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.
Magazine Contributor
5 min read

This story appears in the April 2000 issue of HomeOfficeMag.com. Subscribe »

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?

The Results

  • If you answered "yes" to all these questions, you're a rare individual and on your way to business and personal success.
  • If you answered "yes" to nine questions in each part, you're operating with a good balance of business mind and business heart.
  • If you answered "yes" to six to eight of the questions in either part, it may mean you're out of balance and need to take some corrective action.

On the mind side, it may be time to meet with your management team or take a refresher course in the science of business. Step back and review the rules, mechanics and techniques needed to run a successful business. Look closely at your cash flow, inventory and employee morale for problems and apply the science.

On the heart side, you may need to examine how you spend your time. Keep a simple log and make note of the hours you spend on work, family, leisure and spiritual development. Determine your own balance. Also, look for danger signs from members of your family. If your partner or children are becoming strangers, it's time to pause and reevaluate your life. A simple solution is to just get away for a short time. A two-day vacation can revitalize you. Your business will survive without you for two days, and you'll survive longer with occasional rest.

  • If you answered "yes" to five or fewer of the questions in Part 1, you need to take a serious look at the way you run your business. Burnout or bankruptcy could be the next phase. It may be time to call in a management professional to evaluate your business systems. Sometimes an outsider can see problems you can't in the daily operation of your business.
  • If you answered "yes" to five or fewer of the questions in Part 2, chances are the gap between business success and personal success is growing wider. Your business may be thriving, but are you? Watch for the following symptoms: conflict over values, broken relationships, lack of time for family or yourself, low self-esteem and health problems. It may be time to seek help from a personal counselor.

Homebased business owner and freelance writer Wendell Anderson is from Eugene, Oregon. To learn more about "business heart, business mind," log onto Bill Dotson's Web site.


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