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Romancing your prospects:

Do you turn off the charm?

I visited a great little winery in Texas hill country a while back. The owner was charming, fun, had great products and spent lots of charmingtime discussing wines with me.

When crunch time came, unable to ship wine to Canada and realizing there would be no sale, he lost interest and moved on.

Have you ever done that?

Part of the motivation to invest time in networking or building relationships is the hope that it will result in a sale or a new client. Even though time is money, sometimes just putting yourself out there with no expectations, can lead to an unexpected partnership or referral down the road. That person will remember the genuine connection they had with you and may reach out about working together or refer you to their contacts as someone worth speaking with.

It’s true. Someone I met at an event years ago, recalled chatting with me and got in touch. We’re still working together and it’s been a wonderful partnership.

So turn on the charm …. That positive, memorable experience you’re creating may pay off one day!

5 Minute Magic

Everyone claims there is no (or not enough) time in the day for everything that needs to be done. But what if the task only took 5 minutes?

Here’s some quick things can be done in 5 minutes:

  • Review your calendar to make sure your list of commitments is realistic and prioritized
  • Unsubscribe to any emails sitting in your inbox that you never plan on reading
  • Make a phone call you’ve been putting off
  • Add some new contacts to your cell phone
  • Delete or file folders on your laptop desktop – looks so much better
  • Find some tasks on your to-do list that can be delegated

Feels good, huh?

Schedule some 5 minute jobs into your day and see how the productivity adds up.

When you have so much on your plate that you need another plate, DELEGATE!

Be in business for yourself, but not by yourself!

Just because you’re an entrepreneur it doesn’t mean you’re in it alone. In fact, you could be setting yourself  up for a great big, failure. overloadThink about it:

  • You’re the roadblock. You’re holding things up because you’ve timed out  and can’t get everything done.
  • It takes you forever to do something yourself because you really don’t know how to do it. You’re a hack.
  • You think you’re “saving” money by doing it yourself but the results are often too late or not the professional quality you really need. (See points 1 and 2!).

Listen. It’s okay if you don’t know how to do every task or have every skill set your business needs. It’s okay to let go of work so you can concentrate on the things that only you can do. It’s okay …. Really.

Once some of your chores have been pried away you will feel liberated and your business can really soar. You’ll wonder how you ever coped.

So what work are you ready to stop doing?

 

Give Your Business a Risk Check

Hope for the best but plan for the worst we always say. Everyone always wants their next book/web/product launch to go seamlessly (unless you’re a crisis junkie). But in spite of how meticulously you manage the project, issues tend to riskyoccur along the way.

With a bit of planning, you can avoid (maybe even prevent!) some common disasters. Here’s how:

  • Know the danger zones. What are the common but hidden problems typically associated with the work or project you are trying to execute? Knowing this in advance helps you put tactics in place to minimize the impact.
  • Have a safety net. Sometimes we call this our ‘plan B’. Make sure you are covered should issues occur. For example, allow adequate time in your schedule in case tasks go overtime, that way your deadlines can still be met.
  • Emergencies – they happen. Have a back-up plan (resources, funding, tools) in case the unexpected happens. Knowing what you would do in the case of an emergency during your project will help you recover and keep things from going over a cliff until the crisis is under control.

Risk planning and management should be a regular part of your project approach. Saves a lot of fan cleaning down the road.

What are you using to manage your projects? We’re loving TeamworkPM – try it free for 30 days and see for yourself! http://www.teamwork.com/refer/virtualpminabox

“The sweet, sweet sound of organization”.

Love that line from ‘Nurse Jackie’ …

Organization is something most of us crave after the happy chaos of the holidays when we startno clutter settling back into a routine. We all typically like to start off the year uncluttered and ready to roll.

I’m pretty organized by nature (a good thing since I’m a project manager), but clutter CAN creep into my life and my office over time (why does everything seem to end up on my desk for ‘sorting’?).

My preferred way to get organized and stay on top of everything is to use an online collaborative tool like TeamworkPM (try it for free here: http://www.teamworkpm.net/refer/virtualpminabox ). With a system like this, I can set tasks, send reminders, email people, store files, track my time, manage my calendar, interface with DropBox or Freshbooks … all at my fingertips. Very efficient.

If you still like manage old school, a big calendar with your schedule and commitments is a good way to keep an eye on the big picture as well as focus on how days flying are by. If you’re not using an online tool, daily planners and agendas can help you timebox activities and break your day into tasks to be completed. Having a big old clock nearby keeps you painfully aware of hours ticking away, and you can also use timers to keep track of time spent on tasks or to set time limits.

Even though most of us operate our business online, I’m willing to bet there is still some paper accumulating on your desk! If you can’t live without it, then organize it into coloured file folders or expanding files so it is neat and centralized when you need. Create a paper ‘flow’ on your desk: ‘to do’ on the left, in progress – front and centre, completed to right (or in one of those nice coloured folders).

Remember – one size does not fit all!

  • Front and left-brain thinkers tend to prefer a work space that is organized logically with minimal stuff on their desk – just a few key items (laptop, clock, file folder, calendar … they are already pretty organized people!).
  • Front and right-brain thinkers like a more unstructured environment with a big table, creatively repurposed furniture/supplies and lots of stickies for reminders (don’t forget a big clock to reinforce time management).
  • Rear and right-brain thinkers work best in comfy, colourful rooms full of personal mementos. Since they like to be around people, having portable supplies (and laptop) make it easy for them to migrate from room to room.
  • Rear and left-brain thinkers love details and tend to keep everything labelled and orderly. They like solitude and prefer not to be interrupted when they are in their ‘space’.

Regardless of your style and preference, here’s to being prepped and organized when you get back to work in 2014!

Seriously … try TeamworkPM for free … it will change your life! http://www.teamworkpm.net/refer/virtualpminabox

“Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow…”

Am I dating myself if I mention this song by Fleetwood Mac from the 70’s?  I was out for a power walk the other morning and played tomorrowthis song. It made me realize how applicable it was to not only this time of year but all year long. We’re starting a new year in our business and we need to think beyond how we’ve always done things in the past and ‘think about tomorrow’ and how we can do things better, faster and more efficiently.

Smart business owners know that continuously improving the way we do things is the key to ongoing success. Here’s a list of things you could take a look at assessing for ways to improve:

  • Do you need to overhaul your business process systems that are already in place
  • Do you have up to date procedures and SOP’s your team can use that give your clients the exceptional results they demand
  •  Have you updated your business and marketing plan for 2014 and added some more effective targets to get you to where you want to be; whether it be higher end clients, or more prosperous financial returns
  • Do you even have a 2014 business plan & marketing plan?
  • Have you implemented the lessons you learned from your 2013 program? Implementing the changes ongoing as you move through 2014 will ensure you are continually improving.

another daySo remember, ‘don’t stop thinking about tomorrow’… it can be a major key to your business success this year!

5 Common Process No-No’s to Avoid in Your Business

Everyone gets that you need systems and processes within your business so it can run more effectively and to allow you to delegate banana 2tasks. But did you know that having the wrong or incomplete processes can be just as bad as having nothing in place?

Here are 5 no-no’s that many business owners make, so you can avoid them.

No-No #1: No overall model, only procedures
It’s common for people to focus only on the details of how to perform specific tasks. Unfortunately, if you don’t have an overall model or end-to-end process, the details will be disconnected from the flow of work. This can make it difficult for team members to understand hand-offs or troubleshoot issues or gaps. Every business process should be part of a bigger business model or work flow.

No-No #2: Processes  that are totally technology dependent
Technology drives much of our ability to do business these days. If your processes are completely reliant on technology to work, then you could be skating on thin ice. It’s important to understand how the technology does the work (inputs, outputs, interfaces) and to document this process. In addition, it’s very helpful to have a log of any special instructions about the application in case a new person has to use the technology. Included in this job aid should be a ‘back up plan’ or manual process steps in case the software ever fails or if you decide to migrate to a new system. This way, team members will know how the process actually works rather than just clicking the right buttons.

No-No #3: Not enough detail to go on
Business process documentation should be detailed enough that a person new to the role can execute the process with a little guidance.
When people who are very competent or familiar with a task write process documentation, they frequently overlook steps, make assumptions or take for granted things they ‘just know’. Instead, documentation should be written in a very clear step by step approach with a newcomer in mind, not for someone who’s more experienced.

No-No #4: Documenting untested processes
Not everything in your business should be documented … yet. In fact, you should only document a process once it’s been proven and refined to its most efficient form. If you spend time documenting processes that haven’t been proven to work yet, you’ll spend a lot of time documenting things that may never be used.

No-No #5:  Forgetting about relationships
Finally, remember that most processes require people. Since work flow processes typically involve more than one person, it’s important to build or consider these relationships, interfaces and hand-offs into your processes.
If a process isn’t performing as expected, troubleshooting may reveal a gap between team members or groups, or an unexpected difficulty for a team member when they use the process. The human element in processes is a crucial – make sure you’re not neglecting it.

Put this little set of No-No’s to avoid in your management toolbox – they just might come in handy some day!

Happy Happy Happy

Is purpose-driven happiness a side effect of your business?

I was reading an article recently about the effect of happiness on health and well-being. There was lots of scientific stuff about happymeasuring the impact of two types of happiness: the in-the-moment happiness you get from experiences or consuming things (movies! chocolate! popcorn!) and meaningful happiness which is the ‘feel good’ effect that comes from having a higher purpose, being connected to a community or being of service to others. (Hint: the study revealed healthier, more robust immune systems/less risk of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s in people whose happiness was not derived primarily from the first type).

Made me think of this in business.

Quick wins, short term goals will boost confidence, show results and momentum. They are important rewards and lifts along the way that keep us moving forward. But our more meaningful job satisfaction is knowing we are changing the world, making a difference or providing a long-lasting benefit to our clients or community.

If you’re not getting this kind of well-being or buzz from your business, are you doing what you were meant to do? Are you mired in tasks (drudgery) that is keeping you from living your passion?

Are you happy or are you happy?

Workmares …

3 strategies to ease stress and help you sleep at night!

We get it. You’re worried and panicked. “My product’s not ready for launch”, “I’m falling behind in my commitments”, “Will I havenight or make enough money?” You’re on edge, there are too many options or ideas to pursue, so many decisions to make … all classic symptoms of entrepreneurial anxiety. How can you ever get it under control?

Don’t get in over your head. Most people want the full-meal-deal when it comes to launching a business venture, but it’s okay to scale or phase your requirements based on your capacity to get the work done or your affordability. Not everything has to be done or ‘out there’ at once.

Choose your business partners carefully. Most of us have learned the hard way that we can’t do it all ourselves. When you need to work with someone, be sure the services or skills they are offering or the results they are promising have a clear line of sight to your business objectives.

Have a timeline. Take the time to plan out all the steps or activities that need to occur in your business and when they need to happen. This is a great way to understand how much work is involved, when it needs to be down, where you need to subcontract so you can minimize some of the surprises along the way. Try using an online system like TeamworkPM to keep track of everything.

Try these tips so when your head hits the pillow at night – it stays there.

Do What You Do Best and Outsource the Rest

Delegation and partnerships is how you manage a 6 figure business

For most of us, our main goal when starting our biz was to spend more time doing what we do best (and love to do most).

More and more entrepreneurs & solopreneurs are recognizing the need to spend more time perfecting their area of expertise and We-Go-Togetherpartnering with reputable managers that can take care of their administrative and business processes.

We know it’s scary to surrender some control; it requires a leap of faith sometimes and an attitude shift.  You may feel uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t make the move you’ll be stuck at the same level year after year and your business won’t grow the way you dreamed it would. Take a close look inward at what’s holding you back.

Here’s a list of the most common concerns we hear from business owners about ‘letting go’:

  •  My reputation is everything. I worry about my customers and clients if I decide to outsource some work to someone else. What if they make a mistake that harms my reputation.
  •  Protecting my intellectual property and that of my clients. How do I keep my client’s information protected?

But here’s another way to look at it:

  • You will have the ability to be laser-focused in your specialty: enhancing your credibility….and becoming more attractive to people that are looking for what you can offer them.
  •  Better efficiency in all your resources: people, time, money and energy because you and your team can focus on the primary purpose of your business and your unique talent – the things only you can do, while your management partner takes care of the rest. It’s a win-win for everyone.

So if you’re ready to take that leap of faith, here’s how to get started:

  •  Make a list of what diverts you from the main focus of your business. What’s draining you? Is it administrative tasks, technical support, lack of access to good, reliable resources, IT or something else?
  •  Start small and grow from there. Outsource a few tasks to see how it goes. Keep in mind that someone still needs to manage this process for you. The process may take some time and experimentation to perfect. Initially, it may seem that it’s taking more time than you’re saving. Learn from these early efforts and use them to craft systems suited your business growth and goals.
  •  Understand what your needs are and communicate them clearly to the outside specialist. Double-check that you understand each other, don’t make any assumptions, and put everything in writing so you can refer back to it.

Well, are you ready to do what you do best and outsource the rest? The move to outsourcing takes an attitude shift, some preparation and a learning curve, but at the end of it all you will emerge with a stronger focus on the primary purpose of your business. And it might just be the answer to taking your business to the next level and becoming a 6 figure business.

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Manage Your 6 Figure Business is a boutique management firm with a focus on client growth (not ours). We keep things small and exclusive so there’s plenty of time and attention on our clients’ business needs. Want to know more about us? Read on

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