Business Coaching advice to make your marketing work smarter, not harder for your business.

TIME – the Biggest PAIN felt by small business owners

All Owners OF Growing Businesses Have PAIN’s.

3d small people near to an alarm clock. 3d image. Isolated white background.

How we use our time will determine the quality of life / work balance we have.

As I referenced in my last BLOG, for the past 27+ years I have worked for, with or coached business owners / leaders. I recognize that each and every business is different and unique.  But, after we have our initial conversation, it is apparent that they have PAINs that they would like to have eliminated from their lives.

Today, we’re going to talk about TIME.  Each day, we all have the same amount of time… 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in each hour, 24 hours each day, 7 days a week, 365 days each year.  It’s what we do with our time and who benefits from that time that has an impact on our self esteem, our vision for ourselves as business owners, parnters, spouses, parents and any other role we choose to take.
RECOGNIZING THAT ‘TIME’ IS A PAIN
Since this is about the PAIN’s of the small business owner, we will focus on the ‘symptoms’ of the PAIN; how to recognize the cause of the PAIN and how to fix it.  BUT – the causes of this PAIN is as real for the different roles we play in our personal lives as much as they are in our lives as Business Owners.
In identifying the PAIN of TIME, generally, the the amount of time being invested in the business has taken the owner ‘out of balance’.  Some of the key indicators of business owners with this pain are…
  • The business owner / leader is working 60+ hours a week
  • They will say things like…”my customers come to my business because of me and what I do”; or “if I wasn’t here, my customers would go somewhere else”
  • the owner is having family relationship troubles with spouse and / or children.
  • Health issues are surfacing with the owner – lack of sleep, anxiety, head aches, etc.
HOW TO FIX IT?
It has been said, that TIME is our non-renewable resource.  Since (at this point) we can’t control the clock and get more time, the only thing we CAN DO is control how we use our time.  Stephen Covey, and a multitude of others have written on the subject, but Covey’s story of making sure we identify the ‘BIG ROCKS’ in our lives.   With those BIG ROCKS identified, we can choose to ‘invest’ our time in our BIG ROCKS or ‘spend’ our time on other things that are not important.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIG ROCKS?
BIG ROCKS are those things that we value most and are important to us.  These ‘BIG ROCKS’ differ for all of us, but we all have them.  Mine are…my wife, my children, my grand-children, personal time working out, building my business, adding value to my clients, taking time to improve my golf game, travel, etc.
There are NO limits to what the BIG ROCKS that COULD be on your list, but each of us need to know what is important to US.  When we have that list, then we need to find the time to devote to those things.  Anytime we ‘spend’ time doing things that are NOT on that list, we risk putting ourselves OUT OF BALANCE.
Know your ‘BIG ROCKS’ and invest time nurturing and growing them.  You’re life will come into balance.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIME EATERS?
Take the time you need for your big rocks from the things are your ‘time eaters’.  There are thousands of them.  Here are just a few that I’ve eliminated from my life…
  • Watching TV
  • Surfing the internet
  • Spending time with ‘negative people’
  • Gossip
  • Other peoples ‘drama’
  • Saying ‘Yes’ to people when I really don’t want to do something
Most business owners can find time that is wasted, not productive, or forces them to do things that they don’t like to do.
If you have those things eating your time, I suggest that you do one of the following…
  • STOP doing those things
  • CHANGE the way they are done so you can get them done faster
  • DELEGATE to someone that can get it done faster, or less expensive
If you would like learn more about how you can find your BIG ROCKS and find balance in your life, call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

4 Main ‘PAINS’ Experienced By A Business Owner

All Business Owners Have PAIN’s.   Which one’s do you have?

 For the past 27+ years I have worked for, with or coached business owners / leaders. I recognize that each and every business is different and unique.  The clients I have served range from the single real estate agent to the Executives of a 2000 FTE  manufacturing firm.  Often, our efforts surround finding ways to increase efficiency, reduce time investment on projects or provide new and timely information have been the focused solutions.   This is apparent that they have PAINs that they would like to have eliminated from their lives.
We have recently began a partnership with Lead Forensics, a new and innovative technology solution that can provide real time solutions to many of the challenges clients have experienced.  Lead Forensics is the software that reveals the identity of your anonymous website traffic, and turns them into actionable sales leads.   This tool, can in real-time help to address those 4 pains.
Those 4 PAIN’s are… TIME, TEAM, MONEY and EXIT
time tredmillTIME – the amount of time being invested in the business has taken the owner ‘out of balance’.  Some of the key indicators of business owners with this pain are…
  • The business owner / leader is working 60+ hours a week
  • They will say things like…”my customers come to my business because of me and what I do”; or “if I wasn’t here, my customers would go somewhere else”
  • the owner is having family relationship troubles with spouse and / or children.
  • Health issues are surfacing with the owner – lack of sleep, anxiety, head aches, etc.
  • So much time is being spent cold-calling for prospective clients, with so few results.
TEAM – as a business grows, the only way to scale and grow consistently is to add employees.  But, because you are a good (add any product/service provider here), doesn’t make the owner a good ‘leader’.  Some of things we will hear when this is the pain is…
  • No matter who they hire, no one seems willing to follow directions
  • The person interviewed seems to be different that the person hired after a few weeks
  • When the owner’s not there, nothing ever gets done
  • No one has the same work-ethic as the owner does
  • The owner struggles to find sales and marketing people that can open doors and build relationships with our prospects.
9881157_sMONEY – this can be looked at as revenue, gross profit, net profit, cash-flow or finding the money to buy equipment, expand your facility or to fund a growth plan.  The things you will hear from the owners/leaders with this pain sound like…
  • There is never enough money in the checking account at the end of the month
  • Although we’re busier than we’ve ever been, the check book doesn’t show it
  • By the time I pay all the bills and my employees, there is nothing left for me.
  • I have opportunities to grow the business, but need money to invest and cant get it from the bank.
  • Marketing and Advertising in today’s marketplace is constantly changing.  We don’t seem to be getting a ROI on our investment.
EXIT – this pain is most common for business owners that are in their 50’s+.  They are seeing the potential of retirement, but have just realized that their biggest asset is their business.  You will hear them say things like…
  • How much is my business worth?
  • Who would be interested in buying my business? and how will I make that happen?
  • I’d like to retire, but who will run the business if I’m not here?
  • How do I convert the business I’ve built into cash for my retirement?
  • Making sure that we have a proven system for generating qualified leads will increase the value of my company… now I just need to figure out how to do that.
Advanced Business Coaching offers the principals, practices, tools and techniques to our clients to address all these PAINs.  We recognize that each of our clients are unique and special.   We customize the potential solutions to meet their particular situation and  their prioritized goals.
Over the next few weeks, we will look into each of these ‘PAINs’ in depth and share some potential solutions that have worked for our clients that asked us to help them overcome and remove these “PAINs’ from their lives.
If you’d like to learn more about ways you can remove one, or all of these PAIN’s from your business, contact Michael Stelter @ Advanced Business Coaching at 262.293.3166.  or you can email Michael at Michael@ABCBizCoach.com

10 Things That Keep Small Business Owners Up At Night

Small Business Owner FEAR

FEAR leads to frustration for many business owners

The top challenge will surprise you … only if you haven’t bothered to ask what challenges small businesses really face.

If you ask any small business owner “How’s business?” invariably they will respond: “Well, I can always use more customers.” So, if someone asked you what’s the greatest concern of small business owners, you could be forgiven for being wrong if you said they need more sales, because that’s what most people think—especially politicians.

Small business owners are actually pretty good at buying and selling—every company has been built to do those things. But operating a small business in the 21st century has become more complicated than ever before, which is why people who know small business know the best way to find out what’s really going on is to ask the owner what keeps them up at night.

One organization that knows how to ask the right questions is the National Federation of Independent Business. As you may know, the NFIB’s monthly Small Business Optimism Index has been the gold standard for such research for 43 years. They also have a quadrennial report that speaks directly to the question, “What keeps you up at night?” It’s the NFIB’s Small Business Problems and Priorities survey, and you may be shocked to learn that “more sales” came in at No. 45 out of 75 possible concerns in the 2016 report.

The 2,831 small business owners who responded to the survey told the NFIB that their greatest challenge isn’t competition (No. 31), or social media (No. 64), or online retailers (No. 61). What about poor profits? Nope, that’s No. 16. Even the most experienced observers of small business would feel safe in presuming that cash flow would be No. 1, but this primordial Main Street challenge is actually No. 25 on the list of top concerns.

If you listen to politicians, you’d think needing a loan is what makes small business owners wake up at 2 a.m. Surely you know better than to listen to politicians when it comes to small business, because needing a loan is almost last, at No. 70. That monthly NFIB index has reported that since 2007, established small businesses have been adhering to what I call “The Great Deleveraging.” They don’t want no stinkin’ loans.

So what is the No. 1 greatest small business challenge? Drum roll, please: The cost of healthcare.

No. 2 is oppressive government regulations. No. 3 is federal income tax on businesses. No. 4 is uncertain economic conditions. No. 5 is tax compliance complexity. And numbers six through nine are also all government related. This next point is very instructive: The first operating challenge to rank on the list is No. 10—finding qualified employees.

Let’s review: Nine of the top 10 greatest small business challenges are directly associated with government.

Some might say healthcare costs are not the government’s fault, but that would be Rip Van Duffus who just woke up from a seven-year nap and never heard of Obamacare. To be fair, let me hasten to add the cost of healthcare was a small business challenge prior to Obamacare. And this law did “bend the price curve,” as promised. Unfortunately, for the small business sector, Obamacare bent the cost curve up, not down.

Thanks to the NFIB Survey, President Trump and the 115th Congress can’t say they don’t know where to start helping small business owners. Indeed, they’re neck deep in the Obamacare “repeal and replace” debate right now. But here’s some breaking news: We polled our online audience about that issue and 94% said “Yes” to repeal and replace, but half said, “Take the time to do it right this time.”

There’s no doubt that 26 million American small business owners—with healthcare costs on their minds—had a significant impact on the November election. So my advice to the political class of all three parties—Democrats, Republicans and Trumpicans—is to take the time to get healthcare right this time. And then quickly start reducing the other eight non-operating challenges government is imposing on the most important job creators in America: the heroes of the Main Street economy—small businesses.

Jim Blasingame, one of the world’s foremost thought leaders on small business and entrepreneurship, is the author of “The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.” Jim helps small business owners have the maximum opportunity to be successful, and teaches big businesses how to speak small business as a second language.

When Is It Time To Fire A Client?

There are lots of reasons why a business relationship may not work out. Watch for these signs that you should cut a customer loose.

How would you describe your business?No one wants to lose business. We put our blood, sweat and tears into building a thriving company, and turning away customers seems to be antithetical to that effort. But it’s not.

The customer is not always right. That age-old golden rule of business has never been the true test of how well your run your company. Not all clients are a good fit for all companies. Personality conflicts, unrealistic expectations or just plain meanness are all very good reasons that a business relationship may not work out.

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to sever ties with a client, but there are some telltale signs that you should consider cutting a customer loose.

  • When communication with them creates anxiety for you and your staff.You are responsible for maintaining a happy, healthy work environment. If you have a client who continuously wreaks havoc on your team, it may be time to direct them elsewhere.
  • When they are rude and disrespectful.This is a non-starter for me. If a customer can’t deal with me and my team in a way that is respectful, they have to go. Period. You have no obligation to be subjected to a toxic relationship.
  • Despite clear instructions to the contrary, they continue to operate outside the scope of work outlined at the onset of the project.Managing expectations is key to a smooth relationship. It’s one thing to make changes to the scope of work. It is another to make changes and not expect to pay for it.
  • When they continuously question rates and servicesWe charge what we’re worth. If they are looking for a cheap solution, they should look somewhere else. We only want to work with clients who value what we bring to the table.

We had a client that despite many, many, many conversations refused to understand the concept of “no.” She had champagne taste on a beer budget but refused to understand that changes cost money and the more complicated something is to create, the more it costs to produce. I pride myself on being able to work with even the most difficult personalities, but it became obvious that we weren’t the right firm for her.

For me, my piece of mind and that of my staff outweighed any potential profit. So, I politely suggested that she might be happier with a different company. There are ways to sever the relationship without it being contentious. Ultimately, that’s the goal.

A few tips for a smooth break up:

  • When it’s about working styles: Sometimes the breakdown in communication is less a function of conflicts in personality and more to do with working styles. In this case, referring and introducing another firm is the easiest way to transition the client away from your company without creating undo animosity.
  • When it’s about personality: In the case where the client is just generally unbearable, it is obviously a more difficult problem to traverse. But if you position yourself as a problem solver for their needs you can leave the relationship intact. By acknowledging that you are not a good fit for their project and that they might be better served with a different firm who could more effectively solve their problems, they are less likely to leave feeling rejected or angry.
  • When it’s about money: This is probably the easiest of the three situations to manage effectively. Never compromise on your worth. If the client is focused solely on the bottom line then the value that you provide as a company is lost. Suggest alternative options but be sure to emphasize the value you provide to your customers and leave the door open for them to return when that value is foremost in their minds.

When you follow your brand promise, a culture will emerge that aligns with your brand and tells not only your clients but your staff as well what they can expect.

Remember, you are on the front lines. Your staff relies on you to protect them. If you want them to stick around, make certain that you maintain a culture of mutual understanding and respect.

If you would like learn more about how you can make an evaluation of your current client to find the ones you should fire , call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

Final 3 Culture Points From Successful Entrepreneurs

exit-strategy7. Be Transparent

Honesty is the best policy, and being transparent with your employees will build trust and help keep the communication lines open
between workers. One way to do this is to broadcast company milestones and key metrics on laptops and T.V. monitors within the office, so everyone feels aligned and involved.

— Mike Smalls, Hoopla

 

8. Make Time for Social Fun

In order to have a positive company culture, you need to make time for social engagements among your staff. One of the greatest ways to make your staff feel valued is to take the time to learn about them. Social outings – lunches, weekend retreats, or happy hours – allow your staff to feel more connected to the company and each other, fostering better teamwork and a more productive work environment.

— Simon Slade, SaleHoo

9. Give Your Employees the Chance to Work as a Team

Give your team the ability to create something as a group. Create opportunities for everyone on staff to cross-pollinate a little and share their wisdom and creativity on a wider level.

Whatever your needs, if you want your people to act like a team, you need to give them teamwork opportunities where they can stretch their wings a bit and create something or solve a problem as a collective.

— Jennifer Martin, Zest Business Consulting

If you would like learn more about how you can create a powerful Culture in your business, call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.
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