Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia

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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!

Did you experience it? I sat on the edge of my chair, glued to the game, yelling as if I was in the stadium; relieved when it was over. Another world championship title! In another nail-biting, edgy, and electrifying performance, the US Women’s Soccer Team dominated the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This isn’t their first “rodeo,” so to speak. They’ve appeared on the world soccer stage in memorable style on multiple occasions. During their devastating loss to Japan in 2011, they showed us that sometimes the difference between winning and losing isn’t technique. It is undying belief, attitude, and grit. They showed us to never stop believing you’ll win. Even if the game has ended, it doesn’t mean it’s over so keep playing. Read more: Top Ten Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Women’s Soccer In their stunning return in 2015, they came ready to play. They faced their foe with ferocity, executed smart moves early in the game, took periodic rest knowing fresh legs were critical, and stretched themselves in all directions. They were galvanized. They transformed their goal into reality to capture the title of world champions. It was breathtaking...and a bit stressful. Read more: Entrepreneurs: Learn to #LiveYourGoals Like the US Women's Soccer Team Their 2019 performance didn’t disappoint. By capturing the win—and our hearts—there is much that we, as entrepreneurs, can learn from them. Here are a few of the takeaways I captured...
  1. Journey together—that’s where success begins and ends.
  2. Push the boundaries of what is possible.
  3. When you nail your goal, take a bow—unapologetically.
  4. Don’t just come to play, come to win.
  5. Continually, and incessantly, communicate with other members of your team.
  6. If at first your goal is defeated, try again.
  7. You’ll get beat up. That’s part of the game. Pick yourself up and play on.
  8. You’ll butt heads with others. Don’t let it take you out of the game—unless your health is on the line.
  9. When things don’t go your way, don’t get mad. Come back stronger, fiercer, and fight harder for the win.
  10. When you know and speak your truth, you’ll be criticized. Ignore it—and them.
Undoubtedly there were many more teachable moments for those of us with the desire to succeed. We play hard to win every day and our determination to succeed, just like the 2019 Women’s World Soccer Champions, keeps us in the game—no matter the obstacles. Remember this...as an entrepreneur, you are equally as talented, skilled, and powerful as the US Women's Soccer Team to dream, create, play, and shine!
There are many reasons - valid and invalid - for caution that many of us as small business owners experience. Granted, a measured amount of caution is useful. It triggers due diligence to better manage risk and make better decisions. An overabundance of caution, on the other hand, is liable to choke your business growth Cautiousness in business is like bubble wrap. It's cushioning material provides a protective layer. Although protective of harsh blows, it also creates delays, prompts missed opportunities, causes us to misjudge or misinterpret events, and changes our course of action that ultimately sabotages our business growth. During my tenure as a business coach, I've seen many reasons for excessive cautiousness in small business owners, including:
  • failure taken out of context
  • lack of belief in oneself
  • unproven business model that is unstable and produces lackluster results
  • missing information
  • under-developed business skills
  • etc etc etc
Regardless of the cause, however, being overly cautiousness is NOT a recommended strategy for growth. In order to achieve your goals to grow your business at the rate and pace you desire - and need - for joy, fulfillment, freedom, and flexibility you seek, you have to "pop" your way through the layers of protective cautiousness. That's where business coaching comes in. No longer a new and shiny object, business coaching is being recognized by more small business owners as a tool that ensures a clear mind and the necessary focus to stay on the course to upward trending growth. In essence, business coaching done right removes the protective layer of cautiousness that previously kept you stuck. It puts you on a path to accelerate your business growth. 1. Business coaching creates forward movement. With caution comes a blurred vision. Unable to see a clear way forward, valuable resources get squandered as you head in multiple directions - often simultaneously. You can't veer off track with business coaching. Business coaching ensures your vision is crystal clear and smart strategies are implemented that are aligned with your vision to help you stay the course. 2. Business coaching prevents unrelenting cautiousness from becoming a habit. As with anything, the more we do it, the stronger it becomes. Cautiousness is one habit you don't want to strengthen. Business coaching interrupts the vicious cycle of cautiousness (and that sense of powerlessness) by providing you with the tools, techniques, information, and skills you need to move confidently in the direction of your dreams.   3. Business coaching opens up unidentified opportunities. It's challenging to grow a business alone in this fast-paced, every-changing business environment. The isolation of trying to take your business to the next level is deafening - especially when it comes to innovation. Possibilities are easily overlooked. Business coaching keeps you up-to-date with industry and consumer trends and makes it easier to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the world to direct your business growth.  4. Business coaching sheds light on your numbers. If you don't know it, you can't grow it. Business metrics provide key performance information. Business coaching lends a hand in identifying the right stats to track. Business coaching also helps you understand key metrics that guide your business decisions and keep your business on the right track. You'll be so impressed with yourself as you uncover the impact of data-driven decisions. 5. Business coaching helps identify the right kind and amount of resources. Selecting vendors to assist with growth initiatives can be a daunting process. One bad choice can be a costly decision for many small business owners. With business coaching, you become a smart consumer of services. You learn the questions to make sure a vendor can deliver on their promises and identify resources that are the best fit for your business.  Ahhhh! Don't you feel better already? Who doesn't love the stress-relieving bubble popping of bubble wrap!? It's irresistible. And, once you start, it's nearly impossible to stop. Business coaching is just like bubble popping. It relieves stress, injects massive calm into your day, provides the tools needed to succeed, and keeps you moving in the direction of your dreams. 
Nothing is more frustrating than working 'round the clock and not generating an output equal to the input in your business. Granted, it's common to invest on the front end of your business but, eventually, you want a return. You want to see the business grow. Despite one's best efforts to grow the business, some small business owners experience stunted or sluggish growth. Here are some of the most common reasons for slow to no growth. 1. No growth goal. Did you know research shows the only statistically significant predictor of business growth is not the industry, size of business, or length of time in business? It is the entrepreneur's goal for growth. Who knew?! That's a significant statistics that begs the question - what's your growth goal? 2. Missing business strategy. An absent business strategy generally results in a "fire, ready, aim" approach; one in which you start firing in hopes that — somehow — the business manages to accomplish its goal. Yikes! Your approach to how you'll grow your business is as important as your goal for growth. Plus, a well-defined business strategy helps identify opportunities that are ripe for you and your business. 3. Growing alone. Nothing grows in a vacuum. Little to no strategic interaction with like-minded entrepreneurs stifles growth in a variety of ways, including loss of creativity, blind spots, and diluted self-confidence. With limited interaction with others, small business growth begins to suffer in a multitude of ways, including loss of creativity, blind spots, and weakening self-confidence. There's tremendous value in making better decisions regarding business growth as a member of  communities for emerging and growing entrepreneurs 4. Ignore advice. Most business owners are protective of how they choose to run their business. However, when sought-out advice is ignored, it merely keeps you stuck. The best advice you never want to ignore  — identify your business strategy. 5. Maintain what or how you're doing it. This is what is referred to as insanity -- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. A course-correction in growth occurs when you alter what you're doing or how you're doing it. One change that makes the difference between success and struggle is to stop doing and start achieving.  6. Pinching pennies. Every entrepreneur understands "bootstrapping". Nonetheless, don't let excessive frugality cause you to hire cheap, inexperienced vendors or to cut corners. Both come with a larger price tag than you realize. Nail down a profitable pricing strategy to avoid cutting corners that impede your growth. 7. Doing it all yourself. Although doing it all yourself commonly occurs in the start-up phase of your business, it's not designed to be a long-term strategy. Eventually, it bottlenecks your ability to grow. As you add contributing members to your team, be sure they are pluses (not minuses) in your business. Are you ready for the good news? These are easy to correct...and we're here to help.
There are a few things in business that are optional especially if you intend to keep the doors open and the lights on. Business growth is NOT one of them. Growing a business in any economy is not for the faint of heart. Growing a business — minus a strategy — is a major drain on your resources triggered by half-baked decisions. To paraphrase author, Richard Rumelt, in his book Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters, setting strategy is not a game of establishing goals. Strategy is how your organization moves forward. Strategy is the craft of figuring out what is worth pursuing with the capability of accomplishing. It’s a cohesive approach to moving forward that requires you to say "no" more often than "yes" to what lies ahead.

Show Us Your Growth Strategy

When asked which strategy is ideal for your small business, the not so very satisfying answer is — that depends . . Strategy is an area in which one-size-fits-all doesn’t work. In fact, when crafting a strategy that is the right fit for you and your small business, there are several aspects to consider. Our friends at the Houston Small Business Chronicle suggest using the PESTLE analysis when identifying a clear business strategy. PESTLE stands for political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environment. Taking these considerations under advisement, combined with your mission and vision, helps identify the potential opportunities and threats that ultimately influence your selection of strategy.

Common Core Strategies: The Big Four

Although there are different types of business strategies available, you want to select the growth strategy most appropriate for your business. In the absence of a full analysis and customization of your business strategy, you may find it helpful to select one of the most commonly known strategies.
  1. Diversify – Does “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” ring a bell? If so, that sums up the diversify strategy. Developing new products in new markets can be a riskier strategy given the unproven marketplace. However, if innovation is a business value (think Apple, Inc.) it may be worth the risk as long as you understand what’s at stake. Strap on your tool belt for this strategy, though. New skills and knowledge required for success.
  2. Market Development – One of the more common growth strategies selected by many a mature entrepreneur is to expand existing products into new markets. It makes sense. Once you’ve proven your business offering in one market, your acquired knowledge and skill can potentially support growth in a new market. The new market may be industry-related or geographical. This type of transition doesn’t happen without proper planning, however. A keen understanding of the new markets — and its competitors — is important if you’re going to make head way.
  3. Product Development – Probably one of the most comfortable strategies for entrepreneurs is introducing new products into existing market.  This is commonly called the product development strategy and mirrors the market development strategy. It requires a keen eye and detailed-attention to pay attention to the ever-changing needs of your clients to figure out what innovation they are ready to adopt. Even if it appears to be an easier strategy to implement, it doesn’t come without challenges. New business skills and continual tweaking are needed until success is achieved.On Strategy does a nice job of poking the brain cells with their product development strategy teaser. Here are a few ways to extend your current offering:
    • Adapt (to other ideas and developments)
    • Modify (change color, motion, sound, odor, form, shape)
    • Magnify (more for a higher price, stronger, longer, extra value)
    • Reduce (smaller, trial version, shorter, lighter)
    • Substitute (other ingredients, processes, power)
    • Combine (other options, products, ideas, assortments)
  1. Market Penetration – What’s an entrepreneur to do when new products and/or new markets don’t exist? When surrendering is not an option, expanding your current products in your current market is the way to go. Be prepared to do battle, though, should you adopt this strategy. In order to snag a larger piece of the pie, you’ll be seizing some of your competitor’s market share. They may not take kindly to that.
As you can see, there’s a bit more than wishful thinking when it comes to business growth. However, setting aside some time to conduct a thorough analysis and custom-design your business strategy can certainly give you a leg up on growing your business. Start with a Free Consultation

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Brooke Billingsley

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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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