Weekly Business Idea

August 3, 2018 – What Decision am I Avoiding?

Posted on | August 3, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Is there a conversation that you need to have but have been putting off?  Is something in your business not working right but you are afraid to fix it because the rest of the business is going well?  Is there a decision that you need to make but you are concerned that you will make the wrong one?  Is procrastination one of your core values?

Expansion of the Idea:

Most of us have our routines and preferred methods of doing business.  We have systems for running our businesses.  We have vendors we deal with.  Our product lines are identified.  We are constantly focused on trying to get new sales but the rest of our business is frequently constant.  We get the same reports and we make the same decisions.  We get into ruts.  The good part of ruts is that they help you move in a certain direction.  The bad part is that direction may not be where you need to go.

I was reminded about these ruts by a number of situations in the past couple of weeks.  My men’s group has been meeting in a certain place that isn’t meeting our needs.  The service has been going downhill and the place is just not clean.  The problem is that it hasn’t been a good place to meet for several months.  However, we were ignoring some warning signs and kept meeting there.  Finally, we decided that we needed to rethink our decisions.  We will end up changing but there is a cost to changing.  Too often we put off these decisions because we think we won’t like what the future holds.  As a result, we get stuck in the past.

I see this frequently with small businesses.  They have policies that worked 10 years ago.  Now, Amazon has changed their industry and they have to do something different.  (As a side note, Amazon doesn’t have to be in your industry to change your customer’s perceptions of service.)  Business owners have advisors who are stuck in the past.  There might be a key employee who has always produced but isn’t producing at the same level.  A key product is slowly losing its market share.

In every business there are a number of decisions that are never identified or if identified, are never addressed.  Business owners risked everything when they went into business but now when they are making decent money they don’t want to risk anything else.  This is the equivalent of the prevent defense in football.  How often does the prevent defense actually prevent the team with the lead from winning the football game?  Business owners need to continually improve their businesses and to do that, they need to embrace risk.  The key is to control the risk and make decisions when they need to.

The funny part of these decisions is that frequently we have a little voice in our heads that is telling us we need to do something.  Yet we don’t do anything because we are afraid of the consequences.  However, there are consequences if we don’t do anything.  Henry Cloud writes about playing our life forward as if it were a movie.  What would the future look like when you take the current situation and view yourself 2 months or 2 years in the future?  If that isn’t going to work for you, then you need to do something.

The starting point for all of this is to identify the decisions that you are making implicitly, ignoring or avoiding.  Some should legitimately be deferred because there is no harm in doing so.  Some should be delegated because someone on your team is in a better place to make the decision.  Others need to be addressed sooner rather than later.  When problems are allowed to fester, they generally won’t improve by themselves.  When we get ahead of some of these issues, we can really drive our businesses.  It may take 5 hours to fix something now.  If allowed to continue, we can add a zero or two to that fix.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Are there decisions you know you need to address?
  2. Are there conversations that need to be had?
  3. Why are you putting off the decisions or conversations?
  4. What is the cost of not addressing the issue?
  5. Gather information to minimize the risks.
  6. Brainstorm with your team or advisors.

July 27, 2018 – What is My Marketing Message?

Posted on | July 27, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Do your customers know all that you do for them?  Can they refer you easily to someone else?  When you meet someone at a cocktail party, can you explain how your business helps your customers in a sentence or two?  At a cocktail party, can your team explain how your business helps your customers?

Expansion of the Idea:

I have struggled with my marketing message for quite a while.  I have continually improved it, but I know it isn’t exactly where it should be.  The reason is that we do a lot for our clients and some of it is behind the scenes and is complicated.  When we try to explain complicated pieces, we end up using industry specific terms. That creates confusion because current and prospective clients frequently don’t understand those terms.  Even my best clients would struggle to explain to others what we do.  Or if they can explain what we do, it would be complicated.  How can I possibly expect them to refer me to others when they can’t explain how I help them in a simple and concise manner?

The first problem with marketing is that most of us don’t understand it.  The second problem is that it is hard to determine if time and money spent on marketing is working.  The third problem with marketing is that it is absolutely critical to our businesses.  Peter Drucker wrote the following years ago:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

If marketing is absolutely critical to our businesses and at the same time we are not doing it right, what is the path forward?

Most small business marketing gets focused on the product or service and not about the customer’s needs.  Messages get technical and lengthy.  That creates complexity.  And that is the quickest way to turn off your customers.  Too often we try to send our messages out to appeal to the widest possible audience.  What would happen if the message was simple and clear and only focused on the core audience?  Could the message resonate with that person?

I think that this area is one that the small business owner must own.  He must be intimately involved with the value proposition for the customer.  This doesn’t mean that she needs to do it by herself.  Getting a good marketing professional to guide you through this will help.  Read marketing books.  Brainstorm with your team.  I have been using Donald Miller’s book StoryBrand and the website support to clarify my message.  The point is that we need to keep refining our message until it is clear and simple.  I have finally come to the conclusion that I help clients get control of their finances and their businesses.  I had a hard time settling on the wording.    Yet I think it resonates with my clients because it is focused on their real needs and wants.  Even though they care about taxes, they care more about getting control.  They don’t want surprises.  That is where our marketing messages need to focus.  What is our product or service going to do to help our customers?

This is a journey.  There is no easy fix.  You will end up with some good ideas but they may not be exactly where you need to be.  I encourage you to push through and keep testing and brainstorming.  Keep refining.  Getting a clear and simple message will help connect you to your customers.  And you might be surprised what it does for your team.

Questions to Ponder

  1. What is my current marketing message?
  2. Do my customers think it is clear and simple?
  3. Is my business growing?
  4. Brainstorm with your team and external professionals.
  5. Test it with your customers.

July 20, 2018 – What is Critical to My Success?

Posted on | July 20, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

What is driving your business?  What are the things that you need to get right?  What are the pieces that you need to grow?  How do you know if your business is working properly?  What metrics are you looking at?  Are they the right ones?

Expansion of the Idea:

If you are asked to name the top two or three things that are critical to your business success, what would they be?  If you are like most business owners, you would probably say sales, cash flow and people.  You might include marketing, quality control or product mix.  There are a number of other items that might be at the top of your list.  The point is that most leaders will point to a few key things.

Frequently this is where the analysis stops.  If I were to ask you to name the critical steps of generating sales, you might be able to tell me.  However, rarely will a small business owner actually measure the key functions that are necessary to generate the right levels of sales.  Very few small business owners could give a numerical evaluation of the health of their relationships with their team.  Almost no one can tell if their marketing is doing anything positive except depleting their bank account.  We know a lot about our businesses but we tend to leave a lot up to chance.

The obvious question is “What should we measure?”

This question is not easy to answer because each business is a little different.  Even businesses in the same industry are in different seasons.  A start up needs to look at different metrics than a 50 year old company.  And to complicate it further, it might change throughout the year because of the seasonality of the business and the natural business cycle.

To figure out what to measure, it is first necessary to identify CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS.  This requires a little soul searching and brainstorming with your team.  At the company wide level this might be number of sales calls or order fulfillment percentages.  In my case, it is directly related to how much time I focus on marketing efforts.  Normally there are specific things that the company needs to get right.  Then you have to cascade it down into departments and employees and determine what they must do for that piece of the company to work right.

Once you figure out what is critical for the company, department and employee to succeed, then you should look for ways to measure it.  This is called KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS.  KPI’s can either be lead indicators, which measure activity, or lag indicators which measure results.  Ideally you would have a little of both.

The new manager of the St Louis Cardinals has identified his KPI’s.  One of his most important indicators is number of errors.  The Cardinals have been playing sloppy baseball and he is focused on playing those Cardinals who will be able to improve that KPI.  (Of course, last night, they committed three errors and at least two other mental errors.)  Whether his KPI is right or wrong, he has identified it as what he is focused on.  There is clarity in his communication and in who will be playing baseball every day.  Everyone knows what to expect.  I think they will improve because of it.

This whole process is not easy and can be a little time consuming.  Yet, the benefits are huge.  When you focus on what is critical for the business or at the employee level, everyone knows what is necessary.  It improves communication and focus.  When businesses hit rough spots, everyone knows where they need to focus.  It builds teamwork and will help you achieve your goals.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Do I know what is critical to our success?
  2. Does my team know what is critical?
  3. What are we measuring?
  4. Are the KPI’s properly identified and measured?

July 12, 2018 – Are You Practicing Your Skills?

Posted on | July 12, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Do you have a world class business?  Do you want a world class business?  Are you on the top of your game?  Is your business working well or do you have a lot of surprises?  Do you put out fires or do you try to prevent fires from starting?

Expansion of the Idea:

The last few days I have watched replays of most of the World Cup semifinals.  Even though I knew who won, I watched the replays because I really like the game.  I can’t tell you how many times I was dumbstruck by a move that one of the players made.  The skill, athleticism, vision and creativity exhibited by the players is simply outstanding.  It is great to see athletes compete at the highest level.  Soccer players are some of the best athletes in the world.  Obviously, they were blessed with talent.  However, I am pretty sure that most of these players are some of the hardest working athletes you will find.  It is inconceivable to me that they could perform as they did without continually practicing their skills.

As I was watching the games, the following question popped into my mind:

Do I practice my skills as much as the soccer players do?

In my case, I have two types of skills to consider.  I have to think about the technical services that I offer to my clients.  I need to do my best to make them world class.  I take continuing education classes and meet with peers to discuss problems and solutions.   I practice these skills by performing accounting, consulting and tax services for clients.  I have spent a lot of time working on these skills.  I know that I need to continually improve in this area or I will be left behind.

 

The second type of skills that sometimes get overlooked are those needed to run a small business.   Even if you took a few management courses in college, none of us are really prepared to run a small business.  We get a lot of on the job training.  Some of this is good and some is bad.  Rarely, do we get intentional about how to improve our leadership and our management.  We are too busy trying to get the next sale or meet payroll that we don’t focus on our skills which would allow the business to really move forward.

What would be involved in practicing our leadership or management skills?  It might include:

  • Having a management checklist and system
  • Getting feedback from everyone around you every week
  • Taking courses or reading books
  • Watching leadership expert videos
  • Setting goals and evaluate progress towards them
  • Start measuring the right stuff
  • Brainstorm with your team on how to improve
  • Surround yourself with the right advisors and mentors
  • Having difficult conversations with team members or customers

Leadership and management of a small business requires intentionally doing what you think are the right next steps and then continually evaluating the outcomes.  When you are deliberately working on our business, you are at the same time practicing your management skills.  When you keep practicing with an open mind on the outcome, you will become a better manager and a leader.  And that will transform your business.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Do I have a management control plan?
  2. Do I know where the business is going?
  3. Do I intentionally work on my leadership and management skills?
  4. Am I learning new things every day?
  5. Am I really open to feedback?  (I mean really open.)

A great place to start on all of this is to go to the Global Leadership Summit on August 9 & 10.  That has been invaluable to me over the last 16 years.

July 5, 2018 – Do You Have a Winning Attitude?

Posted on | July 5, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Have you defined what winning means to you and your business?  Are you doing well but feel out of control?  Are you one step away from disaster? Does your team work well together?  Are you burnt out?  Do you delegate? Are you a learner?  Are there more days than not where you are ready to sell the business and buy an island where no one will bother you?  Do you watch Fox News or CNN?  If you are a betting person, do you ever bet against Bill Belicheck, coach of the New England Patriots or Nick Saban at Alabama?

Expansion of the Idea:

As most of you who live in St Louis know, the Cardinals are having a very trying year.  The club and the city have expectations that they will get to the playoffs every year.  They have missed the playoffs for the last two years and things are not looking very good this year.  They have had their fair share of injuries.  But that doesn’t fully explain their problems.  I honestly don’t know what all of the problems are.  However, there are a couple of key players that started extremely slow and are just now coming out of that season opening slump.  During this period, they have played sloppy baseball and most people would say that they lost their edge. They have started playing better and so maybe they have found that edge.  In baseball as in business, success is frequently determined between our ears.

The leader’s attitude will determine the business’ altitude.  This is frequently overlooked.  We focus on systems and marketing and people.  We rarely focus on ourselves.  What happens when you have a flat tire on your way to the office and you walk in with a bad attitude?  Do you think that one of your employees will tell you something that you need to know even if it is not good?  They may look at your attitude and make a note to tell you later.  The whole mood of a business can be determined by the leader’s attitude.  When you walk into another business, how often do you get a feel for whether or not you would want to work there?  I know I have walked into some places and instinctively I know that business is an awful place.  I am embarrassed that has happened occasionally at my office.  (I will say that I don’t think it has happened in a long while.)

Perception is critical here.  If your team thinks you have a bad attitude when in fact you are just confused by a problem or have a personal matter that is impacting you, it can be just as bad.  This problem can be eliminated or at least minimized by communication.  Tax season can be a problem in my office.  We are all under pressure and there can be a lot of misconceptions.  This past year we had a new person who didn’t know me and the rest of the team very well.  We recognized that and we tried very hard to make sure that we communicated issues, problems, and even attitude.  If we had a problem we might talk about how it hit us but then we focused on what to do next and we didn’t get dragged into a pit.

What is critical to make sure that we have a winning attitude?

There are a lot of things that will help you attain a winning attitude.  Here are a few things that work for me.

  1. I try to surround myself with positive people.  We need to have diversity.  In my inner circle of friends and advisors, I must have positive people.
  2. I try to watch my external inputs.  Several years ago, I determined that after watching the news I just felt angry or frustrated with our political leaders.  (It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you are on.  They all frustrate me.) I stopped watching Fox News or CNN because it was just too depressing.  Instead I read the Wall Street Journal.  It has its own slant but I think I understand it and I can handle it.  I need to know what is going on but I can’t wallow in the problems.
  3. I try to define my goals.  When I am focused on my future goals, I start doing things to attain those goals.  When I attain those goals, I feel better.
  4. I spend time planning.  We will talk about this in a future weekly idea, but time spent in Stephen Covey’s Quadrant II working on important but not urgent items is critical.
  5. I celebrate the wins.  Everyone likes to win.  Even celebrating small things, we are fostering better attitudes.  If you are in a real challenging situation right now, manufacture some small wins.  Do whatever it takes to create a win.
  6. I try to celebrate the failures.  I know that this sounds crazy.  However, when we celebrate someone who tried something and gave it their best, you are setting that person up for success.  When our identity is determined by whether we just won a new contract or not, we will have problems in the future.
  7. For me it is critical to spend time every morning doing something positive.  I try to spend time studying the Bible every morning.  (I fail at this a lot.)  However, I approach the day in a much better place when I am able to do this.  I have friends who listen to positive self-help messages.  I know others that read a business book for 15 minutes every day.  The point is that you don’t have to do a lot every morning but this will help get you set.

There are a lot of other ways to work on your attitude.  You need to find out what works for you.  Your business and your team deserve it.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Do I have a good attitude?
  2. What does my spouse or kids say about my attitude?
  3. What does my team think about my attitude?
  4. Am I disciplined in working on my attitude?
  5. Is there anything in the above list that might help you?
  6. Go do it.

June 29, 2018 – What Season of Life Are You In?

Posted on | June 29, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Are you thinking about retirement?  Are you having to deal with parent’s memory issues?  Are you newly single and dealing with all that brings?  Do you have two kids in college and wonder where the time flew?  What is more precious; time or money?

Expansion of the Idea:

Last week, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching our grandchildren for the week.  They stayed with us so that they could attend vacation Bible school at our church every morning.  In the afternoon, we did stuff.  We had fun and more importantly they had fun.  It was a good chance to be around them for an extended period.  However, having a four and a six year old stay with us reminded me of one thing, kids have a lot of energy and are a lot of work.  While I did do some work last week, productivity was not at an all time high.  I knew that was going to be the case and planned accordingly.

What has this to do with running a small business?

I personally think that this has everything to do with being a leader.  A leader has to build trust with his team.  She must know where they are and how fast they can go forward.  Even the highest capacity person is only going to go so fast when he is battling cancer, or divorce.

As the kids reminded me at 5:45 in the morning, this is a season of life.  I went through this particular season 30 years ago.  But I don’t think about it as much as I should.  I am glad that I am partially reminded of what my son and daughter in law go through every day for their kids.  I know it can be a grind getting up in the middle of the night for a sick child and then going to work the next day.  Yet our team members do just that.

Everyone that works for us is in a different season of life.   When we understand what season of life someone is in, it can help build a relationship.  Life is too short to just focus on the business.  It is infinitely more fun, and profitable, when we focus on the relationships.  By focusing on the relationships, we bring mutual purpose into our businesses and strengthen our businesses.

I want to point out that we are not lowering our standards or expectations.  I believe that I have the highest expectations of my team.  However, when they have to deal with a personal issue, I do not question them because they more than make up for any time away.  I fully trust them.  They know that I trust them and I think that has helped them build trust with me.  As that trust has developed over the years, the improvement in my business is very noticeable.  While there are situations that are not always ideal for me, they are making the best choices available.  When we pay attention to our team and understand where they are, we are making an investment in our business that will pay significant dividends in the short term and long term.

Questions to Consider

  1. What season of life are you in?
  2. Does it impact your energy or focus?
  3. Do you need to do something different than what you did 20 years ago?
  4. Think about your team.  Are they in a particularly challenging season?
  5. Is there something you can do to help?
  6. Think about your key customers in light of their season of life.

June 22, 2018 – Will You Survive?

Posted on | June 22, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Are you a planner or a reactor?  Do you do business in multiple states?  Do you know who your competitors are?  Do you know who the disruptors are in your business?  Do you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?  Are you sure of the answers to any of the above questions?

Expansion of the Idea:

Yesterday, the Supreme Court overruled 50 years of established business practice and opened the door for states to collect sales tax on internet sales.  Whether you agree with it or not, everyone saw this coming.  The business environment has significantly changed since this was last ruled on in the Quill case primarily due to the internet.  This ruling opens the door for nexus to be revisited and this could impact everyone, even the home businesses that occasionally sell something that is delivered to one customer in another state.  This will be a cash grab by poorly run states (almost all of them) and small business owners will face increased compliance costs.

Six months ago, Congress passed a major tax act that dramatically changed the tax structure for small and large businesses.  This was passed to make the United States more competitive internationally.  As a result of the tax law, every business needs to evaluate how they are structured to make the most of the new tax law.

The changes in nexus and income tax should get every leader’s attention.  If you throw in the internet, state regulations, proposed tariffs, full employment, lower barriers to entry in most businesses, and a whole host of additional factors, you end up with a very precarious business operating environment.  A lot of people might look at all of this and ask if they should continue.

Now that you are depressed, you also need to look at the bright side.  The economy is doing well.  With technology it is easier to get closer to your customers.  You have more information than you have ever had about your business, your industry and the economy.  Markets are easier to enter.  If you think about it, you could add another half dozen items to this list.  The point is that there will be winners and losers.  The key question is:

What will help insure that you are a winner?

Here is my top ten list for how to make sure you are winning.  This is not in any particular order except for number 1.  That is critical for all the other items.

  1. Make sure that the leader’s attitude is a winning attitude.
  2. Proactively manage the situation versus reacting to external events.
  3. Get close to your customers.
  4. Get close to your team.
  5. Provide tremendous value to your customers
  6. Know the critical success factors for your operations and how to measure them
  7. Clarify your marketing message and plan.
  8. Be innovative and creative.
  9. Know your purpose.
  10. Know what you won’t do.

The above list is not all inclusive. However, if you are doing these things, you will be on the right path.  We will discuss these in detail over the next few weeks.  Right now, I would encourage you to think about each of these and pick one that resonates.  If the sales tax issue scares you give us a call or send us an email to discuss it.  If you are concerned that you aren’t innovative or creative, discuss it with your team.  The point is to pick something and start working on it.  Now is a great time to build a business.

June 15, 2018 – Are You Focused On the Long-Term?

Posted on | June 15, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

How do you evaluate the health of your business?  Is it determined by your cash flow or profitability?  Is it growing or declining?  How do you measure your investments in your business, including new people, services and divisions?

Expansion of the Idea:

I recently finished reading a book called “Go Long, Why Long-Term Thinking is Your Best Short-Term Strategy”.  It is a pretty good read and discusses several large companies’ decisions to jettison parts of their business to remake their future.  One example is CVS deciding to get rid of selling tobacco products in order to focus on being a more dedicated health services company.  They felt that selling tobacco was holding back their main business and they needed to do something about it.  I can’t determine if it was a core value decision or just a strategic decision.  No matter what your perspective, they were giving up $2 billion of revenue.  Yet, one year after they announced that they were getting rid of tobacco, their stock price went to $100 from $73 a year earlier.  Their business model changed and was stronger as a result of their decision.

Most people would look at this and say that is fine for large companies.  It doesn’t apply to small businesses.  Small business owners can’t afford to give up revenue.  They are fighting for their lives and need all of the business that they can get.  The irony is that most small business owners started their business with a long-term view.  They would never have started or acquired a new business if they were thinking short-term.  As they have achieved some level of success they tend to get comfortable and they don’t want to risk money on a long-term prospect.  As a result, they end up with good businesses not great businesses.

Short-term versus long-term thinking shows up in a lot of areas.  Some to be considered are:

  • New product development
  • Training of employees
  • Delegation of duties
  • Development of systems
  • Customer service policies
  • Intentionally cannibalizing your own sales with new developments at a lower price point
  • Taking time for planning or vacations
  • Saying no to the wrong types of customers and businesses
  • Succession planning
  • Physical plant or offices

The above list doesn’t scratch the surface of areas where small business owners can intentionally focus on the long term.  Changes in any of these areas when implemented might have a small short-term cost.  However, making investments in any of these areas has significant short and medium-term benefits when implemented properly.  When we do think about the long term and act on those thoughts, we end up running better businesses now.  Frequently, this turns into more cash flow currently and in the future.

Questions to consider:

  1. Are there areas of your business that need an investment of time or money?
  2. What are your metrics to evaluate your business?
  3. Are they short-term or long-term metrics?
  4. Review the list above.  Pick one item that you think you need to focus on.
  5. Discuss this with your team.

June 8, 2018 – What is the Cost of Your Core Values?

Posted on | June 8, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Does your company have core values?  Are the real core values the same as the stated core values?  Does your team know the company core values?  Do you know what the real core values are?  What happens when they are tested?  Which core values win?

Expansion of the Idea:

In the Tuesday morning Wall Street Journal, there was an interesting article on the departure of the founders of WhatsApp from Facebook.  WhatsApp is a simple, secure messaging system that Facebook bought for $22 billion dollars in 2014.  I have never used WhatsApp, but from what I read, one of the founders’ core values was privacy and security.  They had accumulated 450 million users but weren’t making a ton of money.  When Facebook bought them that was their opportunity to cash out.  However, Facebook’s core values don’t include privacy and security.  A clash was coming.  It took about 4 years but Facebook’s advertising model was introduced to WhatsApp’s business.  The founders could not handle it and finally left.

As I was reading the article, it was apparent that the founders’ core values were such that they could not handle the intrusion of Facebook type ads in their software and they finally left, leaving $1.3 billion on the table.  (It is a lot easier leaving that much money on the table when you have already collected over $20 billion.)  I had three observations on this:

  1. They had built a huge business with core values.
  2. They then sold out the business and their core values for a lot of money.
  3. They rediscovered their core values and left money on the table.

The main takeaway is that core values have a cost.  If they don’t have a cost then they are probably not a core value.  The cost may be money, time, lost opportunities or inconvenience.  But there is a cost.  The reason is that they are a boundary.  Your core values help control your decisions.  The irony is that only by sacrificing short term cost will you gain long term benefits.

If your core values include customer service, then you need to have systems to provide that service, even if it costs you money.  If one of your core values is teamwork, then you need to be prepared to get rid of a high performer who is not a good team player.

Core values are really beneficial for companies that are focused on long term results.  Companies that are strictly focused on short term frequently end up with a core value of making the most money that they can.  I am all for making the most money that you can.  However, when you focus on the short term, you risk losing long term customers or employees.  That is the cost of that core value.

Core values have a lot of power.  They can help build great businesses by inspiring employees and customers.  They can also shatter relationships when they are violated.  They are like a lot of other pieces of running a small business, they need attention.  However, when they are clear and visible in a business, the results can be extraordinary.

Questions to consider:

  1. Do you have stated core values?
  2. Are there unstated core values?
  3. Are there conflicts between numbers 1 and 2?
  4. Have you discussed core values with your team?

A very interesting book to read about implementing service standards (core values) is Be Our Guest, written by the Disney Institute.

June 1, 2018 – Do You Want to Be Great or Good?

Posted on | June 1, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Are you putting off selling your house because you dread the to-do list?  Would a real estate professional tell you that you had to replace the carpet, update the kitchen or redo the master bath?  Would you spend 2 weeks fixing the garage door, replacing the toilet that doesn’t flush, repainting the upstairs bedrooms and a whole host of things that you have just lived with?

Expansion of the Idea:

Most of us tend to put off things until we have to do them.  And sometimes as in the case of selling a home, we may not know what we need to fix until a professional tells us that something needs to be done before we put it on the market.  The problem with waiting until we sell is that we don’t get to enjoy the benefits of the repair or replacement.  We just live with the old.

The same is true of our businesses.  Most businesses are not organized and run with an exit plan.  This exit or succession plan could include being prepared to sell to an outsider or given to a family member.  It really doesn’t matter what your plans are.  It is important to have a plan and to organize the management of the business towards that plan.  It doesn’t matter if you are 60 or 30 years old.  You may have just started the business.   It is critical to think about where you want to go.

In his book, “The E-Myth Revisited”, Michael Gerber talks about creating businesses that really work.  In “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, one of the key concepts is to begin with the end in mind.  Both of these authors are really talking about the same problem that exists in small businesses.  We need to create businesses that have systems and processes that lead to the results we want.  But first we have to define what we want and where we want to go.

Just as we enlist a real estate professional to help with the sale of our houses, small business owners need outside input on getting their businesses working the way that they need them to work.  This could include systems, goal setting, strategic planning or reporting.  Every business has different needs.  The problem that small business owners have is that they don’t always know what they need.  Outside perspective really helps.

I have seen a number of situations where a small business owner says that they want to sell their business and the business is not ready for sale.  They can try to clean up some systems to provide a quick fix.  This will help but normally they will end up selling for significantly less than what the business is worth.  However, if they had begun the process 2 years ago or longer, they will end up realizing a lot more on the sale of the business.  The bonus is that normally when you improve how you manage your business, you will end up making a lot more money and have significantly fewer headaches before you sell.

As Jim Collins says, “Good is the enemy of Great.”  Because we have good companies, we don’t have great ones.  The question for you is:

Do you want to be great or good?

Questions to consider:

  1. Is my business good or great?
  2. Are there areas that need improvement?
  3. Do I have a robust reporting mechanism and management system?
  4. Who am I getting input from?
  5. Who should I involve in running the business?
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  • About

    These weekly ideas are brought to you by FitzGerald & FitzGerald P.C. For more information about how to use these ideas with your small business contact Tim FitzGerald at trfitz@fitz-net.com.