On the Road to Success, Where are You Going?

IT DOESN’T MATTER!

At a crossroads, Alice asked the Cheshire cat which path she should take. The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” When Alice replied, “I don’t know,” the cat said, “Then IT DOESN’T MATTER!”

Too many times we get all caught up on the journey, the day to day activities; we don’t ask ourselves where are we going? What is it we really want to achieve?  You must have a clear, definite and compelling reason for your actions or you will not have the motivation and drive to give it your best to succeed.

In business we can be so focused on cutting costs, being more efficient or developing a better lead generation system that we don’t ask why are we doing all of this and what are the results that we really want. If you do not have a great reason, a compelling reason, your employees won’t have a good reason to give you their best either.

Right now is a great time to stop for just a moment, take a break and catch your breath. While you are there take a moment to re-orient yourself to make sure that you are on the right path for you at this time in your life.

Start with being honest with yourself. Don’t think about what anyone else will say or think, or who might be disappointed in your answer. Forget what has happened in the past or attempts that have failed. Just ask yourself, “What do I really want in life?” What do you really want to achieve? Be as clear and specific as possible, but if you can’t be specific then be vague, but answer the question the best that you can.

Are you heading in the right direction? If you want to go to the North Carolina Mountains, you don’t want to head toward the Outer Banks.

Where do you want to go? IT DOES MATTER!!

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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!”

Problems Don’t Live in Isolation

Most businesses seem to constantly battle against four basic challenges. These challenges are:

  1. Money – the lack of sufficient capital, or cash flow
  2. Marketing – the lack of enough prospects or clients
  3. People – the lack of engaged workers with initiative
  4. Performance — the lack of quality production or capacity

Only one of these actually deals with what the business owner is the expert in, performance. The others can be handled by bankers or accountants, marketing specialists, or HR specialists. These providers, who are experts in their specific field, do not usually see through the lens of the other specialties.

A serious issue with many “providers” is that they see situations or challenges within their own sphere or discipline and not how their challenge is related to or affected by the other challenges. If a money problem exists it could be because of poor quality production or performance from disgruntled employees. Cash flow may seem to be the problem, but it may only be a symptom of a much deeper problem.

So if you believe you are suffering from one challenge, you need to consider how the other challenges may be making the problem worse. Taking a holistic approach is better than just targeting one part of the whole problem. Without addressing the supporting problems to the ONE problem you increase the chance that your solution will not really solve the problem in the future.

Systems’ thinking allows you to look at these four challenges holistically. You must always ask yourself what is the cause and effect of decisions and actions made over time and space. An action or decision that was made six months ago may be having an effect on your outcomes today. It is also possible that a decision or action that was taken at a different location from the current problem may be causing or contributing to the effect that you are now seeing.

There is a process for determining the cause of current problems or challenges that is perfect for small businesses. Essentially it keeps asking the “Why?” question. Start with the current problem and start asking why this is occurring. Always brainstorm as many answers each time as possible. Then with each answer, ask “why is this happening?” Facilitating this process does take some skill, but definitely patience.  Seek to find causes and don’t just look at symptoms.

Stan Broesder, MBA is the owner of Crossroads Consultants and specializes in helping business professionals to improve the skills, strategies and systems needed to increase profitability, reduce stress and grow a business. For information on creating a smooth running, high performance, profitable and growing business email Stan directly at: Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

 

Time to get organized?

What if you had the time to do all that you needed to do? What would you do? We have all heard the statement that time is money and the even more important “time is life”. But the question is what will you do with your time?

Many that I talk to complain about not being organized, not having the time, not having the information they need when they need it, missing deadlines, and feeling like they are just being run ragged. Most people do not realize that being organized is not a gift that a few people have, but is actually a skill set which can be learned and developed over time. The question is, are you working on developing that skill? It is something that I also struggle with and work on.

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Being organized is not about being neat, or making your office look pretty. But it is about being more effective in your actions and operations. It takes effort to be organized,  but the return on your investment will be much greater because of our increased effectiveness.

Being organized means that you have the information you need when you need it, about prioritizing and making choices to do what is best, like being on time for meetings with the proper resources. Being organized is first about doing the right things and then doing them right.

Think of the professional mechanic who can’t find the right tool and spends just five minutes looking for it. That mechanic is not organized. There should be a place for everything and everything in its place. Okay, that might be perfection, but for the mechanic it is money. You already set up systems for daily routines, where you place your keys, where the salt and pepper shakers are, etc. Prioritize and decide is the key and a skill that is not easy to learn. Keep working on it!

So what are you going to do to become more organized? There are a number of good books out that can help you develop this skill set. Go to a library or bookstore and look for books on organizing. This must be a conscientious decision and an investment of time and energy. Learn this skill and it will pay back many times in the future. Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of being organized, get help and start small, but start.

Stan Broesder, MBA is owner of Crossroads Consultants and a Business Consultant specializing in helping business professionals to be more efficient, effective by developing skills, strategies, and systems that increase profits and business growth. For more information on how you can be better organized, email Stan at:  Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com.

Why Planning Won’t Work!

Planning is one part of the management puzzle but it requires another piece of the puzzle. You can have the perfect plan or blueprint, but if you can’t organize the resources to accomplish the plan, it will cost you dearly.

No one plans like you, thinks like you or works like you! Be yourself, but strive to be better! Your personality and individuality are very important to your planning, how you organize and how effective or efficient you will be.

The second piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have your ‘ducks in a row’– that you are organized. Being organized is not the same thing as being neat. It doesn’t mean that you have to live your life like a drill Sargent. Being organized means that you know your priorities and where the information and resources are to meet those priorities when needed.

Find a way that works for you. Don’t kid yourself and say that you are organized when you spend 20 minutes looking for the phone number you wrote down, or a copy of that proposal you sent two weeks ago. Constantly work on creating better plans, better systems and being better organized. Strive to be a better you!

You must create systems or have someone help you to create systems that work for you. Then your plans will have a better chance of being accomplished and the changes that you want to see happen.

Take five minutes to make a list of what are the top five priority goals in your life and the critical information and resources that you need to reach those priorities. Then ask yourself, “how organized am I really in these critical areas?”

As a person who has worked with business professionals for over 25 years, I have helped to create the systems and strategies that fit your individual needs and to bring about the changes that you want in your life or business. When will you take the time to start getting organized?

Make your planning work for you!

How Does Crossroads Consultants Help Business Owners Solve Business Problems?

This is a quick look at how a business consultant may help a client.

Consulting involves changes. If nothing changes there is no need for a consultant. Even if we only provide information that you didn’t have before that would change the basis of which you might make a decision.

What you may want is to prevent something that is detrimental to you or your business either at present or sometime in the future. This could include new competition, regulation, the loss of a vendor, poor employee morale and engagement, dropping sales, lowering profits, etc.

The other thing would be to reach or progress toward a goal or potential in your business. This could include improved sales or profits, taking advantage of new products and services, hiring the right people, improving performance and productivity, investing in new equipment or facilities, or expansion of some kind. All of these would help you to improve your business in the future. You need to make sure that the risks are calculated and the proper processes are put in place.

I make sure that I get the right perspective on the situation. That means that we want to make sure we don’t get just a little bit of information and make a quick diagnosis of the problem with an even quicker prescription of a solution. Without asking enough questions and getting the proper perspective this would be considered “malpractice” and is not acceptable.

Once I have some perspective on a situation then I start to focus in on potential details that may be causing or influencing the issue. Here is where any consultant should be worth their weight in gold. Many times it is not the obvious cause that is the problem; it is the hidden elements that are the real threat to success. A good consultant will not move too quickly and just go with the basic obvious cause. Looking for other influences can really prevent an expensive disaster.

A good business consultant will also know when they need to bring in additional help with specialties in other disciplines. As an example one client was having some real troubles with some billing and cash flow issues. An accountant was brought in to take a look and was able to see some of the problems fairly quickly. In this case the accountant saw that the problem was the poor use of the accounting software, but upon further review the business consultant was able to determine some additional issues of employee morale and management practices that were also influencing the issue. So while the accountant had solved the problem for a little while, it would have returned in the near future without other adjustments.

No matter what your problem, challenge or goal is, if it is more than a simple vendor problem call Crossroads Consultants and get a complimentary conference call. I have connections with specialists that can help you in areas outside of business management consulting. My goals is to help business professionals to improve their business results and performance, if a simple introduction to someone else that is better suited to meet your needs is all that it takes, than I am glad that I can help you and know that I will gain your respect and hopefully trust for when an issue that is more specific to my expertise comes along.

Stan Broesder is the founder and owner of Crossroads Consultants, a business management consulting company that develops management skills and organizational efficiencies for business professionals. Using Strategic Planning, management systems and employee engagement, Stan helps businesses to improve their performance and ultimately their profits while becoming better at planning and executing plans.

Most of Stan’s clients are in Western North Carolina, specifically in Lincolnton, Hickory, Lincoln and Catawba and surrounding counties. He can be reached at 980-241-0189, by email at Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com or through his website. I can help most business professionals to reach their goals, be more profitable and develop higher performance for themselves and their business.

How to kill the dreams of a great strategic plan!

Many people say that strategic planning doesn’t work. That if you create a plan one day, it is obsolete the next. Or you have these great plans and then you can’t implement them, so what good are they? But it doesn’t have to be that way. The biggest problem with strategic plans is there is not enough thought put into them because most people just want to get it over with instead of creating a tool that will help them to reach their dreams. There are some strategic plan killers that you need to be aware of.

1. Going through the motions.
When management is in trouble, someone will get the bright idea that the solution is to just create a strategic plan. While it may be a tool for the solution, the mere paper won’t solve your problems. In order for a strategic plan to be effective you have to do it right and within the boundaries of which it is designed to work. Too many business owners sketch out their thoughts with a little input from a couple of key managers and then say “Here it is, our strategic plan!!

2. Preconceived notions and a closed mind.
Another killer is not really having an open mind during the process. The process turns into a “let’s justify what we want to do” instead of pulling the facts into the process and allowing it to generate the best strategy for the company. This may seem minor, but it is also one of the biggest reasons why strategic planning is not done in the first place. “I know where we need to go and what we need to do” I am just having some difficulty figuring out how to get it done”. Exactly! When the strategy is right the “how” is almost obvious.

3. Power plays, agendas and politics.
Too many times the process is crippled by those who have their own agenda in mind. From the beginning they have determined to figure out how to get a project, or program into the plan so that there department is better off and they are the hero with their people. But power plays compete against others also with agendas. One member in the process knows what you want and will indicate to you that you better support his agenda or he will make sure yours is killed along the way. Or after what you did to him last year, now it is pay back and you are out as far as they’re concerned. When individuals on the team think they are more important than the company, its purpose, values and all stakeholders, you will end up with a plan that will fail.

4. Not thinking about implementation.
When your plans are designed without thinking about how the plan is going to be implemented you are in for trouble. Part of the process is to assess where you are as far as your assets, resources and opportunities. Looking at your strengths and weaknesses, you determine where you can position the company to have the greatest competitive advantage. If you try to claim a position that you do not have the skills and knowledge to defend, you are going to have a difficult time. You have to think about those who will be implementing the plan.

5. Lack of creativity.
Closed minds, agendas, power plays, going through the motions, and no thought about implementation will cause a major lack of creativity. Each one of these killers will kill the creative thinking process that is needed to create a good strategic plan. That creativity will help to strategically position the company where it can best defend itself in the market place and enable it to grow into higher profit margin territory. It takes open minds that are free of reprisals, political consequences and preconceived agendas.

The problem is that no one in the process walks into a strategic planning meeting and announces that they have an agenda, closed minds, etc. They come in with smiles, enthusiasm, and say all the right things. It is the facilitator of the meetings that must keep a watchful eye to make sure that the pure process isn’t hijacked along the way.

Strategic planning is one of the best tools that management can use to secure the long-term viability and security of the company. Follow the process and make sure you have a skilled facilitator who cannot have an agenda beyond a successful strategic outcome.