The entitlement virus has infected our culture, our politics, our businesses, and maybe even our families. Many people believe that they are entitled to free government handouts, unlimited unemployment benefits, even a paycheck. And what do they have to do to get it? Just show up. Well that doesn’t cut it in most small businesses. Can you afford to pay people to “just show up”? Can your business survive that?

There was a time when excellence and productivity meant something. It made a big difference in our businesses and our lives. Sometimes it feels like its been gone forever, at least that’s what small business owners tell me. There is a solution though and we all need to pursue it.

Excellence and productivity built our country. Entitlement thinking will destroy it. The fix is simple and it starts with you and I. We need to pursue excellence and productivity in all we do. We need to inspire it in our families. Our families are the building blocks of our culture and our businesses. It starts with us. Complaining about it won’t get it done. Living it will.

Excellence

Do you go out of your way to serve your customer’s well … excellently? At Amazon.com they have a rule that every employee from the CEO on down has to put time in working in the customer service department. They want to ensure that everyone thinks about serving their customers well. How can you make sure that everyone on your team achieves excellence?

Productivity

Productivity is vital, especially in this economy, if you want to stay in business. Most businesses are running very lean, trying to hold costs back. Productivity can suffer. Even with great systems in place if your employees don’t care, you’ll have an inefficient and ineffective business. That’s not in anyone’s best interest, but unfortunately it is the norm.

Your team won’t be anymore productive than your least productive employee. They are the weakest link in the chain. To build the productivity of every member of your team you must lead by example. How productive are you? How do you inspire productivity in your employees? I see too many business owners that lack the drive and initiative to be truly productive. If you don’t set the standard in your own life why would you expect others to step it up?

Early in my career I had a boss who was amazing in the work he did. He inspired the rest of us. We couldn’t keep up with him but he made us all better through the example he set. He was a man of character that knew how to set an example. You couldn’t help but admire him and want to achieve more.

As small business owners trying to do more than just survive a difficult economy but rather prosper in it, let’s examine our own lives, our dedication to excellence and productivity. Sure not everyone will follow, but your best employees will become even better if you do. The rest … well, the entitlement gang can go be entitled with somebody else. Your business is going to have the excellence and productivity stars!