All business leaders know that there are ups and downs, good times and slow times. Every business goes through these, no matter how big or small they are, or how well established. But, did you know that there are actually three different cycles affecting your business?
At our M500 event this week, I touched on these three cycles and thought it would be a great topic to dive a bit deeper into with you all this week.
So let's examine these three cycles and how they affect you and your business.
The first cycle most business owners think of is the economic cycle (the grey line). No matter how much we wish we could, we can’t control the economy.
In business, we follow the economic cycle whether we like it or not. This has its ups and downs, its peaks and troughs. Your business also has cycles – business cycles – which are shown by the dotted line in the diagram.
And if you think about those cycles and what this does for your emotions, you are also going to go on that ride (the black line) – the personal cycle. So, any business – and the people within that business – is dealing with these factors that are trying to push you and the business in different directions.
You will notice that these cycles do not coincide; that is, when your business cycle is up, your emotional cycle might be down. And when the economic cycle is down, your business cycle could be up.
So, how do you manage this? Is it possible to avoid these cycles? Unfortunately it’s not.
Of course, you can’t influence the economic cycle, nobody can – it’s too big and there are just too many variables. There will always be outside factors that affect your business that are out of your control, no matter how well prepared you are.
Governments change rules. New competitors start up. Clients can disappear. Such factors will influence your business cycle whether you like it or not.
And you’re a human being, so even with the best will and the best planning in the world, you too are going to have some ups and downs.
Even the fittest, strongest and most stable of us have up days and down days, or weeks, or sometimes even months.
This can be caused by events in your business or your personal life. None of us is immune to these potential problems. You can’t always plan for them but you do have to be aware they can happen.
If you’re having a good time at home and your energy and drivers are high, your business cycle will be high as a result. When there’s an economic cycle issue, if you are high in the emotional cycle you’ll weather the storm better, and your business cycle will remain largely unaffected.
This is where your energy comes from. So, if you can’t change these cycles, what options do you have to ensure they don’t get in the way of you becoming a Productivity Diamond?
To make sure that these cycles don’t have an adverse effect on you or your business, you must be aware of and under - stand – firstly – the economic drivers affecting your business and – secondly – your own emotional drivers.
This will allow you to recognise the factors that influence your business and so success - fully navigate these cycles.
Your economic and emotional drivers are related. Your emotional drivers can be about home and/or work. If you have a stable personal life and business life, your emotional drivers will power you both at home and in your business.
But if stuff at home is not so good you are going to bring it to work to some degree; we’re all human, after all. But, at the end of the day you have to push through.
For example, if you have some work being done by tradies at home, you must be able to persevere while you are at work and not be distracted. You must not let this emotional driver affect your business cycle.
This has a direct correlation with what turns up in relation to becoming a Productivity Diamond. Of course, if there’s a major calamity at home you must attend to this – nothing is more important than your loved ones – but you must be able to push through the daily life struggles that we all face, and not let them affect your work or energy levels.
Your economic drivers...
Your economic drivers are the factors you can control.
What is showing up on your scoreboard?
What are your economic goals, short term and long term?
How are you measuring success?
Do you really understand your figures at a deep and fundamental level?
How and why are your drivers fluctuating, and how is this reflecting in your business cycle?
You must understand the economic drivers of your business and what causes these fluctuations.
Managing your business cycle – which is unique to your business – is about being in tune with your scoreboard, the broader economy and your economic drivers. It’s about seeing what’s on the horizon and seeing what might trip you up, and preparing accordingly.
You need to understand the drivers of getting through the choke points that all businesses must deal with. You need to understand the outcomes of what you are doing each day and how that counts on your scoreboard. Without knowing what your economic drivers are, how will you know whether you are being truly productive?
There is one – and only one – measure of true productivity, and that is the economic outcome of what you are doing every minute of every day. Feeling like you are working hard and feeling like you are putting in the effort is admirable, but it means absolutely nothing if you have no economic results to show for it.
Remember, being busy is not the goal. Being productive in a measurable way is.
The more alignment you have with what drives your business cycle, the better you are going push through without being susceptible to the peaks and troughs. Nobody has a crystal ball, and that’s not the idea.
If you understand the economic drivers that affect your business, you can be in control and navigate the inevitable ups and downs while staying aligned to your purpose and your plan.
Your emotional drivers
To succeed in business you must understand the emotional drivers that are controlling what you do every day. If it were easy everybody would be doing it – but it doesn’t have to be hard.
There must be a greater purpose and there must be a greater connection with why you are in business and why are you leading this business. If you don’t have strong personal drivers you cannot grow your economic drivers – they are inextricably linked. Success in business comes from being confident and in control.
It’s not about being happy go lucky. It’s about being clear and staying true and aligned to your outcomes, avoiding negativity and understanding that everything you do in your business will result in an outcome that can be measured with a number.
It’s not just about we finally got here. It’s about the journey to get to those outcomes.
Achieving productivity and reaching your goals is a longer game, and if you don’t have the energy and emotional drivers to be pushing through you won’t get there.
Ultimately you need a strong purpose and strong passion to push you through. Your why must be strong. With the right emotional drivers, every activity, every task and every minute that you put into your activity will push towards a bigger outcome.
Your job is to understand what that outcome is and what steps you need to take to reach it. If you don’t have the emotional strength and energy to keep pushing towards your goals and milestones, the chances are you won’t get to your economic outcomes.
It’s a game of consistency. Productivity is not about being brilliant this week and not so good next week. It’s not, ‘Let’s settle in on Monday, and Tuesday we’ll get going’.
It’s about having the will and the desire to be at your best all the time, because you have a reason behind what you are doing. It’s about energy management. Those who are succeeding in business know this.
How are you engaged and keeping aligned to your purpose and plan? What are your drivers? Why do you get out of bed every day? What’s pushing you forward, and what’s going to give you the strength and the will to persevere when others do not?
Punching through the distractions. Pushing through the interruptions. Staying focused and in control. It’s your personal cycle and your ability to manage it that’s going to make you more productive.
It’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the most adaptable.
Those who can control their personal cycle and become students of managing it end up winning the game. There’s no such thing as a bad business. It’s about the people and their ability to push through, to be consistent, to stay the course. You have to push on and have your energy high, when things are tough and when things are fantastic.
It’s not about being a flat line or being unemotional, it’s about being aware of the cycles and being in control. Businesses fail every day, sometimes due to a lack of planning, sometimes due to a lack of skill.
But sometimes, businesses simply fail because of a lack of will. Even with the best skill and planning, without the will and emotional drivers to push through the challenges, a business is going nowhere.
The more you invest in yourself and your people, the better the outcomes will be, and sooner than you think. This is how to improve the personal cycle.
This is what takes us to a higher level. How much time do you spend each day in improvement mode, or do you do it after work hours? Very early or late? Isn’t that interesting, that we spend time on improvement outside of what we consider productive time?
You need to understand both to succeed
I can have the money in the bank and some wins in the economic drivers, but if I’m not emotionally attached to something that’s going somewhere, if I’m not driving something towards a bigger and better and more sustainable outcome, my energy and focus are going to take a dip.
I’ll be more easily distracted and interrupted. If I hate what I’m doing each day and I’m bordering on depression because this is not what I want to be doing, my mojo and my energy are going to be low, no matter what the economic outcomes.
Or, the opposite is that the money is not showing up but you have the enthusiasm. In this case, your energy is still going to be low, because nobody can keep putting in the effort over the long term if the rewards are not showing up.
So, keeping your energy up is not just about the numbers, it’s about the numbers plus the emotional drivers.
You need to be aware of and understand both to succeed. Think back to the Five Ps; profit is the ultimate goal, but it won’t come without a strong purpose.
If your economic and emotional drivers are aligned, then your energy to get on with it and push through in the toughest times will be at a higher level. If you need to push through and not get stuck, you need to be pushed by your economic and emotional drivers. To succeed at any level of business you must have something driving you.
If it’s just that you want to earn money so that you can pay the bills and put a roof over your head, that’s usually enough to get you out of bed and at your workplace by 9 am each day.
But, if you want to become a true business leader, and if you want your business to be the best in your industry, you’re going to need more than just money to drive you. Wanting or needing money will get you out of bed, but it won’t help you push yourself and your business to the next level of achievement. For that you need a truly inspiring purpose that you genuinely believe in.
In next week's article, I'm going to continue talking about your drivers and how they influence the biggest killer of our time - procrastination.
Power to you this week!
Founder, CEO - Business Benchmark Group
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Stefan Kazakis on 5 May 2018
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