Friday, November 2, 2012

How did a career in Corrections help me in business?

My first career as a jail guard and Correctional Officer taught me alot about business ... I just didn't know it at the time.

Not all the inmates were as happy and friendly as our dog Toby... although some were much better behaved than Toby.  :)

Jim, the host of  Building Your Extra-Ordinary Business Radio show, interviewed me about how we have built our business, the successes, and the learnings along the way.  It was interesting to reflect upon how working in Correctional System prepared me in many ways for my next career and then my entrepreneurial business pursuits. We talked about how I met many people (staff and inmates) who were stuck.  Jim suggested they were "imprisoned in their own minds" which was true in so many cases. People  were stuck in patterns of behaviour that did not serve them well, relationships that were not healthy, inappropriate coping patterns, and the list goes on. I discovered that so many people had somehow lost their passion along the way.  Years later I discovered that my passion, became the foundation of our business. When you put your passion into your business, the results can be truly amazing.

What helped me cross the boundary of going from the safety and security of a 9-5 job, to being a full time entrepreneur and opening not just one, but two businesses?  I took the dive, jumped into risk, knowing little about business....the learning began. My career in Corrections led me to my next career, a dispute resolution and mediation expert. Working a government job and running a part time business (16 years ago) became difficult to do, so, I decided to give entrepreneurship a chance. I quit my job, and in a month I was full time in my business, within the first year we hired our first employee, and secured a brick and mortar location. We continued to grow at warp speed. Within three years I had two businesses, two offices, and ten employees.

Jim asked about the struggles on the way to success, there were many learnings, but here are a couple of what I shared on the interview:

1) Making the shift from a weekly paycheck and employee to business owner (and instability)- big mindset difference.  I had to learn how to ASK for help.
2) I learned about business as I jumped in, which resulted in me being in a constant learning curve for several years, making some decisions I would handle differently today but learning what not to ever do again, and, what worked and to keep doing.
3) I discovered the importance of the almighty plan- a succession plan, a marketing plan, a business plan, a media plan, a growth plan, the list goes on. Plans are essential to manage growth and thrive during the economic downturns.
4) Collaborations, relationships and strategic alliances can advance your business quickly, but, be careful who you say "yes" to collaborate with. Sharing similar values, work and business ethics and being congruent is essential for success in collaborations.

We also talked about how we stay in relationship with our clients, how we innovate and manage three separate brands. 

What do you know now that you wished you knew then? What are your three top learnings? What would you tell a new business owner?

You can hear how I responded to those intriguing questions by listening to the radio show link above.

Business Take Aways:
- Have a plan, review the plan, modify the pan
- Build strong relationships and be a champion for others
- Come from a place of cooperation and collaboration, not competition
- Sometimes you have to say "no" to opportunities that come your way, to be ready for the big HECK YES opportunities
- To be successful in business you have to understand business, know how business works and seek guidance of the experts
- Build your team. We have a team that includes financial advisors, marketing advisors, legal and accounting advisors, brand experts, media coach, publicist, to name a few. This team has been an important part of our Hammond business model. 

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