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

How do you grow your business when you are already maxed out?

 Phase IV – Formulating a plan

For those who jump to this article, you cannot effectively formulate a plan if you have not read and follow previous articles. There are critical pieces of the puzzle that you are missing.

Missing information

Formulating a plan requires that you have most if not all of the relevant information. While 100% accurate, up to date information may not be realistic, you must be able to address these areas. To grow your business, you must know three things. But before we get into that, there is a subject that may get in the way of your growth.

Do you have the capacity to grow your business? Can you handle a 30 or 50% increase in your business? How much growth can you handle before you need to start investing in increasing your capacity?  Crossroads Consultants can provide you with a Capacity Analysis to help you understand the costs related to your current capacity and capacity growth. We will assume that capacity is not an issue.

Know what makes you special

Most businesses believe they know this when in reality they don’t. There is a difference between why people come back to you as a repeat client and why they came to you in the first place. You need to know both if you are going to be able to effectively grow your business.

Know who your customer is

Over time we lose sight of what makes our customers different. How has your customer changed over the last several years? What are the demographics and psychographics of your customer base? If you can (and usually it can be done with some work) identify those traits or characteristics that make your customers different from everyone else, you will be much more effective in reaching potential clients.

Connect your message to your audience

First of all messaging is a blend of your value to the prospect and the uniqueness of your client base in how they receive a message. This can be some of the most difficult parts of doing business today. It is an art in crafting the right words to say, and impressions to give to the public hoping to catch the attention of your prospect.

Second, understand the most effective and cost-efficient methods of delivering your message. Billboards still have value for certain types of businesses. The point is to not eliminate a particular marketing method because of your bias or perception of what works. What your prospects think is what is important.

Understanding the correlation between real cost and real impact is often missing. Something like Facebook may seem to be low in cost may be very costly in time. And just because you get a thousand likes on a post, doesn’t necessarily translate into sales or whatever your goal is.

The next step is to create and implement a tactical plan that provides you with the results that you are looking for. While it takes a lot to be able to grow your business if you have the right goals and resources it can be very exciting. We’ll look at that next time.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day and you cannot spend your time doing everything. In the final piece of the puzzle, we will discuss how to make it happen. Reaching your goals without sacrificing your life is the real prize.

Stan Broesder, MBA is a business consultant and owns Crossroads Consultants. He helps businesses to address efficiency and effectiveness issues that affect business growth. Stan can be reached for a free initial consultation at Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

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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.

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.

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.

How Do You Grow Your Business When You Are Already Maxed Out?

Many business owners would like to see some change take place in their business. The problem is that they are so busy, tired, and overworked; they just don’t see how they can add anything else to their plate.

This situation can cause a business to stagnate and lose profitability. Business owners become discouraged and say, “Someday I’ll …” You need to move forward but don’t feel that you have the energy and resources necessary to make a move, you’re stuck.

PHASE 1 — Finding Space

Breathe

The first step to finding space is for you to “Breathe.” You must find some time so that you can step back and clearly think about your situation. This is NOT a vacation or two days off. Just an hour or two will be some of the hardest work that you have ever done. But finding the time to step back can be a challenge.

Everyone can improve how they utilize their time. What tasks can you delegate to someone else or become more efficient in doing so that you have some time?  Even if all you are doing is freeing up an hour or two, it’s a start.

Step Back 

The second step during this time to find space is to step back, reevaluate your priorities. What is really important to you and your business? This is not some mountaintop daydreaming experience; this is reaching down and make some hard decisions.

You are going to need more than an hour to change your business? What low ‘return on effort’ tasks and activities can get off of your plate? You can decide to eliminate them, delegate them, delay them or hire someone else to do them.

Think

This is only the beginning of the planning process. But it is critical if things are going to change and not by accident, you need some time to think, plan, prepare and then act.

Start your growth process by finding space, some time to think, but don’t waste your time on current work stuff. Think about the challenge that you must solve? Start by giving yourself a little time to think and plan your future. Find the Space.

Stan Broesder, MBA is the owner of Crossroads Consultants. We help hardworking, successful business owners who are at a ‘crossroads’ between where they are and the businesses they have built, and the potential future they have always dreamed about. For a no-obligation initial consultation email Stan at  Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com.

 

When Children Plan Like Their Parents

How many parents do you know that would tell their high school age, son or daughter, that they didn’t need to plan for college or not to worry about what they are going to do after high school?

How many people wish they had started their retirement planning sooner or their children’s college fund sooner? You might say, “Well we were younger back then and didn’t realize how important it was.” And yet, are you really making actionable plans today for your future?

What if our children planned their futures like we plan our businesses? Do you have specific goals for next month, quarter or even next year? Do you have any idea of what you need to be doing now in preparation for reaching whatever goals you have? Are you organized, and prepared? Do you have a plan, a real plan, a plan with dates and calculated resources attached so that you can effectively and realistically implement the plan?

We believe in planning when it comes to other people. We have told others, you need to plan what you want to do, the career you want to reach, while all along your own goals and plans are not clear, not specific, not realistic because there is no way to know if you are reaching or achieving what you say you want to do.

We have a perpetual “Someday I’ll!” Someday, I’ll have this or that, go here or there, buy, become, do… blah, blah, blah! But someday never seems to arrive. It just keeps moving ahead of us with the empty promise.

This year, take the advice that you give or gave to others, to your teenage children. Set some real goals not just add-ons of some percentage and steady as she goes, don’t rock the boat. Evaluate your potential and seek out excellence no matter what your age or circumstance. Determine that this year will be different.  And that difference…

Start NOW! Don’t play and don’t delay! If you need help find someone who can help you and work with them, listen to them and then do it!

Stan Broesder, MBA — Crossroads Consultants — “Because All Business is Personal!”

Super Busy Costs you, here is a Solution

From so many commitments that you can’t seem to breathe, to working so hard on everyday problems and issues you never seem to see beyond today. ‘Super busy’ can look different for different people.

Define “Busy”
You need to be able to define what it means when you say that you are “busy.” Everybody is doing something every single hour of every day. What does your busy look like? Are you working more hours than is healthy, are you inefficient because you cannot solve a time management issue, or do you have a problem saying no and are now overcommitted in a number of areas and cannot seem to juggle it all?

A very common scenario is growing in a business until you are maxed out, then hiring someone to help in the front office. This person handles all the phone calls, customer complaints, invoicing, bill payment preparation, errands, occasional social media posting, and whatever else you can dump on them. But it is never enough. So, who is the next person that you can add to take some load off of you? You can’t afford someone who doesn’t produce income.

The Hard Part
More importantly, why is your “busy” a problem? You need to determine what really going on that is causing you to be too busy. What are the implications of you being so busy? What is the price?  Is it causing stress, sleepless nights? Maybe it is impacting relationships in your life, but you just grunt on and keep going, not knowing when or how it will stop!

The Solution
Find time. Take time. You might need an hour, so take it in 10-minute increments. Whatever it takes, but do it. You must find some time to breathe.  Once you take some time, we invest that time to find a little more time, and then we take that extra time to make more money to buy you your freedom. Here is where you start.

First, list ALL of your roles and responsibilities, from selling to the prospect to cleaning the toilets. Whatever you do in the company as a part of owning your business, WRITE IT DOWN!

Second, prioritize every listed item from the most critical and money producing activity to the least.

Third, look for ways to delegate or contract out the less income producing and impactful activities to someone else. If you are worried about quality control, as many are, that is a problem of systems and management skills (and Crossroads Consultants can help you with that).

Fourth, make a plan. Once you have freed up some time, use it to plan out your future and solve problems of delegation, control and bringing in more income. It takes time to make a good plan but that is what you need to have the freedom you need to reach your goals. Being Super Busy can be great for the ego, but the cost can be devastating.

Stan Broesder is the owner of Crossroads Consultants a business management and growth consulting company. If your business is going to grow the owners and management team must grow with it, or it won’t work. Marketing today is beyond the expertise of most owners and manager. In order to effectively market your business and grow you need someone who can plan and manage your marketing. Crossroads Consultants will provide you with a lower cost provisional marketing management solution. Contact Stan at 980-241-0189 or Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com