Are you feeling overwhelmed in your business? Are you working long hours, but not seeing the results you want? Mike Michalowicz’s books address just that.
In this episode, James and Mike discuss his latest title, the newly-revised Clockwork. Tune in for eye-opening concepts that may change the way you run your business.
Mike Michalowicz’s books and experience have established him as an authority in running small businesses. In this podcast episode, he and James look at his newly revised Clockwork book.
In their chat, they discuss how to effectively manage business responsibilities.
They look at an entrepreneur’s real business role.
And they reveal how taking your vacation and putting business tasks aside for a while can actually be very good for your business.
Table of contents
1. Beware of arrogance and ignorance
2. Mike’s biggest authored success
3. Reworking an already great book
4. A unique sort of symbiosis
5. What a four-week vacation does for a company
6. The four Ds a business needs to navigate
Beware of arrogance and ignorance
Mike Michalowicz has made a name for himself in the field of small business. He admits, however, being guilty of hubris at one point, and losing a lot of money and mental wellbeing because of it.
Luckily, Mike recovered, and went on to great success both as an entrepreneur and an author.
In this episode, he and James delve into the latest of his publishings, the newly-revised Clockwork book. Of especial value to busy entrepreneurs will be the four D’s it contains:
They will discuss as well some management strategies that seem counterintuitive at first blush, but which Mike and James can both testify work amazingly well for small businesses.
Mike’s biggest authored success
Of the books Mike has authored, the most successful commercially has been Profit First, followed by the first edition of Clockwork, with The Pumpkin Plan coming in third.
Every book Mike has written was intentionally trying to solve an issue he had with entrepreneurship. What we teach, he says, is actually what we need to learn, and in the process of writing he has gotten better at learning, at codifying knowledge and documenting it.
Reworking an already great book
Clockwork is about recapturing time, a topic that resonates strongly with James and his Work Less Make More philosophy. James is all about freeing people up – he’s partnered, in fact, with VirtualDOO’s Lloyd Thompson to help business visionaries bring their ideas to life, with less energy and stress on their part.
The revision of Clockwork features 60 percent brand new content and 40 percent restructured content, based on Mike’s learnings from the service entity that grew out of it.
One of the new concepts in the book is the Queen Bee Role. In any business, Mike maintains, there can only be one most important activity, the heartbeat of the business, and if the entrepreneur doesn’t know what it is, their business will always be floundering.
A unique sort of symbiosis
In James’s company, everyone knows their business roles. People own their outcomes and do whatever they need to do to achieve them. All James wants from his team is consistency.
James’s own role is to be a great coach, and get incredible guests onto the podcast. It’s a responsibility he owns seriously.
His relationship with his team could be called symbiotic – he wants them to have a great life, to take their kids to school, to go out during the week and have vacations. They’ve given up tracking days off or sick leaves or overtime; all they have is a consistent pay schedule and an agreement on what needs to get done.
The average tenure on James’s team is now over 10 years, which doesn’t surprise Mike. He himself believes the job of entrepreneurs is not to do the job. It’s to be the creator of jobs for people who want to work for a good company.
What a four-week vacation does for a company
In Clockwork, Mike advocates a four-week vacation, every year. He considers it not taking a vacation from his business, as much as it is his business taking a vacation from him, so it breaks dependency.
The president of his company came to him two years ago and said, with his regular absences, they didn’t need him there – she could be the spokesperson for the business, and he could write his books.
And so the company won’t be dependent on any one person, every one of their 20+ employees takes a four-week vacation each year. People are trained to step up, and in the event anyone should leave permanently, business would continue unabated.
The four Ds a business needs to navigate
A discussion of Clockwork’s four D’s is essential, James feels, because it speaks to a common concern of his audience, many of whom are doing too much in their business. Mike obliges.
At the foundational level is the first D, Doing. These are the activities that sustain the business – delivering services or products, the administrative work behind it – the majority of what’s being done.
This is where an individual makes decisions for other people so that things move along. Typically, the business owner gets trapped in this.
Say you hire an admin person to take the doing of invoices of your plate. She might ask how to sort them, and you tell her to do it by last name – that’s you making decisions, not, note, delegating, which is the next level.
Delegation, says Mike, is the assignment of mutually-agreed outcomes. You express an intention for the company, you define the role of your team member in achieving that role, and you ask for their agreement to do what’s needed.
When people come back with questions, Mike says, reject answering them – have your team member find the solution. This is the danger for many entrepreneurs, he says, we see mistakes happen, and we want to go in and fix it.
When you fix a problem for someone, it degrades their control over outcomes, and you go back to deciding things for them. Allow them to make and correct their mistakes – it will build their confidence.
The last level is designing, where entrepreneurs do strategic thinking. It is their job to have a vision and choreograph resources to make it a reality.
Designing is the hardest work, but necessary. It is the entrepreneur’s key decisions that put the business on the right path.
A fifth D – Downtime
And in the new Clockwork, Mike reveals a fifth D – intentional downtime. We can only sustain work at a high level up to a point, so we should be intentionally allowing our teammates to recover so they can be optimized.
Hierarchy versus a web-like structure
To close things out, James wants to know: how does Mike feel about a hierarchical structure and a flatter arrangement when it comes to empowering one’s team?
A hierarchy is very rigid, says Mike – what if we had instead a weblike structure? He recalls in a magazine where a supercomputer redistributed the strength of old Roman columns into a weblike construction that would offer the same support, with just a third of the material.
With a weblike structure, you would be meeting talent to tasks rather than talent to titles. A good communicator, for instance, would not be a receptionist – they might answer the phone, but they may also be a frontline salesperson, a role that demands good communication.
It’s perfect, says James. He has often said a role is just a collection of tasks, and in his own business they don’t have titles.
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