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“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.”
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Using the CEO Mindset During the Mid-Year Business Plan Review

CEO mindset, business plan, small business ownerWhen you reach the middle of the year, is it a time for celebration or redoubling of efforts…or both?As leader of your organization, it is your place to seek out and tell the truth about what is working and not working. This can be a tough role but necessary.

Assumptions get in the way of good business practices

Your willingness to see things as they are and  not what you wish them to be shows up in testing assumptions. As an example, one of my Irish clients is really excited about launching his product in the US. However, he had a number of assumptions that just did not hold water hen he looked at them more closely. For starters, he assumed he knew how American consumers thought about Irish products. He also did not realize the costs involved as well as the various legal (immigration law, small business law, employment law, etc.) issues that needed preparation. It was in the business plan review that he was able to test his assumptions before committing large amounts of  money.

But there are other assumptions that need testing

1. While I could spend a whole blog post on the cognitive biases that could interfere with a small business owner’s performance, one can quickly prove demoralizing as well as financially dangerous. Sunk cost fallacy which is the thought process that “I’ve committed so much money to X that I have to make something of it.” Some might say that this is throwing good money after bad.

2. “There is money for all of our plans” could be another assumption if cash flow is not monitored. Taking time to go through the financials, even if you are not a money person, does matter since it indicates if you need to step up business development or maintain your current course.

3. “I’m sure it’s getting done” I’ve worked with a couple of business owners who found out the hard way that not holding their staff accountable cost them thousands of dollars. Without asking your people if they are fulfilling their assignments or having agreed-upon measurements, you are potentially telling them that you are incompetent or disorganized.

There are more assumptions you might be making about time, your role(s) or any number of things. The key is to ask questions, even to what seems obvious, so that you have a clear picture of how your business is performing.

That is the CEO Mindset

Whether you have the title or simply take on the mindset, you are CEO. This makes you the one who sets the tone for the whole organization and shows through words and actions the most desired values and behaviors. Whether you use a SWOT analysis or another tool to answer the questions, you show a curious, honest and pragmatic type of leadership. Taking this approach during the mid-year business plan review promotes problem-solving, brainstorming and acknowledgement of successes and failures. Question your assumptions and stay willing to see things as they are.

How can you access the CEO Mindset?

Here are some suggestions to start implementing the CEO Mindset for yourself:

  • Be a pragmatic visionary. Take your vision, build business goals that support it and measure your results.
  • Examine the data for trends, patterns or anomalies
  • Stop and listen so  you can become aware of your assumptions
  • Manage your attitude. Notice if you are overly optimistic, frustrated or tired can affect how your evaluate your data or interact with your staff.

What other assumptions need to be questioned by the business owner/ chief executive?

What are the best tools or resources for asking the right questions?

 About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and executive coach who guides established small business owners in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are re-focusing your small business or expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about growing to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.

 

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Managing the Business Owner: Get Out Of The Office!

small business owner, stress, relaxAs I’m about to embark on a vacation of my own, I noticed that I had let my business get to me. There is stuff to announce on my usual social media sites, information to process about upcoming programs, meetings to schedule and confirm…Yes, there is always something to do. A phone call, a networking event, checks to sign, meetings to facilitate…the list goes on and on.

When you can’t shut it off, it’s time to get away Click here to read more »

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One Step Closer

Business Owners, Crisis and KnowingIn my previous post, Back At TweakYourBiz , I mentioned I had taken time to assess what I wanted to do next. Regular readers of this blog have probably noticed that I shy away from getting too personal.  But during a recent coaching session, I noticed that the questions I was asking my client were the questions I had to answer last year.

One Step Closer

A good friend of mine gave me a copy of U2′s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb about 9 months ago. I have a copy already and some of the songs have resonated with me for a long time. Strangely,  it was like hearing the album for the first time. Circumstances had created a perfect storm that nearly ended my business. At one point, I actually thought it was over and I should just get a job. I truly felt as if everything in my life had just upended but this U2 song, One Step Closer kept echoing in my head. Click here to read more »

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Can You Be Trusted?

There is a world of difference between managing a business and leading a business. You probably know this already. Even when you’re a sole proprietor or a small shop, you still switch hats between manager and leader. You want to have systems in place to avoid getting too panicky or too complacent. But maybe we’re missing a more important question?

Should you be the CEO (even if de facto) of your business?

It’s tempting for some to say “but I’m not a CEO“, particularly when you run a very small business. But that’s just shortsighted. You’re already setting the stage with your vision, your pace and emphasis on certain initiatives. The thing that may be missing here is trust.

Trust or no movement forward

No matter how much experience you have as a leader, trust plays a major role in how far your people will go with you. In such difficult economic times as we’ve experienced over the last four years, you need that trust to be strong. Given that change is an integral piece of the “new normal”, what resistance is present in your organization?

Trust is earned and some styles of leadership depend on it more than others. However, trust is not easily rewarded. Sure, just having a certain position gives you the basic level from most people.Titles do that.

So, you have to ask yourself, am I demonstrating…

  • consistency in my words and actions?
  • consideration for others’ schedules and abilities?
  • respect for others when I have requests and directives?
  • honesty in how I present myself?
  • that I believe I have a good team in my staff?

 No movement forward if you haven’t built more than a baseline of trust

You probably have your own war stories of working for someone that you could trust to be harsh, confusing or just plain infuriating. How did this affect your productivity? Don’t be that guy! You already know how it feels. And it’s important to remember that how people perceive that you “feel” is what determines the level of trust you’re given.

What do you notice creates breakdowns in the day-to-day tasks?

What do you do that makes you a trustworthy leader?

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Managing the Business Owner: Of Machines & Work-Life Balance

Recent #kaizenblog chats got me thinking about how easy it is to go along with the fast pace of business. This fast pace seems to evoke a sense that we are machines placed in our workplaces to keep things functional. There are more and more words in our vocabulary that speak to machines and technology. We get amped up about new initiatives and ideas. How do you unplug? People tell me they just don’t have the bandwidth to take on new projects. We can dial-in people for meetings and be undertooled when we lack skills or resources. But what happens to work-life balance if we allow ourselves to be seen as machines?

Small Business Owner or Robot?Are we trying to be machines?

In a recent post on Small Business Trends, Susan Payton reported that the number of small business owners planning to take a vacation was a little under 50%. These are the ones who are planning to go on vacation. These leaves about 54% who are not taking time away from their business. While it isn’t clear that these business owners are truly going to work every day from now until the beginning of September, it is clear that a great  many feel apprehensive about leaving their businesses.

Does this 54% expect that they can act like machines and sustain their performance with no ill effects? Machines are designed to work nonstop. They don’t lose problem-solving skills to fatigue and anxiety. They also don’t feel resentful when other machines are shut off until needed again. People do suffer consequences when fatigued and do feel resentful when they perceive they are stuck. But we still expect ourselves to perform like robots in a perfect, predictable and uninterrupted way.

Do robots have a work-life balance?

There is always talk about work-life balance. Is it supposed to be 50/50, 60/ 40 or some other split? Is it supposed to favor the off time or the work time? One of my favorite ways to explaining work-life balance is a simple exercise.

Try this for a  moment…Stand on one foot for 1 minute and notice the adjustments your body makes as you stand there. Now, if you were a robot, you would have been programmed to stand perfectly balanced throughout the exercise. And how often is preventive maintenance performed on a robot or machine? Yes, even machines get downtime.

So what gives?

Well, you do for starters. Research has demonstrated that chronic stress is a great trigger for serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease and depression as well as links to cancer. Sounds pretty nasty, right? You may have good reasons for eliminating your vacation this summer. There may be good economic reasons why you can’t get away for an extended period of time. Just this week, one of my clients was expressing worry that taking even a week off could cause a major project deadline to be missed. Sure, these are real issues but…

The challenge is identifying how you are getting sucked into trying to be a machine and not a person.

Rather than getting all worked up that your work-life balance is out of whack, ask yourself about the words you use. Do they include references to machines? Are you feeling pressured to stay on the job because something might happen? Some people find out to their dismay that no one missed them while they took a long weekend. Sounds backwards, right? However, when you start believing that you must be present continuously for your business, you are allowing yourself to become robotic. The work gets done but that’s all. Innovation is hard to create with a tired mind. It’s easier to get aggravated or despondent. How does this serve your business or you?

Do you need to be always on?

Even in the darkest moments, it is important to give yourself some human time. What would happen if you decided to end every Friday at 3pm, no matter what? Imagine the experience of shutting your smartphone off for your lunchtime. Work-life balance isn’t easy and, frankly, it can change depending on where you are in your business cycle. It’s certainly tempting to give you suggestions on how to adapt your work-life balance so it is healthier. But that would be wrong. it’ s more important for you to take the time and ask yourself some questions. Such as, if you, the business owner, work like a machine, what message are you sending to your peers and your staff? Is this really what you want to say?

What is  your definition of work-life balance?

How does using words that evoke machinery or technology affect how we think about ourselves at work?

 

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You Don’t Do This Alone

Small business owner getting helpYou know you don’t grow your small business alone but so many of us get caught up in questioning how to ask for help. Truth be told, I’m just as guilty as anyone else. In a conversation with a friend and colleague, he asked me why professional women have a hard time asking for help. After thinking about it, I came away wondering if it is less about gender and more about our perception of our own competence and ability to solve problems.

It seems like you’re walking on a tightrope. How much do you say? How do you say it? There is a perception that if you show a weakness, people will perceive you as incompetent or that your business is fly-by-night. So that presents a dilemma. How do you ask for help without appearing weak?

We don’t know everything and we are not good at everything. There, it’s been said. We’re not superhuman.

It’s time to take advantage of our network. Is it a treasure trove when you need help with something? Sometimes our network inspires us because we spend time with people we aspire to emulate. Sometimes our network provides us with support when we share common experiences. Our networks also provide us with resources we aren’t aware of or have forgotten.

We create communities rich in connection. When we connect with others, we want to know what they think about, feel about, struggle with and celebrate. Typically, this is a reciprocal relationship. Think about the last time you were meeting people at a networking event. Who smiled at you? With whom did you laugh? Who did you really want to schedule coffee with right away? Within your existing network, who makes you feel good? My friend, Kate is one of those people for me. I don’t have to say a word about my business and I walk away feeling like a million bucks.

What would happen if you asked that person for help? It could be you need a referral for a virtual assistant, a lead on new clients, to hire additional staff or ask for business. Sometimes you need a simple sounding board or a good laugh.

So, what would happen?

What do you think gets in the way of asking for help?

*For more information like this live, check out my no cost webinar, “Achieving the CEO Mindset For Small Business Success” Thursday, March 31st, 7 pm BST/2pm ET. For more information and to register, go to Programs

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But I’m Not a CEO

When you think about yourself as a small business owner, do you think of yourself as the chief executive officer of your organization? Surprisingly for many, the thought just doesn’t even enter their minds. The strangest part of this is that the responsibilities are very similar.  Sure the scale of the business is different but take a moment to think. What do you really do as leader of your company?

 Take a look at this comparison and see if it sounds familiar:

CEO Responsibilities

Small Business Owner Responsibilities

Sets the vision and tone of what “X Company” is all about

 

Articulates vision (and, often, the mission) of what the small business is all about

 Designs and explains the strategy  of how the business will develops  and grow over time

 

Designs a strategic plan/action plan that includes product/service development as well as marketing

Seeks out the talent to make the above happen

 

Often connects with complementary professionals in network, hires consultants/contractors or employees to meet the goals set in the above

Keeps everyone accountable to the stated business goals

 

Sets up an accountability system with a peer, mentor, mastermind group or coach for own performance; Maintains consistent contact with complementary professionals, consultants/contractors or employees as accountability measure

Makes sure that revenues (and    even profits) are healthy

 

Knows “cash is king” so makes sure revenues are stable, growing and making a profit

 Still think you’re not a CEO?

For some people, it feels too grandiose. Maybe you’re a sole proprietor or it just sounds like it ought to be in a boardroom of a Fortune 500 company. That would be a mistake! Businesses succeed when there is someone dedicated to planning and executing the business goals. Sure, there aren’t always other managers that will implement your strategy. And sometimes the business owner has to act as technical expert.

It’s not about the size of your organization.

Nope, it’s not about size or even your business structure. It’s not even about putting those three letters under your name. It’s about having the CEO Mindset. Small business owners who realize that they are more than simply the worker bee are better positioned for challenges and opportunities.

There three things that they do well:

  1.  They understand and accept that their business is a separate entity.
  2. They make time to imagine and plan for the next quarter, the next six months, 1 year or beyond.
  3. They take care of themselves with solid advisors, healthy diet and rest.

How many of these things are you already doing?

You sure you’re not a CEO?

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Introduction

The three keys to unlocking your business and your life are right at your fingertips! 

Your ability is your skill set.  You already possess the talent, knowledge, and wisdom to be a successful business owner and executive. 

Since you are adept, this leads to many experiences of success.  Success brings feelings of confidence and a stronger sense of capability. 

This leads to your growth as a person.   

As a coach, my main focus is your growth.  This is the fun stuff!  I look forward to reading what you have to say.  Live well!

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