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How healthy is your business?

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CKCA by Sandra Wood
CMP, Executive Director, CKCA
CKCA recently held its National Forum in Niagara Falls, Ontario with more than 100 manufacturers and suppliers attending and joining us in celebrating CKCA’s 50th anniversary.
It’s amazing to learn of the industry’s progress in the last 50 years. CKCA is writing a visual timeline of what the last 50 years looked like because it’s a tool to inspire the next generation of cabinetmakers and shows them the innovations and progress we’ve made.  In doing so, all of us can imagine the potential of where the industry is going and why it’s an exciting industry to get into. Have your say in writing the timeline:

Shared goal – Measurable success
Hard work, dedication and innovation are fundamental ingredients to progress.  It took a lot of effort to get our industry to where it is today. That effort continues and will drive the industry forward. We’ve all heard about the behavioral patterns of the different generations (Boomers, GenX, GenY, etc.) because there is an unprecedented number of different generations working together. Generational approaches to business may be different, but no matter the generation, we share a common goal of scalable success. Generations are learning from one another and it’s not just an older generation teaching the younger either. It can often be the other way round, technology being a major factor in why that’s happening! No matter the order, all generations learn what to do and also, what not to do.  
The kitchen cabinet manufacturing sector is made up of many small to medium-sized businesses, many dedicated people putting in long days. Many businesses are being passed down to next generations and over the next 10 years we will see an unprecedented number of people retiring. Succession planning, mentorship and the ability to sell your business is on the minds of many.  

Is your business salable?
At the CKCA National Forum in May we invited keynote presenter Lynne Jacob of MLJ International to speak about maintaining a healthy business by “Striking the right balance between work and play”. As Lynne says “Fun has never been so profitable.” Depending on your generational label, this concept may seem unrealistic or it may be exactly what you want. Lynne gave a solid example of a very successful business owner who increased his success by stepping away from his business more, training and then trusting his staff and taking the time to explore other interests all the while running his business. In other words, this business owner had made his business ‘salable,’ because as a well-oiled machine, he could afford to step away. That’s the kind of business people want to buy, the kind of business that future generations value because there is a perceived balance. For Lynne’s client, he also experienced an unexpected benefit – it opened the doors to more business opportunities he had never thought possible.   

Step away once 
in a while
Carving out time to walk away from a busy shop is often difficult and to many, it seems impossible. But how many good ideas have you had, when your mind has been clear to actually think? CKCA’s events do ask that you step away from your shop, but it’s because the value in doing so pays back tenfold. When you have time to talk to others, you gain perspective and you get ideas that can help you and your business. As one attendee recently said “I had no idea this is what happened at your events. This has been really useful.” They are now CKCA members and we will see them at future CKCA events.

Home and business balancing act
According to Lynne “younger generations want a greater balance between home and business.  They grew up seeing their parents, especially their fathers, working so much more than playing, and felt the tension in the family as a result of it. 
Thanks to society’s constant message about work-life-balance, these younger generations have reached adulthood knowing that their parents’ life is not the 
life they want for themselves and 
their families.”
In addition, Lynne also points out that “only 20% of owners of small, and even mid-sized, businesses actually have a lucrative retirement; the remaining 80% being carried out with their boots on trying hard to convince themselves and others that this is what they really wanted to do. The two main reasons for the 80% not enjoying a retirement are simply:
1. Fear they’ll outlive any savings they may have acquired together with the liquidation proceeds of their business; and
2. Not having anything to do that they enjoy more than their business, given they did little else outside of the business.”

What do you really want?
Some of the realities are that “of the many family-owned businesses in our sector some 40% will make it to the 2nd generation and only 12-13% of those businesses will survive to the 3rd generation. Sadly, it’s emotions and family dynamics – the family’s pecking order – that kill these family businesses.”  
Lynne Jacob knows and sees that the more time you spend outside of the business, enjoying activities you always wanted to explore or which have recently peaked your curiosity, hence the less time you spend in the office, the more profitable your business will be if you’ve trained your support team properly. Lynne says “now you’re creating a sustainable lifestyle on your own terms simply by practicing retirement now, for when that day comes. Some of the key steps to accomplishing this are:
• Identify what it is that you really want. Not what you should want or what others want for you 
or want you to want, but what is it that you want. There’s your goal, your destination.  
• Now, map it out.
• Then, simply … follow the map!

One of the biggest challenges from there is staying open to receive what you want and trusting you will receive it.
She said it’s a common belief that changes brought about by the government, the economy, society, etc., are what get in your way, negatively affecting business results and derailing you. In fact, what causes the challenges on the inside of your business is the way you and your business react to the outside changes.
“To help you stay the course during every business climate, develop systems for everything that happens in your business. Systems are merely your business’ habits; and habits are what we do without thinking.  To ensure you’re staying the course it’s essential to know your numbers; all of them, right down to how many times you’ll be away from your business each year and each 1/4 to ensure you’re breathing enough new, fresh air into your lungs as well as the lungs of your business. When you truly know your numbers you’ll know precisely how many more years, quarters and months you’ll be at the helm in your business. And Freedom 55?  
It’s not just a myth.”
Whether you are planning an exit strategy, have just started in the industry, or you’re somewhere in the middle, remember that keeping a business “healthy” is fundamental to your success and the sustainability of this industry.  
Lynne reminds us that “a motto to keep on your wall is Make this Business Salable; for your sake and the next generations’, as well as the industry’s.” Engage in opportunities to have good conversations with colleagues, get out of your shop and meet your industry. Take time to set goals, create, innovate and see where your roadmap takes you.  
Want to learn more from 
Lynne?  CKCA will keep the conversation going with Lynne. 
But you can also contact her directly by going to her website where 
Lynne offers free webinars and 
plenty of valuable insights:

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