BQ The 7 Big Questions for business owners who want to build Beautiful Businesses and Lives

How do we build our own unique

Beautiful Businesses and Lives?

12 questions, business coach, mentor, guidance, adviser

These are the 7 Big Questions that business owners must face to Build a Beautiful Business

To Build a Beautiful Business that Stands the Test of Time, there are 7 Big Questions all of us will come face to face with.

The Big 7 are:

  1. About Business Growth: My business is stuck at a certain size… How can I  create more growth for my business?
  2. About Profit: I’m not making enough profit and cash… How can I make and keep more money?
  3. About Overwhelm and being stuck: I am overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated… How can I become less overwhelmed and feel happier every day?
  4. About Guidance: I feel alone in my business… How can I find the right support, advice and guidance?
  5. Aboutf Work/life balance: I’m missing out on life, on family, and on friends… How can I find better balance between life and work
  6. About Personal development: I am spinning my wheels as a do-er rather than a leader… How can I become a better business owner and leader?
  7. About Family Business: We are struggling with the challenges of being business partners as well as life partners… How can we negotiate our roles as business and life partners better?

Each of the 7 Big Questions has a dedicated page on this website, with links to many relevant resources both within my website as well as throughout the internet. Scroll down or click on the links above for a  summary of each of the 7 Big Question with a link to that question’s full page.

Further reading:

How can I create more growth for my business?

business growth strategy Summary: To build aBeautiful Business and Life, we need growth. Seth Godin made a great statement some years ago on his blog. He said: To build a great business you only have to do two things: first you have to do great work or deliver a great product and second you have to make sure lots of people know about it. And that’s exactly how simple it is to build a Great Business that Stands the Test of time. But, as with so many things in life, it’s easier said than done.

Business growth is about research and product and systems and quality assurance and innovation and inventory management and people management and everything in between and then when you get that right, it’s about customers, and marketing and sales and social media and communications and PR and SEO and content marketing and advertising and design and branding and of course leadership and you might well argue that before all of that comes Visioning, Mission, Purpose, Goal setting and Strategic planning. In short Business growth touches all aspects of business. Read More Here…

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

How can I make and keep more money?

make more profit Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need to make profit. A business that doesn’t make profit and that doesn’t generate cash flow isn’t a business, it’s a hobby. Profit is not the Purpose of business, and nor is generating Cash the reason the business exists, but without profit and cash it is not possible for the business to deliver on it’s Purpose.

Business growth will have an impact on the flow of profit and money in the business, both positively and negatively, but many other aspects of business have an impact as well. There’s pricing, discounting, inventory management, costing, trade terms , collection policies and procedures, expense management, cost control and many other aspects of business will determine the profitability and sustainability of your business.

And on the other hand there is financial management. The management , reporting and analysing of the flow of profit and money through the business. Having your fingers on the pulse of all of the key indicators of the health of your business every day, week, month and year. Management of the numbers in other words. Read More Here…

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

How can I become less overwhelmed and feel happier every day?

overwhelm business fun Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need to get unstuck. In my experience, business owners operate in a state of overwhelm many days of the week. They’re often first in the door in the morning, last out the door at night and have to catch up on their admin and email after dinner. They run around from crisis to crisis most days, extinguishing brush fires along the way.

Staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces without input and supervision from the boss. Customers expect the business owner personally to solve all their problems, immediately,  rather than the perfectly qualified and expensive staff that are employed by the business for that purpose.

As a result, the critical business development projects are constantly pushed back and the business gets stuck in the mud. The way out of this overwhelm is to learn to focus on three letters FUN. Fun in Business is the opposite of overwhelm. Developing a discipline on making Business Fun again works, because when business is fun it means everything is working. Read More Here… 

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

How can I find the right support, advice and guidance?

guidance coaching support Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need support. One of the most consistent complaints I hear from business owners is that it’s all down to them. They feel alone and unsure of themselves. They need to have a sounding board. The people around them don’t get it. The staff are affected by the decisions the business owner needs to make, and so are their spouses and family.

Human beings work well with external accountability and advice. Independent external support is invaluable to any business owner who wants to build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time. External support can take many forms: A mentor, a business or life coach, management consultant, a virtual board, an executive coaching group, a regular get together with a group of fellow business owner buddies or all of the above.

One thing is for sure: Don’t think you can do it on your own. But how do you go about finding the right support for you? Read More Here…

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

How can I find work-life-balance in my business and my life?

business woman jetty laptop Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we need to create a balance between the demands of the business and those of the rest of our lives.

In the many years I’ve worked with business owners, I’ve come to believe that business owners are the most ‘guilt driven’ people on the planet, “worse than Catholics” I sometimes joke. Business owners generally go through life believing they are not up to the job in some way. They tell themselves (and me), that to compensate for their perceived failures, they’ve got to work harder than anyone else in their business or else how could they ever ask their people to put in the hard yards when required? (see also what I wrote above about overwhelm). But in the mean time they’re missing out on the important stuff in life. Their health and well-being suffers, as are their families.

For business owners to create a greater balance between work and life, the first step is to acknowledge that owning a business is never a 9-to-5 job, you probably won’t ever be able to close the door behind you on the way home entirely. The business is your baby, you’ve put your heart and soul into it and it’s part of who you are as a person.

Once you acknowledge that fact, the immediate next step is to recognise that your own time, your health and your general well-being are the most valuable and important assets of your business and as the business owner it is your prime responsibility to look after your assets. In other words, not looking after yourself and ensuring you are in a great physical and mental state means you are not taking your responsibilities as the owner of the business seriously. Once you’ve learnt to accept the realities of those two principles (contradictory as they might seem from time to time), you’re on the path to create the business and life you dream off. Read More Here…

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

How can I become a better business owner and leader?

leadership Summary: To build a Beautiful Business and Life, we have to become better business owners. As I’ve said above in the “work – life – balance” summary, most business owners feel they’re not quite cutting it as entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, business owners start their business on the back of their profession, trade or skill they have learnt (plumber, architect, accountant, chef) and they feel confident in that particular skill. But when they start a business based on that profession, they suddenly realise that it takes a lot more than being a great plumber to build a great plumbing business.

Few business owners have studied to be a business owner, and even those who have attained an MBA or similar qualification, find that they’re not prepared for the realities of life as a small business owner. Suddenly everything is down to you, the big decisions about whether or not to bid for that contract, or hire that expensive employee, or sign the lease for the new office, as well as making sure the toilets are stocked with toilet paper and that there’s ink for the printer.

To top it off, your people look to you for having vision, having the answers and being the leader. It’s a frightening place to stand in the middle off, but there are three pieces of good news: (1) You got this far and you’re still breathing so you must be doing something right. (2) Your people actually want you to be the leader and they’re ready to forgive you just about any balls up you’re going to make along the way. (3) Leadership is something you can learn, practice and get better at. Read More Here…

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Family business: How can we negotiate our roles as business and life partners better?

husband and wife family business Summary: To build a Beautiful Family Business and Life, we need to get good, both at working with our spouses as well as living with them. As I’ve said above in the “better business owner” summary, many businesses are founded on the profession of the business owner. The plumber starts a plumbing business and the lawyer starts a law practice. A little way into the life of the business, the founder of the business, along with the spouse of the founder starts to appreciate that it takes more than being a great lawyer to build a great lawyer business and the business flounders.

Often, it is at this point that the spouse decides to enter the business as well, to sort out the chaos, in no small measure, to protect the interests of the family, and the family business is born. 70% of all businesses in Australia are family businesses and a large percentage of those can be classed as husband and wife family businesses.

In my experience there is wonderful opportunity in being in business with your spouse. It holds the possibility of providing for your family very well and there is a great opportunity to grow as a couple. But waking up beside your business partner in bed every morning also comes with a bunch of unique challenges. Read More Here…

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Why I don’t believe in business coaching and why it works

Why coaching works

Why business coaching works captain the in the storm

Don’t talk to me about the storms and the reefs, Coach,  just tell me we’ll be safe

I was working with a business – life coaching client recently, let’s call him Peter. Peter set a big Goal for himself as part of our work together.

Peter’s Goal was so big, in fact, that I was bothered by it. You see, I know from experience, that setting Goals that are too big are likely to have a demotivational effect and worse, can lead to disappointment.

I challenged Peter and asked him if he felt confident the Goal was realistic, and if he felt he could make it happen in the time we had. Peter was adamant. Although he wasn’t sure if he could do it, he wanted to stretch himself and “set it out there”. Peter has done a lot of self-development work and he believes in a version of the “Law of Attraction”, which loosely states that you get what you focus on in life and in business.

Goal blown out of the water

3 Weeks later, Peter rang me unexpectedly. He’d just signed a new contract that meant he’d blown his Goal out of the water two weeks early.

Wonderful news, very exciting and I truly feel Peter deserves every dollar of that success, because he is one of the nicest guys I know.

Peter said: “There you go, I knew it, when you set it out there, the Universe will provide”.

And it’s such a comforting idea, isn’t it? The idea that there is some greater power that’s going to look after you in your time of need. It’s lovely that Peter felt confirmed in his beliefs. It will no doubt help him to remain motivated to move forward in his business and that was his biggest problem prior to coming to see me.

But it confirmed my growing confusions.

I don’t believe

You see, I do not believe in the “Law of Attraction”, or it’s many variants. I don’t even believe in traditional Goal setting anymore. As a matter of fact, there are a whole bunch of foundational principles of my profession of coaching that I have stopped believing in. Consequently, in the past years, I’ve adjusted the way I work with my clients to rely only on well-established scientific principles.

And my clients achieve great things in their businesses and their lives and I am excited and proud of the work I do with them. But the experience with Peter recently makes me wonder if I’m doing the right thing for my clients.

You see, Peter is an old hand at being coached and mentored. I’ve known him for years and we have done a lot of work together. Also, Peter moves in a world where he comes across self-development gurus of many ilks all the time, and he’s convinced by the self-development messages he hears from them. What’s more, Peter and I have become good friends over the years, so he felt comfortable enough with me to push back and set the Goal he wanted to set. It worked out great for him, but not everyone has Peter’s confidence or clarity.

The many contradictions

It’s all very well for me to question myself and my beliefs. I don’t believe anything in life or business is ever black and white, there are no simple rules. Here’s just a few of those contradictions in business:

  • A business must make profit or else it’s a hobby… but… Making profit is not the Purpose of business.
  • A business must have a plan to move forward… but… Planning is guessing
  • Goalsetting is important… but… Goals are not destinations, just directions.
  • Great leaders are fiercely ambitious… but… Not for themselves
  • Systemisation is critical for developing your business… but… I’d hate to live in a world where all restaurants are McDonalds.
  • Knowing how to “close” a sale is a key skill in business… but… The most successful people in business and in life “Give without expectation of return”.
  • Growing your business is fine… but… Don’t focus on growth (focus on delivery instead).
  • Change your business, make it grow, make more money… but… Not unless you yourself change and grow first.

Life is full of contradictions such as those. Sure, it would be easier if it wasn’t and we all like the idea of winning the lottery, but even winning the lottery turns out not to be as great as we thought. (Read about lottery winners and happiness here)

And so I believe questioning myself is healthy, it keeps me sharp and pushing the boundaries. But it’s not necessarily what my clients need from me.

The shortest route

business coaching The experience with Peter has shown me that most clients simply want to get from point A to point B, via the shortest route possible, with as few detours as possible. And they look for someone to help them get there.

Maybe, when they come across me, they hear my questioning, my lack of certainty and start to wonder if getting my help might take them up the scenic route to point B, and so they’ll move on to someone who promises to take them up the freeway instead.

And that’s a shame, because the thing is, I know I transform people’s lives and businesses. I have literally hundreds of past clients who will attest to that fact.

So what I need to do is to communicate that you can trust me to take you on an amazing journey and adventure, and that like the captain of the ship, I know how to handle the storms when they come up. You don’t particularly want me to talk about the reefs we might hit under way, you just want to know we’ll be safe.

And this blog post?… It’s doing exactly the opposite… isn’t it?… Ah well, Peter loves me anyway.

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Further reading and research

You may be interested in taking my ”Are you ready for Change” survey. It takes 10 minutes to complete and I promise it will give you plenty of food for thought. I’ve written more about Change (with a capital ”C”) here.

Here is the link to my webpage about all my coaching, mentoring, guidance and training services

There is a lovely guest post from one of my clients, Geoff Anderson from Sonic Sight about his experience with business coaching here

Here is an article I wrote about how to go about finding the right coach for you and here is a link to my webpage about all forms of business support that are available to small business owners.

And here are three articles on how to go about finding the right business coach on Inc.com , on Entrepreneur.com and on Fastcompany.com. All worth a good read if you’re considering the idea of getting a business coach soon.

I’ve also written here, about the power of great conversations, which is how I fill my days as a business coach.

More about my own coaching background here

 

Change: Life is what happens when you’re making other plans

change planning coaching

From Pirates in the Bahamas to Danish women in Italian Piazzas

One of my favourite Facebook memes is:

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”

We grow up and find that the world looks quite different when we’re 30, 40, 50 and beyond, than we thought it was going to look when we were young.

I thought I was going to be a modern day pirate like Long John Silver (a fantasy recently revived with the swashbuckling Netflix series “Blacksails”), but it turned out I got violently seasick on the oceans of the world. And besides my wife and I had our first child and children don’t go that well on pirate ships.

Then I thought I was going to be a journalist of world renown, but I didn’t have the patience to make it through the ranks.

I set my sights on a boatbuilding business on Sydney Harbour, but what I knew about running a business in those days could be written on the back of a beer coaster, and the business failed.

Next I started a building business in Sydney. I developed it and ran it for about 20 years. At times it did very well, at other times not so much, but in the end I had enough of the never ending struggle between contractors, homeowners and architects. I was very happy when a former employee of mine offered to buy the business.

More or less at the same time my personal life took a 180 degree turn and where I’d always thought I would grow old as one half of a happily married couple, I suddenly found myself single (by my own choice I hasten to add).

The rest of my life

I was 45, single, without home or business or any immediate responsibilities other than to work out what to do with the rest of my life.

And I had no idea. None.

I figured I needed to create a bit of space in which to work out what direction to head and I took myself off to Italy. The idea being, that if I were to sit myself down on a piazza in Italy for long enough, the universe might speak to me.

And it did.

change planning coaching I actually remember the precise moment that it did: I was having dinner with a bunch of friends in a little restaurant in Perugia in Umbria. I got talking to a Danish woman who was in Italy for a month long sabbatical and she told me about her life coach. My ears pricked up. I’d never heard of the term life coach and I was equally intrigued and sceptical. Long story short. I did some research and decided to do a foundation coach training course when I got back to Sydney. I loved it and in the next few years I enrolled in as many studies and trainings in coaching and related fields as I could.

Various coaching practices

I set about building Life coaching, Executive coaching, personal counselling practices and combinations of all of them. In the end I created the thing I do now, which is all about helping small business owners feel great about themselves and their business and about making business Fun (with a capital “F”).

I love what I do these days and by all accounts I am actually really good at it. Until quite recently, I saw myself growing old in the inner-city of Sydney together with my new spouse, doing what I do now, connected with the community and my kids, grandkids and extended family and friends. But another change is coming down the pike, heading straight for us. Life is going to take another 90 degree turn. I can’t tell you exactly which direction this 90 degree turn is going to take, but it seems quite clear that we’ll be leaving Sydney in the next year or so.

Not happy

We’re upset and anxious about this prospect. It’s going to mean significant adjustment and changed circumstances, but really, the change is no greater than any of the changes I mentioned above, and those were just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a good chance that the changes will turn out to be really positive in the long run and that we’ll look back and smile at the memories of our anxieties and dine out on the stories, just like I do now when thinking about the changes I mentioned before.

Life is indeed what happens when we’re making other plans. Planning is guessing. I’ve said it before when writing about goalsetting in business here, but it’s no different in life.

The one thing we can be sure of is change But us humans, it seems, are hardwired to resist change as much as we can. There’s a primal instinctive fear we feel in change, I believe.

But change is coming and In any case, I’m going to remind myself how positive the experience of change can be, especially in hindsight, even if it doesn’t quite feel that way now.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

FREE eBook: The 10 Truths for Making Your Business Grow

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Looking Life In the Eye

death life

death life

What I learned from my mother in the last weeks of her life.

My mother died in July last year. I spent the last few weeks of her life with her every day. She knew she was about to die and what’s more she was looking forward to the journey. A couple of months off her 90th birthday, she’d had enough of the medical efforts that were needed to keep her alive and she believed that there was a new adventure waiting for her. As she said a few times to me: “I have packed my backpack, it’s sitting near the front door, all that remains is for me to take off this coat I’m still wearing and then I’m off”.

The last weeks of our lives together were incredible. Many people have come up to me since her death and wished me strength and love in these tough times and offered me their shoulders to cry on. And it’s lovely that people have, but I wish I could explain to them how I don’t feel the need for sympathy. I actually feel relieved, content, satisfied and lucky, grateful even.

Feeling emotional

It’s not that I didn’t love my mother, and that I’m glad she’s gone, far from it, we were very close. No doubt I’ll miss her in the coming years, probably for the rest of my life. I feel emotional from time to time, I feel sad sometimes, and confused maybe, unsure what’s going on, all of that, but none of the emotions I feel are negative.

Nor were the last stages of my mother’s life easy, not at all. There was pain and suffering and in the end my mother died from suffocation. I can assure you there’s nothing fun in that.

But it was all good and it still is.

Death’s cliches

It’s a cliché and it nevertheless bears repeating: We are all going to die.

None of us can avoid it.

And that fact is neither good nor bad, it simply is.

Yet we spend so much of our lives pretending that this fact relates to other people, not us.

We avoid thinking about death and dying and we don’t plan for it and we don’t talk about it and we don’t let the fact of our death and the process of our dying interfere with the pursuits of our lives and our bucket list.

Let’s Organise a Death Shower

death life And then when it does happen to us, we act as if we never saw it coming. We spend 9 months or more preparing for the arrival of a baby, from organizing support during and after the birth, to organizing our work life, to getting the baby’s room ready. How about holding a “Death Shower” to balance out the saccharine sweetness of the “Baby Shower”?

I am in awe of how my mother prepared and planned for her death. Not just in the last few weeks, but over the past 30 years. She looked the facts of life right in the eye and didn’t shy away from them. Her greatest fear was that she’d end up in a hospital bed in a nursing home. And she realised that to avoid the nursing home, she’d need to organise her life differently.

Getting involved in the community

She set about doing exactly that. She sold the house she’d lived in since 1957 and found a house that she’d be able to manage when becoming increasingly decrepit. She also got involved in local neighborhood services and volunteered in the community. Part of her motivation for doing so was to be well connected when the time came for her to need that community herself.

She did these things and various others and she was very clear and open about them. For her it was all part of the process.

And the thing is, she succeeded. She died in July in her own cozy home, looking at her beloved garden, cared for by her local community and with the people that mattered most to her around her.

And she was content, and she felt good and so did we all.

Pain and suffering is part of the process.

It was a truly special experience for me. I actually have a lump in my throat as I write this, not because of any negative sense of sadness, rather because of the beauty of it.

We are all going to die, and pain and suffering will probably be part of the process. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The GP who looked after my mother said at some point in one of our conversations: “You know I often think that we get too fixated about wanting to avoid suffering at the end of life. There is a lot of pain and suffering in child birth and maybe at the other end, it is also rightly part of the process”.

I’m not sure of course, one death hardly makes me an expert. What I do know is that the process of growing old and dying fully scares the Living Daylights out of me, but I am nevertheless going to face the facts of life and think, plan and talk about my death.

Just like my mother did.

#Death #Dying #LifeAndDeath

I’ve zest for life and a passion for all things business. I’ve spent many years consulting, designing and building solutions for small businesses. For more of my thoughts and musings on life and business, subscribe to my blog below:


Productivity Tips: How To Get The Important Stuff Done In Your Business

productivity business

When other people’s priorities are not yours

productivity business

The Work-of-the-business v the Work-of-the-business-owner

Small business owners often ask me if I can help them become more productive. Or rather the complaint is that there are always a thousand other things getting in the way of the stuff you would much rather spend your time on, instead of the never-ending emails, phone calls, crises, admin, quoting, employees calling in sick or needing help tying their shoe laces. No one ever seems to be able to get anything done without you.

It’s one of the great frustrations of small business. Everything is down to you, the owner. When a client is irate, when a supplier is unhappy, the bank has an issue or when the toilet paper runs out, it’s down to you.

And of course, you being you, you do fix it all, you are the ultimate juggler and the balls rarely ever crash when you’re on the job, but it means the work you actually want to do, gets put off and off and off.

No simple answers

All small business owners have to face this challenge and, sadly, I have no simple answers.

Move along folks… Nothing to see here.

I can suggest a few principles, though, that may help make you more productive and actually get the things you want to get done, done:

  • Other people’s priorities don’t always have to be your priorities.
  • The important work you want to get onto, the business development work is the only work in your business that cannot be delegated to others.
  • The important work you want to get onto can always be put off another day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
  • If you don’t make the business development work your priority and set dedicated time aside for it every week, it will not get done and your business will struggle.

Covey and the 4 Quadrants

productivity business One of the classic works of personal development of the eighties is Stephen Covey’s book: “The 7 Habits of highly effective people”. In The 7 Habits, Covey talks about the 4 quadrants of time management (see the image).

Covey explains that all tasks can be put into one of 4 quadrants. Tasks can be:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Important and not Urgent
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Neither Important nor Urgent

If you experience the problems I outlined in the first three paragraphs above, I know you have little trouble getting the tasks done that are in quadrant 1. The Quadrant 1 stuff is the stuff that must get done now, or else, and I bet you’re generally fine with that It’s the reason your business has survived as long as it has.

Mostly, small business owners don’t struggle too much with the Quadrant 4 stuff either, there’s not enough time in a day as it is, let alone spend time on stuff that is meaningless.

The problems are always in Quadrants 2 and 3. The Quadrant 3 stuff is all the tasks that are generated by other people. It’s the client ringing up and saying I need to have that quote first thing tomorrow morning, it’s the supplier saying I want to deliver this widget after lunch, can you be on site to receive it. Because the client and the supplier sound like it’s really really important to them, you set aside the thing you would have preferred to do and you make it happen. Other people’s priorities. They say “Jump”, your immediate response is “How High”? And when you jump you put aside the Quadrant 2 stuff. The Quadrant 2 stuff is the stuff that is important to you, but it can always be put off another day. The world doesn’t end if you start writing that business plan tomorrow instead of today and the world doesn’t end if you put off writing the new safety procedure for another day.

The world won’t end when you postpone

And the world really won’t end when you do that. After all you’ve managed alright without the business plan and the safety procedure to date… What’s another day? The problem is of course that tomorrow there will be another phone call and another crisis and the day after another one etc.

Obviously, sometimes when a client asks if you can do this thing for them by this afternoon, it really does need to be done, but many times it doesn’t. Often it’s perfectly ok to say: “Sorry I am busy this afternoon and tomorrow. I can get onto it on Thursday and have it to you by lunch time, would that be ok?” I can guarantee you that in most cases the client is going to be fine with that, as long as you are clear and decisive and as long as you actually deliver by Thursday lunchtime.

Other peoples urgencies

We are trained to respond to other people’s urgencies as if they are our own. They aren’t and it’s worth keeping that in mind.

I have worked with and met hundreds if not thousands of small business owners in the past 13 years. From my experience, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the one key difference between the business owners who have built and are building Great Small Businesses and those who struggle, is how much time they manage to dedicate every week to building their business. I call it “The work of the business owner” as opposed to “The work of the business”.

If you start by dedicating as little as an hour per week to business building and business development, every week, regular as clockwork, no interruptions, phone off, email off, go to a café if you have to, block it out in your diary, nothing short of death is more important… You will start to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come… I promise you

#Productivity #Efficient #WorkOfTheBusinessOwner #BusinessDevelopment #Coaching

 

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Book in a FREE half hour Discovery coaching session with me to explore if the Fun in Business Intensive is right for you or what other options may be better for you right now!

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How To Make Your Business Hum Along In 2017 With The Right Apps

Software and Apps for Business

Are you still relying on whiteboards, post-its and spreadsheets to run your business?

Software and Apps for Business

The Must-Have and the Nice-to-Have Apps for Business

Do you know:

  • How much profit you made on that job for Mrs Smith? The one the boys finished yesterday?
  • How long it takes you on average to get paid?
  • How much business you will do next month?
  • Which of your team members makes you money and which ones lose it for you?
  • How happy your customers are?
  • Whether or not the new guy on the floor in the store in Newtown has completed his safety induction training yet?
  • If you can afford for both Johnny and Carla to be on holidays next week?
  • The top 10 key indicators of the health of your business?

Managing by keeping your fingers crossed

Software and Apps for Business These are the type of questions every small business owner must know the answer to, every day, every week and every month. If you can’t answer them in your business, you’re managing with your fingers crossed, hoping everything will be alright.

It won’t be… Trust me.

And in 2017 these questions cannot be answered with whiteboards, yellow stickies and spreadsheets anymore, handy as those tools can be.

The name of the game is Apps, software in other words. So let me give you the “must-do’s”, the “general must haves”, the “specialised must-have” and the “nice to haves”

These are the must-do’s:

  • Any business apps that doesn’t live in the cloud… ditch it. It’s so much more efficient to have your information synched across all your different machines and to know that if your computer blows up today, you simply log on into your data from any another machine.
  • Whatever software you have, make sure it’s device independent. In 2017, all the good stuff runs happily on Mac, PC, Android, Iphone.
  • Don’t ever click on any link in any email from anyone unless you know for sure it’s safe (a trick that’s saved me a few times: When you hover over a link in an email you should be able to see what the actual link is (Possibly in the left bottom of your browser window)… if it looks dodgy, run away)

The general must-haves:

  • Software and Apps for Business Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Doesn’t matter which one… Get a paid account for one of them that’s appropriate for the size of your business and the number of people who have to access everything, and stick all your data in it. It’s safe and it works.
  • The absolute best antivirus, malware, ransomware, firewall, general anti-nastiness software you can get… Paid version… Automatic updates every day… I have used Kaspersky for the last 4 or 5 years myself (there are others). Touch wood, I haven’t had anything truly nasty get through (also see point 3 above). And don’t think you’re safe cause you’re on Apple either.
  • An external harddrive that you back your whole system up to or better yet an official “In the cloud” backup solution (paid), and test it once every couple of months or sooner depending on the business you’re in.
  • Bookkeeping software: Xero, Quickbooks Online, Saasu, MYOB Live, in that order as far as I’m concerned… If your business is bigger than 20- 30 employees or it has special complications, then you may need to at other software (talk to these guys)… But most SME’s will run fine on those. I am a convert of XERO, I think the former industry standard MYOB has come too little too late to the cloud and is still lagging seriously Xero. Quickbooks Online is surprisingly good, and Saasu used to be in the fight with Xero but looks like they’ve lost the race.
  • Cloud based office software, Either Microsoft Office or Google apps. It’s simply crazy not to use the latest versions by subscription, And it makes everything device independent (see 2 above)
  • Document, task and project sharing apps for business: I have gone completely paperless myself recently and I know a number of other business that have as well. I use Microsoft OneNote to keep all my notes and task lists and resources and everything, combined with DropBox (see above). It’s incredibly good to use. But I know others who use Evernote with great success for the same purpose and I see that DropBox themselves have recently brought out new functionality that might compete more directly with Evernote and MSOneNote. Other great options in this area are Trello and Asana…The last two are even more useful if you need to manage projects and tasks across a team.

The specialised must-haves:

The specialised stuff is:

  1. Workflow/ business process management
  2. Customer relationship Management (CRM)/ Sales pipeline management
  3. Marketing automation systems (MAS)
  4. Project management (PM)
  5. HR Management (HR)

A bunch of the questions I asked at the beginning of this article, you’ll only ever be able to answer with one or a combination of these specialised software systems.

For example if your business is in plumbing and you want to answer the very first question I posed about the job for Mrs Smith, you can effectively only do so if you use a workflow management system, in which all the costs and all the income of each job are recorded, instantaneously. If you organise that the right way, you’ll be able to push a button as soon as the boys leave the job and see if they’ve made or lost money and how much.

There are many business apps out there that can be used for this purpose and it’s incredibly challenging to find out which one is right for you. Personally, I refer most of my clients in service based businesses to a program called WorkFlowMax, because I know it works. Some others to look at:

There are specialist consulting companies in this field who can advise you on various options. (If you are in the building trades in Australia, check out Tradiepad)

Workflow is the Hub

Software and Apps for Business I always suggest you decide what workflow/ business management system to implement first, because it will actually become the hub around which everything else in the business turns. CRM, Marketing Automation (MAS), Project management (PM), HR all need to integrate tightly with the workflow system (as does the bookkeeping system of course, don’t forget that)

Many industries have specialised requirements, and the generic workflow systems such as WorkFlowMax won’t do the job. In those cases I have found there are often business management systems available that are specifically created for your industry. I am currently working with a removalist company and because of the complications in that industry of storage and transport, generic software is not much use to them. Luckily we’ve found a beautiful program that’s specifically created for the removals industry. Also, I worked with a mechanic, recently, and we found specialist software to manage motor mechanic businesses, that works very well.

In some cases you may actually have to create something from scratch. A client of mine who is a funeral undertaker has had to take that route recently.

The others

Many of the workflow management systems actually incorporate some or all of the other specialised programs, CRM, MAS, PM and even HR. However, my experience is that the five functions I listed are highly specialised and software that tries to do everything, often doesn’t do any of it very well. As I said, start with workflow management and once you have that in place you can assess whether the CRM functions of your workflow software are adequate for your needs. The workflow software company will in all likelihood publish a list of CRM and other programs that integrate well with it.

Whether or not you can simply buy the business app you need from the shelf or you have to create apps from scratch, as in the case of the undertaker, the cost of doing so isn’t prohibitive anymore these days. Although I have no doubt that you’ll end up with a few more grey hairs by the time the systems are fully implemented, your life will never be the same again… I promise you.

PS… Nice-to-haves:

I haven’t spoken about CRM and MAS yet, largely because this article is long enough as it is and also, because I want you to get on top of the other stuff first. Once you’ve got all of that covered… You should absolutely dive into CRM and MAS as your next project.

Check out some of these:

And there are many many others. CRM and MAS are not for the faint hearted, they will take slice off a piece of your life, chew it up and never give it back, that’s how it goes, but the two incredible opportunity to transform your business… And that’s a fact.

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For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

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A rose by any other name… Is Your Business Coach Really A Consultant?

Business Coach Australia

The difference between business coaching, life coaching, mentoring, consulting and training

Business Coach Australia

As always, in the end it’s about people

I’m often asked about the difference between business coaching, life coaching, business consulting, business mentoring, business advising and business training. I tend to confuse people with my answer. So let me see if I can make more sense of it all for you here.

First of all you need to understand that there are actually no accepted definitions of the terms coaching and mentoring. Many people call themselves coaches who would have called themselves consultants, advisers or counselors prior to 2005 when coaching became a very trendy idea.

I myself trained in various coaching and counselling disciplines and was a member of one of the private coaching bodies called the ICF, the International Coaches Federation. It was and is one of the most serious bodies trying to regulate the coaching world, but I would hazard a guess that not even 10% of professionals that refer to themselves as coaches are members of the ICF or any of the other professional coaching bodies.

Business coaching is even less defined as a specific profession and most business coaching companies have simply created a set of programs that they believe will help their clients get ahead in business. They use the “business coach” label because it seems like the best descriptor. I refer to myself as a business – life coach and to be honest I’ve never come across another business – life coach and so, what I do is anybody’s guess 🙂 (But my clients all tell me it works incredibly well, so I’ll just keep doing it).

More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here

Coaching is one of the tools

To be fair, that’s not all that different for me either. I gave up my ICF membership more than 5 years ago, because I concluded that I don’t ascribe to the coaching model that the ICF tries to regulate anymore. Coaching, in the ICF certified way, is just one of the many tools I use to support my clients.

I refer to myself as a business coach and mentor. But to be more accurate, I should really call myself a business coach, mentor, adviser, hand-holder, sounding board and backside kicker. At different times, I step into all those roles. Besides, the way I work with my clients is entirely different to how most other business coaches work with their clients. Many of the business coaches are part of larger organisations such as ActionCoach or Shirlaws, or Fish Coaching. Those organisations have specific business development programs that the coach or consultant helps the business implement. The programs might include training and workshops and group coaching and are based on specific philosophies of business. They are the same for all clients.

It’s all about the relationship

Business Coach Australia Over the past 12 years, doing what I do with my clients, I’ve seen that an engagement with a coach, mentor or adviser is only as good as the relationship that develops between the coach and the client. When I realised that it wasn’t whether I applied a certain coaching technique or followed a certain program that changed my client’s business and life, but that it was all about my relationship with the client, I gave up my ICF membership and decided to totally customise my approach for every client.

So last week I might have been a counselor and offered nothing but deep empathy for the client’s challenges, this week I might tell the same client to pull his finger out and get his overdue admin up to date and next week I might help him understand the vagaries of the balance sheet or start writing a social media marketing plan with him.

These days, when someone asks me what the difference is between coaching and mentoring, consulting and training, I tell him that it’s the wrong question to ask. The only question to ask is: Do I think I can Do Great Work in my business with the support of this person.

Nothing else matters… I promise you.

More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here

#entrepreneurship #BusinessCoach #FunInBusiness #Leadership

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What I learned about business and myself in 2016

Careful what you wish for, Business

Careful what you wish for in your business, you might just get it

Careful what you wish for, Business

The weary traveler makes a wish

December has come around and we’re officially in the silly season, end of 2016 in sight. I think it’s time to do some reflecting.

I learned a couple of big lessons this year about myself and business.

First, I learned that Kindness is a key success factor in small business. I published a whole newsletter on the topic of Kindness in October. It’s a nice collection of articles and videos from some great writers, as well as some of my own musings on the matter. Learning to be more Kind to myself and everyone else is one of my projects now, maybe for the rest of my life.

And second I learned the value of the old warning: “Careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.”

Here’s what that’s about:

Three and a half years ago, I decided I wanted to spend a lot more time with my family in Holland every year. Until then I’d do the regular family visits, but those were expensive, and exhausting, and you don’t really get to develop your relationships on those kind of annual flyin – flyout trips.

Reorganising my business and my life

I decided that what I wanted to do, was to reorganise my business and life in such a way that would allow me to travel to Holland and live and work from there for 3 months every year. It’s been my project over the past 3.5 years to make that come together, and I did it.

This year I’ve been in Holland for a total of 4 months, in two trips, and my business hasn’t suffered… If anything it’s healthier now than it’s been for years.

I have a really great marketing assistant in the Philippines now who continuously improves my findability. I have created lots of useful articles, videos, webinars, newsletters and my three books. I have implemented two sophisticated Marketing Automation Systems to connect with and build relationships with my audience. My clients are entirely happy to work with me via Skype and because of VOIP telephony I can simply make phonecalls to Australia from anywhere in the world.

It’s taken a lot of effort, time and money, and I wasn’t always sure if it would work out in the end, but it did, and now it simply doesn’t matter where in the world I am anymore.

I have so little to do

And that’s what is such a strange experience for me, because suddenly, I have so little to do. I stopped nearly all of my previous marketing activities. I resigned from the business referral group I was a committed member of for 10 years. I stopped going to networking events, I’m not doing “coffees” anymore and my online activities are nearly all automated. All I do, in terms of business development, is that I write articles and read interesting blogs in order to offer my audience useful Food-for-Thought, but that’s it. And as a consequence I have all this time available; time to do with as I please.

It’s a mighty weird experience, because I haven’t had time like that for such a long time. I’ve always had work to do, business to generate, quotes to complete, networking, sales follow up, proposals to write, admin to carry out… Never enough time in a day to get everything done as a matter of fact.

But now, I’ve found myself considering what kind of hobbies I might take up, or if I might volunteer somewhere. I didn’t truly appreciate what was going on most of this year; I struggled with myself a lot this year. I felt I was procrastinating and lazy and ill-disciplined and distracted most days. I’d sit down behind my computer determined to do some work, but I’d waste whole days doing nothing much at all.

Stuck in the procrastination swamp

Careful what you wish for, Business I’ve written about procrastination before and I said in the article, that one of the reasons we procrastinate is that we aren’t clear on what it is we are meant to be doing. I suddenly realised a few months ago, that I was stuck in the middle of exactly that kind of procrastination swamp. I didn’t know what I was meant to be doing, because there was nothing to do.

Since that realisation I feel great about myself. I actually achieved what I set out to do in 2013 and now I have to learn how to live in this new reality.

Have you ever set yourself a challenge and then when you’ve achieved it, made it work, you suddenly find yourself wondering: So What’s Next?”

And so we go from challenge to challenge in life, but I tell you what, I’m up for this challenge!

#FuninBusiness #dreamscometrue #YourWishInBusiness #feelgood #secretstosuccess #Coaching #Smallbiz #Entrepreneur

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race in Small Business

Small Business Competition

Get the boring stuff right in your business and make the competition irrelevant

Small Business Competition

It’s not hard to sell more, what’s hard is to deliver on your promises, week in week out

Early in my days as a business coach I read a book by Jason Jennings: “It’s not the Big that eat the Small, it’s the Fast that eat the Slow.”

Besides the unwieldy nature of the title, it became one of my bibles. There are various chapters in the book that I have re-read several times and I often find myself quoting from the book to my clients.

But I’ve decided that Jason Jennings and I part company on one specific idea about business. The premise of the book is that in the modern world, small fast business always outcompetes big slow business. Mr Jennings uses a number of examples to illustrate that every time a big powerful Goliath of a business comes up against a nimble little David, the Goliath gets defeated time and again, and hence the book encourages small business to grow fast and stay nimble.

I’ve stopped believing in fast growth as a strategy. These days, I believe in the “Slow and Steady Wins the Race” principle.

Growth is the easy part

As I have written previously on Smallville, growing your business is the easy part. If you do what you say you’re going to do, for the price you say you’ll charge, by the time you say you’ll do it, your customers will find you and flock to your door… guaranteed. The hard part is doing those three things… under-promise and over-deliver… every time, and make a profit… every time.

It’s relatively easy to deliver on your promises, and control your costs and your income, when it’s just you and a really small team, but once you’re not actually doing the work of the business yourself anymore and you don’t meet every client and see every job and you don’t know how your staff are doing the work every moment of the day anymore, that’s when it becomes challenging to continue to deliver your three promises and remain profitable.

Jane’s worried about the competition

Small Business Competition I’ve written before about my client Jane whose business sells flowers online in little bunches (Read about Jane here). Jane’s has a unique business model and when I first started working with Jane, she was nervous, because she thought others might, steal her business model. She was keen to grow really quickly, expand into other markets around Australia and move to the UK, Europe and the USA in the shortest possible time.

I helped her to stop worrying and to slow down. When we started working, the business wasn’t profitable yet. A lot of details in the business needed ironing out yet, nearly all of them in operations and cost control.

Boring stuff, like finding new couriers and negotiating better rates, working with her staff to increase their productivity, improving the work environment, developing better online systems, implementing better financial control systems, simplifying the admin.

Doing the boring stuff

None of it was very exciting, none of it got Jane’s creative juices flowing, none of it seemed important when seen against the threat of armies of competitors flooding in and taking away her markets.

And a bunch of different competitors did come into the Sydney market and at last count there have been three different competitors trying to get something similar off the ground in Melbourne.

But now, two years later, Jane’s business is consistently making close to $10K net profit every month (That’s after paying Jan and everyone else in the business a proper wage of course).

Because Jane knuckled down and dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s, all the boring stuff, and now the business is humming like a well-oiled machine. Everything that can be systemised is, from going to the flower markets, to making the bunches, to marketing, ordering, delivery and payment.

Jane’s customers love her business, the staff love working there, it’s growing steadily and the bank account is building steadily.

Read all about Money, Profit, cash flow and keeping your fingers on the pulse here

Making the competition irrelevant

The competition is irrelevant. Most of them started up and fell over again, or in any case are not heard from again. The ones that are still there are barely hanging in it seems. They haven’t dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s. If anything the competitors have prepared the other markets for the arrival of Jane’s business.

Jane will expand to Melbourne, and then she’ll make sure Melbourne runs like a well-oiled machine and making money, before she opens in Brisbane, and so on.

That’s how you build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come… Slow and steady… I promise you.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

#smallbusiness #coaching #funinbusiness #businesspassion #secretstosuccess #CompetitionIrrelevant

Sign Up to Receive My Weekly Tips Email!

I publish a weekly “One-Minute-Business-Tips” newsletter which is designed to help small business owners take these very small simple steps every week… Each tip I send out on Friday morning, is designed to take less than half an hour, but taking those little 10 minute steps every week will start to change your life… I promise you.

One Minute Business Tips