Everyone knows the story, and this time of year, we see it played out in the lives of many different characters: The Muppets, Mickey Mouse, Jim Carrey, and even Mr. Magoo.
But at the end of the day, the message is always the same.
So how does this apply to your business? Let’s take a look.
Step 1: Which Character Are You?
The first thing you need to do is take a long, hard look in the mirror and figure out which character best fits your management style. Check out their report card to see what their (and maybe your) strengths and weaknesses tend to be...
Now, Scrooge may begin as the villain in this story, but that doesn’t mean he’s all bad. He’s a shrewd businessman, and he knows how to handle his finances. Scrooge doesn’t waste money on frivolities, and he knows how to stretch a penny.
Unfortunately, his employees and customers often take a backseat to his profit-focused priorities.
Report Card… Finances = A, Employee Morale = D, Customer Service = F
Bob is pretty much the polar opposite of Scrooge. While not a business owner, per se, he is definitely killing it at his job despite a low wage and poor working conditions.
Bob manages to support his large family with his meager earnings, and he keeps a positive attitude along the way. Customers are happy to engage with him because he embodies the idea of doing the best you can with what you’ve got.
Report Card… Finances = C-, Employee Morale = B, Customer Service = A+
Mr. Fezziwig is responsible for teaching Scrooge about capitalism and running a successful business. But most notably, he does all this while also being kind and generous to his employees and customers.
Fezziwig's business ethics are second-to-none, and he refuses to sacrifice his integrity for an extra dollar or two.
Report Card… Finances = B, Employee Morale = A+, Customer Service = A
Step 2: Learn From Your Ghosts
Do any of those characteristics ring a bell? Recognize a familiar trait here or there?
It’s important to be honest with yourself about what type of business owner you represent so you can figure out what your ghosts are trying to teach you.
The Ghost of Business Past
The first ghost coming to visit is, of course, the ghost of business past. Take out a piece of paper and a pen (or open a fresh Word document) and think about how you’d answer these reflective questions:
Who inspired you to enter the field that you’re in?
What is the first thing you learned about your industry?
List 3 things that you do differently now than you did back then. Are these improvements or regressions?
The Ghost of Business Present
Now, think about your business as it is today. Not what you want it to be, or what it was, but what it truly is right this moment.
What are you best at when it comes to running your business?
What does your business offer that no one else in your field can match?
Outline the details of a typical work day, from waking up to going to bed. What part of your day is most efficient, and where could it use some help?
The Ghost of Business Future
Ah, the most exciting and nerve-wracking of all specters. Scrooge feared this ghost most of all because he knew his path was leading where he did not want to go. Like him, you have time to correct it if needed.
In your mind, what does your business look like in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
What is your biggest fear about the future of your business?
Write down 5 things that you are going to make happen in the coming year. Not wishes – actions. Fold up the paper, seal it in an envelope, and write “12/28/2018.” Stick it in a desk drawer or pin it to the wall, just make sure you see it often and are reminded of how good it’s going to feel when you open it up and check off all 5 items.
Whether you’re a Scrooge, a Bob, or a Fezziwig – or a combo of all three – your ghosts have a lot to say about your business and where it’s headed. Take the time to visit with each one and think about the questions they pose.
After all, Scrooge himself said it best: “I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
I am a working mom with a degree in Business Administration. My career passions include hunting down pesky commas and exploring the dark underbelly of Microsoft Word. I live to edit and edit to live!
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