Fred Koury

If you’ve been running a business for some time, then I’m sure you know some CEOs who are struggling to keep their business going or have already closed their doors.

In some cases, the cause might be the economy. Maybe they were in an industry hit particularly hard and were crippled by the drop off in sales or maybe a large customer folded or took its business elsewhere.

The most troubling aspect in many of these situations is that the person in charge didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. The leader made all the right calls and did everything by the book but still ended up with a struggling business.

After you’ve been running a business for a while, you realize that even doing everything right doesn’t guarantee success. The harshest lesson to learn is that you can’t control everything and bad things happen to good people and good companies.

The real test for many begins not with how they deal with success but how they deal with setbacks. Most have never tasted defeat before, and it can be a difficult experience. One day they are the CEO of a successful and respected company, and the next day they are sitting at home wondering what they could have done differently. The experience can be depressing for some and overwhelming for others.

But there’s a saying that as one door closes, another opens, and that certainly holds true with business. If you find yourself in the situation of leading a struggling business, you need to approach it as a challenge. Don’t waste time lamenting what could have been; focus your energy on what could be. Maybe you need to tweak your business, or maybe you need to completely reinvent your company, but the key is to do something.

Take McDonald’s for instance. In the early 2000s, the company was distracted by multiple acquisitions, a massive expansion plan and a menu cluttered with items consumers didn’t necessarily want. The stock price dropped to $12. The company reinvented itself by returning to its roots, divesting of the distracting side businesses and revamping its menu and restaurants to appeal to consumers. The results changed the perception of McDonald’s from a restaurant in decline to the undisputed king of the industry with a stock price in the $80 range.

Another example is IBM. The company was saddled with low growth after trying to dominate the consumer and business hardware and software segments, and its stock dropped to $10. The leadership refocused the company on business software, a few key business hardware components and IT services. It now dominates the business IT services category and its stock commands almost $200 per share.

While you may not be as large as IBM or McDonald’s, the point is that business is constantly evolving. Sometimes it means getting back to your roots, and other times it means abandoning one line of business in favor of another.

Take a hard look at your company and think about what you could do differently. Are there some product lines that are better than others? What if you focused on your core products and did them better than anyone else? Can you follow the lead of McDonald’s or IBM to chart a new course?

If it’s too late for that, look at your current situation and find a new path to success. You led a successful business once, so you can surely do it again. Reach out to friends and colleagues to find out where the opportunities may be in the market and think about a way they could invest in your new venture. You never know who may be able to lend a helping hand. One door may have closed in your career, but with some entrepreneurial thinking, the help of some friends and prayer, another will open. The best is yet to come.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

There’s an old saying that the best way to get yourself out of a hole is to stop digging.

The problem is that, too many times, you think there’s a treasure lurking just a few more shovelfuls down, so the digging continues. As the hole gets deeper, you keep at it because you’ve already put so much effort into it that it would be a waste to stop now.

There are many examples in business of these ever-deepening holes that eat up manpower, time and money. Sometimes, the elusive treasure is a product that’s sputtering along but just can’t quite get going like you had hoped. Other times, it is a person who has all the promise in the world but doesn’t have much to show for it other than a warm chair and a lot of frustration on your part. The “hole” might even be an entire division that is underperforming or a vendor that just isn’t meeting your needs.

Corporate America is littered with decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time but that just didn’t work out. Remember New Coke? It was meant to replace the Coca-Cola that everyone grew up with, but it lasted only 77 days before the classic formula was reintroduced to the market.

The Coca-Cola Co. wisely made the tough decision that its reformulation didn’t pan out the way it had hoped and brought back the old formula. The result was that while New Coke may have failed, the company retained its top spot. It realized the hole was getting too deep with no return in sight, so it got out.

If you’re going to be successful, then you will have to make tough decisions. No matter how close to the buried treasure you think you are, at some point, you have to take your shovel and climb out of the hole and move on.

It’s called cutting your losses. Coke executives could have stuck to their decision because every bit of market research showed that people liked the taste of the new formula better, but it just wasn’t showing up in the sales figures. Maybe you’ve invested a lot of time and money into a product or a person, but there comes a point where you have to give up and focus your resources on more productive areas.

You can’t be afraid to make these tough decisions. It might be easier to justify further expense to keep going, but don’t wait any longer. Pull the plug.

Ending a project that’s bleeding money is an easy decision. The really tough choices come with the marginal performers — people included. To know when enough is enough, you need to set up accountability for projects and people so you can measure how well things are going compared to the standards you’ve set.

If something isn’t measuring up, get rid of it. In today’s business world, profit margins are too thin to waste money on unproductive portions of your business. You can’t afford to have a nonproductive anything — be it a person, division or product — weighing you down. Do everything you can to help the people affected move on, but make the decision and stick with it. These types of decisions are never easy. You never know how they will affect your business. It will always be easier to keep going after that elusive return on your investment, but you have to hold yourself accountable, as well. If it’s not working, it’s time to make a change.

So stop digging now before the hole gets so deep that you are unable to climb back out of it.

If you are interested in learning more about publishing a book, please contact our publisher, Dustin Klein, at dsklein@sbnonline.com or (440) 250-7026.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:53

Why not use a book to tell your story?

Being able to tell your story is critical in today’s fast-paced world, where cutting through the noise to be heard gets harder each day. With so many media options fighting for attention, it’s imperative to identify new channels where you can stand out.

That’s why as part of our expansion last year, we saw an opportunity to tell entrepreneurs’ stories in greater detail and share lessons learned by launching a book division.

Our book division is unlike traditional publishers, because we do all the work for you. We develop the story and outline, conduct the interviews with the author and other contributors, and then write the book and handle all of the other elements through publication of an e-book and hardback editions.

The time commitment from you is minimal. Once the story is determined, we will conduct a series of short interviews to get the information we need to write the book. You approve everything that goes into the story and have final say on every aspect of the project. We help you take an idea for a book and turn it into a reality that you can share with others.

As an example, last year, we worked with auto dealers Rick and Rita Case to produce “Our Customers, Our Friends.” In the book, the Cases lay out their theory that the secret to successful retail sales is through building long-lasting relationships with customers and treating them as you would your best friend.

Whether your goal is to use a book as a business card for your organization by sharing knowledge with others or to further a cause and help raise awareness for something you believe in, we work with our author-entrepreneurs to identify what makes them unique and what insight they can share with others. We also build an author’s website and set up social media channels to help them promote the book. And, we’ve recently established an authors’ speakers’ bureau that will help extend the reach of sharing that entrepreneur’s knowledge across the national footprint of Smart Business Network.

So far this year, we have eight books in various stages of production. Among them are books for the CEOs of three publicly traded companies on topics ranging from mergers and acquisitions to building sustainable businesses to how to conduct successful turnarounds. We’re also publishing books that introduce exciting new business theories, as well as one that explains how to lead with a philosophy of giving back to the community.

What direction your book takes is up to you. It can tell the story of how your business started small and grew into what it is today, or it can explain the details of what you see as the keys to being successful in business.

Breaking through the clutter of information is tricky, and writing a book is one way you can make yourself heard. It’s also a great way to explain your philosophies to employees, customers and your peers.

There’s a widespread belief that everyone has at least one book within them. In the business world, that’s even truer. If you think that’s you, we’d be happy to help you turn your ideas into reality.

If you are interested in learning more about publishing a book, please contact our publisher, Dustin Klein, at dsklein@sbnonline.com or (440) 250-7026.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 10:30

The cost of ownership

There are plenty of warnings about wanting too much in this world, whether it is in your personal life or as the CEO of a company.

Remember the dot-com bust? Prior to the technology market bubble bursting, tech companies could do no wrong. Investors were ignoring basic fundamentals because “this was a new era” and the old rules didn’t apply. Well, it turns out the rules did apply. As did one very old rule about “what goes up, must come down.”

Tech company valuations were slashed by billions, thousands were laid off and the ripple effect was felt throughout the economy.

More recently, we experienced the real estate bust. It was pretty much the same story — people ignored basic investing and common-sense rules and the prices for real estate went sky-high, and then the bubble burst. The results were also the same: billions in value lost, thousands of jobs affected and the ripple effect was felt throughout the economy.

There is plenty of blame to go around for these events, both by investors who got caught up on the hype and CEOs who were trying to get rich, or at least richer than they already were. It was a quest to have the biggest paycheck, the biggest yacht, the biggest plane and the biggest house. The reckless CEOs were trying to use get-rich-quick methods that are dangerous to everyone.

There are four common ways to grow a company:

  • Going public through an IPO
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Debt financing
  • Self-funded organic growth

IPOs cost a lot of money to launch and even more money to maintain. The second and third methods are all about leverage. Overvalued stocks and overleveraged companies were major contributors to the tech and real estate busts. Too many CEOs were borrowing more and more money to fund the next great merger or open more locations. When tough times hit and the money dried up, they had lived well beyond their means and a harsh reality set in.

Despite these recent economic failures, many companies are still playing with borrowed money, overleveraging themselves and putting their entire company at risk. You have to understand the leverage game and the risks that come with it. The best way to grow a company is to create an environment that fosters growth and to focus on building long-term relationships.

This isn’t to say that you won’t make a strategic acquisition here and there or occasionally borrow money to fund needed expansions. The key is to do it in moderation and understand how too much debt can hurt your ability to grow. Making a mistake with debt can spell doom for your company and everyone in it.

Your responsibility as CEO goes far beyond yourself. Investors obviously are counting on you, but so is everyone that works in your organization. For some of your vendors, you might be their largest account. If you suddenly went out of business, how would it affect them? Would you create your own mini “bust” that rippled through the local economy, even on a micro scale?

In today’s world, you need to take a hard look at how you are leading your company. One wrong move could cut you off from the credit you need to fund your leveraged growth. With no money, the organization often collapses under the weight of its own debt.

It’s OK to be satisfied with what you have and not play the high-risk game of leveraged growth. Growth is good but not when it requires an “all-in” risk that can ruin your organization and the lives of the people who work there. Remember, more often than not, slow and steady wins the race.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

If you’re like most CEOs, your day is spent rushing around from appointment to appointment, both internal and off-site, meeting people, solving problems and plotting strategy. The hours fly by, days blur into weeks, and the years start to blend together into a nonstop race against time.

Take a moment to ask yourself if this lifestyle makes any sense. What race are you hoping to win? What’s the reward when you get to the finish line, assuming you even know where the finish line is?

John Ortberg, author of “The Life You’ve Always Wanted,” says it’s important to ruthlessly eliminate the hurry from our lives. If you are in a hurry, there is little time to care about people. We need to slow down, even to the point of solitude.

While we are running our nonstop race, the people that suffer the most are those around us. Friends, family, colleagues and employees are often ignored as relationships are neglected in favor of the next big deal.

Ortberg suggests forcing yourself to slow down and put yourself in a position to wait. For instance, pick the longest line at the grocery store or take the long way to work. Doing so will help train yourself to slow down and be patient.

You are the person that sets the pace in your company, so if you slow down and make sure things are done right, others will do the same.

Working at a pace that’s too fast typically results in things being overlooked — things like employee recognition. When you don’t recognize and reward your employees, their job satisfaction can decline and they may leave. For every person who leaves, you and your staff have to dedicate more time to finding a capable replacement, resulting in an even faster pace as time is lost to recruiting and training. It can quickly become a vicious cycle.

Enjoy life by slowing your pace and being more productive, both at work and at home. Slowing down doesn’t mean you aren’t getting things done, it means you are doing things right and building relationships with people.

Not every transaction will turn a profit in business, but you can bet that almost every relationship you have with people will pay off in the long run. Isn’t it time you started investing in those relationships by taking the time to slow down and build them?

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

Tuesday, 01 May 2012 11:37

The inner circle

If you had the choice of growing at a 5.8 percent compound annual growth rate in a five-year period or declining 9.2 percent, which would you choose?

While the answer is obvious, the real question is, what does it take to end up on the positive side of the equation instead of the negative? Simple: some trusted friends.

The numbers above illustrate the difference in compound annual growth rates for members of Vistage, an organization for CEOs, and the average U.S. company. On average, just by belonging to Vistage, you are going to see much better growth. Why? Because you get insights about your business from CEOs who aren’t lost in the day-to-day issues.

Vistage, and other organizations like it (Young Presidents’ Organization, Entrpreneurs’ Organization — there are others as well) help you run your business better by putting you in contact with other CEOs.

Let’s face it; being in charge can be a lonely experience. At the end of the day, a lot of responsibility falls onto your lap, and if you fail, a lot of lives are affected. Some of us are blessed to have an inner circle of people we trust to bounce ideas off of and know that if an idea is bad, someone will speak up. But there are others out there that for whatever reason don’t have that trusted inner circle.

To be successful, you need to be willing to open up about problems before it’s too late to do anything about it. Telling someone you need help isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s the opposite. The increased success rates of companies that participate in peer groups bear that out.

You don’t have to have a giant network of other CEOs to be successful. Having two people that you trust and value their opinions is probably all you need. Two trusted friends can help you navigate through tough decisions and act as a sounding board for your ideas.

Working with your peers to review your ideas and goals is a great way to eliminate stress. They can provide the confirmation and validation you are looking for as you move your organization forward and can point out potential pitfalls you may have overlooked.

Sometimes, just having someone else say, “Yes, I think that will work,” can go a long way toward putting you at ease.

So what do you do if you don’t have a couple of people whom you trust? That’s where the professional organizations like Vistage come in. They can provide the same sort of feedback in a group setting and also offer a great way to network with other CEOs. As you build your network, you will most likely find a few people you are comfortable with and can build a closer relationship with them.

The most important aspect is to not try to go it alone. Whether you have a trusted inner circle of a few people or prefer a larger group setting, it’s important to have some sort of sounding board for your ideas. It’s also important to have people who understand what you are going through. Other CEOs can relate to the challenges of leadership and talk about what keeps them up at night. What you’re likely to find is that many of the same issues that bother you are also bothering others. Work together to find solutions or at least talk it through. You might discover a new approach to an old problem.

After all, two heads are better than one.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

In this time of transformative change, it’s easy to get derailed by internal issues. The key to being successful is to focus on the end goal, not the friction that is generated by change.

Take Yahoo for instance. Ten years ago, it was the dominant player in search. Today, Google’s revenue is in the neighborhood of more than 20 times that of Yahoo’s. The company had the opportunity to be bought by Microsoft but declined, which was puzzling, because there didn’t really appear to be a Plan B. You can read stories about in fighting between divisions and how search was given blank checks while other departments had to fight for every dime, and I’m sure there’s something to that. But I think where Yahoo went wrong was it never really had a clear idea of where it was going or what it wanted to be.

The Internet had changed, and it was no longer sure where it fit in. With no clear direction, conditions inside the company started to deteriorate. So while it may look to some that the company needed to clean up its internal mess first, the lack of a clearly defined external goal most likely contributed to the mess in the first place.

Transforming an organization to compete in the new economic landscape is difficult. It requires systemwide change at levels that most people won’t be used to. There will be the old way of doing things and new ways of doing things, and those two things often don’t mesh together well.

But all barriers have to be overcome to achieve the harmony that’s needed to succeed. You can have all the handbooks, core values and mission statements that you want, but how many people are actually referring to them? Are they doing anything for you other than collecting dust on the shelf?

The key to transformative change is leadership. Leadership has to be committed to a clear course of action no matter what. During these times, internal stress is higher and turmoil is inevitable. Everyone is overworked and on edge.

As the leader, you have to keep everyone focused on the end goal, make the changes that are necessary and move forward. You can’t lose hope, quit or give up. That’s the easy way out.

Focus on your external goals and make sure all of your people understand what their role is in getting there. There will be problems inside your business, but that takes more time to resolve itself. Your job is to stay focused and try to keep everyone else focused on the end goal.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t have to spend some time intervening in internal issues, particularly ones that threaten to derail you from your objectives. You just can’t get lost in trying to sort out every last disagreement or worrying that everyone is happy under your roof. You have to trust that your managers will sort out the little things and that those who are committed will come along for the ride.

In the end, Yahoo lost out to Google for a variety of reasons, but you have to wonder how much of its pain was caused by the lack of a clear corporate goal and the resulting focus on the in-fighting within the organization. It’s not about who wins the fight between Department A and Department B. It’s about the personnel in both departments understanding what the goal is.

To reach your transformational goals, don’t get lost in the details. Stay focused on the big prize, and you will be rewarded with success you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

Researchers at Eastman Kodak Co. invented the first digital camera in 1976. In January 2012, it filed for bankruptcy protection.

How could a company that had one of the most well-known brands in the world, dominated the film industry and had the means to keep itself from becoming obsolete have fallen so far? Simple: No one transformed the company.

Kodak’s old model was fairly basic: You sold cheap cameras and made a fortune on the disposable supplies that were used in them. It was the old razor blade model — give away the razors and make your money on the blades. This model worked exceptionally well for a long time and made the company the envy of many.

What brought the company down was digital photography. Film became obsolete as more people switched to the conveniences of digital photos taken with either digital cameras or, increasingly, mobile phones. It has to be incredibly frustrating to the leadership of Kodak to look back at what might have been. The company was already the No. 1 player in the market and invented the digital camera, the very device that could spell its doom if developed by a competitor.

But the leadership of Kodak couldn’t envision a world where film didn’t exist. When profits are rolling in, it can be difficult to see changes in the marketplace that can adversely affect your business. Why transform to digital when film is what is making everyone money?

While Kodak was clutching onto its old business model, the digital market took off, leaving film manufacturers behind. Kodak failed to transform itself to face a new reality and is a shell of its former self. It is now left to the mercy of bankruptcy proceedings.

Don’t be like Kodak.

Here are four things that need to happen to transform your business to reflect the reality of the marketplace.

• Have a clear vision of what direction your company is going and communicate that to your management team and employees.

• Get everyone to buy in. Start with your managers and have them help you get buy-in from everyone else. You can’t afford a disconnect between management and staff. Provide as many facts as possible to win over skeptics. Many people don’t like change, so it may take some time to get everyone on board.

• Make sure you have the right people. Do your people have the ability to execute the plan to transform your business? You don’t need to maintain the status quo anymore; you need to become something completely different. That may require difficult personnel decisions.

• Persevere. You are not going to transform your business overnight. You need to create benchmarks and measure your progress toward your goals. It’s not glamorous. As CEO, you can never stop believing, because people are watching you for cues. If you aren’t a true believer, how can you expect them to be?

Some of you are already working your way through this process or may have even finished it. If that’s the case, then I congratulate you on having the foresight to make the changes you need to survive.

For those of you who haven’t started, as you work through your transformation, expect there to be pain and a lot of hard work. There will be times when you feel like you are not making any progress. But there cannot be growth without pain.

In today’s economy, every company has to transform itself, because everything is changing. In the end, there are only two types of companies: those that transform themselves into market leaders and survivors that are just getting by.

Which one are you?

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 19:00

Avoiding the ambush

If you were in the grocery business in the late 1990s, you already had plenty of competition. There were larger chains like Kroger plus all kinds of smaller IGA stores, not to mention the various convenience stores like Dairy Mart, all of whom were fighting for the same grocery dollar.

The market couldn’t possibly take another competitor entering the marketplace, but that’s exactly what happened. Walmart started selling groceries.

When the behemoth entered the grocery market, most smaller players couldn’t compete. The mom-and-pop stores mostly closed their doors and even the big chains suffered. Business was down and margins were hurt.

The surprising part about this is that most of the players in the market didn’t expect it. They were “business as usual,” and then, suddenly, Walmart came to town. Walmart now controls an estimated 16 to 25 percent of the grocery market nationwide, depending on who you ask. Before the late ’90s, Walmart’s share was zero. The market didn’t anticipate being attacked from that direction, but that’s exactly what happened.

The music industry suffered a similar fate. Remember all the retail record stores that were out there? There were multiple stores in each mall plus specialty retailers on every corner. If you wanted music, you drove to the store and bought a CD. Then iTunes and iPods showed up. It was a game changer. Most of those record stores have long since been shuttered. Who would have thought that you would just download music over the Internet and all those stores would be gone?

The lessons are clear: You will have new competitors, but you won’t necessarily know who they will be or what direction they will come from.

Too often, we are locked into studying our existing market, carefully watching every move our known competitors are making. But while we are doing that, an unknown threat is creeping up behind us.

The only way to fight these unknown dangers is to always be prepared for the worst. It’s the old “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound or cure” adage.

The companies that operate the most efficiently and leverage technology to their advantage will be the ones in the best position to fight off all threats, both known and unknown.

Your management team has to be open-minded to all new ideas and be structured in a way that can quickly adapt to market changes. If your team can’t do this, then either you don’t have the right team or the structure is wrong.

Making changes requires quick reactions, and people need to buy in as soon as possible. To be fair, you need to give people the opportunity to change, but if they can’t adapt with you, then you have to replace them or find a position better suited for them.

In today’s ever-changing economy, there are a lot of very difficult decisions that need to be made regarding your people. You can’t be an effective CEO and run your company like you are the head of a fan club with your employees as the members. Making the changes required to survive and thrive in the world requires fast action, and many of the decisions will not be popular. If you are constantly surveying them to see if they approve of your actions, you’ll probably be headed for failure.

Sell your direct reports on your vision and get their buy-in. After that, you need to get as many people on board as possible. Those that can’t do that in a reasonable time need to move on.

Most people don’t like change, but this is a new era we live in. Speed is imperative. In the time you took to read this column, some unknown future competitor just crept a little closer to launching an attack on your market share. Are you ready for them? Or do you need to send out a survey first?

Time’s up.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.

Saturday, 31 December 2011 20:01

Money versus values

Oprah Winfrey is an example of someone who rose from poverty to be worth billions. She moved from being a TV reporter to heading up her own media empire that includes a cable network and a magazine. A simple endorsement from her can take a person or product from unknown to superstar overnight.

But she also hasn’t forgotten about her past and the values that guided her from rock bottom to the top of the mountain. While she has achieved great success, she has focused on her values to guide her, giving back hundreds of millions of her personal wealth to charity and focusing her media outlets on messages of hope and inspiration that she hopes will help others like her succeed.

She doesn’t necessarily focus on the next big thing; she just focuses on the right values and makes decisions accordingly. The results speak for themselves, and it isn’t surprising that she’s consistently ranked as not only one of the most admired women by Newsweek but also as one of the top CEOs and entrepreneurs by other media outlets.

Now look in the mirror. Are you driven by values to establish your goals, or are you just getting by? Values can give you the road map to happiness that often eludes us. Just like a company needs goals to guide its path, individuals need values that act as guideposts to a better life.

Take an inventory and list the values that are important to you. When you do so, you’ll be taking the first steps toward a more fulfilling life and career. Too many leaders are just getting by, lost in the day-to-day fires of business, knowing they are chasing something but unsure as to what that something is. Those that think they know are often confused by trying to accumulate wealth to achieve hollow goals like getting buildings named after them or being the richest of the rich.

Sadly, many on the rich list are poorest where it counts most: life. And many more burned out trying to get there, their identity destroyed when their business failed or the big project they sunk their life into never quite made it.

Finding happiness in success requires that you use your values as your guide and not your checkbook. With the right values, the money will come naturally. Your career should be looked at as something that you do, not define who you are.

If you were fired as CEO or your company went out of business tomorrow, would that seem like the end of your life? If so, it’s a sign that you are too wrapped up in your job.

If that’s the case, slow down and make a list of all the things that are important to you in life. List the values that they represent and start living your life by those values, and that includes what you do at work. Once you have your values identified, you can compare what you are thinking of doing to the list. Is your plan of action consistent with your values? If not, come up with a different plan that is.

For most of us, business isn’t a life-or-death proposition, so stop taking things so seriously. Take time to laugh and enjoy the small moments that are placed before us.

You would never consider running a business without some sort of plan on where you want to get to and the values that will get you there, so why would you consider living your life without a similar plan?

If you aren’t enjoying your success by finding happiness in the little things in your life, then you have to ask yourself why you’re working so hard to be miserable.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or fkoury@sbnonline.com.