Ask for Help!

In a recent interview I was asked what I thought was a common thread for all my clients. Without thinking, I answered, “They’re ready and willing to ask for help”. I knew it was true before, but I hadn’t put it into words. Understanding and acknowledging this I can now focus on finding those who are ready to ask for help. That’s a great insight. I can simply ask prospects if they are ready to get help.
Entrepreneurs by nature don’t like to ask for help. An independent and sometimes stubborn lot, we tend to think we can do it all. There are many kinds of help we can ask for, from getting administrative support to calling on expertise beyond our own to accomplish something that would require ramp up time for us. That includes getting feedback on our ideas, helping us monitor our milestones and keeping us focused on our goals. The place to go for help is where the payoff is the biggest. If we haven’t clearly defined exactly what results we want, we may want to start there and get help to define them.

It’s much easier, and certainly more pleasant, having someone help us sort out the issues, get focused on goals, offer solutions, function as a partner and be a friend. Enter — the coach.

How do you know if you’re ready to ask for help from someone like a coach? Here are a few responses I’ve heard more than once.

– Tried unsuccessfully to do it myself
– Feel stuck and tempted to give up
– Want to grow my business but don’t know how
– Finances are out of control
– Staff is not productive; I end up doing it all
– Have great ideas, but don’t know how to develop them
– Want to create a strong brand; need guidance
– Frustrated with my business partnership or family business

With those kinds of answers you can’t afford NOT to get help. Humans were meant to help each other. It’s an honor to be asked for help. It reinforces our sense of being valued.
Asking for help does not imply weakness. I’ve found that those who ask for help when they need it are much more likely to succeed than those who keep putting it off, continuing to hope they can do it themselves. That can lead to total frustration and could be the beginning of an unwanted downhill spiral.

Is it time to get help in making critical decisions or setting a strategic course of action? Don’t be afraid to ask. I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did.

Go to the Contact Page, and tell me how I can help.

If you’re ready to cut through all the “stuff” and move your business onto the fast track to success, join us for the 9 week Fast Track Intensive, starting April 27th. First session is F*R*E*E.

What is a Strategy? Wikipedia defines strategy as “A long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often “winning.” Strategy is differentiated from tactics or immediate actions with resources at hand by its nature of being extensively premeditated, and often practically rehearsed. Strategies are used to make the problem easier to understand and solve.”

My definition is a bit simpler, and hopefully, easier to understand. I consider developing a strategy as the “thinking” part of the process. It’s where you gather all the pertinent information, analyze it, and then make “informed” decisions based on what you learn. A strategy is an informed decision that provides a framework for actions.

From “How to Create a Marketing Strategy That Delivers“.

‚ÄčAre you Suffering from “Entrepreneuritis”?

Today a client introduced me to a new term, “entrepreneuritis”. Since I hadn’t heard the term, I asked her what it was. She said it’s that syndrome that says “I can do it all myself; I want to do it all myself, I have to do it all myself. These are all my ideas, my way of doing things and no one else can do it as well. And I’m feeling overwhelmed because I need to grow my business but I’m so busy doing everything myself, I don’t have enough time to do the things that bring in business.”

Being curious, I decided to do some research myself. There seem to be varying definitions of entrepreneuritis. Robert Sher in his blog article, The Path between Entrepreneuritis and Myopia. says “Entrepreneuritis is where you can’t stop yourself from jumping on every new business idea that pops into your head. Having a clear definition of your business will aid you in steering the course between entrepreneuritis and myopia”. He also warns, “avoid being too rigid in your niche. If you’re not growing your business in some way you’re in trouble”.

The Blue Jeans Virtual Assistant in her blog article, Do You Have Entrepreneuritis? says, “As a small business owner I must learn how to do everything myself (spending countless hours learning it sometimes) and must grab on to each new idea that comes my way or through my inbox, learn it and move on to the next thing. As a result most likely I have a list of unfinished projects on paper, in an idea journal or on the computer.”

Donna Maria calls it Entrepreneur’s ADD and defines it as 1) too many ideas at one time, no execution of any; 2) can’t think what to do with an idea. In her article, 3-Step Cure for Entrepreneur’s ADD, she actually offers some tactics she used to cure herself.

I think all entrepreneurs occasionally have bouts with entrepreneuritis, even if they didn’t know what to call it. Of course, when it becomes chronic, it can become a problem and really hold back your business. Part of the argument I often hear is “I can’t afford to hire someone to do other tasks”. They don’t have the money to pay someone else now, so they just keep doing it themselves. Bottom line: you can’t grow your business until you can begin to hand off tasks. It’s like the chicken and the egg.

I remember the first time I hired someone to help with my e-mail communications. I didn’t really have the money to pay her, but I decided to make the investment in my business. I quickly learned how valuable it was to be able to hand off tasks that had taken me hours to do. Now I had more time to spend on what only I could do in the business.

For some alternatives to doing it all yourself, read my article, Delegation and Teamwork, for some ideas and examples of how to start letting go a little bit and giving yourself the solid support you need to grow. If you’re really serious about getting your business to the next level, don’t let entrepreneuritis keep you down.

Two Steps to a Winning Strategy

Janelle located her executive recruiter office on the second floor of a small commercial building with the window facing the commuter train station platform. She hopes to attract the attention of commuting executives ready for a move or those seeking executive level help. That’s Strategy!

Carlos opened his restaurant on a low rent block at the fringe of an area being actively redeveloped . His low rent allows him to offer good quality, well- prepared food at great prices. He figures people are always attracted to a bargain. That’s Strategy!

Catherine is a real estate developer who decided to identify all properties in an upscale area which has an appraised value lower than tax valuation. She believes there will be several properties among these that are ripe for development. She’ll approach the owners to see if they are open to selling. That’s Strategy!

Strategy is thinking through logical options and asking the question: if I do X (Action) how close will I come to getting Y (Goal). The Strategy you choose [Read more…]

Get the Results You Want

One of the greatest enemies of getting the results you want is disorganized thinking and unfocused actions. Look at the image on the left.

What do you see? Disorganized thinking and unfocused actions. When operating in this mode, there’s lots of activity, but little is accomplished.

To get the results you want, those assets and actions have to be aligned and directed, like the image on the right. Look at the strength and power these two elements add.

Entrepreneurs tend to have lots of good ideas, usually function at high energy and are often impulsive. But what has the potential for a solid business often falls apart for lack of organization, structure, focus and direction. Actions are frequently taken haphazardly and sporadic without a goal or a plan.

The objective is to align assets and actions so they all go in the same direction – toward your goals. The sequence of steps is to identify and organize your assets (the value you provide to the marketplace), create a clear message and then strategically plan and take calculated, directed actions designed to lead to your goals.

In order to get the Results you want, you must align your Goals, your Strategy, your Plan and your Actions. Actions implement the Plan, which carries out the Strategy, which leads to your Goals. Therefore, Actions ultimately should lead to Goals. To the extent that Results match Goals, your Actions have been on-target and successful. [Read more…]

Three Keys to Finding the Gold in Your Business

Gold is certainly a hot commodity in today’s economy. Any gold you have is worth more today than it was a year ago. I’ll bet you have some gold you’re not even aware of, right there in your own business. Let’s see if we can find it.

If you could make twice the income in half the time, would that be as good as gold to you? Would that increase the value of your business? Sounds like a marketing rant, doesn’t it? Well, there are three basic underlying truths that, once learned and applied, will allow you to make more money while you work less. Here they are.

Simplify

Spend more time on goal-oriented activities, less on non-essentials. You want your daily activities to be adding value to your business and taking you closer to your goals. Block out specific time on your calendar for these activities and make sure they get done first. E-mail, telephone and personal interruptions steal a lot of time. Dedicate specific time to these tasks also; just work hard to keep them from interfering with your goal-directed actions and time. [Read more…]

Groom Your Replacement

“But I don’t want a replacement”, you say. Well, maybe you will after you read this article.

Would you genuinely like to change the way you spend your business day? Is the business running you or are you running it? Are you doing jobs yourself that someone else could do because you want to hold down expenses? Or are you concerned that no one else will do the jobs as well as you?

What if you could not only delegate, but you could duplicate yourself? That means having another person who is able to manage your business in your absence. If you have aspirations of growing your business, this is a critical element of preparation. Growth always puts an additional strain on the person in charge, so you’ll want someone who can replace you in as many areas of day to day operations as possible. [Read more…]

Visibility & Credibility: What Works Now

You know there is a market for what you offer. One of your primary challenges is to increase the number of qualified prospects to whom your product or service is visible.

There have always been ways to get visibility and credibility. When the circus came to town at the beginning of the last century it paraded down Main Street to gain visibility. It worked. Today there are a lot more sophisticated ways to gain visibility. And they are evolving at a fairly rapid pace. Blogs have come on the scene and are growing in popularity for visibility and credibility. I haven’t actually used one yet myself, but am seriously considering it.

If increasing visibility and credibility is part of your overall strategy, let’s take a systematic look at how we might approach planning for it. Determining who you are trying to reach and where you will reach them is a good place to start.

Who are you trying to reach?

[Read more…]

Have Fun and Make Money

In working with small business owners for many years I’ve learned that committing things to paper is hard for a lot of you. You probably didn’t like doing homework either. It was necessary, however, in order for you to move up to the next level.

It’s the same in business. Writing an Operating Plan is the result of having thought through all of its elements and deciding, at least for the short term, on a course of action.

Although I provide a template, each client has total freedom to change it to best serve their needs. Sam, who is a financial services provider, wrote the following Operating Plan for his business. I’m sharing it in the hopes of inspiring you to write your own.

Sam has the right idea at the very start. He knows the purpose of this business is to “have fun and make money”. [Read more…]

Strategy in Action: The Moment of Truth

Bill Sipes, CPA, and principal share-holder in Sipes & Associates, http://www.sipescpa.com, Business Advisers and Appraisers, heads a muti-faceted Financial Services firm in Jackson, TN. Bill got caught up in the whiplash at the end of the 2001-03 recession. He missed his Sept. 30, 2003 annual revenue goal by a long way. Based on what has happened so far this fiscal year, projections indicate he very likely will surpass this year’s goal. What happened that made such a difference?

Bill decided to create (and implement) a new strategy.

Until a couple of years ago, his services included Write-up, Reporting and Taxes for businesses and some individuals. He also had become certified as a Business Appraiser and Valuation Expert and this contributed a good portion of the revenue. Last year the revenue from Appraisal and Valuation dropped significantly. [Read more…]

Bounce Back From Failure

Like it or not, you will have failures as you build your business. You may already have felt the pangs of failure. I’m not just talking about the daily kind of failure, like not getting the account you wanted or not covering your expenses this month. I’m really talking about things like being the victim of theft or embezzlement, losing a key employee, experiencing a partnership breakup.

I’m helping clients deal with these failures right now but there are many events that can force you to rethink your business. A major systems break-down, the loss of a major account, dismal results on a new offering – almost anything can seem like failure. Although each situation is different, the initial sense of shock, anger and helplessness is similar. This is a normal reaction for many people in such circumstances.

When you are first made aware of your loss, it will take a certain amount of time to overcome the shock. You may need to jump right in and take short term corrective action, but be sure to follow up with whatever investigation is needed. In addition to looking for the cause of the failure, look for the positive side of what happened. See what lessons can be learned and get back to business as soon as possible.

Here are the steps I recommend be taken to effectively get through a failure and be able to bounce back smarter and stronger than ever. [Read more…]