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What People Are Saying
“As a small business, bringing values, your values, into your professional life is automatic, after all, wasn't that why you took the plunge? But, how often does that work get in the way? Ellen helps you find the place back to balance: your work and your values can peacefully co-exist, even better, your values can help you focus your business. Focus on your abilities so that you can grow and succeed.”
- Danielle Hender, Esq. Shapiro & Hender

Where Are You Going?

Business vision is True NorthWhen you were a kid and just going out the door, did your mom ask you “where are you going?” How did you answer? Did you say “nowhere” or “just up the street” or maybe even say the name of one of your friends? You had an idea of where you wanted to go when you walked out the door.

So what about your small business?

When you’ve been in business for a while, you know essentially where you going. There is a purpose to your business, right? Have you asked yourself recently, “where are you going?”

All businesses evolve over time. Sometimes by choice, sometimes by circumstance.  The people running them learn more about customer’s needs and wants or technology enables something to exist that couldn’t exist before. Someone comes up with an innovative product or system. The recent recession and economic recovery has caused some businesses to go back to their roots while other businesses are reinventing themselves.

All evolution.

With so much change, it ‘s easy to lose your True North.

Your business vision is your True North. How did you want your business to affect the world? One client I coached is committed to making it easy to communicate electronically. Another client sees her wealth management business as a tool for reliable, no stress retirements. For your small business, your vision provides the framework for the types of actions you take, the people you hire and how you stay motivated. It comes from your value system. Your vision is just over the horizon waiting for you.

To review your vision, ask yourself these questions:

1. What are your top 3 values right now?

2. What is the most important thing you want your business to accomplish and why?

3. How aligned are your current business goals with your business vision?

So, where are you going?

*For more information like this live, check out my complementary teleclass, “How To Use the CEO Mindset For Small Business Success” Thursday March 31st, 7 pm GMT/3pm ET


Year in Review (So Far)-#kaizenblog recap

Business ReviewsSeptember brings a sense of newness and fresh starts. You can feel the summer wane and the first hints of autumn become present. With the last quarter of the year coming up, it is a good time to wonder if we are meeting our own expectations for the year. Since continual improvement, kaizen, is the foundation for the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge) and I invited everyone to examine their review process and their progress for 2010. If you missed the conversation and want to see the transcript, you can read it in full here Transcript for #kaizenblog – YrInReviewSoFar
Since the idea of a review can create anxiety in some while others feel eager to see their progress, we asked, what goes through your mind when someone suggests a review?  Without prompting, people shared that they were already taking a look at their performance and setting up plans and that having a regular schedule is crucial to performance.
  • Amber Cleveland (@ambercleveland) “Q1 which items are most valuable to review is what goes through my mind first.”
  • Jeannie Walters (@jeanniecw) “Review reality v. plan – even if the plan is in your head!”
  • Chanelle Schneider (@WriterChanelle) “Q1. Fear. LOL”
  • Meg Fowler (@megfowler) “Q1: Reviews are opportunitites to get it “righter” by looking backwards and applying lessons forward.”
  • Rob Petersen (@robpetersen) “Q1. Review = What worked + What didn’t work = What to do going forward”
  • Caroline Di Diego (@CASUDI) “Review is good to see where you are in implementing your plan  ~ are U right on or do U need to flex”

While there some discussion about how reviews can be given lip service, most people made references to how consistent reviews reduce surprises and allow true picture of progress to be accessible. Meg Fowler reminded us to” use reviews to celebrate what you did right, too–even in tough space, there are little victories to celebrate.”

What tips or strategies make reviews less cumbersome or threatening? Maltoni shared this link as an example of how to do an annual review. With the mindset that we gain something from continual learning and improvement, it is important to find ways that fit your style and enhance the practical application of a review. One of the most common tips was to schedule the reviews to be more frequent than once a year. Ideally, the reviews are most useful if done quarterly. Also, consider what objective measurements you can use to avoid coloring your judgement about your progress with emotion.

  • Jerry Evans (@inspiredtrain) “Tracking everything during the year will show you the hidden/seasonal patterns that you would miss if it’s an annual review”
  • Patrick Prothe (@pprothe) “re q2 breaking review into actionable items; tackle items that move your forward; focus on what’s working too”
  • Jeannie Walters “If your review isnt measuring AGAINST anything it’s not doing much, either”
  • Jeff Cutler (@JeffCutler) “A2-Performing them objectively and not turning them into to-do lists or blame reports.”
  • Nick Kinports (@ADMAVEN) “Instead of stating, “Here’s what we should do” ask, “what could we…?” “
  • Diane Court (@dc2fla) “Q2 develop the metrics together so those in review help determine the who & the what”

Tom Asacker (@tomasacker)  added an interesting observation and question, “Jumped in, noticed me/it” focus on business review. If business is about creating value, shouldn’t review be about/with customers?” Most people agreed with him and certainly, any review has to take a look at customers. It seems that how the data is collected is very important as it is easy to assume what customer’s behavior or comments mean. Joe Sanchez (@sanchezjb) tweeted, “Good reviews will incorporate data (ideally objective), info (subjective & objective) from multiple sources, & analytics.”

To keep with the idea of examining progress, we asked, What goals have you met so far?

  • Jeannie Walters, “A3-I have topped the number of clients goal I set for myself. Now new goal=scalability”
  • Caroline Di Diego “A3 Goal was to launch NU company in September ~ launching next week” (You can find more information here)
  • Amber Cleveland “launched www.SterlingHope, start blogging, ePublished biz partner’s book, started onT”

Our final question sparked something interesting! What could #kaizenblog community help you accomplish?”

  • Jerry Evans “Q4 Not could, already HAS. A collection of vibrant, clever and Pay It Forwards tweeters have opened my mind.”
  • Patrick Prothe “Re Q4  ~ #kaizenblog hold me accountable, focused and inspired to grow and connect. To raise the bar.”
  • Diane Court “#kaizenblog helps me focus on the small steps that catalyze big change & weave it all together. Unbelievable sense of community”

Mary Ann Halford (@MaryAnnHalford) made a suggestion that brings the #kaizenblog community into a new arena. She  offered, “Perhaps we can do a chat where we all share our goals and objectives for Q4” With some support from other participants, we started brainstorming what format this could take. Stay tuned to the #kaizenblog chat and this space to learn the details. Current suggestions include some kind of online forum or a teleconference. It will be scheduled for early October with a follow up meeting in Deember or early January. With the various types of experience and knowledge, we can offer one another opportunitites to grow, expand and really use the concept of kaizen for all of our work.

Please add your thoughts, feedback and suggestions regarding how you’d like to see the #kaizenblog community help one another.