Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

April 2012

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As a busy entrepreneur, you spend the lion’s share of your day meeting the needs of others. You’re actively tackling the needs of your clients, your employees, your accountant, that weird guy on Linkedin with his connection request….you get the picture. Your day is all about others and their requests. How about you and your business? Did you know that your business has needs, too?

Although most entrepreneurs understand their business has needs, the biggest challenge is to prioritize those needs.  Most times the needs of the business are postponed to what is hoped to be a more convenient time. You know what that means – the needs of the business, like strategic thinking, planning, and execution, are seldom met.

There’s much to learn about meeting your business needs from the announcement heard while flying – Put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. The airline industry knows you’re not any good to anyone else if you’re unconscious. The same principle applies to your business.

When you meet your business needs first, things get exciting! Your business becomes stronger and grows more rapidly. And, you’re able to meet the needs of others in a much different – and better – way.

Needless to say, it takes great courage to help yourself and your business before helping others. It seems to go against conventional wisdom. Tell us what you think. Is putting your business needs first a challenge for you? How have you restructured your business to meet your needs first?

There’s allot of talk about how we ‘set ourselves up for failure’. Whether its self-limiting beliefs, sabotaging behaviors, or an unwillingness to do what it takes, failure lurks around each corner. Even the books, websites, articles, and workshop sharing secrets to business success don’t address the notion of how to set ourselves up for success.

Setting yourself up for success is more than having a logo, website, business card, business checking, Linkedin profile, Facebook page, Twitter account….the list goes on. You get the point.

Here are five smart business strategies to set you up for success:

1. Create your strategic plan. If you don’t know where you’re going – and how you’re going to get there – you can be pulled off track pretty quickly. Your strategic plan gives you clarity, focus and supports the sort of quick decisions you need to make to keep your business moving forward.

2. Execute on your strategic plan. A strategic plan doesn’t make for a very good door stop. Use your strategic plan at the beginning of each week to direct your activity and set your forward movement. Implementation of your strategic plan prevents you from ‘swirling’ in circles, which eventually leads to overwhelm, and revenue numbers trending down.

3. Organize your office for success. Look around you. Does your office, including tools, software, furniture and file arrangement that encourage your success? Nothing breeds success more than structures and systems that allow you to move quickly and easily from achieving one goal to another.

4. Prioritize your day for success. Think of an accomplished individual you admire. If they were to peek over your shoulder, would they instantly recognize activities prioritized for your ongoing success? Organize every day for the future you desire.

5. Surround yourself with those who make you stretch. Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and self-help guru said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Wow! That’s a powerful consideration. It’s always in your best interest to associate with those who uplift, inspire, and inform.

Do you agree with the notion of setting yourself up for success? What other strategies would you add? Tell us your thoughts. 

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. It requires taking calculated risks, learning to live with uncertainty, and hard work, just to mention a few aspects of small business ownership. Yet, over 550,000 businesses are created every month in the US alone. Why the explosive growth? Despite the many challenges of entrepreneurships, the quest for freedom, flexibility, and “being the boss” is more compelling.

Of all the challenges entrepreneurs face, the most difficult is “performing multiple roles within the organization” according to a new survey conducted by eVoice®. For any entrepreneur who is currently reading this blog, responding to emails, preparing for the next day, servicing customers, and invoicing clients, this comes as no surprise.  In fact, evoice® national customer survey showed that 44% of respondents wear five or more hats at any given time in their business.

How do you juggle it all so gracefully – or maybe not so gracefully? Here are a few business ideas to consider:

  • Group ‘like activities’ together. You’ll have more energy – and avoid suffering decision fatigue – when you cluster similar activities.
  • Delegate when possible. Entrepreneurs are unspoken control freaks and can learn to delegate with confidence by setting up parameters for feedback.
  • Eliminate unnecessary activities/roles.  Don’t follow the crowd. Base your actions and responsibility on your company’s strategic plan and vision rather than on what you read in the recent best selling business book.
  • Develop your systems. Well-developed systems eliminates redundancy and frees you up to focus on goal-achievement activities.
  • Calendar your goals. Managing your goals, rather than your time, reorganizing your priorities and centers you on critical activities to grow your business.

Undoubtedly, there is much to do in a day to keep the business running smoothly and becoming a proficient juggler. Tell us what you think! If you had one less role to juggle, what would you do? Post your thoughts below!

goal management

An entrepreneur-in-the-making asked how much “time” should be dedicated to growing a smart business. Hmmm, that’s a real thought-tickler. And, one many entrepreneurs ask. Are 40 hours enough? Are 70 hours too many? What is the exact number of hours needed to grow a successful business?

goal management

The answer?  None of the above!

Time management is a tool of the Industrial Age. You put in X time to produce X. With the explosion of the information age, time management is a technology of the past.

Yet, there are those who continue to use time management to achieve success. It’s quite the struggle. Granted, using our time wisely is of paramount importance.  Unfortunately, being a top-notch time manager doesn’t guarantee success.

Goal Management Rules!

The technology of performance and achievement for the 21st century is goal management. Have you heard of it? Essentially, the premise of goal management is that your goals determine how you organize, plan, and achieve throughout the course of the day.

Although most entrepreneurs would argue that goal management is their primary focus throughout any given day, that fact isn’t really evident based on their actions….and their achievements.

Observe an entrepreneur (or yourself) for an hour, a day, or a week. You’ll quickly learn that everything BUT goals drive behavior, and consequently, decisions and results.

Give it a try.  Let your goals, rather than time, dictate your day. See what you accomplish. You’ll astonish yourself.

If you participate in any sort of athletic activity (running, biking, hiking, walking, etc.), there is much to learn about achievement that can be aptly applied to your business.  Like today, while completing a 6 mile pace run in preparation for an upcoming half-marathon, I learned that when I take myself to the limits of my physical capabilities, I discover a missing ingredient that will expand those limits.

Generally, I don’t like to sweat, feel pain, breathe heavy or do anything exhausting.  This makes training for long-distance events somewhat ‘interesting’.   However, I have an expectation of improvement from my training efforts therefore I move forward with activities I dislike.

Many business owners feel much the same way toward business development activities. Growing a smart business takes effort. Business planning takes time.  A competitive analysis requires extensive time and research. Tweaking and tuning a value proposition is challenging. Developing relationships takes time, tact, and talent.  We’d much rather apply the pasta principle – throw it against the wall and see what sticks – then invest time, energy and sweat into such agonizing activities.

Yet, when you have an expectation of success from your smart business, you, too, must persevere through activities you loathe.  If you let each pursuit be its own teacher, it will inform, guide, or clarify in a way that enlarges any perceived achievement limits.

What helps you move past your limits to your smart buisness?

Let me begin by saying I’m not a fan of the term “fire a client”.  It sounds a bit egotistical, especially when I’m half of that equation and likely shouldn’t have engaged the client in the first place. (More on that later.) However, for the sake of this conversation, or until someone gives me a better phrase, I’m going with it.

In this economy, it can be challenging to fire a client. Every dollar means so much that you may be reluctant to give up the money. Yet, a client that’s not a good fit actually is more costly to your business in tangible and intangible ways.

How do you know if a client isn’t a good fit for your business?  Here are a few warning signs:

  • You dread meeting with them. In fact, getting their emails provokes a round of nausea.
  • They drain your energy. You feel the need to lay your head on your desk following any interaction.
  • Scope-creep is a common occurrence. And, they want to expand the scope – at your expense.
  • They don’t respond to any form of communication. This would be okay – if you were a mind-reader.
  • They don’t show up for scheduled meetings or contact you to reschedule in a timely manner that allows you to best use your time.
  • Late-payment is their standard operating procedure. Plus, you receive push-back if you charge interest on late-payments per your agreement.

Are there other warning signs you would add to the list?

If you can relate to any of these symptoms, here’s why it’s smart business to fire some clients:

  • Wrong clients wreck havoc with trust in your marketplace and damage your brand.
  • Unsuitable clients require greater management and cause your business to lose money.
  • Opportunities are missed because of time spent meeting the high demands of incompatible clients.
  • Working with the wrong clients dilutes your focus making it more challenging to gain transaction and move forward.

And, the most important reason it’s smart business to fire a client is because working with misfit clients prevents you from doing your best work for ALL your clients.  When you’re spending your time and energy with less-desirable clients, you’re unable to maintain optimum performance. That’s not good. Your ideal clients deserve your best.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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