Are you so busy running your business, you can’t find time to work on your business planning and GROW your business?
It’s the classic dilemma faced by nearly ALL start-ups and small business owners everywhere.
Business owners get so consumed with running every aspect of their business because they don’t have enough staff or the resources (money) to delegate by hiring others, that they don’t have time to focus on GROWING their business by investing sufficient effort in business planning. Thus, the vicious cycle of investing more and more effort working in their business leads to diminished returns in growing their business.
This is where I spend the most time coaching my business clients, by introducing them to the critical notion of getting OUT of the day-to-day tasks associated with running their business, so they can set aside invaluable time to invest in their strategic business planning.
If this sounds a LOT like the challenges you face, here are some useful tips for how you can begin to shift your focus from working IN your business, to working ON growing your business.
1. ONLY DO WHAT YOU LOVE:
We start by my administering a self-assessment / skills inventory tool I created, so we can identify and focus on all their core competencies…the things they do really well and LOVE doing. By extension, we are also able to determine the type of busy work that they are better off outsourcing to those folks that specialize in these services.
We outsource EVERYTHING else! as their business consultant, I introduce them to other folks who take over their administrative tasks (I find them a virtual administrative assistant), get them a bookkeeper, find them freelance talent for copy-writing, social media, and graphic design and in effect outsource every single non-core competency that wastes their time.
2. MAKE TIME FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING:
Carve out a predetermined amount of time EVERY DAY that you go to your quiet ALONE place and think about your business. not the mundane tasks, or day to day headaches but the BIG PICTURE stuff. What initiatives would you undertake, if money were no object and your resources were infinite?
3. WHAT’S AN HOUR OF YOUR TIME WORTH?
Think about the average income you generate on a “per hour” basis. How much do you charge per hour for your services, or how much do you charge per product when you break down how much time it takes you to make a product.
However you set up the formula, you have to have an understanding of, and appreciation for, every hour you invest NOT selling is an opportunity cost for the most valuable resource there is…TIME.
4. FIND PARTNERS TO SHARE THE LOAD:
There are formal partnership you can form with shared ownership and financial commitments, as well as informal partnerships (more akin to working relationships) that can be sought with vendors, suppliers, contractors, service providers. By forming both types of relationships, you can off-load your work, split tasks, focus on what you love doing and are best at, maximize your time investment, and pull out of the minutiae of running your business to focus on planning the future of your business.
5. CREATE AN EXIT STRATEGY
This is a really important requirement for clients that I coach that are just starting out. They are so intent on forming their business that asking them to think about their legacy is often a challenge.
But by thinking of what you want to leave behind, and setting up mile markers with benchmarks for achieving everything you set out to accomplish, you will know when it is time to step away from the business to focus on the next chapter of your life.
By committing this to writing, you will define your legacy in such a way that you can document your desired organizational culture, the values you want your organization to represent type of people you want to work with, the ideal employees to achieve success with you, clients you wish to land and serve, the type of social corporate responsibility and contributions you want to make to your community and society.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
How to Find the IDEAL Business Partner.
One of the most common challenges that entrepreneurs can face when forming a new business is deciding whether or not to bring in formal partners that they commit to by signing a formal partner agreement.
It is important to note that I am NOT talking about forging informal partnerships with vendors, suppliers, providers that you might barter with one another to provide services to each other, in lieu of payment. We are talking about forming a legally binding partnership arrangement.
Whether you are forging a formal partnership agreement or forging loosely defined partnerships, there are certain strategies you can follow to ensure success. you can start by answering the following questions BEFORE you begin to seek potential partners.
Define your needs. Ideally you should find someone whose skills, background and experience complement but not necessarily overlap your own. You want to seek people whose skills complement your own. For example, if you are highly analytical, detail-oriented and introverted, an ideal partner would be gregarious, and a “BIG PICTURE” kind of person.
Do they share your values? You also want to make sure that any person that you decide to partner with shares your values, belief, and commitment to your start-up business.
How much time are they willing to invest? One of the sure-fire ways that you can get angry at a partner is when you feel that they are not investing the same amount of hard work as you. I see this all the time in my business coaching work with entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small business owners.
Anything in their background that should give you pause? Do your due diligence and research their background. Run a Dun & Bradstreet report on them, to see if they have ever been involved in any lawsuits, judgements, bankruptcies, or liens. how is their credit history?
How committed are they? Do they have any outside family issues that would prevent them from giving your business start-up the focus and attention it will demand?
How well do they respond to adversity? No matter how ideal your partnership union, or how smoothly your initial honey moon phase goes, invariably you and your partner(s) are going to face challenging times. The true measure of a person is how well they respond to adversity. Do they fold like a cheap tent, or will they have the fortitude and mental toughness that is required to remain committed to you achieving your short and long-term business goals together?
What standing do they have in their community? Namely, what type of reputation have they forged with people who know them? Are they kind, caring, thoughtful people? Do they get involved in community activities? Do they lend their time and effort for the greater good of COMMUNITY?
Will they commit to the partnership IN WRITING? Are they going to willingly put everything that you agree to in your partnership in writing? At the end of the day, you will need to hire an attorney to help you craft a partnership agreement that covers you both. So, how willing are they to commit their commitments to you on paper?
Do you REALLY need a partner? What exactly are you looking for in a partnership? When I formed my business consulting firm, I wish that I had found partners, to help lighten the workload. Partners can assist in the financial investment in the firm, and lastly (but certainly NOT least) can provide emotional support through the sense of shared mission that comes from being IN IT together. It always helps to have people by your side.
However, there are people who will prefer to take a “go at it alone” approach. To those folks, having a partner is not a viable option. These independent types would only see partners as obstacles that get in their way. If you are that type of individual that is absolutely fine. Just know that forging a partnership may not be the right course of action to pursue.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
What Does Your Business Legacy Mean to You?
Do you still possess the same intense “fire in your belly” that you had, when you first launched your business?
When was the last time you stepped back from being “IN” your business, to ask yourself why you started your business in the first place?
As I talk to and consult with more business owners who are stuck, the question that arises more often these days is: “What happened to their passion?”
It is the single most important question that a business owner can ask themselves, to truly understand their long-term goals. There is no other way of unsticking their business when their growth flat-lines.
So, why did you decide to start the business you chose to launch in the first place? What were those grandiose goals? How were you going to change the world?
You most likely chose the business you did because that was the industry you possessed the most background and experience.
The choices you made were based in large part on the contacts you had and the products and services that you were most interested in offering. In short, that was where your passions lay.
BUT…what are the long-term goals you hope to achieve given TODAY’S reality?
What do you want your legacy to be? When all is said and done, what is it that you hope to leave behind?
Are you living in the NOW all the time, focused only on your weekly, monthly, and quarterly sales goals? What happened to your vision?
Are you focused on mere survival? If so, you are likely operating your business in the most short-sighted manner and you’re missing out on many opportunities by not broadening your horizon?
Ask yourself these highly difficult questions:
* Are you happy with where you are now?
* How often do you take tremendous risks with high potential rewards?
* Do you truly empower your employees?
* Do you have a five or ten year plan?
* What is your exit strategy?
* What is your plan to find, recruit and keep TOP talent?
* Are you operating off the same business plan that you developed years ago, even as many aspects of your industry have changed significantly in recent years?
All of these considerations should be factored in as you attempt to unstick your business and get back to achieving double-digit growth.
Are you doing today the things you were doing years ago that brought you the greatest satisfaction.
If not, then I urge you to rekindle the passion that you possessed when you first started out.
THAT rekindling of the passion you had when you launched your business will drive you forward in these challenging economic times.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
You CAN Achieve Effective Selling. Just Don’t SELL!
One of the things that I’ve noticed with entrepreneurs and start-ups is, just because they have a great idea for a product or service that they chose to cash in on by commercializing their idea, they don’t necessarily always understand how to achieve sales success through effective selling strategies.
Sales Video from TV’s Greatest Salesman, Herb Tarlek, WKRP
Which is why I urge my clients to start out with their new business by understanding they shouldn’t try to “sell” IF their goal is to be successful in their ales efforts. Instead, I suggest they implement strategies that lead to building strong relationships based on trust, full disclosure, and a fervent commitment to serving others. Once you achieve these lofty goals, your sales will naturally evolve out of / come from those powerful relationships.
* Don’t Sell, Serve: Rather than pushing your stuff on people, you need to figure out how you can provide solutions to resolve the specific challenges they face. Once you are able to provide solutions to the key business challenges that keep your customers up at night, you will achieve sales success. People reward others handsomely who can provide solutions and deliver value. That’s what effective selling is ALL about!
* Be Empathetic: In order to be effective serving clients, first you must care about people enough to want to help them. When you can help them to make purchase decisions for them that is adding real value. In the world of business Networking International, a clutch phrase practiced by all members is “Givers Gain.” That is the essence of effective selling. By delivering value to others, you will be rewarded by people purchasing from you.
* Listen…listen…LISTEN: There is a tremendous power that comes from listening to someone.
* Create Value For Others: It’s not very easy to get your customers to give you their money. By creating value they’ll gladly pay you for your services.
* Be Passionate and Exciting: Do you REALLY care about what you do? do you believe that what you have to offer will change people’s lives for the better. If you do, you’ll be able to achieve all of your sales goals because people will WANT to do business with you.
* Get to Really Know Your Clients: Not just their birthday but REALLY understand what their motivations are, what their career aspirations, what challenges keep them up at night.
* Answer Client Questions Directly & Clearly: Don’t beat around the bush, make excuses, or speak in riddles. Be prepared to answer any and all questions directly and with complete clarity (plus conviction.)
* Humor is a VERY Powerful Tool: I’m not saying you need to craft a stage act like Seinfeld, Chris Rock or George Carlin. But being funny actually does bring down people’s barriers. Try to be more affable, friendly and engaging by being humorous. NOTE: You either have it or you don’t. Don’t force yourself to be something you’re not.
* You Can Always Get Better: Don’t just assume that because you’ve had success selling in the past doesn’t mean you can’t perfect your craft. We can all get better.
* Set Aside Time Each Day for Prospecting: One strategy that you can employ to invest sufficient time in sales prospecting, is to set aside time each day to invest in your sales prospecting.
* Show Up and Deliver: Always arrive on time, and show up for every sales meeting totally prepared to address your client’s specific concerns by doing your research on them,
* Always Have a Close: In any sales activity it’s important to have a strategy for how you are going to close. Will you send a follow up sales deck/presentation? Do you plan on offering 30 day trial? Give them 3 for the price of 2 if they sign up today. Always have a viable plan to close every qualified lead to first time customer.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
Optimal business performance demands we be honest with ourselves…and others!
I recently read an article about a recent survey that was conducted by Deluxe Corporation of small business owners, which found that more than 80% of them consider themselves more a leader than a follower, AND more than 75% identify as a doer rather than a delegator.
These numbers are so far removed from what I experience as a business coach/consultant, that they border on delusional.
This got me to thinking about the lies that we tell ourselves and others on an almost daily basis, in the course of our jobs or running a business. These lies reduce our workplace productivity, hinder our professional development, AND weaken our bonds/relationships with others by lowering the trust they have in us.
You know what I’m talking about. How often have you heard people say or said yourself:
* All our clients (vendors, partners, suppliers, EMPLOYEES) love us!
* I will start going to the gym next month.
* I’ll start eating healthier soon.
* I will definitely call you back!
* I’ll get to that tomorrow.
* I’ve done enough planning to make a Go decision on my new business?
* My relationship with my business (relationship) partner(s) is just fine.
* I can plan, launch, grow this business on my own.
* I am a GREAT boss – I’m a LEADER, not a “manager.”
Two questions that beg asking are:
1) WHY do we do this so often; and
2) How can we hold ourselves accountable to ensure we don’t do this.
I suggest we are all guilty of this because we HATE coming face to face with the hard truth that we may be deficient/lacking in some capacity. Why do we have distorted views of our own reality? Why do we put off the uncomfortable tasks, encounters, meetings, follow-up calls that sit on our calendar and we keep putting off on our To-Do lists?
As an entrepreneur, business start-up or small business owner, being able to have complete truthfulness and self-awareness in our abilities, values, and behavioral
patterns is absolutely critical in planning, launching and growing a successful business. It’s of central importance in ensuring our professional development, career mobility, and interpersonal business relationships.
Lying To Ourselves – It’s Called Cognitive Dissonance.
This is such a prevalent aspect of our human nature that there is a huge body of psychological research and field of study called cognitive dissonance.
Social psychologists studying cognitive dissonance are interested in the way we deal with two thoughts that contradict each other – and how we deal with this contradiction. So if we think things about ourselves we don’t like or contradict our self-perception, we must reconcile the difference and that’s called Cognitive Dissonance. Don’t believe me? Read this awesome article on why we lie to ourselves.
The lies we tell others come back to haunt us. Often, as start-ups, entrepreneurs, or small business owners our word and how we act, treat others has a direct immediate impact on our personal and professional brand. The lies we tell add up and do much to destroy our reputational brand.
What do you think. don’t tell me you LOVE this…unless you mean it.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
Being “in the now.” Achieve maximum workplace productivity by focusing on the task at hand.
Having watched (and coached) thousands of professionals to pursue their dream of entrepreneurship by starting a business, I am always amazed at the people who are constantly on the run, as they attempt to juggle so many tasks at once. They think that by multitasking they will achieve maximum workplace productivity. They foolishly believe they are performing at optimal levels of workplace performance.
They wear their multitasking work-life badge of honor as a Scarlet Letter sign that they are adept at “managing” so many different jobs, tasks, chores at ONCE.
I suggest that it is far from ideal to even attempt to manage multiple tasks at once. In fact, so many people are so distracted by so many things it’s a wonder they can achieve optimum levels of workplace performance at all. The truth is, they often can’t and DON’T! There’s even a well-researched psychological explanation to justify this. Read why humans are BAD at multitasking.
Research bears this out. Scientists have conducted extensive research to dispute the myth that we humans can multitask.
To gain maximum levels of productivity, I urge my entrepreneur, start-up, and small business owner clients to focus on the one critical task in front of them at the moment. Such a focused and singular approach to focusing 100% on the task at hand is referred to as: “BEING IN THE NOW!”
Being in the now demands that we give our “UNDIVIDED” attention and full focus to the immediate job we are working on at any single given point in time. Don’t you hate being in meetings where people are constantly refusing to pay attention, pecking away at their PDAs, texting on their smart phones, checking their emails, or playing some mindless distraction/game?
when you are in the now you’ll find yourself applying a militaristic “Zen-like” focus on the task at hand. It demands that we bring our full arsenal of attention to bear on a problem or job to find the maximum number of potential solutions, think creatively, ask “WHY?” and “WHAT IF” and be fully engaged with others.
Being in the now requires us to apply creative problem-solving techniques and critical thinking strategies to resolve challenges. We humans are incapable of “multitasking.” It’s not how our brains work. We foolishly assume we can perform several tasks at optimum performance levels, but the sad truth is WE CAN’T.
Given the blurring of our work-life balance we may feel we have no choice. When they become overwhelmed (as many do because attempting to multitask is an unsustainable human approach to work) I urge my clients to SLOW DOWN! I have them take 15-30 minutes every day to set aside personal/private time in a quiet, secluded place. Once you can carve out “alone time” you can begin to think about the strategic issues you face. It’s your own personal time to free form associate, visualize, and think up new ways to solve problems, address long-term issues, begin planning for future work. Private time away from any/all distractions allows us to focus on the “big picture” items one at a time.
So, instead of trying to do as many things as you can at sub-optimal performance levels and achieving “AVERAGE” results at best, change your work behavior. Focus on one item at a time with all your considerable brain power, attention, and ability to solve problems and think creatively. You will be truly AMAZED at the high performance levels you are able to achieve.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach