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
A culture of accountability has many advantages. Among them are:
an increase in team performance (obviously)
high morale (because people are growing and getting shit done)
lower stress for you the leader (because you’re dealing with things proactively) ; and
business results (when a team is thriving and executing, result have to happen – it can’t be any other way)
If that sounds attractive (and it should), then the question to ask yourself is “how effective am I at building a culture of accountability?” You’ll be among good company if your answer is lower than you’d like it. It’s a common trap—so let’s not stay there. Let’s take it up a notch (or 10). And here’s how you can do it.
First, the truth
You can’t hold someone accountable.
Sure, you could use all to go to tactics we see some parents using – yelling, guilt and shame (I don’t recommend any of those – in your business or with your kids) but would you rather that YOU have to change someone’s behaviour or would you rather THEY do it? Your true goal as a leader is to help people grow their sense of internal accountability. Your role is to help them either want to get it done or to develop the skills to get it done.
If a person has clarity on the need, the drive to do it and the skills and the resources to do it, they will act. The part of leadership that encompasses accountability is being able to identify and shift where a person has a block. It is usually one of those three elements that are lacking.
With that principle understood, let’s look at the tactics.
Step 1 – The Relationship
For communication to be effective, a relationship needs to be healthy. We listen most closely and openly to those we respect and those whom we feel respect and care for us. Knowing this truth, it is critical that your relationships with your team have a healthy foundation of mutual respect and care. So your first step in helping someone develop their accountability is to check with your own internal view of that person. Second, check in with your view of yourself – self-respect is critical.
Where respect and care are lacking, communication will have an edge, and the intent behind the act will flavour the communication in an unhelpful way, whether you mean to or not.
Step 2 – Clear expectations
To be accountable for something, you first need to know what you are to be accountable for. It sounds obvious, but over and over again we’ve seen lack of clarity between the leader’s expectations and that of the team. Put things in writing. Test your communication by having the person repeat back to you the communication they have received.
When it comes to clarity of roles in the business, we are big believers in position contracts that outline 3-7 key outcomes a person is accountable for. These are defined by criteria for success, so everyone is crystal clear on what the expectations are.
(Fill out the form below to download a free sample)
Step 3 – Framework for the conversations
We use a FeedForward system that is a document allowing two parties to have a candid and objective discussion.
(Fill out the form below to download)
The intent behind the discussion is how to help a person move forward vs. pointing out where they are doing badly. The conversation is driven by the team member, not the leader. The leader acts more as a facilitator to help the person discover opportunities for themselves in the three areas we previously identified (clarity on expectations, motivation, skills & resources).
When these conversations happen proactively (before there is a problem), the feeling behind the interaction is way different than when it is too late.
Now, if you have a situation that is already too late—no problem. Still get started immediately, but you’ll need to take complete responsibility for your lack of action to date. Before you can express your dissatisfaction with their performance or behaviour, you may need to own up to not being clear about expectations or giving more guidance before now. Always point the finger at yourself before pointing it at others.
There is a very good chance that if you feel there is a problem, the other person knows it too, or they are just plain unhappy at work. Either way, there is a good reason to get the issues on the table and sort it out. You both stand to benefit.
Ideally, you don’t want to let it get to that stage. Be the leader you know you are. Be assertive and give your team the gift of accountability. With a strong sense of internal accountability, everyone’s lives become better, and that will make your business better.
When your people grow, so does your business— sometimes exponentially.
Good luck and I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Download Your FreeTemplates
Fill in your details to receive a copy of the Feed Forward Form and Position Contract!
Effective Marketing of your business can be an extremely simple endeavour if you allow it to be. You already have all you need to get out there and make it happen. The best way to approach your business marketing is to think about the problems your potential ideal customers face and provide educational content around that to help. That’s it.
You already know these problems. You come across them every day through the customers you are already dealing with. And you have the knowledge and expertise to solve them, I mean that’s what your business does right? Now just incorporate this into your marketing.
Start listing out those problems and the subsections within them. That way you can start to see where the opportunities for helpful content lie.
Now think about how you want to produce content to help with those problems. You’ve essentially got three options:
Writing can take the form of a blog (easiest and quickest), white papers or books (from simple e-books to full published works). You then have the opportunity to re-purpose your written content. For example, a blog article you write could also be an article you submit to publication (e.g., magazine) or post on your LinkedIn profile.
In fact, all content you produce, you’ll not only post on your website (helping with your sites SEO) but you can and should share through as many platforms as you can manage or are active on.
Audio content could also be blog posts, however in audio form. Or it could be a podcast published through iTunes. You can also have your audio content transcribed if you want to have it written but don’t want to do it yourself.
Video is pretty self explanatory. This would be hosted on a YouTube channel and then posted on your blog and other social media channels/pages.
Making Your Marketing Happen
What does all this cost? Just some time. And yes I hear you saying “but I don’t have any time!!”. If that is your response, then you should have money to pay others to help you create the content. The reality is, if you don’t have the money or the time, then somethings wrong. You are most likely spending time on the wrong things, and that is a subject for another post. On the other hand, if you need to know how to get “unstuck” and free up your time, reach out and we’ll be happy to chat with you about it.
If you’ve never done some of these things then getting it all setup and working can seem daunting. And when you first get started it might feel clumsy and inefficient. Stick with it, because the more practice you get, the easier (and more effective) it will become.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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?
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.
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.
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.
It’s a well-known fact that if you grow your people, you will grow your business – but how exactly do you raise the level of thinking to achieve those ends? Here are a few simple ways to boost the level of thinking in your key employees which will allow for desired growth.
Creating marketing success isn’t an all or nothing prospect. It’s about creating the right rhythm by doing the right things at the right time and having a broader outlook on what your end game is. In this video we show you the no fail tool that helps our clients get ahead in their marketing game.
Sometimes, even in leisure – things don’t always go as planned. In our third installment of Business Lessons from the Bike Trail we talk about some quick and easy ways to ensure you are preparing for a successful day – no matter what comes your way.