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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Don’t Blame the Sales Team for Poor Marketing

There is a big difference between marketing and sales. If you confuse these two areas in your business you can be creating problems that you don’t want and might not even know you have.

Marketing involves everything that brings attention to your business, public relations, advertising, promotions, pricing, store layout, and location, etc., up to the point of personal contact.  The sales area is personal. Anytime a prospect or customer has a personal interaction with another person in your business, they have stepped into the sales department. In a broad sense, your installers, technicians, receptionist and customer service personnel all work in the sales department.

I know that Amazon doesn’t have salespeople per se and they still make sales, I get it. But they don’t have a very big sales department. Most of their sales come through their marketing. So an email from the company is marketing. If a personal email comes from a person in the company then we have crossed over into sales, because now you are starting to develop a personal relationship with the prospect and a person in the company.

When the marketing department and the sales department do not work together like a hand and glove you will be inefficient, less effective and it will cost you money. The key is to work together as a team. Sales need to utilize marketing to their advantage and marketing needs to communicate with the sales team what they are trying to do. Any conflict needs to be resolved so that everyone can benefit.

Make sure both departments are accountable for their own goals as well as working together. Be very careful when one department starts to point fingers at the other. Marketing and branding help to build the impression of a company, but the sales team helps to build the relationships and personal customer relationships.

If you want to know more about how to build a sales and marketing team while setting the accountability standards, I would love to have that conversation. Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

Do You Want More Customers? — Who are they and where do you find them?

As they say, if you want to catch fish, you need to go where the fish are. If you want more customers you have to go where they are as well. The first question is, what does your customer look like? How would you identify your ideal client? This will prevent you from wasting your time talking to the wrong prospect.

Your ideal client is the person that, if you were able to sit down with them and make your presentation, they would buy from you 100% of the time. Now that is ideal, and yes we agree, that it is very unlikely to identify that perfect prospect, but the closer you can come to it the better.

Identifying your ideal client will allow you to target your marketing and minimize your qualification process. While someone with a 50% match may also buy they are much less likely to purchase than the prospect who is a 90% match.

Once you have identified your ideal client, then you start to think about those who fit the profile with similar characteristics. This will help to reveal the best places to locate those prospects and the best methods to reach them.

What are their commonalities? Is it geographic or their hobbies and interests? Maybe they read similar books and magazines or they are at a particular stage in life. Once you can identify these similar characteristics it will give you some ideas on how to market to them with the best return on your investment.

Many business owners make the mistake of saying, “well we have always done well by doing this or that.” The problem is that market is always changing and marketing techniques are also changing. So you may be missing out on a potential customer group or your target group has changed how they want to be marketed to. I recommend you go through this exercise at least every two years and once a year would be better.

This exercise will enable you to improve your lead generation, improve the quality of your leads, improve your conversion rate and make you more money. It can be challenging once you decide to seriously give it a try and that is why most people don’t do it. This means if you do the exercise and your competitors don’t, you will have another advantage over them. If you have questions or would like some help in working through the process, let me know.

Stan Broesder, MBA, the “General Contractor” for Marketing and Business Development with My Marketing Crossroads. You can reach me at Stan@MyMarketingCrossroads.com

Which way to go? Too many choices!

On Friday morning you see a pile of tasks on your schedule that kept falling over from each day during the week. Two items on Monday dropped into an already full Tuesday, which then dropped 5 items onto Wednesday. Now on Friday it is way more than you can do and you hope you can push it out over next week and so you dump it on to Monday.

Too many opportunities
In business today there are so many opportunities and choices and things to do. All of them are urgent and important, at least it seems that way. So how do you handle phone calls, complaints, emergencies, emails, proposals, bills, critical undelivered materials that you need to get your project completed, and on, and on, and on?

The Big Rocks Story
There is a great story that is often told in seminars that deal with planning and time management, but most people miss the point. It is generally called “The Big Rocks” you can read the story <here:> or go to: http://www.successfulacademic.com/ezines/apr252005.htm

There will always be more to do than you can possibly get done, more opportunities, no matter if you see them all or not. The key is developing your skill of prioritizing. It is a matter of being able to look at all of the tasks, opportunities and urgencies and determining which are the most important to do at this time. Okay, I would agree it is a little more difficult than that. But if you look at a few key principles of setting priorities you will at least improve your skills and start making great strides in the right direction.

Not values again!
Deciding what is most important is where you start the process. And in order to do that you have to decide what your values are. “You have got to be kidding, really?!” It is like the old joke when a robber meets a couple out for a walk. The robber jumps out from the bushes and says “your money or your life!” So the man grabs his wife and shoves her toward the robber who is stunned and says, “What are you doing?” Too which the man replies, “I thought you said my money or my wife”. Yes values are important. You wake up in the middle of the night because you thought you heard something. When you get halfway through the house you realize there is a fire at the far end of the house, what do you do? 1. Grab your most recent Sports Illustrated, 2. Rescue the fish 3. Get the marshmallows or 4. Oh, yeah, wake up your family.

Life isn’t that easy, but it helps to understand ahead of time what your values are and even which are more important than others. Loyalty is a very important value, but is it more important than integrity? You get two big project opportunities, but you cannot handle both. You must decide which has priority, money or an opportunity to expand into a great developing area of your industry. Again the choices won’t be that easy. In fact, the problem is that the choices are subtle, and NOW. The choices that are the most difficult are the ones that demand your decision right now and the consequences are sometimes obscured.

Watch your emotions
Too many times our emotions play a role in our prioritizing skills. When we don’t have our values down clearly it is an opportunity for our emotions to create conflict and frustration. Having a clear understanding about our goals and our values is critical to being able to prioritize our lives.

Learn to see end results
In developing our ability to prioritize our opportunities and tasks we need to develop our ability to see the value of the outcomes of our efforts. To be able to think through the effects of our work and the value of those results is critical and is missed by a lot of people. We’ve all known someone who could buy things at garage sales or from the classified ads and could turn them around and make money on them. They would see a motorcycle or boat along the road with a for sale sign on it and the next thing you know they bought it and then sold it within a week for a nice profit. How do they do that? It isn’t luck. They know the value of certain items and they know a deal when they see it. What happens is some of us try that and lose our shirt and scratch our heads. You have to know the value of the outcome.

Clearly understanding your goals and your values and understanding the consequences of our choices, while keeping your emotions in check, are important to being able to prioritize your life. Creating the discipline to follow through on what you know is best, and to do the most important thing now is the key to success.

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

Holding Others Accountable

Holding other people accountable whether they are employees, volunteers or vendors can sometimes be very difficult. With just a little planning, you can reduce problems and achieve your objectives with a lot less stress.

  1. Communicate specifically and clearly.

Make sure that you have communicated to the other party exactly your expectations. The vagueness of our instructions can lead to only partial work getting done or lower quality. Make sure that you are communicating exactly what you want to have happen and when we want it to happen. Where there are areas that are ambiguous make sure they are discussed and resolved. If the “how” is or isn’t critical make sure they know that.

  1. Confirm the understanding of the area of responsibility.

Ask for feedback from the person who you want to hold accountable for the outcome. Make sure they understand what the end result should look like, including the quality. If there is a certain process or way that you want it done that they understand that as well. Asking for and getting feedback emphasizes the importance of the responsibility and encourages a satisfactory outcome. This confirmation can also become an agreement. Ask them if they can fulfill your request. If the other party doesn’t feel that they can provide the outcome you desire, you need to know that ahead of time so that you can make necessary adjustments.

  1. Consistently follow up.

In order to initiate and improve accountability of those you work with, you have to be consistent in follow up. It provides a way to make sure that the area of responsibility is completed. Others learn quickly that you will do the follow up and provides some additional motivation. If there is a problem, this is the time to address it and to find out what went wrong. Was the area of dissatisfaction due to a communication shortfall or was it something else?

These three points won’t guarantee that the individuals that you are working with are truly responsible in their work, but it will help to minimize the issues and hopefully catch problems before the deadline arrives. If you want someone else to be responsible, plan on holding them accountable.

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.