Easy Strategies to Help you Leverage the Remainder of the Business Year

Summer’s over, the kids are back in school, and the holidays are right around the corner. Yes, impossible as it may seem…we’re nearing the end of another year! So, what does this mean for your business?

The best way that I know how to have a great 2017 is to end 2016 strong. This is a prime opportunity to leverage the remainder of the year to your advantage. To do just that, begin by following the three simple steps I’ve outlined below.

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Want More Productivity? Learn To Delegate

If you’re running a business, it’s a good bet you’ve felt the stress of not having enough time in any given day, week, or month to complete everything on your to-do list. But it isn’t just a question of having time, it’s also about how you use it.

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Business Owners, How to Use the Summer Slowdown to Your Advantage

Summer is right around the corner – and if you’re in business, you know what that means…the dreaded summer slowdown. It seems like everyone is on vacation and plans are put on hold until fall. Read more

Reduce Your Business Costs, Increase Profitability

It’s time to clean house! When is the last time you reviewed your finances, systems and tools to determine what is (and isn’t) a good fit for you?

Disclaimer: Content provided herein is for informational purposes only; you must examine your own business goals and determine the tools and resources that make the most sense for you.

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3 Easy Steps to Establish Focus

I’ve been talking a lot lately about staying focused in our ever-distracted world. Today, I want to share some of my tried-and-true strategies with you for establishing and maintaining focus.

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Not Enough Time is Not an Excuse: 3 Tools to Manage Your Time Effectively

Lately I’ve been talking about focus – namely, how you can stay focused, take control, and run your business without it running you.

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Can You Really Achieve Work/Life Balance?

work/life balance

Work-life balance. Resolutions…goals…intentions. Focus.

You’ve heard it all. You’d love to run your business without it running you (or worse, running you ragged) but no matter what you try, you’re still overwhelmed and frustrated. Sound familiar?

We live in a fast-paced world where at any given moment, we’re being bombarded with countless distractions. It’s hard to stay focused when you’re not even sure what you should be focusing on, especially when everything feels important and urgent.

So, let me ask you: Where’s your focus right now? If the answer to that just makes your head spin, you might be suffering from what I like to call The Busy Syndrome

Do You Have Symptoms of The Busy Syndrome?

  1. You never have enough time to tackle your to-do list.
  2. You feel like you’re constantly on the go.
  3. You often miss out on important family events even though you want to attend.
  4. You know you would have more clients (and make more money)…if it weren’t for everything else vying for your time and attention.
  5. You’re living life just to survive, while missing out on the best part – actually LIVING it!

The Myth of True Balance

If you’re like most of the entrepreneurs and business owners I work with, I’m sure you relate to most, if not all, of the symptoms of The Busy Syndrome. As a business coach, I’m asked all the time how to establish that work/life balance.

My answer is always the same: True balance is a complete myth.

Yes, you read that right. It’s pretty much impossible to attain a “perfect” balance.

You can’t separate your day out into equal parts for work, family, and self-care…and still expect to have time to achieve your goals while making sure everyone feels taken care of.

Why Harmony is What You Really Need

What you’re really looking for is harmony: time to achieve all your most important goals, while still making time for the people that matter most in your life.

Step #1 is to define what harmony looks like for you. Harmony doesn’t look the same for every person, so it’s important to outline what an ideal day looks like for you.

Step #2 is to honor your boundaries…a huge challenge for entrepreneurs. When you’re at work, be at work. When you’re away from work, be away from work. Stay present in the moment you’re in – and enjoy it! If you get a great idea during non-work hours, write it down! Then you have it saved for later to revisit during work hours.

Step #3 is to quit saying “I’m too busy”. When you tell your daughter you’re too busy to attend her soccer game, what you’re really saying is that it’s not important to you at that moment. When you replace “I’m too busy” with “It’s not important to me right now”, I guarantee you’ll find it much harder to say no to the people and experiences that contribute to a harmonious life – because you know how important they are.

And don’t forget – take time for yourself! You don’t need 3 hours to do this – a few minutes at a time is all you need to nurture yourself.

Stay tuned, because I’ll be talking all about my 3 favorite tools to help you take control of your time more effectively in my next post!

Tell me what you think your biggest obstacle is to establishing harmony – and what you do to overcome it.

Confrontation or Learning Experience? Delivering Feedback Effectively

18933836_sIn a previous Huffington Post article , I talked about why it isn’t good enough simply to say “good job” when you’re giving feedback. While it is important to acknowledge performance that is meeting or exceeding expectations, it is imperative to provide corrective feedback when things aren’t going as you’d like.

What happens when your team isn’t delivering as expected – when your expectations go unmet?

Can we just hope for it to change or go away? Not if we want to meet our business objectives without doing all the work ourselves.

Things don’t just change. If we aren’t telling people what they are specifically doing or not doing that is getting in the way of the results we want, nothing will change.

I know it can be uncomfortable. There are so many reasons why we don’t want to give people feedback- we don’t want to have conflict, we are worried what they will say or think, or we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.

Yet if we don’t … our team members (or vendors) can’t stop the behavior that is unproductive (or driving us crazy) and everyone ends up frustrated.

A Framework to Deliver Effective Feedback

A simple yet effective model for delivering corrective or constructve feedback effectively is the SBI framework:

  1. Describe the situation where the behavior was observed.
  2. Describe the behavior– be sure to include observable actions or interactions that are specific and factual.
  3. Describe the impact – the effect the behavior had on others, the work activity or results.

Here’s an example showing the SBI model in action:

Situation: Our project deadline was October 1, and we’ve now exceeded that initial date by two weeks.

Behavior: You haven’t provided us with the regular project updates that we originally agreed upon.

Impact: Regular updates are essential to the long-term success of this project, and our team depends on them. The rest of our project team is frustrated by a lack of timely, consistent updates. This lack of communication has led to other delays and is not conducive to good teamwork.

Remember that every situation will be different, but the primary goal is to describe the situation and behavior clearly, staying focused on the facts. Follow up with the impact the behavior had, and close with a question or two that encourages the person to consider what they might do differently going forward.

Ask the Right Questions

As part of the feedback process, asking the right questions can have a significant impact on the outcome. Follow the guidelines below so you know what to include – and what to avoid.

  1. Plan first. Instead of brazenly jumping into the process without thought, take a step back and plan out what you want to say. As you do this, you’ll be able to outline the questions you’ll ask as you deliver feedback.
  1. Make your questions open-ended. Questions that are open-ended often start with “who”, “what”, “how”, “where”, and “when”. Notice “why” was missing from that list…using “why” in an open-ended question as you’re delivering feedback can make the other person feel like they’re being judged.

For instance, instead of asking “Why did you do that?”, try “What was your objective behind doing that?” instead. This sounds less confrontational and accusatory.

  1. Stick to the facts. Avoid making personal judgments or criticisms. In other words, your goal should be focused on providing feedback about a behavior and the impact it had.

Don’t: “Why do you always rush through things? If you weren’t so hasty, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Do: I know you mentioned you have a lot on your plate right now. What would make it easier for you to focus more of your time on this task/activity?

  1. Change up the perspective. As you’re delivering feedback, use thought-provoking questions to guide the other party to see the situation from a fresh perspective.

For instance, if the other person blames the situation on a disagreement she had with a co-worker, direct your questions to help her consider a new perspective.

Instead of following along with the same line of thinking by saying something like, “I can’t believe she said that!”, try asking questions like “I understand where you’re     coming from. What do you think might have led her to say that?” or “What would need to happen for you and her to improve your relationship?”

  1. Involve the other person in the solution. The most effective feedback is a 2-way conversation. It is not your sole responsibility as the business leader to solve everything. Ask the person you are giving feedback to come up with a solution or alternative way of acting. Questions such as “how could you address this differently in the future?” or “what can you do to resolve this issue?” assist the other person in coming up with solutions that she or he can own and commit to.

Remember, knowing what questions to ask can significantly change the outcome of the feedback experience. Instead of the recipient seeing the feedback as a one-sided ambush, the process can actually represent a dynamic learning experience for both parties.

What tips do you have for delivering corrective feedback effectively?

How to Use the Summer Slowdown to Your Advantage

Summer is right around the corner – and if you’re in business, you know what that means…the dreaded summer slowdown. It seems like everyone is on vacation and plans are put on hold until fall.ID-100290315

When it feels like “normal” life as you knew it has slowed to a crawl, it can be pretty challenging to stay motivated and productive. Here’s the good news – summer is a great time to build some serious momentum in your business.

Follow these five tips and you’ll be in the best position to propel forward…

1. Plan in advance.

If you know summer is a slow time for your business, start researching potential clients. You can use social media or in-person networking events to build new business opportunities. And don’t forget about your current clients – just because many of them might be focused on other tasks and taking time off doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to them with a quick call or thoughtful note.

2. Switch up your schedule. 

Who said you had to miss out on lazy summer afternoons and days spent chilling at the beach? Don’t be afraid to switch up your schedule to accommodate fun summertime activities. If you haven’t already, determine when you’re most productive. Then plan key activities during that time to maximize productivity. If you’re a small business owner, it’s pretty likely that one of the reasons you got into business in the first place was to be your own boss. So, grab the reins and take back your schedule!

3. Delegate or outsource more.

If you’re like most business owners, you’re probably working too hard anyway. Summer can offer you an excellent opportunity to delegate some of your work. If you’re finding it a challenge to switch up your schedule to enjoy all that summer has to offer, odds are good that you need to start delegating more. Moreover, delegating will allow you to cross off tasks from your to-do list, freeing up your time to focus on what really matters – like getting some R&R or focusing on new ways to generate revenue, without working so many hours.

4. Put technology to work for you.

Face it – you’ve probably spent hours on end staring at that same old computer screen in your office. What you need is a change of scenery, and since it is 2015, you’ve got all the tools to help you get out into a fresh environment for a while. Smart phones, tablets, and virtually unlimited Wi-Fi make it easier than ever to work outside, at a local cafe, or from a remote location. And who knows, maybe you’ll meet a new prospect out there!

5. Get in on the fun!

If most everyone else is enjoying the sun – why aren’t you?! Business owners can easily get overwhelmed trying to handle the daily grind. If you don’t take a break once in a while, it’s easy to get burned out. If you haven’t already, plan a vacation or a couple weekend getaways to recharge. Unplugging from your business for a few days will help you refresh, and you’ll come back more productive and creative when you return.

If you use the summer slowdown to your advantage, it can actually turn out to be a time of tremendous growth for your small business. With these easy tips, you can turn the dreaded summer slowdown into a summer of success!

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this summer? Share your comments below.

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Transforming ‘No’ to ‘Yes’

Here’s What to Do.

In our last post, we covered the money excuse and the difference between features and benefits. We also touched upon the art of overcoming objections. Now, we’ll continue with more on objections, outcomes, and effective techniques.

The Art of Transforming “No” into “Yes, Please!”

changing no to yesIf you want to overcome the money excuse, you’ll need to adequately define the value you’ll add and what payoffs your client can expect to receive.

This is a subtle technique and there’s absolutely an art to it, but once you master it, you’ll discover it’s easier than ever to transform a “no” into a paying client.

To get started, pretend there are two islands: The Island of Today (where your prospect is at right now) and The Island of Full Potential (where your prospect wants to be). The Island of Full Potential is a representation of what your prospect wants to achieve, create, or become.

Between these two islands is an expansive ocean – and you are the vessel that is going to take your client from one island (Today) to another (Full Potential) – in other words, from where they are now to where they would like to be.

Outcomes Are What Counts

One of the most important factors to remember is that your prospect doesn’t really care what the boat looks like – he just wants to know what the outcomes are:

  • What are the tangible outcomes (more sales, an organized house, a healthier body, etc)?
  • What are the intangible outcomes (higher confidence, less stress, more energy, etc)?

outcomes and resultsAs business owners, we tend to go into the details that don’t matter as much to the prospect as the actual outcomes – we tell him every little detail about how we’ll provide the product or service, but we don’t put outcomes firsthow will that client’s life, business, finances, or relationships transform through working with you?

Of course, it’s important to explain “how” you’ll work together, but it should be a much smaller part of the sales conversation. Remember, your prospect isn’t paying for the “how” – he’s paying for results – the action that is going to get him where he wants to be.

Your prospect doesn’t want to think he’s spending money on things like time, plans or calls – he wants to know what results – what outcomes – he’s paying for.

The Technique in Action

Taking actionRemember to emphasize benefits when you’re speaking with your client, and to avoid using words like “cost”, “fees”, or “price” – these are trigger words for spending and buying. You want your client to see this as an investment in herself – in her dreams, goals, and ambitions.

When you highlight the value you’ll add and the return on investment your client will receive, your services become an investment in your client’s future – not an expense she can live without. This subtle shift will motivate your prospects to see you in an entirely new light – and increase your chances of closing the deal.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what happens, hearing “no” from your prospects is not a reflection on your value – the value you bring as a human being.

Want some more in-depth insight to help you conquer the “Money Excuse”? Visit the Huffington Post to read my recent article.


Share your opinion: If you’ve put the techniques I explained above into action, what results did you see? How do your prospects respond when you approach them more with the benefits and outcomes rather than just a rundown of “how” you’ll provide the product or service?


Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net