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 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.

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

How is A Good Business Consultant Like Your Top Sales Person? — They make you more money than they cost.

A good business consultant is like your top sales person in that they don’t cost you any money, they make you money.

Sales people bring in more money than you pay them or you wouldn’t do it. But your best or top sales person tends to bring more than just income to the company. They also bring repeat business, they develop relationships and they give you feedback on products, quality and what is going on in the marketplace.

What follows isn’t blatant marketing, it is just good advice, and I can prove it.

If your business doesn’t need improvement than the task or opportunities for a Business Consultant are short lived, like a summer camp room inspection when it is done right, it is quick. When a consultant really doesn’t have much to do, as you may think, the cost is low and you get the reassurance that you were right.

A good business consultant will provide you with direction and how to grow your business. They will help you to work ON your business while you work IN your business. They will help you to discover, define and solve problems and not just symptoms.

A good business consultant will help you to build a higher performing work force. By looking at and improve your communications and accountability systems. Improving motivation as well as efficiencies can go a long way to helping morale and performance. And a good business consultant helps you to have a higher performing workforce that will reduce your stress and give you more freedom to choose how to use your time and money.

A good business consultant can help you to better understand the customer experience and how to help your customers to come back time after time. In the process, your customers may also buy more from you and buy more often. Relationships with your customers should be built beyond just with the sales person. A good business consultant can help you to see the world through your customers’ eyes better as a third party.

When a good business consultant who works in any area of marketing or sales will have a definite impact on your sales income. A good business consultant improves your position in the marketplace which brings in better and repeat business.

A good business consultant is not trying to sell you some product like a website or software or training programs. A good business consultant is an independent third party who allows you to see your business differently. Will challenge you to raise the bar just a little more and to achieve more than you thought you could have done before. A good business consultant will help to develop you as a manager/leader as well as your business.

The one thing that a good business consultant does that most sales personnel don’t is to save you money. That is what they do, they look for better efficiencies and effective use of resources so that every dollar they save goes straight to the bottom line.

Think about that management position that you really want to but haven’t filled yet, but wish you could. Maybe someone is doing the job, kind of. You can’t afford to pay an $80,000.00 salary but you really need someone to relieve the pressure from you. Outsource what you need to be done to a good business consultant. Pay them a fraction of what you would normally pay. You get their expertise and help in managing your business. It is like skimming the cream off of the top. You get the best information and support, without paying the high dollar.

So a good business consultant like top sales professionals won’t cost you money, they make you money. Give me a chance to prove it to you! I don’t want to waste your time or mine. Before I take on any client I must be confident and the client must be confident that I can make them or save them money or solve a value problem for them.

If you want and need to see some change take place in your business, call me at Crossroads Consultants 980-241-0189 / Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

Don’t Hold Your Business Back

Your business can only grow to the extent that you grow.

Jerry Rice once said, “The enemy of the Best is the good!” Decide what you need to learn first, and then put everything else second.

  1. What do you need to learn? Take a step back and ask yourself, what skills or knowledge do I need to have to grow into my future? Remember while your specialty or expertise may need to be cutting edge, there are other areas of your life and business that may be required for your development. It is critical to know what areas to set as the priority.
  2. Find the best sources for acquiring that skill or knowledge? There are so many places you can go to for information. But a lot of them are not worth the time and some are just wrong and have bad advice. Ask others that you trust, who they follow, read and listen to or what sources they use to learn from.
  3. Schedule time to learn. You must learn in order to grow. Schedule it! Your future may depend on it.

Be proactive and LEARN!

At the Crossroads,

Stan Broesder

Why Your Business May Have Stalled

If you are a small business or micro-businesses (under 10 employees) you may find it nearly impossible to get your business to the next level. It is very common and usually avoidable. After 25 years of helping small business owners and professionals, there is one factor that seems hidden and is often a major reason why business growth stalls.

When there is no more to give

My clients often tell me that they are tired and run hard trying to build their business but real business growth and the potential of their business eludes them. They want to grow but they are also afraid that it may kill them in the process. They are already maxed out.

One problem is they believe that if they don’t do it, it won’t get done, or it won’t get done correctly. How effectively they are able to delegate shows itself in how many employees they have. That is why there are so many businesses that have less than ten employees.

Delegating is not enough

Balancing growth and profitability is extremely hard and being an expert in a technical or specific industry skill set is not enough. You have to learn the skills of management if you are going to grow. Your ability to manage employees starts to max out at eight to ten employees.

If you have hired an employee you understand the need to delegate work. The question is how well do you understand their abilities? Can you effectively communicate your needs and train that person to be able to meet those needs to achieve your goals? Add to that your ability to control and hold others accountable for results. A “dozen” employees can become much more difficult to manage.

So what is the solution? The most critical and precious resource is your time. Learn how to get more done in less time. You must balance the risk of someone else not doing a job quite as well as you can, with the increase in overall production by others. Think of a competitor that is five times bigger than you are, how do they manage it all with the same 24 hours a day that you have?

Management skills are critical

Start with managing yourself. If you are the kind of person who is always running late to meetings, making late payments with late fees, always short on cash, never enough prospects or customers while struggling to put out a good quality product or service, re-evaluate your management skills. Without applying good management skills to yourself, you will have a challenge managing others.

When other people are depending on you for their financial future, you have to take management seriously. You must learn and have the discipline to organize, prioritize and plan what is most important to the business. You have to be able to help others to get the results you need without doing it yourself.

Letting go to grow

Second, develop your people to take over some of the tasks that you are doing. You are NOT an expert in all facets of your business. That is why we hire accountants, marketing specialists, etc. Developing or finding competent people is one key to growth.

However, you must be able to effectively manage those that you hire. This ability to hold others accountable and get results is critical. The better you are at managing, the more people you can manage.  At some point you will need to hire a person to supervise others. A supervisor should be able to direct others and get the production you need without you.

Are you willing to change and grow first?

You must develop your management skills so that you can delegate activities that you are currently doing. You will never grow and reach your potential beyond where you are if you don’t. Business growth depends on effectively managing others who can do for you, what you do, so that you can invest your time doing more important things.

Developing your management skills is not easy. Business professionals often don’t see management as a skill set. Learning to organize, plan, control and execute effectively and efficiently are all a part of management. You actually may be the reason for your own stalled growth.

Develop your skills and confidence in the area of management and then you can take your business to the next level.

Crossroads Consultants specializes in developing skills in management and business planning. My clients seek to grow their business profits and their freedom. With the proper planning and management systems we can make that happen. I help my client so see what they don’t know, to know what they can’t see, and therefore act differently and more effectively. By improving your skills in organizing, planning, executing and controlling you can go places you haven’t even dreamed of.

Customer Experience is Crown Jewel for Publix

Have you noticed recently the ads for Publix? The whole ad is based on (www.MyPublixStory.com) customers that had a great experience because of “little” things. These are not the normal, deep discounts, super specials or great variety, type of promotions. The whole thing that Publix is promoting is SERVICE. Not just the usual service you see companies promoting. They are promoting exceptional service from the perspective of the customer.

When you promote yourself as giving exceptional quality service, you better deliver. This ad not only is speaking to their customers and prospective customers, it is also talking to their employees. In this promotion it is creating that team feeling and pride. “I work for Publix and WE provide great service!”

Exceptional service is not about giving away the store or being all things to all people. Exceptional service is about understanding your ideal customer to the point that you feel what they feel, you think like they think, and you anticipate how you can make their purchasing experience exceptional.

Before you decide to jump onto the “exceptional service” bandwagon and ending up creating another fad that your employees put up with until you get on to the next brilliant idea, you need to think. Exceptional service does not happen overnight. It takes tremendous planning and work. But when prospects are not thinking about cheaper prices, it really helps the financial side of business.

Most businesses make the mistake of thinking they have great service. Here are a few questions for you to ask yourself.
1. Do think that your service is significantly better than your closest competitors?
2. Do you see your business as having exceptional amount of referrals?
3. Are you getting significantly more referrals than your competitors?

If you are seriously thinking about using an “Exceptional Service” strategy in your business, talk it out with others before making a decision. Of course, I believe we can help.



Stan Broesder is a business growth and marketing specialist with Crossroads Consultants. For over 25 years Stan has helped businesses to grow and to overcome obstacles. Today with digital online marketing Crossroads Consultants is made up of a team of strategic and tactical growth specialists. For more information on growing your business, Contact Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com