How Do I Grow My Business When I am Maxed out? — Phase II

Phase II – Deciding your destination

Phase I, was all about “Finding Space.” Now you decide where do you want to go?

You know the story of Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat. Basically, she asks the Cheshire cat which path she should take. He replies, where do you want to go? When she says that she doesn’t know, he then responds ‘then it doesn’t matter which path you take!’

When you are at a crossroads it is the place where decisions are made. If you don’t have any concept of a destination, then you can’t effectively determine the direction to take. Your future is in the hands of luck or fate. This can be a scary place to be.

In the classic bestseller, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins introduced us to the idea of BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Those are goals that are SUPER BIG and way out into the future. That sounds great, but what we need right now are goals that we can get a handle on right now and only require us to stretch our belief without trying to accomplish the impossible.

Don’t get bogged down in “the paralysis of analysis.” There are many techniques to help you determine what is a good goal for you to pursue, but for now talk to someone you trust, write out some thoughts during your “Space” time.

The hardest part is that you must be honest with yourself. There are many different influences on your thinking of where you should go. Your spouse or children, friends, and colleagues, but in the end, you have to be true to yourself.

Maybe you are one of the very, very few who can say, “I know where I want to go, but I just don’t know how to get there!” I would say to you that if that is really the case; take some of your “Space” time to really describe your destination. When you have arrived, what will it look like, feel like, or even smell like? Who will be there? What will be happening around you? What will you do? Be as specific as possible.

Write out where you REALLY want to go in life. Projecting out as you can see right now. Soon we will look at some of the real reasons that you are not there yet.


Impacting People and Profits — the results of your business

Everything that your business does impacts others and the exchange of value that you provide to others results in profit.  So the highest purpose that you can have in business is impacting the lives of people. When you sell your product or service, you are impacting the lives of others and hopefully making a profit in the process.

But you can also have additional effects on people through your business.  The impact your business has on your employees is another way that your business impacts others. When you utilize vendors for your business you are helping to provide for others in that way as well.

But what about your community, how do you help or impact them? Hopefully, your employees are involved in charitable or non-profit work or donating.

There are many different things that can be done from donating blood, to volunteering and helping in a school, or working on a non-profit fundraiser. You, of course, could contribute some of your resources of time, talent, money and products and service if appropriate.

But how else could your business impact the community? What if you developed a collective community involvement program?  What if all of the employees decided on one or two community impact projects with the support of you and the business? How would that be different and would it benefit the business as well?

The benefits of a well-designed collective community involvement program have been known for some time. But sometimes in our busy schedule, we just don’t think about it. Maybe it is time to address this issue and get others on your team involved.

Finding a project or two that a good majority of your people can support and even get excited about will help to build morale and real engagement. With the success of this program, it becomes a point of pride and one more reason for others to join an organization that cares about others. Positive public, as well as employee, relations are always a good thing. But you don’t want this to be a second rate effort on the part of the company. If you decide to put this type of program together, you as the business owner must make a commitment for it to succeed.

The first thing that you can do is to pull together some highly engaged employees and share the idea and brainstorm the possibilities with an honest look at the challenges. You might be surprised what can happen when you get someone excited about doing something for others.

Ask yourself “How does my business impact the lives of others and could we do better?”

Don’t Be Afraid To Do Research with your Employees!

No matter if you are a 100 employee accounting company or just a 5 employee plumbing company, every once in a while do some research with your employees.

Many business owners and managers believe that they have a great relationship with their employees and many of them do. However, when you start asking them about what their employees think or feel concerning just about anything, their confidence may be over stated. The problem is you can’t always just ask an employee, “Hey, are you happy working here?” You’re the boss or manager, what do you expect them to say? Besides the answer is basically an “all in” or “all out” question. And they may not tell you their opinions about the industry, customers, etc.

Give them a question that makes them think a little and gives more accurate information that you want to learn. How about asking, “On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best) how would you rate your satisfaction with the tasks that you are given on a daily basis? That may still not be the best question but it provides an example of diverse information such as the scale and satisfaction level, instead of just being happy, and regarding tasks given instead of the work they have done.


Hey, where did you go?

Questionnaires can be very important for getting a quick pulse on the some part of your business. It doesn’t have to be personally job related, it may be an opinion about the industry, or customers, etc. Some say you shouldn’t use a suggestion box but encourage employees to face issues with other employees or management. Using a survey can still provide information that is different than a personal issue. Using surveys or questionnaires have a lot of potential to surprise you from what you thought you knew.

Don’t be afraid of doing rounds of questions either. If you put out a survey and you find a real trend that is concerning or of value, you could change the questions so that additional information is received. You can also provide some of the responses from the first survey, so that it may open up some people to share once they know others have made comments in a particular area. Communication is important, but don’t get locked into any one type of communication, such as face to face, or paper clipped to a time card or stuck into a paycheck envelop.

Be creative and have some fun learning what your employees (or vendors even) think.

How Do You Use LinkedIn?

Many business owners and managers see LinkedIn as a resume database that is online for professionals who are looking to change jobs. While that may be what LinkedIn was originally intended for, it has become of great value to building your business.

Every business is built on the knowledge and skills of people. You may have an accountant that you use for taxes or is an employee. You hired, more than likely, someone who specializes in building websites, or who specializes in marketing. Today more than ever the individual as a business or service provider is critical to your business. From landscaping to security systems, we want to know who we are doing business with.

In the same sense your prospects are asking the same type questions about you (or whoever is the face of your company). That could mean your Account Representative, Senior Programmer working on your customer’s project, or the person who will be delivering your product to their place of business. LinkedIn gives you a way to take the one asset no one else has, namely your people, and utilize that information to provide comfort to your customers of knowing who they are doing business with on a more personal basis.

This is just one aspect of how LinkedIn can be used to build your business. Don’t dismiss LinkedIn as just a resume database. Instead, use LinkedIn for the business building tool that it has become.

Tip: if you have a list of your “team” on your website, make sure you add a link to those individual’s LinkedIn profile. While your own page provides some advantages, which we don’t have time to discuss here, LinkedIn provides some credibility if the profile is developed properly.

Stan Broesder, MBA is the owner of Crossroads Consultants and a business consultant that specializes in improving business profits and growth by developing business strategies and systems. A structured process is used to create strategies and action plans to solve problems that many business owners and professionals face.  You can reach Stan by email at: 

Assumptions in Business Can Make or Break You!

If what you are doing is not working then you have to change. But what do you do? How? One of the most frustrating parts of business is when a great idea only produces so-so results, especially when you still think it is a great idea. So what do you do?  You don’t want to just give up or change for change sake. It could be the proverbial “out of the frying pan, and into the fire.”

  1. Write down your assumptions. 

Start with writing down your assumptions (don’t keep them in your head). Why did you really believe “If I build it they will come”?  That is why they called it a field of “DREAMS” not a field of plans. Why is it such a great idea, or service, or product?

  1. Put yourself in another person’s shoes

Think about it, if you were someone else, different job and life, would you buy into your idea (or business)? Would you really spend the money? Why, why not?  Your assumptions may have sent you down a no profit or low profit road. But you can use assumptions to get you back on track.IMG_0085_crop

  1. Reconfirm your assumptions.

Once you have listed all of your assumptions start to confirm or correct each one. Figure out by asking unbiased people. How many people told you that it was a great idea but when it came time to buy your service, they didn’t buy – ask them! This happens all the time with start-ups. Their reasons (or excuses) are possibly the same for others.

  1. Move forward

Only after you have confirmed or corrected each assumption can you move forward. But you might not need to wait until you have solved all of them. If you come across a major “ah-ha” moment, that may be the key log in the log jam. But don’t stop there, because wrong assumptions, even the small ones, can be very costly.