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 simply continue to build profit then 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 $250,000 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 few years have certainly reinforced the significant role they play in your business.’s success. So let’s start there.


  • 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 employees 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?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention YOU in the people equation.  Be honest about your effectiveness as the leader of your company. Are you the type others enjoy working with? Do you encourage innovation at all levels and give them credit for their ideas?  Will you take the time to teach and help develop others? Have you created a work environment and culture that allows your people to thrive?

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 the approval of the sales manager/owner.

Customer service. Representatives may issue credits, refunds, or payments of 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 POs 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, frees up your time, or fixes a customer service or operations issue. 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 call and we can discuss the options. Click here to book an appointment now.

About Joan Nowak

As a business strategy expert and consultant, I’ve been helping business owners 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.


Does Your Business Run Smoothly?

A well-run business is a dream come true for a business owner. It allows you to focus on what’s important – growth and profitability. It also gives you the freedom to take time off without skipping a beat. So does your business run smoothly?

Here is something to consider.  No business owner wants to spend their days putting out fires, fixing mistakes, or doing the work they pay others to do. Yet many do because their business doesn’t run without their constant involvement. You can’t prevent every potential problem, but you can take steps to improve your current situation and make your business run smoothly. 

Identify the Gaps in Your Operations

A business is a structure of people and systems that evolve over time. Together they bring predictability into the workplace. So, attracting the right people and developing quality systems for them is a key to growth, profitability, and freedom.

Got systems and good people? Then you are already on the right path. But remember, as your business grows, your systems and people also need to change. Is your team structured properly and do their job responsibilities take advantage of new skills and technology? Are you doing things the same way you always did (just because) or do you continuously look for better ways to improve all areas of your business?

Periodically review your systems and people so you continue to evolve in the right direction.    

RELATED:  How People and Systems Power Profit

Explore Additional Opportunities

While systems and people provide a strong business foundation, here are a few things to consider as well — if you want your business to run smoothly.

#1 – Do you cross-train employees so no critical task is dependent on one person?

A company doesn’t stop because the owner or other staff are sick or away from the business. Customers still expect to be served and have problems solved. Employees still expect to be paid. So important tasks should never be dependent on one person. If you have systems documented, it’s easier to cross-train others so the work still gets done. Make cross-training your team a priority.

#2 – Is there too much focus on the quantity of work done — and too little on the quality?

Customers expect quality when it comes to service, products, and people. Doing things right the first time, every time is important. While mistakes happen, the cost of poor or inconsistent quality costs you more than you think. You want your team to be efficient but don’t sacrifice quality for production.  Promote a quality-first mentality within your company.

RELATED: How to Get It Right the First Time

#3 — Are you using technology to improve efficiency and other areas of your business?

With so many affordable options, small and mid-sized businesses now have easy access to tools that simply make it easier to run a business. Whether you want to collaborate and share work without meetings, allow customers to directly schedule appointments, provide easy, non-traditional pay options, create instant quotes at the customer’s home/business, permit employees to effectively work remotely or communicate successfully with individuals or groups – there are apps for that. 

The use of technology can certainly improve efficiency and customer satisfaction — solid reasons to integrate it into your daily operations. But it can also help improve hiring and retention. — especially if you are dependent on a younger workforce. Why? Because these potential employees are tech-savvy; they grew up using it. They expect and embrace technology in the workplace. If you want to attract and retain them, look for ways to employ technology in your business.

#4 — Do you have consistent methods to get feedback from customers?

Most owners recognize the value of online reviews and make getting them a priority. Research indicates that 80% of potential buyers (even those that come by way of referral) check reviews, recommendations, and testimonials as part of their buying decision. So, the focus makes perfect sense.

While reviews can reinforce what you do well and may uncover an area for improvement, they have limitations. When you are considering new products/services or looking for ideas to improve, who better to ask than your loyal customers (and employees)? Nothing beats a one-on-one or small group conversation. Don’t let online reviews replace other forms of feedback. Do both! 

#5 — Do you track metrics that are important – and work as a whole team to correct issues.

When used properly, analytics is simply a decision-making tool — in sports and in business. They shouldn’t replace experience or even your gut instincts. But they can help you uncover opportunities for improvement.

Many businesses track sales metrics because they impact revenue or income. But what about your operations and service? On-time delivery, quality (re-works, defects), back-orders, labor hours, cycle times, and complaints all impact your profitability and long-term sales.  Find the gaps in your operations and work as a team to fix them.  

Build operational improvements into your plans

Growth, profit, and freedom don’t just happen by accident. If you want to improve operations, you need to build these improvements into your plans each year. You wouldn’t ignore sales in your planning because it’s key to revenue growth.  So don’t ignore operational efficiency — it’s key to having a business that runs smoothly and profitably. 

Ready to Put Your Business on a More Profitable 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.

delegate effectively

How to Delegate Effectively

Delegation may not come naturally to everyone, but it’s a critical management and leadership skill you, as a business owner and entrepreneur, can develop.  It certainly saves you time and allows you to focus on more critical tasks.  But we often overlook the benefits it provides to others in your company. When done effectively, delegation helps you teach, develop and empower others in your company – something that contributes to employee satisfaction and retention.

So, if delegation is so important to business success, why do people avoid it? For some owners, it’s a matter of trust – believing they will do the task as well as you. Others may not have the right people for the tasks they wish to delegate. But in many cases, 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 shoelaces than teach him/her to tie them. But once taught, your child feels empowered and you save time … and likely are proud of their accomplishment!

Great leaders are also terrific teachers. Look for ways to give a little more responsibility to those who work for you.  When you help them develop new skills, everyone wins.

3 Keys to Delegate Effectively

Effective delegation requires three things:  choosing the right tasks to delegate, identifying the right people, and doing it the right way.  So let’s explore each and I’ll share some ideas to help you delegate effectively in your business. 

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 the tasks, big or small, you do. You may also come up with some projects you haven’t done because of time constraints. Add them 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 them 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 to delegate effectively

If you have people on staff with extra time and needed skills or expertise, it certainly makes it easier to delegate effectively. 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 the 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 as it relates to initiative and feedback. Should the employee wait for your instructions or make recommendations and decisions? Be clear and 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 (milestones) along the way. 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, two things you should also avoid. First, upward delegation or shifting decisions or tasks back to you. This can occur when an employee gets stuck or has a problem. When they do, don’t jump in or simply provide an answer. Instead, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask for their recommendation or how would they handle it. Help them become problem solvers.

Second, avoid micromanaging. 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 the follow-up necessary. Remember, you as the owner or manager are ultimately accountable.

Delegation is a leadership skill and 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.

Related Article | Leadership: What Makes Some Great

Need Help? Are you open to meeting with someone who can bring a different perspective, new ideas, or accountability to your business? Then let’s have a conversation.  Click here to schedule an appointment

rethink new year resolution

Time to Rethink Your New Year Resolution?

Did you ditch your new year resolution yet? 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.  February is here. So now is a good time to rethink the whole resolution thing. Turn them into something more inspiring so you accomplish more in 2023.

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!

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. If accountability is the missing ingredient to help you achieve more, then let’s have a conversation.  Click here to schedule a free phone consultation.

Recession Proof Business

How To Recession-Proof Your Business

How do you keep your business profitable during uncertain times? The answer may be simpler than you think: through marketing and business strategies that not only help you maintain your current profits but also help you make more money. Here are some proven business and marketing strategies to help you recession-proof your business.  They work for my small business clients and can work for you too.

Keep your pricing in check

In uncertain times, it is important to keep your prices in check. While it may seem like a good idea to raise prices beyond inflation to make more money, it can actually have the opposite effect. During tough times, customers are often on a tighter budget and are looking for good deals or a lot of value.

Where possible, keep your prices steady in order to stay competitive and attract more customers. You can also offer special deals or promotional packages to entice target customers and increase sales.

So how can you improve margins without raising prices?  Two things come to mind. First, look for ways you can add value to your current products or services. Add complimentary services such as audits or maintenance checkups or offer additional warranties or even free shipping.  You can bundle products or services together to make them more attractive.

Second, look for ways to reduce the cost of sales such as materials, inventory, and service / direct labor. Can you get discounts or better pricing from vendors? Can you improve efficiency in service delivery? All of these strategies can help you increase gross profit without raising prices.

Get lean and mean

When it comes to making your business recession-proof, getting lean and mean is key. You need to make sure that you’re operating as efficiently as possible and not overspending in areas that don’t need it. Here are a few ways to get lean and mean:

  1. Re-evaluate costs. Take a look at all of your expenses. Can any be reduced without sacrificing long-term growth and profitability? Consider things like office or warehouse space, supplies, insurance, and travel. Staff and marketing are always options, but remember you still need sales and people to have a business. So put thought — short-term and long-term impact — into the cost-cutting you do.
  2. Consider outsourcing. If you’re feeling the pinch of a tight budget, outsourcing may be an option for you. Outsourcing certain tasks or operations can help save money in the short term, as well as free up resources for more important aspects of your business.
  3. Go digital. Investing in digital tools and technology can help streamline your business processes, freeing up time and energy to focus on the core aspects of your business.
  4. Create a contingency plan. Creating a contingency plan is always a good idea in case something unexpected comes up. This plan should include backup funds, a line of credit, or other resources in case you need to quickly pivot or adjust your plans.
  5. Stay focused on customer service. Customers appreciate how much attention they receive from businesses during this time period. Remember, being empathetic and helpful doesn’t cost more but customers notice.

Keep these in mind as you set your roadmap for the coming year.

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

Diversify your offerings

In the face of an uncertain economic environment, it is important to diversify your offerings. This can include expanding into new markets, offering new products or services, or creating new channels of distribution. It is important to stay informed and up-to-date on emerging trends so you can anticipate customer needs and identify opportunities to capitalize on them.

Like many of us did in 2020 when the pandemic hit, think outside the box. Or in this case, outside traditional ones for your business. By diversifying your offerings, you can reduce risk and increase the chances of staying profitable during uncertain times. Not only will this help you make more money, but it will also help you create a larger customer base and build loyalty. Furthermore, diversification can lead to cost savings, as you may be able to leverage existing resources or form strategic partnerships to create additional revenue streams.

Finally, make sure that you are closely monitoring market conditions and making timely adjustments to ensure that your diversified offerings remain relevant and competitive. By doing so, you can increase your chances of staying profitable during tough times.

Focus on your existing customers

It can be tempting to focus on getting new customers during an economic downturn, but it’s important to prioritize your existing customer base first. Your current customers are the ones that know and trust you and will be more likely to stay with you during difficult times.

So, maintain those strong relationships. Send out email newsletters to keep them updated, share relevant information and show them you care. Connect with them on social media and invite them to take surveys or offer feedback so you can continue to improve. Reach out by phone or email to ask them to write a review for your business.

Don’t be afraid to get creative: If your company does well by sticking with tried-and-true methods like coupons and sales promotions, don’t stop now! But try new things like raffles or contests every few weeks or months. Just have fun with it.

These strategies will help you maintain loyalty among your existing customers and can even bring in new ones. It may take some extra effort, but focusing on your existing customer base is essential for long-term success — and helps recession-proof your business during uncertain times.

Invest in content marketing

Content marketing is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to attract and retain customers during uncertain economic times. Content marketing involves creating and sharing content (such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media posts) that educates and entertains your target audience. It can be used to build trust with potential customers and showcase your company’s expertise.

Creating content can help your business gain visibility and build credibility. By producing quality content regularly, you can connect with current customers, engage new prospects, and drive organic traffic to your website. Additionally, content marketing can help you stay competitive, even when other businesses may be scaling back their marketing budgets.

When it comes to content creation, it’s important to focus on topics that are relevant to your target audience. Create content that answers their questions, provides useful information, and solves their problems. This will help increase engagement and establish you or your company as a trusted source of information. And remember it’s okay to repurpose things you did last year or beyond. Just update and make sure it’s still relevant.

Like all marketing efforts, measure performance and track results. This will help you identify what works best so you can focus your efforts on creating content that resonates with your audience and drives more leads and sales.

Create a great customer experience

Attracting new customers is easier when people are already talking about your business.  Positive reviews and word-of-mouth promotion can go a long way when times get tough. Here is a little fun fact to keep in mind:  74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a critical influencer for buying decisions. And that is what a great customer experience can help create.

Here are three fundamental ways you can impact the customer experience: quality products that solve problems or meet their needs, customer service that is friendly and knowledgeable, and a commitment to continuous improvement. These are the foundation or starting points.

It’s also important to remember that your customer experience goes beyond providing good products or quality service. It’s also about communication, convenience, building relationships, and creating a sense of loyalty. Engaging with customers on social media, responding quickly to customer inquiries, and personalized offerings or discounts can go a long way toward creating a positive customer experience. And when something goes wrong, how you handle it also goes a long way as well. And if you can create an experience that stands out from the competition, you’re more likely to keep customers coming back even in difficult economic times.

Go after new markets

Another way to keep your business competitive and profitable is to target new markets with your current products or services. To find new markets, start by researching who your current customers are and what other markets might be interested in your products or services. Identify any gaps that exist in the market that you can fill and target those specific audiences. You may also want to consider partnering with other businesses in related industries to access their customer base as well.

Once you have identified a potential market, you can begin to craft marketing messages that resonate with that audience. You’ll need to tailor your messages based on their buying behaviors and preferences. You may also need to adjust your pricing strategy for the new market, depending on supply and demand.

By tapping into new markets, you’ll be able to remain competitive and generate additional revenue during uncertain times. With the right strategies in place, you can recession-proof your business and come out stronger in the long run.

Keep an eye on your competitors

Keeping an eye on your competitors is a key part of any successful business strategy. During times of uncertainty and economic recession, it’s even more important to monitor your competition. By understanding what your competitors are doing to improve business and grow sales, you can make sure your own business remains profitable.

Here are a few things to keep your eyes on:

  • What campaigns or promotional efforts are they running?
  • Are they launching any new products or upgrading some they already have?
  • Are they offering discounts or savings?
  • Have they made any changes in their overall pricing strategy?
  • Are they implementing any new payment options or terms? How about loyalty programs?
  • How are they responding to the current climate: cutting costs, reducing staff, investing in new technology, or marketing?

Observing your competitors’ strategies can give you valuable insights into how to best position yourself for success during uncertain times.

In Summary

Yes, these are uncertain times for many small business owners. But challenges provide opportunities to grow stronger if you are willing to take action.  You don’t need to do all of these business and marketing strategies today.  But pick one to help recession-proof your business — and get started. Then add more as you go along.

Need help prioritizing what you need to do and how to do it? Let’s have a conversation. Click here to schedule a brief phone call.

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.


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.