Using Trello to Create Checklists You’l Actually Use

Systems, while not the answer to everything, can certainly be one of those things that brings a great sense of control to your business.

The trick is creating them in such a way that:
1. They work,
2. People use them,
3. You can keep them updated and relevant.

And doing those three is not always easy.

For us and many of our clients, we’ve been using Trello successfully to achieve all three points above. In this video, I walk you through how we are using and that may give you some ideas how it may work for you.

Don’t forget to download the Master Systems Checklist below – and if you need help designing systems that are unique to your business – give us a shout.

We welcome any comments or questions. Enjoy!

Cheers
Jamie

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The Onboarding Failures That Are Costing You Big

Finding (and keeping) great employees is consistently listed as a top concern of business owners. In fact, a recent study indicates anywhere between 10-25% of new employees jump ship within their first six months on the job. That’s a frustrating and expensive prospect on both sides of the coin, and one which could be greatly reduced with a change to some of the most common employee onboarding mistakes made by companies trying to integrate a new team member. Below are three of the worst barriers to successful onboarding—and some suggestions to combat them.

Problem #1: The Expectation Gap

According to executives interviewed, the top reason new employees leave is that their role wasn’t what they expected when they got hired. Many employees quickly discover that the daily tasks they’re asked to complete don’t tend to match what’s on their job descriptions and fall under the all too overused caveat of “other tasks as assigned.” Employees who find themselves consistently performing unexpected tasks find it difficult to link those tasks to the overall mission of the organization and discontent finds easy purchase in that soil. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest issues to rectify—and it can (and should) be fixed long before an employee’s first day.

The Solution

Dealing with the expectation gap is easily avoided by communicating a realistic job preview from the moment the job advertisement is posted. If you are aware that the job overview contains elements which may exist in a job description but are never used in practice, then they shouldn’t be included in an ad. If you have a position which sees a lot of turnover which doesn’t have to do with the nature of the job (for example, being a “feeder” job or a stepping stone by design to allow movement to other roles in the organization), then it may be time to review the job profile to see where there is a gap between expectation and reality. The best place to reinforce the picture of what day-to-day life will be like in the role is during the interview. This provides ample information for the candidate to consider the true nature of the job before accepting, allows the opportunity to ask questions and provides the added value of being able to view their body language for clues as to what they truly feel.

Problem #2: A Lack of Preparation

How many times has a new employee shown up for their first day while someone, somewhere, is scrambling to set up computer access, provide access to work areas, create an email address or telephone extension—in some cases, even finding an empty desk to work at? When an employer is unprepared for a new hire, it sends the signal loud and clear that the employee is not a valued addition to the team and makes it incredibly difficult to integrate into the culture.

The Solution

People are only able to work at their best when they are given the right tools. A simple checklist which can be accessed by any team member responsible for setting up the new hire is a great way to complete tasks before the first day and eliminate confusion over who is responsible for what. (At SalesUp! We use Trello, which is perfect for this type of task.) If setting up a workstation requires the purchase of new equipment, involving the employee over any requirements for specific equipment (such as left/right-handed implements, or any accommodations which may not have surfaced to this point) will make the employee feel invested from the get-go, and that investment pays off when it comes time for employees to decide whether they are going to stick with a job.

Problem #3: Overwhelm and Abandonment

Starting a new job is incredibly overwhelming. From navigating office hallways to matching faces and names to interacting with customers and filling out reams of paperwork, it’s a challenging time which can result in natural second-thoughts from employees if they don’t feel they have the support to be useful members of the organization.

To be clear, alone-time is good—even essential to let employees settle into their space—but leaving them with hoards of policy manuals and no one to help answer their questions is not. To combat this, ensure that new employees have a mentor to help them through the challenging early weeks, and tap into existing employee strengths to match them with the right people. Have someone who is an extrovert and great at ice-breaking? Have them handle team introductions. Has someone in the organization performed the employee’s role? Consider a short mentorship, or at the least have them check-in and see how things are going during the first critical weeks. Of course, this doesn’t negate the value of having manager support, but peer-mentorships can go a long way to solidifying the sense of belonging that is critical to cultural development. They don’t call onboarding “organizational socialization” for nothing…

The Take Home

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Have a formalized process (and if you don’t, make one). It can be difficult to allot resources to creating processes when you aren’t in a hiring position, but adequate foresight can eliminate so many onboarding issues before the scramble of having to find a new employee.

If you need ideas on how to best handle an onboarding solution that is customized to your organization, contact us – we’d love to help.

Best of all – if you have any tips or best practices, let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Emotion Can be a Business Asset

Time to Watch: 4:34

It’s important to know what your goal is and how you’re going to execute it, but sometimes one of the missing ingredients is having the emotional leverage or clarity around why you’re going for something and the drive to see it through. This clarity of emotion is a business strength your don’t want to ignore.

In the pursuit of any goal, there’s ups and downs, but it’s when things are challenging and going against you, that you need those emotional reserves. In this video I’m not going to walk you through the actual planning process—there’s a cracker of a guide HERE that teaches you how to do that—but rather, we’re going to go through some east steps to tap into those emotional reserves when you need them.

What you’ll need to complete this exercise is a blank piece of paper, divided into three columns and enter your information as follows:

  1. Write your goal in the middle column. The only guideline here is to make sure you are picking S.M.A.R.T. goals. That is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented with a Timeframe. SMART goals are critical in the planning process, particularly so you can gain a better picture of what success for that goal looks like in reality.
  2. In the left-hand column, write the all the “WHY” reasons which relate to the goal. Behind every goal is a feeling, an emotion – and the emotional result that you want to achieve through that goal. Don’t skip this step or shake this task as a feel-good, fluff piece which doesn’t have any basis—nothing could be further from the truth. What you want to distill here are all the emotional reasons you want to achieve the goal. For example – if the goal is financial and you want to pay down your mortgage faster, list the emotional benefits you will gain by doing so (more disposable income to travel, more time with family, helping your children financially—whatever it is that fuels your fire). It is the feelings you will get from achieving that goal that will sustain you in the low times.
  3. Finally, in the right-hand column is the “HOW.” Don’t worry about getting this column ‘right.’ The ‘how’ column is all about brainstorming. This is the place to list every possible way you can think of to achieve that goal (and you may need an extra page to do this—that’s ok!). Once you have an exhaustive list, you can go back, prioritize and figure out and ask yourself, “which ones make sense?”, “which ones do I have the resources/time/ability to do.” Etc…
  4. From there, we advocate that you develop a structure to execute the plan and to help solidify your tasks and timelines. To do this, feel free to access our free 90-Day Planning guide which has all the tools and resources to help you develop and track your plan.

That’s it! The absolute importance of planning with purpose and emotion can’t be understated. The clearer you get on your goals, the more emotional leverage you have behind you to help you achieve those goals you’ve been dreaming of.

Dream big!

P.S. You can access the jam-packed Planning Edition of our Business Nutrition Newsletter HERE.

And for more free training Videos, subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

How to Create a Profit Model

Time to Watch: 5:56 well-spent minutes

Do you have a current profit model? Have you ever wondered about which changes in your business will make the biggest impact on your bottom line? Is so, you’re not alone – and this is the right place to be to find out the answer. This video tells you, with real-world examples, how to determine the level of profit you’ll be able to realize through different changes to sales and growth patterns.

If you’re interested in some related training, see our video “How to Create a Profit First Budget”  for a step-by-step guide that goes into a bit more detail.

Look, I get numbers are not the most exciting part about business ownership, but they are one of the most important. To see what I mean, have a look at Vol. 28 of our Business Nutrition Newsletter which exclusively deals with putting yourself in a strong financial situation, so you can sleep at night.

If money is where you’re really struggling as a business owner,  read this and then do this.

Now go out there and get amongst it!

Cheers,

 

P.S. Don’t forget to stay 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.

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.

How Strong is Your Network?

It’s been said that your net worth is a reflection of your network, and when it comes to the sales and marketing of your business, a good network is an extremely valuable tool.

However, it’s important to note that a network is not just the sum of the people you know.

It takes strategy and intention to create a network that will help grow your business. Watch to discover what makes a healthy network, and how to make it happen for your business.

 

Business Lessons From the Bike Trail #3

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.

The Importance of Sleep

Keeping your energy high is critical to achieving great things. And one key component of high energy is getting enough sleep.

Life is not perfect and we may not always get the sleep we need … so what do you do? Do you soldier on or do you take ‘sleep action’.

Here’s my strategy!