Take Heart

Do you use your heart as well as your head in business matters? A bit of TLC may be just as important as your MBA when dealing with customers, employees and yourself.

We've had a shift in attitudes about work during the past few decades. The admired workaholic entrepreneur of the 1980s is now more often considered a pitiful character. Dying at the switch is no longer fashionable. Business owners want success, but they also want a life.

At the same time, most business owners love their work. And what's wrong with that? Our work helps define us. It's gratifying to produce or serve and know no limits.

The problem comes when business owners try too hard to separate "work" from "life." It can't be done, especially if "work" is just down the hall from "life."

One way to balance a successful business with a successful life is to apply "business heart, business mind," a management concept devised by management consultant Bill Dotson, president of Northwest Business Group Inc. in Eugene, Oregon.

As the phrase indicates, "business mind" means using your head to be successful in business. It's knowing the rules, mechanics and techniques to run a successful business-all the things you can learn from classes, books or mentors.

But part of running a business includes a fuzzy, ill-defined area no one talks about. And this is where your business heart comes in. We don't want to think about the possibility of bankruptcy, a business partner or employee becoming sick, or how working overtime affects our family. We shun the "heart" side of business. Business is, after all, serious business. There's no room for sentiment and softness. Nice guys finish last, right?

Wrong. The key to success in business in the new millennium is to accept and even embrace the so-called soft side of your nature-to apply the heart side of business. By fusing business mind with business heart, you can realize a successful business and personal happiness.

Take the Quiz

Not sure if others are seeing your soft side? Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions to check the balance of your business heart and mind. Part 1: Business Mind

1. Do you set specific high-level goals for your company?
2. Do you evaluate your company's performance based on stated goals?
3. Do you work to expand your professional skills and knowledge?
4. Do you study and learn from successful people?
5. Are you ready and willing to make commitments to meet your business goals?
6. Can you read and fully understand a financial statement?
7. Does your business have a marketing plan?
8. Are you loyal to your customers and suppliers?
9. Do you have all the time you need to accomplish your business goals?
10. Do you keep current with trends in your industry?

Part 2: Business Heart

1. Do you set goals for personal growth and enrichment?
2. Are you flexible and willing to upgrade or change your goals?
3. Are you a teacher to your children and a coach to your employees?
4. Are you a role model to new business owners and a mentor to your employees?
5. Have you taken an extended vacation or even a long weekend off in the last six months?< /br> 6. Do you have little trouble deciding how much to charge for your goods or services?
7. Do you give to the community as much as you take?
8. Are you loyal to your employees, your family and yourself?
9. Do you have all the time you need to meet your family, social and civic obligations?
10. Do you know the names of your employees' spouses and your customers' key employees?

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