Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

January 2014

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the genius behind inbound marketing, issued a challenge — blog for 30 days. What? In a row?!? How crazy was that idea! I was lucky if I managed to eek out one blog a week! I certainly wasn’t capable of writing one blog every day — especially given my current blogging state of mind.

I’m not exactly a blogging aficionado. A blog post took 4-5 hours to construct. I struggled with topics, content, sentence structure — you name it. I fidgeted. I snacked. I stressed. I struggled with what to say and how to say it. It was a painful process. Certainly, 30 days of this activity would be sheer torture.

Was I “in”? You bet!

Always up for a challenge, I was curious to discover what 30 days of blogging would do for my small business. At worst, I could pull the plug at any time. Besides creating some astonishing results, the self-discovery was more astonishing.

  1. Reams of information are stored in my brain. Before the 30-day challenge, I didn’t have much to say…or so I thought. If I didn’t have something worthwhile to share, my lips were sealed. After 30 continual days of writing, I’m amazed at what runs through my brain.
  2. A blog post takes 90 minutes. Blogging requires less time each day. The mere act of daily writing creates a rhythm that makes blogging more efficient.
  3. Writing is easier. The regularity of engaging my brain in the craft makes writing more comfortable. I wouldn’t say its stress-free but I fidget less. I “almost” look forward to writing.
  4. Early morning is my best time. One of my blogging challenges was finding the best time. By late afternoon my brain was littered with the days activities. Midday sounded good…at first. Once email reared its head, all bets were off. Finally, I found my groove at 6 am before the rush of the day while my brain was fresh.
  5. The results were awesome. Shocker! It really is true. Companies that blog 15X or more per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don’t blog. Nailed it!

I still struggle with headlines and wonder if the post is good enough but, like strengthening a muscle, blogging is easier with time and practice. I’m pretty certain I’ll never be as gifted a writer as Scott Siders of Novowriting but I’m pretty dog-gone happy with my progress.

What will I do for an encore? Given the results of the previous 30 days, I’ll continue my blogging quest Monday – Friday. Care to join me?

 How many times a day do you say, “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have enough time”? Lack of time is a common problem that plagues every small business owner. A rock-solid solution to create more time is needed in today’s time-crunched environment.

Generally, we don’t have time for one simple reason — we don’t have time. Unfortunately, we can’t manufacture more in the back room so we’re left to figure out a better way to use the 24 hours we have.

During a recent coaching call, a client voiced her frustrated with all she “had to do and not enough time” dilemma. “I can’t get anything done,” she announced. “Not enough time” was merely the symptom. We wanted to get to the source of her challenge to implement permanent strategies to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

To discover what was really going on, she completed a series of exercises. First, she made a list of everything she did in a day, from morning reading to personal care to time spent eating to activities at work. Then, she assigned the amount of time she needed for each activity. The results were eye opening! Even using modest time projections, she needed a 33-hour day to accomplish all she needed to accomplish.

We had a good chuckle over the absurdity of a 33-hour day. The source of her lack of time and accompanying overwhelm were apparent. Her expectations exceeded reality. While realigning expectations to fit reality was one strategy, there was more left to do to create more time.

The Small Business Owners Guide to More Time

Here are the 3 strategies to create more time and get more done:

Buy it. You don’t have to do it all. In fact, doing it all bottlenecks your business growth. Identify tasks you’re currently doing and hire someone qualified to take over. Most small business owners can easily acquire 5-10 hours a week by outsourcing activities like blog posting, bookkeeping, filing, etc.

Find it. Tracking commitments and time requirements makes one painfully aware of the growing number of obligations. Rather than pile on, pare down commitments that do not advance your personal or professional goals. You’ll soon discover a goldmine of extra time.

Create it. Thinking out of the box is helpful when creating extra time. For instance, if you want to keep up with the latest business trends and keep yourself healthy, listen to podcasts during a brisk morning walk. Walk, rather than drive, your deposit to the bank. Rather than spend time filing and organizing paper, go paperless using Evernote. Automate repetitive activities.

Have you ever considered what you do in a day that requires your time and attention? Given the restrictions of a 24-hour day, creativity and innovation is your best approach for creating more time.

We’d love to hear from you. What are some of the ways you create more time and get more done?

Any one who runs a small business knows how easy it is to get caught up in the act of doing. You compile taxes for year-end, organize your desk, and clear out your inbox (again). The multitude of tasks required on any given day of small business operation is daunting. In the mix of all the “doing”, there’s one — and only one — approach to keep your small business growing.

In the daily flurry of “doing”, you check most things off your to-do list, right? Like most small business entrepreneurs, your to-do list is endless. While you’re diligently working to shorten your list, the more important aspect of moving your business forward is placed on the back burner.

Small Business Owners: Stop Doing — Start Achieving

“Doing” doesn’t automatically advance small business growth. The only thing “doing” guarantees is accomplishment. Accomplishment is not achievement.

According to Merriam-Webster, accomplishment is defined as “the successful completion of something”. Achievement is defined as “a result gained by effort”. Achievement produces a result; accomplishment does not.

Small business owners who are growing their business do so intentionally. They perform with one key emphasis in mind — achievement.

small business growth

An entrepreneur growing their business approaches their day very differently than one who is merely getting things done. Here’s a sample:

    1. Make business goals the primary focus for the day.
    2. Identify 1-3 key growth activities that advance the goals.
    3. Make growth activities the priority of the day.
    4. Perform with precision and a plan.
    5. Take one giant step closer to goals.
    6. Accomplish to-do’s.

Ta-Dah! What do you think? Does it look a bit different from your approach to your day? Is your business growing at the rate you would like? If not, give the achievement approach a try. Then, stop by and tell us how your business is growing so we can celebrate together.

The way you’re working is no longer working. In fact, it hasn’t worked for some time now. Yet, the need to continue on a collision course with burnout, insomnia, and stress continues. It’s time to re-think the way you work.

Seems like it was in the 80’s when I began to lose grip on my personal definition of success. Given the culture of my profession at the time, I succumbed to the pressure to “do more” and “have more”. This “more” approach to life actually created less. I had less sleep, failing health, struggling marriage, fewer friends…all for “more money and stuff”. Could it have been any more irrational equation?

I take comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone. Crowds of colleagues suffered from the same experience. Yet, we felt compelled to continue. None of us were eager to challenge the status quo of “more”. None of us had the nerve to go against the grain. The pressure to conform — to go along — was so strong it made escape grim.

Gallup recently did a study, State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders, validating that “70% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged in their work and are not reaching their full potential.” Much of the disengagement, and subsequent loss of productivity and promise, is due to stress. Although this study addresses employee engagement, small business owners can relate to the results of the study. What’s more stressful than owning a small business!?!

The never-ending stress, 80-hour workweek, and burnout leave many small business owners in the same spot — unengaged in their own business. Disinterested. Exhausted. Going through the motions just to get up the next day and repeat the process. Loss of productivity and an inability to grow your business as you intended are all part of this ugly little package.

Before you can get a grasp on redefining success, you have a bit of housekeeping to do. Like locating your favorite sweater in the bottom of an overstuffed drawer, there are a few steps to take before you’re able to uncover the clarity you want.

Step 1: Remove clutter. To make room for fresh opportunities, beliefs, and behaviors, create some space in your world by removing what’s no longer necessary. Consider this:

Evaluate current beliefs and assumptions to determine if they are still relevant.
Identify what you’re tolerating (i.e., putting up with) and have a grand time making room in your life by getting rid of your tolerations. (Hint: start with the easiest ones!)

Step 2: Take inventory. You have more going for you than you realize.

  • Pinpoint what you like about different aspects of your personal and professional life, along with what you don’t like. Remove what is no longer is relevant.
  • Isolate what’s working in your personal and professional life, and what’s not working for you. Eliminate what is no longer applicable.
  • Celebrate your strengths and talents!
  • Identify your four core values. Rather than ethical values, these are your personal values. They are the key values to which you’re drawn. (Hint: What did you love doing when you were five years old?)
  • Assess the current state of your business.

Step 3: Purify your vision. With a greater sense of your assets and liabilities, you’ll enjoy the latest insights from 10 Questions Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask About Their Vision.

Step 4: Redefine success for you. Based on insights, discoveries, and understandings gleaned from steps 1-3, you’re ready to redefine what success is for YOU.

Now that you’ve cleared the clutter, reconfigured your vision, and you’re re-engaged in your work, share how you’re redefining success for yourself and your business. We can’t wait to hear what you discover!

Well-worn habits, like your comfy gym clothes that should have been tossed years ago, are hard to part with. But, when those habits begin to interfere with success, it may be time to re-assess.

Mental Hoarding

is a general term used to describe the behavior of people and animals that leads them to accumulate food and other items during times of scarcity. Similarly, mental hoarding is the accumulation of thoughts and beliefs.

In the case of the small business entrepreneur, mental hoarding takes on the appearance of holding on to thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that have no value or are no longer relevant.

Binge Working

Binge working is a dangerous office trend fueled by fear, economic uncertainty, caffeine, and digital hypnosis. Similar to overwork, and the accompanying burnout, binge workers take working to the next level by toiling for extended periods of time with no breaks and little sleep.

Binge working leads to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, and depression. Clearly these conditions are inconsistent with long-term success in business.

Cerebral Snacking

Rather than thoroughly delve into a topic to advance ones knowledge or business skill, cerebral snackers spend what little spare time they have munching on Facebook, Cheezburger, Instagram, and similar types of meaningless information.

Cerebral snacking overshadows ingestion of a full, rich topic to expand knowledge, keep up with trends, or develop a business skill essential to success.

It’s human nature to fall prey to these habits. Yet, it’s a costly trend that might just be interfering with your success. Given the consequences of such habits, it might just be time to re-evaluate your approach to success.

My morning got off to a rocky start. I made a commitment to hike 6 miles. However, after tossing all night, I wanted out of the promise I made to myself and my friend. Left up to me,  it was unlikely the hike would happen as planned. Then my hiking buddy showed up ensuring the successful achievment of my goal.

Just like I tried to coax myself out of the hike, small business owners are not much different. We expend precious resources in an attempt to identify legitimate “reasons” (aka excuses) to avoid the very actions that ensure the success of our goals. Whether it’s the new program release we’ve dreamt of for months or an over-due rate increase we intended to implement (and didn’t), the mind creatively generates all sorts of “valid reasons” to avoid action.

The Small Business Buddy

More small business owners are discovering the vital role that a “buddy” plays in the pursuit of their goals. Just like my friend made sure I finished the hike, small business owners turn to strategic business coaches to serve as the needed buddy for their small business goal achievement.

Strategic business coaches, especially those who specialize in small business, recognize what it takes for the small business owner to achieve his/her goals. They know how to make the most of precious resources.

The strategic small business coach knows and understands small business and won’t let you off the hook. More importantly, your small business buddy doesn’t allow you to give up on your goals or yourself. They stay with you through all the ups and downs to make sure your goals become a reality.

If you’re curious what a strategic small business coach can do for the achievement of your business goals, contact us! Enjoy a hands-on experience what it’s like to have a small business “buddy” in your corner.

Related Blog Articles:

8 Ways My Business Benefits From Business Coaching

The Anatomy of a Strategic Business Coaching Call

Strategic Business Coaching Produces Results You Can Measure

We’ve all taken part in relationship-building conversations. This exchange occurs between two business owners for the purpose of establishing rapport and building trust. In many cases, it’s in hopes of a rewarding referral exchange association. Knowing what NOT to do is equally as important as what to do.

How to Avoid Blowing a Possible Referral

In case you’re new in business, or haven’t had the honor of working with reliable mentors to teach you the principles of good relationship building, this is a business tutorial in what NOT to do.

Don’t have your assistant do what you need to do. Like connects with like. If you’re reaching out to the owner of a business, don’t have your assistant schedule the meeting. You risk insulting the business owner (and you haven’t even met them yet).

Don’t miss your meeting. Time is valuable to a small business owner. Asking an entrepreneur to set aside 45 minutes of their priceless time to meet you is a BIG ask. Don’t waste their time. Have the courtesy of keeping the appointment.

Don’t be late. Time is a precious commodity for the small business owner. (Do I sound like a broken record?) When you’re late for the meeting YOU requested, you demonstrate a disregard for the other person and erode trust.

Don’t show up unprepared. Coming to a meeting cold is like showing up for an important test in middle school having not study. It doesn’t matter your ability to perform “on the fly”, lack of preparation shows. Don’t attend ill equipped. Care enough about the other person to do your homework.

Don’t make it all about you. If you’re lucky enough for the appointment to proceed, it’s impolite to focus a conversation on you when you’ve requested the meeting. Most professional business owners aren’t going to say “enough about you, let’s talk about me now”. Be professional and direct the conversation to the other individual.

Don’t ask how you can help. When you’ve made the conversation about your business, you lack a frame of reference from which to know how you can assist another. When you ask how to support their business efforts, you demonstrate a lack of engagement in the conversation.

Don’t ask for a referral. If you’ve done any of the steps listed above, you’ve likely dug yourself a hole so deep that you’ll need an act of God to climb out. Only a fool would provide a referral at this time. Don’t ask. You risk even more brand damage.

We live in an instant society. We want things and we want them now. However, your initial interaction can make or break your chances of developing the business relationship of your lifetime. Getting to the end result too quickly causes irreparable damage to your business relationships. Don’t blow it!

Related Blog Posts:

Uncover the Moments of Truth in Your Business With a Strategic Coach

The Art of the Ask: How to Ask For and Get What You Want in Business

Nine Steps to Building Trust Online & Offline for Your Small Business

“I can’t doesn’t exist.” That’s what I learned from Mamie McCullough. As a former public school teacher and principle, Mamie heard “I can’t” frequently. “I can’t get my homework done.” “I can’t finish my paper.” “I CAN’T DO IT!” Sound familiar? Anyone with teenagers knows the familiar litany. Apparently, Mamie was equally frustrated and set out to prove “I can’t” doesn’t exist and “I can” does.

The Nonexistence of “I Can’t”

One day, Mamie asked her students to bring a can to school. Demonstrating the individuality of the students, they brought everything from soup cans to tuna cans to the giant trashcans from the schoolyard.

When the students gathered, along with their cans, Mamie asked them to describe what “I can’t” looked like. They stared at her; dumbfounded. No one could depict “I can’t”. Why? Because “I can’t” doesn’t exist.

“I Can” Does Exist!

Like Santa and M&M’s, the “they do exist” commercial, Mamie quickly set out to prove “I can” exists. Distributing eyes cut from magazines, Mamie had the students glue them on their cans. By giving the students something tangible, she proved that “I can” exists. Get it? Eye-Can (Aaaaahh! It really does exist!)

Mamie went on to say that “I can’t” usually means two things: I don’t want to” or “I don’t know how”. For small business owners, “I can’t” is much more.

Under the Hood of the Small Business “I Can’t”

“I can’t” is the story a small business owner tells him/herself. It’s the story we convey about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what is possible. It’s the story we communicate to ourselves — over and over and over. However, if you were to search for your story of “I can’t” on Amazon, it would be found in FICTION.

This neatly told fabricated fable affects your small business growth, limits opportunities, contributes to underperforming, and continues to keep you underearning. But, I don’t really need to tell you that, do I. Any small business owner who has uttered those words, privately or publicly, knows the magnitude of those two simple words.

The “I can’t” uttered by a small business owner is generally wrapped around an assumption (usually false) made years earlier that is no longer relevant. Following this example of an “I can’t” frequently uttered by small business entrepreneurs, you understand how false assumptions fuel “I can’t”.

I can’t charge more. (Why not?)
I’m afraid to charge more (Why? Even if it’s needed for your business model to be viable?)
No one will buy from me. (Why won’t they buy from you?)
I’m not good enough. (Really? Who says?)

You get the picture. Most people, when asked to provide proof of said assumption, struggle mightily to prove its existence. Yet, the made-up story continues.

Take the “Eye Can” Challenge

Like our favorite stuffed bunny from childhood, false assumptions can be hard to let go of but Mamie (and Synnovatia) is on to something.

The next time you utter, “I can’t”, look under the hood. Uncover the assumption. Question yourself as thoroughly as you would your teenager coming home late from the prom to get to the “truth”. Probe deeper to test the relevance and validity of the story beneath your “I can’t”. Like most small business owners, you’ll likely find that assumptions fueling your “I can’t” are no longer applicable.

And, while you’re at it, create your “eye can” to remind you that “I can” exists for you! Then, go to our Facebook page and upload your “eye can”. Don’t delay! You have until January 31st at midnight (Pacific) to post your “eye can”.

A random winner will be selected from the “eye can” submissions to receive a $25 Amazon gift card and have their small business profiled on our blog, Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom.

Stay tuned! The lucky “eye can” will be announced on Monday, February 3, 2014.

Ask a small business owner, “how are things going” and you’ll likely hear “okay”. This means things aren’t going as planned. Occasionally, the atypical case exists when “things” are planned and events trigger a change to plans made. However, if things aren’t going as planned, it’s because many small business owners haven’t taken the time to plan.

Why Things Don’t Go As Planned

I’ve been coaching small business owners on the strategic development and growth of their business since 1997. From owners of marketing firms to physical therapy clinics, small business entrepreneurs share two missing links that cause “things” to not go as planned: goals and plans.

Ask an entrepreneur their goal and you’ll likely hear a litany of actions they intend to take. Delve deeper into their plans, and you’ll quickly understand why “things” aren’t going as planned. Simply? There is no plan. No goal + no plan = small business struggle.

The Small Business Solution

The solution to this small business dilemma is really quite simple. So simple, in fact, small business owners skip these significant steps. For “things” to go as planned in your business, this is your simple two-step solution:

1. Set a goal. Goal setting is a valuable practice for making progress to your desired end-point. (i.e., the reason you started your small business). Goals aligned with the mission and vision of your business promote better decision-making and ensure each effort contributes to your success.

To make sure your goals get you where you want to go, download Are You Heading the Right Direction? Unlock Your Future with Smart Goals. It’s free!

2. Create a plan. A plan is made up of a serious of steps needed to reach your goal. Like mapping out your vacation, each step takes you closer to your destination.

Develop a fruitful plan by continually asking yourself, “How does this get me closer to my destination?” If the contribution is not crystal clear, don’t make it part of your plan.

Your business doesn’t have to be complicated…or stressful…or overwhelming…for things to go as planned. You just need the simple things that matter most. Imagine that!

Ready for things to go as planned? Need help crafting clear goals and creating effective plans? We’d love to help. Feel free to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation.

The truth is that most small business owners don’t like working in the business they created. One of my clients aptly refers to it as “the business model we hate”. Sound familiar? There’s hope, however. There’s still time to flip your business.

Small Business Model Angst

Like most entrepreneurs launching a new business, we’re so thrilled to have clients — any clients — that we take on clients that are not the best fit for what we intend to accomplish. It doesn’t take long for ill-fitting work to spiral into the way one continues to do business for years.

Based on this disconcerting business model, you lose your optimism for what’s possible. Belief in your ability to accomplish your dreams begins to wane. Before long, you and your business are in a rut so deep that climbing out of it is a major undertaking.

Flip Your Small Business

Here are five things you need to turn your small business around.

  1. Courage. The willingness to do what it takes is paramount to your success in flipping your business. This includes the willingness to say “no” to clients, projects, and pricing that are not part of the future you’re creating.
  2. Ideal client. Before you can acquire your ideal client, you need a clear picture of what s/he looks, sounds, and acts like. A marketing persona helps identify who you really want to be working with and helps market to your ideal (rather than everyone else.)
  3. Proper pricing structure. You have to stop underpricing and underearning. It’s costing you too much! Set your pricing based on a sound pricing strategy rather than fear.
  4. Network. No one knows your business exists if you don’t mix it up with the public (See #2). A common excuse I hear is “I don’t like to sell”. Its likely because you’ve haven’t learned how to market and sell correctly. Rather than mimic the unskilled around you, learn from the experts.
  5. Financial Reserves. Extra cash may seem like a pipe dream until you begin to implement #1-4. Small business owners who stash cash for a rainy day enjoy greater peace and confidence. No matter what comes their way, they’ll be prepared.

If you’re currently in a “business model you hate”, don’t wait to get the help you need to flip your small business. The sooner you do so, the faster you’ll fall in love with your business again.

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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