How to Grow My Business When I Am Already Maxed out? Phase III Part II

Phase III part II – Challenges and Hindrances

In our last blog post, we talked about the hidden challenges that we all face with our emotions, attitudes, biases and our own ego. Pogo said it best when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Challenges we see —

Now we turn to the many challenges that can easily overwhelm us if we let them.

There are so many that we should categorize them instead. Challenges in our business can be found in:

  1. Money — Cash flow or the lack of capital
  2. Employees – High turnover and low production
  3. Competition – from unfriendly competitors to downright nasty ones
  4. Market changes – customers, the economy, fads, and trends
  5. Management – communications, planning, or lack of, and decisions.

Missing the target

One of the biggest problems in addressing your challenge is mistaking a challenge or problem that is actually only a symptom. When you don’t address the cause of the challenge you can spend a lot of resources and feel good about some visible change, only to have the problem reoccur when you least expect it.

There is a process of consulting that helps management teams and others to push hard into finding root causes to problems and not just surface issues.

Money

Money is almost never the problem. Cash flow and capital is a symptom of too little income, too much outgo, or poor planning of profits. Cash flow is only the yardstick that tells you there is a problem.

Employees

Since we all know you cannot control people, this can be a real problem. There are many potential causes of employee challenges. It could be that you hired poorly, don’t pay well, don’t train effectively or don’t manage your employees.

What we do is look at what can be controlled and what can’t. Can we improve our hiring, training, and managing? I have never seen a company that cannot improve in this area.

Competition

From a strategic perspective trying to find space in the marketplace where you can stay away from sharks would seem best. But the problem is that there seem to be sharks everywhere. Here you need to rely on other strategies to be able to quietly yet effectively move into and navigate safer waters.

While there are many who take the attitude of “I’ll fight them!” you better have a better game plan than they do or you are going to lose. Here is where the phrase “working smarter, not harder” would really apply.

Market changes

In these areas, those who pay attention and are observant generally make out the best. Your competitors have these same issues as you do, so the business that can effectively turn these to their advantage first gets the upper hand.

We all know of Kodak, Blockbuster, and others that are no longer in existence because they could not change and adapt to the changes in the marketplace. There are steps that you can take to be prepared for these changes.

Management

This is usually a difficult issue to address. There are so many hidden influences going on that if this is causing some challenges it is difficult to solve. Not impossible but often difficult.

In a bank client of mine, all of the research I did and my analysis pointed to the CEO as the biggest problem with the many problems taking place. The CEO denied any of them existed. I was able to lead a process that helped the CEO see the issues and make some critical changes.

What about you?

The biggest take away here is to look beyond the apparent problem and look for root causes if you are going to remove or overcome these challenges.

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How Do I Grow My Business When I Am Maxed Out? — Phase III

Phase III – Challenges and hindrances in reaching your destination

There are two main categories of challenges to reaching your goals. There is the external issues category, which has many issues, and there is the internal issues category, which is usually hidden. It is the hidden internal issues that plague your business and you might not even know it.

Internal (hidden) Issues

Let’s say that in order for you to grow your business you need to hire an additional employee. You struggle to find a good employee that you can re depend on. You struggle with training someone in your methods and systems of operation. You have to constantly monitor what they are doing.

The hidden challenge, in this case, is that you dread hiring someone only to find that they don’t work out and you’re back to square one. Now you find the next person that you have to train, observe and hold accountable. You have done it, you can do it, but you don’t like it! Therefore, your own attitude about hiring and managing another new person on your team weighs on you and occupies more time and energy MENTALLY than it really should.

Attitudes and Emotions

Our attitudes and emotions drain our time and energy. We will have a difficult time moving forward on growing our business if we don’t recognize these issues. One reason we struggle to grow our business is that these internal challenges drain our personal resources.

 People tell me that they DO NOT have a problem with procrastination. Yet there are a number of areas in which they procrastinate. They put off doing employee reviews (they hate them). They put off meeting with the clients from… well, let’s just say, difficult clients. They don’t make the call to a prospect. They are late on bills, proposals, meetings, etc., procrastination?

You need to buy or replace some equipment and struggle with the details because money is tight. Should you expand, buy, invest, hire… and the list goes on and on all of them requiring your resources that you have so little of.

But nothing will change if you just keep doing the same thing. No one is going to come rescue you. The economy turning around is not going to be the answer because your competitors are determined to not let it.

“We’re doing fine!”

What makes the internal challenge so hard is that most business professionals will not acknowledge their internal struggles such as fear, complacency, closed-mindedness, unwilling to change, procrastination, regret, and resentment.

Too often your history and current mindset are hindering your performance, profitability, and accountability. How often have I heard a client tell me that “we have tried that” or “we have tried to fix that and that’s just the way it is,” only for me to then find a solution.

Why are you maxed out?

You can achieve your goals, but you must be willing to walk the journey internally to understand what may be hindering your progress. Why are you “Maxed out?” What is going on in your mind and business that requires you to overtax your personal resources?

You must look at the real challenges and hindrances in your business. Be willing to look inside first. What other hindrances and challenges are there that you may not know about? Our next post we’ll look at some other challenges.

Stan Broesder, MBA has helped business owners to solve problems related to growth, profitability, and sales for 25 years. He also helps clients to develop management skills and can be reached at Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com or at 980-241-0189.

Two Natural Laws That Will Make or Break Your Business and Life

Do you want to solve some tough problems or make some serious changes but don’t know how? Consider how you relate to these two laws of nature.

There are natural laws that if you violate them the consequences can be deadly. But, you can overcome some natural laws, by applying other laws, such as the aerodynamics of an airplane or a parachute that allows you to land safely on the ground countering the effects of deadly gravity.

But what about business and life, what natural laws can you apply or overcome that will enable you to be successful?  Last week I did a Tele-seminar Preview on ten “Principles of Achievement” and applying those principles with the “Plan Your MAP” program. You can listen to the Tele-seminar here.

There are two laws that go hand in hand and you can use them to give you tremendous leverage on reaching your goals. If you neglect these two laws, you will find that life will be much more challenging. The better you are at utilizing these two laws, the more successful you will be.

First is the law of “Focus of Control.” Think of this like a continuum where you have complete 100% control on the right end of the line and absolutely no control is on the left end of the line. Now think with me about what you definitely can NOT control in your life or business. Usually such things like the weather and time are mentioned. While on the other end is what you can 100% control? Think about it, the only thing that you can really control is yourself, your decisions and actions.

In between these two points is the area of influence. Some things we will have more influence over than other things. While we cannot control people, we have more influence over our own children than we do over a stranger in public.

How this affects you and your business is that you need to continually and effectively evaluate how much control do you have in any given situation, project, client account, or goal. With that knowledge you then have to think about how you can influence those things that you cannot control.

The problem comes in life and business is when we try to control or strongly influence things beyond what is realistic and we get frustrated and upset. Or, we look at the situation and say “there is nothing that I can do…” and fail to try to overcome the particular situation, when in fact there are things we can do.

Many times we allow our attitudes and beliefs about what we can and cannot do to affect our efforts. That is why the saying “Whether you believe that you can or you can’t, you’re right,” comes from.

The second natural law is “The Law of Cause and Effect.” Quite simply this is the law reflected in the saying, “you reap what you sow.” If you plant corn, don’t expect wheat, and it is as simple as that.

What is the result or “effect” that you want? The Effect in this case is a dependent. It is the result of something, namely the cause. So first think about what affect that you want, and then think about what could cause that effect to take place.

This is a great way to think about planning. Decide where you want to go and then what will cause you to get there. Almost everyone that I talk to agrees with the concept, at least IN PRINCIPLE, but not in practice. If you really believe in cause and effect, and they want more sales, than what is the cause that drives more sales?

When you flip this around to solving a problem, it can be more challenging. You have an effect that you don’t want now you need to find out what is the cause of the problem (the result or effect of a cause). A systemic problem is one of the hardest to solve because the cause is many times separated by time and space.

Understanding the cause, whether it is for what you want or don’t want is the biggest challenge. But we make it worse when we attack the symptom (which is the effect, like a fever) that appears to be the problem. Unfortunately when we do this the real problem is not resolved and we are constantly working to change the effect of the problem.

So now put these two laws together and you get a life of taking control of those areas that you can control with a cause and effect mindset. Or you get a person who doesn’t accept that they have control or at the least strong influence in many areas of life and decides that the cause and effect law doesn’t work and therefore they literally will take their chances. They live by chance, luck and if anything good happens, it often appears by accident.

So, if you believe in Focus of Control, and the Law of Cause and Effect…. What does your planning look like? Does it look like you believe in controlling your destiny or are winging it and hoping for the best? Do you have solid goals, and a strategic plan or goals in your head and a hope-so-strategy for life and business?



Crossroads Consultants specializes in helping business professionals and owners to create the life that they want through developing skills in management (including planning, organizing, executing and controlling) applied to the core elements like strategy and systems development. I support my clients on their journey and not on an event. I walk along with my clients because like everyone else I too am on the journey and so excited to be able to share my knowledge, experiences and skills that I have, and enjoy learning from each client and project along the way.

Are you using the DIY Marketing Method?

Most people learn how to do marketing by throwing money at a tactic and seeing if it works. Keep trying and then, keep what works, throw out the rest. It is the DIY Marketing method. But that method will only get you so far.

With a specific plan in mind for your marketing dollars, you will have much better results. Here is a real simple three step plan that will improve your marketing results. Try it!

1.  Who is your Ideal Client?

Create a profile of who this person is. Can you write out a description of your ideal client so that someone else who reads that description can identify a specific person?

2.  What is your message?

Assuming that your ideal client is going to read your message, what do you want them to know? A better question would be to ask, what do THEY want to know? Make sure your message is relevant to them.

3.  What is the best media?

You know who you want to talk to and what you want to say, the question is what media or method will most likely capture your ideal client’s attention. If you want to reach a golfer maybe you should put an ad in a golf magazine, or sponsor a hole for a local charity fundraiser. Make a list of all the possible media opportunities and then determine the best avenue for your marketing goal.

Coordinate various tactics so that you have synergy, and are building on other tactics. This is a smart approach to marketing. Don’t just make decisions based on available funds, make choices on maximizing the return on money already spent as well as current and future funding.

If you have some thoughts, leave a comment.

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Crossroads Consultants is a business growth strategy company. Growing income or profits takes planning and excellent execution. The keys are quality planning, being organized, directing your people, and controlling your business.

You can reach Stan Broesder, MBA with Crossroads Consultants at 980-241-0189 or email: Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

Does Success Breed Failure?

Success in and of itself can create a climate for failure. The saying, “What got you here, won’t get you there” (book title, Marshall Goldsmith) is appropriate for this thought. As difficult as it is to get to a certain level in business it maybe even more difficult to stay there.

Success, however you define it, puts you in a position of new opportunities and threats. Many stumble because they are not ready for the new policies, systems and habits that are demanded of them to be at that level and default back to old habits and safer waters. This is where some talk about the fear of success comes in. It may not be a fear of success (the outcome), but the change that it requires. Although the environmental change that comes with success can be disruptive, there are also internal changes that have to be considered as well.

When you are very busy you can create a routine or rhythm to your work that is very productive, but it can be very susceptible to change. If you push just a little too hard on your production you can make a mistake and send production into a tailspin. Or as the pressure for production decreases, you can become inefficient. You can lose focus on the new and most important tasks at hand believing you will have time to get to them later. But before you know it you are busy again and the important things didn’t get done.

Your ability to adjust to the pressures and demands on your time, energy and other assets is critical to continuing the progress of success that one experiences within their life. Without that ability to be flexible and focus on the important things, little errors creep in without detection and can become a major disaster without warning.

So how do you develop the ability to make the constant adjustment between super busy and bust? What does it take to smooth those ups and downs at least so they don’t cause serious crashes? There are two things you have to have.

You have to be able to keep perspective while still focusing on what is priority. You need to be ability to look at the big picture while also keeping a focus on key and critical details. In order to have perspective you need to be able to step back and grasp the big picture of your business. You need to be able to make accurate choices about what is important and what is not. Then you need to be able to focus your resources on getting the most critical, the key objectives accomplished.

In success your perspective is constantly changing because the world is changing by the minute or faster. Being able to focus energy and resources in the midst of change, on the most critical objectives is vital. So the reality is that you need to balance two totally different mindsets, big picture and laser focus. The right tools can help you to accomplish that juggling act. [that will have to be a different post]

What do you do when your business is out of control?

It is real tough when you come in on Monday morning and a few key people are out sick, you get a call from a major customer who wants to postpone that big order that they gave you last week and your vendor tells you that the big order that you gave them last week will arrive earlier than expected, in fact it will be here this morning, the #4 machine needs to be shut down  and will need a swing arm replaced which will take at least ten days to fix if we can find the part and have it shipped overnight.  You already have meetings scheduled and emails to go out, phone calls to make and now this.

You can sometimes quickly feel out of control. This can happen when you feel like all you do is fight fires all day long and can’t seem to get to your own “To Do” list. Your plans can fall apart even before you’ve had any chance to get them started.  But you still have all those “To Do’s” to do.

So how do you move forward? There are three things to remember:

First, there is only so much time every day and there is no more. And time is constant, it doesn’t slow down or speed up even though it might seem that way. You can only do what you can do. Don’t allow the size and number of fires you “have” zap your energy.

Second, there are techniques for making your life more efficient. If you have a “To Do” list that is one of them. There are many more and you can read about them or just by really thinking about your life you can create your own. Sometimes getting ideas from other books, magazines or people can help. Efficiency is not enough, and it will not prevent the problems and challenges.

Third, a great efficient system is not enough. An economy car may be advertised as efficient, but it has very little use for a soccer mom with lots of kids, or hauling some lumber for that project you are working on. Efficiency at the expense of effectiveness is a waste of energy and ultimately is not efficient. You have to be effective in what you do as well as being efficient in the doing of it.

To gain control there are three basic things that you need:

  1. Information. Having timely and accurate information is critical if you are going to be making decisions that will affect the energy, resources and your future.
  2. Priorities. Deciding a head of time what are your priorities is critical to being able to gain control. It is better to work on this before the fires in your life come along. Most people are quick to understand that family and the lives of others would be priority in say a house fire. Pictures and even the pets come in a distant second.
  3. Resources. You must know the capabilities of your resources. What realistically can you, your personnel, and your business do to resolve the problem without creating a worse problem. Knowing what you can accomplish with what you have will help you to delegate (if possible) and tackle the most appropriate fires first.

Information, priorities and resources are key ingredients to being able to get back in control. For more information on how to get control of your business go to http://www.MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

 

What if every day was as productive as the day before vacation?

You have been planning on this vacation for months. But there is always so much to do before you go. You have been working hard trying to prepare for being out of the office for an extended period of time. As the last day before your vacation approaches you are forced to make choices on what gets done and what can be put off to after you return.

Then the last day or two before you leave you have even harder choices because of the normal interruptions and as everyday new fires, issues and demands enter your life. Now what can you delegate to get things done while you’re gone? What can you do while you’re driving home after work? Any necessary meetings are kept unusually short. Lunch is on the fly if at all. You double check your list to make sure you got the important things done. You stop on your way home for those last minute things that you told your spouse you would pick up.

Now, when you are able to exhale, you think about all that you did in the last hours, day, days and even the week before your vacation. Wow! If only you could get that much accomplished every day or week. What changed? The business is still the same. Everyone else is the same. What changed? You! The sense of urgency caused you to focus and utilize your skills to the highest level. Only you changed. You became more effective and efficient because of focus.