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.


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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.