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

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Why is Planning so Hard?

Few actually plan

Studies have shown only 3% of the population, actually do any serious planning. However, almost everyone agrees that there is great benefit to planning and would also agree that the more important an event or complicated a task is the more important it is to plan for it.

How to plan is easy.

There are so many books written on the subject of planning it is very likely you have more than one in your own personal library. So it can’t be that we don’t know that we should do it. And it can’t be that we don’t know how to do it. The “how” is easily found for anyone who wants to know. But the reality is that planning is just hard. It is not fun or exciting, and usually not a very pleasant experience. It is like your taxes, you feel good when you are done not because of the great pleasure in the task, but the fact that it is over.

So why is planning so hard?

You can see that it isn’t hard physically, and it really isn’t all that hard mentally. The problem is that planning is extremely hard emotionally. I know we might not like that answer, but just think about doing some financial or other type of planning. Eventually you will feel it, that “in the pit of your gut” feeling.

Embarrassing questions

Proper planning asks a lot of questions. When we don’t have answers to these questions, we’re embarrassed, we don’t feel so good. Our security, confidence and self-esteem slip a little. When we don’t have answers to our questions then our future becomes a little more in jeopardy. We feel like we are being judged. “What do you mean you don’t know which is more important to you? If you don’t know, who does?”

Everyone has plans.

We plan to retire, go to the islands, learn how to paint, write a book, etc. But the reality is that we don’t really plan. It’s more like having a dream about things. Now according to recent statistics 18% of Americans over 60 years old are very confident in their future and retirement. However, a full 37% have less than $1,000.00 set aside for retirement. Are they planning to retire?

Beginning to see reality?

When you start to really plan, you begin to see reality and it often isn’t as pretty as we had dreamed that it is. Proper planning forces us to see reality and not just our dreams. Proper planning shows us where the real obstacles are in our dreams. We have to face them in order to fix them and that is really hard. I am beginning to feel a little sick myself just thinking about it. Are you with me?

Planning scares me!

I am afraid of the truth. I am afraid to face my own inadequacies, weaknesses, and blind spots. Proper planning makes me feel vulnerable. It forces me to remove the mask and look in the mirror of reality. When that happens I am afraid others will see me, the same way. One of the biggest reasons that businesses guard their strategic plans is because it can show their weaknesses.

I feel ignorant.

Proper planning also reveals my ignorance. There are holes in my road map to the future, gaps within my GPS and the unknowns are risks that I don’t know how to handle. When you can’t answer a question in your planning it becomes a potential threat. What will you do if…? How do you prevent your competition from…? What do your customers think about…? It’s what you don’t know that can hurt you, and that can be a little scary!

Secure your future.

The good news is that when you have identified your weaknesses, the holes in your map, the potential risks, threats, etc., you can now begin to solve them and eliminate them. When your future becomes clearer and the road you are on, more secure, your life will dramatically improve. I know this is a backward way of thinking about it, but if nothing else, planning will prevent things from getting worse. You may not feel better, but the truth will, shall we say, set you in the right direction.

There is an emotional struggle

The sooner that you are willing to admit that there is an emotional struggle to really putting the effort into proper planning, the sooner you will have a plan and be prepared for the potholes and detours of life. Start simple if you have to, even a short “To Do” list is better than nothing. But push on, and move to the more emotionally risky questions and address all the aspects of proper planning. When you are done you will feel better because, one, it is over (at least for today). And second, because you will have the confidence you need and also the energy to move in the right direction. You will sleep better, play harder, and work smarter. Your competition will be less of a threat. Your customers will be more satisfied. And your business will have a much brighter future.

Quick Plan

Here are four simple steps to start (plus one):

  1. Write out your goals.
  2. Be honest in your assessment for where you are now.
  3. Try to understand the obstacles and inventory your resources.
  4. Create a path of tasks, responsibilities and benchmarks.

Plus one: Get some help if you need it!

 A man (or woman) with a plan is far more confident and focused than a man with just a dream.

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Do You Have Enough Diamonds in the Rough?

Will you find yourself at a disadvantage in your industry? Will your competitors be more agile and respond quicker to the changes in the market place giving them a competitive edge?

According to some “experts” as this economy turns around there will be many management and executive baby boomers who will exit the full time job market because their retirement portfolios will have recovered and they can afford to leave. That could cause a management and leadership vacuum in business. While this may seem contrary to the employment numbers that we are used to hearing about, the issue is skilled and experienced managers and executives.

According to David Delong in a HBR blog, only 20% believe that this will not be a problem.  What if the demand is such that your senior managers are hired for executive positions in your competition’s C-suite, or even other companies. If you have good people and I am sure you do, they are valuable to others as well.

Another thought is that it doesn’t really matter what the economy is doing in this regards. General Electric has produced more C-suite executives including presidents and CEO’s than any other company in the country. Why, because they are constantly developing leaders and those leaders are valuable. The alternative is to have a workforce and management team that is so, “not-so” valuable, that no one wants them. When there is upward mobility available within a company, those with the most potential will be interested in getting on board.

This issue works for small businesses as well. If you are even thinking of retiring in the next 15 years from your business, you need someone with the right skills to run it or your legacy and retirement may be in jeopardy. And in the mean-time having quality management enables you to be a business owner of a company instead of a business owner with a job. So what does a company do to reduce this risk of a leadership shortage regardless of how serious it might be?

One solution to this problem is giving current managers whatever they are looking for in a future career path. If it is more responsibility or money, you can try to accommodate them. But there is only one person in each seat in the C-suite and sometimes they are not willing to wait for someone else to retire.

Even if you have to create a culture that enables entry level executives or senior management to move on, there is value for your business in doing so. With proper planning you can minimize your competition from getting your well groomed talent and you get a reputation for a place that provides opportunities for valuable management candidates (within and outside your company).

The second solution revolves around a common issue in business. Develop the leadership and management skills in your employees so that there is always a source of high quality prospective management talent. A lot of companies resist this type of investment because they are afraid that the employee will leave. There are many aspects to this idea of investing in your employees for management. Hiring right to begin with is important. Make sure you look at knowledge and experience that you get, in exchange for training the skill set.

One example of how to accomplish this is to develop an excellent mentoring program. While the prospective management employee is being groomed through mentoring, have them mentoring others to move up into supervisor type positions. A good mentoring program benefits the whole organization, not just the management team.

If for some reason you are not where you want to be and wish your company had more opportunities, there are still things you can do to boost your potential. Take it upon yourself to learn about management skill sets and practice them wherever you are. You might not have the organizational formal authority, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop an informal leadership influence within the company.

Start thinking about how you can reduce the risk of having a shortage of quality management talent within your company. We have all seen what the lack of good management and leadership skills can do to a company and other organizations. Start looking for and polish those diamonds in the rough.

Fourth Quarter — Are you going to make it?

How close are you to reaching your year-end goals? Are you 75% of the way there?

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Whether you are trying to hit a sales target, or revenue target how are you doing? Maybe you are trying to lose weight or reduce personal expenses. Do you know where you stand?

Making assumptions

This line of questioning assumes quite a few things that are generally not true in our world today.

First, there is the assumption that you really do have a specific goal that you are trying to attain. It is amazing to me how many people do not set real goals. Goals in your head are mushy and iffy at best. It is like the guy who told his wife he was going to 25 pound in January and then in December claims that he said it was 5 pounds. We wouldn’t dare write it down; because we know our wives will find it and show it to us in December.

Second, there is the assumption that you know where you are right now in relationship to that goal. One of the first things to go in the demise of our goals is keeping track of where we are. Instead, we go with the gut. Yeah, I’m doing all right! I haven’t balanced my bank accounts or my accounting software lately but I have some money in the bank and some people owe me money so I am doing… okay! I haven’t stepped on the scale but I haven’t changed dress sizes so I must be doing okay. But do you know where you are compared to your goal?

Third, there is the assumption that having set the goal, knowing where you are, that you put together some type of plan and are following that plan to achieve the goal. Many people have the plan of “just work harder”, “put in some extra time”, “just keep going it has to turn around sometime”! Hope is not a strategy and winging it is not a plan. You need a real plan!!

Finally, there is the assumption that if you are not going to reach your goal at the current projections, that you know how to change your action plan to still reach the goal. But of course if you knew how to produce more than you are currently doing, you would already be doing it right? We sometimes forget that the plan that was designed nine months ago may not be sufficient and with new data and opportunities that arise in those months you might be able to increase productivity.

So now what?

What do we do here at the start of the fourth quarter? There are several things that you have to do if you are going to turn around a plan that is falling short.

First, make the first three assumptions real. Clarify and rewrite your goals. Figure out exactly where you are today. Do the work to balance the books, step on the scale, etc. Review your plan to see if you are following it or not. An honest look at the plan and the reality of your life may be just enough to show you that you can still make it.

Second, take a hard look at what are the obstacles that you are facing to reach your goal. This is very important and most people skip by this one and it can cost them. Take the time to clearly outline all of the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your goal. The better that you are able to describe your obstacles, the more likely you will be able to overcome them. Don’t say, I don’t have enough time. Be specific, what else is demanding your time and preventing you from achieving your goal?

Now, here is the hardest part. Finally, you must change what you have been doing, if what you have been doing is not getting it done. The hard part here is the mental game. The argument is “if it were possible I would have thought of it already”. Or, “I can’t work any harder.” But if anyone is able to produce more with less time and effort, then you can. All it takes is learning how to shift gears and then stepping on it.

Look at your greatest achievements for the last 9 months or longer. What was it about that sale, new customer, loss of weight, or whatever that gave you a higher return on your investment of energy, time and money than other activities? Can those mini-successes be duplicated again? Are there small changes that you can make that would make them happen again? What are your greatest strengths profit-wise? What activities produce the most profit? How can you concentrate on those and maximize your time and energy?

Now is not the time to give up!

Now is the time to focus and renew your commitment to your renewed and clarified goals by working smarter, figure out where you are, list your obstacles, decide what you are going to do to overcome them and then track how you are progressing. If you have set worthwhile goals than it will be worth you investing some time to make sure that you reach them. Of course, it starts with setting a real worthwhile goal.

Stan Broesder, is a Management Consultant and Business Coach who lives in Lincolnton, NC. He has worked with small businesses for over 20 years. He has a Masters in Business Administration degree and specializes in helping business owners to improve their productivity, profitability and control of their business and life. His clients enjoy less stress, greater sense of purpose, an increase in productivity and greater profitability. You can find out more about Stan on his website:  www.MYCrossroadsConsultants.com,  call him at 980-241-0189, or email him at:  Stan@MYCrossroadsConsultants.com

Who Needs a Business Coach?

Not everyone needs a business coach to be an effective and efficient business person. There are five questions that if you can answer yes to all of them with complete honesty and accuracy, then you probably don’t need a coach.

1.      Do you know where you are?

“Wow! That is easy, sure I do!” Okay, but what about your business? Do you know if you are profitable or not? Having money in your bank is not the same thing? Do you know what your cash flow needs are? Do you have a cash flow statement? Do you know your competitive advantage is? Do you have a value proposition? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

Most business owners think they know where there business is but when specific questions are presented, reality has a way of showing itself. Knowing which products and customers are not profitable is critical to your success? Many guess wrong when it comes to strengths and competitive advantages, as well as least profitable products and customers.

2.      Do you know where you want to go?

Many business owners are just on cruise control. Hopefully, we can just keep humming along. The old joke, “I don’t know where we are going, but we are making good time” comes to mind. What position are you trying to put yourself and your business in? Is it really that important? Ask your spouse if it is important what your position is when you unexpectedly exit from the business. What is your exit strategy?  Everyone exits their business. Do you have real goals that are written down and solid? Do others know what you are trying to accomplish or is it “same stuff, different day” attitude? Where are you going?

3.      Do you know how are you going to get there?

In New Orleans, once you get on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway going north to Mandeville, you don’t really need to be watching for signs or worry about missing your turn. You have a 23 mile straight shot across the lake. Now if life were as simple as “no options” then this wouldn’t be an issue. But when Hurricane Katrina went through and no one could cross using that bridge it became a different story. Now you needed a map, and a lot of turns to get to your destination.

So, if you know where you are and where you want to go, do you know the way to get there? Usually what you did today won’t get you to where you want to be tomorrow. Unless you want the same result, which is stagnation, you are going to have to change something. Growth can be tricky because there are a lot of things that are changing all at the same time. Understanding the cause and effect of those changes will help to determine how you adapt and change to the situation. Are you really in control of the changes taking place in your business?

4.      Are you sure there won’t be any changes or detours to reaching your goal?

It is more than knowing how to get there; it is a matter of knowing how to navigate your business when the path is disrupted and plan “A” and plan “B” are no longer options. Knowing how to create opportunities and plans in the storms of change is critical. Some people are very good at it, most business owners are not. Usually they are too close to the situation to have a full and accurate perspective.

5.      Does your business allow you to be flexible, see opportunities and enjoy life?

Do you own your business, or does it own you? Many business owners have invested their lives to build a business but don’t seem to enjoy life. Some call it life-work balance. Others just call it learning to love life. It isn’t a question of working 40 hours, or making sure you stop and smell the roses. It is a question of knowing how to see the opportunities of life and business along the way and being able to take advantage of them. It is the idea that you sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees. You are so busy working in your business you never take the time to work on your business or your life.

Remember the saying, “No one lies on their death bed wishing they had spent more time at the office.” This is not about saying no, or not answering your cell phone while at the beach. It is about seeing and learning how to take advantage of the opportunities of life and business. If you can’t confidently say you know where your business is right now, where you really are going, know that you have an action plan that is working, able to handle unexpected change and allows you the freedom to grow, then maybe you do need a business coach. Otherwise maybe not!

Stan Broesder, is a Business Coach and Management Consultant and is living in Lincolnton, NC. He has worked with small businesses for almost 20 years. He has a Master is Business Administration degree and specializes in helping business owners to develop skills, systems and strategies to improve their business management productivity and control. His clients enjoy an increase in productivity and greater profitability. You can find out more about Stan on his website:  www.MYCrossroadsConsultants.com  or email him at:  Stan@MYCrossroadsConsultants.com

How Can I think About My Future When I Am So Busy Now?

Right now I am so busy that I don’t have time to really think about my future. I work long hard hours now and I don’t see how I can do anything different.

Maybe you are finding yourself with this attitude about your business or career. There are so many things to do now, how do you add more to it? Brian Tracey once said, “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”
Here are five things that can change your future.

1. Decide. What it is that you want? Call it a purpose, objective or goal, but write down what you really want to accomplish either in your business or life.
2. Take Stock. Figure out where you are right now. Describe your life and business. This includes your resources, the environment that you are in, the friends and contacts that you have. Everything that has value or might have value is important to recognize.
3. Anticipate. What are the obstacles that are currently standing in your way for reaching your purpose or goals? What is very likely to stand in your way in the future? Keep the future obstacles in mind as well so that you can prepare for them and not allow them to sabotage your plans.
4. Plan. Put together a plan that is flexible and yet realistic in being able to achieve the goals or purpose that you have set out to accomplish. Most people stumble right here. They think that a list of goals is a plan. But there is more to it than that. You must include time frames, costs (financial, energy, skills, etc.) support from others, etc. if you are going to put a realistic plan together.
5. Execute. Flight plans and road trip plans don’t do any good if you don’t get the car started or go to the airport. You must ACT if you are going to reach your goals. If you procrastinate in any area, understand that it is an obstacle that you must find a way to overcome or you will be stuck right where you are. Action focused on the plan is the key. Change plans carefully and if necessary. But keep moving forward.

You can achieve so much more than you ever thought possible when you put a plan together and develop the skills and systems to effectively utilize the resources that you have and will have in the future.

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.