In this blog PM does not stand for night time. Instead it’s all about Preventive Maintenance. In the world of buildings and real estate, smart operators pay a great deal of attention to Preventive Maintenance. We pre-check furnaces and air conditioning units prior to the heating and cooling seasons. We inspect roofs and make repairs to flashings, gutters and other structural elements. Mortar joints are periodically tuckpointed, and windows and doors are caulked and weatherstripped. Elevators are maintained on a programmed basis along with fire suppression systems. Why do we do it? Because the cost is less than letting things go until they break. And a major breakdown can lead to customer inconvenience and potential life safety issues.
There are many parallels for entrepreneurs. Let’s start with the obvious. Our health and wellness is one of our most important assets. Maintaining our minds and bodies in top form has a direct correlation to our productivity and performance. We all know this is true but having the self-discipline to follow-through can be challenging. So here’s my challenge to you. Do you schedule a complete physical exam with a medical doctor every year? Do you go to the dentist once or twice a year? How about a regular eye exam? Are you getting enough sleep at night? Are you exercising regularly? Are you eating in a healthy manner? Here’s a tip. When I see a medical professional, before I leave I schedule an appointment for the next year. Then I don’t have to remember to do so later when I’m busy because it’s already on my calendar. Younger entrepreneurs may have a tendency to put off some of this “Preventive Maintenance.” They may think they are invincible or not old enough to worry about PM. But getting into a habit early in one’s career may enhance the quality of one’s life in his or her later years.
How about estate planning? Do we have one at all? Buying life insurance when we’re young is a very smart move. It’s so much more expensive the older we get. And don’t forget about disability coverage. Do we have a will? Is it reviewed periodically and updated as necessary? Are we using all of the estate planning tools that are available to us? I’ve been a big advocate of utilizing revocable trusts in which assets are held. It helps to avoid the expense and public nature of probate. We had a partner who understood the need for such trusts and I hounded him to title his assets this way. But he failed to follow-through. When he died unexpectedly his estate was a disaster. It took more than two weeks to locate the most current version of his will. Many of his assets were subject to probate because they weren’t held in trust. In the end, it took several years to settle his estate and the lawyers were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to untangle the mess. Here’s another tip. I keep an estate planning notebook and update it twice a year. Everything that my wife, children, tax accountant and estate attorney would need to be aware of is contained in this notebook – both in hard and electronic versions. Copies of all of my partnership agreements, loan documents and other important business information are burned to a CD-ROM.
Preventive Maintenance even applies to our relationships. Are we taking vacations at the appropriate intervals in order to maintain our sanity and that of our families? How about the relationships we have we members of our team? Sometimes entrepreneurs have a tendency to power along without regard to how teammates may be feeling. We are focused on accomplishment and can easily forget to focus on the well-being of others. To avoid this trap, I create calendar-driven electronic tasks that remind me to periodically set breakfast or lunch with various members of my team. I feel that it’s important to get out of the office where I can focus all of my attention on those individuals. Entrepreneurs generally work on their external relationships with veritable ease. And a similar effort must be made to avoid neglecting internal relationships.
Entrepreneurs should view themselves just as they would an expensive, high-performance automobile. We wouldn’t dream of skipping the recommended maintenance on such a car. And thus we should make certain that we are just as attentive to the Preventive Maintenance that is needed for our health and wellness, estate planning and relationships.
You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Audio Episode 16 – A Punch in the Mouth.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.