(Time to read this Blog is about 3.5 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking or smiling:

  1. My Quote of the week:

“A major challenge for many family businesses is that the parents can’t teach their kids how to run the business because they (the parents) don’t know how to run it themselves…and, on top of that, they’re usually not good teachers and coaches.”

…Donald Cooper.

  1. Quick Biz Tip: Cooper’s 7 rules for the next-gen ‘kids’ in a family business:

Much of my Biz Coaching work is helping family businesses prepare the next generation to manage the business some day, or to help parents deal with the reality that this will never happen…or should never happen. 

My ‘7 rules for the next-gen ‘kids’ in a family business’ are the result of all that experience.  If they don’t relate to your situation, pass them on to a business friend who needs this reality check:   

    1. If the next-gen ‘kids’ are thought to be the future leaders of the business, they need a proper ‘business management’ education before entering the business.
    2. Then, they should work someplace else first for at least 2 years. Preferably, in a related industry sector and in a business that’s run well and is the size your business will be some day.
    3. Once they enter the business, there needs to be an organized, clear and documented Development Program through which they will learn all aspects of the operations and management of the business.
    4. They must work and live with the same rules and boundaries as other staff.
    5. Family members compete with others for every management job.  The business is not an ‘automatic family job creation machine’.
    6. They should be compensated fairly. Not overpaid and not underpaid because, “Someday this will all be theirs.”
    7. If they’re toxic, lazy or incompetent…they’re out.
  1. ‘Averages’ can be dangerous, but this is still interesting.  The average American household owes $6,000 in Credit Card debt, $12,000 in student loan debt and $11,000 in car loans.

The minimum monthly payment required by most Credit Card companies is just 2% of the outstanding debt.  By paying only the minimum amount, it would take more than 30 years to pay off a $6,000 credit-card balance.  And that’s assuming they don’t charge another penny on the card over that 30-year time span.

  1. The big myth that ‘You get what you pay for.’  Many of us grew up with this expression and I still hear it from time-to-time.  But it’s often not true.

For example, in Consumer Reports Magazine’s testing and ratings of foam mattresses:

    1. The foam mattress rated #2, with a rating of 81 out of 100, costs $1,100 (US)
    2. The foam mattress rated #71, with a rating of just 63 out of 100, is priced at an astronomical $5,000 (US).

So, when you’re making a purchase for your business, or your life, do the homework.  We don’t always ‘get what we pay for.


Now, to this week’s important topic:

Important business and life lessons from ‘The 4 barbers’:

Do you have a clear sense of how big and how good you want to be in your business and your life?  What does success look like for you?  What’s your Vision…and do you have a passionate commitment and a clear Plan to get there?  

Life’s full of possibilities and, ultimately, it’s about making wise choices.  An example that I often use with clients to illustrate the many possible Visions that we can have for both our business and our life is what I call ‘The 4 Barbers’.  Here’s how it goes…

Barber #1 works in other people’s barber shops all his life.  He struggles to make ends meet, takes two week’s vacation each year and then, one day, he goes home and dies.

Barber #2 opens his own barber shop.  He says, “I’m not working for somebody else. I want to be my own boss; but I’m not going to hire anyone else to work with me.  That’s way too stressful.  They probably won’t do things my way and they’ll mess everything up. I’ll be happier working alone.”  He works long hours, six days a week, 50 weeks a year and when he’s not there, he’s not earning.  Then, one day he locks up his shop, he goes home and he dies.

Barber #3 opens his own beautifully designed shop, hires four other barbers, a hair washer and a manicurist and sells top quality, professional hair care products to his clientele, thus creating leverage and the add-on sale.  He builds equity in his business by creating a strong team and a loyal clientele.  He has created and proactively uses a large client data base and is active on social media.  He also offers free hair cuts for unemployed men to help them look presentable and feel more confident when going for a job interview.  He has received a lot of media coverage for this initiative.    

He becomes so expert at cutting hair and promoting himself that he becomes the preferred hair stylist for top business people and celebrities in his market.  He and his wife take three vacations a year and while he’s away the business keeps making money.  On his 60th birthday he sells his barbershop and he and his wife travel the world doing most of the things that they’ve always wanted to do. They also set up a foundation to teach 100s of street kids to become top hair stylists.  And one day, he goes home and he dies.  

Barber #4 is a former chartered accountant who created Magi-Cuts and other hair cutting chains with hundreds of low-price, high-volume franchise locations and he owns several high-end salons in prestige locations.  By age 38 his company had annual sales of $300 million and the man does not personally know how to cut a head of hair.  But he does have Vision, passion, focus and the ability to lead and manage people and attract capital.  He has developed a team, created thousands of jobs, and amassed a personal fortune.  And, in spite of all that, one day, he’ll go home and he’ll die.

You see it always ends the same way.  We’re all going to die…that’s not the point.  The point is the journey.  The point is choosing for yourself the journey that gives you and the people you love the most joy and the least regret.

There’s no right or wrong choice here…only the reality of how big and how good you want to be and how good and how big you must be to be a profitable market leader, create a saleable business and an extraordinary life.  What is ‘wrong’ is not thinking it through; not considering the possibilities; not making wise choices for yourself and for the people you love; and not having the courage and a Plan to make your extraordinary business and life happen.  What’s ‘wrong’ is ending your life with an overwhelming sense of regret!  So, which ‘Barber’ do you choose to be …and when will you get started?


That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

2 Responses to Important business and life lessons from ‘The 4 barbers’:
  1. Great story Donald, I hope all is well sir!

  2. Comment *thank you for sharing the 4 Barbers story and the Reassuring summary that any are suitable options with informed choice and planning. I found this helped me center myself and to expand my picture for my plan.


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