• Your Business’s Greatest Assets

    I-Love-My-Business-500x383

    What is your business’s greatest asset? Is it your product? Your building? Your bank account? Your investors?

    It doesn’t matter in what industry you work, what type of service you offer…your team members (i.e. your people) are always your most valuable endowment. But if the mix and the engagement isn’t right, they can feel like your greatest obstacles.

    How can you create a culture of accountability and results? So your people can shine and be your greatest brand advocates? How can you achieve the highest performing unit possible? How can you begin to see your people as your most valuable assets?

    It starts with finding the right people—but it doesn’t end there.

    Put Your Living Assets to Work for You

    Why are your people your most valuable assets? Because when they’re feeling fulfilled, they will act as big, happy bullhorns for your business. They will tell people about your company, even in their spare time. Customer service will be no sweat—happy employees want to “share the love.” Profits will multiply, because every member of the team wants to see the business succeed.

    According to Fortune magazine, those businesses included in their current “100 Best Companies to Work for” list notice a 14% increase in stock prices, whilst the rest of the market only realises an increase of 6%.

    Notice that the list wasn’t built around companies that had the greatest product, or the best marketing campaign, or the most famous spokesperson; it was built around those businesses’ most valuable assets.

    So how can you not only make your team members feel valuable, but create the types of results that prove them to be indispensable? Here are some guidelines:

    • Hire people who share your business’s values. It can be difficult to work toward a collective goal when the goal isn’t important to everyone involved. Before you hire anyone based on qualifications alone, ensure that they genuinely believe in what your company stands for and what you wish to accomplish. There should be no “differences in opinion” to work out—there should only be another interview with a different candidate.
    • Engage your employees. You’ve probably heard that you need to engage your customers, but don’t overlook this very important provision for your team members, too. Everyone should come to work knowing that they will feel challenged and fulfilled. Know your employees well enough to put them in roles that will interest them and that they will feel compelled to take ownership of. Assign tasks to individuals with the intent of pushing them just past when they’ve already proven they can accomplish. Talk to them. Keep the conversation flowing. Listen and always remain open to change.
    • Empower your people. In order for growth and independence to bloom, a person must feel the freedom to be innovative and make mistakes. When an employee feels boxed in by rules that are too stringent, or if they feel that any new idea will be shot down, there is no growth. There is no freedom of expression. There is no empowerment to make the entire organisation better.
    • Always be clear with expectations. Every function within your company should be assigned to one accountable person. Know the difference between being accounatable and being responsible and never leave team members wondering about their roles and responsibilities. Always welcome questions and never end a conversation without feeling confident that everyone knows what is expected of them. Managers sometimes feel that this cages people—that they should be permitted to figure this out amongst themselves. To the contrary, when people know precisely what is expected of them, they feel more confident in moving forward and in turn feel more freedom to create and innovate.
    • Assign authority. As people begin to flourish in their roles, you will start to see the blossoming of gifts and talents. You will also see the expression of preferences. Use what you learn to put people in the roles where they will shine. In the end, they will feel more fulfilled, employee retention will increase, you will feel less burdened and your business will thrive.
    • Create a feedback system. An employee should never feel disempowered by having nowhere to go with their problems. Have a system in-place that provides a safe, confidential, judgement-free environment so they can speak their minds…for the betterment of your organisation.

    Your team members are your most valuable assets because when they are engaged and empowered, they will not only show up to work, they will show up ready to do everything they can to build your business. It’s been said that word-of-mouth advertising is the business investment with the highest ROI. I’d like to challenge that notion by saying that happy employees are the highest-ROI investments—because they not only create the best word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, they live them.

    Are you wondering how you can create a team that’s more engaged and empowered? Have you already begun to see the value of happy employees? Then let’s talk for 30 minutes about how your business can create an atmosphere that will attract (and retain) the best-of-the-best. Simply contact me here to schedule.

  • Measure your Business: 5 Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. (1)

    How’s your business doing?

    How do you know? Have you measured your progress? Tracked your conversions, returns and referrals? Compared all numbers to previous periods?  Made adjustments and monitored their effects?

    If you’re like most business owners, you’re canned answer is “Good.” However, you probably have little evidence to back it up, and there’s usually one reason why:

    Tracking your business’s progress is boring and tedious. Plus, it makes you nervous; it’s much easier to coast along, assuming you’re improving every month. There is a fear that measurement will reveal areas that need improvement…or worse.

    All of this is understandable and natural. It’s comfortable to ignore what could be bad news and instead choose to live in the blissfulness of ignorance. However, if you want your business to be successful, to grow…you must measure what matters and use what you find to make adjustments. This is the most direct (and speedy) path to business growth.

    More than half of UK businesses don’t survive past five years,[1] and one contributing factor is the unwillingness of business owners to track their own progress (a.k.a. step on that virtual scale). Improvement is practically impossible without knowing what areas need improvement—and in what order and to what degree.

     

    Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    Tracking the progression (or regression) of your business can be a tricky habit to form. Not only can the undertaking be fear-inducing, it takes time. Here are some pieces of advice for getting starting and staying on-track with tracking:

    • Establish a starting point. Your second measurement will only give you as much information as your first measurement allows. So get going! Launch the analytics. Open a spreadsheet. Start recording this month’s net profits, new customers, returning customers, website visitors, new social media likes/follows/shares/Retweets, referrals, customer complaints, merchandise returns, lead time for order fulfilment, employee turnover, shipping costs…and whatever else will serve as an indicator of your business’s progress.
    • Define your focal points. Determine what three areas of your business are most integral to the fulfilment of its mission, then focus most intensely on those areas. Determine what number(s) will most accurately measure the performance of those areas. Put these at the top of your tracking list.
    • Set improvement goals. After you’ve gotten into the swing of recording your metrics of business performance, set goals for improvement. A 2% net profit increase or a 5% increase in employee retention over the next two years are examples of performance goals.
    • Stay committed. As your business grows, you will try new things and explore new markets. The only sure-fire way to know if any of this is working is to measure the results. AND the only sure-fire way to assign specific results to specific actions is to measure regularly (monthly). Skip your tracking exercises for even one month, and results will be skewed.
    • Utilise a syndicated service. As your tracking becomes more sophisticated, you are likely to benefit from the use of a syndicated tracking and measurement service. Google Analytics is just one example.

    It’s so easy to make excuses—to take a guess at how your business is doing. The unfortunate truth about this behaviour is that your business is likely to join the majority of start-ups laid to rest in the business graveyard.

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. Close attention to the numbers that matter will not only tell you if you’re on track, they will highlight areas in need of improvement so that your business can be the best it can be.

    Need more information on how you can track your business’s progress and use what you learn to grow it? Then let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll discuss your unique business, your goals and the best way to achieve them. Contact me here.

    [1] RSA (a British commercial insurer)

  • From Vision to Reality, with ACTION

    Business-Vision

    Search for advice on how to write a business strategy, and the results are overwhelming.

    Look for advice on how to take action, how to implement that strategy…and the results are as disheartening as hearing that 87% of businesses fail to execute their business strategies[1].

    This number is shocking, particularly when you consider how much effort is put into writing a business strategy…and how exciting the big ideas created there can be.

    But it’s not as shocking as this number:

    For every $1 billion spent on business strategy development, $109 million is wasted through failure to execute[2].

    Where does the excitement go?

    Why aren’t businesses converting that energy into action?

    Even among companies that don’t fail—companies that are considered to be “high performance companies,”—33% report delay in action, 34% fail to consistently address a lack of action, and 11% tolerate inaction on a long-term basis[3].

    And to repeat: they are the ones doing well. If your business could bring down those percentages for itself, just think how much you could accomplish.

    How can you do that? How can you create a culture of action among your team members, so that all of the great energy built into your business strategy gets translated to ACTION that increases efficiency and profits?

    Here is a bit of advice for taking the action necessary for implementing your business strategy:

    • View ACTION as a necessity, not as an option. There is only one thing that can bridge the gap between vision and reality, and that thing is targeted action that is aligned with the SMART goals you have set forth in your business strategy. Begin to view action in this way, and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate or to avoid it altogether.
    • See ACTION as more important than your business strategy. Yes, you read that correctly. Think about it: Isn’t a mediocre business strategy that is implemented more valuable than a brilliant business strategy that is not implemented? Just imagine the results you can experience when you implement a brilliant plan.
    • Stop putting perfection before ACTION. All too often, business owners adopt the belief that all operations, all products, all communications…must be 100% perfect before taking any action. They submerge themselves in self-help, in mentoring, in book-reading, and the procurement of mentoring before taking any action. This thinking generally means that no action will be taken, because nothing is ever perfect. Remember that adjustments can be made whilst marketing, whilst making connections, whilst building relationships…without wasting precious time.

    Perfect = Poverty!

    • Stop using the “I’m too busy” excuse. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks of running (or starting up) a business. And sometimes this becomes so consuming that you’ll put it before executing your business strategy, thinking that you must complete those routine tasks in order to keep your business afloat. Always remember this: Without taking action, you won’t be busy for long. Your business will be non-existent. Ask yourself exactly how vital those daily and weekly tasks are. If they are indispensable, hire someone to cover them.
    • Act in the present. Do not dwell on what you should have done yesterday or last month. Do not think about what you will do next week. Instead, be very blunt with yourself about what you can accomplish now, in this moment. No matter if it’s making a phone call, writing an article, submitting a proposal, refocussing a team member…do it now.
    • Understand that ideas—and motivations—go stale. Remember that intense excitement you felt when you came up with your very first business idea? Well, maybe you don’t. You see, immediate action is necessary not just for getting things done, but for motivational and inspirational purposes, too. Every day that an idea sits in your mind without implementation equals a proportionate drop in interest. Before you know it, your brilliant idea doesn’t seem so brilliant any more. Motivation is gone. And you’re on to looking for alternate ideas that are, in all honesty, less likely to be as brilliant as your first. For these reasons, I recommend taking action immediately after your business strategy is written, so that ideas and excitement are fresh, and no opportunity dies in the bread drawer.
    • See ACTION as a competitive advantage. It’s easy to sit and think about what the competition might be doing right now, or wondering how you can match or out-do their actions. It takes courage, however, to focus less on what they’re doing and just do what you do best. Take that step, and believe that you are outdoing your competition with every decision to take action NOW…because statistics say they might not be doing that.
    • ACTION begets ACTION. Once you take action, you may find it difficult to stop taking action. The satisfaction (dopamine rush) you experience from accomplishing something you’ve envisioned is so powerful that you’ll go out of your way to look for more business-enhancing action. This is the only uphill path that will be as easy as a downhill one. It’s the road to success through action, and the more you get, the more you’ll want.
    • Disprove your own self-doubt. Fear and self-doubt are huge players in the condition of inactivity. The voice in your head will tell you, “That won’t work,” “You can’t do that,” “You’re wasting your time,” and more. Make it your objective to prove that voice wrong. Do this enough, and it will disappear completely, slinking into a corner and rarely coming out…as long as you remain active in your business strategy implementation.

    These are just a few pieces of advice you can use as motivation to take action—to take your business strategy from vision to reality. Understand, at all times, that without ACTION, your business strategy is useless. It will do nothing for you or your business. Without execution, the creation of your strategy was a waste of time and resources.

    Are you ready to take action? Are you clear on what actions to take? Contact me for a FREE 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll talk about your next move, and the motivation to get it done.

    [1] http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/thirteener.htm

    [2] https://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Business-Solutions/PMI_Pulse_2014.ashx

    [3] Harvard Business Review, March 2015, Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, Charles Sull