3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

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Most small business owners complain about:

  • working longer hours than they ever imagined
  • not being able to consistently reach their goals, and
  • constantly worrying where the next money and clients will come from.

This slowly kills the passion they have for their business and leave them doubting their ability to succeed in creating a lifestyle business. A main reason for this is…
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… the GAP between PLANNING our business goals and strategy, and what we DO on a daily basis.

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Recent studies in corporate companies have shown that up to two-thirds of decisions made in annual strategy sessions are never implemented! In my experience, the stats would be very similar for small businesses.

You see it’s easy to sit in a planning session (even only with yourself) and decide on the annual business goals to pursue but it’s 10X harder to execute on those business goals when you’re in the thick of things and:

  • taking customer calls
  • preparing quotes
  • answering emails
  • doing marketing
  • managing a team and many other things on a daily basis.
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We get distracted by every squeaky wheel in our business, instead of sticking to our plan.

So our biggest struggle is to link our yearly business goals and plans to what we do day-by-day and hour-by-hour in our business. Here are 3 easy steps to turn your business goals into successful completions.

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“Vision leads to proper planning and proper planning leads to successful completion.”

~ FARSHAD ASL (The ‘No Excuses’ Mindset Book)

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3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. When it comes to executing our plan we want to make sure that we’re as effective as possible.

This means being laser-focused on working on the right things in our business that will move us forward and make the biggest impact.

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THINK QUARTERLY

It’s crucial to know what success looks like for you. Effective business owners know what they want to achieve and then set business goals that will help them achieve their vision while taking the daily action to get there.

Let’s say you want to lose weight and you’re not clear on what you want to achieve… you could lose one kilogram and be successful because you lost weight or you could lose 10 kg and fail if you wanted to lose 20 kg.

It’s the same for your business goals e.g. let’s say you want to make an extra $50K this year, there are many ways to reach that goal.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Identify the 1-2 high-impact activities that bring in the most money in your business and that will get you to $50K the quickest

2. Commit to doubling or tripling the amount of time you spend on these 1-2 activities every week

3. Schedule non-negotiable blocks of time in your diary to work on these activities every day.
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EXAMPLE: PRODUCT LAUNCH
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One of Your Annual Business Goals:
Generate an extra $50K from an existing product/ service this year to a new client base.
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Quarterly Business Goals:
You identified one of your high-impact activities as a very profitable and time-efficient online program or physical product or service, and you decide to launch it in 3 months’ time. You estimate you can make an additional $20K from this activity this quarter.
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Example Main Activities: (not a comprehensive list)

// Research the new market to determine viability
// Adjust your marketing material to suit the market
// Create a marketing plan
// Market the product
// Launch the product

Estimate the amount of time needed to complete each activity and the people needed to complete the activities. Work it into the planning and set milestones to track progress along the way.

Use a software like Trello, Asana or any other project management and workflow software to lay out your project and assign activities to team members.
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Example Tasks: (not a comprehensive list)

// Create a survey for the new market, send out the survey + analyse the results
// Update website e.g. create a new landing page + shopping cart item
// Plan out social media posts, etc. etc.

Allocate time every day to work on the most important activities to move the project forward and work towards the set milestones. Schedule weekly progress check-ins with yourself + your team.
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There are many moving parts (activities + sub tasks) that need to be completed to achieve this quarterly goal.

That’s why it’s crucial to stay focused every day and to say No to any other distractions that come your way.

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PLAN WEEKLY
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Once you’re clear on your business goals and identified the 1-2 high-impact activities that will help you reach that goals, it’s time commit to doing these activities ‘no matter what’.

We’re all busy and life throws us curve balls all the time but unless we see these activities as non-negotiable, I can guarantee you that something else will come up to throw you off course, within a week if not days.

And that’s a hallmark of successful and effective people – their ability to be clear about their goals and their unwavering commitment to making it happen ‘no matter what’.

Let’s go back to our weight loss example:
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Would you be more motivated to lose weight in situation A or B?

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A. It would be nice to lose a few kilograms before I going to that wedding next month, or

B. The doctor just told you that unless you lose weight immediately you only have 6 months to live…

Of course your motivation will be higher in situation B, because your life literally depends on it.

And you’ll make time to exercise and eat healthy every day instead of making excuses like, “I didn’t have time today, I’ll do it tomorrow.
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Unfortunately we don’t always experience this drastic urgency in our business…

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That’s why it’s sometimes harder for business owners to move from making-a-living into a full lifestyle business.

Because as humans, unless we face a crisis, it can be a real challenge for us to only focus on the important activities while saying No to any other distractions that won’t help us to achieve our goals.

The only way you can ensure it will happen is by planning your weeks and scheduling it in your diary.
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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Be clear about what needs to get done this week to reach your quarterly business goals e.g. research the new market to determine viability
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2. Open your diary and schedule blocks of 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time every day of the next week to work on these activities e.g.

// create survey questions for the new market (1hr) – Me
// create the actual survey in Typeform or SurveyMonkey (30min) – John
// send out the survey (1hr) – John
>>> who will it be sent to?
>>> do you need to create a list of contacts?
>>> will you use ads to promote the survey?
>>> how + when will it be send?
// analyse the results (2hrs) – Me
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3. Estimate the time each activity will take you to complete. This is a great exercise, as we tend to underestimate how long things take us to do (see example in #2)
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4. Note the people needed to help you complete the tasks and remember to give them access to the project plans and calendars (see example in #2)
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5. Outline your success factors – how will you know if you’ve been successful by the end of the week? e.g.

// Week 1: survey has been created, tested and it’s ready to be send out
// Week 2: 50 people completed the survey successfully
// Week 3: all results have been analysed and a decision to either market the product to a new market or not, is made.
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ACT DAILY

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To act daily on what’s already been decided and planned for, is really the hardest part of everything.

It’s because it’s so easy to be distracted by a hundred little things every day. Studies have shown that on average, we’re interrupted every 3 minutes in the office! 

Between notifications pinging, emails coming in, a team member asking for help, phone calls and social media it’s no wonder that we’re busy all day without much to show for it by the end of a day.

My clients who started planning their weeks, reported feeling much more in control and more organised, but nearly all of them struggled for the first couple of weeks to stick to their blocks of uninterrupted time because of all the distractions.
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“Planning is easy. Execution is hard.”

~ ALICIA MENKVELD

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It takes courage and perseverance to stick to your plan every day.

Most of my clients reviewed and tweaked their plans several times before they found a routine that worked for them. Some started their day with a block of uninterrupted time, while others did a block between 11am-2pm or even later afternoon.

Your success in reaching your business goals depends on your ability to constantly review what worked and what hasn’t, and to be able to change direction quickly and daily if needed.
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WHAT TO DO NEXTblog-image-key-ideas1

At the end of each day take 5 min to review your day and ask yourself and/or your team:

1. How well did I stick to my plan today?

2. Which distractions kept me from working during my uninterrupted block(s) of time?

3. How can I minimise these distractions tomorrow?

4. How long did the actual tasks take vs. my estimations in the planning?

5. Did everyone involved in the activities performed up to standard? If not, what I can do to improve this?

6. Compared to the success factors for this activity, was I successful today?

Reviewing and tweaking as you move towards your business goals, is like a heat-seeking missile adjusting course while trying to lock in on its target.

The missile doesn’t stop trying until it found its target… and neither should you. Continue to review and tweak until you find a way that works well for you and your team.
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QUESTION:

Which part of sticking to your daily plan do you find most challenging? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Ways To Be More Confident

What would you try or change in your life right now if you felt more confident?
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If you believed more in yourself and in your business, would you:
  • increase your prices or be more selective about the clients you work with?
  • speak at a networking event, make a video or publish an article?
  • expand your team or invest in a mentor?
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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face…. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

~ ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

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Alicia Menkveld recording videosIt took me about a year to pluck up the courage to record my first video from the first time I had the idea to make videos to engage with my audience.

It took me at least another six months before I actually posted one of those videos on Facebook. I wasn’t confident that they were good enough.

For some people it’s the easiest thing in the world to record and post videos. I break out in cold sweat and look like a deer caught in the headlights.
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And that’s the thing with confidence… it all depends on the activity we do and how often we’ve done that activity in the past.

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It’s different for every person – what’s easy for you, could be completely nerve-wracking for me. I find speaking in front of a live crowd easy, but I had to flex my confidence muscle when I recorded videos on green screen in a studio for the first time.

The videos were for the Business Confidence Academy, a 7-week program for business owners ready to streamline their business so it supports the lifestyle they want to live.
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When was the last time you did something for the first time?

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Confidence, like any other skill can be learned with practice, and it’s crucial to your success in both life and business.

The more you do something you think you cannot do, the more you build an unshakable belief in yourself and your abilities. And it gets easier over time to step out of your comfort zone and be more confident.
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3 Ways To Be More Confident
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ASK BETTER QUESTIONS 

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When we face our fears it’s easy to get lost in a vague paralysing fear that we can’t define, instead of being clear about what exactly could go wrong.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” you effectively do an informal risk assessment which forces your mind to come up with realistic scenarios of what could happen when you pursue the opportunity.

By getting a clear picture, we realise that our minds mostly let us chase ghosts that don’t exist, and we discover what’s really holding us back from taking the next step. Now we can plan for success and manage the risks.
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Case In Point: My Videos

I didn’t want to make videos because my monkey mind told me that:

  • I didn’t have anything interesting to say
  • No one will watch my videos
  • I don’t like how I look in videos
  • People will think my videos suck.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I realised that the worst thing that could happen was that no one watched the video or liked it. There’s no risk in that!
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So why wasn’t I making the videos?

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By asking: “What’s so bad about that? I realised that my ego was afraid of being rejected and not liked, and it was afraid that people would laugh at my ‘bad’ video.

The role of the ego is to keep us safe, but that means that new situations with unknown outcomes are perceived as being dangerous. Sometimes situations are dangerous, but 9 times out of 10, there is nothing to fear but a slightly bruised ego.

In my case, none of my fears came true as many people watched and liked my videos, and even made nice comments! And the more videos I made, the more confident I became…

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BE CURIOUS AND LEARN

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Have you ever caught yourself starting something with great enthusiasm but when you hit road blocks, you start to doubt yourself?

It’s easy to get stuck in the Why-cycle:Why is this happening? Why is it so hard? Why always me?“. From there, it’s a short downward spiral to quitting the project and moving on to the next shiny object with renewed enthusiasm.

When you ask why-me-questions it’s an indicator that you find yourself in victim territory where confidence dies a quick death.
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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1

Instead of asking “Why“, rather ask:

  • What’s really going on? What’s the real problem?”
  • “Is there an opportunity for me to learn something from this situation?  
  • “What is the one thing I can do differently to change the situation and get the results I want?”

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This technique replaces our negative thoughts with solution-focused thinking and helps us realise that we are in control and that we can choose what to do next.

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MY VIDEO EXAMPLE:

With the questions above, I’ve identified that there were no detrimental risks involved in making a video and posting it to Facebook, except maybe a bruised ego.

The opportunity was to learn more about my insecurities and to learn a new skill (making videos). I was able to change my results because I chose to face my fears, record the videos and post them.

Asking what-questions put you back in the driver’s seat and boost your confidence because you know you have the ability to figure things out. It’s powerful to know that you can change the outcome of your situation to whatever you desire.

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 PRACTICE UNTIL YOU BECOME IT 

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Fake it till you make it” is one of the biggest confidence myths ever!

After studying highly successful people for several years, Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers  says that it roughly takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field. Mastery and confidence always go hand-in-hand.

There was a direct statistical relationship between the hours of practice and achievement of the people he studied. Especially when it comes to achieving big dreams like becoming a master pianist, a famous performer, TV presenter, a professional speaker or a successful business owner.

The study found that not even natural talent really played a role. There are no shortcuts or ‘naturals’ in life or business – only people who focus, put in the work, take risks and then ‘get lucky’.
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Maybe she was born with it… no it was NOT Maybelline! It was hard work, focus and not quitting!

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And that’s what I’ve done with videos in the studio.

I wrote scripts and rewrote them several times until I captured the essence of the message I wanted to get across. Then I practiced the scripts. Over and over and over for a few days.

I’ve learned so much from my experience in the studio. I realised that I’ll need to increase my practice time even more before the next video recordings to improve my delivery efficiency and presentation style, and to save money on fewer studio hire hours!

It’s also encouraging to know that even high profile speakers and TV personalities use scripts, and that they too practice a lot. So hopefully after 10,000 hours of practice, I’ll also sound as polished as Oprah in my videos.

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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1
  • Practice until what you want to master, comes as natural as breathing to you
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  • Use your imagination to practice scenarios before an actual event – e.g. an important meeting with a big client which you feel nervous about.
    • Plan the structure of the meeting and what needs to be said
    • See how well the meeting goes; see yourself smiling, feeling confident and listening to their needs
    • See how your solution can help them, and
    • See the signed contract on the table.
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  • Practice your pitch in front of the mirror, with a business partner or a colleague to iron out any kinks and make your vision a reality!
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To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!

~ ALFRED A. MONTAPERT

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QUESTION:

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What do YOU do to feel more confident when you face a new situation? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

6 Bad Habits That Kill Your Time Management

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As people, we have good intentions but temptations, short attention spans and bad habits get in the way of our time management and overall business and life success.

// Have you ever been a diet but ended up eating a tub of cookies + cream ice-cream (my vice) on the first night?

// Have you ever signed up at the gym and then found a good (normally work-related) ‘reason’ not to go?

I have… and it’s the same in business…
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We have good intentions BUT bad habits keep us from being productive, more organised and getting things done.

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And we can only improve our bad habits once we’ve identified our blind spots.

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“Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”  

~ AMY RUBIN FLETT

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6 Bad Habits That Kills Your Time Management

The first step to discover which of your bad habits are killing your time management, is to track your time at work for a few days but ideally for 1-2 weeks to pick up trends and repeat offenders in your habits.
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Use a simple time management tracking system to track your days in 30 minute increments e.g. 

1. pen + paper

2. an excel spreadsheet (download ours on this page) or

3. a time tracking app like Toggl or TrackingTime.

I personally use Toggl; it took me less than 5 minutes to sign up and get started.

It tracks time management activities in real time or if you forgot to start the timer, you can later add the time manually. Both desktop + smart phone versions are available.

For instructions and the full exercise to track your time at work, see the blog post I wrote here.

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Once you start tracking your time, you’ll quickly discover where you leak time, energy + money… every day.

And like most business owners you might be shocked by how little time you spend on high impact activities that move the business forward.

Here’s an example analysis of a business owner’s day with an explanation of the six most common habits that kill your time management and productivity.
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BAD HABIT #1 – OVER-SCHEDULING WITH NO BUFFER TIME

In nearly every incident described above, a failure to allow sufficient time to get things done will severely hamper your business’ success, your health, your integrity and client relationships.

No other habit ruins your day and time management quicker than not planning enough time between appointments.

It’s like dominoes falling with a knock-on effect on your day that can’t stop e.g. doctors’ practices running late, and once the first domino fell it’s a run-away train you can’t stop.

Life will happen – from traffic jams, accidents and sick kids to a coffee spill on your shirt. Be prepared and plan your days better to stay in control and keep your stress levels as low.
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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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If this happens often, start scheduling buffer time before and after each meeting + activity.

Allowing 30+ minutes before and after appointments will help a great deal with unforeseen circumstances like meetings running over, traffic jams and presentations or computers not working.

Scheduling extra time will significantly lower your stress levels, make you a happier person and help your time management immensely. You’ll move from an overflowing calendar to one with breathing space.

Luckily it’s also easy not to waste any time while waiting for someone else as most applications are cloud-based, so you can:

  • check your email
  • login to accounting or project management software and update tasks
  • listen to a webinar or podcast
  • post to social media
  • do planning or
  • simply sit and enjoy a coffee.

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BAD HABIT #2 – CHECKING EMAIL FIRST

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It sounds so obvious but checking emails first thing in the morning or when you get to the office, is very bad for your time management.

In this example, the business owner didn’t factor email checking into the initial plan but gave in to the temptation, and they were already running late.

If they didn’t check their email, the staff meeting would’ve started on time and possibly ended on time too.

It also sets a bad example for your team when you seem to care more about your emails than keeping an appointment with them.

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Remember, what you see in your inbox dictates what you do next NOT what you planned to do.

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Non-urgent emails are a dangerous distraction and it’s also one of the most difficult temptations to resist once you’re in your inbox.

Low-level emails steal time from high level money-making activities like supporting your team, keeping organised and on time, reducing office stress and solving customer problems you get paid to do.
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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT

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  • Decide on 2-3 dedicated times to check your email during the day and do not check it in between e.g. 8am, 12pm and 5pm
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  • Add a notification to all your outgoing email to inform the sender by when they can expect to hear back from you
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  • Include instructions on what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency
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  • Learn to delegate email checking to staff or a virtual assistant who can scan your email and only let you deal with the important issues
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  • Set up standard email templates so your staff or a virtual assistant can easily answer various email inquiries correctly and up to standard
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  • Ruthlessly unsubscribe from and delete non-urgent email.

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BAD HABIT #3 – UNPRODUCTIVE MEETINGS

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In the above example, all the meetings overrun that day which definitely indicates a bad habit, and nothing kills time management and productivity like long and unproductive meetings.

The example meetings could have overrun for a number of reasons:

  • They started late and therefore ended late
  • They didn’t follow an agenda
  • There wasn’t a time limit set at the beginning of the meeting
  • A lack of preparation – things that could have been sorted via email or other means was left for the meeting.
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Once you start tracking all the time around a meeting it’s easy to see how expensive meetings are in terms of cost per hour and how little time in a day it leaves for productive work that matters.

This includes: meeting preparation time, the actual time spent in a meeting, travelling time to and back from a meeting and emails around the set up.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABITblog-image-key-ideas1
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Try the following tips to have more meaningful meetings:

  • Determine the importance of all meetings
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  • Determine the duration of the meeting ahead of time
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  • Decline ad hoc, last-minute meetings without an agenda and reschedule to a time that suits you better
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  • Allocate days of the week to have all your meetings
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  • Try ‘walk + talk’ or standing meetings – it keep things short and fresh air is good for creativity and your health.

It’s said that the Queen’s weekly audience with her Prime Ministers throughout the years have always been between 20-30 minutes – if a country’s issues can be discussed in such a short time, I guess the rest of us have no excuse!

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BAD HABIT #4 – NOT GETTING THE RIGHT HELP

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Spending time on any issue outside of your zone of genius when you’re already running late, is silly and a waste of precious time.

You know yourself better than anyone, so when ‘it’s not your thing’ stop thinking that ‘poking around’ will help to fix the issue.

Immediately ask yourself:

// Do I absolutely need to do this right now?

// Is there another way of solving this?

// Who do I know that can help me?

In this example, preparing for the client meeting without the presentation would have been far more beneficial to the business than wasting 20 minutes, getting stressed out and not doing preparation.

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Practicing your sales pitch always trumps a having presentation to win and keep business.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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  • Check presentations on different technology at least 4 hours to one day ahead of meetings
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  • Get an expert or (tech-savvy) team member to create and load presentations, is a must and a huge time saver
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  • If you have to choose between preparation + presentation, ditch the presentation and practice your pitch + listening skills
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  • Always delegate specialised issues to experts!

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BAD HABIT #5 – SKIPPING MEALS

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In this example, no time was lost but running a successful business requires you to be healthy and energetic, which you won’t be if you continue to skip breaks and meals.

Sugar levels and energy levels drop dramatically and it’s normally your clients, your team and family who suffer the most from mood swings and added pressure when you’re off sick.

Looking after yourself is key – factor it into your time management for the day.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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  • Don’t skip meals and breaks – they make you more effective and productive
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  • Always keep snacks in your office or car for unforeseen circumstances e.g. raw nuts, protein bars, protein shakes, fruit etc.
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  • Stay hydrated with water (not coffee!) to keep your brain in peak functioning condition
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  • Take regular breaks – 5-10 minutes for every 50 minutes of work e.g. stand up, stretch, stand outside, walk around the block.

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BAD HABIT #6 – NOT CREATING PROCESSES

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Things change and we need to stay on top of changes to keep our clients happy and our businesses profitable.

We need a process to help us stay on top of things and in communication with our clients.

// How do you let clients know you’re running late?

// How do you ensure they get the message?

// How do you ensure you or clients don’t miss out on important developments when you’re not in the office or have time to check email?

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Create a process to keep communication flowing.

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HOW TO BREAK THIS HABIT
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  • Tell people how you preferred to be contacted (call, email, messenger, text) with a message regarding urgent issues that need immediate attention
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  • If they can’t get hold of you, tell them to what to do next e.g. call the office and leave a message with a staff member or an answering service if you don’t have staff. Document the process and leave copies with all relevant people.
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  • Use driving or travel time for client calls or call-backs to stay up-to-date and save time. It’s also a great time to catch up with suppliers, family and friends.
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Clearly the poor business owner in the example had a terrible day filled with stress, frustration, anxiety and disappointment. By the end of the last call they are completely drained after a long day of stress and no food.

They were rushing all day and didn’t give anyone their best, including themselves. Now the last domino will fall with partner and/ or family demands waiting for them at home.

If this sounds like some of your days, it’s time for a change.

Better planning and the discipline to execute the plan will help you break these bad business habits once and for all.

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QUESTION:

Which of these six bad habits is the main culprit in killing your time management and productivity? Leave your comment below.

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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Business Performance Review

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On a scale of 1-10*,  how happy are you with consistently reaching your business goals?

*1 = lowest, 10 = highest

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onefivesevennine

 

 

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More importantly, do you know what to change to improve your results by 1-2 points in the next 90 days?

You can choose at any time to do things differently and start hitting your goals for the quarter. You’ll achieve this through doing a business review which will give you clarity, help you with planning and then it’s about taking daily prioritised action.
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A Business Review is super important because it:

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  • Gives You Control + Peace of Mind
    A large percentage of business owners don’t have a clear picture of how well their business performs at any given time. What you don’t know about your business is a blind spot that keeps you from reaching your goals.
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    A business review look at the facts and will show you the level of efficiency the business is performing at and if you need to make any adjustments to reach your goals.
  • Helps You to Work ON Your Business
    We all get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and that’s why you need a chance to lift your head, reconnect with your vision and see the bigger picture. It’s like zooming out on a Google Earth map.
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    Zooming out will give you a helicopter view of where you’re at, if you’re moving in the right direction + how far you have to go. Small tweaks on a consistent basis in all business areas are the key to success.

 

business-strategy-flow-diagram

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The aim of a business review is to perform a health check and take your business’ pulse as it is, right now.

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BUSINESS AUDIT + VISION REVIEW

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The first section of the review is about assessing your current situation, looking at your vision and deciding how you’ll get there.

Questions To Consider:

  • What’s your 3-year business vision?
  • What is your definition of success?
  • What are your 3-5 main main goals for this year?
  • What worked well for you over the last 6 months?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What resources do you need to succeed? (staff, training, systems, equipment, cash flow)
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MARKETS + PRODUCTS REVIEW

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In this part of the review you’ll look at who you serve, what you offer and how profitable your products/ services are. Then you’ll look at how to improve your results over the next quarter.

Your marketing plan will outline your target markets, positioning, customer demographics, message, offering, marketing strategy + tactics.

Over the years, I’ve found very few business owners who have any marketing plan whatsoever and it’s key to your success.

Without a plan, you’re bound to fall prey to the bright shiny object syndrome, waste money on strategies that won’t work for your business and make other marketing mistakes.

  • How effectively are you matching your products/ services to your customer’s needs?
  • How effective is your marketing? (leads coming in + conversion rates)
  • List your best performing products/ services – what percentage of revenue are they responsible for?
  • Can low performing products/ services be improved or phased out?
  • Products/ services costs – direct costs, overheads, brainstorm ideas to lower costs, negotiate better deals with suppliers
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MONEY/ FINANCIAL REVIEW

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If you’re using accounting software like Xero, MYOB, Cashbook Complete or Quickbooks all your financial reports are in one place and it’s easy to print out or view them online. Or contact your bookkeeper for up-to-date information.

Business Numbers To Review:

  • Budget
  • Targets vs Actual Revenue generated
  • Costs/ Expenses – keep costs under constant review
  • Profit
  • Cash Flow
  • Borrowing – credit available, loans
  • Growth/ Investments
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BUSINESS OPERATIONS REVIEW

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Operating your business in a short-term reactive way costs you time and money in the longer run and isn’t sustainable when growing the business. A clear strategy will guide you in your overall decision making process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Technology

  • In which areas of your business do you use computerised systems to be more efficient?
    (cloud applications for storage, remote back-ups, to work from anywhere + increase productivity)

 

Processes/ Systems

  • How do you manage repetitive tasks in the business?
  • Is your marketing + sales process documented?

If not, start the documentation process through outsourcing or record the process on your phone and send the audio file to be transcribed.

Continue to add instructions to the document every time you do the task, even if it’s one sentence at a time.

 

People

  • Do you have the right team (management, staff, suppliers, outside consultants) in place to achieve your goals?
  • Do you personally have the skills you need to succeed e.g. leadership, sales, IT, HR?
  • Are you clear on which tasks to delegate and outsource?

 

Productivity

  • Which tasks are most time consuming?
  • Which tasks generate the highest income?
  • What are the lowest income generating (but necessary) tasks in your business?
  • How productive are you (working only on high level activities) vs busy (working on tasks you’re not good at or where you can hire someone at $20 p/h to do the task)?
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Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day;

while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.

~ JIM ROHN

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QUESTION:
Which area of your business will you focus on most in the next quarter? Leave your comment below.
#smallbusinesssuccessskills

 

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Steps To Effective Delegation At Work

3-steps-to-effective-delegation-at-work.

If you’re rushing every day to get it all done, falling behind on project deadlines and still have an ever-growing to-do list that keep you busy in the office till after dark…

… then it’s time for the D-word that let most business owners break out in cold sweat… DELEGATION!

The biggest problem I see with most business owners I work with is that we’re capable, resourceful control freaks who can do too many things well enough to get by…

It’s is a deadly combination for anyone trying to master delegation, because we’ll look at a task and think:

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This task will take me at least two to three times as long to explain it properly to someone else, so why not just do it myself? … and I bet the person won’t do nearly as good a job of it as I would!”

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And this type of thinking is exactly why most business owners work longer hours than they ever have in a job and they end up overwhelmed, frustrated, disillusioned and burnt out.

The ‘let me just do it myself’-mindset enslaves you to your business.

Delegation is one of the hardest things to master in your business but it’s also one of the most rewarding and freeing things you can do for yourself and your business, because it will help the business grow + keep you sane.

Mastering the art of delegation will free up your time and give you space to think, plan, implement and actually spend time on money-making activities instead of low level activities that keep you busy spinning your wheels + stuck in the weeds.

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“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do.”
~ JESSICA JACKLEY, CO-FOUNDER OF KIVA

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No one wakes up one morning and start recruiting or outsourcing tasks. Like most things in business, delegation and building a team are processes that take time to develop.

The delegation process involves various decisions, preparation + systems to work effectively before delegating your first task.

In this post, we’ll focus on the preparation needed for effective delegation.

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3 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE DELEGATION AT WORK

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TRACK + MEASURE

Do you know how you spend your time each day?

I’m NOT talking about the few things you schedule in your diary…

No, I’m talking about all the unaccounted hours where we’re really busy but can’t say what we’ve been busy with at the end of a day or week. Those hours that seem to slip away unnoticed and unaccounted for…

Unless we are super clear about what we spend our time on every day, we’ll won’t know which tasks can be delegated and who we need on our team of in-house and outsourced staff.

When you track your time, for at least a week but ideally a month, you’ll easily be able to spot your time wasters like a few ‘quick’ website fixes or ‘quickly’ designing graphics in Canva.

Perhaps for you it’s ‘quickly’ fixing your IT issues, doing all the marketing yourself or spending hours to find the ‘right’ image for your social media post?alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

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PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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Start today – track + document:

  • Every single task you do in your business for a few weeks including ‘quick’ fixes, meetings, training, planning, client work, etc.
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  • The time it takes you to complete each task from travel time, lunch time (or lack thereof), how long meetings + calls took, etc.
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  • Via paper, with an Excel spreadsheet or using a free online tool like Toggl. I explained the tracking exercise in detail, here.

Tracking how you spend your time will help you realize how effective you are in your business and whether the bulk of your time is spent on money-making activities or low-level, routine activities that could be automated or delegated.

Assuming you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with a revenue of about $100K per year, an hour of your time is worth at least $48 p/h.

Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $48p/h?

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If you’re spending a huge amount of hours searching for images, going to and fro to set up meeting times or returning phone calls and fix IT issues, it’s a sign that elimination, automation or delegation is needed in your business.

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KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK:

// Which tasks/ activities can I completely eliminate from my schedule?

// How can I automate routine tasks?

// What can I delegate?

That’s the order: Eliminate, Automate + only then do we Delegate.

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DOCUMENT IT

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We certainly hope for the best, but what happens if the bus hits you on your way to work?

  • Can a team member or any other person walk in + run your business?
  • Are your business processes recorded?
  • Are your business systems clear + easy enough for someone else to follow?

If you answered No to the above questions, it’s time to get things out of your head and onto paper before you can even begin to think about delegation.

Remember, not even the most capable or highest qualified consultant/ employee in the world can read your mind or be expected to do a good job without access to the right information!

That includes clear objectives, super clear instructions, recorded processes + the responsibilities and timelines for each task.

Most business owners are quick to complain about incompetent staff, and yes sometimes we get a bad egg, but in my experience a lack of clear instructions + a lack of systems and/or processes account for up to 80% of project misunderstandings and work that business owners feel are ‘not up to standard’.

Yes it will take a few months to set everything up + train people to do the tasks correctly, but the reward is your freedom… to grow the business, to take a holiday or to spend more time with your partner, your kids or causes close to your heart.

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EFFECTIVE DELEGATION IS ABOUT:
  • being clear about the task + what the end result looks like for you
  • documenting the way you want the task done and specifying the templates or tools to be used to do the task
  • effectively communicating your expectations + giving clear instructions to the person who will do the task
  • being available to help where it’s needed and to make time to review the work + give feedback.

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PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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  • If you come across an undocumented process in your business, start today!
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  • Open a Word document, name it + write down the first few steps of the process
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  • Schedule a deadline to complete the document if it’s only you in the business OR flesh out the details every time you do the task until it’s complete
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  • If you have a team, nominate the person responsible for completing the document + set a deadline
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  • As the business owner or manager, schedule a date in your diary to review + tweak the document.

For a detailed blog post about creating business systems, click here.

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 PEOPLE + TECHNOLOGY

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Now that we know what to delegate and we’ve put processes + systems in place to assist the delegation process, we can finally look at who we need on our team + what technology we can use to manage our projects better and streamline our communication with the people involved.

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PEOPLE

Your people needs will largely depend on your  business needs, the stage your business is in + the longer term vision you have for the business.

When tracking your tasks you possibly noticed several hours wasted on trying to fix a website problem or creating a graphic for your social media. Perhaps you noticed that you never get time to do any marketing or planning.

If the time waster you noticed is something that cannot be eliminated or automated, it’s time for delegation.

You can:

  • hire an employee
  • outsource work to an independent contractor like a consultant or virtual assistant
  • or you can use a combination of both options for different types of work.

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I like to use different experts for specific things in my business e.g. Facebook Ads or Bookkeeping, and I want to be location independent, so I only use independent contractors in my business.

I always outsource to my weaknesses or dislikes:

  • I don’t like bookkeeping, so I outsource it
  • I’m not great at doing my taxes, so I have an accountant
  • I can spend hours wondering what to post on social media, so I outsource it
  • I cannot design logos, so I get a graphic designer
  • I dislike cleaning but love a clean organized home, so I get a cleaning company to do it for me.

If you’re not sure, remember to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $XXp/h?” (whatever you earn per hour). If the answer is No, it’s time to delegate.

Although none of the people I mentioned above work exclusively for me, I still refer to them as ‘my team’ because they know my business, perform tasks the way I do it in my business and add tremendous value to me and my business.

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TECHNOLOGY

Technology will greatly simplify the delegation process and help to streamline communication between team members.

These days, technology can be used for nearly everything from file sharing, online appointment scheduling, project management and online training platforms to bookkeeping, invoicing and databases or CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Systems).

Technology will assure that each team member, whether in-house or remotely, has access to the same information in real time.

Here’s only a handful of example options of online software:

  • Accounting Software like Xero / MYOB
  • File Sharing like Dropbox / Google Drive
  • Appointment Scheduling like Acuity Scheduling / Appoint.ly / 10to8.com
  • Project Management like Asana
  • CRMs like Insightly / Capsule CRM / Zoho / Infusionsoft

Technology will drastically improve clear, consistent communication, effective delegation + help you build a team culture of collaboration and open sharing of information, even if team members are in different locations.

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alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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  • Analyze the time + task tracking exercise to see in which areas of your business you need delegation right now
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  • Work out if you need in-house staff or independent contractors
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  • Get clear on the tasks to delegate or outsource that will deliver the highest ROI (return on investment) in the next 3 months
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  • Choose the technology options that are right for your business to help you manage your tasks + teams effectively.

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QUESTION:

Which three tasks will you delegate first if you had someone ready to take them over right now? Leave your comment below.

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#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Business Systems in Practice

business-systems-in-practice

 

Without systems and processes you’ll work longer hours than is necessary and won’t be able to take a holiday lest your empire crumbles.

You’ll have weekly team meetings but still spend a huge amount of time explaining things, discussing issues that keep cropping up and solving problems that could have been prevented.

In short, without systems and processes you’ll feel as if your business runs you and not the other way around.

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“A good system shortens the road to the goal.”  ~ ORISON SWETT MARDEN

(1850 – 1924: American Author)

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I wrote a full post about the difference between a system and a process here. Effective business systems and processes are the backbone of a successful company.

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Business Systems in Practice
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THE EXAMPLE

organic-skincareYou run a skincare brand that boasts organic ingredients.

The final products are assembled in-house.

Some ingredients are sourced overseas and labeling is produced by another vendor.

You have a new product you want to get to the market by a specific date.

Which systems and processes do you need to ensure your launch will go according to plan?

Think about the actions needed in each system, sub-system or process to reach the end goal.

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BUSINESS SYSTEMS EXPLAINED

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To achieve the goal of getting a skincare product ready for the market you’ll need all the core business systems and processes.

From a Marketing System, an eCommerce System to take payment to Admin Systems, Operations, Supply Chain Management Systems, etc.

In this explanation we’ll do a BRIEF OVERVIEW of the systems and processes needed to launch a new skincare product and it’s not intended to be a complete list. All the systems and processes needed will comprise of several detailed documents and checklists, which cannot be covered in a single blog post.

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STEP 1: PLANNING + COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
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From a planning perspective you’ll take your planned delivery date and work backwards to identify by which date your orders need to be placed, when products need to be created and shipped.

  • What information is needed, from whom + by when? e.g. vendors + shipping companies
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  • Brainstorm possible issues or delays with your team and put measures in place to minimise the risks
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  • Agree and document the strategic plan, budget, roles + tasks, milestones, marketing, sales and delivery dates
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  • Consider your wholesalers’ timelines – they have to ship products they receive from you on to their own customers. Work these times into your overall timeline.
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Ask: What turnaround times are needed, if they need to repack + ship the products to their customers by an agreed date?

Share the documented processes with all parties involved e.g. staff, vendors + wholesalers via email, project management software or shared files in Dropbox or Google Drive to avoid confusion and delays.

Cloud-based project software systems like Trello or Asana are ideal to:

  • allocate tasks and job roles to various parties
  • keep track of all tasks, changes and deadlines in real time in one central location
  • schedule reminders and follow-ups, and
  • generally stay on top of the project.
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Unless you need specialised project management software, consider a low-cost options like Asana or Trello with free versions for small teams.

Keep all customer and supplier details in one central (ideally cloud-based) CRM system e.g. Capsule CRM where you can store up to 250 contacts for free.

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STEP 2: MANUFACTURING SYSTEMS
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POINTS TO CONSIDER:
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  • Forecasting (the number of units your customers will order)
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  • Timelines (your own and your customers’ timelines) in terms of ordering and shipping of individual ingredients
    (Consider the season, harvesting, packing, customs and shipping)
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  • Labeling requirements including printing and posting of labels
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  • Creating the products in-house within required timelines
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  • Picking*, packing and shipping to your customers
    (*This is getting your products from the shelf or warehouse ready for packing)
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Remember to have regular calls with vendors to check on progress and discuss any potential problems in the manufacturing process.

Continuously build strong relationships with vendors to ensure cooperation if you have delays and need help to stay on track.

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STEP 3: ORDERING SYSTEMS
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Ensure to order the correct quantities of everything needed (ingredients, labeling + packaging) to produce a finished product well in advance and account for delays in delivery.

Once orders have been placed with vendors, use some form of project software (Step 1) and weekly update meetings (online or in person) to review progress, resolve any issues and ensure everyone stays on track.

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STEP 4: MANUFACTURING/ ASSEMBLY PROCESS

On delivery, ensure that orders can be picked, packed and shipped to your customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This will ensure enough time to prepare sub-orders at the end of the chain and to minimize any losses if your product is perishable.

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STEP 5: PACKING AND QUALITY CONTROL

Put a process in place to do the picking and packing of the products before they are sent out.

Think like Amazon and ask – How will staff know…

  • which product to choose off the shelf for which order?
  • how to pack products correctly?
  • what a finished product should look like e.g. where labels go, etc.?
  • what a finished package should look like e.g. when is it ready to be shipped?
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Use checklists for quality control so anyone can do checks exactly as the manager or business owner would have done it themselves.

Create a process for faulty items and include guidelines to deal with it successfully.

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STEP 6: SHIPPING SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES

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Identify:

  • who is responsible
  • how many trips/ pick-ups are needed to ship all product
  • procedures for express shipping vs standard shipping
  • procedures to ensure tracking numbers reach customers or suppliers
  • procedures for lost packages, replacements and guarantees.

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At first glance it looks very complicated to set up the systems and processes for this product launch, and make no mistake, it WILL require thinking, planning, time and patience to set up and get it right…

However, the reward is a huge amount of value added to the business through smooth-running systems and processes that allow the business owner to spend time and energy on higher level money-making activities, like new deals or project collaborations.

Most importantly, once it’s done it will dramatically increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of future launches while reducing frustrations, headaches and bottlenecks.

This will allow the business owner to step away from their business for a day or a month and still have a thriving business on their return which is priceless.

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In which business area will a new or reviewed system add the most value (time/ money), in the next 3 months? 

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Remember, as your business changes so will your systems change. Ideally all systems need to be reviewed at least twice a year if not quarterly. 

If it’s not working for anymore, it’s time for a change. This is a mantra I use for my life as well as my business!

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QUESTION:

Which system or process will make the biggest impact in your business right now? Leave your comment below.

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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

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P: 0425 177 897
E: alicia[at]aliciamenkveld.com

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