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Delegate and Let Go – Overcoming Micromanaging Tendencies

Your job as a small business owner is to set the vision and course for your business, while ensuring the day-to-day

 

operations continue as planned. A strategic plan that sets out your goals, objectives, and timelines is necessary in order for you to gauge where your business is and where it needs to go. The steps in-between let you know if you are making appropriate progress or if you need to pivot. When you’re micromanaging, you’re not focused on the things that move the needle in your business. In order to focus on the future, you must delegate and let go. 

Start Small

Letting go of the reins can seem a bit overwhelming at first. After all, your business is the baby that you’ve raised from birth. Now that it’s time to graduate to the next level, letting others take on portions of your responsibility is like sending your first born off to college. It may help to start small and delegate smaller tasks first if you’re not used to letting go. This will prevent your employees from being overwhelmed with a lot of new tasks and will help you loosen the reigns while still setting the course. As employees display the ability to do the task that you delegated, move on to the delegation of larger projects.

Ask, Don’t Tell

After you’ve trained your employees, try not to nag them about how they’re performing the task. If you find an error, ask questions to see if they can find the error on their own. Then coach them and come to a joint decision as to how this task will be completed to avoid errors in the future. What works for you may not work for someone else. Everyone has their unique way of doing things, and their way may work better for them. If employees are ethical, getting results and meeting deadlines, then let them be.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Let employees have creative freedom and empower them to make decisions. You may be surprised to discover that this can foster loyalty and pride in their work. They may feel more empowered to provide new solutions and efficient methods of performing their role, which may free them up for additional tasks.

Don’t forget that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Use errors as learning and coaching opportunities to help build a strong and healthy working relationship that is beneficial to everyone involved.

Perform an Exit Interview

Any time an employee says they are leaving the company, ask them why. This can provide insight into issues that you’re unaware of. Perhaps your wages don’t compare to the same positions in other companies. Maybe they believe that the job is too difficult and that processes need to be improved. Perhaps the culture or environment that they’re working in is causing anxiety. Listen to what they’re saying. Then, ask other employees for their feedback and input into the stated issues so that you can improve the work environment.

It may be necessary to offer further training on job roles or teach a class on working with others and accepting differences in culture, sexuality or race. If you need advice to correct issues consider hiring a coach, mentor, or consultant to help you through the process.

As your business grows, you can’t be everywhere doing everything. Your job is to set the vision and direction while ensuring the smooth operation of your business. Don’t become a micromanager. If you are one, consider implementing a few of these tips to create a better working environment and a better business outcome. I can help you streamline your business processes. Call me today.

Running an Ethically Conscious Small Business

Social media has made transparency even more prevalent for businesses all over the world. Ethically Conscious Small BusinessIt’s more important than ever to run an ethically conscious small business because all it takes is one mistake to make a bad first impression. Before you know it, millions of people are reading or watching your blunder online causing you to shut the doors to your dreams.

You may believe that everything you do is ethical especially because you have good intentions. However, you may not be taking the time to pause and think about the ethical ramifications of your business decisions. Quick decisions that aren’t thought through can often leave you paying for things you failed to consider.

Unknowingly Unethical

Imagine that your company is hanging on by a thread. An important potential client is coming to visit your company, which could significantly raise your sales and profit margins and take you from a fledgling company to the top of the mountain of success. You want to appear that you are in demand so this potential client has faith that you are the right person to take on their portfolio.

Prior to the client’s visit, you ask friends and family to call your office to make it look like you are receiving a higher number of business calls than you actually are. You hire a staging company to fill your space with luxury furniture and hide all of the second hand furniture in storage. Your client arrives, sees a thriving business and signs on with your company. You’ve achieved what you set out to, but were your actions ethical?

What happens if that new client decides to visit unannounced to see how things are going? Where is that fancy furniture now? Is your company spiraling out of control and going down the toilet? Did you lie to him? Should he be worried about his faith in you and what you have to offer?

There is nothing wrong with being a company that’s working hard at succeeding. Instead of staging a scene for a play, the best option would have been to display your authentic culture and areas of success instead of providing a showroom of nice stuff you are just going to return.

Making decisions such as the ones in the example above may seem harmless overall because you know that you can handle the work so the client won’t be disappointed. However, misleading anyone about the level of your success is not an ethical way to gain a long term and stable business relationship with your customers.

Every step you make along the way in building the foundation of your business should be done ethically building a rock solid foundation for your business to stand on and for your employees to believe in. An unethical decision here and there may not seem to be that big of a deal, but one small crack leads to employee distrust, customer disappointment and major damage repair.

You want to be proud of what you’ve accomplished and not have to worry that at any time your world could come crumbling down around you. Having a foundation with the cornerstones built on unethical behavior is guaranteed to fall down over time. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow, but at some point, your decisions are going to be brought forth into the spotlight.

Be an Ethically Conscious Small Business

Making the right decisions allows you to stand proud and firm in the knowledge that whether you succeed or fail you’ve done so on your own merit. You want all of your employees, customers and business connections to take comfort in the knowledge that you are a stand up company who lives by ethical practice standards and will not embarrass them. Not only do you have your own business and reputation to worry about, every employee, client, and business associate you currently have or will make in the future can be put in the negative spotlight and have their businesses negatively affected based on your decisions.

While making an ethical decision may not always put you on the fast track to success, any success you achieve will be a legitimate and true display of how fabulous your company actually is and not a false projection ready to topple at the first bump in the road. Take time to consider all possible ramifications of the decisions you make in your day-to-day business practices. Ask yourself, “Would I be proud of my actions if they were to be displayed on every social media channel in the world?” before you make the final call.

Remain truthful to yourself, your company and your customers. Only with ethical business practices can you be sure your company will stand up when it is closely scrutinized and not suffer a widespread, public, and humiliating bashing that destroys all you’ve worked so hard to attain. The ethics of success are simple, be true to yourself, be true to the vision you have to your company and be true to the people who make your business what it is.

Free Bonus E-book

This month I released my latest e-book for Arizona contractors. If you’re frustrated with the cash flow issues in your contracting business, click here to download this resource for free. I’m here to help your business thrive. Contact me today if you’re ready to take your business to the next level.

The Many Hats of Small Business Success

If you think that you only have to do what you’re good at, think again. Small business owners don’t have the luxury of sticking with one title.many hats They wear many hats. In addition to the CEO, you may have the office manager, accountant, videographer, marketer, cook and janitor title. If you want to spend the next year working on your business instead of in it considering following this advice and wear the right hat at the right time.

  1. Identify the responsibilities of each hat that you’re wearing and set specific goals for that role. Then, track your progress towards the goal throughout the year and assess whether or not you’re headed in the right direction or need additional help.
  2. If you need additional help, consider hiring or outsourcing the role in its entirety. It may be tempting to outsource only one piece of the role, but doing so is likely to cause more problems than resolve them. Giving one person responsibility and accountability for the role empowers them to own all aspects of it, reduces confusion and miscommunication.
  3. Once you assign responsibility to someone on your team, move to a mentoring role instead of a micromanaging role. Empower them to do more by giving them freedom to make decisions within the guidelines that you set up.
  4. Create a culture of open and real communication so that employees or freelancers know they can come to you when they see something that may end up hurting your business and ultimately impacting their job. Over time, you’ll find yourself with a capable, highly functioning workforce and one less hat to wear.

Regardless of the fires that are burning today, make sure to always make time to put your CEO hat on so that you can focus on leading your company. Hours often get consumed by the operations of today and strategic planning gets the left overs or nothing at all. Reverse that mentality so that you can plan for the future and wear the hat of success.

If you’re looking to get more efficient in your business next year, I can help you implement systems and processes that maximize your time and your employees time. Contact me to get started today.

 

When to Hire Employees in Your Small Business

You’ve worked real hard to improve your business, run it efficiently and have finally reached your capacity. Growing your business requires more than your efforts and making a decision to hire employees is often the right route to go. Before you put an ad on Craigslist, you need to articulate the job role, crunch the numbers and have a plan in place.hire employees

Articulate the Job Role Before You Hire Employees

Assess your current situation before you make a decision to hire. What areas of your business can you hand off to another person?

Generally, the first role that business owners fill is administrative. It’s good practice to have someone that can act as a hub for requests, office tasks and communications. This role is more than answering the phones and scheduling. Someone in this position could be given the responsibility to do light accounting, simple marketing pieces, advertisements, payroll and coordination. Administrators and personal assistants are usually multi-talented and can free you up to work on your business.

Whether you employ an administrator or not, it’s critical that you have clear job descriptions to get the most out of your staff. Set the expectation that the role will grow over time. Communicate that you expect your employees to take ownership of issues and resolve them, even if it’s not specifically in their job description. When you see positive ownership spirit, reward it accordingly.

Crunching the Numbers

After you’ve identified the role, you’ll need to determine what the market will bear for the tasks and where you’ll find the money in your budget. You can find general salary estimates from sites like Salary.com and Bureau of Labor. Remember that you’ll need to consider the minimum wage, payroll tax, required benefits and worker’s compensation in your analysis.

After you have an idea of salary requirements, you’ll need to estimate return on investment. With all of the time you gain back, how many more clients will you bring into your business? How many more units can you sell? Try to estimate how much extra business would be generated by getting the help you need. Then, write down your goal and make sure to revisit it later down the line.

Employee Types

You don’t have to hire a full-time employee immediately. Especially, if you’re having a hard time finding the budget allocation. Consider hiring someone part-time and then migrating to full-time as you see the return on investment. Outsourcing, freelancing and temporary hires are great alternatives as well.

In either case, you’ll need to invest time in the hiring process and then train the employee to proficiency. You’ll also have additional paperwork and records to keep track of, so be sure you’re prepared.

Ultimately, you may need to ask yourself if there are other ways to gain efficiencies, like using software to automate certain tasks or simply getting more organized. If you choose to hire employees, make sure you hire the right person with the right skills, experience, and education for the right job.

Are you making plans to hire? I can help you plan and make the most out of your time and money if you contact me today.

Creative Funding Ideas For Your Small Business

Many small businesses give up on their dreams because they fear that they will become financially crippled by high priced bank loans and credit card debt. Creative Funding IdeasThat certainly is a fate that has befallen small business owners in the past, but you don’t have to go that route in order to get the funding that you need. Let’s take a look at a few creative ways to get your business funded without accruing massive amounts of debt.

Crowdfunding

One of the most popular ways to raise money right now is through crowdfunding. Websites like Kickstarter allow you to pitch your project to the masses, who then support your idea by making donations in various amounts. As a reward for their support, you will generally be required to add incentives at each donation level. For example, if you want to start a restaurant, a smaller donation might result in a free appetizer, while the top end of the scale might provide the person who donated the larger amount a free dinner for four.

Peer-to-peer Lending

Even if you were willing to take a leap of faith and go the bank loan route, there is no guarantee that they will lend it to you. This is where peer-to-peer lending can come into the picture, which basically boils down to a group of private investors pooling their funds to support your business. When one person or financial institution is not fully responsible for the entire amount, the chances of getting the investment that you need increases. Members of these lending networks will lend an amount that they see as useful, but not too risky.

Silent Partner

There are a host of other creative ways to raise money, but another one worth talking about is a silent partner agreement. This usually comes in the form of one or more people who are willing to put forward the money for the business without playing an active role. They often expect re-payment of the loan with interest; just like the bank. While some will invest so that they can have a percentage of the profits that you make, there are always plenty of people out there looking to get involved in business without getting too involved in how it is run.

Retirement Funds

If you’re convinced that your business idea can’t miss and you’ve tried every other route, you can certainly think about putting your money where your mouth is. Money that has been put away in a 401K or some other type of retirement fund can be withdrawn at any time, albeit usually with a nice sized financial penalty. That money can then be used to fund your business. I usually advise against this decision. But, if you do decide to go this route, create a plan to put profits back into your retirement account so that you can protect your future.

Creative Funding Ideas

Getting approved for a small business loan or credit card can bring a sigh of relief to many business owners. That is, until they see the high interest rates that are explained in the terms. It’s a struggle to get a fair rate on capital, but there are many creative ways that you can explore to raise the money that you need. Use these creative funding ideas to get the capital you need for your small business and never give up.

Loan Requirements for Small Businesses

If you’re looking for a loan for your small business, consider yourself normal.small business loan In fact, 80% of small businesses need some sort of financing. While larger banks have cut funding over the last few years, local banks seem to be loosening the purse strings a little bit more. Since 2007, small-business loan volume at smaller, more local banks grew by $17 billion.

Loan Requirements

Every small business loan program is different and may have different requirements. However, it’s likely that you’ll submit similar information to your loan officers. Getting organized will save you time in the long run. Before you start the application process consider gathering the following information in one place:

  • Personal Information: You’ll probably be asked to provide a history of personal information, such as residential addresses, names, criminal record, educational background, employment history, tax returns, bank statements, social media activity and credit reports. Remember to review your credit reports for inaccuracies as they can significantly impact whether or not the bank approves your loan. Signed personal financial statements may be required if you have more than a 20% stake in your business.
  • Business Plan: All small business loan programs require a documented business plan with financial statements, including profit and loss, cash flow and a balance sheet.
  • Business Financials: Be prepared to submit bank statements, tax returns, and a credit report for your business. As with your personal credit report, it’s important to review your business credit report for inaccuracies. You may also be required to provide projected financial statements as part of your business plan or as individual documents.
  • Collateral: If your business requires a higher-risk loan, you’ll need to provide collateral to secure the loan. Your collateral document will include the value and cost of personal or business property used to secure the loan.
  • Legal Documents: In addition to the items above, you may have to submit multiple legal documents, such as business licenses, registrations, Articles of Incorporation, third-party contracts, franchise and lease agreements.

If you’re just starting out, it’s likely that you’ll have a tough time securing a small business loan. Don’t give up. Start with a small business credit card and build up your financial reputation. You can read my latest article on small business credit card requirements to get started. In my next post, I’ll list some alternative and more creative ways of funding. Until then, let me help you get your business financially sound and on the right path. Contact me today.

How to Be in the 20% of Businesses that Succeed

No one starts a business with the express purposes of failing, yet an alarming number of business owners will eventually end up closing their doors permanently. In fact 80% of start-ups will close within the first 18 months. It makes you wonder what the businesses that succeed do differently from those that fail. While the location of your business and what you offer can play a major role, there are 9 other elements that you should consider.

Nine Ways to Succeed

success

  1. Know your core values and beliefs – Starting a business that you don’t really believe in is a major problem. Some people make the mistake of starting a business based on a current product or market trend, only to find that they don’t really believe in what they are pushing. It is hard to be passionate about something you don’t really care for. If you’re passionate about your business, then take some time to develop and know your core values and beliefs.
  2. Understand your business purpose – Why did you choose to start this business? If you can’t answer that question, you are in trouble. Everything in life has a purpose, and you need to know what that means for your business in order to succeed.
  3. Define your target customer – Poor market research can doom a business before it even gets off the ground. If you don’t take time to know your target market, failure will be sure to follow.
  4. Define where you want your business to be in 3-5 years – A business plan is absolutely essential before you start a business, but it’s also important to continue to plan for the future. Having a clear goal to focus on will help you make more informed decisions.
  5. Determine how you’ll get there – Would you ever hop in your car and head to a specific destination without first having a road map to follow? Of course not. If you want to get from Point A to Point B without becoming lost, you need to know how to navigate that road. Create a plan to achieve your goals.
  6. Prioritize the big things you must do – Being a business owner means wearing many hats and juggling all kinds of tasks. It’s tough to do, but it gets a whole lot easier if you prioritize by level of importance.
  7. Assemble a team and/or outsource – If you do all of the juggling on your own, you will eventually drop something. Stick to what you do best in the business and get qualified help to do the rest.
  8. Develop a marketing plan – This goes hand in hand with finding your target audience. Once you know who they are, you need to find them, let them know who you are and where they can find you.
  9. Remember why you started your business and live your life – If you can follow the steps outlined above, you will be well on your way to success. At that point you can start to leave trusted individuals in control of more and more aspects of the business. It will still be yours, but you will have reached the point where you can step away a little and start to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

I can help you build comprehensive processes and a solid team that will breathe life back into your business. Contact me when you’re ready to get started.

The Flywheel Effect – Good to Great: A DLB Consulting Book Study

Great companies realize that there is no one single event that catapults the company into greatness. Rather, it’s a series of cumulative actions that add up to sustained and amazing results. In Good to Great, Jim Collins refers to this as the flywheel.Flywheel Effect

The flywheel is huge, heavy and creaky. It takes a lot of effort to move it an inch, but you keep pushing. Eventually, the flywheel begins to move until you get the first revolution. After continuous effort, the flywheel begins to pick up speed making rotation after rotation until at some point it’s using it’s own weight to continue the progress. That’s the break through.

The Flywheel Effect

Getting the flywheel to move in the right direction takes more than just an initial company meeting and a party to announce your plans. Arguably, hoopla and motivation are less likely to get the wheel turning. Instead consider using your vision and hedgehog concept to get started. Here are a few steps to implement as you build the flywheel effect:

  1. Take steps forward that are consistent with your vision and hedgehog
  2. Accumulate visible results
  3. Make sure there are roles to be filled because employees will want to be involved
  4. Encourage participation as the flywheel builds momentum

Everything that we’ve talked about so far in our book study on Good to Great is a piece of the buildup-to-breakthrough flywheel effect. The key is to be consistent and continue to build upon the stuff that works so that the positive effects are magnified.

Building a great company takes a long time. According to the study, the average time for a Good to Great Company to achieve greatness was seven years. There are no overnight success stories. Most overnight success stories are about twenty years in the making. Are you willing to take the next step to become great? I’d love to help you get started.

The Hedgehog Concept: Good to Great: A DLB Consulting Book Study

The Hedgehog Concept is the understanding that your company can’t be the best at everything. Rather, it’s knowing what you can be the best at, gaining clarity, and devising a focused strategy that ultimately leads to business success.Hedgehog Concept

The Hedgehog Concept

The Hedgehog Concept is drawn from the essay written by Isaiah Berlin, titled “The Hedgehog and the Fox” in which a cunning fox tries and continually fails to capture the hedgehog. The Fox waits for the perfect time to pounce on the Hedgehog, but is outwitted by the prickly creature when he rolls into a ball at just the right moment.

Jim Collins explains that companies who are more like the hedgehog — that is, focusing on one thing and doing it well — need not be concerned with cunning competitors because they would not be a threat to success. The three circles that make up the Hedgehog Concept are passion, economic engine, and understanding what you can be the best at.

What You Are Deeply Passionate About

The good-to-great companies focused on those activities that ignited their passion. The idea here is not to stimulate passion but to discover what makes you passionate. You can’t manufacture passion or motivate people to be passionate about a product or service. You can only discover what ignites your fire.

What Drives Your Economic Engine

If you could pick one and only one ratio – profit per x, to systematically increase over time, what x would have the greatest and most sustainable impact on your economic engine? For example if you’re focused on profit per store, you might consider changing your ratio to profit per customer visit, profit per employee, or profit per local population.
Your economic engine is not driven by a complicated macroeconomic equation. Instead, this simple single denominator helps force a deeper understanding and focus on the key drivers of your business.

What You Can Be the Best At

In order to truly know what you can be the best at you have to look beyond what you’re good at. It’s not a goal, strategy, intention, or plan to be the best. It’s an understanding of what you can be the best at.
What you can be the best at might even be something that you’re not currently engaged in. Just because you can make money and generate growth, doesn’t mean you can become the best at it. You must focus on what you can do better than any other company. Then gather the competencies and capacity to do so.

An Iterative Process

Developing your Hedgehog Concept is an iterative process. Each of the three circles can take some time to complete. In fact, it took four years on average for the good-to-great companies to get a Hedgehog Concept. It may take you less time, but the effort will be worth it.
What is your Hedgehog Concept?

Good to Great – A DLB Consulting Book Study Series

When you envisioned your business your dreams reflected a great company, with great employees, and a great mission. Good to GreatSomehow the existence of your company would make this world a better place either through the products and services you offered or through employees you provided with a steady income. Where is your business now?  Perhaps your business is failing, mediocre, or performing well but not according to your dreams.   Are you ready to make it great?

Good to Great

If you’re ready to take steps towards greatness, then join us for our study of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t. This book contains in depth research performed by his team over the course of five years.  The process of taking a company from good to great relies not on executive compensation, celebrity heroes, or any one person. But rather on the ability to adopt a framework that provides the foundation for establishing a company that can rise to the top and outperform the competition year over year. This framework includes:

1) Level 5 Leadership: Leaders with a paradoxical blend of humility and professional will, like Lincoln and Socrates.

2) First Who…Then What: The principle of hiring the right people before setting the vision and strategy.

3) Confront the Brutal Facts: The belief that through the difficult times you will prevail in the end so long as you have the discipline to confront reality.

4) The Hedgehog Concept: The intersection of three circles comprising of what you can be the best in the world at, what you are deeply passionate about, and what makes enough money.

5) A Culture of Discipline: A culture that combines disciplined people, thought, and action with an ethic of entrepreneurship.

6) Technology Accelerators: The careful section and pioneering of technology to accelerate growth rather than to ignite a transformation.

7) The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: The process of pursuing success in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

Order Your Book

If you’re ready to become a selfless leader who builds a great team and passionately pursues a simple goal, then follow along with us as we explore this timeless classic and begin to become great ourselves. We’ll discuss each of the principles in great detail over the next few months. You can order your book from your local bookstore or through my affiliate link at Amazon.com. Are you ready to become great?