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.!

 

7 Steps To Easily Setting Up Systems In Your Business

Is Your Business Running You…
or Are You Running Your Business?
7 Steps To Easily Setting Up Systems In Your Business

 

You are the expert in your business.  That’s how “it” all begins.  You started your business because you are passionate about your technical knowledge and want to share that knowledge, skill or service with the world.  You’ve been working really hard in your business and have hit the “wall”.  Growth is becoming slow, your support is not as reliable as you’d like, and you are tired.  That’s not how you thought it would be starting your own business; after all you started your business because you wanted your freedom.  Can you relate to this scenario?


Here are a few of the issues you may be experiencing:

  • You’re working harder than ever, but the business isn’t growing.
  • You want things done right, but you feel like you have to do them all yourself.
  • Your business depends on you for everything: when you stop, it stops.
  • You quickly run out of day and your family time is disappearing.


What you want and need is:

  • A way to get control of your time, so you can think and plan.
  • A way to delegate work to a support team and know you’ll get the excellent results you expect.
  • A set of systems so that you feel confident that the business is running properly whether you’re there or not.
  • A business that can be easily scaled up without having to reinvent everything.

 

 

Every successful business is based on a set of systems. People run the systems, but it’s the systems themselves that guarantee a consistent, predictable result. Define the systems you need and how to build and implement them. Then you’ll have:

  • Peace of mind, that your business can run on its own – with you or without you
  • Less stress, because the systems are dependable and reliable
  • Greatly simplified and effective support team training, hiring and managing
  • Improved productivity and profitability

    Very simply a system is a step by step process that anyone can follow to complete a specific task or a suite of tasks so that you get a specific desired outcome each and every time. Instead of reinventing the wheel each time you must do something, you have written checklists of steps that you or your team can follow to complete any task “exactly how you desire”. When you have systems in place, you can easily teach someone else how to do what you do or how you want a task done and to what standards, then delegate the tasks so you have more time to focus on more important things like thinking, planning and marketing (income generating tasks).


How can systems help you?

 

The reality is that every small business owner and entrepreneur needs systems. Imagine having the freedom to take a 3 week vacation 5 times a year or deal with a major personal life event and having the peace of mind that your business will be able to run smoothly in your absence. Too often, you fall into the trap that you are business – you wear all the hats. If you don’t do it, it can’t or won’t get done or won’t get done like you’d like it to be done. Systems allow you to easily delegate to others to do many daily tasks so you don’t have to worry.
Creating systems in your business doesn’t have to be complicated.
Take an hour or two a day and follow these steps:

 

7 Steps To Easily Setting Up Systems In Your Business

 

  1. What do I do that is not income generating?  Start with making a list of whatever tasks you have on your plate that you would like to delegate.  This includes your daily, weekly and monthly routine tasks that don’t directly generate income in your business. Brainstorm and list all of those activities and tasks… whether that’s writing 2 articles for your blog or newsletter, placing an ad in your local paper, calling a prospect or customer, having lunch with a client, answering email, answering the phone, planning a talk, etc.

 

  1. Prioritize and categorize your list.  After you make your list, prioritize each item on the list as to its importance and those things you’d like to delegate first, second, third, etc.  Each task may have a category that it belongs to such as; client care, finance, technology, marketing, launches, etc. The reason you do this is so that you can easily “sort” on the task lists to develop operations manuals for your team based upon what they do for you.  Similar to departments per se. 

 

  1. Select 3 to 5 tasks at a time. If you try to systematize everything at once, in all likelihood, you’ll end up frustrated and overwhelmed. Instead, pick the top 3 – 5 things that have to be done and start with those. As you do those tasks, use the S.M.A.R.T. Systems Template to document the steps, standards, time frames to accomplish those tasks.  Simply jot everything down on your S.M.A.R.T. Systems Template; you can always refine them later. 

 

  1. Decide what the standards and the outcomes should be. What does success look like once the tasks are completed? What are the key milestones for that outcome? For instance, if you make a sales call and can’t close, what is the next step? Another call? Refer to someone else? Add to your mailing list? 

 

  1. Create a step by step System for each task.Once you have an idea of key milestones for each task, put those steps on paper. You can do this with your template, a flow chart program such as MindMap Pro or SmartDraw, which are both really simple to use. A flow chart is a visual representation of your process. You can make your flowcharts as big picture or as detailed as you’d like. If you are visual like I am, create one big picture flow chart of your processes, like how to respond to an email inquiry, and then create more detailed flow charts for the more common scenarios. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to start documenting your step-by-step processes for all your business operations. 
  2.  Create your operations manual for your entire business.  Once you have your tasks systematized and categorized, sort the systems by your categories and consolidate them in your business Operations Manual.

     

  3.  Update as necessary.  You’ll want to update the tasks as things change, its ok.  At this point your staff or support team should be continuously improving and updating so it’s not YOU.  

 


Systems are great for saving time and money.
When you stop to think about how many hours each year you spend figuring out how to do things or hunting down missing business cards, phone numbers or important documents and multiply that by your hour rate, you realize how much wasted time is costing you. With systems in place, you and your team know exactly what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. 

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

 

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.