I am one of those overly concerned CEOs who somewhere along the way of leadership and success in the middle of it lost her way ... a bit. Over the last couple of years, an eroding of net profit began. Under the idea that it was okay, I began getting too relaxed about collections and ensuring that 3L Publishing wasn't paying unintended costs.
Then I noticed something that was eating away at my leadership skills. We'll call it "client guilt". I felt like even though not a single client made a single complaint that our work wasn't somehow measuring up (especially on the public relations side where results are very "airy-fairy"). I felt awesome about the books for sure. Our books are award-winners. But self-doubt and that "guilty" feeling despite all of the efforts going into it, were eating at me -- but MORE important EATING our bottom line and profits as I devalued my time. I devalued myself. Are you identifying with what I'm saying? I bet some of you out there are nodding.
When we set unreasonable standards not for our clients but for ourselves ... when we set unreasonable ideas about quality of service not based in "reason" ... when we quit thinking our skills are valuable -- all of these situations make weak leadership and lead to all sorts of depreciating returns (meaning profits).
Empowering your business means empowering your business thinking. I said the other day that if I was in the mainstream private sector running another person's company, I would be making fives times or better income. It hit me! I have ran million-dollar businesses. Why am I not running my own million-dollar business ... or better $2 million or $3 million? Why is my company not where I want it to be? Because that personal devaluation led to the devaluation of my own company. Devaluation of my time. Devaluation of my services. Devaluation of me!
What was my problem? I woke up. I was making it personal ... too personal! I had wrapped up my company into a personal problem and making it personal to ME. This eye-opening moment led to some HUGE changes. Want to know what they are? I bet you do.
1. Scott D. Roberts (http://scottdrobertsauthor.blogspot.com/) became 3L Publishing's president. Roberts is enormously gifted in fiction and nonfiction books, but more importantly he augmented services to include video production, book trailers, expansion and pursuit of foreign rights, and further acquisitions. Roberts is brilliant, but here is something huge he brings to help. He's FIRM! He helps better define the value of the company and the services, and he's clear about it without being rude or impolite.
2. We developed a strategic business vision and plan. We know where we're going.
3. Strict, clear guidelines and policies -- and not being afraid to say it and hold the line. I used to think, "That's all right. We'll cover that cost. We'll do this ... we'll do that ... it's okay, we got the extra costs." No more! Costs are costs. Value is value. Stand up for both, and do it consistently. Lay out policies. Put them in writing. Be direct -- and polite, but hold the line.
In the end, let me share something with you. Much like children people like rules. They like direction. They like clarity. They like consistency. It is lack of clarity, lack of direction, and no rules (sort'a rules) and the profits go down the drain. Being profitable and successful is not greedy. It's about self-worth, company-worth, and more important knowing your value.
I hope this article helps other business people to at least think about it. If your net is waning, lift the hood, and get to work. Who is holding you back? Good question.