“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Are you afraid to launch into a new business or product because you are waiting to get everything 100% ready?

I have seen so many people sit on great ideas without ever getting started. When I ask why this is the case, there are some standard answers I hear; like:

  1. I am waiting to have everything in place first;
  2. I am waiting for the right time;
  3. My circumstances don’t suit;
  4. There is a risk that it won’t work etc…

My answer to all of these questions and what you should be asking yourself if you are in the same boat:

  1. When will be the right time?
  2. What circumstances are you waiting for? Have you ever had these circumstances in your life?
  3. What if it does work?
  4. Can you start with an 80% solution and test the market?

It is so important to challenge yourself or to have someone ready to challenge you on some of these issues to ensure you are not holding back a $1 million idea due to fear. Tony Robbins says that our nervous system is wired to make avoiding pain more important to us than seeking pleasure. This means that I will go to greater extents not to feel failure rather than working hard to reach success.

I think it will be reassuring to know that most great businesses started with an 80% solution, we never know when the right time will come all we know is that we have time now, and if you are committed and work hard at reaching your goals there is no other alternative but to attain them.

John Nasr



“The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.”
Brian Tracy


Yesterday I had the pleasure of addressing a group of very successful business people in Melbourne on the mindset of success. We discussed several issues but the main point of conversation was conscious focus.

From our discussion, I found that there was a correlation between business growth and what the business owner was focused on. I found that the business owners that were focussed on solutions, new ideas and how much potential their business had, were moving towards business growth easier. The business owners that were focused on the bad economy or how difficult it was to motivate their staff, found it difficult to change or grow their business.

This got me thinking about a concept in human behaviour called “What you focus on is what you get”. Research and experience has found that the object of our focus can turn into reality if we are persistent and committed to it. This is because, when our mind focuses on something, it tends to delete or generalise everything else. Imagine that you are in a dark room and you turn on a torch which lights up a small area of the room that is dirty and cluttered. What would your subconscious mind assume about the rest of the room? Your mind will shape your experience based on what you are focused on, which in this case is dirt and clutter!

As I read further into this subject, I found that many successful business people have a few shared concepts they consciously focus on which they believe is a key to their success and I thought it would be beneficial to share with you:

  1. Abundance – Successful people focus on abundance rather than scarcity. They believe that there is abundance in the world and plenty to go around. This focus on abundance allows them not to fear losing out to a competitor or giving too much value to a customer. It helps them focus on creating value for their customers (rather than just profit) by giving them more than they pay for. This attitude automatically takes care of their competitors and their customers keep coming back for their service or product time and time again.
  2. Strengths and Experience – Successful people focus on their strengths and experience rather than their limitations and excuses.  They ask, what am I good at and how can I use that to grow my business? Focusing on your weaknesses will only hold back innovation and great ideas. Know your weakness but don’t focus on them!
  3. What they already have –they focus on the good that they have, rather than what is missing. They are grateful for the present rather than fearful or anxious about the future. They focus on the resources they have that they can use to grow their business.
  4. The Now – Successful people don’t spend time daydreaming about how successful they can become in the future. They develop a vision and then focus on the now and what needs to be done to achieve that vision.

The question that we as business people must ask ourselves is; if it is true that what we focus on is what we get, than wouldn’t we rather focus on the fundamentals of growing our business rather than the bad economy, the bad staff or the troublesome customers?




“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

 William Shakespeare


Are you reluctant to make tough business decisions because you don’t know what the future holds?

Are you asking yourself too many “what if” questions when opportunity presents, that you are driving opportunity away?

This is a common trend among too many small business owners. Every business owner wants to see their business grow but only few realize their full potential because they are too uncomfortable with change and the uncertainty it brings. I have seen so many businesses sabotage their growth potential because they are reluctant to hire people they don’t know or invest their cash flow back into a new marketing strategy; just in case it doesn’t work!

Change is a necessity in an economy driven by rapid technological change

If you as a business person are not looking for ways to change, improve and grow, guess what will happen? Your competitors will take more and more of that valuable market share! Like Ray Kroc said, “in business you’re either green and growing, or you’re ripe and rotting”.

How can you as a business owner learn to embrace uncertainty?

1. Understand where the feeling of fear comes from

2. Change your habits

3. Develop support resources


Overcoming Fear of the Unknown Future

Fear of the unknown future usually arises due to a fear of losing something we currently have or value. It is a natural reaction that the ego uses to protect us from perceived danger. This natural defense mechanism was extremely helpful in primitive times where we had to survive in the wild against beasts and wild animals.  However, in the modern era most of the wild animals that threaten our future survival are the fictitious threats in our head. The fear we work up within ourselves through doubt filled self talk. 

You might fear losing control of your business by hiring someone you don’t know. You might fear losing cash flow if the new product doesn’t work etc…

If you’re stuck in this scenario, I recommend that you ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is the worst that can happen?

2. Can I live with that?

3. What is a possible great outcome?

4. How would that make me feel?

Change your habits

Habits are patterns of behavior that we have taken time and effort to build which keep our worlds stable but at the same time create barriers to change. In order to embrace uncertainty and make decisions to change aspects of your business you must first identify the habits that will stop you from making this change.

Ask yourself:

1. Are there things I routinely do that I need to change to accommodate this business change (this could be as simple as no longer going to work in casual clothes)?

2. How have these habits been helping me or stabilizing my life?

3. What can I replace these habits with that will help me reach my goals



Develop sufficient Support Resources

As a business owner the more resources you have at your disposal the more in control you feel, the easier it is to overcome the fear and change your habits.

The more resourceful you feel before starting a task the more likely it will succeed.

To help you identify resources ask yourself:

1. Who are the people around me who will support?

2. How can they support me?

3. Do I have a mentor or coach that can help?

4. What processes are in place that would help? (e.g. insurance, procedures etc…)?

5. What are the skills that I have that will make this a success?

6. What are the skills others on the team bring that will make this a success?

7. What research do I have or can I do? Do I have a written plan?

Seminar flyer #3

One powerful tool often used by BIG business to boost productivity and improve outcomes is the use of Teams.

Teams are a small group of people (or staff) with complementary skills, who are committed to a common goal or purpose, set of performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves accountable (Katzenbach &Smith 1993).

Other essential elements of a team is that they have knowledge of each other, a skill to work together, trust, commitment and a shared identity.  Teams are held together by their interdependence and the need to collaborate to achieve a common goal.

Typically teams are set up in large organisations such as the military, hospitals, government organisations, production or R&D facilities.  They can be used for many and varied purposes such as assembling a product, providing a service, solving a clients problem, developing a new product or searching for new opportunities.

There is however great merit in using these same models in small business :

One of my clients for example is using a Team to roll out a new IT operations system in their business.  The Production, Installation and Administration managers, along with the external consultant have formed a Team to make sure the rollout is carried out in the best possible manner.

Each person brings complementary skills to the table, and coming together for this specific task they have provided huge benefits to the rollout.  There is a schedule, a plan, accountability and all aspects of the business are represented to make sure mistakes are limited and the rollout proceeds the best possible way.

This means that the business owner is free to overview the process relying on the depth of the business to carry out the actual work and make the best decisions.

Using teams in small business allows for a broader spectrum of problem solving, and if knowledgeable people are brought to the decision making process, mistakes are limited and a greater level of possibilities can be uncovered.  It gives individuals more accountability and this can improve job satisfaction.


So if you have a problem, task or a new initiative in your business, consider putting together a team… it could be beneficial and increase the speed, efficiency, quantity and quality of the outcome.

This morning I watched intently as referrals and closed business was being handed over and passed around with enthusiasm amongst our BNI Hawthorn Chapter. I couldn’t help noticing the smiles of those giving and those receiving. This got me thinking on the way home- just what goes into making people trust each other? Members wouldn’t give referrals or do business with each other unless they trusted each other right? If we increased the trust amongst our members would we refer more? Just how can we help people trust us more? Here are some principals I found from research.
1. Mistrust drives out Trust.      People who are trusting show their trust by increasing their openness to others, giving away little bits of information about themselves, expressing their true intentions. People who mistrust don’t do that. They hide information to take advantage of others. This causes trusting people to defend against being exploited and they are driven to mistrust.
2. Mistrust generally reduces productivity.      Although we can’t say for sure that trust increases productivity (although it usually does), mistrust almost always reduces productivity. That’s because people who don’t trust each other focus their attention on the differences between each other making it difficult to visualise common goals. They respond by concealing information and secretly pursuing their own interests. This doesn’t work in a networking situation particularly BNI because it goes against the Givers Gain philosophy.
3. Mistrusting Groups self destruct:    When group members mistrust each other they repel or separate. The pursuit of their own interests and not that of the group, being suspicious of each other and being constantly on guard against being exploited tends to undermine and in the end destroy the group. That’s why successful networking groups almost always have a high level of trust between members.
4. Trust Begets Trust:     Showing trust in others encourages reciprocal behaviour. A good suggestion if you’re the trusting type is to offer trust in small increments, limiting the loss that might occur if trust is exploited. This is why regularly meeting at BNI works so well -there are weekly opportunities to develop trust with your members.
5. Trust increases cohesion:     Trust holds people together – it means that people have the confidence that they can rely on each other. If one person needs help, that person knows that there are others there to fill in. If the group faces adversity then members who display trust in each other will work together and exert high levels of effort to achieve the group’s goals.
6. Trust with an emotional connection.    The highest levels of trust come when there is an emotional connection between group members. Trust is formed because the parties understand each other’s intentions and appreciate the others wants and desires. This mutual understanding is developed to the point that each person can act for the other. At BNI this is the Givers Gain philosophy, if you trust your fellow members in your chapter by really getting to know their business needs you’ll find it easier to refer work to them. You gain by giving of your trust to them and gaining theirs. You work for them and they work for you to get business.
So there you have it- be trustworthy, trust others, and reap the benefits.

Ref: Robbins, Judge, Millet & Walters Marsh “Organisational Behaviour Fifth Edition” (2008).

Yesterday, Joy and I walked into a “ALLPHONES” mobile phone shop in Chadstone looking for an upgrade to her mobile phone.  We always go there because the service is great however that’s not the point of the story.

You see we’d been shopping for other bits and pieces in the shopping centre and because most shops no longer offer plastic bags we had 5 or 6 different items clutched awkwardly in our hands.  We had to dump these on the counter while we asked about a phone.

The assistant in the shop spotted this and immediately handed me a large bag with handles and a big “ALLPHONES” plastered across it. And we hadn’t bought anything yet.

“Thanks” I said- “you’ve helped me”..

“No, No” he says… “YOU are helping me.  You tell everyone who sees that bag about my business”.

So it got me thinking….. – What innovative, smart ways can you market your business today?

Have you noticed?? -walk into small business in Australia today and you’ll find a much more diverse workforce than ever existed a few decades ago.

Why is this? Well- partly because of more open immigration policies and employment practices. In the 1960’s half of Australia’s workforce was from UK and Ireland. (to be sure… to be sure). Today it is down to around 12% and more 25 % are now from Asian countries. One could argue that the rest are from New Zealand but that’s another subject (apologies to all my good NZ buddies- we embrace you!!).  All these different nationalities bring with them their different cultural values and ways of doing things.

Woman now play a much bigger part of the workforce (thank goodness because men weren’t doing a good job on their own let’s be honest). Over 58% of Australian women now participate in the paid workforce compared to 20% just a few decades ago. Did you know that more than 30 per cent of Australia’s small business operators are women? How good is that!

Age is another big dimension that has changed… Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) work alongside Generation X (1964 – 1977), and now a new generation  -Gen Y’s (those born in the decade or so since 1978) have entered the workforce. Each of these age cohorts have different values and expectations – Baby Boomers expect more job security, place a great deal of emphasis on achievement and material success while Gen X’ers generally are less loyal to the organisation and in return expects less job security. They value life balance and are generally less willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of their employers’ than previous generations were.

The new kids on the block Gen Y employees grew up in prosperous times but now find themselves entering a post boom economy. They are at ease with diversity and change; have high expectations and seek meaning in their work. They are the first generation to take technology for granted.

More people are doing casual work now than ever before and over 25% of the Australian workforce is deemed to be “casual”. People now “telecommute” (working from home) rather than working in offices as the internet has changed our world.

So what does this all mean?

Well owners and managers of small business have great challenges understanding and adapting to people who are different. The old way was to take a “melting pot” approach to differences in our employees but that doesn’t work anymore.

Business owners have to shift their thinking of treating everyone alike, working out what the differences are in their workforce, and responding different ways to each of them. This helps to make sure they retain their valuable employees and get the most productivity out of them. Providing training and revamping rewards and benefits programs to suit the different needs of different employees can also help.

Go On !!!- Embrace your diversity… it can lead to increased creativity, improved decision making and give you different perspectives on problems. You’ll have a better business for it.

Of course you could also use a Small Fish Business Coach who will work alongside you, help you put a plan in place to embrace your diversity. Call one now. You’ll enjoy it!

Conflict is one of those inevitable things that arise in any business’s growth phase.  It arises when one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively affected by another.  In small business this tends to be amplified because there’s nowhere to hide.  In larger organisations the ability to move to another department or section of the business is always a possibility, but in small business those opportunities are certainly less frequent.  Business owners must be able to identify the causes of conflict quickly and then take the appropriate leadership action to resolve them.  Make no mistake; conflict is expensive because efforts and emotional energy is diverted away from the main game of productivity in the business, never mind the possibility of losing good staff!

It’s true that personality clashes come into mind when we think of sources of conflict but research shows there are six conditions under which conflict tends to germinate and flourish.

Incompatible goals         is where people have goals that interfere with each other.  A business owner who eats lives and dreams of his business 24/7 may not understand why an employee treats his job as just a means to feed his family and is not the main focus of his life.  This can cause the business owner to think the employee is lazy and conflict could arise.

Different values and beliefs       often account for increasing number of disputes between Gen X’s and Baby Boomers in the workplace because each generation has been raised with different skills and consequently a different set of values.  Cultural differences can also be a cause of conflict.

Task Interdependence  People working in a small business need to rely on each other to do their “bit”.  Usually in small business, employees have to do many overlapping interdependent tasks.  If there is a perception that one party is not pulling their weight or that someone not doing something is affecting them, then conflict can arise.

Scarce resources              This is a classic in small business.  Everyone is under the pump, and competing for the limited resources in a business.  Conflict could arise because people think others aren’t giving them what we think they should have to be able to achieve their own goals.

Ambiguous Rules            Another small business dilemma.  Many small businesses don’t have proper systems in place about how we do things around here.  And in small business especially things are constantly changing so the unwritten rules change too.  Uncertainty then leads to conflict.

Communications problems         This is a great one!!  Conflict occurs because there is not the opportunity, ability or willingness to communicate.  Humans tend to use past stereotypes (our mental models we have about things) to make judgements about how things will be in the future.  An example would be we may think that men drive badly. (a mental model we have formed over years of seeing men drive badly) We see a man driving badly on the road and we say “see!! I told you –  look how badly they drive”. And yet we filter out a woman doing exactly the same thing because it doesn’t add to our mental model.  It’s the same with conflict. We add information to an already formed opinion and this can negatively distorts the other party’s actions.  The lack of willingness to communicate just compounds the conflict problem because people rely on the stereotypes to fill in the missing information. The problem gets worse.

So what to do? This is a subject for another blog but briefly:

Business owners can focus everyone on common objectives and goals.  Company values and beliefs should be constantly reinforced and communicated to make sure everyone is on the same page.  Everyone in the business should live by those values.  Improving communication and understanding sometimes takes courage, leadership and humility but is well worth the effort.  Reducing task interdependence by dividing shared resources or increasing resources if finances allow it.  These costs should be weighed up against the cost of the conflict arising out of the resource scarcity.  Business owners should also clarify rules and procedures and ensure systems are properly implemented.

Finally business owners can engage a business coach to successfully drive the change and avoid conflict.


Organisational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim         (McShane Travaglione   2005)

Organisational Behaviour (Fifth Edition)                 (Robbins, Judge, Millet, Walters- Marsh                2008)

I read a great little book the other day – an easy read indeed…. – called Decision Making and problem solving Strategies by John Adair.

The word “decision” comes from a Latin verb meaning “to cut off”.  What is cut off when you make a decision is the preliminary activity of thinking, especially the important business of weighing up the pros and cons of the different courses of action.  Don’t jump to conclusions before you’ve taken yourself through this simple

Five step approach to effective decision making……


The 5 steps follow a natural sequence, and should be thought of as notes of music….logically they should be played in strict sequence, but our minds dart about.  Thinking isn’t a tidy process for most of us but it should be done in a sense of order.

Remember we’re not necessarily talking about big decisions here- there’s more to running a small business than making one life or death decision.

Some decisions are bigger than others its true, and some are a fork in the road, but generally it’s that stream of smaller decisions over time, made and executed with a musicians skill will yield great outcomes.

Step 1   Define the objective

What are you trying to achieve? Be clear about where you want to get to – If you don’t know what port you’re heading for – any wind is the right wind.

Step 2   Collect relevant information

Remember the distinction between relevant and available. What’s really important and can I use it? Life certainly would be much simpler if you could use all the information at your disposal, rather than that which you really need to make the decision.

Step 3   Generate Feasible options

Notice options as opposed to alternatives here. An alternative is the choice between two courses of action, options imply many more.  You should open your mind to a wide focus to consider all possibilities and options.  Use imaginative thinking and brainstorming to create as many feasible options as you can, and write them down…

Step 4   Make the Decision

In making the decision it is useful to grade the options into the criteria that the proposed course of action MUST, SHOULD, and MIGHT meet.  For example: I MUST hire a new salesperson, I SHOULD hire a new salesperson or I MIGHT hire a new salesperson.  Unless the criteria meets the MUST option – you should discard it.

Step 5   Implement and Evaluate

This should be seen as part of the overall process.  You should monitor the consequences of your decision – what other things in your business does this decision affect?  Sense the effect of the decision.

The author points out that if you have all the required information and you follow the process, the mind goes through the point of decision effortlessly.

And remember the English proverb:       Not to decide is to decide.

Twitter: Steve Eastwood

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