How to Master the Inner and Outer Game of Business Growth

On September 30, Jamie was interviewed by Eric Dye of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network about dealing with growing pains and managing the internal and external challenges that come with growing a successful business.

With tips from our business coaching toolbox Jamie painlessly describes what specific characteristics and skillsets are needed for an entrepreneur to have successful business growth. Give it a listen:

TIP: Invest in you. Your business is a reflection of you. If you want to grow your business and stay one step a head, then you need to grow you. And to find the place to start, look to where your stress is. Stress is usually created by uncertainty, i.e. not knowing how to handle a certain problem. That might be the place you need to learn some more or become more capable in same way.

Listen to Jamie’s interview with Curtin FM for the skinny on the productiviy apps that can help you manage your time and harness business growth

How to Avoid Being “That Boss”

Time to Watch: 3:16

Whether you call yourself a Boss, Leader, or Owner, there’s a very fine line between setting the pace and driving the pace. Knowing the difference is critical to the health of your team. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “Boss think” on this one, and it can be detrimental to the health and productivity of your team. Here’s how to effectively set the pace as a leader, no matter what stage your business is at.

What we’re talking about here is your effect on the team in terms of your behaviour around implementation and execution. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you aren’t held to account in the same way that your people are, but to echo a sometimes-overused phrase, you really do need to lead by example to get the results you want.

You can’t create separate standards for yourself and your team, because the difference will be stark, and the result will be the creation of an “us vs. them” culture which does nothing to promote, ingenuity, motivation or retention—all cornerstones of a successful business.

If you’re looking to be a team and work as a team, then you need to actively participate as one of the team, regardless of how you view yourself in the culture of the business.

What are your biggest challenge jumping into the trenches? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you watch this and think: “If there’s no ‘I’ in team, why am I doing all the work?” This read is for you.

Get out there and have fun with it, and if you’ve hit a stumbling block, we can help. Reach out and let us know what you need.

Cheers,

 

Keep in the loop with our latest rapid training videos on SalesUp!TV

8 Critical Questions to Ask Your Business-Self Before 2018

For all you ‘A type’ business owners out there, how many of you (like me, many times) find yourselves always charging from goal to goal in the pursuit of evermore? You know where this is leading right? The power of taking some time out to ask critical questions and reflect on what ‘has been’ is a very powerful way of making sure the future you are about to create is:

  1. the future you want, and
  2. that you are going to go about it in the best way you know how.

I was sitting down with a new client last week, and he told me about his annual ritual of taking a step back, looking at what he’s accomplished, looking at where he is relative to the plan he created and asking the question “Am I going to keep doing this for another year?”. The ‘this’ in his case is his business. While you may or may not be open to the option to ‘stop running your business,’ it’s an empowering notion to consciously realise you have the choice. Yes, there may be consequences, but you still have the choice. More importantly, taking the time to ask reflective questions (hopefully insightful ones), is a healthy practise that the best business owners consistently adopt.

This year, I crafted a list of questions. They are based on some I’ve used previously and are designed to extract from my mind the lessons and best practises I’ve encountered over the past 12 months (or 40yrs for that matter). Knowing if I bring these thoughts forward to my conscious, I can then proactively apply them moving forward. Let me share them with you.

Reflection:

  1. Looking back over the past 12 months what were the greatest wins for my business?
    • What were the actions, relationships or events that led to these wins?
    • If I had to bottle this as a recipe, what would be the key ingredients?
  2. Looking back over the past 12 months what were the greatest wins for my personal life?
    • What were the actions, relationships or events that led to these wins?
    • If I had to bottle this as a recipe, what would be the key ingredients?
  3. What were my main points of focus over the past year?
  • Given where I am now:
    • which of those would I consider to have been worthwhile?
    • which were possibly a waste of time?
  1. What should I have quit sooner?
    • In hindsight, what are the signs I might have seen (if I knew what to look for) that could have led me to this decision sooner?
  2. What should I have put more effort into? How could I have known to do so earlier?
  3. Looking at all this, what are the biggest lessons of the past year.
    • How can I apply them moving forward?
    • Who can help me?
  4. How do I currently see my SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats)
  5. Is my 3-5yr vision still relevant? What changes do I want to make?
    • Looking at my 3-5 year vision, what are my one-year goals.

I find it best to ponder these over a glass of wine – it tends to loosen my creativity ????

Enjoy the questions and more importantly be sure to apply what you learn from answering them…and if you need someone to bounce those ideas off – we’re always ready. Reach out HERE

5 Ways to Make Better Business Decisions

When we started working with Adam he told us he didn’t have the time to measure stuff, let alone the time to compile and analyse the results.

Adam’s situation is typical of many small business owners.

While not all our clients say it to our face, we can see the anguish on their face when we start talking about metrics and reporting.

Here’s how we got Adam excited about numbers to the point where we had to put the brakes on him measuring too much.

We started by asking Adam, “What would you say to an athlete that was trying to run a record time but was not timing their efforts?”. Predictably he said he’d tell them they were crazy.

Next, we asked “How comfortable would you be flying on a plane whose pilot could not read the controls?” Again came a predictable response “Not very”.

“Or what about a doctor who prescribes medication without measuring any of your vitals like blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.” … Adam could see the theme.

Bringing it closer to home we asked “What about a business (not yours) that you invested your life savings into and the CEO didn’t know the profit margins on the work they were doing. They also didn’t understand the numbers behind their marketing so had no idea how to grow the business. How safe would you feel about your investment?” This one made Adam sit up a little straighter.

He knew where we were going, and we probably didn’t have to ask him the next question, but we wanted to drive the point home. You see Adam was not doing nearly as well as he wanted to—and on this point of measuring—he had his head in the sand.

Last question … “Adam, what’s the difference between all these examples and you and your business? If it’s important for all these other people to measure and read the results, what do you think might be good for you and your business?”

He got it.

There’s a business mantra “What gets measured gets managed”. And while we are huge proponents of this mantra, there’s another quote by Einstein that we also like. He says “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”. 

For small business owners, both of these quotes need to be taken into account. When you are short on time and possibly lacking easy access to data (although this is rapidly changing with cloud accounting and other apps), starting simple is the key.

Follow these four steps to gain some meaningful data which will enable you to start making better businesses decisions.

  1. Brainstorm a list of possible things to measure (here are some to get you started)
    • Marketing (lead sources, retention rate, website performance, referral rate, social media stats, campaign results, cost per lead, etc.)
    • Sales (conversion rates [dissected by lead source and salespeople], pipeline stats [how many fall off where], average quote value, average job value, margin, sales activities, discounts, new vs. existing customers)
    • Operations (major costs/sales, project completion duration, Work In Progress, quality stats, bottlenecks, scrap or waste)
    • People (turnover, absenteeism, survey responses, revenue/employee, etc.)
    • Financial – AR Days, AP Days, Inventory days, Gross Margins,
  2. Identify top 5 that will give you meaningful information for your business. Things to consider:
    • Which number, if measured, will make other numbers less important (e.g. an employee survey may give you way more insight vs. measuring absentee days, and it requires fewer resources to measure)?
    • Which numbers can we measure easily?
  3. Take the top 3 from this list and commit to measuring them for 90 days. If 3 is too hard, make it less. Your primary goal here is to develop the habit, make it easy to be successful and see the value from having some accurate numbers. Note: Allocate accountability for each number.
  4. At the end of 90 days, review what you’ve accomplished and do 1 – 3 of the following:
    • Amend what you are measuring – you may have found out that was not the best thing to being measuring
    • Add to what you’re measuring. Over time you’ll want to have a more robust scorecard than just 3 numbers. Gradually add to it as it makes sense.
    • Develop a wish list of other numbers to measure. Having numbers on your wish list lets you know they are not forgotten and can forgo the temptation to try to measure too many at once.
  5. Be sure to look at the numbers at least weekly. The more often you look at them, the more beneficial they will be. The exception here is, of course, numbers that require long periods of time to change, though these are usually few. Also be sure to display data in a format that is meaningful. (i.e. sometimes you need to see trends vs. stand-alone numbers.) For example. # quotes mean more when there is something to compare it too.

Building a Profit-First Budget

Budgeting is not something most business owners would list as one of their most exciting tasks – and that’s ok, but it is necessary, and there is a way to build a budget that makes profit non-negotiable. Here’s how you can create a budget which helps you think differently about how you manage the expense side of your business, and will radically change your profit results.

How to Make Yourself More Referable

This video is NOT about how to get more referrals (well, not directly anyway) It’s about how to boost your level of trust with your clients or customers to become more referable. By identifying your best possible sources of referrals and building those relationships you will see a boost in both the quality and quantity of your referrals.

How to Get More Free Time

Time is a scarce resource, and when it comes to growing your business, where you invest your time can make a critical difference to your success. Here are some strategies you can begin to use immediately, which will allow you to free up at least 15% of your time.

Can you free up 15%+ of your time immediately? When I ask people this question, the answer varies widely from ‘for sure ‘ to ‘probably’ to ‘no way’. Stick with me and I’ll show you how you can do it with 100% certainty. Sounds bold, doesn’t it 🙂

Have you ever reacted without thinking?? Stupid question right. Well, the truth is most of us go through our days reacting and not even realising it. Right now you have patterns and habits in your life that you do subconsciously without thinking. This is actually a good thing because if you had to think about everything, you’d be exhausted. Habits help us operate our lives and are fundamental to being human.

And this is where your opportunity lies.

Just like you get up, get dressed and have breakfast (or not) out of habit, you are making continual choices about how to invest your time (out of habit) each and every moment of the day. Notice my language here …. “choices about how you invest your time”. Time management is not about managing time, it’s about managing habits and choices. Yes … choices. This is the critical principle – you and only you are in control of how you invest your time. Not your customers, employees, your kids or your spouse. In this country, no one can make you do anything … it’s all 100% up to you.

Of course, all decisions about how you invest your time have consequences, nonetheless, you are in control.

Now on to freeing up that time – I’m going to share four strategies with you. Before you embark on using these strategies, be sure to completely buy into the notion that you are in 100% control of your time. That must be step #1

Strategy #1 – Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s law states that a task will expand to fill to time allocated to it. In other words, if you don’t give something a time limit, it will grow widely in inefficiency. Set a time limit for all major tasks and meetings – and experiment with making that time limit 15-20% less than you normally would. I.e. instead of 1hr meetings, make them 40mins. This will force you and those attending to be focused and effective. It will prompt you to stop people who waffle and encourage you to be more clear with your thinking.

Strategy #2 – 80:20 Rule – 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities. Key question “If you could only do 3 tasks in your business, what would they be?”. Answering this question should guide you towards what your most valuable activities are. When you guide your time choices to invest more time in those things, you’ll find a way to take care of the minutia that is currently filling/wasting your time.

Strategy #3 – Learn to say no – this one plays in line with the 80:20 above. Once you are clear on what activities you ‘should’ be doing, it becomes easier to say no to those you shouldn’t.

Strategy #4 – Time Blocking – once you are clear on what you want to invest your time doing, create blocks of uninterrupted time to get them done. Being interrupted can decrease your efficiency exponentially. What should take 30mins can often take hours if you allow yourself to be interrupted. And if you find your mind coming up with elaborate excuses of why you can’t create interrupted blocks of time, recognize it for what it is … an excuse. Be creative and dedicated … it is YOUR time … no-one else’s.

Have some fun with it. And I’d love to hear about your success stories … or challenges ????

Jamie Cunningham