Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

September 2014

Recent Posts

Most entrepreneurs’ days are out of control. You’re juggling ten client projects, responding to emails, answering to IMs…all while keeping the kids quiet and out from underneath your desk. In the great words of Saturday Night Lives, Rosanna Dana, “If it isn’t one, thing it’s another.” This is particularly true for those in the professional service industry where time is money.

You can—and must—take back your day. And, here’s how:

1. Determine the number of billable hours your business needs.

As a solopreneur, you only need to be concerned with your billable hours. Unfortunately, billable hours aren’t the only activity you’re responsible for. However, to calculate the billable hours needed to pay your overhead, contribute to growth, turn a profit, and compensate yourself, use The Formula to Overcome Underpricing Yourself & Your Business.

2. Schedule the billable hours into your calendar.

Once you know the number of billable hours you need to attain each week, it is much easier to create structure for your business, and put yourself in the drivers seat of your day.

If calculations reveal your business requires 30 billable hours weekly, earmark the time in your calendar in advance. Select your best hours to meet with clients, work on client projects—implement any work for which you would bill your client.

3. Stay in your billable hour lane.

If you decide your best billable hours are 9 am – 12 noon and 2 – 5 pm, set those hours aside for billable work…and billable time only! Don’t offer meetings or schedule billable work outside the designated time…no matter how tempting.

4. Calendar billable hour activities.

In addition to client meeting, there may be activities to implement related to, and requested by, the client. Do you scratch it out on a sticky note? Scribble it on the back of the gas bill? Or, if your business is digitalized, is it added to your to-do app?

Although those options are at your fingertips, their ability to influence your day is limited.

Better yet, estimate the amount of billable time needed for the project, open your calendar, and immediately calendar your billable project time. That’s right! Make an appointment with yourself and your client project.

Voila! You’re immediately aware of your capacity for the day, week, and month. You can return to making smart decisions about your time. You will know, in a moment, what you can say “yes” to this week or what needs to be scheduled for a later time.

The bottom line? No more overwhelming days or over commitments. No more burning the midnight oil because of oversights of your availability.

Just a pleasant, peaceful, day—one in which you’re in control.

Have you tried something similar that you found helpful? Please share it with us. Entrepreneurial chaos is rampant. If you have a fix, we would to know!

Most people have heard of B.O. That’s shorthand for body odor that the urban dictionary defines as “a nice smelling smell that you get if you don’t shower regularly and sweat a lot”. Nice spin! Although few have heard of E.O., many entrepreneurs are plagued with it…and its damaging effects.

E.O., better known as Entrepreneurial Overwhelm, is the overpowering sensation that you’re in over your head. You feel pulled down by a myriad of things to do. You’re over committed and don’t know which way to turn first. Frankly, you’re overwhelmed by all you have to do as a small business entrepreneur.

Everyone knows that growing a business can be overwhelming. However, if you want to rid your business of overwhelm and achieve long-term results against E.O.,  apply the treatment to the underlying causes.

Too Much On Your Plate

Many small business owners experience this phenomenon. It occurs when you have more “things” on your to-do list than you have hours in a day, week, or month.

It reminds me a conversation with a client suffering from E.O. While documenting all she had to accomplish in a day—personally and professionally—she discovered she needed a 33-hour day!

Over commitment is an underlying reason for E.O. when there is too much on your plate. The best place to start is to review your personal and professional goals, eliminate activities unrelated to your goals, and say “no” frequently.


Overcapacity differs from having too much on your plate, although it feels the same—overwhelming!

Overcapacity is a result of more business—and what’s required to deliver on that business successfully—than one’s current capacity. It’s one of the most common causes of growing pains for small business.

When your business nears standing room only, it’s time to automate and systematize to reduce inefficiencies and time wasters. And, if that’s not enough, you may need to expand your business capacity by engaging strategic service providers and hire employees that fit.


Running a disorganized business is not only overwhelming—it’s stressful! Projects get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life, deadlines are missed, critical pieces of information are lost—you get the picture.

If disorganization is triggering E.O., have a professional organizer help you develop the systems that fit your style. Set up systems and processes that are simple and sustainable. Digitize what you can and keep clutter to a minimum.

Missing Prioritization

Metamonks frames missing prioritization as “the missing link between idea and success.” When electrifying business ideas begin to replicate like rabbits, rest assured that E.O. is just around the corner.

With a clearly outlined goal and plan of action, lay out your day’s activities in order of importance to your goals.  This methodology feels odd at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how email became the most important activity of your day.

Feel free to download our Daily Goal Planner. We designed it especially for circumstances like these.


Whether caused by poor sleep, lack of exercise, stress, unhealthy eating or all of the above, exhaustion clearly sparks E.O. You can’t think straight. Even the simplest tasks seem enormous. And, all you can think of is, “I need a nap!”

Certainly, a 20–30 minute power nap does wonders for temporarily sidetracking fatigue-related E.O. The most viable method for treating fatigue, however, is to correct underlying causes.

Get 8 hours of sleep. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. Breathe and move more every day.

Lack of Planning

Small business owners—minus a plan—quickly find themselves plagued with E.O. A well-known saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”, sums it up perfectly. With so many options available for today’s entrepreneur, one can rapidly end up on the wrong track.

Planning helps to sift and sort through the countless choices available to you. Start with your strategic plan and integrate a systematic approach to planning to rise above your circumstance and achieve.

When E.O. gets the best of you, the best plan is to come out fighting!

This article first appeared on Huffington Post.

As our business grows, the time dedicated to acquiring new clients vs. meeting the needs of current clients fades. Search the web for “client acquisition”, and you’ll quickly find an overabundance of resources to help acquire and retain clients. What’s missing for small business owners is guidance on how to allocate the precious little time we have to acquire clients vs. retain clients, especially without a dedicated marketing team. Although balance between keeping current clients and finding new clients is unique to each business, we raise the question—are you spending enough time acquiring new clients?

During stage one of business growth and development, Core Business Development, growing your client base is the primary focus. To move successfully from one stage to another, obtaining new clients remains the primary objective for a service business until revenue of $500,000 is achieved. For manufacturing, the revenue is $1.5M. The challenge for small business owners is balancing the time between meeting the needs of current clients and spending time acquiring new clients.

When first launched, every entrepreneur invests the lion’s share of their time into acquiring clients. Over time, one’s focus quickly turns to delivering on the promises made to clients. With a growing client base, little time or thought is given to continuing client acquisition strategies.

The book, Marketing Metrics, tell us that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5–20%. Despite the numbers, and given our real-life client experience, we conclude that new client acquisition needs to remain a priority for small businesses—or at a minimum—time needs to be intentionally carved out to develop new leads for our business.

Once Upon A Time…

It was an exciting time for ABC Whatnots and DEF Whacha-ma-call-its! (The business names were changed to preserve confidentiality.) Both entities were growing quickly. The cause of their rapid ascent? One major account was contributing over 50% of their revenue. Unfortunately, ABC Whatnots and DEF Whacha-ma-call-its had placed the majority of their “eggs in one basket”.

Knowing the value of these key clients, ABC Whatnots and DEF Whacha-ma-call-its worked extremely hard delivering on their promise. So hard, in fact, that much of their time was spent servicing the Goliath client, with little time dedicated to new client growth.

Despite their grand efforts, and through no fault of their own, each suffered a similar—and significant—blow.

ABC Whatnots major client experienced money problems. This delayed payments that stressed the finances of ABC Whatnots. Thank goodness for the financial reserve that allowed ABC Whatnots to stay afloat while they rebuilt their new client acquisition momentum.

DEF Whacha-ma-call-its lost their major account. Their client decided to take the service, once provided by DEF Whacha-ma-call-its, in house. The result? With the loss of a major account, the business teeters on the precipice of closure.

The Customer Life Cycle

According to Customer Service Lifecycle, LLC, there are four phases of a customer life cycle—acquisition, service, growth, and retention.

In a nutshell, activities related to acquisition include tactics such as blogging, networking, social media marketing, email marketing—whatever you use to build awareness and create trust.

The service phase simply means providing the service for which the client engaged you.

Growth includes identifying opportunities during which you can provide additional services or products beyond the initial engagement to your clients.

Finally, retention is the effort exerted in providing excellent customer service and quality delivery of services that cause the client to want to continue to do business with you.

Time Well Spent is Time Well Invested

Consider this: Based on the four phases of a customer life cycle, how much of your effort, including time and money, do you currently allocate to each phase?

Go ahead. Take a guess. We’ll wait for you.

Is enough time apportioned to each phase to give your business the stability it needs to sustain growth over the long-term? Or, are you time/resource heavy in one area or another?

Considering your growth goals, how much time and money needs to be allocated to each stage? We’d love to hear about your experience with the client acquisition-retention balance.

Although Bain & Company reports that it costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing client, customer acquisition is essential to the success of any business.

We would love to hear your thoughts. How much time you currently spend in each phase? Do you plan to make any adjustments to better grow your business?

Hiring a business coach, like hiring a personal trainer, is a matter of timing and desire. If you’ve never worked with a business coach, it can be difficult to understand why any small business owner would need to do so. Still, much like hiring personal trainer, there are some situations that call for more support and assistance to get you to the next level in your business more quickly.

1. Nothing seems to be working.

Like exercise, when you’ve tried every means to get in shape, develop your strength, or improve your flexibility with little results, it’s time to call in the cavalry.

Almost every business owner experiences a time when they have done all the right things to move their business forward and haven’t gained traction. It’s frustrating to work so hard with little return.

A business coach brings objectivity to your situation. S/he helps set goals, develop achievable plans, measure progress, and, more importantly, keep you focused on developing the skills and habits you need to succeed.

2. You’re new to business.

If you’re a new entrepreneur, welcome to the wild ride known as business! There are new skills to learn, marketing concepts to understand, and business development to undertake. It can be a bit overwhelming at times.

A business coach guides you in your new business journey, making sure you have the right skill at the right time to make the time and effort you invest in your business payoff.

3. You’re business is bulging at the seams.

If this is your situation, congratulations! It’s a sign your business is growing. That’s the good news. Ready for the not so good news? Without the right skill set and systems, a business chokes on its own growth.

Small business coaching helps analyze your current situation, assists with developing a plan for growth, and ensures you have the strategies and the systems to support your accelerated growth.

4. Fear is holding you back.

It’s okay to say you’re scared. Most of us are – we just don’t admit it publically. Fear of failure, success, financial loss…no matter what the reason, fear not dealt with properly destroys passion and dreams.

Business success means taking calculated risks. A business coach helps set up the financial, emotional, and time reserves needed so you can afford to take the risks without fear of loss. Plus, you won’t have to journey alone.

5. You need a challenge.

And, what entrepreneur doesn’t! Being in business for years can lead to complacency and a loss of passion. Don’t kid yourself – your clients know it!

When you’re ready to achieve something far more than you thought possible, a strategic business coach helps stretch you beyond your current boundaries.

6. You’re at a crossroads.

Remember the saying, “when you get to a fork in the road, take it”? Oh, if it were only that easy. When you arrive at a junction in your business where the road taken – and the business model built – depends on the decisions you make today, you want to make sure your choices are clear.

With several options before you, and many roads to choose from, a business coach helps you decide what’s most important in your life and sort through the options that will take you there.

7. You’re ready for a giant step forward.

Your business has been humming along at a nice growth rate but you’re ready to leap to the next level.  Identifying the right support structure, goals, plans, and resources is vital in jumping forward successfully. A coach can help.

8. The way you’re working isn’t working.

Whether you’re burnt out, overwhelmed, or both, you recognize that you cannot keep working the way you are. There’s only one problem – you don’t know what to change or do differently.

Business coaching helps unwind your current work habits and patterns to identify new skills, practices, and patterns that get you back to your creative, focused, impassioned self.

9. You don’t know where to start.

Hey, this sounds like an every morning occurrence, doesn’t it?! It feels that way when the projects, tasks, and initiatives overflow the hours in a day. When deadlines loom, there’s no time for delays and indecision.

A business coach helps you sort through your many tasks and projects to coach you on new and different ways to approach your day to ensure every day gets off to a great start.

10. You’re preparing for a major event.

Expanding your family, a retiring spouse/partner, or retirement for yourself are examples of situations that call for your business to pivot. Business coaching helps identify what you want your business to look like, help develop the plan to get there, and keep you focused.


Think you have a situation that would benefit from a business coach?

Schedule a Free No-Obligation Consultation Today!

Much has been written about the infamous to-do list. Whether it’s sketched out on beautifully printed stationery or scribbled on the back of an used envelope, it is the bane of existence for overwhelmed entrepreneurs. I often wonder—is it the use of a list that contributes to greater performance for the entrepreneur? Or, is it what is on the list that exerts the influence needed to make each day count?

The $25,000 Business Solution

The first time I heard of the “to-do” list was through the story of Charles M. Schwab, the owner of Bethlehem Steel. It sounds a bit like folklore today but as the story goes, Mr. Schwab’s steel business was plagued by inefficiencies. To curb the business inadequacies and raise productivity, Schwab engaged Ivy Lee, and efficiency expert.

After listening intently to the dilemma faced by Bethlehem Steel, Lee agreed to help. In exchange, Charles M. Schwab would pay Mr. Lee whatever Schwab felt the results were worth. (How would you like to use that pricing strategy in your business?)

Lee’s advice to each member of the management team was to create a list of the six most important things that needed to be accomplished in a day. Once the list was created, the managers were asked to organize their tasks according to priority.

Each day, the managers were to start at the top of the list and work their way to the bottom focusing on one task as a time. Whatever remained unaccomplished on the list would be added to the next day’s list.

The result? After 3 months, Bethlehem Steel improved performance at such a rate that Ivy Lee was paid $25,000 for his idea. In today’s dollar, it equates to $582,622.50

The $500,000 Business Solution for Today’s Entrepreneur

The story of Bethlehem Steel and Ivy Lee has valid points that influence productivity even in the digital age. Such things as making a list of what needs to be done, organizing them by priority, focusing on one task at a time, and starting at the top and working down, have a place in our busy, disorganized, interrupted, and distracted days.

Having only six tasks to accomplish in a day feels like heaven, doesn’t it?  A quick Google search reveals a flurry of apps with the promise of making the day more productive.

The challenge entrepreneurs face with more to-do’s on their app than hours in a day is that the body was not designed to work incessantly. Study after study has proven work-life balance for entrepreneurs does, in fact, improve performance.

What are the tasks that needed to be added to the 21st century to-do list? These are just a few that we recommend based on our extensive research:

  • Move – renew your creativity with a 10 minutes break every 90 minutes for a walk outside.
  • Nap – boost your brain power, and its ability to focus, with a 20 minute power nap.
  • Day off – revitalize your clarity and insight by avoiding the office at least one day a week, preferably two. It’s called a “mental health day” for a reason.

Don’t take my word for it. Try adding these items to your to-do list for 2 weeks. Experience what performance really feels like!

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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