Improve Leadership Skills

10 Tips to Improve Your Leadership Skills

As a business owner, your leadership skills are critical to the success of your company. From hiring and managing employees to building your company’s reputation and revenue stream. While many small business owners do not have formal leadership training, there are some basic tips and tricks you can use to hone your skills and be an effective leader.

#1 – Keep learning

The best way to improve your leadership skills as a business owner is by continuing to learn and grow. If you don’t continuously look for new information, you will never be able to develop the knowledge needed for success. It’s easy to get comfortable and feel like you have the experience you need. But in business, change is the only constant. So read, listen to audiobooks or podcasts, attend workshops, talk and share information with other business owners or work with mentors. In other words, keep learning.

#2 – Set goals

Developing your leadership skills is just like any other skill. It requires you to put in the time and hard work, and it takes time to become proficient. Make it a priority by including leadership goals with your other business and personal development goals. Then take incremental steps towards achieving those goals. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go the way you thought they would immediately. Give it time.

#3 – Delegate

Delegating for some owners can be tough, but you must delegate tasks. After all, you can’t do everything yourself. By delegating tasks to others, you’ll free up your time and energy so that you can work on what matters–the big picture stuff. And, give your employees a chance to grow and develop new skills. A bonus of course is that it says to your staff – I trust you can do it as well (or maybe better) than I can.

RELATED ARTICLE:  7 Keys to Effective Delegation

#4 – Communicate

Communication is key to any successful business. Whether you’re negotiating with suppliers, sharing information with staff, or explaining your products or services to customers, communication is key. Here are a few tips to improve leadership in the area of communication:

  • Be clear about what you want. It’s important that everyone understands the goals and how you can get there. Make sure there is room for different opinions on how to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Engage your employees in discussions about company goals and objectives.
  • Encourage participation by asking employees for input before making decisions affecting them directly.
  • Make requests instead of giving orders when working with others on tasks involving more than one person so they feel like their opinion matters too.

#5 – Be decisive

It can be easy to put off decision-making, especially when you’re starting in business. But being indecisive can get in the way of your success; it’s important to learn how to make decisions quickly and move on. One way you can improve your decision-making is by learning what will work best for your business and then making decisions that go with that plan.

#6 – Be compassionate

It’s easy to forget how hard the daily grind can be when you’re at the top of your game. But being compassionate is an important component of leadership. It’s not always about getting things done. It’s about understanding the pressures and stresses on those who work for you and empathizing with what they might be going through.

#7 – Be open to feedback

While you need to provide feedback to others, a leader must be open to receiving feedback too. The only way you can improve is if you know what your weaknesses are and are willing to take steps to fix them. You might not like hearing criticism, but it will make you better in the long run. So be open to feedback and be willing to change where appropriate.

#8 – Admit when you’re wrong

Owning up to your mistakes is the best way to improve and stay focused on the future. You might be caught off guard when you make an error, but you mustn’t let it get you down or keep you from moving forward. When something goes wrong, ask yourself what you could have done differently in the first place so that it doesn’t happen again. In other words, acknowledge and learn from your mistakes.

#9 – Encourage others

As a business owner, it is your job to motivate others within your company. Here are a few ideas to help you do this:

  • Be the best at what you do – so others will want to follow you.
  • Communicate clearly and often with your staff.
  • Provide feedback. Offer praise when it is due and never take credit where credit is not due.
  • Be respectful of others’ opinions and ideas, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration.
  • Allow your team to make mistakes. They will learn from their errors, develop new skills and not fear making decisions.
  • Create clear expectations and goals so that everyone knows what they’re working towards.

#10 – Lead by example

Lead by example and set a positive tone for your employees. Make it clear what is expected of them and provide the tools they need to get the job done. When you’re successful, show gratitude and encourage others. And when you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize sincerely, and take responsibility for your actions.

Ready to put your business on a better path?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support, and accountability from an expert help you take your business in a new and better direction? Then let’s start a conversation. Schedule your free discovery call today. Book appointment.

Is Creativity Required

Is Creativity Required for Success?

I read an article about skills you need to succeed at anything. Intended for businesses, it talked about communication and listening, decision-making, personal (time) management, analytical skills, and creative thinking – to name just a few.

Okay, improving many of these skills will certainly make a difference and contribute to your success — in business and in life. But creativity in how we think and solve problems? Well, it got me thinking…

When things go wrong or problems arise, how do you resolve them and what do you do? Has anyone told you to get creative or think out of the box? And therein lies the problem.

By definition, creativity means you have the ability to create new or original ideas or methods. But most of us don’t consider ourselves creative unless we are a designer, artists, or craft people.  So messages that promote ‘creative thinking’ can fall flat – and the recipient feels doomed before they start.

Innovation Vs. Creativity

Here’s a better approach. Think innovation. By definition, innovation is the introduction of new things or methods. Subtle difference – introducing new methods versus creating them. Innovation does not require originality or uniqueness which is often associated with creativity. It’s simply a matter of continuously looking for better ways to do what you do – and you can use what others have already perfected.

The good news is we all have the ability to be innovative and we don’t need to go at it alone. Make it part of your culture and get others involved too. It’s important if you want to achieve sustainable success in business.

Where to Apply Innovation

So where should you apply innovation in your business? The answer is simple – everywhere. From marketing and sales to customer support, service delivery, and team building, all areas of your business will benefit from a little innovative thinking and action!

  • A process to stay connected with customers to improve retention rates is innovative.
  • Finding new markets for your products or services is innovative.
  • A marketing campaign that consistently delivers quality leads is innovative.
  • Applying technology to a current system for improved efficiency is innovative.
  • Re-packaging products and services to improve margins and sales is innovative.
  • A system for consistently hiring quality people is innovative.

So don’t get hung up on creativity, but do make innovation a definite priority. It will pay off on the bottom line and may actually make what you do a lot more fun!

Need help turning ideas into actions? 

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support, and accountability from an expert help you take your business in a new and better direction? Then let’s start a conversation. Schedule your free discovery call today. Book appointment.

mktg strategies

Choosing the Best Marketing Strategies

Is growing your customer base your top priority in 2023? The good news is you have hundreds of ways to create leads and new relationships. But with so many options, is it any wonder small business owners get overwhelmed? Yet choosing the best marketing strategies for your business is a key to getting more customers — and doing it profitably.

Past performance can be a good indicator. So start there. When evaluating previous marketing strategies, consider three things:  the number of leads generated, the quality of those leads, and your return on investment.  If something is working, keep doing it.

If it’s not producing enough quality sales, then it’s time to look in other directions and add some new methods to your mix.  

7 Questions to Choose the Best Marketing Strategies

What products or services do I want to promote? You don’t need to promote every product or service you offer. Invest in the most profitable or those that are in the highest demand. Avoid trying to sell everything to everyone with your marketing. It’s costly and a recipe for failure. 

Related: Do Your Products or Services Need a Facelift?

How do my target customers like to give and receive information? Too often businesses choose what is trendy or maybe low-cost. Do your customers prefer communication in-person, by phone, email, snail mail, text, digital, or social media? It may vary based on the type of information. And they may be okay with multiple methods. Choose what works best for them.

How many touches do I actually need to build relationships and create sales for my business? It takes more than one or two contacts to build awareness, nurture relationships and create a sale. With so much noise in the market, ten or more is typical.  For higher-priced services, where prospects may perceive more risk, the number of touches may be greater. So build a variety of possible touch-points and deliver the same message consistently.

How can I get existing customers to keep buying, buy more, or buy more frequently? The short answer is to stay connected and continue to market to them. Invest some of your marketing dollars in your current and past customers. It’s also a lot cheaper to market to those who already know and like you!

How much time and money should I invest? Consistency in marketing matters. Marketing strategies have both a time and money component. Some, like networking and social media, are low-cost but consume a lot of time. Others, like direct mail or pay-per-click, require a higher money investment but little time. The key is to balance out your time and money investments so you can do marketing consistently throughout the year.

What do I like and what am I good at? Let’s face it, nothing happens until you implement your marketing strategies. When choosing, most people avoid what they dislike or struggle with. It makes them uncomfortable. First, recognize this bias and try some things outside your comfort zone. Then do what others do: delegate, outsource, or learn how to do it effectively.

How do I systematize my marketing so it gets done easily, effectively, and profitably? Once you have decided on what you want to do, create the campaign, implement it, monitor it, modify it and document it! Look for ways to make it easy, repeatable, and more effective the next time. When your marketing takes less time and effort and still delivers the return on investment you want, you will find it’s not so overwhelming. You may actually grow to like it!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a new level? Then let’s have a conversation. A 30-minute discovery call is a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and answer any questions. Click here to book your call. 

Coachable mindeset

Are You Coachable?

While we often associate coachability with athletes, being coachable is one of the most important life skills you can develop. If you wish to grow, learn, or excel, in sports and in life, you need to be coachable – willing to accept help from others in order to improve yourself.

Coachable people are open to listening to feedback, able to accept constructive criticism without taking it personally, and will look at their own performance with an honest eye in order to improve. So coachability is not just important for athletes. Whether you are an employee, leader or entrepreneur, a student or a teacher, a parent or a child – being coachable is for everyone.

Why Coachability and Success Go Together

People who seek out mentors or coaching from others are not weak or disempowered. They are simply aware, determined, and driven to do better – in business, in life, in relationships, etc. They are willing to have a discussion about how they can improve a skill or something that is important to them.  And because they are open to suggestions and willing to try new things, they are far more likely to succeed.

I see it often with my business clients. Being coachable, trying new things, keeping an open mind, and taking action to improve have led to success.   Click here to read what they have to say.

How Coachable Are You?

We all know someone who is not viewed as coachable. The employee who takes performance feedback personally. The boss who always thinks he/she is right. The person who is disrespectful of others’ opinions.

Here are a few behaviors that will lead others to believe you are not coachable:

  • Not willing to learn new things
  • Thinking you are always right
  • Not open to change
  • Eye rolling or ‘I know’ when engaging with others
  • Unable to honestly self-reflect
  • Don’t care about improving their situation – life, relationships, health, etc.
  • Disrespectful of others and their opinions
  • Unwilling to learn or do what is necessary to actually improve

Coachability is all about attitude. If you want to be the best that you can be, open your mind to the possibility that there are things you have not learned yet that could make you even better today or tomorrow. Embrace it.

Related:  How to Profit from Others’ Ideas      When someone offers you a new idea for improving your business, do you look for flaws, dismiss them or find ways to apply them? Here’s how to profit from other people’s ideas.

About Joan Nowak

I’ve been helping business owners turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business approach empowers my clients and drives improvements in critical areas, including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.  Click here to learn more about working with a business coach.

delegation

7 Keys to Effective Delegation

As an entrepreneur, delegation is an essential management and leadership skill. It saves you time, helps you avoid burnout, and allows you to work on more critical tasks. But often overlooked are the benefits it provides to others in your company. Effective delegation helps you develop, empower and motivate your team – a key to retention and employee satisfaction.

When you entrust others to take on important tasks or projects, you send a message that says, “I believe you can do this.” It gives employees a chance to learn new skills and builds their confidence. It also opens the door for them to take on additional responsibilities and contribute more to the success of the business. When used properly, delegation is a great team-building tool.

How to Delegate Better

Engage People. If you pay people and tell them what to do, will things get done the way you want? Most of us realize it’s not that simple. Getting work done through others requires engagement and persuasion. Remember the Chinese proverb, “Tell me I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I’ll understand.” Effective delegation requires a two-way conversation and works best when you get people engaged.

Provide Clear Direction. Asking an employee to ‘take care of it is fine for routine tasks that they have done before. But taking on new tasks or projects requires direction and communication. Be specific and set clear expectations relating to goals, activities, and authority. A written procedure is a definite plus as it helps with the how-to and resources the individual may need to accomplish the work.

Invest Time Now. In most cases, doing it yourself is faster than teaching someone else – the first time. But investing the time upfront to teach and motivate the employee will pay off down the road. The work gets done right and produces the desired outcome without your day-to-day involvement.

Don’t Abdicate. Delegation is about giving responsibility and appropriate authority to others – not relinquishing all accountability. As a business owner, you can’t simply pass the buck and walk away. Provide guidance, get feedback, track results and hand out praise as appropriate.

Start Small. If delegating is a challenge for you, start with less-urgent or non-critical tasks and projects. You will still need to provide direction and guidance, but it is less problematic when you eliminate tight deadlines. While the employee benefits from learning something new, you will see first-hand that others CAN do it just as well – if not better!

Match Skills With People. In small businesses, employees often wear a lot of hats and may have skills outside their normal job responsibilities. Delegation allows you to tap into different talents or experiences and expand your skills through a team project. It’s also a good way to create a sense of belonging – a key to job satisfaction.

Recognize and Reward. Delegating is easy when your people WANT to take on new challenges and work. If you want them to go the extra mile or step up and take on more responsibility, develop a reputation as someone who appreciates and recognizes good work! Pay increases, bonuses, and promotions are obvious ways to incentivize people. But rewards do not always need to be wage or salary based. A personal thank you note, special luncheon, recognition at a team meeting, gift cards, or paid time off work too! Match the reward to the project or task – and always say thank you for a job well done.

Documented procedures make hiring and training people easier. But they also make delegation a lot more effective too! So don’t underestimate the value of systems when it comes to improving your delegation skills!

Related Article: How Your People and Systems Power Profit and Success

Ready to Put Your Business on a Better Path? 

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support, and accountability from an expert help you take your business in a new and better direction? Then let’s start a conversation. Schedule your free discovery call today. Book appointment.

Emp Orientation Welcome Aboard

How New Hire Orientation Creates Happy, Productive Employees

After a long and time consuming search, you found the perfect candidate to join your team. He or she accepted your job offer and is excited to start in two weeks. So what you do next — your new hire orientation and training — will determine whether the employee is productive, happy and hangs around for the long-term.

Purpose of New Hire Orientation

Employee onboarding should be an important part of your recruitment and retention process.  For the employee, a good new hire orientation process ensures they feel welcome, fully briefed on expectations, trained as needed and ready to succeed. And for the company, it makes good business sense. Here is why:

  • Save Money. Employees get up to speed much more quickly so costs associated with learning on the job are reduced.
  • Lessen Anxiety. The unknown is often stressful and can impede learning. When you provide guidelines for behavior and conduct, you take the guessing away.
  • Reduce Employee Turnover. When employees feel under-valued or not properly positioned to do their job, they won’t stick around. So, orientation helps provide the tools and training necessary for their success.
  • Save Time. The better the initial orientation and training, the less time co-workers or supervisors need to spend re-teaching the employee. A good how-to manual is also helpful!
  • Develop Realistic Job Expectations. The employee learns quickly what is expected of him/her and what to expect from others in the company, including leaders, supervisor and peers.

8 Things New Hires Need to Know

#1 – They Belong. You don’t need to wait for the first day to welcome them to the organization. Send out a welcome kit with information before their start date. Next, announce the new hire to your team so they are ready to welcome him/her too! Take the time to introduce him/her to other staff members. Finally, if they have a work space, make sure it’s ready and welcoming too.

#2 – Company History. Offer some background on the company — the past, present and future. Explain why you do what you do. Convey your vision, core values and high-level goals.  In addition, share some insights about your customers – who you serve and why they choose you. And don’t limit customer discussions to sales and customer service people – everyone benefits from this knowledge.

#3 – Leadership. While your business may not have a formal leadership team, it probably has employees who take on leadership roles or maybe act as mentors to others who join the team. Introductions help them connect with others and better understand the organization structure. And mentors — well let’s just say they can be worth their weight in gold.

#4 – Culture. No two businesses operate the same way culturally. Share company traditions – from team lunches to zoom or staff meetings – to help them understand the work environment. What about some fun team building activities or maybe volunteer projects you all like to participate in? Does the company value training and encourage (and pay for) employee personal development? Make sure you share some of these things too. These are some of the little things that help them fit in and grow with the company.

#5 – Documentation.  New hire documents must be completed for payroll, taxes, and benefits. Get these out of the way and address any questions they may have.

#6 – Compliance and Policies. Your employee handbook will provide the details on policies and answer a lot of questions. You don’t need to review each policy but discuss some that are highly relevant. Consider topics such as sick time, vacation, work schedule/start times, cell phone or internet usage, rewards/recognition opportunities and performance feedback. Also, include policies that apply to their specific job.

#7 – Performance Expectations. While you likely discussed and shared the job description during the hiring process, this is a good time to touch on goals and how you measure success.

#8 – Your Commitment to Improvement. Orientation is the perfect time to convey your commitment to continuous improvement and learning.  In doing so, new employees feel comfortable asking questions to obtain the information they need to learn, problem solve and make decisions.

An orientation process takes time and commitment. However, it will make a significant difference in how quickly your new employee becomes productive and makes an impact — something most employees absolutely want. When done right, it is a win-win for everyone.

Tired of Hitting Roadblocks?

How can personalized advice and coaching help you reach your business and professional goals? Let’s start with a conversation about what’s working and not working in your business.  Click here to schedule a free 30-minute phone consultation today.

About Joan Nowak

I’ve been helping business owners turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business, common-sense approach empowers my clients and drives improvements in critical areas, including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction and profitability. My clients hire me because I provide a shortcut to achieve their goals in less time, at less cost and with less risk of failure than they would have without my help. They stay with me because they get results.

rethink new year resolution

Time to Rethink Your New Year Resolution?

Did you know that January 17th is Ditch New Year Resolution Day? No surprise that resolutions are as effective as an umbrella in a typhoon. While new year resolutions are a common practice, most people fail to stay on track for more than a few weeks. You may have great intentions, but change requires more than that.  So turn a new year resolution into something more inspiring.

Motivation + Goals + Action = Success

Motivation is key to accomplishing any goal you want. But overwhelm, procrastination or impatience often cause us to give up or hit a roadblock. It is why a new year resolution doesn’t stick. So here are a few things you can do to increase your motivation and accomplish your goals.

Why is the Goal Important?

Before setting any goal, clearly identify why successfully reaching this goal is important to you. The reason why or meaning is the motivation behind your goals.

I want to lose 10 pounds so I have more energy to go hiking with my family is far more motivating than I want to lose weight. I want to increase my income by 20% so we can buy a house is more inspiring than I want to make more money.

Master the why and you will likely overcome a big roadblock – procrastination.

How Will You Get There?

Write down how you plan to achieve your goals. The SMART principle can help:

  • Specific (What exactly do you want to accomplish?)
  • Measurable (How will you know when you have succeeded?)
  • Achievable (Is the goal you have set possible?)
  • Realistic (Does setting this goal make sense for you right now?)
  • Time-bound (What is the specific time frame to accomplish this goal?)

Vague goals create vague results. So, when you write down your goals, make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

What Actions Do You Need to Take?

To quote Nelson Mandela, “A vision without action is just a dream”. The same can be said for goals. So now comes the critical part. Make a to-do list to accomplish your goals.

  • What steps or actions do you need to take? If the tasks are too big, break them down into smaller, manageable pieces.
  • Set deadlines for each task.
  • Schedule time to work on and accomplish them.

I use the Task App on my computer and phone to list the tasks – with deadlines. I then use my calendar to schedule time as needed. It makes it easy to track and prioritize what I need to do – and I enjoy checking things off when completed. Give it a try.

Share Your Goals

Invite others to help you stay on track. Your team, family, and friends may be willing and able to hold you accountable or inspire you to keep going. If focus and accountability are holding you back, get rid of the distractions and find a good accountability partner.

Related:  Need Accountability?

Track Your Progress

Review your ‘to-do’ list at least once per week. Are you meeting the timelines you established? If not, where are the stumbling blocks? Are you procrastinating or easily distracted? Or were you too aggressive – and now feel overwhelmed?

It’s okay. Be kind to yourself on occasions when you fall short. And remember to build in small rewards too for your accomplishments. If necessary, reconsider some of the challenging aspects of your goals. Make changes to your plan. Be realistic and keep going!

SPECIAL OFFER

Is accountability the missing ingredient to help you achieve your new year resolution or goals? Are you ready to get focused, prioritize tasks, stay on track and get results? Then take advantage of this special offer.  Click here to check it out.

About Joan Nowak:  I’ve been helping business owners turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business, common-sense approach empowers my clients and drives improvements in critical areas, including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

business systems people

How Your Systems and People Power Profit and Success

According to the author, Michael Gerber, a business is a complex structure of people and business systems that are all evolving at the same time. If you want to turn your business around, take advantage of opportunities or make it through a pandemic it pays to put more effort into these two areas.

They are the key to sustainable growth and a business that is not completely dependent on you!

Think about your own business. What likely got you to the first $500,000 was not enough to get you to $1 million, unless you made some changes along the way. With so much at stake, do your people and processes get the level of attention they should? Here are a few things to consider:

  • When hiring employees or subcontractors, do you have clear goals, expectations, and standards? Is everyone on the same page?
  • Are the workflows and tasks in your business documented so it is easy to train and develop new team members?
  • Does your company deliver what you promise customers each and every time?
  • When someone is out or leaves, can others jump in without difficulty so customer care and other critical tasks are performed with the same level of quality and success?
  • Do your people look for ways to improve customer satisfaction or other areas of the business? Is continuous improvement a priority?
  • Could you go on vacation for two weeks without worrying or constantly calling in?

Whether you depend on employees, subcontractors, alliance partners, or vendors, the right people are a necessity for most businesses.  And if you want those people to be the best they can be, to develop and stick around, you need systems in place to help them thrive.

The Power of People in Your Business

An established business likely has an existing team and other relationships. We hear it said that “people are the most important asset in a business”. The past 18 months have certainly reinforced the significant role they play in your business.’s success. So let’s start there.

Employees.

  • Are employees a good fit for your business today and moving forward?
  • What are the skill gaps that exist for individuals or your team as a whole? Can these be addressed with training?
  • Is your team open to change and new ways of doing things? Do they embrace technology? For some, this is a challenge.
  • Do employees have a job description with clear responsibilities and expectations?
  • Is there a path to help them grow and develop within your company — so they stay?
  • Have individual and business goals been developed and shared? Are employees engaged in setting goals and committed to accomplishing them?

Sub-Contractors, Vendors, and Alliance Partners.

  • Do you have the right ones for your business? What are their individual strengths and weaknesses?
  • Is your business too dependent on any single supplier, leaving you vulnerable?
  • Are their quality and service standards the same as yours?
  • Have clear expectations been set and agreed upon by all parties? Is ongoing feedback in place to support the relationships?

Loyalty to people is considered a strength in small businesses. Some view employees and suppliers as extended family.  But it can be a weakness if you put blinders on. Be honest as you evaluate the people that support your business.  If they are a good fit, make it a priority to build and retain these relationships. If not, let them go.

Give People The Systems and Authority to Succeed

I believe most people want to perform well, contribute and make a difference in whatever job they undertake. I have seen part-timers and minimum wage earners who are worth their weight in gold and highly paid employees who are worthless. It’s all about attitude and what you, the business owner, do to help them succeed.

That’s why systems are so important. With documented systems, people know what to do and how to do it. It makes training easier and more effective. New employees can hit the ground running and start to contribute quickly! That’s a win-win for everyone.

Systems also make it easier for all employees to take on new responsibilities or help out others without difficulty. Talk about a great development tool. Equally important, it takes away the stress when someone calls out sick, goes on vacation, or leaves to take another job.

To get the most out of your people, make sure you build limits of authority into your systems as appropriate. Levels of authority are simply decision-making tools. They help your staff handle customer issues, close sales, resolve problems and keep the business running! It eliminates the need for everything to go through you and gives your people a sense of empowerment to do their job.

Examples | Limits of Authority

Quotes (in the sales process). If the quote is under $25,000 with a gross profit of xx% or more, the sales representative may approve and submit the quote directly to the customer. All quotes over $25,000 or with gross profit margins below xx% require approval of the sales manager/owner.

Customer service. Representatives may issue credits, refunds, or payments up to $100 to resolve customer issues. Credit or payments between $101 – $250 require office manager approval. All credits or payments over $250 require owner approval.

Purchasing. Using one of our approved suppliers or vendors, purchasing agent has the authority to issue PO’s up to $10,000. Purchase orders over $10,000 require owner approval.

If you are new to building systems in your business, you are probably thinking ‘Wow, this is a lot of work’. It’s not difficult, but it does take time. But with every procedure you document and implement, you begin to see the benefits. Improved efficiency, increased sales, more profit – and a lot less stress!

Take it one at a time. I recommend clients start with a system that will address a common problem. One that helps you make more money, free up your time, causes poor customer service or duplication of effort among your team. What are some common problems that arise often? What are tasks you should delegate but haven’t done so? Pick one and start there.

The right people executing your systems can help transform your business, so give it the attention it deserves.

Leverage Your Business With Systems

If you are serious about leveraging your business with systems but struggle with where to start and how to do it, then check out my Ultimate Systems and Procedures Guide. Designed specifically for small business owners, my step-by-step guide with templates and examples makes it easy to do it yourself.

Need help or prefer to work with me on this project? Schedule a complimentary phone consultation and we can discuss the options. Click here to book an appointment now.

About Joan Nowak

As a business improvement expert, business coach, and consultant, I’ve been helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My common-sense approach empowers clients and drives business improvements in key areas including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

Make Planning Easy

7 Do’s & Don’ts to Make Planning Easier and Effective

“I know I should, but don’t have the time”. It’s a common belief when it comes to planning.  The truth is that taking some time to plan is the best investment of your time. It provides the focus and clarity you need to achieve what you want to be, do, have, and accomplish – in business and in life.

7 Ways To Make Planning Effective and Easy

Don’t Strive for Perfection. A plan acts as a roadmap but results come from doing. Spending countless weeks and months trying to create the perfect plan comes at the expense of taking action. Doing creates learning and you can adapt along the way. A plan that is 80% perfect and implemented now will always outperform a perfect plan that is never executed.

Focus on What Not How. Don’t let the how to kill your dreams.  One of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to long-term goals is linked to our practical nature. If we can’t figure out how to get there today, we simply change the goal to something in our comfort zone. It’s okay if you don’t have a perfect picture of how you will achieve your long-term goals. Don’t change the dream, simply look for opportunities to appear and act on them.

Start With a Purpose. Your business should support your life, not the other way around.  Whether you call it a purpose or vision, it helps to have a picture of what you want your life to look like down the road.  How do you spend your days and your free time? What do you have in the future that you don’t have now? And why is this important to you? Jot down your thoughts. Then write down your vision.  Use paragraphs, bullets, or combinations. Remember, it should be compelling to you, so don’t worry about what others would think. Keep it visible and review it often.

Set Goals. Your goals are simply the outcomes (results) or activities you need to accomplish over time to achieve your vision or purpose. Goals act as milestones along the way to measure progress. Ideally, your personal goals should cover important areas of your life: financial, personal, relationships, spiritual, health, and community. Your business goals should include all the important areas that drive growth and profit, not just sales. Be specific because vague goals create vague results.

Take Action. Goals without actions are nothing more than dreams. Whether you want to lose weight, earn more money or improve your business, your ability to get there comes down to one thing – doing!  You must take some action each day, week, and month. Identify the tasks you need to do, prioritize them, and schedule time to do them. Think to-do list and enjoy checking them off when accomplished.

Don’t Keep It In Your Head. Put your goals and key activities in writing. For most of us, commitments we put in writing are stronger than verbal ones we make with ourselves. Create a simple action plan. Be concise and clear. And keep it short so you can review it often!

Build-in Accountability. Once you commit to your goals and develop a simple plan of attack, share them with someone who will hold you accountable to yourself – your personal accountability partner. This may be a spouse, friend, colleague, or coach. But it should be someone who has a vested interest in your achievement of the goals and will support and push you to do what you need to do. Click here to learn more about my accountability program.

Don’t let fear, dislike, or attitudes about planning prevent you from reaching your full potential – in business and in life. Keep it simple, but do it. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish with a little planning.

Need help? My Ultimate Action Planning Guide helps you create a roadmap for success. But if you prefer to work with me virtually – and build your plan together – then check out my Action Plan 2022 Program.

About Joan Nowak.  As a business improvement expert, business coach, and consultant, I’ve been helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My common sense approach empowers clients and drives business improvements in key areas including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

Focus on growth

It’s Time to Focus On Growth

The new year is rapidly approaching. Are you ready to focus on growth and recovery instead of survival?

Last year many small, local businesses made changes in response to the pandemic. For some, it was a means of survival. For others, it was an opportunity to meet the changing needs in their community. Regardless of why the pandemic has had an impact on your employees and customers. So, it will also affect your business now and in the future.

The Impact of Evolving Trends

New trends, including remote work, social distancing, greater use of technology, and shorter supply chains, evolved as a result of the pandemic. But it also created a lot of self-examination and reflection for the people that live and work in your community.

What mattered in 2020 may no longer be important.  Stay on top of evolving trends but talk to employees, customers, and local business owners. This will help you build a better roadmap for 2022. One with a focus on growth and recovery – not just survival.

Not All Pivots Result in Good Business Performance

Some businesses found unexpected opportunities during the pandemic. They took advantage of existing capabilities and built a different model or products to serve their customers.  But not every pivot will provide long-term profitability or enhance your business value.

With the lessons you learned, a better understanding of needs and trends, and a focus on the future, identify the changes you need to make. Some of your earlier initiatives will require tweaking. Others may be doing well but would benefit from a combination of systems and technology. Some may need to be eliminated completely. The key is to look at your entire business with a fresh set of eyes and a new, positive attitude.

Is Your Business Flexible?

I think it is fair to say that the past year has taught us that business (and opportunities) can change without warning. But the businesses that were able to pivot quickly got a head start on others who couldn’t.

Smaller businesses are known for being nimble so they can change direction quickly.  And the small businesses I see that do it better than others have a few things in common. They…

  • Embrace technology and are willing to invest in it. This was a huge advantage when the pandemic hit.
  • Appreciate innovation and realize that their employees often have great ideas to improve the business. So, they ask and actively listen to them.
  • Take care of their team because happy employees create raving customers.
  • Value the contributions of others and gladly give them credit. They are never too busy to say thank you or recognize their accomplishments.

As you look toward 2022, get your team engaged in planning and goal setting. Take advantage of their diverse skills and knowledge. Decide together how you will measure success. Then track and share results. Their involvement in all areas of the business makes pivoting (for any reason) a whole lot easier.

Plan with a focus on growth

Time to get out of survival mode and refocus your efforts on growth and recovery. So, take the time to start setting your goals and building your plan. Planning is easier than you think. And it will provide you with the focus and clarity you need to achieve more of what you want – in business and in life.

Related:  7 Do’s and Don’ts to Make Planning Easy and Effective

About Joan Nowak.  As a business improvement expert, business coach, and consultant, I’ve been helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business approach empowers clients and drives improvements in key areas including revenue, operational performance, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

Need help? My Ultimate Action Planning Guide helps you create a roadmap for success. But if you prefer to work with me virtually – and build your plan together – then check out my Action Plan 2022 Program.