It’s easy to think that any business can be successful if you work hard enough, but there are many situations where this just isn’t so. Here are two businesses that could have been big failures if the owners hadn’t made major changes to the way they operate.
One day as I was sitting at my desk working on an ugly homicide case, my mind drifted to my part-time business of selling candles. I wondered how I could make it a major player in my life so I wouldn’t have to spend the next 20 years immersed in the dark side of humanity.
It was policy to have the police chief’s written permission to carry on secondary employment or to own a business outside of the department, so although the chief knew who was making a living outside of the department, many of us did not know about our co-workers’ special skills and services.
As I allowed my mind to search for answers, an idea struck.
What if I were to create an inner-departmental products and services directory? It would spotlight the businesses and specialized skills of police personnel and allow us to deal with people we know and trust, support each other’s businesses, and eliminate the burden of thumbing through the yellow pages hoping to find ethical, reliable business people.
I prepared a proposal for the chief and gained his full support. Immediately after getting the go ahead, I circulated a department-wide memorandum announcing the project and asked for submissions.
My phone started ringing and e-mail started whirling within minutes of the broadcast, and within a few short days I had a compendium of internal products and services for our members.
We had plumbers, electricians, construction workers, small engine repair, landscapers, mechanics, guitar instructors, home accessories, wood workers, bakers, bricklayers, personal trainers, photographers, palm readers, interior decorators and a host of other talents, products and services.
People came out of the woodwork sharing skills from previous jobs. We had access to resources right under our noses that we never knew existed.
The department benefited because employees no longer wasted company time rummaging through phone books or making numerous calls to find personal services and employees benefited by increasing their second incomes and growing their businesses.
When people needed gifts or candles, they came to me. They didn’t have to waste time wandering through malls and the men no longer had to rack their brains trying to come up with the perfect gift for their wife. Life became easier and more profitable for everyone.
Several years later when I started my coaching practice, I approached the new chief with an idea that would benefit the members. The computer network had been revamped and all outlying stations and the courthouse were now connected to main headquarters. We had a new desktop screen that was shared throughout. I approached the chief with a proposal to have a new positive quote, affirmation or funny verse appear on the desktop every day. The intent was to create a smile or empowering thought for employees before they headed out into the “real world.”
Again, the proposal was approved and employees welcomed the idea. I received thank you e-mails and phone calls, and on occasion an employee would write to share the impact a certain quote had on his or her day. One day the system didn’t pick-up the programmed quote and a blank box appeared on the home page.
My phone began ringing because people were wondering what happened to their daily inspiration!
This creative idea benefited the department and also made the employees aware of my work in helping others shift perspectives. I gained several private coaching clients as a result.
I recently spoke with a former co-worker and she informed me the daily quotes continue to this day. Someone else took on the responsibility to make sure everyone receives their daily dose of inspiration. The news gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
I was fortunate to have bosses who were receptive to ideas and supportive of helping employees in unconventional ways.
An internal directory of services or a quote of the day may not be ideal for your workplace, but what other creative ideas might create a win for you, your co-workers and your employer?
Although your job may be a thorn in your side at times, it may also provide you with the perfect opportunity to share your talents and to promote yourself in a subtle, non-obtrusive way.
Turn up your creative antennae and explore the possibilities. If you’re still in your job even though you don’t want to be, it may be there to serve you in a way you haven’t considered.