Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia

Recent Posts

resilience

If there’s any skill the small business entrepreneur has cut their teeth on during the past 18 months, it’s resilience. And not necessarily by choice, but rather by chance. One’s adaptability to the significant — and sudden — adversity and stress brought on by the pandemic has certainly tested our limits in ways we never dreamt possible.

How resilient are we? Well, funny you should ask!

When questioned, most people consider themselves resilient. In fact, 83 percent of Americans believe they have high levels of emotional and mental resilience. The reality? Only 57 percent scored as resilient. (In their defense, that’s a rather significant feat.)

The Seven C’s of Resilience

My good friend and colleague, Dr. Ruth Hansten, knows only too well what it takes to be “resilient fit.” As a result of her own personal journey, she beautifully outlines the seven C’s of resilience in her mini-video series, From the Chaos of the COVID Crucible to Grit with Grace.

Whether one is knee-deep in adversity or not, insight and perspective from her mini-series is well worth the time as she takes you on the journey from compassion to comic relief.

Here’s what you can look forward to learning…

resilience

Part one: Compassion and gratitude toward ourselves and others hone resilience.

Part two: Commitment to your purpose fortifies resilience.

Part three: Connection with others strengthens resilience.

Part four: Curiosity helps us take a step back, gain perspective, and take back our power. 

Part five: Using challengecourage and reframing opens ourselves to a more positive future.

Part six: Control explores power, influence, and letting go in order to become more resilient.

Part seven: Comic relief discusses the use of humor in coping in the midst of COVID, natural disasters, civil unrest, and inequality.

My Personal Community Experience

I recently had a personal opportunity to experience a relatively unknown, unspoken C of Resilience — community.

Following an unforeseen healthcare dilemma, I became deeply immersed in community — two, in fact. This was nothing I requested — or wanted — but, like Dr. Hansten, I met it head-on with grit and occasional grace. (Seriously. What were my options, right?)

Being thrust into a community, especially one that was not my choosing, became part of the process.

One “community” was sorely missing direction, communication, collaboration, and support. It was frustrating. What’s the goal? What’s the plan? What do I need to accomplish to move to the next level? These are only a few questions that, unfortunately in this “community” went repeatedly unanswered.

The other “community” presented quite a uniquely different — and life-changing — experience.

Comprised of caring, compassionate caregivers with well-honed systems, communication of plans, goals, and expectations was clear and concise. Opportunities for collaboration were encouraged, lending itself to accelerated progress toward mutually developed goals.

Most importantly, their continual optimism, insight, encouragement, and support toward commonly shared goals kept me buoyed beyond what I would have expected or anticipated.

Little did I realize the tremendous value of such a community. And it was a stark reminder of the importance of community and its indelible impact on business growth, especially during challenging times.

The Role of Community for Resilience

As small business entrepreneurs, we are often “members” of a community, whether we realize it or not. These, also, are often by chance — not by choice.

Whether it’s a Facebook group, a Twitter chat, or whatever is happening these days on Linkedin, it’s natural to get caught up – sucked in, if you will – with what feels like affiliate groups. It’s a shared experience. These so-called communities can have a deep influence on ideas, beliefs, and, ultimately, our business growth trajectory as we invest more of ourselves into them.

The real question then becomes does the community to which we have become so devoted provide the bounce-back ability needed to rise to the next level in our business. Do they shore us up — inspire us to fight on — or leave our aspirations to wither away on the cutting room floor?

Calculate Your Community for Resilience Fit

Here’s a quick tutorial for calculating the value of your communities:

  1. Make a list of the communities with whom you spend time.
  2. Ask if you feel better, the same, or worse after being with them.
  3. Place a plus (+) sign next to those leaving you inspired and uplifted — resilient, if you will, an equal (=) sign after those with whom you feel the same, and a minus (-) sign next to those communities that leave you feeling “meh.”
  4. Based on the pluses, equals, and minuses, ask, “What am I doing hanging out with the equals and minuses?”

We need a place to build relationships with like-minded business owners. A place to connect in a more profound way. A place where questions are answered, support is provided, and encouragement is kindled. 

A place to work smarter and grow faster.

We need communityAndimmersing yourself in community is good — if they inhabit the plus (+) category for your business.

Small business goal achievement is a challenge. In fact, more than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed for the Staples National Small Business Survey say they don’t keep track of their business goals. Yikes! 

Based on that alarming stat, it’s easy to understand why 77 percent of business owners struggle to achieve their vision. What is this nefarious “thing” thwarting our efforts? 

Truth be told, it’s challenging to know what actually gets in the way of achieving our goals.

The Nightmare On Goal Street

You’ve learned how to set goals. In fact, you set a target or two in your lifetime. What kind of success did it create? Did you achieve your objective or, like some, did you miss the mark?

If you strayed from your target, it doesn’t exactly endear one to the notion of setting another destination. It often opens one up to crushing disappointment and an accompanying litany of failure. <Insert damaging self-talk here.>

Many small business owners are desperately afraid to set objectives. It’s much like Pavlov’s classical conditioning theory where habits and subsequent behavior are learned by the repetitive association between the response and the stimulus. If you’ve set and missed your target enough times, it’s plausible you’ll want to avoid the painful “shock.”

Think about it. Continually missing your goals is painful! The stress that accompanies unachieved goals is staggering. That’s likely why four-fifths of goal setters make it to Valentine’s Day. The other 20% make it to the end of the quarter. Sadly, that means only 8% successfully achieve their intention.

small business goals

The Road to Small Business Goal Achievement

Despite the statistics, goal setting is the most important business strategy for optimal performance. In fact, investing in goals displays greater persistence, creativity, and risk-taking. It’s the ultimate anti-procrastination strategy.

A Dominican University study conducted with 277 participants revealed some encouraging results on how to more effectively set and achieve goals. Here is what they discovered: 

Participants were randomly assigned to one of five groups. Following four weeks of pursuing their goal,  participants were asked to report on their goal achievement. They were also asked to rate the goal on the following criteria:

  • difficulty,
  • importance,
  • availability of skill and resources needed,
  • motivation and commitment,
  • whether or not they had pursued the goal before and, if so,
  • their prior success.

Those in Group 1 were to think about what they wanted to accomplish for the next four weeks.

Participants in Group 2 were instructed to write their desired accomplishments and rate them as above.

Group 3 was asked to write their goal, rate them, and formulate actions to achieve their desired result.

Group 4 was instructed to write their intended achievement, rate it, formulate actions, and send their targets and actions to a supportive friend.

And, finally, participants in Group 5, wrote and rated their goals, formulated actions, and sent their plans to a supportive friend along with weekly progress reports.

The results? Seventy percent (70%) of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement! In fact, 76% of the participants in Group 5 achieved their targets or were more than halfway to achieving their goals, compared to 43% of Group 1. 

The Meaningful Takeaway

The results of this study demonstrate the effectiveness of coaching tools including: 

Properly setting and implementing goals is still the best map for us to realize success. With this critical skill, we function as champions in our business.

Are you ready to step out on achieving those all-important goals? If so, consider sharing your goals—and your progress—with a friend. Or, better yet, join us at Eureka!, where CEO’s, Founders, and Small Business Owners collaborate to make their business work better.

goal achievement

What makes one business thrive while another flounders with goal achievement? What qualities and characteristics are common among goal achievers?  And, what draws individuals to embrace a framework for achieving their goals? 

These are the type of questions that keep me awake at night — that and did the neighbors cat make it home okay. 

To find out, I went where we all go to solve the mysteries of the planet. Google. 

My search for “qualities and characteristics of a goal achiever” was revealing. In that, it provided no further insight into the workings of the goal achiever mind. 

 

Most of what showed up in my google search were ‘how to’ set goals. Included in my findings were the characteristics of a good goal-setting system. Think SMART which has been done to death.

Given that, I decided to do a bit of deep dive into my own experience. (I do run a goal achievement mastermind, after all.)

The Goal Achiever Vs. Goal Achievement

After two decades of guiding business owners along their growth journey, this is what I can tell you…

The most successful – and by that I mean those most likely to achieve their goals – have shared qualities. 

They have a goal setting mindset likely developed at a young age. 

They are forward thinking with aspirations for their business. Their enterprise is more than a day-job replacement. 

They crave focus and clarity. Those are non-negotiable for their performance.  

Baked into their DNA is a commitment to life-long learning. If they miss the mark, the re-evaluate, revise, and reboot their plans. 

They dislike vagueness, overwhelm, and chaos.

They expect the best of — and from — themselves. They have great pride in the quality of their work

A deep-seated optimism keeps their eyes focused on the horizon. 

They are much more gifted and talented than they recognize in themselves. It’s likely what keeps them humble.

They know how to lighten up, have fun, and laugh — mostly at themselves. 

So, achieving goals is about the essence of the individual. The goal achievement framework is a tool used to achieve the outcomes. 

An artist has a favorite brush.  My landscaper has his versatile Hori Hori knife. The goal-achieving entrepreneurs tool for performance is the goal achievement framework.

Ask any entrepreneur about annual business planning for their business and you’ll immediately be met with eye rolls. If we’re honest, it’s one of the few pieces of business ownership most entrepreneurs would rather avoid. Yet, it’s likely one of the most important pieces of business development as you head into a new year.

Your annual business evaluation and planning adventure (I do encourage you to see it as an adventure.) sets the tone and direction for the upcoming year. Done thoughtfully, it provides insight into trends that may impact your business and changes to consider in the year ahead.

It’s the perfect business reboot!

end-of-year assessment

End-of-Year Assessment & Planning: A Big Deal Vs. a Big Ordeal

Whatever you do, avoid making it a big ordeal. Any project that “feels” big and unyielding tends to be avoided for as long as possible. And, we all know what happens with delaying action…

Additionally, make sure your plans for the year ahead are based on facts and data rather than conjecture.

1. Set your intention for your assessment/planning adventure. Just like “going to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving” gives us a framework for preparation, establishing an objective equips you to achieve your desired outcome.

2. Schedule planning time and location. I don’t know about you but talking about doing something doesn’t get it done. Blocking time on your calendar certainly does increase the likelihood of it happening — especially if treated with the same respect you would any important meeting.

If you need an uninterrupted, undisturbed assessment/planning experience, consider finding a nice Airbnb away from the office.

3. Pack your bags. With your intention set, consider the information you’ll need to gather in advance of your assessment/planning time.

4. Dig in. This can certainly be easier said than done. For that reason, we created this handy, dandy year-end business assessment and planning worksheet for you.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with two additional points:

  • remain as objective as possible during the assessment phase to ensure you’re evaluating business results properly, and
  • refrain from too much detailed planning for the third and fourth quarters of the year. As quickly as business is evolving, you want to remain as agile as possible.

Although you may have to pinch your nose to get through your business appraisal, your ability to think clearly and act boldly in the new year makes it worthwhile.

For a free copy of our end-of-year assessment, log into Eureka. Not only will you find the Think Clearly. Act Boldly. End-of-Year Assessment, you’ll also find some intriguing conversations around planning. 

business

I personally know what an MLM feels like. I was involved in one – successfully I might add – until I woke up to the system of how it pays off for the few while the many do the lion’s share of the work. It was a structure I couldn’t stomach.

Everything felt like hype. One punctuated with lots of enthusiastic energy and a bit of deceptive selling. Like the time I was waiting for an elevator. I struck up a conversation with a guy waiting for his guest to arrive for a meeting. After I identified his affiliation with Amway, he quickly remarked, “just don’t let my guest know.” Yikes!

Business today feels like it’s moving in that direction. It’s the rise of the faux business.

business

Linkedin is peppered with ‘Linkedin lead generation specialists.’ Others speak emphatically about how they can help you earn 7 figures within 6 months.

Clickbait clamors for our attention. Disinformation leads us down a dark and winding path. Wild and loudly exclaimed headlines crowd our feeds.

Invest time to get to know you and build trust? Heck no – the world is in a hurry and you’ve got 15 minutes. Sales questions are locked and loaded. It’s speed selling on steroids. There’s little time or effort invested into an honest, relationship-building conversation.  

Let’s take a collective breath and slow our pace.

Can we turn down the volume of our headlines and social media? And, return to truth in advertising?

Most importantly, can we give potential business clients the respect of time they deserve to state their dreams, hopes, and challenges? And, then pause to listen — to really hear what they say as well as what they don’t say.

What a wonderful world this would be…to quote the incomparable Sam Cooke.

self care

We live in a world of extremes. We have extreme skiing, extreme skydiving, and extreme snowboarding. And, for small business owners looking to accelerate growth, a new strategy exists — extreme self-care.

Airlines tell us to put on our own oxygen mask, even before we do so for our children. Their instructions are purposeful. They understand that you won’t be of benefit to others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

The truth is that you’re not good to anyone when we’re not the best to ourselves. Like taking an extended road-trip with regular gas in a car that requires super unleaded, minimize the need for extreme self-care and you’re just not that effective or efficient.

self care

You’re Number One

The art of taking care of oneself means being responsible for getting our needs met. It means applying the 51% principle, a notion launched by Connie and William Lantz. To hold another person accountable for your own care is unfair and selfish. Self-care is an insider’s job.

Extreme is defined as “way out there,” out of the ordinary, beyond what is normal. Hence, extreme self-care is defined as going beyond the ordinary to take care of yourself to get your needs met.

Significance of Extreme Self-Care on Business Growth

Extreme self-care influences the quality of our performance. And, when practiced daily, it enables you to give from your joy rather than from obligation and duty.

It infuses you with energy. You are more creative and productive. Your senses sharpen. You open up to new insights and awareness that lead your small business into exciting horizons previously undetected.

Your performance — and the results you achieve — is quite extraordinary.

YOU are the most important person there is and without YOU, nothing else will be able to exist. So, if you really truly are intent on growing your business, this is a to-be-included small business growth strategy.

Given our current economic state, business relationships are more important than ever as they are the respectful associations we turn to for support, introductions, referrals, advice, or to share resources. And, when built properly, they are filled with riches.

No matter how advanced the technology, the ability to connect in a way that fosters trust and supports business success is still dependent upon three key factors: 

  • Network – who you know and who knows you
  • Reputation – what others know and think about you
  • Relationships – how well others know you

The most important of these is relationships. Building relationships is a common-sense business-building strategy that easily gets lost in the quest for victory. Yet, it is the depth of the connections between you, as the business owner, and those you encounter, that dictate your reputation, as well as, the extent of your network.

Show Them You Care

What does it take to build long-term successful relationships that ultimately contribute to your success? After defining the kind of business relationships you desire, allow for thoughtful planning to consider a few straightforward approaches to deepening your business associations:

  • Connect with key relationships on a consistent basis.
  • Continually add value and appreciation to each relationship.
  • Learn to contribute to others rather than seduce or hook them.
  • Make relationships more important than results.
  • Leverage your schedule to allow adequate space and sufficient time to expand relationships.
  • Send thank you notes, birthday cards, letters of congratulations, or hand-written notes of encouragement and support.
  • Be present when speaking with others whether it’s by phone or email — and especially by video conference.
  • Correct miscommunication immediately.
  • Relate to others as you would like others to relate to you.
  • Invest in your personal development to increase your personal capacity to relate.

Building business relationships furthers business, promotes referrals, facilitates mergers, expands your network, and builds your reputation. Your connectivity influences your productivity.

As Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, so aptly said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Stress! It’s the constant companion of most of us as small business owners. It’s the mental and physical response to threats or demands — some of which are caused by external circumstances; others from our response to the threats (real or perceived.) No matter the cause, stress is energy-draining and, left on its own for too long, is debilitating.

You can likely name the common manifestations of pressure and tension off the top of your head. Like a pair of scruffy, old house shoes, the symptoms have been around for quite awhile. They’re very familiar.

Symptoms of Prolonged Stress

Want to know my indicators of stress? Here are my manifestations that pressure is building:

  1. teeth clenching and jaw tightening
  2. a sense of overwhelm
  3. tightening in my shoulders and chest
  4. shoulders elevated and tightened around my earlobes
  5. inability to focus or concentrate
  6. easily distracted
  7. continually moving from one project to another like a gnat
  8. irritability (just ask my husband)
  9. desire to eat everything that isn’t under lock and key
  10. feeling like I need to come up for air

What are yours? Can you feel them building? Or, do they come on like a freight train at midnight — unexpected until they’re right in front of you?

Strategies to Relieve Stress

Although much of the stressors we experience are rooted in deeper sources that require more planning and implementation, there are strategies to apply in the short term. Here are some of the recommendations we make to our small business coaching clients to keep them thinking clearly. 

  1. Take 10 outside. Former client, Dr. Lisa Bernsten’s study, Take Ten Outside, offers an excellent solution for performance throughout the day. Simply stated, those who take 10-minute breaks outside “reap the benefits in well-being, productivity, creativity, and reduced stress.”
  2. Take 10 inside. Just 10 minutes of meditation does wonders to momentarily disconnect you and your brain. Headspace is one of my favorite apps. Download it for free here and try it for yourself.
  3. Take a break. Stepping away from your workspace creates a disruption of stress which clears your mind. Take a brisk walk around your neighborhood. It does wonders for your spirit.
  4. Take a nap. Did you know Albert Einstein was a napper? A nap of 10 – 20 minutes can disconnect us from stress and improve our alertness and performance — plus it puts us in the company of a genius.
  5. Take a big gulp. Not the kind you find at your local 7-11, however! Stress triggers the adrenal glands to excrete hormones that tip the scale of fluids and electrolytes. This causes dehydration that pays you back with stress. Upping your water consumption throughout the day helps to maintain this delicate balance.
  6. Take a different focus. For the times you’re unable to take a break, a nap, or a big gulp, consider shifting your focus to another task. Work on something a bit more mindless for a few moments. It goes a long way to relieve the anxiety and self-induced stress.

Of course, these are effective quick fixes when you feel like stress is holding your head underwater. They will bring you relief — temporarily.

The true fix comes from our willingness to confront the true causes of self-induced stress. Are you ready for it?

A recent Linkedin connection resulted in a fun and insightful conversation. As we chatted, my pen flew across the page to capture how she leveraged the information to get “unstuck” and in motion. Enjoy…and read the course of action she implemented to break through her resistance to ask.

A small business entrepreneur’s day is filled with opportunities to ask for – and get – what we want. Asking leaves some small business owners fearful and hesitant – especially when unaccustomed to their requests being realized. Some small business owners grab hold of the “ask” in a manner that triggers an inability to achieve their quest. Victorious entrepreneurs, on the other hand, seize the opportunity to “ask”  and forward their objectives. Why do some entrepreneurs succeed while others fail at asking for and getting what they want? The triumphant entrepreneurs employ “the art of the ask”.

The Art of the Ask

Most small business entrepreneurs are masters of their craft. They are highly skilled in their area of expertise. Their competence may be legal, financial, design, communication, project management, process improvement, technology – the list is endless. Seldom is “the art of the ask” taught at the advanced learning institutions attended.

Consequently, this means the use of trial and error (i.e., mostly error) to hone their “asking” skills. In contrast, people who ask for and get the “yes” on a regular basis have become skilled at “the art of the ask.”

Does This Make My “Ask” Look Big?   

Asking for and getting what we have in mind aren’t one and the same. We ask for permission, a referral, the sale, to be paid, for help, permission, an introduction, special treatment…Getting to “yes” depends on the skill and the size of your “ask.”  Here are a few pointers to get you closer:

1. Be reasonable. Consider the desired outcome of your ask. Is it in direct proportion to your relationship with the supplier of the “yes”?

2. Keep it simple. Research indicates one (1) reason gets the best results. Avoid the need to pile on the reasons for someone to do what you want.

3. Draft your request before making it.

4. Be kind/honest/professional. No BS allowed.

5. Be specific and brief. Don’t him-haw around.

6. Provide an easy out. Make it easy for someone to say “no” without damaging your relationship.

7. Show your gratitude.

8. Be willing to give in return.

9. Make it WIIFM compliant. WIIFM stands for “what’s in it for me.” It’s the question that subconsciously goes through the mind of each provider of a “yes”. If your request is WIIFM compliant, your “yes” broker will quickly see that your “ask” imparts something for them as well.

The ability to ask for what you want in a way that increases the likelihood you will obtain it, is a crucial business skill. With a little practice, you’ll master “the art of the ask.”

Now, go ahead. Ask me anything!

Here are the steps my new Linkedin connection took to overcome her resistance to asking for help:

1. Make a list of people she wanted to contact.

2. Noted her relationship with each. 

3. Identified one “ask” for each. 

4. She considered how to provide an “easy out” if she heard hesitancy.

5. Made the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) crystal clear.

Your turn. What’s your ask?

Isn’t it astonishing when you consider that the year is coming to a close? It was only last week – or so it seems – you were making plans for the upcoming year.

Like most optimistic entrepreneurs, you executed your strategic options flawlessly. And, like many entrepreneurs, you discovered some of the strategies got you closer to your objectives and others – well, let’s face it, you wasted paper creating them. Despite wrapping up final figures, there remains one strategy requiring your attention: celebrating your achievements.

Regardless of your successes or failures, it’s worth noting that if you’re reading this, you’re still in business! The fact that the doors to your business remain open means two things: you did many of the right things and you did many things right.

Before you break out in “Auld Lang Syne” and pop the champagne on the new year, let’s put 10 minutes on the clock and see how many achievements, large and small, you have realized this past year.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What did you learn that accelerates your growth moving forward?
  2. What did you learn that you know you’ll never repeat?
  3. What new skill did you add to your quiver?
  4. What skill was improved or strengthened?
  5. Whom did you meet that positively influenced your business?
  6. What area of your business is stronger today?
  7. What are you able to see along the horizon that wasn’t visible last year at this time?
  8. What events did you attend that were new and/or different this year whether it was for networking, marketing, or seeking assistance that caused you to stretch your comfort zone?
  9. What was your most proud moment?
  10. What can you say about yourself or your business today that you were unable to say last year at this time?

As you consider the response for each question, you’ll undoubtedly agree that despite the balance sheet or bank balance, you have much to celebrate that will serve you well long after this year has become a faint memory.

From our business to yours, we wish you a stellar new year!

Subscribe To Blog

Core Business Assessment

Testimonial

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.

Search The Blog