager so it isn’t always apparent at the 5000 foot view. To answer the question above, if members of our management teams at the store level is not in alignment with our culture and they are successful, it is generally in spite of themselves and our stores and staff are bigger than any one individual or leader. Make the move and upgrade.” – Bob Chelberg
“If the answer is no, then you have no culture, and culture doesn’t matter to you. Being a top performer is a part of our culture. Diversity is part of our culture. Acceptance of diversity is part of our culture, but style isn’t culture. If style is part of your culture, maybe your culture is superficial? We used to call that an office full of empty suits. If diversity, acceptance of diversity, and being a top performer aren’t important cornerstones of your culture, you may have a dysfunctional culture. The answer has to be yes. It’s a trick question, Right?” – Steve Davidson
There are many more interesting comments in the LinkedIn discussion that may be accessed HERE.
Last year on Facebook I asked the question, “How do you define entrepreneurship?” To my surprise the discussion was quite vibrant as there were over 25 responses, a few exchanges for further clarification, numerous likes, and really some great perspective into entrepreneurship. Below please find some of the responses (and subsequent comments to other responses). I’ve only included responses from franchise professionals. So, if you would like to emulate their success in franchising, this might be a good place to start, or at least gain some insight into their way of thinking. Upon reading the same, please share your thoughts about entrepreneurship. Thanks.
How do you define entrepreneurship?
Stan Friedman – My favorite definition has always been as follows: “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people WON’T, so that you can live the rest of your life, like most people CAN’T.”
Ashley Graham – Entrepreneur: Anyone who takes the napkin drawing, turns it into something they are proud of and their business can actually run without them.
JoAnn Lombardi – Someone that is willing to endure risk to take responsibility of their financial future.
MaryAnn O’Connell – A dreamer who is willing to take risks. It has nothing to do with success – that’s an entirely different definition.
Nick Gugliuzza – I love all of the above. But to me it all comes down to money. It’s someone who took a financial risk to run there own business and who gets a well deserved financial reward at the end of the day. It’s the old risk to reward theory. Lets face it that’s what drives entrepreneurs. It’s all about the money. No apology necessary. Lol.
Georgina O’Hara – Money drives some more than others. For many it is the satisfaction of seeing an idea “take hold” and create “value” however that is ultimately defined. That part is more personal. Risk is inherent. Work is necessary. Success. Failure. All elements to be navigated. For some the journey itself is important. For others, yes, it’s just about the money.
MaryAnn O’Connell – (additional comment) There are many entrepreneurs who have tried and failed financially. That does not strip them of the title. And there are many who “deserved” a financial reward, but for many reasons, didn’t get it. Most often, in franchising, the founders were entrepreneurs: they had vision, passion and enough sense to get the business to a level that attracted others. Then great business managers took it over the finish line. So, again, I think we have to separate the idea from the result when defining these terms.
Amy Nichols – Executing your idea!
David Leoncavallo – A person who believes in all things, hopes in all things, bears all things, and endures all things.
Nick Gugliuzza – (additional comment) Again all great answers in response to a thought provoking question. I’m a BIG FAN of Shark Tank which airs on Friday nights. One of the Sharks has a favorite saying. That is “It’s all about the money”. You see an entrepreneur who tries and fails, although admirable, is not called an entrepreneur they’re called BROKE. I know this sounds cold but the point of going into business is to make money. If you don’t do that you’re out of business and again you’re called a failure not an entrepreneur. Any half head can start a business but it takes a true entrepreneur to stay in business. I hope I’m not offending anyone. I’m just sayin.
JoAnn Lombardi – (additional comment) Yes Nick, we don’t like to crush anyone’s hope and dreams. But in my opinion….only. Many people file bankruptcy a few times before they become a success. Look at Donald trump, he failed and failed again and is a success in his own right and he is one of many. Same goes for marriages…and I am not a pro at this topic, but many people fail in marriages but keep looking for their soul mate and someday find it because they believe that opportunity is out there for them to seize and they never give up. I believe it is the will to keep moving and be passionate for what you want to achieve and being resourceful that guides you to success and resembles the character of being an entrepreneur. My two cents…
Nick Gugliuzza – (additional comment) How does that saying go? “If at first you don’t succeed try try again.” When that passionate would be entrepreneur does finally succeed at becoming profitable then I’m willing to award them the crown of entrepreneurship. Before that happens all they have is a hope, a dream and a prayer. Make no mistake I soooo applaud those with the guts to try and I applaud even louder for those who have tried and failed and tried and failed again only to become a success in a future endeavor. I love that spirit. It comes from the deepest depths of their heart’s and souls. How can one not admire that spirit. It’s the American Way. I love this exchange. What a great thread. Thanks Paul Segreto.
JoAnn Lombardi – (additional response) Right on! I’m glad to have participated and be better bonded with my friends. Good night all…Big business day tomorrow…Let’s make some M.O.N.E.Y!
Paul Segreto – Somehow or another we should take into the equation a quote at EvanCarmichael.com – “As entrepreneurs we should be proud of what we create.” – Evan Carmichael – so, how much does “creation” play into entrepreneurship?
Liberty Harper – Creation is the foundation…the Entrepreneur is the creator and the risk taker (not just financially but emotionally, reputation, etc) but the Entrepreneur is also passionate so the the risk is minimized by the passion as their laser focus overcomes perceived obstacles….
Georgina O’Hara – (additional response) Isn’t the “creation” of an enterprise and “creativity” all ways of describing nuances of the same thing? Just as entrepreneur is related, these days to the word enterprise. Isn’t “an enterprising entrepreneur” a redundancy as much as a “creative creation”?
Steven Greenbaum – One day, you wake up after pursuing your passion and vision with little regard for risk or the downside and find that you have built an incredible business. The thought of being an entrepreneur never crossed your mind. The fear of failure, never a consideration. Competition, economic crisis, managing change; all opportunities to compete and improve. You live for this stuff, — you thrive.
Ivan Widjaya – Entrepreneur = someone who is willing to continuously learn for better ways to solve problems.
Lee Plave – Someone with a vision, drive, a willingness to undertake risk, and the passion to see it through.
Greg Krikorian – I enjoyed reading all the meaningful comments. There are words that we always hear when the conversation is about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship (i.e Risk, passion, failure, money etc..) in my opinion we are all born with qualities of undertaking risks, rising from falls and failures, and passion to live and succeed. We all have them in our instincts; I would call it entrepreneurial spirit. All these qualities will come into play when and only: One (an entrepreneur) desires to do something no one else done it before, or a desire to achieve more than others thought possible; by doing a change and playing a game they will love, the business game. And of course the money will come at the end as a reward and the fruit of the hard work. Thanks Paul for sharing.
Tim Tanner – All of these philosophical/high level definitions of entrepreneurship are correct. Entrepreneurship means something different to each and every one of us. After all, no two entrepreneurial journeys are equal. Having worked for myself for 14 years and with a start-up for 5 years prior to that, I’d like to break it down to what entrepreneurship means to the crazy microcosm called my brain. To me, an entrepreneur believes in Possibilities (of something). An entrepreneur has the vision and burning desire to find a need and fill it. An entrepreneur has the cajones to not only talk about it but “just do it”. He/she has the guts to sell himself and his dream. He/she has a real commitment to quality and customer service. A true entrepreneur is money motivated but not money driven, and he/she understands and accepts that he is the last person to get paid at the end of the day. And finally, a true entrepreneur is willing to swallow his/her pride no matter how successful he gets, and constantly listen and learn from others.
Greg Kopchuk – Someone who makes something happen and gets it done, starting with nothing!
Lonnie Helgerson – A clinically insane person with a dose of ADD. Add two parts insecurity, ten parts passion, ten parts creativity. Mix well with five cases of aggression and perseverance. Spice liberally with vision, positive attitude, and a dash of ignorance. Serve on a large platter of hope and courage. Wash down meal with gallons of adrenalin. Repeat recipe.
Lonnie Helgerson – (additional response) It was easy… I just described myself! LOL