Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Business Skills

Recent Posts


Entrepreneurship is fun and exciting — until it’s not. 

There comes a time in every entrepreneur’s journey when you realize that the skills, abilities, industry knowledge, and personal know-how are no longer the right components to take your business to the next level. 

They served you well for a time. Finally, your entrepreneurial skillset got you to a point where you’ve survived the dreaded start-up phase, proven your business model, and are maintaining revenue. And yet, growth has stalled.

What do you do? 

Many entrepreneurs work harder. They invest more hours into their business. They worry about tomorrow. Stress and overwhelm punctuate their day.  Pushed beyond what is humanly possible, they develop a distaste for what they love. Why? 

They doubled down on the tasks, actions, and plans that got them to where they’re today, yet nothing seems to budge the numbers.  

What’s going on?!

One thing we know for sure — what got you here won’t get you there.


Moving Beyond the Stall 

Unfortunately, every business passes through a somewhat predictable and unavoidable growth pattern. 

Stalls in growth generally occur around $250 – 350K, then around $750K to $1M, and approximately $3-4M.   

Several components contribute to a plateau. However, in most cases, it’s a combination of factors. For example, mindset, confidence in delegating, finding the right talent, and implementing the right strategy are only a few factors influencing the business’s evolution to the next level. 


A trusted colleague and friend once said, “If you can leave your business for three weeks and not have a drop in income, you have a business. However, if revenue grinds to a halt in your absence after a few days, you’re merely self-employed.” 

The collapsed definition between entrepreneur and solopreneur is a common dilemma, especially among professional service providers who launch their business based on their skill set. But, whether it’s your legal acumen, accounting, bookkeeping, human resources, training, or coaching skillset, there’s a limit to where your business can grow when you’re doing it all yourself. 

It takes a village — and often a crowbar — to dislodge a business owner from the day-to-day delivery of core services. 


…and its evil twin, delegation.

Talent acquisition is a tricky area to maneuver for the entrepreneur. Often, one’s confidence in engaging talent, whether it’s through employment or subcontractors, is multi-faceted. 

Considerations include budget, cash flow, sourcing, and learning about an entirely new industry, human resources, with its many rules and ramifications. 

Primarily, however, is the entrepreneur’s ability to strap on a new skill set of locating, identifying, interviewing, onboarding, training, delegating, and most importantly, trusting the talent you’ve hired. 


Often we outgrow the strategy with which we have launched our organizations. Whether it’s the primary driver of profitability, a refinement in services you provide, or the core clients for whom services are delivered, when you begin to bump your head against the growth ceiling, an upgrade in your strategic approach to the future of your business may be necessary. 

Often, a niche within an industry holds a disproportionate percentage of the profit.

Growth plan

Growth plan? What’s that? 

Often our days are so packed full of fires that the notion of planning, even for a week, feels unachievable. And yet, the actions we take today will determine our tomorrow. 

Your growth plan doesn’t have to be complicated or sophisticated to redirect your efforts in the direction you want to take your business. Instead, a simple framework of what you want to achieve in the next 3-5 years with a detailed drill down for the next 12 – 18 months is most effective. 

Gone are the days when a detailed plan painstakingly developed over an extended period is of use. Instead, with business rapidly changing, you want to keep your plans flexible. 


You can’t execute on a nonexistent plan. I know it’s common sense, but it’s worth saying. 

The internet is full of tools, tips, and experts willingly sharing their know-how on how to be more productive and efficient. However, until your growth plan is on paper, information on improved efficiency might lead you down the wrong path – only this time more quickly. 

Execution is driven by your priority, revealed in your growth plan, and informed by data. 


Not much happens without it. The larger your organization grows, the more critical money becomes to finance your growth. Did you know Microsoft keeps a year’s operating expenses in the bank? 

“Growth sucks cash,” and “cash is the oxygen that fuels growth,” says Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t. 

Cash flow, budget sheets, profit and loss statements, balance sheets — I can hear the wheels of your brain grind to a halt. Don’t panic. Your accountant can help you understand your financial numbers and their impact on making strategic decisions. 

The Right Tool to Bridge the Here—There Gap

My Dad was a diesel mechanic in a small farming community in North Dakota. At the time of his retirement at age 65, he had amassed the most extensive equipment possible. He had tools for hay bailers, tractors, trucks, and combines. He also had specialized tools from various brands like John Deers, International Harvestor, and the occasional Case that wandered into his business. 

I doubt he secured all those tools and the accompanying skills to use them initially. But, over time and one by one, he added to his toolbox his understanding, his skill, and his business growth. 

Your situation is not unlike my Dad’s. 

And, like my Dad, you can start with identifying the best tool for the job and secure the intellect to apply it appropriately and strategically. 

Recognize that the work habits, beliefs, and attitudes — the tools that brought you to this precipice in your business are not the same set of equipment that will elevate your business to the next level.  

What got you here won’t get you there. 


We’re here to help you make the most of your business. If you need advice on how to break through your plateau or just a listening ear, we’re happy to chat.

strategic thinking

Running a growing enterprise often provides little time for strategic thinking. In fact, according to The Persimmon Group and Center for Creative Leadership, only 4-7% of business leaders are considered strategic thinkersIf you’re one of the lucky ones, good for you!

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs are consumed by day-to-day operations. So instead of settling into their favorite spot for deep thinking, most collapse at the end of a demanding day.

Although the struggle to find time for strategic thinking is a reality, it remains a vital business skill.

No Time for Thinking?

There are several underlying reasons for the inability to find time for strategic thinking.

For instance, your business model may not work as well as planned. Or perhaps your business model has become obsolete.

For some business owners, their service is underpriced. Sadly, underpricing can lead to over-commitment to meet your financial obligations.

Equally important is delegating to your team and trusting them to deliver.

Although each of these adds to the challenge of having time to master strategic thinking, all is not lost!

strengthen strategic thinking

Strengthen Your Strategic Muscles in the Cracks of Time

“Cracks of time” are found while waiting for a Zoom meeting to begin. Or when stuck in traffic or waiting in line at Starbucks. So rather than wrapping yourself around the angst of the wait, use this time to sharpen your thinking.

Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Reflect during “Wasted” Time (Daily): Wasted time is the moments not being spent productively. Examples include jumping from one task to another, being irritated by things you can’t control, or scrolling through social media to combat fatigue.

Instead, reflect on what you can do differently to avoid unproductive, costly time at the end of each day.

2. Consider Egocentrism (Daily): Personal bias and egocentrism keep us from seeing beyond self-favor.

While planning your day consider how your bias might be getting in the way of achieving your goals. Then, ask yourself, “what would a rational person with no emotional bias do in your situation?” Hmmm!

3. Solve a Problem (Daily): Make traffic work for you. Use your drive time for reflection and problem-solving. Focus on a problem with a solution rather than waste time (See #1) thinking about things beyond your control. And consider your options for action in the short-term and long-term.

4. Focus on Intellectual Standards (Weekly): The Universal Intellectual Standards defined by the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Model (Paul and Elder, 2001) include:

  • Clarity
  • Precision
  • Accuracy
  • Relevance
  • Depth
  • Breadth
  • Logical
  • Significance
  • Fairness
  • Sufficiency

Each week, select a focus to improve one of these areas.

For instance, consider glitches, typos, missteps, and do-overs during accuracy week. In addition, ask questions related to your accuracy, such as, “Did I spell check?” or “Am I communicating instructions clearly for the reader?” 

Also, consider reading up on the subject to move you beyond your immediate understanding.

5. Select an Intellectual Trait to Internalize (Monthly): The Universal Intellectual Traits according to the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework include:

  • Humility
  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Autonomy
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Reason
  • Fair-Mindedness

Focus on strengthening one trait each month. For instance, during your courage month, consider how you might push beyond your comfort zone to accomplish a truly remarkable and inspiring feat.

6. Analyze Business Influences (Quarterly) Who—or what—inspires your actions? Look around you. Equally important, what traits do you admire in others? Then, carefully select who—and what—you emulate. After all, Oscar Wilde said, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Become your unique brand of entrepreneur. As is the case of business branding, skills need continual refinement.

It’s a Wrap!

By utilizing the seemingly insignificant “cracks of time” in a different way, you can begin to invigorate your strategic thinking muscle. And you will be better equipped to address problems and recognize opportunities.

If you’re ready to strengthen your strategic thinking muscles, we’re here for you.

Let’s Chat About Your Business Needs 


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…


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.

I received a notification this morning from my Contact Us page. Yippee! Or, so I thought…until I read what it said…

Hey! My name is XXX and I run a very experienced XXXXXXX company located in XXXXX. I wanted to see if you are interested in partnering with our company, where we would do the back-end work while you will still deal with your clients—our rates are reasonable, certainly cheaper than you hiring in house or local XXXXXXXXXXXX. We have extensive experience with complicated development, including XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXXX, and XXXXXX tools. Please email me at XXXXXXX.

For as long as people sell their wares, there will always be those who don’t know, or understand, how to best connect with others for the benefit of their own business. Hitting us with a sales pitch—without first taking the time to build a relationship—wastes everyone’s time and creates major brand damage for one’s product or service.

What’s Wrong With This Picture

This email—and other similar sales attempts—remind me of the notion of “what’s wrong with this picture.” And, just like the picture below, poorly implemented sales attempts lead no where.

Let’s see if we can identify some of them:

  1. There was no established relationship.
  2. Needs of the potential partner (i.e., me) are assumed.
  3. Weak value proposition.
  4. Requests the potential business partner to do the work with the statement “please email me at…”
  5. Failure to establish—or acknowledge—a potential pain point for which they have a solution.
  6. Flounders in solving a problem.

One’s initial contact with a potential business associate (and potential client) sets the stage, not only for the immediate request, but for the rest of the relationship.

Although it’s more time consuming and labor intensive to develop a long-term relationship, it’s well worth the effort.

  1. Start by building trust. “Web psychologist” and author, of Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion, Nathalie Nahai, says that a lack of trust is one of the biggest impediments to success. If you’re looking to build trust, follow the steps in Nine Steps to Building Trust Online & Offline for Your Small Business
  2. Conduct research to gain an understanding of the potential partners services, buyer persona, and possible challenges for which you perceive a synergy.
  3. Once a strong relationship is secured, remove all potential obstacles to connecting. If the potential alliance was initiated by you, by all means, make sure you keep the flow going by reducing the cognitive load (i.e., the amount of mental energy and memory required) of your potential enterprise partner.
  4. Believe it or not, when you reach out to develop a collaboration with another, make sure you keep the conversation focused on how your proposed team effort benefits their interests (See point #2).

Don’t wing it when reaching out. Whether it’s a potential collaborative relationship or a potential client, develop the strategy that nets you the best results. Done right, collaborative efforts with other entities pays off in spades.

Don’t have a strategy? Don’t worry! Contact us today to help you create energetic growth strategies for your business.

strengthen strategic thinking

Everyone wants to live the dream: work for yourself and make a million dollars. There are thousands of entrepreneurs struggling to achieve this goal each and every day, but only a select few reach the million-dollar mark. The good news? That small group is growing each year, with an increasing number of “solopreneurs” making millions.

What’s their secret? What business skills does it take to be part of this elite group of million-dollar one-person businesses? Before we delve into that question, let’s take a look at some stats that will light a fire under you.

Success Rates of Solo Businesses

With advancements in technology and the interconnected world created by social media, it’s easier than ever to work for yourself. This growing trend is evident in an article posted on Forbes that shows a rise in the number of solo businesses reaching multimillion-dollar annual revenues.

  • 29,494 companies reached the $1 million to $2.49 million group in 2012, which is a 10 percent increase over 2011.
  • 1,900 businesses were reported to be in the $2.5 million to $4.99 million range the same year, which also shows a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
  • 386 solopreneurs made it to the $5 million mark in 2012, an increase of five percent from 2011.

There’s also been an increase in solo businesses reaching six-figure yearly revenues. In fact, 1.7 million of them made at least $100 thousand in 2012, as compared to 1.6 million in 2011.

Business Skills of Successful Solopreneurs

With success rates like these, it’s not impossible to have a piece of the pie. With hard work, dedication, and sufficient planning, anything can happen. Take a look at these five business skills you need to create a million-dollar one-person business.

  1. Planning. Strategizing is the first step toward that million-dollar mark. Once you have a profitable idea, devise a plan of action that includes product/service lifecycle innovation, marketing, promotion, daily operations, and anything else your business entails. Be sure your plan is realistic with time and budget restrictions.
  2. Sales and Marketing. Since you’re in business for yourself, you have to handle all aspects of both sales and marketing if you plan on gaining clients. Fortunately, our uber-connected world makes this process much easier. Blogging is a great way to generate leads. In fact, research shows that 70 percent of consumers prefer learning about a product or service through a blog rather than a sales ad.
  3. Communication. Solopreneurs have to be excellent communicators, since they’re the only ones representing their products/services. Take sufficient time to inform and educate your market by providing useful information—through blog posts and social media—and offer your expert advice when possible.
  4. Flexibility. As the sole owner and operator of your business, you wear many hats. Be flexible about what you’re willing to do to succeed. Remember, things don’t always go as planned: Sometimes they go better than planned. Rolling with the entrepreneurial punches makes you much more productive.
  5. Focus. While you’re flexible in the daily grind, don’t lose focus on your ultimate goals. Keep your buyer persona in mind to make sure that what you do speaks to your target audience in a way that is effective and fruitful.

The glamorous world of successful solopreneurship may seem out of reach, but in actuality, it’s completely attainable. With the business skills listed above and a little help from a professional, you can be on your way to a multimillion-dollar solo business.

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.

Search The Blog