Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

November 2016

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Small business owners can be overwhelmed by new trends in technology. We’re puzzled – not because we lack the IQ – but rather our days are bursting with business activities. Finding spare time to research new technology is a challenge. Even more overwhelming is implementing and integrating new technology in a filled-to-capacity enterprise. Rather than risk making a wrong turn (e.g., costly), we do nothing…and risk business survival.

We’ve Come A Long Way!

My first introduction to technology was my “mobile” phone. Unlike other cell phones of the time that were a permanent fixture in your car, my phone truly was mobile. The “mobile” phone, complete with cinderblock size battery and carrying case, cost $1000.

Unlimited data plans were nonexistent so no one was allowed to call my “mobile” phone. Billing was by the minute – and the cost per minute was comparable to a gallon of gas in 2009.

My second memorable expansion into technology came in the form of an IBM computer. Price: $4500, not including software. Even the DOS operating system was an additional fee.

Both technologies, although archaic in comparison to what is at our fingertips today, afforded my business remarkable advancements in performance.

I had arrived!

Today, there is one gadget – the smart phone – that replaces both tools. It goes with us everywhere! We can live in the cloud, work in the cloud, summon Siri to find answers, and have our refrigerators order milk when supplies dwindle.

Technology has indeed come a long way…and continues to march forward at lightening speed.

The Pluses of Small Business Technology

Although you may not be able to imagine a world where a telephone was actually connected to a wall, there are advantages to adopting new technology trends. In general, technology:

  • fosters collaboration in real time
  • allows us to work anywhere with anyone
  • reduces the need for onsite backup
  • affords us the ability to sync information across all forms of technology
  • cuts email clutter (if we use correctly)
  • systematizes work flow processes
  • creates a better customer experience
  • improves marketing and sales performance
  • connects your business with your client when they’re ready
  • automates labor-intensive, redundant tasks
  • provides practicality when business needs changing bandwidth, allowing you to scale up or back as needed.

Unraveling New Trends in Technology

Productivity is essential to success. At the core of business operations is technology. It is the backbone of every small business. Although change can be stressful, being open and ready for new trends in technology provides a glimpse into opportunities of the future.

Here are a few questions to help make the right investment in the right technology at the right time.

  • What is it that your business can do better?
  • What is it that your business can do more efficiently?
  • What redundancy can be eliminated through the use of technology?
  • What distractions can be removed by technology?
  • What interruptions can be abolished by technology?
  • What labor-intensive tasks are repetitively being paid for can be automated?
  • What costs (and clutter) might be eliminated through the use of technology?

Can you imagine a business minus redundancy, distractions, interruptions, repetitive tasks, unnecessary cost, and clutter?  Technology combined with advancements in business efficiency and you’re assured to have a competitive edge.

Although it’s not without its challenges, used correctly and judiciously, some of the new trends in technology will help increase the capacity you so desperately desire for your small business.

Accountability within a small business is more important than ever before. With the ever-increasing complexity in the day-to-day running of a business, staying on track to the successful conclusion of a goal is a challenge.

Accountability is an interesting phenomenon. Many of us launched out on our own to avoid the unrealistic expectations of others to hold us accountable (among a few other reasons). Now, as the boss, holding ourselves accountable is difficult.

Although small business owners love the notion of “going with the flow,” we do have built-in accountabilities. For instance, there are tasks and activities that require our attention that are non-negotiable.  Employees, service providers, clients, regulatory bodies…all hold us accountable to meet our obligations.

Who holds the small business owner accountable to themselves and their success?  Often times, the most critical activities of strategic thinking, planning, and the implementation of goals and plans to a successful conclusion are placed on the back burner.

3 Roadblocks to Accountability

Beyond the traditional “I’ll get to it when I have time” approach, a few other aspects influence our ability to be accountable to our success. These include…

  1. Clearly defined results are missing. Beyond stating the specific results you hope to achieve in your business, it’s equally important to have a clear plan for how your results will be achieved.
  2. Vision is neglected and/or ill defined. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “A (wo)man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” A hazy vision contributes to distractions and derailments.
  3. Conflict lives within oneself. Ahhh, yes! The proverbial argument a small business owner has with himself or herself can be quite the stumbling block. Whether there’s a disconnect between beliefs and desired results or a conflict between current knowledge and expertise and missing skills, these internals battles stand firmly in the way of success.

The Accountability System

As a business coach, one of the most common phrases I hear is, “I need someone to hold me accountable.” Seldom is it “someone” we need to hold us accountable, but rather it is a system of accountability. A system that we are accountable to and that is equally accountable to us in supporting our success.

Here is how you can set up an accountability system in your small business:

  • Mindset: The mindset of accountability embraces the conviction that the majority of your success is up to you. It is your choice, your action, and your behavior that contributes directly to your success.

You own your goals, your success, and your failure based on your mindset.

  • Skill set: The skill set of accountability begins with the artful ability to sketch a clear vision of the results you seek. Combined with the ability to set SMART goals and sensibly crafted plans, you’re sure to cultivate a winning combination.

Be sure to add the project management skill set to the skills every small business needs to develop without which timelines and deadlines would come and go without notice.

  • Structure: The structure of accountability allows you to prioritize business growth rather than procrastinate, to be proactive rather than reactive, to focus, and fend off those pesky distractions that seem to undermine the best laid plans.

Besides being proven to improve performance, accountability in your small business is the linchpin for accelerating growth. It’s as much as an inside game as it is an outside game…especially once you have your accountability system.

I’ve been working in the success arena for decades.

I’ve seen and experienced first hand, the thrill of victory. I’ve also been privy to the agony of defeat. More frequently, I’ve played witness to the growing pains and state of stagnation many small business owners struggle to breakthrough.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) tells us that approximately 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. Sadly, no one documents the number that stagnant and struggle.

Murky Business

A lovely green ceramic basin filled with water resides outside my door. The unblemished water tumbling from the bamboo spout is incredibly soothing. My only job, according to my Japanese landscaper, is to keep the water clear and pure.

My landscaper, Hitoshi, is the former landscaper at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. He’s taught me much about Japanese tradition during his twice-annual pilgrimage to tend to my plants. When I asked him the purpose of clean, clear water, he explains that water, immediately outside an entry, influences conversations that occur within the dwelling.

Water unattended, and left to become dirty and cloudy, results in poor communication and inadequate conversation within the domicile. Fresh water, on the other hand, promotes communication that is clear, hopeful, and optimistic.

As happens with most small business owners, I get busy. My time gets consumed with lots of other things – besides keeping the water in the basin sparkling.  Plus, being a bit confused about how to “simply” keep the water clean without chemicals, I procrastinate. Outside of emptying the entire basin, keeping the water crystal clear seems overwhelming.

Sadly, when a body of water lacks the required attention, stagnation sets in. The water turns various shades of green. Even the feral kitties in the yard refuse to drink from it! Eventually, it starts to stink.

Sounds oddly like a business, doesn’t it? When days, weeks, and months are filled with “stuff,” critical pieces of business development are neglected. Our once clear and inspiring vision becomes cloudy.

Given the complexity of the 21st-century business, it’s only a matter of time until the neglect begins to wear on the fabric of our business that ultimately leads to stagnation.

Vision: The Business Clarifier

Who can’t relate to the feeling of wringing our hands wondering what we should work on next? It’s not enough to wring our hands. Action is required.

What’s missing for stagnant small businesses is a vision that is crystal clear; one that is compelling and absent of doubt. Aligned with your core values, a business vision that integrates and feeds your personal life is, by the way, how you achieve work-life balance.

How clear is your vision?

How much detail can you define in your vision?

Does it excite you to action?

Does it illuminate the road to achievement?

If you were to share your vision, in all its glory and intricacy, would I be able to pinpoint exactly where you’re going?  Or, would you leave me scratching my head in wonderment and confusion about what exactly you’re trying to achieve?

Let’s find out!

Once you have a clear sense of what you want your small business to look like, your future (like the basin of water in my yard) will flow unimpeded.

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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