Giving your existing customers some recognition and “tlc” is remarkably important for any business, but more so for small businesses: these are customers that you have already spent time and effort winning, they are already engaged with your company and, if encouraged, will continue to spend more money with you because they already trust you as a known supplier. If they have a positive view of you, so much the better.

But do you even know who they are, and have you ever shown them gratitude? If you do, they will become you ambassadors, giving word of moth referrals that you can publish and further strengthen the relationship.

Know your customers:

Who are they, when did they last buy, what did they buy, did they pay full price? Do you love dealing with them, do you think they love you?
Invest in a quality CRM system. It will show all your interactions, act as a reminder for when you next need to be in touch, especially if you would like repeat business. It can also be used to automate newsletters and other marketing events.

Identify Each Customers’ Needs

Identify and address your ongoing customer needs via upselling and cross-sell offerings. You have established a relationship and built trust by getting them to make the initial purchase, so think about their business and what else they SHOULD buy from you (if only they know that you sold it). If you offer them a personalized experience, they will want to come to you as their one-stop-shop. When they do, remember to thank them for the additional business.  Be enquiring – discuss additional opportunities that they may have that you could fulfil, either with existing product, or by bringing in something new.

Reward Your VIP Customers

The 80-20 rule will always apply, so make sure that you know who your top 20% are:  who brings in the most revenue (and the most profit!) and ensure you allocate your time and resources accordingly. Create a list of your VIP customers and publish it. Make sure everyone on the company knows who they are, and always go that extra mile for them.  Keep in touch, ring them on their birthday just to say “Hello” and make them feel special. Invite them to your events (golf days, seminars etc). By doing so, they continue to be your most profitable customers, and they will remain loyal to your company, and less likely to be lost to the competition.

Focus on Customer Service

This sounds obvious – but doing things well is what is expected. It’s the way that you recover from the time when something goes wrong, or when your customer is less than 100% happy that marks you out from the crowd. The goal has to be excellent customer service:  every phone call answered, every outgoing call, every email and customer touchpoint is an opportunity to communicate with our clients – to listen as well as to talk, so have a system of asking if the customer is 100% happy with what you do.

Always Be Consistently Reliable – exceed expectations.

It’s simple: Do what you say and say what you do. People love consistency, they hate surprises. Your CRM system should guide you to be there just before they have a need that you can fulfil. Be the person that meets their need, at a good value price with an appropriate lead-time.  

Engage with Customers Regularly

This is a bit like number 2 above, but for those outside the top 20%. You still need to nurture them and engage with them on a regular basis in an interesting and relevant way.  If they see other clients purchasing from you, they will be more inclined to do so. If they see your best clients giving testimonials about you those genuine testimonials are worth their weight in gold and will sway more clients to buy from you.

Build a win-win Experience

It’s difficult to stand out in today’s world. To keep your customers engaged with you, multiple things need to happen. They need to feel appreciated, which is pretty unique these days and therefore is memorable, especially if that appreciation from you to them is published for all to see. This is where accepting testimonials, thanking your client for them and publishing them on your web-site creates that win-win experience.

If you’d like more detail on any of these aspects, please get in touch.

Charles McClelland

or:

If you want to change your results, change your mindset.

Sometimes it’s called your “subconscious“, sometimes it’s called your “mindset” – but what ever it’s called, it’s what controls who you are, how you behave, and yes – how successful you are. It’s the thoughts that run around inside your head when you “aren’t thinking” but they are all-controlling.

Most business owners start their own business with little more than their passion for what it is they do. Little or no capital, but bags of enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, it takes much more than passion to build a successful business. You must have the specific vision to see want your business to accomplish (big picture) and the timescale that you want to achieve it in. That’s your goal, so if you know the direction to take to produce the results you want you are well on the way to having a plan.

But you need more. Your subconscious, your mindset, is the most powerful force in the universe.

Our thoughts are the controlling factor in what we are as people and what we create in our lives for ourselves and those around us. By constantly directing your thoughts positively to imagine and then create the specific vision for you will start doing it “automatically” In your business you will start applying the right strategies and tactics to grow and develop the business. You are planning for success, and following The Plan.

How to implement success…

Think about it. Literally. Creating a positive, wealthy mindset requires action from you. You must create a mindset that’s focused on performing your highest impact and highest income-producing activities every single day. Some Positive Mindset practitioners even suggest devoting 10 minutes per day to just “thinking wealthy” if that’s what you want to achieve.

If you’re not happy with your business’ current results, then ask yourself why in a number of different ways and be brutally honest as you answer it. And don’t take “I’ll do it later” as an answer!

The ultimate question is: WHY are you failing to generate the revenue and profits you expect from your business? Let’s break it down a little:

  • WHY are you getting such poor results?
  • WHY are you failing to attract wonderful clients?
  • WHY are you attracting the wrong clients?

One of the things that I’ve seen over the years is that people who are broke, struggling or just getting by – don’t think the same way as people who are financially well-off. The people with the money simply don’t have the same mindset as financially challenged people do, and therefore they behave very differently. They expect to have money, they expect to be wealthy, they believe it to be true.

In short, they take different actions.

“So what has this got to do with me”

Most small business owners have been mentally conditioning themselves along certain lines: “I can’t afford that, it’ll have to wait”, “If I don’t do it myself, it won’t be done properly.”, “To make more money, I have to work harder”, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” And the really damaging part is that the longer they think, the truer it becomes because they believe it.

These beliefs lead to specific actions such as working more hours and working harder in a hopeless attempt to increase revenue and profits. That leads to predictably poor results such as feelings of being overwhelmed, anger, anxiety and frustration… and a deep-seated belief that even more effort is required, even though the results point elsewhere.

What are your current beliefs? What effect are they having on you and your business today and every day?

For example:

Do you procrastinate or succumb to other mental activities that may be sabotaging your success?

Are you aware of, and focused on, your highest profit-producing activities?

Are you ensuring that  all of your non-profit generating, less productive tasks are delegated out to others (employees or contract help).

Do you know the specific steps you can take every day to immediately create a positive, wealth creating mindset?”

Would you like to know how you can learn to develop these critical skills?

If you want to see how you as a business owner can change the way you think about everything, then book an initial call with me.

Procrastination is the opposite of good time managment!

Beware of to do lists! Unless they are small and only cover “incidentals” they are likely to get in the way.

It’s so easy for a to-do lists to sub-divide and you end up with mutiple to do lists that snowball out of control, and you spend more time re-writing them than getting anythging done.

In fact, it can become so overwhelming that it makes you freeze in your tracks — preventing you from getting anything done. “How can it get this bad?” you ask. One word … procrastination. People procrastinate by putting things off rather than working on them. This causes things to build up to the point where they’re no longer manageable. “Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” See if you recognise these 14 most common reasons why people procrastinate:

I’m very busy, so it’ll have to wait. Too busy procrastinating!

Lack of discipline. I’ll do this some other time.

Too much to do – where to start. So you don’t start anything

Fear of failure. I’m not sure I can do this. So I won’t even try.

Ignore it. If I don’t think about it, maybe it’ll go away.

Unreasonable doubt If I can’t guarantee success, I won’t even attempt it, in case I fail.

Feeling overwhelmed. This project seems daunting. I’ll think about how/when to start . . . later on.

Fear of complexity. “I’m not sure where to begin, so I won’t.”

Lack of motivation. I’m not in the mood.

Fear of accountability. I’m afraid to fail incase it upsets my boss.

Feeling bored. This is so dull. I’d rather be doing something else.

Lack of urgency. It doesn’t need to be done yet, it’s not due for several days.

Fear of making a decision. I’m not sure – I need more information before I can start.

Wait till the last minute. Deadlines are good – I respond well to a tight deadline.

Do any of these explanations sound familiar? If so, do something about it:

  • Start by using a diary, and put things in it. If it’s worth doing, set aside the time to do it (if it’s a big task, then set aside an hour each day to do it until it’s finished). Only fill 6 hours of every day – there will be other “urgent things that can be squeezed in as required.
  • If you get through a day and you have fished everything 2 hours early – you have a choice – finsh up early, or pull some things forward from tomorrow (and get them completed ahead of time too).
  • So now your To-Do list is in your diary. When the next task comes, put it in the next empty spot. The urgent into today, the others later.
  • Only do what is in your diary
  • IF IT’S IN YOUR DIARY – DO IT, NOW
  • Use the “Eat that frog” principle – do the things that look horrid first thing in the day. Often you will be surorised how quickly and easily they get done.

So now you can feel smug becuase of all the things that you have achieved.

Teamwork – there’s a hint in the name: teams work.

The sum is always greater than the parts: Teams outperform individuals hands-down. When you make teams from individuals they go from invisible to unstoppable.

Think about it: if you want something difficult done: do you walk into a random room and ask for help? No – of course not. You create a team, and if that team is truly motivated, they will be unstoppable.

So, what makes a great team?

No-one works alone: never leave anyone out.

  1. Pair an inexperienced person with an experienced member – the inexperienced once should question the ways of the “old-hand” and the experienced person gives away his experience and knowledge. This is the fastest way to get innovation based on sound principles.
  2. Team people up so that no-one is left alone in a silo of one – a pair of three is fine!
  3. Have as many pairs as you need in the team to get the job done, especially if different skill-sets will contribute to a better solution.

When the job is done mix and match the pairs so that they learn from each other as above but getting new skills from new people. This will also add cohesion to the entire team.

Vision mission and culture

This is your company DNA. Understanding and articulating your company’s “why” is fundamentally important, but the “how” behind how you and your team behave to each other and your clients becomes your organization’s culture this is what you will become known for – it becomes your brand.

Or, put another way, your company’s brand is nothing more than a reflection of your company’s culture, and that culture is a reflection of your team’s actions (In and out of work!!!) and guess where your teams’ actions come from? They come right from the top: from you. And it’s what you do, not what you say, that they will copy.

So this is under your control, so be sure to turn up early and leave a few minutes late if you are looking to embody that behaviour in in your staff. Do you talk to them at the coffee station? No – well don’t expect them to talk to you!

Caring leads to daring

If you care more about your employees than you do about the profits you make, you will see a huge change, your profits will go up! By not being selfish yourself, your employees will not be selfish either because there is no point – selfishness is only needed in a back-stabbing dog-eat-dog culture.  If instead they can focus on driving forwards, and not “covering their back” productivity will soar, by 40%, 50% sometimes more.

Caring leads to daring. Seek ways to connect with your staff, take time to understand their challenges and pressures not only during the work day but also in their personal lives. People are not robots, they notice if you genuinely care for them, and they believe it, they will care for your customers and your business. (This a variation of one of Richard Branson’s favourite sayings.)

Hire for culture first

Your vision mission and culture should be the top half of every job spec you send out. When it is read by a potential applicant they will see that you know what you want to do to make the world a better place, you show credibility that you do it (with good people), and you have a culture that is published and important.

You will get one of two reactions:

  1. “wow, that look’s tough, I don’t like the sound of that” or
  2. “wow, that just the sort of place I want to work. Now what’s the job all about?!

and that’s great because you don’t want the 1st group to even darken your door for an interview – they would fail because they don’t fit and worse than that, if they are a really bad fit, they will cause mayhem and unhappiness because a bad attitude will destroy the great culture that you have.

 The 2nd group on the other hand already want to come and work for your company even before they know the details of the job role, and the chances are, if they have some of what you need you can teach the rest. Many people have said “you can teach new skills, but you can’t change attitude”

Encourage them to try new things (and make mistakes)

Encourage them out of their comfort zone. A great team that wants to forge ahead (unstoppable) will invariably make some mistakes along the way, so remember your culture: forgive them. Then have a blame-free review so that they learn from those valuable mistakes, (knowing what went wrong, what led up to it and why it will be avoided in the future) This will lead to great teams peforming massively well.

In any team everyone needs and wants everyone else, and how you encourage those bonds to form directly impacts how well your team will succeed together.

At the top of the article I started with The sum is always greater than the parts: Teams outperform individuals hands-down: Don’t do it all yourself, have your teams want to do it, have them want to succeed because they will if you let them.

So go do it! but remember, it’s an imperfect science because it involves us, people, and so it can be tricky and at times frustrating but so incredibly worth it when you make it work. Try it – Go from invisible to unstoppable.

Take 5 minutes out to read and action this blog!

1. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR EMAIL

Hands up if you get distracted every time an email comes in. You have the little alert set don’t you!

Dare to turn it off!

So this first one should be obvious:
Set aside specific times to read emails rather than responding to each and every notification, allowing it to interrupt concentrated spells of work .

Create VIP notifications for those people whose emails you attend to more quickly

Keep your email messages short and you will see that others are relived as they can copy your conciseness

Don’t have dozens of email folders – keep your subjects broad. Most email system have excellent search facilities to find exactly what you are looking for.

Don’t reply – Pick up the phone – it’s more personal and will often solve the problem more quickly and definitively. By all means send a short confirmation of the call afterwards to help keep things on track.

2. DON’T BE A BUSY FOOL

It’s great to be busy – as long as the activity is focused and valid.
Don’t let “little things distract you. It’s usually a sign that business is going well – but no one wants to be a busy fool! It’s impossible to address every task and idea as and when they pop into your head, which is something we tend to learn only through experience. Organisation, clarity of thought, focus and self-discipline are essential if you want to achieve your goals while remaining sane.

Plan, write things down, prioritise, delegate and don’t make time for the tedious jobs you tend to put off. The better you are at organising yourself and your commitments, the more you’ll achieve. And the less likely you are to become overwhelmed.

Put everything in your diary, and only do what is in your diary.
This sounds much tougher than it is. Don’t fill every minute of every day in advance – leave at least an hour “free” to allow for phone calls and the like.
Consider setting aside some time in the early mornings to plan the day ahead and review what’s in the dairy. If you are a morning person, put your toughest task in then, so you can eat that frog and get on with having a productive day after.
If something comes up – choose to “bump” something less important to another day, or better still, put the new item into your next empty slot.

I keep Friday afternoons empty for two reasons – it is the buffer for tasks that get bumped, so I know they will get done and the bonus is that if I have a good week – I can finish early on a Friday and bring the weekedn forward.

I prefer early starts as the interruptions are always few and far between, so I get so much more done. This allows me to work in peace without and even get ahead of schedule so that I get to enjoy family time without worrying about what hasn’t been done.

3. SET SOME TIME ASIDE

We all need time to think.
Apparently Henry Ford once said: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” In the days of Leather-bound filofaxes the wisdom was to have meetings with yourself.
At least once a week, devote some time in your diary to “thinking”. Allow your brain’s hidden to-do lists to emerge and you will see the wood from the trees. Doing this for a concentrated couple of hours is a great investment – it will save you time, help you form strategies which reduces your stress and generally make the rest of your week much easier.
And remember to put it in your diary.

4. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

We know this is true. How often have you heard: “If you eat rubbish, you’ll feel it” or the opposite: “If you eat well you feel good”. Always give yourself a few minutes to have a healthy breakfast – ideally at home, or if that really won’t work, prepare a healthy breakfast the night before. to take to work, such as a low-fat yoghurt with some fresh fruit, and put it in the fridge – not your drawer – when you arrive. Avoid snatching some highly processed snack on the way in. If you work through lunch, make sure to have a supply of high-energy foods, such as almonds and apples or bananas and cheese chunks, handy. Again avoid highly processed snack bars unless you really know what is in them.

5. GET MORE SLEEP

Ok, let’s be blunt here if you are out on the town, and get to bed at 3am, and get up at 7, you know how you will feel the next day: CRAP. If you do it more gradually, the net effect will be the same. You can claim “that you get used to it” but really? Think how much better you feel on a good holiday.

“It’s estimated sleep deprivation costs the UK over £40bn with more than 200,000 lost working days each year, with the number going up. The biggest improvements can be made by those who are sleeping less than six hours a night changing to at least 7, preferably 8. Tired workers are less productive, more accident-prone, (which can be mental as well as physical – a bad decision can have many outcomes), they take more time off through stress and are less healthy.
See if your employer has an employee health or well-being programme, or if you are the boss, create one. The payback will be enormous.

6. DELEGATE SUCCESSFULLY

Only do, what only you can do
Often, we do too much. Yes, we all say “no-one can do it as well/quickly as I can” and yes, there things that you should do and I’m not suggesting that you delegate everything, but you can delegate a lot of things in a way that ensures they get done, and done to a high standard, even though you do not do it yourself.

Good delegation involves asking and “showing how” the other person can take on the task and be successful. That way they feel appreciated and will do a good job, and will keep on doing the “new” task if given a little thanks and genuine praise. By clearly defining roles and responsibilities in your business it becomes obvious who should be doing what it becomes an easier conversation once people understand what’s really on their plate, thus avoiding you having to “clear-up after people”

This is the second in a series of two posts about a friend of mine who came into our local hostelry, positivly glowing, pruning themselves like the proverbial Peacock. When I asked what has brought this new sheen on they told me “I’ve just been made a Director” I didn’t have the heart to ask if they knew what it actually meant – but I’ll share it with you:

We know that being a Director is something that very easy to do in these days of “instant” Company formation.

For a surprising number of first-time directors, they have no idea what it is that they have signed up to, and their accountant didn’t make it clear when they set up the NewCompany Ltd.

For those new Directors that have been promoted from within a Company, the obligations were never explained during the promotion process, so again it comes as a real surprise.

Here are the 2nd four in a series of eight of the most common things that aren’t talked about:

5: Managers may follow, but directors must have their own opinions.

Making the step up from manager or sole trader to director can be an odd one. For those that meet in a boardroom with fellow Directors it can be an daunting experience, given that you are now working alongside the people that you used to report to. As a sole Director, you might feel strange having meetings with yourself, so as new directors you may, at first, feel inclined to take the easy route and fall in line, without thinking things through properly. But in the long run simply being a ‘yes man’, even to yourself can be counter-productive and could ultimately cause the business to stagnate and fail.

6: The implications of wrongful trading

You know what wrongful trading is, right?
It doesn’t matter if you sit on the board of a small business or a large organisation; exactly the same rules apply when that business fails to conduct its affairs in the proper manner.  As a Directors you are personally liable if you allow a company to continue to trade when, to their knowledge, there is no reasonable prospect of debts being paid, either when they are due or shortly after.

This is considered to be fraudulent trading because it amounts to an intention to defraud creditors. Anyone who is knowingly a party to the fraud is liable for the debts of the company without any limit. It is also a criminal offence punishable by up to seven years in prison. And as a Director you would could not expect to get away with “I didn’t realise things were that bad”. As they say ignorance is no excuse

7: Recording your Board meetings

If anything ever goes wrong, you need to show that you are aware of, and have “adequately discharged,” your Directors’ responsibilities. As mentioned above, this is often routine in larger Companies where you are the newbie Director – you just need to show your worth, contribute to the meetings and someone else takes the notes.

Where you have just formed your own Company, you will need to know what your Articles of Association say, and what your objectives are as a Company. You will also need to show that you have a handle on all the “Management Stuff” like profitability, costs, cash-flow, stock-turns, HR and HMRC Compliance. good luck with all of that!

8: The role never stops evolving

Sitting on your laurels, enjoying the view is not an option! As a successful Director you will be continually looking to improve yourself, and your company performance, while keeping abreast of legislative changes.

Having said that, it should be a hugely enjoyable experience , where you can embark on new qualifications, or you can seek the input of external experts that can fill you expertise gaps.

(looking for the 1st four? they are here)

I hope you have found this useful, and are looking forward to being a better director.

Charlie McClelland

A friend of mine came into our local hostelry, positive glowing, pruning themselves like the proverbial Peacock. When I asked what has brought on this new “sheen” they told me “I’ve just been made a Director” I didn’t have the heart to ask if they knew what it actually meant – but I’ll share it with you:

Being a Director is something that very easy to do in these days of “instant” Company formation.

For a surprising number of first-time directors, they have no idea what it is that they have signed up to, and their accountant didn’t make it clear when they set up the NewCompany Ltd.

For those new Directors that have been promoted from within a Company, the obligations were never explained during the promotion process, so again it comes as a real surprise.

Here are the 1st four in a series of eight of the most common things that aren’t talked about:

1: Your liabilities

As a Director, you have a number of legally binding duties, and if you are just starting up in your own brand-new company, you need to know what they are, as set out in the Companies Act:

There are seven key duties, which are as follows…

  • To act within powers granted in accordance with the company’s constitution and to use those powers only for the purposes for which they were conferred
  • To promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members
  • To exercise independent judgement
  • To exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence
  • To avoid conflicts of interest
  • Not to accept benefits from third parties
  • To declare an interest in a proposed transaction or arrangement

2: It’s your job to ensure the Company has long term goals.

New Directors that have either come from the sole trader route, or are promoted from within and fail to realise that they should leave the task-planning that achieves short-term objectives to others.

In their former life, as managers, people are usually incentivised to focus on implementing a process and measuring its efficiency; they were most concerned with the profitability of their day-to-day actions.

Their new role is far more important. Directors, on the other hand, focus on creating value for organisations, customers and stakeholders in the longer term.

Creating that long-term value requires an in depth understanding of value chains, of changing customer behaviours and the changing competitive landscape that goes well beyond the current service level or product performance of today. Think “Amazon”. How might that affect your business in the years to come?

3: Understanding what makes (you) a good director

Directors need to lead, and that means having the workforce look up to you in a way that makes them want to follow you.

For some directors the biggest thing in their life was having the word ‘director’ on their name badge and it turned them into arrogant playground bullies. They don’t tell to last very long.

You can oversee an order book the size of the national debt, but, unless you have a genuine understanding of a broad range of skills that that a modern director needs (such as: strategic planning, risk management, financial understanding to knowing how to exercise good corporate governance), it will be tough for you to fully comply with your duties.

As a leader, you need the gravitas to inspire confidence in people who are looking to you for that leadership, and you need to display and demonstrate high morals, values and ethics because that will earn respect and trust from your staff. If you can take it to the next level and publish them as part of your Company Culture you staff will adopt them too.

4: Are you able to ‘do the numbers’?

If you don’t measure it, you can’t track it’s performace.

The numbers are a vital measure of Company performance, and when understood, they are a clear early warning pointer to what is going well, and more importantly to where problems are brewing. You need to understand how to use finance to make better decisions and ask the right questions of your Managers for the business going forward.

Remember: as a director, you have a responsibility for the finances of the business even if your are not the Financial Director.

Keep an eye out for the second 4 things that you weren’t told – they’ll be here soon.

Good time management is good for the owners and management of a business, but it’s actually good for everyone, and then it translates into a better bottom line.

We all know that setting a good example is the best way to lead The values and work ethic displayed by a company’s owners and senior management are what your employees do. It becomes your company culture and so it has a direct influence on atmosphere, teamwork, productivity and ultimately on the business’s profitability.

Do what only you can do (the rest should be done by your team)

How you use your time will affect your efficiency and effectiveness and that of the business, so business owners should continuously work on developing, or improving, their own time management skills.

Time management is one of the most important skills to have, but it is often a concept that many businesses, and people, struggle with. Small businesses, in particular, cannot afford to waste time with bad time management and inefficiency. However, the benefits of good time management practices are immeasurable. Businesses that utilize good time management are better positioned to consistently deliver their product, or service, on-time.

Good time management also means that a business is able to solve problems that arise without it significantly impacting day-to-day operations. This is essential for businesses that rely on constant output to increase ROI – a planned, structured schedule provides extra time for problem-solving or unforeseen circumstances.

Business owners can, and should, cultivate a workplace that values time management. Here are some tips for business owners to improve time management in the workplace.

  • Prioritise into your calendar – Prioritising each item on your to-do list will help you stay focused on hitting your day-to-day, and overall, goals. Ask yourself, “What’s important, what’s urgent, what’s both? Rank each item by its importance – or deadline – and put it into your calendar, allocating time to each. Remember the “soft” items too – lunch, emails etc. Allocate them all a time period in your calendar.

Now start following your calendar, effectively working down the list. If anything unexpected comes up during the day, either add it to tomorrow’s list, or “bump” something less important from today’s events. This is massively important – don’t “just do it now.” Asess it’s importance and priority: Do you need to do it, or can someone else – see below. Does it really need to disrupt your train of thought, or can it wait until tomorrow. Most things can wait, if you let the requester know.

You will feel better knowing that your day hasn’t got any longer, but everything is covered, and remember if it isn’t in your calendar – don’t do it! (but see above on adding what needs to be done and then get on with it, if you have to).

  • Set SMARTER Goals – The M is for measurable and is essential for both business owners, and employees. Establishing clear-cut goals will help you measure the effectiveness of everyone’s contribution and timeliness of progress being made towards that goal.
  • Think beyond today: As a company, you should be asking questions like “Where do we want to be next year, at this time? Again, put time in your calendar to think these through. (These might be the “bumpable” items that you shift for a high priority need). How much revenue do we need to make next month to stay on track?” The answers to your questions should form SAMRTER goals that you communicate to your employees at regular team meetings. Good time management means that you are productive with your time because your productivity is focused on achieving your company’s goals.

Planning ahead today saves you time, and unnecessary stress, today, tomorrow and beyond. Once you have established your goals, you can also start working on a feasible timeline to reach them. An important part of planning is to be realistic about what you can achieve and how quickly you can work through that timeline. Remember – if you want to do it, it has to be in your calendar.

Don’t fall into the trap of being overly-ambitious with every deadline – although time is money, ensuring that you have enough time to deliver a high-quality product, or service, should always be a top priority. A failure to meet deadlines is bad for cash-flow, bad for promises made to customers and discouraging to your staff, so then they so down and it all gets worse. Instead, encourage your employees to follow your example on time management, and make sure the they set reasonable goals and communicate back to you what they need to be able to meet or exceed them.

  • Know When and how to Delegate –

Do what only you can do. As a business owner, you are probably capable of doing pretty much everything that there is to be done. Make sure then, that you do what you should be doing – the things that only you can do. For all of the rest, delegate effectively, either internally to your staff or to an outside company “that can”. Do NOT abdicate, but encourage others to help, encourage them to shine because they have taken on more responsibility, and if they need a bit of help to accomplish it – give it to them. It does mean that the 1st time will take longer than you doing it, but from then on, the job is being done well by someone else.

Let me know if any of these ideas are helpful.

This is from an article by Martin Barlow. I have shortened it slightly and I hope you like it
with thanks to: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/327671

Do you need to make decisions but feel you don’t have all the inputs you’d like?  

If anything defines the life of a business owner, it is incomplete information. One way that I have continually found helpful in closing this information gap is through a strong network of mentors, which in my experience come in three varieties: 1. external mentors, 2. internal mentors, and 3. customers.

  • External mentors

External mentors are what people typically think of when you describe “mentors.” They can be family, friends, investors, advisors, executive coaches and so on. They take an active role in shaping you and your business from the outside in by providing external perspectives across a vast array of experiences. This can be a huge value-add to us as business owners given we are fairly insular experts in a specific market, software, or solution. Recruiting a strong network of external mentors takes significant time and energy — and it also requires humility, a high degree of self-awareness, and strong listening skills. You need to convince the most relevant individuals you can find that you are eager to absorb and apply their knowledge to challenges your business faces.

But even when you have a great network of external mentors at your back, the complexity of being the business owner is sifting through the various opinions of an incredibly smart group and determining which is the right path for your specific company.

  • Internal mentors (aka your team)

I am a strong believer in building a team of the most impressive people you can find, people you would proudly work for under different circumstances. If you are successful at this, your team becomes a group of high-touch, day-to-day mentors from whom you can absorb some highly relevant skills and knowledge. At Fernish, the first hire I made was my co-founder, Lucas. I regularly describe Lucas as the smartest person I know given his deep understanding of technology, organizational management, and a proven ability to methodically build and scale a business. Lucas and I had worked together at a previous startup, Atom Tickets, where we built an excellent working relationship — but it was still a months-long recruiting process to get him to join me and start Fernish. I could have chosen another co-founder and might have got the business off the ground earlier, but the uncertainty around working relationship and skill set would have just added to the already risky nature of starting a business

We’ve focused on hiring a group of overqualified, fairly senior individuals who are happy to be individual contributors while getting our company into a position to scale. Similar to external mentors, the way to find and convince a team of bar-raising individuals to join you is through a combination of storytelling and humility. And, like in the case of my co-founder, it can take a while. But having strict discipline in hiring that is rooted in rigorous recruiting and screening processes will yield a group that will accelerate both your business trajectory and your entire teams’ learning curve.

Related: Want to Build a High-Performance Team? Start with Trust.

  • Customers

While external mentors provide a breadth of applicable perspective and internal mentors propel growth and learnings day-to-day, your customers are actually the most important mentors you can have. Customer development and understanding isn’t just critical to your business, it is your business! How are you speaking to your customers? How often are you doing so? How do you synthesize that information and act upon it? What do you know what your customers value? What motivates them? What do they dislike (What’s stopping them buying more)? What hesitations do they have about using your product or service? How do you get them over the hump to do so? These are not easy questions to answer. At Fernish, we have a methodical approach to customer development — for both active customers and those who don’t quite make it to the bottom of our funnel. It involves a combination of surveys and interviews across a refined list of questions with measurable inputs and actionable outputs. For instance, we’ve found out there is actually a lot to be learned from how much customers are willing to spend on a latte (correlations rather than causations, but who would have thought!). The concept of “customers as mentors” can lead to some tough decisions that go against internal theses and legacy product development. However, these decisions will both align you more closely with your customer and start to fill some of the gaps in information asymmetry.

Related: 3 Ways to Monitor Customer Churn

Building a network of mentors in each of the above varieties is a challenging, time-intensive, and intentional process. But it will provide you with an essential perspective when making decisions with incomplete information. And as you go through this process, I think you will find that engaging with a robust, interdisciplinary mentor network is one of the most rewarding parts of business ownership, because together you make the business more robust and more sustainable.

Let me know if you have any questions.

As a leader, you might think you should have everything figured out already, but this simply isn’t true. While all of us have our own talents, leadership skills are often something we have to learn along the way.

Enter the business coach. A business coach oversees and guides a manager or founder in starting, growing or developing a business. Like a sports coach, a business coach’s job is to help you develop the skills and resources you need in order to be successful.

Business owners often have to find ways to perform well and work efficiently under conditions of immense pressure, heavy workloads and stress. When tasks keep on piling up and you’re faced with many demands and questions, whether from customers, employees or investors, it can be difficult to keep a cool head.

These seven entrepreneurs offer their best strategies for dealing with the pressures of business management so that you can remain calm and perform at optimum capacity — even when feeling overwhelmed.

Know how to prioritize.

“Running a successful business comes with a lot challenges and the pressure to meet many objectives, but the one way that I ensure I can meet all deadlines is to prioritize my schedule and the tasks at hand,” explains Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder and creative director of Creative Development Agency, LLC.

According to Marquet, one way to achieve this is to put together a to-do list and keep it close throughout the day: “I keep a handwritten to-do on my desk to help me stay focused and achieve what needs to be completed. If I can’t get something done, then I will outsource or delegate it.”

Eat the elephant.

Well, not a real elephant — this means the biggest issue an entrepreneur is faced with every day, according to Brian Samson, co-founder of True North. This kind of prioritization is hard and requires strong discipline.

“The easier choice is to check my phone, respond to emails and knock out trivial stuff,” Samson explains. However, “my energy level is highest early in the day and solving big problems, such as strategy, cash flow or client proposals, builds tremendous momentum for the second half of the day.”

Change your perspective.

Shifting a negative perspective into a positive one could be the solution to dealing with high amounts of pressure, thinks Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance.

“Think of the activity or situation as fun, because a lot of times it is. Being under pressure in certain instances can actually be exhilarating,” he says. Along the same lines, visualizing a positive outcome can help. “Both of these strategies have worked for me numerous times in the past when I’ve been under the gun,” Schrage reveals.

Keep smiling and laughing.

Even if it seems counterintuitive, making light of the situation can help relieve the pressure for both you as a business owner and the people around you.

Hostt Co-founder Peter Daisyme explains: “I remind myself not to let the pressure get to me. The best way to do this is to keep smiling and laughing. It sounds simple, but it’s these actions that stop me from focusing on the things I can’t control and remind me of what I’m doing this all for. It also helps others around me to feel less pressure.”

Go for a walk.

“I’ve always found that a quick solo walk around the block, without my phone, is a great way to decompress,” says Justin Lefkovitch, founder of Mirrored Media.

According to Lefkovitch, it’s important to keep a level head as an entrepreneur: “When the pressure bears down on you, it’s wise to take a step back. My beautiful Santa Monica neighborhood provides a relaxing atmosphere for me to reset and clear my head.”

Don’t abandon your process.

Another key strategy when faced with inevitable periods of stress is to stick to your process and proven success strategies, says BLASTmedia President Lindsey Groepper.

“When I returned from maternity leave, five of our clients had been acquired — great for our clients, but bad for our PR agency’s bottom line. Rather than panic, discount prices and go rogue, I remained calm, followed my process and held firm to our value proposition and pricing. The revenue came back quickly,” she explains.

Trust yourself.

Trusting yourself and your abilities is arguably one of the most important strategies you can implement, thinks Bryce Welker, CEO of the Accounting Institute for Success.

“If you’ve made it this far, chances are that you’ve developed a process and gathered a team that is capable of accomplishing incredible tasks. What’s helped me stay calm and collected in the face of considerable pressure is the knowledge that I have handled similarly intense events in the past, that I am capable of handling them in the present, and that worrying won’t change a thing,” he concludes.

Source: Forbes Coach Council Community Voice