Knee High By the 4th of July

Knee High By the 4th of July
Do you tend to your business as you would your garden?

I recently planted a rather large veggie garden containing corn, beets, tomatoes, beans, broccoli, radishes, herbs, Asparagus, and peppers of many varieties, squash, zucchini and pumpkins. Every day it needs to be tended to. Weeding, watering, fertilizing, and shooing out the dogs (they seem to like beet greens).  I know that if I miss one day of a little attention, the garden will be overcome by weeds and probably eaten by critters.

Midwest US corn farmers have an expression ‘knee high by the fourth of July’. A crop which is expected to turn out well will be at least knee high in early July — which means the initial growing conditions have been good. If a crop doesn’t get off to as good start it will not turn out well.  That is my goal as well.  By the way, I am happy to report that today I reached that goal.

This garden has definitely been a labor of love and sometimes overwhelming.  I’ve even thought, “Why on earth have I started this project?”  Sometimes I really didn’t “feel” like pulling weeds.  However, in the end I know that I will reap the results of fresh veggies I can be proud of all summer and winter.

When I first decided to plant a garden this year, I had to sit down with pencil and paper in hand and plan it out.  I had to research the types of veggies and the space and care each would need to grow healthy in the space I had and give me a good return.  When I finished the initial planning phase the earth had to be tilled, composted and prepared to increase my success.

Once the seeds were planted, I tend the garden everyday. As a result, I see the progress of each plant.  There have been a few plants that had to be replaced and a few that had to be transplanted to a different area of the garden.  All in all, will constant vigilance it looks like I’ll have a bumper crop!  Success!

Does this process sound somewhat familiar?  Do you tend to your business as you would your garden?

Planning and tending to your business is no different than tending to a garden.  It’s a continuous cycle of decisions, planning, preparing, working, measuring, adjusting and doing it all over again.  If you understand that the business of your business is a cycle, you can easily create good habits, routines and systems around tending to your business.

Here are 3 Tips to help you tend to your business and create “bumper” crop results:

  1.  Focus Time    Each and every day schedule a set amount of time and commit to that schedule to work on your business.  That means working on your marketing, reviewing your results, planning what’s next, etc.   Do not allow yourself to be interrupted by email, the telephone or Facebook!  You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in as little as 30 minutes a day FOCUSED TIME.

  1. Checklists       Develop a checklist of those routine activities you must do every day.  Commit to completing your checklist.  You might decide that you can delegate some of your routine tasks.
  2. Follow up       Create a follow up and reporting system for your business.  Create a system that encourages communication between you and your staff in a positive way.  You might consider a daily reporting system for your team to report the things they got done that day and a weekly all staff meeting that is focused, short and sweet. Commit and place importance to your follow up system.  Don’t give it “lip service” or it won’t happen.

Tending to the business of your business isn’t always fun or sexy however, daily diligence, commitment and care will bring you closer to the level of success you desire… that bumper business.  Remember that this is a necessary cycle… no way of getting around that!  A little focused business TLC each and every day will bring great results.

Not so sure how to start?  Sometimes you might need a planning expert to bounce ideas off of, problem solve or simply ask for some advice. I am ready to help you! Get answers to your questions, when you need them at any time during your planning process.  Go here for more details.


Want to use this article for your blog or newsletter? No problem! Please leave the paragraph below in tact when sharing.

Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching.  Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com

 

Spring Has Sprung

 

Spring Has Sprung… The Grass Is Riz…
I Wonder How My Business Is?

 

Spring has sprung nearly everywhere now.  Matter of fact, in a few days summer will be upon us.   Have you done a spring cleaning in your business?

There are a few times a year that you should put new projects and milestones on your calendar.  In the fall you should be looking at your programs and plan for the following year.  Getting your game plan, your financial goals, your marketing plan, etc. for the next year or 18 months.

 

In the spring take a look at your 1st and 2nd quarters of the year.  Ask yourself, what’s going well – what’s not going so well.  What can you eliminate – what can you add. You might want to adjust your plan.

 

Remember, those things that get measured and monitored get done.  From time to time you must measure and evaluate your own business from the inside out.

 

Here are the top business areas you should make a habit of evaluating. Hint:  schedule focused planning and evaluation time and put it on your calendar.

 

1.      Is your marketing plan supporting your:

 

a.      Financial goals?

 b.      What’s working? What’s not working?

 c.       What needs to go?  What can you change or add?

 

2.      Is your current team or staff adequately supporting your mission, goals and objectives?

 

This is sometimes a hard one because it’s can be difficult to release staff who are no longer meeting the higher good and goals of your business. It’s all about performance.  A question you could ask yourself is, “Is this staff member paying for themselves?”, “Is this staff member part of the team or more concerned with the “I”.

3.      What is your focus for the next 90 days and 2nd half of the year? Everyone wants to finish strong in the last half of the year.  What needs to go – what needs to stay? Is your plan congruent or in alignment with your objectives.  Are goals and objectives captured on your calendar?

 

 

4.      Are your systems and operations manual up to date and working for you in the way  you want them to? Needless to say, this is not the sexiest part of running your business but it is one of the most important.  The more you systematize your business the more it will run on autopilot.  You will not be interrupted by simple questions over and over again and that alone will help you carve out dedicated FOCUS time to work on your business. 

 

 

5.      What additional support do you need in your business to get things done that you haven’t started yet? Does you current team have the skills and knowledge to execute your plan?  Maybe you might need to outsource some additional talent to get your plan moving?  These are questions to ask yourself.  As technology changes and there are new “what’s working now” topics, your team’s skills and knowledge base will need to adjust accordingly. 

If you don’t want to do this yourself, hire the skill out to an expert who will help you get it done.  Because this isn’t the sexy part of your business and you probably struggle with it, it is definitely worth the investment to have an expert do it for you  and with you. One such service is the S.M.A.R.T. Start Partner.  You might want to check it out.

 

Spring cleaning any time of year is freeing.  It’s those little adjustments that can help you move forward in a big way.

Be S.M.A.R.T.!

 

Employees Verses Contractors

 

Employees Verses Contractors
7 Magical Keys to Managing Employees and Contractors

 

Not long ago I conducted a survey asking business owners and entrepreneurs, “What is your biggest planning challenge?”  To my surprise one of the answers I received was… “How do I manage contract workers?”  My immediate response was… “Why should it be any different?” When you hire a contract worker, they are working for you… their product or project is yours…. You have the right to dictate the specifics of the job, the measurements, and how you want things done.

 

In today’s internet world there are virtual assistants, online business managers, virtual staff, work for hour contractors, and many more.  For the most part you can hire any task you might want accomplished in your business virtually.  They might be long term employees or contractors, or maybe someone you hire for one specific task such as a graphic design or copywriting task.

 

First, there is the rudimentary difference between an employee and an independent contractor.  I suggest you look up the federal guidelines [I am not a lawyer and don’t play one on TV.]  A super resource is Jessica Eaves Mathews and her Leverage a Lawyer program.

 

There are several keys to managing employees and contract workers.  There really is no difference to managing employees and contractors.  Set yourself and your support staff up for success from the start.

 

7 Magical Keys to Managing Employees and Contractors

 

1.       Make sure you clearly know your specific requirements for the job or the project.

a.       Job descriptions should be clear, detailed and written including S.M.A.R.T. principles.

b.      Contracts should also be clearly written with all requirements of the job or project including timelines for deliverables and standards of performance.

c.       Communicate verbally and in writing your desired outcome.
 

2.       Include language in your job descriptions and contracts that includes an “out” for you if you are not satisfied with employee’s or contractor’s performance.  Sometimes you might want to include a probationary period so that you don’t get stuck with non-performance issues for contractors and employees.

 

 

3.       Always design a follow up or measurement aspect.  There are several ways to do this:

a.       Daily reports

b.      Staff meetings

c.       Status reports

 

4.       Hire slowly…. Fire fast.  This is great advice from one of my mentors Dan Kennedy.  Before you hire and simply throw a “body” at a project… Think!  Determine the requirements, the time line, the skills requires and everything you can think of before you hire.  Interview… Interview… interview!  On the other hand, once you do hire an employee or contractor, make sure your standards are clear and concise.  You will know quickly if someone isn’t working out. Don’t drag on with someone who isn’t working out.  NEXT! And QUICKLY!

 

5.       Set everyone who supports you and your business up for success from the beginning.  For example, be specific in the task requirement, the measurement tool or time line, final expectations, and encourage feedback.  Ambiguous instructions or tasks won’t work.  Assumptions will fail.

 

6.       Communicate!  Constant communication creates community and team.  Business owners, who communicate regularly, reward employees and contractors when good things happen and vice versa, will get better results and ward off more challenges.  Use staff meetings and measuring tools as a communication media. 

 

7.       Delegate…. Don’t abdicate!  Delegation is a wonderful thing!  Beware however, just because a task or entire job is delegated does not mean that your responsibility is relinquished.  You’ll definitely run into challenges.  For example, one business owner told her VA to do her marketing for a specific event.  The VA was not a marketer… what do you think happened?  Failure.  The business owner blamed the VA for the failure but soon realized that she was really the one who should have been the marketer and the VA the one who supported the marketing.

 

You might be wondering, OK, that’s good advice but HOW do I do this?

 

The illustration below generally depicts the flow down from your Strategic Plan to your job descriptions. 

  

Businesses which have developed systems and have an operations manual will definitely have an advantage.  Why?  Because the business owner has thought out and documented “how they do things and to what standard”.  Job descriptions that are written based upon the strategic business and marketing plan, and operations manual, logically fit together hand in glove.  As you develop your strategy and implementation plan the skills required by individuals to get things done will most likely become obvious.

 

If you need a little assistance developing your S.M.A.R.T. management tools and job descriptions a S.M.A.R.T. Start Partner may help.  Visit here for details.


Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com. Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching. 

 

 

Money On The Table

YOU Are Leaving Money On The Table

When You Don’t Test…. Period!

 

Let’s face it, no plan is perfect! Sometimes events fail…. Sometimes your results aren’t what you expected…. So what do you do now?

 

First relax! It’s time for evaluation and adjustment. (Hint: You should PLAN for testing in your overall action steps.)

 

There are many reasons an event might not bring your desired results.  The key thing is to evaluate each step or element separately. One thing at a time.  Why?  Because one small tweak in a website or copy could turn the results around. 

 

A big mistake many marketers do is change everything all at once.  They change their offer, copy and marketing strategy all at the same time.  The truth of the matter is that you must TEST one element at a time so you can pinpoint the out of whack piece.  Otherwise you will never really know what was broken. 

 

One way to do this is by A/B split testing.  For example, you might want to see which headline on your squeeze page is more compelling and gives you better opt in rate.  Create 2 web pages each with a different headline.  Using a system like Infusionsoft, Google Website Optimizer or 1 Shopping Cart (Ad Tracker), set up the web pages so that they alternate for your viewers. Analyze your results over a few days and see which headline actually draws better responses. The next step is to test your offer or copy around your offering using the same method.

 

YOU are leaving money on the table when you don’t test…. Period!

 

      1. Use split testing to better understand your visitor behaviors and how they use your site.
      2. Use split testing as a diagnostic tool to find out what is going wrong and how to fix it
      3. Use split testing to dramatically challenge the assumptions you may have about the best way to design or write a page.

 

You can actually split test anything including: Page Copy • Forms • Images • Colors • Head Lines • Pricing • Offers • Font • Layout • Registration pages • Advertisements

 

Here is a basic visual of what a website split test might look like.

 

 

It’s obvious by this illustration that element B wins out.

 

Don’t limit your split testing to just websites.  It can also be used very effectively with direct mail as well.  The same principles apply…. One element at a time.  In the case of direct mail, you might have 2 different headlines and you mail both mail pieces at the same time.  Measure the results of registrations, revenue, or responses from each different mail piece and you’ll know which one works the best.

 

Split testing is S.M.A.R.T. The M. stands for measurable.  Keep your business S.M.A.R.T. by testing and measuring. Don’t leave your money on the table.

 


Want to use this article for your blog or newsletter? No problem! Please leave the paragraph below in tact when sharing.

Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching.  Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com

 

The Chicken or The Egg?

The Chicken or The Egg? 
Keeping Your Business Focused On YOUR “WHY”

 

Chicken or the EggWhich came first…? The Chicken or the egg?  A humorous debate, but what in the world does this have to do with entrepreneurialism and your business?

 

The chicken is full grown, running around clucking and scraping for food.  The egg however, is the beginning of growth.  It needs nurturing, warmth, and a soft place to crack and break open to become a chick.  Business is similar especially for entrepreneurs.

 

Most entrepreneurs start quickly and jump in with both feet.  Looking for the next opportunity.  They have so many ideas that many have a tendency to run around “like a chicken with their head cut off”… please excuse the expression.  Entrepreneurs move quickly.  Then all of a sudden they find themselves over their head when it comes to structure in the businesses.  Typically this occurs because the business of their business is not in their “unique ability”.

 

If you can relate to this, it’s time to slow down just a bit and become the “egg”.  Formalize the direction of your business by creating your Mission, Vision and Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  Really think about it.  After all there is a reason you are doing what you are doing, right? Your reason is your “why”. 

 

Here are three tips to help you determine your “why” and bring focus and clarity to your business.

 

3 S.M.A.R.T. Tips to Add Clarity to Your Business

 

1.      What is the mission or purpose of your business? Why are you doing what you’re doing?  What difference will it make in the world?  How will your business change lives?  Are you committed? Do you know your life purpose and is your mission aligned with your life purpose?

 

Write a clear mission statement about what you do and why you do it.  Make your statement specific and quantifiable.  Print the mission statement and post it on the walls in your office, on goal cards, and communicate your mission statement with your staff or team so that everyone knows the mission of your business.  Everyone must understand your purpose and mission so that everyone is working on the same page.  A team united and “pulling in the same direction” with understanding is very powerful.  Your mission statement should answer the following questions:

 

          • What you do?
          • How do you do it?
          • Who do you do it for?

 

Here is a great example from Zappos:     Zappos is an online shoe store that sells all kinds of men and women’s shoes, from dress shoes to casual shoes, to athletic shoes, and the like. They also sell other items such as accessories, bags, etc.

 

Mission Statement
Our goal is to position Zappos as the online service leader. If we can get customers to associate the Zappos brand with the absolute best service, then we can expand into other product categories beyond shoes.

 

 2.      What is your vision for your business?  Your vision creates the climate upon which your staff or team will operate to accomplish your mission.  Your mission and vision must be in alignment.  In other words your vision supports your mission.  How do you “see” your mission being accomplished?  How will you feel?  How will your customer and clients feel?  How will your staff or team feel? 

 

When creating your vision, think big and stretch yourself, and be realistic.  Your vision should clearly state what you ultimately envision for your business in terms of growth, values, what kinds of customers and contribution to the world.

 

Here is a simple formula for writing your own vision statements.

 

When or how Long, [your company name] will have [what] _______________ by ___________.

 

 Example:     Five years from now, Computer Services Ltd. will have annual revenues of over one million by consistently providing timely, reasonably priced repair and instructional services.

 

 3.      Unique Selling Proposition is a summary of what makes your business unique and valuable to your customer and clients. Your USP should be in line with your mission and vision as well.  It answers the question: How do your business products and services benefit your clients better than anyone else can?

 

Here are a few examples:

  • Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
  • M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”

 

In conclusion, ask yourself the question:  Are you in chicken mode?  Slow down and incubate the mission, vision and USP for your business.  Clarity is so important to moving forward and being highly successful.  S.M.A.R.T. Support can help you put it all together.