Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

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!

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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.

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