Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Inner Schizophrenia of Small Business Owners

One of the challenges of us small entrepreneurs is that we are our own investor, our own entrepreneur, our own manager and our own employee at the same time. And those four roles often tell us quite different things to do. And then there is our human side, which might also tell us different things to do. 🙂

Here’s a fictional example:

Inner Employee to Inner Manager:
“I need to go home now. My family needs me and it would be bad for my health to work late hours again.”
Inner Manager to Inner Employee:
“You know that we have a deadline today that’s of strategic importance for the company.”
Inner Employee to Inner Manager:
“Ok Ok, got it, I stay longer and finish it.
But this is an exception and the last time I do that.”
Inner Manager to Inner Employee:
“OK, thank you.” (to himself: “He’ll do that again and again. Ignore the whining.”)
Inner Investor to All:
“Hey guys, your business is a dog business. This will never get anywhere. That’s why you have to work so much. It’s time to exit and do something that makes real money.”
Inner Human to Inner Investor:
“My customers depend on me and count on me. They are my friends. I cannot let them alone.”
Inner CEO to Inner Investor:
“You have no idea about the detail work that’s necessary to get a new business off ground. If we close this “dog”-business we’ll likely be without any business. Investor, you don’t have enough money for us. We cannot start another business on a shoe-string capital like that.”
Inner Manager and and Inner Employee to the Investor:
“The CEO is right. It’s too much work to start another business. We don’t have enough capital for that. It’s even more work than the CEO is aware of.”
Inner Investor to All:
“There must be a way. What about cutting salary in half until this gets momentum?”
All others to the Investor:
“We are already working for half salary for 3 months now. We can’t go below that. Think about cost of living.”
Inner Wise Old Man:
“Let’s go to bed guys. Tomorrow morning we’ll meditate and think before any of these electronic devices, email and social media create fog in our brain. There must be solution to all of this.”

Next day in the morning

Inner Wise Old Man:
“Good morning guys. Listen to the Inner Human. He’s the most grounded of you guys. In our morning thinking-time we’ll find a way to make our already good business great for us and for our customers.

There is a star-potential in most so-called “dogs”. And BTW, most of our businesses are question-marks with star-potential. No idea why the investor is so pessimistic and calls them “dogs”. Look at the niches that we are in, instead of looking just at the broader market. Our niches are growing between 12% and 22% per year.

Also, there is much more to business than just the investor perspective. What about the higher mission of a business? What about the spiritual aspects of running a business? What about creating something that matters and improves people’s lives?

And why stop something existing when you want to start something new? 2017 is about combining things which traditionally looked like being mutually exclusive. So we keep the existing stuff and start something new on the side. Once this makes money, we can add employees to the business to handle the additional work.

Please note that we already run multiple businesses. Time to educate the Inner Investor of everything that’s going on here, in his language. He might have interesting insights for us, then.”

You see how many complex thoughts and conflict are already going on in the head of a small entrepreneur. And that dialog illustrates just the tip of the iceberg.

That’s why we cannot afford to watch the news or surf on Facebook or watch TV. Or engage in small-talk for hours. Our brain cannot afford to process rubbish like that.

That’s why we need our Digital Insanity Index to be as low as possible. That’s why programs like “30 day reboot” are so important for us. Nobody else understands that. And that’s fine.

Do you have a Real Life and Time for Thinking? (Or do you live in the Matrix/Internet all day?)

Now, there is an index to measure this.

It is called the Digital Insanity Index.
Created by Perry Marshall who is a famous marketing and business consultant.

One of his recent creations is the “30 day reboot” program which helps you to get you in control of your life again.

I have taken the Digital Insanity Index and my score is 329/1000 which means “well-managed”. This is after doing Perry’s “30 day reboot” program.

I can definitely recommend 30 day reboot. It has life-changing potential.

The next round of 30 day reboot starts on February 1st.

Kolbe Test as Burnout Prevention Tool

The Kolbe test is primarily used as a hiring and team-building tool.
It measures the mode of operation of a person, which is the instinctive and natural way to do work (such as getting new ideas versus implementing existing ideas).

In team-building it is important to have people with different modes of operation in a team. This ensures that the team members complement each other, so that the team is optimally effective.

In hiring it is used to determine the roles which a person is best suited to.

But there is an aspect of Kolbe that’s equally as important:
One of the often overlooked aspects of the Kolbe mode-of-operation is that it costs a person a lot of energy to work outside his/her natural work instincts.
Often people are not aware of their natural instincts. So they just assume that it is normal that work exhausts them. After all that’s conventional wisdom about work in our society.

Especially young people have so much life-energy that they can work against their natural instincts for years in a row, without noticing it. And they even may produce great results doing so.

But when a person works against their natural mode of operation for too long, he/she drains him/herself of energy. This can lead to burnout or other severe health problems.

Of course burnout can have many causes, and most of the time multiple causes are at work simultaneously. Usually, working conditions, and mental health issues of that person are the first reasons that are named. Prevention usually focuses on working conditions. This is fine, and necessary, but it is only a part of the picture.

If people are unconsciously working against their natural instincts for a prolonged time, then even the best working conditions cannot prevent a serious drain of energy.

Therefore I suggest to measure the natural mode of operation of all employees, and let them work in their mode of operation most of the time. Even one hour per day in the opposite of the natural mode of operation can cause a severe energy drain. So, you need to let them work 95% or more of their time in their natural mode of operation.

If an employee already has a burnout, or is close to it, then doing a Kolbe test can reveal an important cause. Once you know the cause, it is usually obvious what has to change.

BTW, this does not only apply to employees. Entrepreneurs also should be aware of their natural mode of operation and make sure that they run their company such that they only work in their natural mode of operation. They can delegate the rest, or choose a business that only needs their natural mode of operation. This makes them more happy and energetic, and the grumpy boss syndrome will melt away fast. Which creates a better climate in the whole company.