Ten Ways To Avoid Failing In Your Business

1. Stop hiring yourself.

First stop hiring yourself  by continually working "in" your business. Don't be an employee of your company, reserve the choice to be the president of your company. Secondly, stop hiring yourself through your employees. Business owners tend to hire people like themselves instead of people that have the strengths they require for that position. You tend to forgive their weakness in that area because you also have the weakness. Here is a formula to use in delegating to the right people, when you don't have to manage, monitor or motivate your employees you are truly delegating. For example one of my clients had to fire his manager. His manager was in charge of the computer operations. He decided to promote someone from within the company to take his place. He hired a computer consultant to train the new employee. The problem with this is the person he was training lacked knowledge about computers. This was a very expensive way to replace his original manager. He realized he had hired himself. He also lacks knowledge of computers and had too much empathy for his new manager. He remembered when he was younger and wanted to give his new manager a chance to advance. That empathy was costing him in time, money, productivity and the computer consultants hefty bills. I suggested he hire someone with computer experience and stop the suffering. He agreed and within two week his business was back on track. He was too close to the situation to see this clearly.

2. Learn from your past

Just like a kid has to fall a couple of times when learning to ride a bike, so do entrepreneurs fail as they learn how to be successful. Learn from the past and set up systems and structures so that whatever occurred can never happen again. Solve problems for a lifetime not just a quick fix. Don't run your business like a fireman, run your business like an architect. Build a sustainable future instead of putting out daily fires.

3. Set Yourself and Your Company Up For Maximum Productivity.

Give everyone the computers and other tools they need to process information immediately. Automate the reporting of, access to, and flow of information so no human help is required. Develop a culture where any blocks to productivity are removed by your staff instead of you. Focus everyone on profits and growth. Grow your people as much as your company is growing. If you company is growing 50% annually, then your staff needs to grow at least that much. Hire people based more on attitude and behavior versus experience. Create a culture of hiring within based exclusively on performance not tenure. Get a Web Site. The web is growing in leaps and bounds. The expense of operating a business today can get in the way of offering your future customers efficient products and services. Your future customer's will not want to pay for your overhead. The web offers you the potential to market your business to millions of people all over the world. Have a profitability and financial plan. Also a budget and a measurement process to keep track of how you are doing monthly. If you don't know where you stand financially and have no short term and long term financial goals, then you are just letting fate dictate your success and we know those odds aren't too good. Control your own destiny!

4. Develop Relationships

The success of your business is in direct relation to the quality of the relationships in your life. Define the key people that can help you grow your business and commit to spend time to develop your relationship with them. Spend one day a week with your best customers listening, collaborating, suggesting, understanding. Have a relationship between you and your customers; not just a selling relationship. What you will be offering or selling to customers in five years may change in form or substance to what you're offering now. Learn from your clients instead of just selling to them. Clients really appreciate sharing their views and needs with companies will listen. Let the customer create the questions on a survey instead of just giving their answers. A coach can help you to develop a system of learning from their customers and develop relationships.

5. Maintain a Healthy Balance

Your free time is the largest ingredient in recharging your batteries to think more clearly and create solutions for a solid future. Maintain a balance between work, play and family. This is critical for long term success. We all put in crazy hours on a short term basis to get a hot project done or the product out the door, but if you do this on a long term, regular basis it is a dangerous sign that you are losing perspective. You need to be able to step away on a regular basis and get your batteries recharged. Have time for your family because if they suffer it is almost a sure bet your business will suffer too. Plan your free time for the next three months. This is usually the first thing that people eliminate. After you schedule your free time in your planner, get out your scissors and cut the time out of your planner to resist the temptation of erasing, crossing out or whiting out your scheduled free time.

6. Be A Role Model Of Excellence And Encourage The Same In Your Employees.

Entrepreneurs want to grow their business. In order for your business to grow, you must grow personally. Your efforts are best spent developing you. If you don't give your all or let an inferior produced product go out the door to a client, you are sending a message to your employees that you do not respect your clients or your work. Your employees will adopt that view as well. Set the example of giving the extra effort, pitching in when needed, caring about people, be the best in your particular business, continue your growth curve, and take care of your employees. Encourage innovation and creation. Give your employees a stake in the future. Once a month, have a meeting where the employees make suggestions on how to improve your product, service, efficiency, or bottom line. Get your employees involved in the productivity game. One of my clients decided to play the productivity game with his employees. The game is; the employees get to share in the profits of the money saved in one year. Within a week they asked him to relieve the cleaning company of their duties. They took turns cleaning the office on their time to lower the operating costs. My client was thrilled. Give monetary rewards when the ideas produce increases to the bottom line and positive encouragement for the process. Create an atmosphere where employees are willing and able to talk with you. The two best sources of information on how your business is doing and how to improve it are your employees and your customers. Pay attention to both.

7. Don't rest on your laurels.

Always be prepared to change. Look for things to do more efficiently or how to improve your service or product. Identify and remove as many consequences and risks as possible. Insure yourself where you are most vulnerable in your business. Handle all legal issues. Errors in judgment and changing trends can have a negative impact on your business.

8. Minimize all your risks.

A coach will help you identify all of the events, people, trends, etc. that may adversely affect your business. Where are you most vulnerable in your business? Accounts receivable, employees, suppliers etc. Constantly evaluate your competition and benchmark yourself against them. The minute you think you don't need to improve anything is the exact moment you are blinding yourself and can be easily affected by your competition's growth.

9. End The Lone Ranger Mentality

A Lone Ranger is the entrepreneur who says things like: "No, that is OK, I can handle it alone." "I'll do it myself, because no one can do it as well as I can do it." The Lone Ranger entrepreneur needs a coach to help teach the skill of both involving and leaning on others. This skill is important to learn because the synergy that comes from working together is what ends up being a key competitive advantage. Without it, your business will slow down. Plus it's a lot more fun to be supported with great people, than to have to push or rely only on yourself.

10. Run your business with integrity.

It takes courage and commitment to live by your inner truth. There is great honor in living with integrity. It is telling your truth no matter what the consequences. It's being candid when it might be dangerous. It's going ahead and doing it or saying it even if it's uncomfortable. Inner truth communicates through faint whispers, thoughts, pictures and feelings buried within you. You can't passively wait for your inner truth; respectfully send for it. Continually turn inward, quietly, politely asking the right questions so that the subtle signals become clearer. Integrity is something only you can define. No one can say you're out of integrity,. When you're feeling stressed it's a real indication that you need to restore your integrity. With integrity in place you are complete free.

Are You A Coaching Candidate?

1. Do you spend your day putting out fires?
2. Do you have any concerns about your business running at maximum profitability?
3. Do you run your business on the edge?
4. Do the same problems continually resurface?
5. Do you have difficulty finding someone you trust who can give you an objective viewpoint and bounce ideas off of?
6. Is your business running you ?
7. Do you find that you are unable to make the most of all the opportunities in your life?
8. Do you experience roller coaster highs and lows in your business?
9. Do you have a lone ranger lifestyle?
10. Do you allow your goals and purpose to get sidetracked?
11. Do you lack having a clear, measurable action plan to fulfill your goals?
12. Do you lack structure?
13. Do you lack inner fulfillment?
14. Do you spend most of your day working "in" your business instead of "on" it?
15. Are you a workaholic?
16. Are you experiencing a lack of balance in your life and business?
17. Are you committed to growing yourself and your company?
18. Are you coachable? (Are you willing to hear and act on another's person's viewpoint?)
19. Do you lack a clear financial plan for your future?
20. Are you willing to be truthful and restore your integrity?

* If you answered yes to more than three of these questions you can benefit from a coach.

Questions A Coach May Ask You:

* What five opportunities are you leaving on the table?
* How might you sabotage our professional relationship?
* How have you been motivated in the past to reach difficult goals or make difficult decisions? How can we best utilize that motivation now?
* How would you do this differently if you were willing to let it be easy?
* What would happen if you showed up ten times more bolder this week in every aspect of your life?
* What are the 10 things you are tolerating or putting up with that are preventing you from performing at your best?

Ways To Grow Your Small Business

I started my company (ABC) from the trunk of my car (and it was a small trunk so that’s a small business). I grew ABCto $375,000,000 in sales prior to selling it to XYZ. I am now CEO of a $1 billion business.

Many of our most important customers are small business people. I make a study out of what makes them successful and what pitfalls they need to avoid. From this study, I came up with the following list of the Top 10 Ways to Grow your Small Business:

1 – Know yourself. Do a SWOT analysis. What are your Strengths, your Weaknesses, the Opportunities and the Threats? Examine and understand each. In every strength there is a weakness and in every weakness there is a strength (e.g. you are small so lack financial clout, the advantage is by necessity you will be more creative). The better you know yourself the more successful you will be. By knowing yourself you not only know your areas of opportunity, you know what areas to avoid.

2 – Set goals. This sounds almost too simple but many people and businesses do not set goals. Goals can keep you focused on where you want to go and how you need to get there. Set specific measurable goals with timelines and track progress towards them. Set goals in areas that you know you can win (if you did the SWOT in 1, you will know those areas).

3 – Grow within profitability. Often I see companies who set the goals like I speak about in point 1 and grow their expenses in anticipation of sales only to find the sales do not materialize at the level they thought. Sell first then add overheads.

4 – Sell more to your existing customers. Look at what they buy from other sources that you might be able to sell them. You already have the relationship with your customers. You are already spending the time to service them so your incremental cost is quite low. For example, if you supply them with toner cartridges, it is easy to sell them some printers or other hardware or software.

5 – Sell to more customers. You obviously have something worth buying or you would have no customers. What other customers might use this service. Then market and sell to that audience – email, mail, fax, advertise, call, visit, etc. Ask your existing customers for referrals. Sell in a larger geographic area. Take the knowledge and systems you have to broader areas. Warning on this – the grass is not always greener. It costs more to sell in markets further away. You can lose your advantage.

6 – Grow your people. What I have consistently done is to look at what I do and figure out who can do it (in many cases better than I can). By learning to delegate, I have been able to not only grow myself but grow my people and my company.

7 – Create a change culture in your company. People need to be told that things change. Yes, I wish for the good old times but without change, we would not grow. There is an expression “if you do what you always have done, you will get what you have always got”. The Jim Estill variation on this is “if you do what you have always done (even if it was successful), you will go bankrupt”. Set a goal to do something new every month.

8 – As one of my heroes, Thomas Edison said, “good things come to those who hustle while they wait”. In business, speed wins. Companies and people with a high sense of urgency win. If you do not have this in your company – create it. Set deadlines. Set goals. Do it now. This can be one area that small business can beat big business.

9 – Focus on learning. People and companies that learn, win. This ties into point 7. You need to be a life-long learner. Spend part of your time on learning. Develop a habit of constant learning.

10 – I am a big believer in the good use of time. If you know your goals and focus your time appropriately, you will grow. I study time and constantly polish my time systems.

The Restaurant Business

Food is one of the basic necessities of life. You need to eat to survive. For some, it is just that – but for most of us it is more than just survival. Food is a celebration – of being alive, of taste and of our fruits of labor. Although this celebration is most of the time confined in the home kitchen, with the fast-paced world and less time that we have to cook and then to eat – the restaurants serving a wide array of delicious food are increasingly becoming the stop-over for the urbane society.

In most parts of the world – the smallest snack cart to the suave seven starred restaurants – food is available for the consumer in ways that were incomprehensible even in the last century. Eat while floating in air – the hanging restaurant – or eat under water amongst the swimming sharks – how about eating aboard a tram or a train or cruise – exclusive restaurants on wheels or on water – celebrate the way that best suits your taste.

The business of restaurants hence is a very lucrative option for many entrepreneurs. From small start-ups, family joints to mega food chains – restaurant business is making its mark in the consumer market. Although it seems quite simple to just walk in a restaurant, order the food, eat, pay and leave – running a restaurant and staying on the market when restaurants are mushrooming at almost all the corners of your street – is not quite easy. Starting up a restaurant and keep it running with profit needs meticulous pre-planning and management.

The most important points that one should keep in mind while starting a restaurant are:

The location of the restaurant - ensure that there is traffic where you are opening up the restaurant. It is not necessary that you have to open one only at the established areas. You need to identify areas that would develop soon as well.

Great food, great ambience, great service – the three keys to keep customers loyal to your joint. They should not just visit once, but keep revisiting.

There is no great food unless there is a reliable and regular supply chain to support it with. So before you get in to opening a restaurant, remember to invest money and effort in building up the supply chain.

Once you have your restaurant all set up, in order to keep it running – remember the following:

Don't over promise and under deliver! You may find a number of exotic menus available, but offer only those that your kitchen can deliver.

Keep it changing, but don't forget the old! It's good to jazz up your joint once in a while – the décor, the menu. But remember, you'll also have loyal customers who come to your place to relish the signature dish or enjoy the old ambience. Ensure that your change does not make the most loyal customers uncomfortable.

Most importantly – times change, markets go up and down – but always ensure that your customers get value for their money.

Impossible is Just a Word

Everyone, at some point of his or her life, has dreamed of being somebody special, somebody big. Who hasn't fantasized about being the one who hits the game-winning homer? Who hasn't dreamed of being the homecoming queen? And how many times have we dreamed of being rich, or successful, or happy with our relationships?

Often, we dream big dreams and have great aspirations. Unfortunately, our dreams remain just that – dreams. And our aspirations easily collect dust in our attic.

This is a sad turn of events in our life. Instead of experiencing exciting adventures in self actualization, we get caught up in the humdrum of living from day-to-day just barely existing.

But you know what? Life could be so much better, if only we learned to aim higher.

The most common problem to setting goals is the word impossible. Most people get hung up thinking I can't do this. It's too hard. It's too impossible. No one can do this.

However, if everyone thought that, there would be no inventions, no innovations, and no breakthroughs in human accomplishment.

Remember that scientists were baffled when they took a look at the humble bumblebee. Theoretically, they said, it was impossible for the bumblebee to fly. Unfortunately for the bumble, bee no one has told it so. So fly it does.

On the other hand, some people suffer from dreaming totally outrageous dreams and not acting on them. The result? Broken dreams, and tattered aspirations.

If you limit yourself with self-doubt, and self-limiting assumptions, you will never be able to break past what you deem impossible. If you reach too far out into the sky without working towards your goal, you will find yourself clinging on to the impossible dream.

Try this exercise. Take a piece of paper and write down some goals in your life. Under one header, list down things ‘you know you can do’. Under another header, write the things ‘you might be able to do.’ And under one more, list the things that that are ‘impossible for you to do.’

Now look at all the headers strive every day to accomplish the goals that are under things ‘you know you can do’. Check them when you are able to accomplish them. As you slowly are able to check all of your goals under that heading, try accomplishing the goals under the other header-the one that reads ‘you might be able to do.’

As of the items you wrote under things I could do are accomplished, you can move the goals that are under things that are ‘impossible for you to do’ to the list of things ‘you might be able to do.’

As you iterate through this process, you will find out that the goals you thought were impossible become easier to accomplish. And the impossible begin to seem possible after all.

You see, the technique here is not to limit your imagination. It is to aim high, and start working towards that goal little by little. However, it also is unwise to set a goal that is truly unrealistic.

Those who just dream towards a goal without working hard end up disappointed and disillusioned.

On the other hand, if you told someone a hundred years ago that it was possible for man to be on the moon, they would laugh at you. If you had told them that you could send mail from here to the other side of the world in a few seconds, they would say you were out of your mind. But, through sheer desire and perseverance, these impossible dreams are now realities.

Thomas Edison once said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Nothing could be truer. For one to accomplish his or her dreams, there has to be had work and discipline. But take note that that 1% has to be a think-big dream, and not some easily accomplished one.

Ask any gym rat and he or she will tell you that there can be no gains unless you are put out of your comfort zone. Remember the saying, “No pain, no gain”? That is as true as it can be.

So dream on, friend! Don’t get caught up with your perceived limitations. Think big and work hard to attain those dreams. As you step up the ladder of progress, you will just about find out that the impossible has just become a little bit more possible.


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