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Assessing Performance of Your Small Business | CEO Mindset Leadership Development Program- March 18, 2014

Take a more in-depth look at how a PESTEL analysis, SWOT analysis and your financials can be a treasure trove and not a burden when you want to know how well your business is growing. Click here to register or for more informationRegister today

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Managing the Business Owner: When Do I Hire A Coach?

business owner, choices, coaching It’s not unusual for a small business owner to be talented and intuitive enough to steer their businesses through early growth. In fact, you want that foundation! Then, one day, there is an  inspiration to go for a bigger push. Sometimes this inspiration is like a whack on the head…your biggest client leaves or you’ve hit some other financial wall. Other times it is illumination…your product or service feeds a need in your market or the business is attracting attention and interest from your uber-ideal customers.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Stephen Covey ( who passed away on July 16, 2012) recommended seven habits  and one of these is “Begin with the end in mind”. This is often the starting point when we consider our wishes, hopes and dreams. Sometimes we articulate them to our business partners or friends but often business owners keep them quiet. Like the business owner I was speaking with last week who said he wanted to increase his revenues by 50%, it’s easy to come up with huge goals. It’s harder to determine why they are the best ones for both your personal growth and the growth of your organization.

Where’s the gap between your big goals and you? Click here to read more »

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Do Your Business Goals Contain Your Wisdom and Trust?

wisdom, trust and your business goalsHave you ever caught a glimmer of how wise and remarkable a person you truly are? The experience can be disorienting, upsetting, humbling or awe-inspiring. It shows up in your work, your play, your leadership, truly in all aspects of who you are. And yet, there is such temptation to downplay what skills, talents and values we bring with us.

Perhaps your distractions are really upriver

There were two men sitting by a river when they  saw someone float by in the water thrashing and calling for help. One of the men jumped in and saved the person. Next thing they knew, another person floated by thrashing and screaming for help. Again, one of the men jumped in and saved this person as well. To their great surprise and consternation, more and more people coming down the river and needed help. After both men were catching their breath after saving these people, one man turned to the other and said, “We better get some help if more people come down the river.” The other man replied, “We better go upriver and see who is throwing them in.”

Loads of data to analyze and competing ideas to include in your business goals

It’s easy to get caught up in ideas or wishes of how we want things to be. There are so many priorities and distractions that we may forget to go upriver and see for ourselves. For yourself, you can use a Wheel of Life (WheelofLife PDF) which allows you to rate all aspects of your life. If you want to rate your performance as a leader of your business, you can use the Management/Leader Wheel (MgtLdrWheel PDF). These tools are great ways to get a snapshot of where you are in your life.

For your business, you can do a SWOT analysis,  PESTEL analysis or pore over your financial statements with charts and graphs galore. And you should. Otherwise you may as well be shooting darts at balloons. The key thing with getting the right information is checking out what is real.

What does wisdom or trust have to do with it?

It doesn’t have to be any fancy woo-hoo stuff to be wise. Consider how many times you follow a “feeling” or trust your instincts. When you’re leading during times of great change or just facing a challenging set of circumstances, it isn’t always clear what is your best choice. If you have a team to help you design a strategic plan, you already have a separate set of eyes and ears to interpret data with you. However, you still have to trust yourself (and them) to steer the business in the “right” direction.

3 tips to access your wisdom while goal setting

1. Know what you do and don’t want. Sometimes it’s easier to identify what you don’t want. Negativity is easy. The more interesting list here is what you do want. Go on, what do you really want?

2. Your wisdom needs affirmation from hard cold evidence. When outside stuff challenges us, it stirs up our inside stuff. Make sure you include some way to measure the progress of your goals. If you plan on increasing your revenue by 25% by year’s end, write it down and check it regularly (quarterly is good). This will remind you that you know what you know.

3. Don’t go it alone. As the leader of your business (and your life), it’s a tough environment to do business in. It may be tempting to isolate or get busy with day to day stuff among other things. Use your team. They are an internal resource of your design. Having a confidant, mentor, coach or mastermind group can keep you in touch with your wisdom.

So,  what’s up your river?

What suggestions do you have for accessing your wisdom when setting goals for your business?

 

 *Join us on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog this Friday, January 6th at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT as we have our 2nd annual Goal Setting Convo. We’ll be exploring the topic of goal setting and declaring our top 2012 goals to one another.

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Living Business Plan: Letting Go, Quitting and 2012

*Join us for this topic on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. We’ll start the discussion on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT or add your comment below.

Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting a business planning workshop to small business owners. While talking about  living business plans , I urged the participants to identify what needs to be eliminated. We don’t talk enough about how to let go of the parts of our businesses that are half-alive. And quitting? Forget about it!

For the sake of this conversation, I’m going to use the word, quitting. It’s a word with so many negative nuances. WLet Go, Quit and Decision Pointithout critical thinking, we accept these nuances without knowing if they are true to our experience.

What’s not working as well as you would like?

When you set your business goals for 2011, you had certain things you wanted to achieve by December 31, 2011. There were positive results to celebrate. But what produces lackluster results?

  • Holding onto a product or a service that very few purchase
  • The marketing plan didn’t produce the expected results
  • People just didn’t want what we offered
  • You fell in love with your product or service and didn’t allow for adaptation or iterations of your product or service

Could you let go of something you loved developing?

Some of what we offer to our customers means more to us than simply a revenue source. Maybe all is good for awhile and then you’re doing your quarterly review. You notice  it’s not moving the way you expected. After a couple more quarterly reviews, you’re seeing a downward trend.

By letting go, it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go.

But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning. -Lao Tzu

When letting go becomes quitting…

There’s an interesting behavior among entrepreneurial business owners. When someone decides to close their business and return to working for someone else, entrepreneurial colleagues often respond with suggestions to keep the business on the side or urge him/her simply to not quit. Failure still seems to be taboo, for all those who claim that this gives you some kind of street cred.

Imagine quitting isn’t failure.

Of science and the human heart

There is no limit.

There is no failure here, sweetheart

Just when you quit

-“Miracle Drug”, U2

That’s the premise of the Freakonomics podcast, “The Upside of Quitting”. They state that there is a fallacy of weighing sunk costs. This concept is that we’ve sunk too much of our time, money, and/or energy and we can’t leave without getting something back for our efforts. One of the people interviewed for this podcast is Justin Humphries, a former baseball player, who now assists baseball players outside of Major League Baseball decide when it’s time to quit playing. Many baseball players who are at the end of their career struggle with accepting that they aren’t good enough or too old. Part of this seems to stem from lacking a broader sense of identity. Instead of seeing how they might transfer their skills to another part of baseball or find another career entirely, many players keep playing baseball.

Knowing when to ” shut it down”.

Stephen Dubner captured underlying belief for these baseball players, “Wow, that’s particularly poignant in my view… because baseball’s one of those rare sports that because it doesn’t have a clock, no game is ever out of reach…You could be behind a thousand runs in the bottom of the ninth and theoretically you can still come back and win. So that’s part of the ethic of baseball is never, never, never, never quit. Quitting is  not an option.”

The dissonance between “science and the human heart”

Entrepreneurs and business owners are often like these baseball players. With the recent severe recession and snail-like recovery, many startups and businesses are at a decision point. There are glimmers that things are just beginning to ease up and it’s exhausting trying to keep things afloat. And yet, quitting may not be seen as one choice.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we derive much of our identity and a sense of competency from our business. We see the financial reports spelling out the science of our business. But, in our hearts, the challenges evoke emotions of grief, helplessness and powerlessness. We’ve put too much in to close the doors. We’re given so many messages that shames us out of quitting. And yet, quitting may turn out to be the best decision we could ever make for ourselves and our businesses. As it is urged by the “The Upside of Quitting”, imagine “there is no failure here.”

Setting goals for 2012

No one would ever say that letting go or quitting are easy or even pleasant experiences. Nonetheless, it is essential to identify any deadweight or mediocre performers. These could be things (or, ouch, people) you are fond of or just have out of habit and these are compromising your business vision. There is an intersection between deciding to let go or quit and your business goals. Aligning your metrics and your heart is an essential task when setting business goals.

What messages do we hear when we’re at the decision point to let go/quit/continue?

How are these messages helpful or  harmful?

How do you let go of a product/service in your business that’s not performing well?

How can “science and the human heart” become resonant with choice to quit?

As you plan your business goals for 2012, how could letting go or quitting assist planning?

 

*Join us for this topic on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. We’ll start the discussion on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT or add your comment below.





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Just Plain Good Old Goal Writing

Creating strategic and operational planYou can dress it up with terms like “strategic plan” or “operational plan” but at the end of the day, it’s just plain good old goal writing.  Really. I know it seems intimidating at times to put it on paper. If you decide to call it an action plan, that works too. For larger small businesses, there may be all kinds of meetings of teams or pertinent staff members but I’m telling you…when it comes time to figure out how to make the Big Ideas sing, you have to know how to write a goal.

We like predictability in most areas of our lives. According to Lars Andersen, a lack of predictability is a leading cause of stress in the workplace. When you’re the business owner or one of the executive team (no matter what your actual title says), you can create that predictability with clear goals that assign the task to specific people and embed accountability. This makes it clear and (dare I say it?) easy to follow through on what is desired.  You can even reduce the amount of procrastination that can accompany vague goals.

Goal setting has three components:  1) specifics, 2) measurements, and 3) deadlines.  It requires a step-wise way of thinking while you break a task down to its individual steps.  The first component, specifics, tells you what you are going to do.  This is why it is important to state the goal clearly.  You may even discover that you will have sub-goals to your main goal. (This is definitely true when you are setting up your 1 year, 3 year or 5 year plans). The second component, measurements, focuses how you will know you are successful.  Sometimes, measurements can let you know if you need to fine-tune the goal or even change the goal.  The last component, deadlines, gives you the necessary push to follow through with your chosen actions. 

See the difference here:

Vaguely worded goal: We will expand our reach to women-owned small businesses.

Do you know what to do here? I don’t and I hear goals like this all of the time. What does it mean to expand? Is it physical as in setting up a satellite office somewhere? Or is it really about marketing? Using social media, traditional media or what? Bad, bad, bad.

Clearly worded goal: We will contact 3 networking groups that focus on women-owned small business to inquire about speaking opportunities by Friday.

It becomes clear that you intend to use speaking as a way to connect with this particular market. This clarity is simple and easy to focus on.

The specific action is to contact the networking groups that focus on women small business owners. The measurement is that we will contact 3 of these groups. The deadline is Friday. Is it easy to imagine someone taking on this goal and completing it by the deadline? And he/she doesn’t complete it, they will be able to tell you what got in the way.

Some people believe you have to write your goals as SMART goals. Other prefer a more free-form style. There isn’t really one way to write the goals as long as you have the basic components.  Excessive words will make it hard to follow through as there will be too much to remember.  Keep your goal simple and succinct.  For measurements, use timers, logs, charts and a calendar.  Make your deadlines clear and realistic. This goes for any small business, no matter the size. Sometimes goals are long-term and will be accomplished over the course of a year or even several years. All of the goals and sub-goals have the same ingredients. Each goal is a note that enables your Big Idea, your vision, to sing.

What goals are you setting that will make your Big Ideas for your small business sing?

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When Your Business Goals Fail

In ”It Always Starts With Vision“,  we clarified what you intend your business to become.  And that’s all well and good but having goals that leave you spinning your wheels or sending you in different directions will leave your small business in limbo. Goal writing can be harder than it sounds. Without clear specifics, measurements, deadlines or accountability embedded in the written goal,Cars In Fog it’s a bit like driving your car in the fog. The road is there but it’s not clear what’s ahead of you. In fact, without clear and focused goals, you may as well let your business fail.

Badly written goals lead to failure. Failure lies in 2 parts. The first is when the goals are too vague so you can’t execute. A good example is “We’re going to connect with my target market.” You know what you mean, sort of. It probably is some kind of combination where you network or speak to groups. It can also mean someone in your organization is doing something in social media or doing a media interview. All of these are really separate goals. The problem with just saying, “We’re going to connect with my target market” is that there is no clear beginning point. Do you connect in print, online, or in-person? What kind of connection? When? Who cares?

This is a good way to set the stage for procrastination. In organizations, this can look like endless meetings where people come up with reasons why one thing will work better than something else but no one will be responsible for leading the action. In sole proprietorships, it can look like a lot of busy work without any movement towards getting in front of more people who might be interested in your business.

The second part is when the goals having nothing to do with the “why” of your business. You pursue something that is tangential to your business. Maybe you’ve been thinking about adding a service or product to what you already offer your clients and you’ve run across this wonderful opportunity. It’s important to evaluate if the opportunity is completely consistent with the purpose of your business. I made this mistake a few years ago when I decided to offer a program that could have focused on women business owners and how they think about money and success. Sure it had to do with managing beliefs and anxiety about performance (big part of my coaching) but I attracted professional women (not small business owners) and it didn’t focus entirely on building a business (business results are crucial to my coaching process). It was an almost match and I didn’t listen to my gut. My “why” is to use short-term coaching cycles and collaborate with my clients so they feel confident in identifying and developing strategies to be more effective leaders, plan more creatively, innovate, and overcome the fears and obstacles that interfere with building the businesses they truly want. Yeah, the program didn’t work and I had to pay for a license that was a bad investment.

Limbo stinks! No matter the size of your small business, limping along while you are wishing you were doing something more exciting or fulfilling is a waste of time! What would happen if you sat down (or even stood up) for a scheduled length of time and the only agenda item was to write one goal fully out so it is specific, measurable, time-limited and a no-brainer to put into action. Last but never, ever least, who would provide the accountability for you (or whoever is assigned) to see how the goal has been followed through?

How are your business goals failing to produce the results you want?

 

 

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