What is holding you back?
Each of us has at least one thing that holds us back from reaching the “next level”. The next level is different for each of us personally and professionally.
In working with and talking to many small business owners and entrepreneurs I see some of these obstacles repeatedly. This is a great exercise for me to look at my own business and think critically about what is holding me back from my next level.
- Complacency – complacency is a killer. If you are complacent you are moving backward.
- Fear – fear can immobilize you and keep you stuck.
- Hesitation – hesitation can be good until you can make an informed decision. Many hesitate out of fear and we know where that gets you.
- Snap decisions – while hesitation can immobilize you, making snap decisions bring your company down in the blink of an eye.
- Lack of balance – having a balance between work and your personal life is a key element to success. It seems that lack of balance catches some people early in life and for others it takes years. I find myself in the middle years – I pray I choose to continue striving for balance.
- Lack of planning – business plans, marketing plans and operational plans are critical for business success. Plans no longer have to be 50 page tomes that no one will read much less follow, but plans are still necessary.
- Lack of flexibility – plans are important. SO is flexibility. Plans are not chiseled in stone (they should not be). Whatever plans you make will change. If you expect this up front and can “go with the flow” you are less likely to hit other obstacles such as fear, hesitation or snap decisions.
I could go on and on. There are so many obstacles. What obstacles are you facing and, more importantly, how are you overcoming them? I’d love to hear your success stories and your struggles.
Happy New Year!
May your New Year be filled with…
- Passion for your work
- Passion for your clients
- And a passion for life and family
- Effective communication between your team and your clients
- Effective communication between you and your team
- And effective communication in all you relationships
Now is a great time to reflect on all that we accomplished or missed the mark on in our business over the last year. It is important for all businesses to take inventory. This is more than just counting the number of widgets we have left – it should include taking an inventory of how well we served our clients/customers and how well we served our employees.
As a small business owner how well did you serve your employees? Did you empower them to do their job effectively? Do you they see your passion for the business? Do you all work well together as a team?
How about your client’s? Do they feel like they matter to your organization? Do they feel like you listen to what they need and then provide it?
If your answer to these questions is a resounding yes! then celebrate and do more of the same in 2011. If your answers are and it stings a little then perhaps the New Year should ring in some changes.
Food for thought…
Got a strategy?
So did you start on your 2011 marketing strategy yet? If you are staring at a blank slate consider these points:
- Start small – you don’t have to have a 20 page plan
- Start with a goal – what do you want to achieve in the new year?
- Certain quantity of new proposals, leads, clients, web site visitors, etc.
- Select the marketing venue to help you achieve the goals you set
- Consult a marketing coach to help you
Here are some additional previous posts I’ve written related to marketing planning. I hope you find them useful.
Uh…I don’t have a Marketing Plan
Marketing Plans – Phase it In
Marketing Plan – Make Your Outline
You can do it! Start now.
It’s December 3, 2010. Have you written your marketing plan for 2011? Did you review and revise your 2010 plan to make it more effective at some point throughout the year?
There are many different places I could go with an opening paragraph like this. Today I am going to focus on the opportunities small business owners miss if they do not have a marketing strategy.
Many small business owners tend to think they don’t need a marketing strategy. Many more believe that to have one it must be a massive effort that takes a great deal of time and money.
Without a marketing plan or strategy here is what you could be missing:
- New clients
- Additional revenue from existing clients
- Additional web site traffic
- Opportunities to hear from, and learn from, your clients
- Opportunities to build your brand
Is a marketing strategy a key element missing from your organization?
Food for thought..
If projects are not managed well, clients and employees alike may not be happy or productive.
A key element to solid project management is communication. Goals and expectations must be clearly communicated. If the information people need to be effective in their roles is not provided then frustration, lack of commitment and missed deadlines are sure to occur.
As a small business owner it is important to make sure that those managing your projects have a well thought out approach. There is more than one approach out there. He is my basic approach to managing projects.
- Obtain overview of the project
- Identify all stakeholders
- Interview key stakeholders (if necessary before kickoff)
- Create the project plan including timeline and applicable milestones
- Facilitate project kickoff meeting
- Communicate expected deliverables from each stakeholder
- Call team meetings only when critically necessary
- Establish regular communication intervals
- Maintain regular communication with all stakeholders
- Regular communication with specific groups on the project as necessary
- Maintain accountability of project stakeholders to insure on-time, successful project launch
Being someone who typically has 47 things going on at once it is important for me to have an organized approach to projects. I hope sharing my process with you can help you get your projects better organized.
Sometimes we need to stop and take inventory.
If appropriate for our business we don’t seem to forget to take a physical inventory at specified times. How often do we take inventory of our effectiveness? This should be at regular intervals as well. I asked an executive last week what he thought were the weak spots within his 21 year old organization. He was surprised by the question.
- Do you know how your customers feel about you?
- How about your employees?
- How effective is your communication?
- How effective is your marketing strategy?
This is a key element. How does your effectiveness inventory look?
As a small business owner you undoubtedly know about some areas of your business or marketing strategy that need improvement. Awareness is half the battle. We cannot change something unless we are aware of it. However, if we stop with awareness nothing will change. Action is a key element for change.
Time is a major factor. We all wish we had more time in the day to complete everything we feel we have to complete. Still, putting off changes that need to be made to help your business grow may not be the wisest move one could make.
Here are five steps you can take to turn awareness into action:
- Write down what you are aware of that needs to change (just make a list)
- Identify who can help you make those changes (spouse, staff, outside consultant, marketing coach, etc.)
- Give them the power to help you (ask them, engage their services, etc.)
- Create a plan of action to make the changes (prioritize them)
- Take the action!
These may sound simplistic but sometimes we overlook the simple actions we take to make a significant impact in our lives or our business.
Taking the action…
Passion is important. It is important in all areas of our lives – even in business. I have not yet met a small business owner who was not passionate about he or she is doing. If they did not have some level of passion they would not be doing it.
We all have our moments where our passion falters (some moment last longer than others). If you get bogged down in the daily grind of doing business and lose your passion it will be obvious to your clients. Passion is contagious. If you have passion and enthusiasm it will catch on and it will come through in your marketing strategy.
One key element for me to remain passionate is to remind myself why I am doing what I am doing. You might say that sounds too simple. The fact is, it is simple. Ask yourself these questions.
- Why did I start doing this in the first place?
- What do I have to offer?
- What about my work drives me?
Passionately Working and Serving,
P.S. Yesterday I talked about Integrity. Today’s blog post is going up late because I had some deliverables I needed to take care of for a client. If I am unwilling to put my feet into action on what I say then who will listen to me? I said I would send an email blast out this morning so I did what I said I would do.
There have been many lessons learned throughout each season of my career. While each season has taught me different things some have been universal. One of the most important values I learned is that integrity matters. You can be successful in business and maintain your integrity.
Merriam-Webster defines integrity as:
- firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
- an unimpaired condition : soundness
- the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
This definition provides the key elements needed to maintain integrity in business:
Incorruptibility – don’t sell out. Stay true to your company’s values. If you are an employee and your values do not line up with your employer’s then find a new employer. I once quit a job without having another one because I could not support the unethical actions of my employer for even one more day. If you are a business owner make sure your company is conducting business in a way that you could tell your mother or your pastor about.
Soundness – make sure you think through the plans for your organization. Buildings must be sound for the structure to maintain integrity. So it goes with your business. If your planning (and execution) is not sound your company could crumble when trouble hits. I would rather build my foundation on the rock instead of the sand.
Completeness – follow through. If you make a commitment: follow through. If you are working on a project: see it through to completion. If you accept an order for a client: fulfill the order. Sometimes plans, processes, etc. can go awry: adjust your plan, communicate with your customers and stakeholders and see it through to completion.
My personal definition of integrity is doing what you say you are going to do. What’s your definition of integrity?
Driven to stay in integrity,