Are you an inspiration within your business?

There is a distinct difference in the atmosphere of companies where the owner and managers bring their inspiring energy on a consistent basis and those where this does not happen. It is a feeling that is known by both team members and customers alike, and one that will ultimately have a positive or negative effect on your bottom line.

I recently returned from a vacation in which I spent considerable time in the city of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. It has long been a favorite place for me to visit and has a coffee shop downtown, close to the lake, called Java on Sherman. I have spent many hours as a customer in this establishment over the past 15 years, and have always felt great being there.

This time my experience was very different. From the moment I walked in, this place I have always enjoyed felt “empty” to me. There was a lack of energy and the team members were not smiling or happily greeting customers. Furthermore, once I received the items I had ordered, it was absolutely apparent that the quality of the products I had come to appreciate – coffee, pastries, and breakfast – were not at the high standard they had always been.

Java is the only place I have ever started my days in Coeur d’ Alene, simply because of the exceptional experience, quality products and the great feeling I received. I did return to Java several times over the 11 days I was in town in hopes that the feelings I knew before would return again. When they didn’t, for the first time, I also started searching out other businesses to start my day with. The point here is that since my last visit – only one year ago – the experience had deteriorated so much, I was no longer getting the value I was looking for and, since doing business there did not feel good anymore, I was willing to take my business elsewhere.

Lost patronage, and the lack of new customers, is the cost of not providing an inspired workplace, and this starts with the business owner.

Last year I spent considerable time conversing with the owner of Java. This man shared with me the story of how he came to own the business through his love for the town, coffee and people. He could be seen in the coffee shop on a daily basis, sometimes talking to and visiting with customers and at other times working behind the counter with his team. He always exuded a great energy that was contagious, as did his team members.

This year he was visibly absent. I hardly saw him, and when I did, he did not appear to be happy. To the astute observer, with a trained eye, it is obvious why the atmosphere in Java had deteriorated so dramatically. You see, as the business owner, you are the fountain head of the energy within your company. The owner of Java no longer had positive energy – he was not happy – and that was having a devastating effect on the entire team.

I have always shared with my clients the truth that they are not selling products and services. What they are, in fact, selling is an “experience”. While it is true that your products and services are part an overall customer experience, it is the feeling people get – and take away with them – when they do business with you that matters most. The experience that you and your team provide will either turn customers on or off to you, even after 15 years of loyal patronage.

An unhappy business owner lacks the positive energy, clarity of vision, engagement and inspiration to create a truly successful business – one where everyone benefits from the wonderful experience it provides. Owners in this position do not attract or hire the best people; they do not train and treat team members in ways that inspire them to give their very best to the customers that give life to the business.

Whether a business owner’s unhappiness comes from discomfort in the business itself, from their personal life or both does not matter. What does matter is that unhappy business owners seek professional assistance in overcoming what stands between them and the happiness and success they want to experience. With happiness at the foundation of who you are, you will be a powerfully inspiring force within your business.


5 Responses to "Are you an inspiration within your business?"

  1. Javacda   September 15, 2011 at 4:22 am

    I would like to apologize for your experience in Java during your last visit to Coeur d’Alene.  I have spent the last five years hand picking Team Members, training them not only on how to prepare the products we serve but to also make a difference everyday with our customers.
    This last year I almost lost my Mom in her third bout of ovarian cancer, and I don’t now how much longer we will have with her.  This summer I chose to entrust my team that I had spent so much time training to carry on with out me at the helm.
    It looks like my team did not rise to the occasion and for that I am sorry.  I agree strongly that I must be the inspiration and the force that drives the ship. I also believe that it is my responsibility as a business owner to keep them challenged and to give my team an opportunity to succeed without me.  But in return I would hope you would agree with me that I running a business and being a husband and father of two young boys can be challenging and difficult at best. 
    The last five years have been great at Java but my family has suffered because of it and this year I chose to be with them.  I hope you understand and honestly I would rather apologize to you Marcus than to my family for never being there for them. 
    -David Patterson
    Owner Java on Sherman

    • Larry Simco   September 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      Good reply David.  You only have so much time with your family before you either lose them or they grow up nd become their own person.  It is difficult to shuffle the time.  Make sure your children have a father to have and adult life with.

    • Marcus   September 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      Hi David!

      Thank you for your response.

      I absolutely agree with you that being a business owner, who is also a husband, father and son of a mother with cancer is challenging. I too own a business with many of the same components in life that you have. And, my dad went through his own illness and died two years ago while I still had the rest of life and business going on. Believe me, I do understand.

      Several years ago, I also chose to focus more on my life and my family, and less on my business for reasons similar to yours. It was one of the best decisions I have made. I am a happier person, a better coach and my life is fuller.

      My column was not intended to be an indictment of you or Java in any way. I wrote it with the intention of helping and not hurting. It was merely designed to point out what can happen to a business when the inspiration wanes on the owners behalf, and how that can be improved as well. As business owners and human beings, it is wise to be conscious of our reality so that we can make the best decisions we can for ourselves and others.

      I noticed such a stark difference in you this year over last. Kellie and I both were concerned about the changes we saw in Java, but more importantly in you. It was as if your light had dimmed greatly. I really enjoy you David, and your wonderful business, and I left town with your well being on heavily on my mind. I wanted to speak with you more while we were there, but that did not happen. It is one of the reasons I gave you my book. My hope was that you would find it helpful with whatever you were dealing with.

      I really don’t feel that an apology from you is needed my friend. Your life and decisions are your own, and you know more about your personal reality than I. Kellie and I will go to Java again next year when we visit Coeur D’
      Alene. And when we do, I very much look forward to seeing you again.

      If anything, I hope that my well intended column serves to help you and others in similar positions to see you and your business from a different perspective, one that helps you to create even more balance, happiness and success in your life.

      I wish you and yours only happiness David.

      Thank you again for what you wrote here.

      All my best,

  2. Larry Simco   September 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    It is so true what this article brings out.  I have found since being with Herbalife that I not only have lost 20 lbs in two months that I feel better have more energy and the people within the company are always there to help there is never a problem to big to overcome

    • Marcus   September 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      Thank you for your feedback Larry! Congratulations on loosing 20lbs! I also appreciate you taking the time to read my column. Have a great day!