Small Business Success Motivation Alone Is Not Enough

Small Business Success: Are You Crossing The Right Finish Line?

Motivation is one of the keys to success. But what if you were running a race and won and then realized that you had crossed the wrong finish line. As a business coach I see this happening more often than you would think.

The business owner starts out with enthusiasm and good intentions only to end up with little energy and unsatisfying results. He ran the race and crossed the finish line but there is not a feeling of exhilaration and a sense of true accomplishment.

Jim Rohn got right to the point when he said, “Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and motivate him, you have a motivated idiot.” As a business coach, I can assure you that all of us have our motivated idiocy.

Small Business Success Is About Doing What’s Important

These are the things that we put extraordinary focus on that are truly not that important. Or the manner in which we approach certain things knowing deep down inside if we only changed that we would have a better outcome. Our motivation must lead us to prioritize and do what is important.

When you are self-employed your motivation determines your destiny. Whether you are starting your own business or running a small business how it is conducted and the results will reflect your motivation. Whether you are an entrepreneur or solo professional your business is a do-it-to-yourself proposition.

Small Business Success Is About Crossing The Right Finish Line.

As a business owner seeking small business success how do you cross the right finish line? In my Business Keys To Success membership course this is one of several areas that are addressed to help you move forward to the business and life you desire.

The training and topic selections will serve as a guide to taking action as well as train you to think in ways to bring the success you desire into your life. To cross the right finish line education and training that encourage you to think, to improve are essential.

What is the right finish line? It occurs when you are on a track to create a business and life that honors who you are. Too often, as a business coach I see a business owner running a small business based on someone else’s model.

Here’s the problem. Let’s say that the model the business owner is using for his small business success is a company where the owner is outstanding at procedures and operations but weak in sales. This operationally oriented owner has had to invest a great deal of time and money into having a productive sales force in order for his business to be successful.

But, the business owner of this other company is outstanding at sales and marketing. In fact, he loves it. But, because he is using the operations oriented model, which fit the strengths of the business owner he is modeling himself after he is stuck in an office focused on policies and procedures and is unhappy.

Over time because his motivation was to emulate this other successful business owner, he becomes unhappy and loses his enthusiasm and drive. How come? Because he is not using his gifts and talents.

Small business success is taking your motivation and making sure that putting you in a position to use your strengths. When you are using your strengths you will be happiest, most productive and increase the odds of your small business success.

The key to success is to have your motivation build a business and life that honors who you are. Only then will your motivation increase the odds of crossing the right finish line and having the success, freedom and abundance you desire.

Recruitment in the Marine Business

Times have changed since it was the maladjusted youth or economically challenged profiles who were the foundation of the crewing for ships. These days it is a profession of choice and officers are educated to bachelor level. But has the industry managed to develop in parallel to integrate these profiles and how is the prospect of the future?


Only 50 years ago the shipping business was extremely different from now. Being a sailor was a life style, it was not rare to spend 12 month at sea and a high number of sailors never made it home to Denmark between ships, but stayed in maritime hubs like Singapore, Manila or Bangkok. Ships stayed long time in ports – sometimes weeks. There was plenty crew onboard and no alcohol restriction or AIDS. Sailors was adventurous people who in the marine business could wipe the screen clean and start a new life. Never mind that you did not have an education, that you came out from prison, that you were not able to read, as long as you were able (hence the term AB Able-Bodied), willing to work hard and could fit in onboard socially you were welcome in the business. Youngsters tired of school were happy to find a different environment where they could be challenged, earn good money and come home as men. Myths were created at that time. Sailors were rough people with tattoos, parrots on the shoulder and golden ear rings.


All this has changed. In the maritime business you now need a high school degree to enter the officer educations. Becoming a junior navigating officer takes at least 4 years and there is no room for maladjusted people. The amount of administration is now so demanding that you need extensive bookkeeping skills. The ships are so advanced that you need extensive training to operate the equipment. Most ships spend few hours in port with no time for the sailors to go ashore. The crew onboard has been reduced to the absolute minimum. On top of this, different nationalities have been implemented in the crewing policy with the target of reducing manning cost. Crew from third world countries does not complain about the conditions. If you can choose between poverty, hunger or going to sea – the latter is clearly the best. But the western youngsters are not happy with the conditions. They have other choices. Few people who have spent their life on sea will recommend this path to their kids. Extensive marketing have been implemented in Denmark to attract new profiles to the blue business. The campaign has been relatively successful and every year a new batch of fresh baked officers is leaving the Engineer or Navigating Officer Schools.


So what reality waits for these hopeful young people? What made them make the choice to enter the business? And for how long will they stay? And what will they do after the sailing career? These are good questions that are not easily answered. First of all, lots of trouble waits onboard the ships. That is for sure, studying various reports and maritime blogs. Items that score high rank in the mind of sailors these days are: Piracy, criminalization, loneliness, deprivation, disturbed sleep pattern, no influence on food and difficult access to doctors. The other side of the coin is the high pay, the independence, the big responsibility, the travels and the personal development being on your own out in the big world. In Denmark, the average time a navigation officer continues to sail after end education is 7 years according to a survey conducted by Danish Maritime Officers. Then they start to work ashore in a marine related company or do something completely different. A few percent last longer and if you are sailing when you are 50 the chances that you will go ashore is quite small. Obviously it may be a bit difficult for such a profile to adjust to a land job after many years at sea. If there was ample supply of officers and senior profiles for the offices, we did not need to change anything, from an economical perspective at least. But talking to the various ship owners in Denmark we start to see a bottle neck arising. We do not have enough HSQE profiles, we do not have enough DP operators and we lack naval architects and many other important positions. That is the fuel under the discussion, what do we do about now and what do we do in a longer perspective?


Denmark has been a leader in the maritime business in many years. Most people in the business know that we contribute in a substantial way to the welfare society of Denmark. 85.000 people are directly employed in the business and 10,5 of the total production value stems from the maritime business. Of this 85% is export – which is highly needed to keep our balance of payments positive. In the last years 15 ship yards has closed in Denmark and the newbuilding business has almost completely been overtaken by Asian countries. Over the last 6 years Europe’s part of the newbuilding business has been reduced from 18,8% to 9,1% – a staggering reduction of more than 50%. Onboard the Danish ships the share of Danish officers has been reduced from 86% to 70% over the last 9 years and at the same time the share of foreign officers has increased from 14% to 30%. It looks even worse when we study the figures for ratings, in the same 9 years the figure for Danish ratings has dropped from 54% to 35% and the share of foreigners has increased from 46% to 65%. 30% of the entire world fleet is manned by ratings from Philippines. Before it all get too negative, it is important to highlight that over the last 7 years the Danish fleet has increased with more than 100% from 15.994 Mill. DWT to 32.157 Mill. DWT. Danish ship owners are doing well right now, no doubt about this. They were not so hard affected by the crisis because the fundament was in order. More than hundred years of experience showed the difference in the financial crisis and we have seen very few owners in trouble in Denmark. But with above figures in mind, what is the prospect for the future?


In the past, the average sailing time for the sailors employed onboard the offices was high. It was not uncommon with 10-30 years of sailing time in the book before you became superintendent, HSQ manager or even fleet manager. That is not the case now. Young people wants to get ashore again after few years at sea. Probably due to a mix of the above mentioned parameters. The ship owners cannot pick and choose who they want for the shore based positions. Actually for years, they have got new people to shore based positions by attracting profiles, with higher salary and better conditions, from competing ship-owners. Most ship-owners still have senior profiles in the corner. The young people cannot do without them. When the McGregor hatches is jamming, when they have oil spill, port state control etc. the grey gold have seen it all and knows how to deal with it. There is an increasing concern about what will happen when these senior profiles are not in the office anymore. They are the true value of the company, the heart blood so to speak. And they have practical experience from sea, they understand the terms and conditions onboard a ship. If we want to maintain the maritime business in Denmark in some form we have to look into this single subject. It is not enough to educate more people. Utilizing crew from third world countries is not the answer – they tend to retire early and move back home – which is quite understandable since they spent a significant part of their life onboard the ships in long duty periods.

Western World

This issue is not only discussed in Denmark. This is a North European issue. This is something that affects the entire western world. The maritime business is the most global business on earth. It is an extremely competitive business and crewing and ship building takes place where the salary is lowest. The western world has invented modern shipping. Starting with the proud empire time of United Kingdom and followed up by endless innovations and patents. Europe and the States were leading the way for many years. But the salaries turned out to be not competitive anymore. You could get arms and legs in Asia much cheaper. Brazil had a role in the seventies soon to be taken over by Japan. Later Korea was wearing the yellow t-shirt and they are now seriously challenged by China. Ship building is labor intensive work. In the industrialized world we probably have to come to terms with the fact that yards probably never will come back.

The window

In the beginning, when ships were built in new places, knowledge was exported as skilled profiles, design, machines and inventory. We were basically contracting arms and legs and there was still plenty of work for us. Later it turned out that it was only a window. The shipyards developed and the level of quality was increasing. The local education system was redesigned to accommodate the maritime business and ship building became a big part of the countrys economy and identity. In exactly the same way as it used to be for us in the western world. Summarizing up, it is clear that something is going on, that the business is moving away from the western world. What should we do about it? Or even more relevant, can we do anything about it? To quote one of the more famous profiles in the world right now – Yes we can.


It will require a never seen before cooperation between all parties in the business. It will require a change of perspective and a total reform of the education system. At the moment seen from the individuals’ perspective things are maybe not so bad. Until they lose the job because the office is closed down or because the ship owner decides to change nationality.

Ship Owners

Normally, there are a lot of emotions in this debate. Lets make one thing clear. Ship owners are not evil people that enjoy changing nationality onboard the ships or changing to foreign flag. Ship owners are highly professional companies that try to run business in an extremely competitive environment. It is often highlighted that they make big money – yes, sometimes they do, but when they dont they also have high loss. Shipping is a risky business. Another point is that most big ship owners in Denmark are owned by share holders and by paying tax it is somehow in the entire Danish societys interest that they do well financially.

Will Your Business Succumb To The Lake Eyre Effect


What would you do if your business became the sort of business you’d like it to be? Would you know for sure if it happened? If you’re honestly not sure, please read on. If you’re thinking, “Of course I would, Leon”, please read on to confirm what you believe.


I’m not talking about generalizations such as “being as innovative as Apple”, “dominating the market like Intel”, “being a world famous brand ” or owning a marketing position like “Volvo means safety”.

The Lake Eyre Effect

When your business achieves the performance targets you desire, you’re enjoying The Lake Eyre Effect. It’s real. But it has its ups and downs. So a little geography lesson will help.

About Australia

In case you don’t know, Lake Eyre sits just south of the centre of Australia. It’s about 700 Km – 435 miles – north of Adelaide. Australia’s roughly the size of continental USA. The total population is about 22 million. It’s a land of climatic extremes.

In 1944, poet Dorothea Mackellar wrote “My Country”. It contains the following lines
“I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains.”

Australia has been in severe drought for over a decade. The drought broke in 2010. That was good news for Lake Eyre.

About Lake Eyre

It’s usually waterless. It’s huge: 3668 square miles. Texas is 2681 square miles. It’s the lowest point on the Australian continent: 49 ft or 15 metres below sea level.

It’s taken some months, but Lake Eyre is now full of water. All the streams and wetlands that feed the lake are overflowing. Even if there’s no more rain, for a long time, water will continue to flow into it for months.

Central Australia, usually dry, barren, brown and arid is green and verdant. Vegetation, dormant for decades is abundant and flowering. Bird, animal and even marine life has reappeared as if from nowhere. The rain has that effect.

However, the lake will dry up again. That’s it’s natural state.

Lake Eyre And Your Business

Let’s say that your business is Lake Eyre. Let’s say you’ve been battling along for a few years, perhaps a decade. You’ve had plenty of ups and downs but over the past few years, business has been improving gradually. It’s been a slow process, but the figures don’t lie. You can reasonably claim that your business is “looking good”.

Like the lake, your business is “filling up”. And you can look forward to at least a few prosperous years.

Or can you?

The Lake Eyre Question

How will you know, for certain, that your business is “filling”? You see, in order to know what you’ll do when it happens, you must recognize the Lake Eyre Effect in your business. If you don’t, over time your business will dry up just. Normal conditions will resume. All the hard work you and others have done will simply evaporate.

Answering The Question

Signs of the Lake Eyre Effect are all about performance targets. They could include…

We’ve had 15% growth for 3 consecutive years
No employee has been terminated for 2 years
We’ve been market leaders in our target market for 2 years
Staff participate in a performance based reward and incentive scheme so that they can earn at least 20% annually above their basic salary
Every employee knows exactly what’s expected of them and how their performance is measured
Our business focus is completely clear; our target market is narrow and specific
Our marketing spend is devoted exclusively to our target market
We measure everything we do and make business decisions based on that information
Our cash flow is completely under control
We retain 80% of our customers for at least 3 years.

They’re my suggestions. You can add any criteria of success that you regard as vital. But remember; they must be measurable.

What’s Not On The List?

There’s nothing about private wealth, financial management or individual and professional development. If you meet the other targets, these issues will take care of themselves.

What About Profit?

That’s a good question. Remember, profit is an outcome. You make profit when you do a lot of things correctly. It’s those “things” that I’m talking about. My apologies if you think otherwise.

Not A Business Plan

What I’m suggesting isn’t a business plan. I’d describe what I’m saying as the things that need to happen to make a business plan work. As Will Rogers once said, “Plans get you into things; but you got to work your way out”. I’m talking about “how to work your way out”.

Lake Eyre Doesn’t Just Fill

It takes months, even years, for enough water to reach Lake Eyre to fill it. And it usually takes some years for a business to reach full potential. When the lake fills it’s obvious. The desert around it is flat for miles around. But you know the lake is filling. The surrounding vegetation greens. The tributaries brim. Then there are the birds. The birds arrive to breed in vast numbers. Some fly many miles to set up breeding colonies in and around the lake. Pelicans for instance, travel from the coast up to 1450 Km – 900 miles – away.

Your Business Doesn’t “Just Fill” Either

Businesses don’t become instant successes. Like filling Lake Eyre, it takes time for a business to grow and develop. Sometimes a business has some major success that garners lots of media attention. The business media raves about “overnight success”. Sorry, it doesn’t happen like that. If you think it does, read the history of McDonalds, Microsoft, Apple, Intel or any number of market leaders. They’ve built quietly and gradually: just like your business.

Is Your Business Filling Up?

There are no pelicans surrounding your business. The sand around your office or factory isn’t a carpet of wildflowers. Small animals haven’t suddenly appeared in large numbers in your garden. But there are signs. Will you recognize them? Will you know which are really important and which are superficial? Will vitally important information slip quietly “under your guard” without you realizing what it says to you?

Opportunity Missed?

Worse still, will you recognize these vital signs, but only after the opportunity to benefit from them has passed. As Lake Eyre starts to dry up many young birds die. Their parents arrived too late at the lake. The food supply diminishes as the lake empties. The chicks can’t survive. And they’re too young to endure the long, arduous flight to their usual homes on far away waterways.

Don’t Be Like Lake Eyre

If you don’t know what to look for in your business, you run the risk of becoming a stranded chick. Your business may not die. But the opportunity to take full advantage of your success will ebb away. If may not return for years or even for decades.