5 Key Strategies Small Businesses Can Learn From the Corporate World, Part II

Do you want to generate more revenue and manage your business like a pro? In this two-part series, Kim Pisolkar shares five simple yet powerful strategies that today’s small business owners can learn from the corporate world.

Strategy 4: Observation and Measurement

Corporate Strategy | Small Business StrategyIn big business, there are metrics and goals. Revenue, sales, marketing, effectiveness, human capital and technology are all measured and monitored to ensure that deficiencies are quickly spotted and corrected.

It’s important not only to see what’s working, but also to learn from what isn’t working. All businesses should be using observation and measurement tools to understand where they’re at and to measure how well they’re doing. Tools like performance appraisals and SWOT analysis are great for doing this.

These same concepts can be applied in any small business setting. In my Big Breakthrough System, we use the concept of a mini performance appraisal to help business owners maximize their productivity.

Every month my clients look at their goals -what was achieved, what was learned, and what needs to change or happen for the next month. This includes looking at financials (which isn’t always fun for people), looking at revenue projections and corresponding results, and looking at how money and time were invested.

Clients ask questions like “Are we breaking even?” andHow did the time and money we invested translate into results?” When you run your business this way, there won’t be any surprises the next time you’re getting ready for tax season! You’ll know exactly where you stand and what you need to adjust along the way.

Strategy 5: Talent Engagement

Corporate Strategy | Small Business StrategyIn a successful corporation, tasks are clearly defined and the right people with the appropriate talents and skills for specific roles are hired. The CFO in a company doesn’t handle R&D, too. People are not one size fits all.

In contrast, here’s what I see happen in a lot of small businesses: Many business owners make a list of all the work to outsource and then try to hire one person to do all the stuff they don’t like to do, don’t know how to do, or maybe aren’t even wired to do. This is a mistake that leads to a waste of time, money and energy because one person simply cannot handle a myriad of specialized tasks.

Another mistake small business owners make is hiring people who are just like them. It’s natural to want to work with people who are similar to you. However, some tasks that you don’t want to do – accounting, copywriting, etc. – may be best handled by someone who is very different than you. Carefully consider the personality of each person you are giving work to – and find people who genuinely enjoy the things you hate to do.

If you’re a small business owner, resist the urge to make do with what there is in the context of talent engagement. Your VA may not be the best person to do your copywriting and editing – plus do your bookwork, too. Suzy from IT should not be made to handle the marketing in her spare time.

Stop trying to fit the work to the people at hand. Look at tasks objectively, and then go find the best people to tackle them.

Finally, thoughtfully consider and write down your job description as the CEO of your company. This will help you clearly see what you need to be doing on a daily basis so that you can stay focused. For everything else outside your job description, you’ll need to find other people to do those tasks as soon as possible.

For more ideas, tips and tools to help you run your small business like a big business CEO, go to www.SmallBizBigBreakthrough.com

 

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5 Key Strategies Small Businesses Can Learn From the Corporate World

Do you want to generate more revenue and manage your business like a pro? In this two-part series, Kim Pisolkar shares five simple yet powerful strategies that today’s small business owners can learn from the corporate world.

Strategy 1: Create Guiding Principles

corporate strategies | Small business successGuiding principles or values outline the culture you want to create in your company. Even if it’s just you running your business, you must create guiding principles. Whether it’s only you or you have an entire team, developing guiding principles is how you’ll show up to achieve your strategic imperatives, which I’ll discuss next.

Your personal values will serve as the foundation as you develop guiding principles. These core values are usually timeless and unchanging. Not sure what your personal values are? Ask yourself who you are and what you stand for. If you have a team, involve them in this process as well.

You’ll use your core values again and again to assist in the decision making process. For instance, if one of your core values is to stand behind the quality of the products you sell, you should have policies and procedures in place for addressing products that do not meet quality expectations and for handling customer quality complaints effectively.

Integrate your guiding principles into everything you do. Zappos, a popular online retainer, is a great example of a real-world company that lives by their core values. Zappos created ten core values to clearly outline what the Zappos Family culture is about. You can see all of their core values by clicking here, but some of the most notable include: deliver WOW through service, embrace and drive change, and pursue growth and learning.

Strategy 2: Strategic Imperatives

Corporate Strategy | Small Business StrategyFocusing on strategic imperatives is a corporate concept that can transform your small business by helping you stay aligned with your vision.

In the corporate world, successful corporations have a main focus. Strategic imperatives might also be called corporate strategies or business imperatives – these are essentially the objectivesthat the organization must achieve. They are staffed and financed, and everyone within the organization is measured against them.

I call strategic imperatives the “critical musts”. These are not merely goals or to-dos – they are the fundamental things that must exist in your business over the course of the year in order to bring you closer to your vision of success. In essence, all goals need to point to a critical must.

For instance, if you have ‘increased visibility’ as a critical must, your goals may include growing your email list to at least 5,000, blogging regularly, or maybe even doing some public speaking. Another example: You want to develop, document and delegate as appropriate, and create systems and infrastructure to make your business run more efficiently. Your goals might include creating standard operating procedures, a client onboarding process, and an interview process.

When I work with clients using my Big Breakthrough System, one of the key things we do is identify their critical musts for the year. This serves as a compass – for every to-do on the list, for every opportunity, and for everything else that comes up, we need to ask: “How is this aligned with my critical musts?” If something comes up that isn’t aligned with a “critical must”, then it’s either a “no for now” or an outright “no”.

This greatly simplifies decision-making and keeps you focused on your plans so that you can achieve your goals and be both profitable and sustainable.

Strategy 3: Strategic Allocation

ID-100114877Another fundamental concept from the corporate world, strategic allocation of resources will yield the best return on investment in alignment with your company’s strategic imperatives.

The resources allocated may be either financial resources or human resources. Perhaps it’s just you running your business. You may have a small team or just a couple of outsourced staff members that you delegate to. Are your time and money being allocated in a way that aligns with your ‘critical musts’ (i.e. your strategic imperatives)? What is the return on investment?

For instance, if you are spending three hours developing content for your blog, what’s the return on investment on your time? Is this the best use of your time? Would it make more sense to spend an hour talking into a microphone and paying someone to transcribe it? Think carefully about your business resources and how they are allocated.

My next article will share two more business strategies used in the corporate world that can be applied to businesses of any size to increase productivity and profits.

For more ideas, tips and tools to help you run your small business like a big business CEO, go to www.SmallBizBigBreakthrough.com.
Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The MOST Important Question You Can Ask

I recently read an article in Fast Company that shared the most important question to ask a new team member: “Describe a decision that the company has made that raises an eyebrow for you?”

I think it’s brilliant question – even if a little scary.

We spend a lot of time looking for and selecting talented people for our teams, whether they are full time employees, contract staff or virtual team members.

They come to us with a fresh perspective, aren’t hung up on the way “we” do things, and are pretty sharp (or else we wouldn’t have hired or contracted with them in the first place). So why not ask their opinion on what we are doing that just plain doesn’t work?

I know it’s a little scary. Being told what we aren’t doing well is a little disheartening, but it’s better to know than lose a team member (or a client for that matter). We get very comfy with how we do things, and perhaps need a reminder to stay sharp and focused.

Feedback

Why leave this question to just new employees?

You can ask a similar question to your current team members and even your clients, coach or mentor.

If you like to hear the good along with the bad, you can use the following approach to get a well-rounded view:

  1. What are we doing that isn’t effective, that we should STOP doing?
  2. What are we doing really well that we should CONTINUE doing?
  3. What aren’t we doing, that if we START doing would make us even more effective?

When I did a similar exercise I received some great feedback that will definitely help me be more effective as a CEO and business owner. Since I won’t ask you to do something I haven’t already done, here is some of the feedback I received:

  • My perfectionism causes me to be a huge bottleneck for my team being able to complete their tasks on time
  • I believe “diamonds are made under pressure” but not everyone else does. Waiting to the last minute affects my teams productivity and sanity (and my check book)
  • Even though I help my clients create systems for their business, my own systems need to be documented in a way that others can manage them (and I can better delegate them)
  • I need better scheduling and invoicing processes for my clients

Confession time: some of these are the same things that drove my staff crazy when I worked in the corporate world (ouch!). While I’ve made some progress I still have some work to do. On the plus side, all of this is fixable (some easier to fix than others), within my control, and will lead to a better team member and client experience.

Give this a try and see what type of feedback you receive. I’d love to hear about it so please share in the comments how it went.

4 Simple Steps for Evaluating and Accelerating Business Performance, Productivity and Profits for 2014

2014 Mid Year Business Review and EvaluationIs it me or is this year zooming by?!

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with business owners the past couple of weeks and when I ask “how is your year going?” the response I am getting “I think it’s going okay”

If you haven’t already, now is a great time for you to review your annual goals and see how you are doing. Don’t wait until the end of the year to realize you are far from where you wanted to be.

Take some time and evaluate your business. Measure your progress, identify the gaps, and make adjustments as necessary to stay on purpose and on plan for the remainder of 2014.

Here is my simple 5 step Business Check-in process:

1. What were your Critical Musts (or goals) for 2014? (if you didn’t set Critical Musts for the year, refer to my CRITICAL MUSTS EXERCISE to create them for the remainder of 2014). If you haven’t set concrete critical musts for the year, take a few minutes to do that.

2. What is the progress you’ve made? This is where we need to look at the numbers. Depending on your specific goals they could be revenue, sales conversions, number of leads, your list size. Where you planning on adding new team members – how has that gone? Create a new product. Two things here, one – take time to celebrate all you have accomplished to this point. Even if you haven’t hit everything, every small step you make is getting you closer to your goal. Secondly, if you’re not on target, don’t beat yourself up. Just take some time to re-evaluate and get back on track.

3. What have been your learning’s that you can incorporate or leverage the remainder of the year? What gets in your way of achieving certain goals? Are there any themes? Maybe you noticed that when you speak at events you generate more interest in services, or that you really don’t like delivering teleclasses. Whatever they are, this is important to note so you can stop doing what isn’t working and start or continue other strategies that will help you achieve your goals.

4. Review your plan. Taking into account your accomplishments to date and learnings, is it still relevant? What needs to added, changed or removed? Here’s the thing- when we are behind, we tend to load up our plans for the remainder of the year thinking that during the summer break or 4th quarter we can catch up. What typically happens is we don’t catch up and then we end up with a bigger list of things that didn’t get done. So make the plan for the rest of the year realistic and focused on those critical musts and commit to it.

Now is also a good time to also evaluate your skills and resources. Your resources could be financial, your time or your team.

  • What do I already have to complete my goal?
  • What do I still need to complete my goal?
  • How will I get what I need to complete my goal?

5. Modify and recommit to your plan. Come out of this process with a revised plan that will help you reach your goals and commit to resourcing and taking action against it. What I have found helpful is to focus on one thing first. Since money is typically at the top of everyone list: what is the one strategy that will increase your sales/revenue between now and the end of the year? I know there might be ten ideas, but identify 1 strategy and 3-5 action steps you can take over the next couple of months to make it happen.

If you don’t feel you have the time or inclination to do this now, bookmark this page and come back to it in a couple of weeks. At the risk of sounding like the stern human resources director, this really is a “must do” before the year ends. The earlier you do it, the greater your chances of achieving or exceeding your goals. Plus you’ll avoid the 4th quarter panic that plagues many business owners.

I’ve quoted it before and I’ll quote it again: “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight” (Jim Rohn). But this only works if you know what direction needs changing.

Let me know how your business check-in is going.

If you’d like some support, you can sign up for one of my complimentary Business Breakthrough Audits where we will identify what’s working well, what’s not and what 3 actions you can take immediately to increase your profits.

Sign up here to book your Business Audit. There are a limited number of spots available, so don’t delay.

 

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Creating Steady Cash Flow | Business Cash Flow

Creating Steady Cash Flow: Top 12 Questions Business Owners Ask – Part 6

Creating Steady Cash Flow | Business Cash FlowFocus, Money (and lack of), Self-Doubt, CEO Success Style, Revenue Generating Activities vs. Non-Revenue Generating Activities, so many thing you need to think about as a CEO and business owner.

Where do you turn to? How do you balance it all?

In the last post of my series on the Top 12 Questions Business Owners Ask, I’m going to let you know my thoughts on these two questions!

11. There is so much information and so many personal development programs out there. I’ve bought them all yet I’m still not getting what I want! What do I do?

It’s normal to feel that way. When we go into business for ourselves, we do a lot of research and we buy a lot of programs and perhaps work with different coaches in order to get where we want to be. However, all the knowledge in the world cannot move your business forward. All the training programs on the planet cannot move your business up the ladder of success. The secret? You need to take action to get results.

One of the things I do when I work with people is put them on a ‘Download Detox’. This means that they cannot download any information off the internet and cannot sign up for any programs, whether free or paid, because all that information is getting in the way of ‘taking action’. When you are not taking action you are not getting things done and when you’re not getting things done, you are not growing your business.

12. How do I balance running a busy business and running my home?

This is such a good question as many business people are struggling to strike the right balance in our fast paced society today. For starters, you need to get really clear about what I call ‘critical musts’. Now, what are critical musts? Your ‘critical musts’ are those things – those prongs that are so crucial to creating a personal and business life that is both meaningful and fulfilling to you.

It’s not necessarily about setting goals e.g. ‘sell one coaching package this week’. It’s about creating specific intentions. For instance, one of my critical musts is having a happy and healthy home. So because I have that sort of focus, it becomes my compass almost. So if there’s anything that comes up that’s not connected to ‘my critical musts’ then I don’t do it. It’s not on my list and it doesn’t show up. It can go on the ‘some other day’ list but it’s not prioritized.

Imagine for instance that someone offered me the opportunity to do some high paying corporate coaching work abroad for six months at a stretch. Imagine that I was offered the opportunity to do public speaking on four different continents every month. Well, as this would mean lots of travel and time spent away from my family, I couldn’t do it except I could find some way to keep my family happy and healthy at the same time. This is one of the reasons why I leverage internet, social media and even webinar technology to reach my ideal audience.

In essence, keeping sight of my ‘critical musts’ helps me to juggle and keep things manageable. This principle can help you too. It’s all about clarity – being super clear and focused on what needs to be done and how.

For more information to help you create and navigate your road to revenue please visit my website at www.SmallBizBigBreakthrough.com

Have comments? I would love to hear them below!

Business Revenue Questions

Podcast: Top 12 Questions to Generating More Business Revenue (Part 5)

In this super short and practical Podcast Series, Businesss Growth Strategist Kim Pisolkar, answers the Top 12 Questions People Ask when it comes to generating more business revenue and profit.

Business Revenue QuestionsListen below and discover the answers today so that you can have the fun, flexible and profitable business that you envisioned on opening day!

Do you know what vibe you are sending out? Let’s uncover the unconscious messages you are sending with this quick podcast.

 

Want to find what it will take for you to stop firefighting against your never ending to do list so that you can have the fun, flexible and financially successful business you desire? There is a way and you can get it here!

For more information to help you create and navigate your road to revenue please contact us.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to get in Sync with Your Business Partner

Teamwork | Partnership | Business PartnerBusiness partnerships can be a tricky thing, whether you know the person well (see my Huffington Post article on How to Run a Successful Business With Your Spouse) or found your partner through networking or other business opportunities. Sometimes we are thrown into these partnerships by an opportunity that is too good to pass up and while they may not all be the ideal pairings we need to be able to make the relationships work in order to have our businesses be successful.

Real Life Example:

A friend of mine recently told me about a partnership she entered with two other professionals to put on a free speaking series about their health related businesses. The goal was to educate the public while increasing exposure for each of the individual business. After two months of planning, multiple conference calls and nitpicking by one of the other speakers, my friend felt stressed over the event. It was taking more time than she had anticipated out of her already busy schedule. Everything from the posters to the invitations went through multiple rounds of edits. The nitpicking partner was in charge of promotion. Instead of focusing on exposure for the event she spend most of her time lining up a videographer to record the event and having professional head shots of herself taken so that she would be able to promote herself. She assumed the “if you build it, they will come” mentality about the actual event. The day of the event not a single person showed up.

What went wrong in this partnership?

Any new business relationship needs vision and boundaries. It is imperative that partners know what their individual visions are and how to mesh these into a vision for the company or event you are planning.

I encourage my clients to complete a simple exercise when entering any new venture:

  • Take 30-60 minutes each to write down your visions for the partnership.
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What are your goals?
  • Where would you like the business to be in five years?

Then take turns sharing what you wrote with your business partner. If your visions are similar, great! If they’re vastly different, talk it out and compromise until you’re both on the same page.

Other things to consider during the compromise stage:

  • How is communication working?
  • How are resources going to be allocated?
  • How is the pay structure going to work?

This exercise could change the trajectory or your business relationship greatly. Maybe you aren’t meant to be 50/50 partners; maybe you should try out a joint venture prior to forming a full on partnership.

From this unified vision, create shared objectives for what you want to achieve in the business that you can both be inspired and excited about. Whatever you do don’t enter the relationship until you’ve defined the roles and expectations for each person, this will save you stress and time down the road.

If you need help with this process, I have created a 5 step plan that will walk you through the process of creating a successful partnership and successful relationship with your partner. Just enter your name and email to get FREE access to this process and a FREE worksheet to keep you on track.

Do you have any tips or stories about partnerships you’ve entered in the past? I would love to hear them in the comments below.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Creating Steady Cash Flow | Business Cash Flow

Creating Steady Cash Flow: Top 12 Questions Business Owners Ask – Part 5

Creating Steady Cash Flow | Business Cash FlowAhh, today we are talking about self-doubt and how it can effect your income as well as your cash flow.

After running your business for a while, having a few successes, it’s completely normal (and expected) to hit a few roadblocks on your way.

So what are the questions I get from CEO’s around success and self-doubt? Read on below.

9. I was so successful in my career and as a business owner I feel like a big, fat failure. I went to business because I thought I would get to be my own boss and make money. Will I ever be successful?

Well being in a traditional job and being a business owner are definitely different and yes, you can be successful at both.

My first tip would be to look at what made you successful in your career. What were the characteristics, what were the things you did, what were the things people praised you for? I ask these questions because those are the things that you may not be carrying over into your business. The things that brought you success in the past will be the things that bring you success in the future.

The second thing would be to look in your business for the fastest path to growth. What is it in your business that you can focus on that will bring the best growth, the greatest revenue and the freedom to do what you love?

10. There’s so much to do how do I stay focused?

One of the things that can get in the way of staying focused is what I call Entrepreneurial ADD, it’s what pulls us into multiple directions, leaving a path of work that’s unfinished behind us.

I want to give you a really simple exercise to help you become more focused and ditch that Entrepreneurial ADD. It’s called ‘non-negotiables’. You see, in life we all have non-negotiables. We renew our driver’s license, we go to the doctor, prepare our taxes. Those are things we make time for because we need to make sure they get done. There’s a penalty if you don’t do them.

So I’d like you to think about the non-negotiables in your business. What are the things that absolutely need to get done? Secondly, start blocking off time in your calendar in order to dedicate time strictly for working on those non-negotiables. Hold yourself accountable, and give yourself a penalty for not completing them, reward yourself when you do!

And if you are just joining us for this series on cash flow and income, you may want to head back to the beginning to read about; making more money, taking your business to the next level, putting systems in place, and expenses you should consider.

Have comments? I would love to hear them below!

Business Revenue Questions

Podcast: Top 12 Questions to Generating More Business Revenue (Part 4)

In this super short and practical Podcast Series, Businesss Growth Strategist Kim Pisolkar, answers the Top 12 Questions People Ask when it comes to generating more business revenue and profit.

Business Revenue QuestionsListen below and discover the answers today so that you can have the fun, flexible and profitable business that you envisioned on opening day!

Do you say Yes more than you say No? Then you definitely need to listen to this podcast!

 

Want to find what it will take for you to stop firefighting against your never ending to do list so that you can have the fun, flexible and financially successful business you desire? There is a way and you can get it here!

For more information to help you create and navigate your road to revenue please contact us.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Steps to Make More Time In Your Day

3 Steps to Make More Time In Your Day | time is moneyWe’ve all heard the old adage that “time is money”. There is no place this statement rings truer than in the world of a small business owner. As a small business owner it is easy to get caught up in the day to day operations of running your business and lose focus on long-term goals.

As the leader at the helm of your business your time is worth more money to your company when you focus it on steering your ship along the right course rather than following where the wind blows you.

To be successful, you need to change your thinking about how you allocate your resources. These resources include; time, money and the people you have working for you. It sounds easy, and I promise it is if you follow my three step process.

3 Steps to Make More Time In Your Day;

  1. Take inventory of how you spend your time. Write down everything that you do for a week. What is it that you spend the most time doing? Are the items critical to your success? If so circle them.
  2. Identify the critical musts in your business. Take the items you circled in step one as your critical musts, meaning the success of your business is dependent on them. Ask yourself if anyone else can complete them? If so write their name next to the task.
  3. Identify what you are good at and what you like to do. Take the remaining items that you haven’t assigned to anyone else and rate them on a scale of 1-4, 1 being super easy, I love to do them and 4 being takes a lot of effort and energy to do them. The thought is that if you free up your time to focus on what you are good at you’ll be able to make more efficient use of your time. Anything that rates a 3 or 4 should be delegated to someone else.

out of time | time mangement | make more time | time in businessFor example, if you’re spending two hours a day scheduling client appointments (which is a critical must), is that really the best use of your time? Perhaps you could delegate the management of your calendar to your assistant, essentially freeing up those two hours for you to focus on business development opportunities that relate directly to your critical musts.

When we hear Return on Investment (ROI) we typically think of money. ROI is not just financial – it’s also looking at your time, energy, developing new habits, sense of accomplishment, reduced stress, etc. By making sure you are allocating your time and the time of those around you wisely you’ll gain both a monetary ROI and more time in your day.

For more ideas on how to Run Your Small Business Like a Big Business CEO;  Huffington Post Article – 4 Effective Ways to Run Your Small Business Like a Big Business CEO

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net