goals.resolutions

Do’s & Don’ts for Setting Goals

Now is the time when many of us reflect on this year and begin looking forward to what the new year may bring. Take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments and maybe some lessons too. It’s important. But then move on — and focus on what is ahead of you. It starts with setting goals.

Whether you own a business or work for someone else, setting business, professional and personal goals pays off. 

7 Do’s & Don’ts for Setting Goals

Do Write Them Down & Keep Them Visible.  Your goals clarify what you want or a desired outcome.  If you are truly committed to achieving them, put them in writing and keep them visible so you view them often.  Whether that be daily, weekly or something else – don’t set them and forget them!

Don’t Go Overboard.  Since goals help keep you focused, too many can mess you up.  Keep the number of goals manageable – and set them for all areas of your life and business.  I recommend 4-5 personal goals and no more than 5-7 critical business goals. 

Do Be Specific.  As they say, vague goals create vague results. A goal like earn more money (which most people want) is too general to propel you to act. If you want to earn $100,000 next year, say so. Put it in writing. Now you can focus on what you need to do to achieve it. 

Do Make Them Measurable.  Goals are accomplished over time — so you will want to monitor your progress and stay on course. Quantify goals so you can track how you are doing. What we measure, we can achieve so build measurements into your personal or business goals.

Measurements can include actual results or improvement percentages — whichever works best for you. Here’s a few simple examples to demonstrate measurable goals:  Lose 20 pounds, Increase salary/wages by  20%, Arrive home by 6:00 pm, Read 2 books per month, Hire 2 new employees, Increase customer base by 10%.  

Do Set Deadlines.  All goals are not created equal.  Some are more critical.  Some take more time.  Some are contingent on others. Establishing due dates for your goals and related actions helps you prioritize what is important and creates urgency to get it done.  Deadlines also help you avoid procrastination.

Do Think Bigger.  Set goals that are challenging but realistic given the time-frame you establish. Get out of your comfort zone and put some stretch in those goals — so they actually excite and motivate you to take the action to achieve them.

Don’t Ignore the Why.  When setting goals, ask yourself “Why is this important to me?”. Know the motivation behind your goals to make them more meaningful.  Why do you want to earn 20% more this year or be home by 6:00 pm?  The why is often what really drives you — to keep going throughout the year. 

Goals without actions are simply dreams.

Nothing will happen until you take action. So once you identify your goals, take a few minutes to jot down what you need to do in order to accomplish them. Some goals require more tasks than others, but your road map to success requires you to take action.

As a final thought, share your goals with someone who has a stake in your success. Accountability goes a long way and can be the ingredient you need to put you over the top!

Attention Business Owners. Do you struggle with putting your goals together and developing a road map for success? Then check out my Ultimate Guide to Action Planning. This step-by-step guide will put you on the right path.

Get Started. Stay On Track

Do you want your business to take a major leap forward next year? To get off to a quick start and stay on track? Then my accountability program may be just what you need. More than accountability, this program provides business owners with structure, another set of eyes and practical advice too! And it all starts with setting goals. Click here to learn more or contact me directly.

dream team

How To Get the Right People On the Bus

According to US Department of Labor reports, 2 out of 3 new hires prove to be a mistake within the first year – costing companies thousands of dollars for each departing employee. Hiring mistakes negatively impact productivity and erode your company’s profits.  You can accept this as a cost of doing business or take the steps needed to get the right people into your company.

Tips to Hire Good People

Build a Case for Hiring

Before you replace someone or add a new employee, take the time to build a case for your decision.  Too often when one team member leaves, we rush out and replace them.  Instead, use this as an opportunity to look at your entire company.

Can you restructure some positions and hire for different skills than the departing employee had?  What goals will the position allow you to accomplish – revenue, productivity, profitability?  Should it be a full or part time position or should you outsource the tasks instead of hiring?  What is the full cost for the employee based on wages, bonuses, taxes and benefits?  Now you are ready to move forward.

Create Good Job Descriptions

Most business owners use job descriptions to insure the candidate is clear on the position duties and responsibilities.  But a good job description also helps YOU find the right people — those that possess the skills and competencies to do the job and fit your culture.

In addition to tasks and skills, include the following:  (a) certifications, education or experience required or preferred, (b) work environment and any special physical requirements, and (c) how you measure success – the performance indicators you will use to evaluate performance for this position.  Good job descriptions for all team members keep you focused on what you want, ready to execute when the need arises and communicates your expectations to candidates and current employees.

Market For Employees

Recruiting, like marketing, is most effective when it is targeted, planned and executed with consistency.  Start with the basic question, ‘What makes your company a great choice for potential employees?”  If you are not sure, ask your current team – they’ll tell you.

Identify Best Method to Reach Candidates

 How will you reach potential employees? Today you have a lot of options from online recruitment sites and social media to networking, referrals and print.  The best method may vary by position and experience requirements. Be open to various approaches — especially if you want diversity within your company.

Always be on the lookout for good people who can bring value to your organization.  Make recruiting something that is ongoing, not haphazard.

Make Hiring a De-Selection Process

Your time is valuable and you don’t want to waste it interviewing people who don’t possess the skills you need for fit into your culture.  You can improve your process and save time by incorporating a phone screen on candidates that pass your initial resume or application review.  Stay disciplined and only interview candidates who make it through your process.

Once you decide to bring someone in for an interview, email the job description to them in advance. So they are clear on the expectations before they arrive.  This also paints a professional image of your company.  The interview is an important step in the process, so have the candidate meet with multiple people, where possible, and use behavior interview techniques to probe for the skills and competencies that are most critical.  Be disciplined and be patient.  Be willing to turn down candidates who are not the right fit – don’t settle.

Do Research 

Most experts agree that hiring success hinges on job fit more than any other factor, including experience and education. So before you put out that job offer, do a little research. Today it’s easy.

Search engines and social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can help you uncover more information about a potential employee — good or bad.  They offer clues on hobbies, personal preferences, likes/dislikes and more. Stuff that doesn’t necessarily appear on a resume.

Fill the Gaps 

Many businesses include background and reference checks in their hiring process. Don’t skip these because you are in a rush to hire or the candidate was referred from an employee. These can often uncover potential issues but only if you take the time to call former employers and run background checks.

Believe You Can and You Will

When you tell yourself “I can’t get good help” — you defeat yourself before you even get started. We make true whatever we believe. So if you have a great team — own it and go hire more just like them.

If you have weaknesses in your team, then make fixing the culture, environment and people a priority. As the business owner, you own this as well.

So there you have it.  I use this method when I hire people and with hundreds of small businesses that I work with. They work. So start putting this system to work in your business and you too can have a team worth talking about.

On a final note, once you have the right people in your company, consider the words of Stephen Covey, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers”.

RELATED:  How New Hire Orientation Creates Productive Employees

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

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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? Ever had anyone tell 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, artist or craft person.  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 that 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!

More Profit Building Ideas…

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out of the box innovation

Business Innovation & Growth: How to Keep It Alive

When money flows into your business effortlessly from banks and customers, it’s easy to ignore mistakes, take the path of least resistance, and live with the problems. But when times get tough, it becomes more difficult to ignore. It forces business owners to create REAL changes or go out of business.

Choose a Different Path

Instead of blaming others or the economy when things get tough, do what entrepreneurs do.  Put on your creative hat and make the decision to rethink, restructure, refocus and rebuild. In doing so, you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

So if you are looking to turn things around, recognize that it’s time to stop putting band-aids on your business and commit to real change. Often the problems you have, like eroding sales and profits, long hours with little pay, or poor cash flow, are symptoms of bigger issues in your business. Get to the root cause and fix the real problems.

Where to Start Rebuilding

Get Rid of the Dead Wood. Employees are an asset, but only if they produce results. You need to be willing to let go of the people in your company who don’t. You know who they are. They show up late, collect a paycheck and add little or no value for your customers, team or business. They zap your energy and kill morale. So why do we settle and hang onto under-performers?

Sometimes it’s fear of the unknown.  Johnny may be lazy, but at least he shows up. Sometimes it’s a sense of obligation.  How can I fire my cousin or brother and still face my family? Sometimes we feel we can’t. because we never communicated our expectations or dissatisfaction. And sometimes we just feel too overwhelmed and don’t have the time to hire and train someone new. Whatever your reasons, you have a choice. You can fix the problem – help Johnny become an asset to the team — or make him go away.

Fire Deadbeat Customers. Again, you know who they are. They only buy with discounts or purchase low-margin products, pay late or after numerous collection requests, complain often and treat your team poorly. What you earn from your ideal customers subsidizes your less than perfect ones. Why let them hang around to zap your profits and team morale? Fire them and replace them with customers who value what you do or sell.

Apply Innovation in All Areas of Your Business. Many owners associate innovation with new products or inventions. Innovation, by definition, is the introduction of new things or methods and it’s important if you want to achieve sustainable growth and profit.

The key is to apply it to all areas of your business.  From marketing and sales to customer support, delivery and team building. It’s simply a matter of continuously looking for better ways to do what you do.

RELATED ARTICLEIs Creativity Required for Success?

Make Productivity Matter. Busy is not the same as productive. Productivity is about producing effective results or outcomes, in the most efficient way, with the least amount of time and effort. Now who wouldn’t want that?

So do you measure and look for ways to eliminate waste, increase outputs or reduce hours associated with daily tasks or service delivery within your company? Do you have systems for the critical activities and consistently look for ways to streamline or improve them?

If you want to increase your margins, without raising your prices, take a hard look at your productivity levels and the waste in your business. It’s a goldmine for many small businesses.

Plan, Measure and Systematize Your Marketing. A lot of small business owners view marketing as a necessary evil. They know they need it, but often struggle to get it right. So when money gets tight or owners get busy, marketing takes the hit. Unfortunately, it comes at a big cost — sustainable growth and profit. So why is that?

First, some lack a strong marketing foundation with clear targets, the right products and services for them, and compelling messages to get them to act. As a result, it makes marketing harder to do. An integrated and consistent marketing effort produces a better ROI, but it does require a little planning.

Second, some fail to measure results so they don’t actually know if their investment (time and money) is delivering a return. It’s easy to cut marketing expenses when you can’t tie the cost to specific results such as new customers or increased revenue.  Unfortunately, it’s not always the right decision.

Third, most marketing for small businesses is not systematized. There is no efficiency and most important, no consistency. Therefore, it costs more and is far less effective – an obvious frustration.

Focus More On Profit Than Sales. It may make you feel good to hit that target sales plateau or be able to tell others you do $1 million or more in sales. But if those sales are not providing you with the profit to sustain growth, increase your personal income and deliver the lifestyle you want – why bother?

As a business owner, you take all the risks. Your business must make a profit to stay in business. Your family, customers, employees and vendors are depending on it. Remember, sales growth is important, but profit and cash flow is king!

Kill the Paradigms. What beliefs do you hold to be true that really aren’t? We all have some. Those little self-sabotaging thoughts that act as constraints in our business and life. Here are a few examples: It’s impossible to earn a profit in this economy, I can’t get good help, customers are never satisfied, customers only care about price, marketing doesn’t work, I can’t get my people to do anything unless I’m there watching over them.

Any sound familiar? The problem with paradigms is they give you an excuse to settle for less, accept mediocrity or give up completely. Don’t let the attitudes held by others, but not supported with fact, hold you back.

Ready to Create Your Own Success Story? 

If you are ready to move your business in a better direction, I invite you to experience the power of business coaching with a complimentary session.  Click here to learn more or call (856) 533-2344 to schedule your session today.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing: 7 Ways to Build Relationships and Get More Customers

With the so much emphasis on social media, many believe digital newsletters and email marketing are less valuable as a marketing tool. I disagree.

When done properly, email marketing can complement other online and traditional marketing tactics. Most email platforms offer options for automation, landing pages, integration with e-commerce and list segmentation. So it’s an effective and affordable way to generate new business and keep current customers engaged and buying more.

Whether you want to stay connected with customers, build your reputation as an expert or generate leads and sales for your business, success (a.k.a. results) with email marketing is in your reach. Here are a few things to consider, so you get results.

How to Get More From Email Marketing

Build a permission-based list. Customers and prospects that choose to receive your emails are a goldmine for small businesses. Make it easy for people to sign-up by including a ‘join our mailing list’ option on your website, blog, email signature, etc. Invite people you meet at events to join. Invite customers who visit your location to join. Make building your list a priority.

Deliver what you promise. People sign up based on what you communicate: the value and the frequency.  If you promise tips and articles, include them. If you commit to specials or savings, offer them. If you promise something free, make it easy to get it. If they expect something monthly or weekly, be consistent. And remember, more is not always better. Set the expectations and deliver what you promise. Otherwise, people will unsubscribe or not open your emails.

If you use email marketing for multiple purposes, allow people to choose what they wish to receive. Most email marketing platforms allow for options or subscriber preferences. For example, a reader may sign up for your monthly newsletter only, everything you send or something in between. They have control and you have readers who want what you send.

Use a compelling ‘subject’ line AND headline. You need both. The subject line get’s it opened, the headline get’s it read. Too often, the subject line is almost an afterthought. Give it the same attention you give a headline – make it compelling and recognizable. One way to do this is to include your company name such as ’10 Tips for Better Living from Company XYZ’ or ‘Upcoming Events from John Smith’. If you do a monthly newsletter, give it a name and include it in the subject line each month. The headline in your email is a key to getting people to read it and works the same as other print advertising. Make it benefit focused – what’s in it for them or why should they read more?

Stay True to Your Audience. Be clear on your target and always write with them in mind. Since most email marketing lists begin with customers, you should have a good idea of who they are, what challenges they face, what they like and dislike and why your products and services are the best choices.

As your list grows, you may have less intimate knowledge about your audience. That’s okay because you can assume they are looking for the same value and information. Why else would they sign up? So stay true to your target and you’ll enjoy greater success with your email marketing.

Make Content Count. If you are writing promotional copy, keep it concise and make sure your message – value/benefits, offer, and call to action – is clear and understood. Bullet points and sub-headlines work well. Write copy in the present tense, not passive voice. Avoid weak words like can, may, and maybe since they dilute your message.

If you write newsletters, make sure the topics are relevant and timely for your audience. Select topics that tie-in with what is happening in the news, in their lives or in their business – at this time. Include links to your website, blog, special offers, or other resources – to create additional traffic.

Encourage sharing. Ask readers to share directly or via social media. It’s a easy way to get your message to others, grow your list and generate additional leads.

Use Customer Quotes. Adding a brief but compelling customer quote creates a third-party endorsement and added credibility to your email marketing. Make the customer ‘real’ to your readers by including the customer’s name, city, company (if applicable) or even a picture. If you have testimonials on your website or online reviews, include a link and invite your audience to check them out.

It’s Measurable & Actionable

Email marketing is highly targeted, low-cost and measurable. Most programs include reports to show you how many subscribers opened, clicked on links to your website or other URLs, and bounces.

But here’s the best part. You can get a list of WHO opened and then clicked through to learn more. It’s actionable. You can follow-up or send additional information to create more sales opportunities.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

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delegate effectively

How to Delegate Effectively

Delegation does not come naturally to most people, but it is a critical business skill that you can develop. When you learn how to delegate effectively, you’ll be less stressed, make better use of your time and skills, help develop your people and substantially increase the amount of work you and your team produce.

If delegation is so important to business success, why do people avoid it? Some owners believe they can do it better themselves. Others may not have the right people for the tasks they wish to delegate. But most often people avoid delegating because it takes time and effort to do it right.

Those with children can certainly relate to this concept. It’s easier to tie a child’s shoe laces than teach him/her to tie them. But once taught, your child feels empowered and you save time!

3 Keys to Delegate Effectively

Choose the right tasks

Not all tasks should be delegated. As a business owner, there are things that you should do or spearhead. Tasks that are critical to your long-term success need your attention. Recruiting and hiring, developing team members, strategic planning or initiatives, and confidential information come to mind.

What tasks should you delegate? If you are uncertain, take a week or two to write down every task, big and small, you perform each day. You may also come up with some tasks that should be done, but are not because you don’t have the time. Add these to the list as well. Use the list to identify tasks or projects you can and should delegate.

As you go through each task on the list, here are a few things to consider:  

  • Is it a recurring task – one that you do again and again? Delegating these can free up time now and in the future?
  • Does this task have short deadlines or turnaround times? Avoid delegating things at the last minute. These tasks may need to be delegated in the future – when you have time to do it right.
  • Can this task provide a way to help develop a skill for one of your team members? Think empowerment.
  • Is this a task critical to your company’s long-term success?  If so, you may delegate portions of the work but still maintain overall accountability.

Choose the right people

If you have people on staff with extra time and needed skills or expertise, it certainly makes delegation easier. Plus, it’s a great way to get them more engaged, help them use and develop other skills and bring a higher level of purpose to their job.

But don’t let your current situation stop you from delegating. Consider part-time help or outsourcing. My clients have effectively used all three options to help them shift work to others and focus on the right stuff – a key to revenue and profit growth.

Now it’s time to match the tasks with the right people. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is there someone who has the skills, knowledge or expertise to do the task with appropriate direction and training from you?
  • Is there someone who has the desire to grow in your company? Some employees love to take on new responsibilities – others don’t. Understanding your staff and their long-term goals are key; but remember to match tasks with skills so it’s a win-win.
  • Is there someone who has time to take on more work? Sometimes the best person for the task is simply too busy to take on more work. Why not consider reshuffling responsibilities among the rest of the team. Take some of the ideal employee’s work and distribute it to others — with training of course!

If you have the right people already, you’ve overcome a big hurdle with delegation. Just remember, YOU must be willing and able to dedicate the time and resources to help them succeed. In addition, be patient with your team. It will likely take them longer to do new tasks or projects – they are learning. But with your help, they will become competent and efficient.

Delegate the right way

Effective delegation requires a combination of instruction, coaching, answering ongoing questions, and follow-up. You are transferring knowledge to someone else to help them develop new skills and capabilities. It takes time and patience to be the leader and teacher your team needs.

 Here are some suggestions to help you delegate successfully to others:

  • Explain clearly what needs to be done – and the desired outcomes or results. Avoid the simple handoff with a “Can you take care of this” comment. It will leave you and the employee frustrated.
  • Discuss expectations relating to initiative and feedback. Let the person know whether to wait for your instructions or make recommendations and decisions. Use discretion based on the task and individual. You can always expand authority as the employee develops.  
  • Provide adequate support and be available to answer questions along the way. This is important so don’t ignore it.
  • Focus on results, not how it is done. If you have ideas or systems, share them where appropriate. But, encourage or empower the person to control the process.  He/she may find better ways to do things.
  • Discuss and agree upon timelines, deadlines, and checkpoints along the way (milestones). If appropriate, pre-schedule progress update conversations.
  • Review work submitted, provide timely feedback and adjust as needed. Your people need feedback to develop so don’t make them wait for weeks or longer.
  • Build motivation and commitment. Help the employee understand why the tasks/projects are important. Connect what they are doing to the success of the business. Provide recognition and rewards when deserved – and consequences, if appropriate.

Finally, avoid “upward delegation” or shifting of decisions or tasks back to you. The employee may encounter a problem or have questions. When they do, don’t jump in or simply provide an answer. Instead, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask for their recommendation – how would they handle it? Help them become a problem solver.

Avoid micromanagement. Effective delegation requires a balance between giving the employee space to shine while monitoring enough to ensure the job is done effectively. Don’t micromanage but do follow-up. Remember, you as the owner or manager are ultimately accountable.

Delegation is a time management strategy that you must practice to master. But when you learn to delegate effectively you will be pleased with the results – more time for you and a more empowered, satisfied team.

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Refocus-Achieve Your Goals

Get Refocused to Achieve Your Goals

The summer is the perfect time for business owners to re-energize and refocus. We are more than halfway through the year. Many businesses see a slowdown. More family fun. So why not take some time to assess where you are and make the adjustments you need to achieve your goals and finish the year strong.

While you may instinctively know some of the shortfalls, take a look at all areas of the business. Consider both results and actions taken (or not taken) – because the doing part really matters.

Need help? My Business Success Checklist is a great tool to help you discover some of the hidden opportunities. Click here to download.

5 Question Mid-Year Health Check

#1 – Is revenue (sales) up, down or flat?  What are you doing to get new business or help generate sales from existing customers? Do you have at least 3-4 proven methods to grow sales – and are you doing them consistently each week or month so you achieve your goals?

#2 – Are gross profit margins from products or services consistently high or trending up? Review pricing, costs and value. What changes, if any, are needed?

#3 – Is your business operating efficiently AND effectively? Are customers happy based on reviews, feedback or complaints? Is work done right the first time, every time? Is continuous improvement a priority for you and your team?

#4 – Do you have the right people – employees, contractors, vendors and strategic partners – to support your business? Are there clear goals and expectations? Do you have backups or ready replacements for all key people and/or suppliers? Can your business run without your daily involvement – or is everything dependent on you?

#5 – Is profit sustainable and cash flow positive? Is net profit higher than last year at this time? Is your debt similar or lower than last year – and being managed properly? Do you review financial reports, understand them and use the information to help you make decisions? Do you re-allocate resources (time and money) when opportunities arise – or miss out on them?

After you identify the gaps or opportunities, re-set your priorities. In other words, list the actual tasks or activities you need to do to achieve your goals and finish the year strong. Results come from taking action – so start implementing!

Still operating without a clear road map for success? It’s never too late to get started. My Ultimate Guide to Action Planning makes it easy. Download it today.

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Emp Orientation Welcome Aboard

How New Hire Orientation Creates Productive Employees

The search is over. After what seems like an eternity, you found the perfect candidate to join your team. He or she accepted your job offer and starts in two weeks.  What you do next, your new hire orientation, will determine whether the employee is productive, happy and hangs around for the long-term.

Purpose of New Hire Orientation

Employee orientation 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 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.

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 and high-level goals. 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. Introductions help them connect with others and better understand the organization structure.

#4 – Culture. No two businesses operate the same way culturally. Share company traditions – from team lunches to monthly staff meetings – to help them understand the work environment. 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 any 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. When done right, it is a win-win for everyone.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

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frustrated - biz mistakes

9 Small Business Mistakes that Hinder Growth and Profit

While experience can be a great teacher, learning from someone else’s experience can save you time, money and a lot of frustration – especially when it comes to growing your small business. So here are some common business mistakes you want to avoid or fix.

Mistake #1: I Can Do It On My Own

Most of us became entrepreneurs because we are experts or skilled at something and believed we could do it better than competitors or maybe our current boss. But building a successful business requires more than technical know-how. None of us are experts at everything – so surround yourself with other experts to fill the gaps. Whether you hire employees, sub-contract work, create joint ventures, work with coaches/consultants or develop strategic alliances – the support you need is available. Avoid this costly business mistake. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

Mistake #2: Keeping Your Business a Secret

Today, a website is a must-have for a small business. It is a great equalizer and can build credibility for you, your company and products. But it only pays off if people who want your products and services can find you. As a small business owner, search engine optimization with relevant keywords and content must be a priority. Use social media and other marketing tactics drive people to your site too!

Mistake #3: Creating Confusion With Potential Buyers

When starting a business, the goal typically looks like this:  generate sales for your core products or services as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary. But if sales for core products are slower than expected, many begin dabbling with additional products or services to generate more revenue. Too many dissimilar products or different messages can leave people wondering what you do and why they should choose to buy from you. Focus on your core strengths and build from there.

Mistake #4: Great Products The Market Doesn’t Want

The best products or services will go unsold if you are talking to the wrong people – those who will likely never buy! Investing your time and money promoting your products or services to people who don’t have the resources, authority or need, today or in the near future, is both frustrating and costly. Who are the ideal customers for YOUR products and services? Be clear on this, find out where they are, how to reach them and then apply your resources to pull them in.

Mistake #5: Talk More Than You Listen

If you want to earn a customer’s business, you need to solve their problem or fill a need. So before you jump into your sales pitch, take the time to ask questions, listen carefully and determine what the customer needs. Your features and benefits are only relevant when they solve a customer’s problem or fill a need. Successful people tend to be good listeners – so you’ll achieve greater success when you spend less time talking and more time listening! Remember, technology and markets change, so keep your pulse on what customers need and adjust accordingly.

Mistake #6: No Follow-Up

Investing resources to generate leads for your company without a proven method to convert them into paying customers is costly. Whether potential customers come to you by phone, email, online or in person, a system for consistent and timely follow-up is a key to sales growth. Take the time to develop a procedure for moving prospects to customers. Take advantage of technology to ensure your process is both efficient and effective. Be consistent and watch your sales soar.

Mistake #7: Disjointed or No Procedures

Documented procedures for all the critical tasks and operations is a key to efficiency, consistency, continuous improvement and profitability. Yet despite the benefits, it’s ignored by many small businesses. This mistake becomes obvious when you hire and train new people, attempt to outsource or start losing customers due to poor service or missed deadlines. Take it one at a time, but make written procedures a priority in your business. The results will surprise you. My Ultimate Systems Guide makes it easy to start building systems and procedures in your small business.

Mistake #8: Hiring on the Fly

“Quick to hire and slow to fire” describes many small businesses. A strong team of people to support your business is certainly important – but only if they are the right people. There are proven hiring systems and tools, including a job description and clear goals, to help small businesses attract and retain quality people. Always hire with a purpose, invest in training, commit to developing your team and be willing to let go of those who don’t fit. Need an easy way to get the word out when you are hiring? Indeed.com is a great solution for small business owners.

Mistake #9: Roller Coaster Marketing

For many small businesses, marketing activities and spending look like a roller coaster, up and down based on how busy you are or how sales are doing. If your marketing is sporadic, your results will likely be the same. The key to attracting and retaining customers is consistency. It is better to do 5-6 lead generation strategies well and consistently than doing 10-20 of them periodically. And remember, marketing to existing customers is just as important as new business marketing — so incorporate both into your marketing efforts.

Which of these mistakes is impacting your growth and profit? Make it a priority to fix them – one at a time, if necessary. The sooner you do, the sooner your sales and profit will grow. And isn’t that why you are in business in the first place?

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For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

profit builder

Want to Be a Profit Builder?

When you hear the words business growth, what pops into your mind? Is it revenue, sales or maybe new customers? What about profit? What are you doing to build profit in your small business? Is it a priority or an after-thought?

There are a lot of ways to build profit in your business. Cutting costs is the obvious one. While keeping costs down is important, put adequate resources (time and money) into other areas – and keep your focus on the bottom line. Be a profit builder.

5 Ways to Build Profit

#1 – Grow sales of higher margin products. Products and services, like customers, are not created equal. The growth of low-margin products can actually reduce your overall profit. Do you know which products or services deliver the highest profit margins?  You should. Then put your marketing and sales efforts into selling more of those.

#2 – Gain efficiency with systems. This is especially important in businesses that rely on labor to deliver their products or services. In a service business, you are only as good as the people doing the work – so their efficiency and effectiveness are critical to your profitability.

Take advantage of technology to save time. Utilize checklists so employees have the materials they need when they arrive at customers locations. Have a system for add-on sales opportunities. Schedule work to minimize drive times. Eliminate duplicate work.  These are just a few – I’m sure you can find others in your small business. When you do, enjoy the extra profit that comes from doing more with less.

#3 – Eliminate re-works that come from poor quality. Re-works or callbacks are profit busters. It costs you money to re-do the work – and you also lose the opportunity to serve someone else with that person or crew. Make quality a priority.  Get it right the first time.

#4 – Profit from your pricing. When you use a standard markup and cost to set prices, you ignore the most important ingredient – value. This comes from being better or different. Your pricing should reflect your quality, uniqueness, and convenience. Don’t be afraid to charge more when you can.  As a small business, discounts and low prices will always work against you. Avoid them unless you have a strategic reason for doing so. More sales at any cost is not a recipe for optimizing your profit margins.

#5 – Improve your marketing ROI. Marketing is an investment. It’s not about how much you spend, but how effectively you apply your resources – time and money. In fact, many of my clients are spending less and getting more revenue.  You can too with a few changes:  better targeting, emphasis on retention, compelling messages, diverse tactics, and a system that converts more leads. Marketing is not about getting leads – it’s about getting quality sales through current and new customers.

As you can see from these examples, profit-building requires a whole-business approach to growth – not just sales. Your people, systems, marketing and daily operations all play an important role – so leverage them. With small improvements in all these areas, you’ll grow both sales and profit. And that’s a recipe for a better business.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.