Apr 032013
 

can't do it all, delegate, 80/20 rule, focus, prioritization

My first year at business school, I thought my professors were trying to kill me. Each night, I had more reading and homework than could possibly get done in one evening even if I stayed up all night. I quickly realized that one of the key lessons of survival was prioritization–figuring out what portion of the work was most important and what just was not going to get done.

I remember one night, working on a term paper with a group of students. We had worked hard on the paper and we all thought it was in good shape. We had other work to complete that night and were not anxious to pull an all-nighter so we were ready to move on. One of the team members, however, felt it was not “A” material and wanted to keep working on it. I remember thinking even back then that this guy did not “get it.”

My life building businesses has been the same experience as business school. To survive and flourish, you have to quickly figure out what is “important” and what is “noise.” You can’t do it all… Click here for more tips on getting more done.

At both of my current companies Window Brothers & Vance Properties, we have a saying: follow the 80/20 rule, technically known as the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle tells us that 20 percent of the inputs account for 80 percent of the results. You have to cut through the noise, figure out what tasks represent the 20 percent with the greatest leverage and focus on those tasks. Find those projects that make a big impact and ignore EVERYTHING else.

Is it difficult to step away from fire drills and turn away from the mounting volume in your inbox? Absolutely. But if you don’t, your days–and your team’s days–will slip away without having addressed the projects that will really drive your business.

The sooner you figure out how to apply the 80/20 rule and run with it, the better off you’ll be. There are 100 things you can focus on each day, and it’s up to you to parse the data, decide what projects or features have the greatest leverage, focus, and get it done.

Don’t forget, you can’t do it all….

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 April 3, 2013  Posted by at 5:00 AM Time Tagged with: , , ,  1 Response »
Mar 182013
 

entrepreneur, happiness, born leader, focus, take action, passionate about work, passive income, systems, technician, michael gerber, e-myth,

 

Click here to learn more about Michael Gerber’s best selling book the E-myth

Clich here to learn How to: Calm the chaos and get your life back.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 March 18, 2013  Posted by at 5:00 AM Happiness, Visual Quote Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Feb 252013
 

Create leverage, create systems, build a business 

Click here to learn more about creating leverage.

Click here to learn more about creating systems.

Click here to learn more about building a better business.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 February 25, 2013  Posted by at 6:00 AM Visual Quote Tagged with: , , , ,  1 Response »
Sep 242012
 

team, key performance indicators, leadership, hiring employees, building a better business, outsource, goals, prioritize

There are three steps managers and staff can take toward a more efficient, more productive organization. .

1. Identify and focus on your biggest priorities.

Too often employees find themselves spending time on work that isn’t core to the success of the business. As the Pareto principle states: 80% of the value comes from 20% of the work. The key here is for your business to identify the few objectives that drive Continue reading »

 September 24, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth, Team, Time Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Sep 172012
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Smart Rules to Follow

Here are some tips that will help empower and enable your team to succeed while you’re away, and they may just make your vacation more enjoyable.

1. Set some ground rules.

Set expectations before you leave. If you just can’t not check email, make your plans clear to those around you. Perhaps you want to check email just once at the end of the day, and respond to only notes that have been marked “urgent”–or you may not want to respond at all. Either way, make a plan before you leave so that everyone knows what to expect.

2. Delegate.

Make sure your team feels empowered to carry on and step up without you. Delegate responsibilities for approvals and decisions to team members whom you trust. And make sure your team knows who is responsible for what. This will not only ensure nothing goes unnoticed, but it will empower people to take more initiative–when you’re gone and even after you return.

3. Give yourself a schedule.

If you said you’d check your email once a day, stick to it. If you decided to do one conference call, don’t add more to the calendar just because you feel you should and you’re free. Stay true to the expectations you set.

4. Make an effort not to respond.

The more you respond to non urgent emails and phone calls, the less clarity there is around responsibility. You are on vacation; you should do your best to stay there. Remember that you’re helping your team as well as yourself.

5. Trust.

There is a reason you work with the people you do; you probably hired most of them. They’re smart; you trust them. Remember this, and don’t worry about what happens when you take a vacation.

6. Allow for mistakes.

Everyone drops the ball at some point, but even that is a learning experience. Allow for mistakes to happen when you’re away. It won’t be the end of the world.

7. Enjoy your vacation.

Really take your vacation. You deserve it. I always feel a bit sorry for the people who constantly check in even if they’re on vacation, because they’re obviously not having an excellent time.

The leaders whom I respect the most are the ones I never hear from while they’re away. Set a good example and go away–preferably where cell service is spotty. And have fun.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 17, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , ,  2 Responses »
Sep 102012
 

time management, email settings, to do list, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are 7 daily tasks you probably can eliminate from your workday to help you stay focused and be more productive.

1. Stop overloading your to-do list.

You might feel the need to write down everything you need to accomplish each day, but resist making an impossible list of daily tasks. Compiling a lengthy list of things you need to accomplish might seem productive, but you could be doing more harm than good. It results in too many items at the end of the day that are not completed. This will make you feel stressed out, inadequate and unfocused. Instead, create a manageable list of essential tasks that should be finished on a given day–and save the rest for later.

2. Stop having open-ended meetings.

Figure out your priorities before you call a meeting and make them clear to all the attendees. Too many small-business owners waste half the meeting just getting to what they really want to talk about.  You will find putting three priority topics at the top of your agenda will help you avoid getting sidetracked by other issues.

3. Stop answering repetitive questions.

If you find yourself answering the same question from clients or employees frequently, you’re wasting time. Instead, put together a FAQ on your website or create instructional videos that people can access via links at the bottom of your emails. Figure out better ways to answer [questions] without your having to be involved.

4. Stop taking the same follow-up approach if people ignore you.

If you’ve sent someone an email and the recipient hasn’t responded, don’t keep firing off more emails. Try communicating in another way–calling, sending a text or visiting in person if it’s appropriate.  Too many business owners get bogged down communicating with people inefficiently.

5. Stop making regular visits to the post office.

Instead of going to the post office, schedule mail pickups from your business or home office. You also can buy envelopes with pre-paid postage or invest in an inexpensive scale and postage printer.

6. Stop making piles.

Eliminating clutter can boost efficiency. Rather than organize papers in piles whose logic is known only to you, stick to a systematic filing system and eliminate any pieces of paper you no longer need.

7. Stop signing every check.

I am a firm believer that the task of accounts payable should be the business owners responsibility. This way we remain in control of all money and funds going out of our businesses. However, just because this task remains on our plate it doesn’t mean that we can’t look for ways to make it more efficient.

Designate a specific day and time for certain tasks, such as signing checks, rather than allow them to randomly interrupt your workflow. Better yet, you can have your signature printed on checks to avoid signing each one. Programs like QuickBooks let you use preprinted checks and keep track of transactions.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 10, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Sep 052012
 

time management, email settings, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The average U.S. professional spends half their working day on email. They are constantly tethered to their smart phone, responding to short bursts of communication, and creating email overload.

I have whittled down a list of email best practices that can help you and your team start a revolution, reduce dependence on email, and stop wasting time–today.

1. Make sure email is the right communication option.

Not all communication is appropriate for email. Segment your personal communications by interactions that are right for email versus phone versus in-person meetings. Adopt a company-wide policy, and don’t allow email to become the default communication mode. A great first policy: Don’t start discussions via email. It takes significantly more time to compose a point and then debate it on email than to have an in-person conversation.

2. Think about the person reading your note.

Many email responses are clarifications of what the sender wrote or additional questions that perpetuate email churn (rather than end a thread succinctly). You can greatly reduce the amount of back-and-forth by thinking more about the email recipient–the user, in this case–and by crafting your message to meet her needs. Before hitting Send, slow down to consider: Did I give all the information needed? Will the reader understand my message? Is my point clear? Are the next steps obvious?

3. Anticipate questions.

The easiest way to reduce needless email is to anticipate what your recipient’s impressions and questions will be after reading your message. If you send a brief email stating, “budget meeting is canceled today,” the reader will probably wonder why, and when the meeting will be rescheduled. Anticipate the recipient’s reaction and communicate more thoroughly, answering questions you think she’ll have.

4. Call out important information with headlines, bullets, and numbers.

Example:

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Most people don’t read. In our fast-paced digital culture, we scan and skim content, looking for the highlights. You’ve probably noticed that major Web publishers use headlines, bullets, boldface type, and other design best practices to ensure readers stay engaged. The same applies to your emails. Don’t send paragraphs of text in which the salient points and calls to action are buried.

5. Save time by creating email templates.

Many emails to employees, clients, or colleagues are similar in nature. Rather than constructing each one from scratch, save templates that remind you of important details to include and contain prebuilt design best practices. For example, at my company, we have templates for client service updates, for scheduling confirmations, and for scheduling reminders.

6. Target your communications.

Irrelevant messages are not opened and can create a negative impression. Think very carefully about the people you include in your “To” field. Does that recipient really need the information, or are you adding to email inbox burden?

7. Select email preferences.

Establish your email preferences (how often you like it and when), and make those norms known throughout your company. When leading a project, don’t default to being copied on everything. Indicate to your team when you should be CC’ed on communication. Likewise, ask your colleagues and staff for their preferences in your communications with them.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 5, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 272012
 

business growth, networking, planning,sales strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some business owners I meet complain that, although they attend networking events, they don’t actually get any work through them and question whether it is worth while bothering, given that there are 101 other things they could be spending their time doing.

Clearly, networking isn’t going to be an appropriate marketing tool for all businesses, but for many I believe it is. After all, if you needed a builder/ accountant/ IT specialist, wouldn’t you prefer to deal with somebody you have met and chatted to rather than somebody you didn’t know at all?

If you are going to use networking as a marketing tool for your business, as with any marketing tool you use, you first need a clear strategy in order to make it work well for you.

Below you will see my ‘top 5 tips’ to effective networking, this will to help you develop your own approach.

1. Choose the networking groups you attend wisely.

You need groups of proactive business owners, not ones that just meet to chat and feel good about themselves. Go along to the meetings with a goal in your mind for the number of cards you are going to hand out, receive, and the number of meetings that you are going to book.

2. Be clear on the type of business you are looking for.

Think about the size, type and location of companies you would like to work with. Make it easy for people to refer work to you by having a clear and concise offer.

3. Ask the people you meet about themselves and their businesses.

Don’t forget that people buy from people they like and showing interest in what others do will help build that relationship. Having a great story to tell will help make people interested in what you do, never try to just sell what you do.

4. Always follow-up on the people you have met after the event. Remember, networking is the start of the sales process, not the end. How do you follow-up after a networking event. Personally, I take all the business cards I have collected and I send invitations to have that contact connect with me via LinkedIn and Facebook.

5. Finally, make sure you measure the results of your efforts. Testing and Measuring is the key to reaching your goal for any activity that you participate in. If you aren’t willing to take the time to test and measure, then you might as well stop doing that activity.

So now you have a guide to effective networking, get out there, take action and make it work for you.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 August 27, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jul 022012
 

marketing, growing small business, spending time instead of money, low cost marketing, marketing budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

If, as a result of the present economic times, you find yourself cutting back heavily on your marketing budget, it does not mean that you also need to cut back on your marketing activities. Marketing is paramount in these times of economic distress.

How then can you keep your marketing efforts alive despite a dwindling fund?

There are many marketing initiatives available that are free of cost or have a minimal cash outlay with a relatively high return that small businesses can effectively employ to remain competitive.

Here are nine such techniques that can help you survive and thrive through the present tough times.

  1. Networking – Networking with local business groups, local ‘service’ groups such as Round Table, Lions etc, or even at your children’s school or the church, etc. can be a great marketing technique that does not cost a thing. Spend your time instead of your money.
  2. Referral policy – Ask your existing customers to recommend you to a friend and, if necessary, give them some form of reward (high perceived value to them, low-cost to you) for doing this.
  3. Targeted Direct Mail – A carefully written letter sent to a targeted list and then followed up to increase response rate can work wonders for your business.
  4. Improved Signage – Improve your signage to cover the services you offer.
  5. Marketing Collateral – Leaflets promoting all your services sent out with invoices or directly to your customer base is a cost-effective marketing technique.
  6. Email Newsletters – While it can cost a bit to set up a template, email newsletters come with only a small cost to use as long as you have the time to write the content yourself. There is no postage associated and these are free to send.
  7. Free Poster Signs – Post signs on your vehicles – you have a free poster site, why not use it!
  8. Internet/Online Marketing – There are a plethora of free/low-cost options available online, such as blogs, social media, membership communities like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Meetup, Yelp etc. where you can market your products and services. YouTube can be used effectively to demonstrate your product and with the help of social media tools, these videos can reach a newer, wider audience.

It is important to remember that axing your marketing budget does not mean that you also minimize your marketing initiatives. The biggest mistake businesses make during a recession is to cut down on their marketing activities. Using these free, low-cost marketing techniques will help your company stay afloat during these tumultuous times.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 July 2, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jun 042012
 

time management, most valuable resource, delegation, stop blaming time, lack of time is not an excuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do we sometimes have such trouble concentrating? The ability to focus is a skill – it is not innate. Here are 11 ways to strengthen concentration, even under difficult circumstances:

1. Connect emotionally to the task. Tightrope walkers and lion tamers have no trouble concentrating. That’s because their lives are at stake. But it’s easy for the mind to wander when it lacks passion for what we are doing. Of course, life’s realities often require us to focus on tasks we don’t like. In those cases, ask yourself, “What aspect of this task do I care about most deeply?”

2. Chart your energy level throughout the day. Most of us have certain times of day when we are clearheaded and energetic. Use those times for tasks that require the most concentration.

3. Remove items that regularly break your focus – family photos, magazines, and any material that is not relevant to your task; even the icon on your computer that alerts you to email…

4. Train yourself not to give in to distractions. When someone enters the room, or when a door slams, consciously keep your concentration on what is in front of you. When someone talks to you, don’t let your mind wander. Listen as if you were going to be required to repeat what is said back to the speaker.

5. Decide how long you intent to work, and what you plan to accomplish. Set strict time limits to complete subtasks. Ask your spouse of a co-worker to monitor your progress, and to apply gentle pressure when necessary.

6. Remember the big picture – but focus on the task at hand. If you keep mulling over the large, long-term consequences of your actions, your mind will shut down to keep you from becoming overwhelmed.

7. Use caffeine and sugar sparingly. True, they stimulate concentration, but their effects last only 30 to 60 minutes. The more caffeine or sugar you consume, the more you will eventually need in order to achieve the desired effects. Instead, try five minutes of light exercise, which will perk you up with no side effects.

8. Meditate. It strengthens your ability to control your thoughts. Try focusing solely on your breath going in and out. Start with five minutes per day. Build up to 20 minutes. When your mind wanders, observe the distracting thought rather than trying to force it out of your mind. After a few minutes, refocus your attention.

9. Take breaks. You should be able to concentrate on one task for about 40 minutes. Then take a five to ten minute break. Periodically shift you’re sitting position at your desk. This helps keep you alert by promoting circulation and sending more oxygen to your brain.

10. Ask yourself where the block is. If you are chronically unable to concentrate on a specific task, perhaps something about what you have taken on is not right for you. In that case, consider whether you are being fair to yourself by forcing yourself to continue with it.

11. Reward yourself for completing particularly difficult tasks.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 June 4, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »