Four Steps to Save Time When There is No Time

My client told me, “I would really like to sit down with you and discuss performance, but I just don’t have any time right now!” I replied, “But Bill, the primary reason that we need to talk is to help you save some time and free up some time so that you can get back to managing your business instead of your business managing you!”

When there is no time to save time, you’re in trouble. You will make poor decisions, run your health into the ground, irritate employees, upset customers, and frustrated friends and family.  You can put your business and future in serious jeopardy and not even realize the dangers of your actions.

Step One. Acknowledge that you are too busy.

Burning the candle at both ends, and in the long-run, it cannot be healthy or wise. Busy doesn’t always mean that you are productive and productive doesn’t mean that you are being efficient or effective. Are you doing the most important things that you should be doing?

Step two. Find the root cause of your time crunch.

As long as you just tweak the symptoms of this problem it will never be resolved. In fact, my experience tells me that is exactly what you have been doing up to this point or you wouldn’t be “too busy.”

Step Three. Create a new plan of action or inaction.

You need to create a plan that also determines which tasks you shouldn’t be doing. Regardless, you need a different plan than the one you are using.

Step Four. Get the help and support that you need.

If you could solve this by yourself, you would have done it by now. As a business owner, you need a business specialist to help you create and execute better plans and to manage yourself and your business more effectively and efficiently.

Stan Broesder is a Small Business Managment Specialist with Crossroads Consultants. If you want to see change take place in your life or business, especially performance management contact Stan. He can be reached Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com or 980-241-0189 and leave a message.

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Five Reasons Why We Need To Set Goals

You hear about setting goals all of the time. Yet according to one study, only about 6% of Americans actually have a written goals program that they use.

“I know I’m supposed to write out my goals, but who has time? Besides, it doesn’t really help me anyway!”  Sound familiar? Well here are five very important and logical reasons why you should set goals and use them in your everyday life and business.

  1. Clarity

Most people say they have goals, but the reality all they have are ideas and wishes. The “Someday I’ll” claim is just a dream like that island vacation that you’ve talked about for years, but never make a goal.

Often we talk about doing something but it is in such vague terms that your brain doesn’t really know how to process it. To say you want to lose weight or be a better husband is so general that it cannot translate into actions that can become habits. To say I’m cutting out soda or I’m going to bring my wife some flowers is at least clearer than “less sugar” or be “better.”

  1. Emotions

Too often our emotions get in the way of what we really want to accomplish. Anything from fear, anxiety or even love and passion can steer us away from achieving our goals at a moment’s notice. Using a goals program or even just a goals list for the day will help keep you on track.

Think about grocery shopping. A young couple on a very tight budget will do well to write down only what they need until they get paid again. But when chocolate is tempting they can blow the budget (financial goal). A shopping list and budget will help them to reach their goals.

  1. Distractions

We allow so many distractions to come into our lives that we can lose focus on the important things. The terms “squirrel” or “rabbit trail” picture the idea of something that takes away from our current thinking.

Unfortunately, distractions can happen and we don’t even realize it. We often set ourselves up for distractions. We have cluttered desks, email notifications… “oh look it’s a puppy on Facebook, how cute, I have to send this to…” I’m sorry I got distracted.

When we develop a habit of looking at our goals we are reminded of what we are supposed to be doing and how important it is in the scheme of our lives. Some people use different systems to help keep the squirrels away and stay more focused. But it starts with having a clear goal.

  1. Manipulation by others

This is a hard one for many people. When you have set clear goals you are better at making decisions that relate to or affect other people. When you have a very important and tight deadline, like a report due to your boss in 15 minutes and you really need 30, you won’t allow the guy from down the hall to stop in and ask you if you saw the game last night.

When your goals are communicated to everyone on your team that needs to know, it helps to reduce the manipulation of others who waste your time. Again, systems can help to handle specific manipulations by others.

  1. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot!” – Memory

Without a grocery list, you have a really good chance of bringing home things you really probably shouldn’t (remember the “no soda” goal?). And then there is the irritation when you realize you FORGOT something you needed for dinner tonight, oops!

Our brains are great for processing data and thinking but it isn’t as good at storing data and information. So give your brain a hand and write out your goals so that it doesn’t have to remember the groceries or that you have a meeting, when, where, what it is about, and who should attend.

There is ONE more reason:

You set a good example for your team. Think about it, if everyone you knew really took goal setting seriously, and used it appropriately, meetings would start on time; everyone would be there on time and ready to go.

By setting goals your performance will improve and you will help others to improve their performance or at least you won’t be hindering it. So set a goal to set and use goals. Find someone who can help to keep you accountable for setting and using your goals.

If you would like more information on personal and professional management and performance contact Stan at Crossroads Consultants. Goals are just the beginning.

Stan Broesder with Crossroads Consultants is a Business Consultant-coach specializing in improving professional and business performance. Contact Stan @ 980-241-0189. Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com OR http://www.Facebook.com/CrossroadsConsultants

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

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 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.

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!!

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!”