Not Having Enough Time is the Symptom, Rather than the Cause of Your Business Challenges

Being a business owner is an exciting experience for both budding and thriving entrepreneurs. Sometimes, however, there are a few bumps on the road to success. Whether you feel that you lack time to invest in your business or you feel that you invest too much time for it to not be thriving, there are a few factors that could help you understand ways your business could improve.

Poor Scheduling
What’s your schedule like? Do you take time each month to schedule your monthly, weekly, and daily business goals? Not having a written plan could hinder your business from growing as quickly as you’d like.
A set schedule and success go hand in hand. When you’re making a schedule, you’re deciding your work hours. Remember that no work could mean no pay. Allow yourself time for your family, yourself, and other things that matter, but set aside strict times that are dedicated solely to growing your business, and stick to that schedule religiously.

Poor Planning
Perhaps you do schedule time to work your business. If you still feel that you aren’t getting much accomplished, chances are you didn’t set attainable business goals.
Written goals remind us of our tasks for the day. Simply put, when you’re writing your goals, you are writing a to-do list. It is a good idea to write out goals for the entire month. If you don’t feel that you can think that far ahead, however, you can start by writing weekly goals. Weekly goals are especially helpful if your business is new and hasn’t yet started booming.

Poor Execution
So you’ve written out a work schedule as well as tasks to accomplish daily. However, business still isn’t progressing as well as it could. When you’ve perfected the strategies of scheduling and planning, the next factor to look at is execution.
When you could meet your goals a little better, you have to discover ways that will help you and your staff work a little smarter. Ensure that everyone’s task is tailored to his particular skill set, implement steps that will make every worker more efficient, and learn easier, quicker of completing tasks. Taking these steps makes for a more efficient workforce, an easier workload, and will probably leave you with more time to brainstorm new business activities.

Not having enough time to work your business isn’t always the problem. Sometimes, we all just have to learn how to manage our time, our staff, or our daily goals. Proper execution, coupled with scheduling and planning, will help you to be well on your way to owning a more thriving business.

Learning from Companies on the Inc 5000 List

When running a company, one of the best ways to have success in the future is to emulate successful companies. There are many examples of companies that have done a great job of growing sales and profits over the years. There are numerous things that business owners can learn from companies that are growing rapidly. As a general rule, most of these companies share similar traits.

Rapid Growth
If you want to have success as a business owner, you need to grow your company rapidly. There are many people who struggle to grow their company once it gets started. You need to have a vision for how your company is going to look many years from now. Some business owners wrongly assume that the business will grow over time no matter what. You have to be intentional about your business plans if you want to have success in this area.

Financial Planning
Some business owners take on a lot of debt when they get started. Although some business debt is not a bad thing, there are many people who end up getting stuck with lots of debt. This is a major issue for various reasons.
High debt levels tend to restrict your ability to grow in the future. A lack of cash flow is one of the biggest financial issues that any business leader has to deal with. In addition, high debt levels can increase your stress. No one wants to worry about making debt payments because they borrowed too much money at one time. If you decide to borrow money, make sure to have a plan to pay the loans back in a timely manner.

Focus on Goals
Another common characteristic of successful business leaders is that they are always focused on their goals. If you do not have goals for your business, you are going to have a tough time having success in any area. Before the new year, write down some measurable goals that you want to accomplish with your company and will probably leave you with more time to brainstorm new business activities.
Not having enough time to work your business isn’t always the problem. Sometimes, we all just have to learn how to manage our time, our staff, or our daily goals. Proper execution, coupled with scheduling and planning, will help you to be well on your way to owning a more thriving business.

The One Thing You Absolutely Must Change For Your Business For This Year

The dawning of a new year is upon us, and this is a critical time when many people review what they have been doing in their personal and business lives. They take stock of how things have been going, and how they can stand to improve. It is a good idea to go through this mental exercise from time to time to ensure that you are not overlooking critical details that could bring about failure.

One thing worth changing this year in your business if you can change nothing else is how you conduct certain processes. That is to say that you have to take a look around and see if you are doing things because they are actually the most efficient, or simply the most comfortable.

A lot of people are afraid of change deep down. They don’t particularly like to admit it, but it does scare them a little to consider what it might mean if they altered this process or that to make room for something new. Every time someone thinks like that, they are costing their business money and productivity.

Survey the business around you and see if there are areas in which you could stand to improve. For example, you might want to outsource your payroll department or cut back on the number of corporate outings. Things big and small can all add up to the way that the books are balanced at the end of the quarter and the end of the year. You may be flushing money down the drain because you are unwilling to leave your comfort zone even a little bit.

There is only so much time in every day, so why waste it doing things the old way when they are not working out for you as well as you would have hoped?

Consider straightening up your back and making so long overdue changes to reshape your business in a way that makes it as efficient as possible.

Why Time Management Is Critical To A Small Business Person

Time managementAs a small business owner you’ve undoubtedly been in a position where it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day. That’s where time management comes into play.

Great time management skills are essential to running a small business. A larger corporation may have the luxury of time, but not practicing sound time management can make or break small businesses.

Here are some reasons time management is vital.

Do More With Less Effort

It may sound counter-productive – accomplishing more with less energy expended – but by taking control of your time your focus improves. With increased focus comes better efficiency as you aren’t easily distracted, and you’re better able to maintain momentum. You’ll complete tasks more quickly, and the day will seem to fly by.

Time Is Limited

We each have the same amount of time available to us each day – 24 hours. To be more effective, you have to find a way to better manage this valuable, but limited, resource. Prioritizing and putting first things first is one way to address how you’re going to fill those hours.

Better Decision Making

When you’re pressed for time and have to make a decision quickly you’re more apt to come up with a quick answer before having thought the issue through. But when you’ve managed your time, you’re less stressed and more able to make decisions clearly without feeling like you must rush through the process.

Reduce Stress

The stress of always feeling pressed for time is very real and a potential health hazard. Moreover, it only increases if another (often inevitable) task is put on your plate as you’re rushing to finish the one you’re currently on. But when you’ve managed your time, you don’t have to subject yourself to that level of stress. You’ll give yourself enough time to meet a deadline without worrying about having to complete it in the last minute.

Dealing With Procrastination/Interruptions

Not practicing good time management on a daily basis leads to procrastination and finding other reasons to put off an important task. Additionally, you come to accept that interruptions are just part of the day, rather than something that can be greatly reduced by setting aside time for each task.

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

New and exciting opportunities will inevitably arise for your small business as you move forward. The key is being able to take the time to take advantage of them. You’ll also have the time to learn more about your industry and keep better track of what your competitors are doing.

Free Time Is Crucial

It’s important to unwind, but finding time for it can be difficult when you’ve poorly managed your time. Having good time management skills will help you find that time. Yes, you’re still busy, but you’re getting more done with the time you have.

How to Manage Stress Through Relaxation Strategies

Stress Relax Computer Keys

Managing your own small business can be as stressful as it is rewarding, but stress itself can be managed through use of “relaxation strategies” that will help you to face the daily grind with calmness and poise. If stress is left unchecked and allowed to fester and grow, it can have serious detrimental effects on your health besides making you irritable with your staff and less than efficient at your managerial duties. Below, we offer 5 suggestions as to how you can relax both body and mind to reduce stress and increase productivity:

  1. Breathe Deeply: Take a few minutes several times day to stop and “take a breather.” That is, literally sit down in a comfortable chair or, if possible, lie down on a bed, and engage in deep-breathing exercises. Slowly fill up your lungs, breathing in through the nose, and then release the air through your mouth in a steady, continuous motion. Count to 10 in the process: from 1 to 5 breathing in and from 6 to 10 breathing out.
  2. Wear Loose-fitting Clothing: If your clothes are too tight, “loosen up,” or it will hinder the blood circulation in your body and make it harder for you to relax. In fact, various health conditions can also arise, in part, from too-tight clothing: varicose veins, poor upper body breathing, back aches, and indigestion.
  3. Do Muscle-relaxing Exercises: If your muscles feel somewhat cramped and tense, “stretch out” using various simple exercises that target specific areas of your body. Lower your chin to your chest and back up again, slowly, to exercise your neck. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and then move them in small circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise, to relax shoulder muscles. Do wall stretches to loosen up leg muscles, lift small dumbbells to exercise your arms, and relax wrists by curling your hands up toward your body for a few moments at a time.
  4. Avoid Last-minute Decisions: Disorganization leads to chaos, and chaos leads to stress. For every major aspect of your day, you should “plan ahead” to foster organization and orderliness. Schedules, budgets, work-flow charts, chains-of-command, and some basic protocols are not your enemies- they establish routines that allow you to avoid stressful last-minute decisions because you have already decided many things well in advance.
  5. Maintain a Focused Mind: Do what you can to separate your personal and business activities into distinct time slots and to work through your list of tasks in a one-thing-at-a-time manner. Avoid distractions until its time for a short, 5-minute break. The rest of the time, “stay focused” on the task at hand until it is completed: this will give you a sense of accomplishment that will encourage you as you move on to the next order of business.

Remember to do 5 things- take a breather, loosen up, stretch out, plan ahead, and stay focused, and both you and your business will benefit. Reducing stress levels will boost your productivity and make you feel better at the same time.

What Are the Characteristics of an Entrepreneur?

EntrepreneurBeing an entrepreneur may technically require nothing more than that you have an idea you believe in strongly and that you make an attempt to turn that idea into a profitable venture. Being a successful entrepreneur, however, will require, among other things, a certain set of characteristics that tend toward success. Conducting an honest self assessment as to how

many of these desirable characteristics you possess will put you in a position to make your new business start-up as successful as possible.

Five characteristics that can help you to maximize the success of your entrepreneurial pursuits are as follows:

1. A Willingness to Learn From Others

When low demand, economic stagnation, and unfair practices of competitors begin to push down your bottom line, you may find yourself unsure of how to respond. You may have great business talent and enough accumulated knowledge to come up with some possibilities, but it is always wise to check your ideas against the advice of those more experienced than yourself.

2. The Impulse to Plan Ahead

Gathering the resources to start a new business and then managing it well enough, long enough to meet or exceed your original goals requires a well-thought-out business plan. You should know your product, your market, and the benchmarks by which you will measure success. You will also need to be familiar with the details involved or, at least, hire a trustworthy manager who can attend to them while you focus on the overall direction of your company.

3. Flexibility and Adaptability

Planning is critical, but there is also a need to “counter-balance” your plans with a willingness to be flexible. If customer feedback and the dynamics of the market are ignored in the name of “sticking to the plan,” it will hurt your business and could even end it. Furthermore, you cannot simply “turn static” after an initial adaptation to the needs of the market. Since market conditions are constantly changing, there is a need for constant adaptation.

4. An Ability to Work With Money

In the early days of a new business, keeping cash-flow positive is something of a balancing act that requires the wisest possible use of a limited amount of capital. Thus, an entrepreneur must possess some “financial intuition” and a an ability to budget for both present and future obligations. He must also keep enough of a cash reserve to deal with emergencies, which will inevitably arise.

5. A Skill for “Reasoned Risk-Taking”

Every entrepreneur must take risks in order to have a chance to reap corresponding rewards. Reckless risk-taking done simply “for risk-taking’s sake,” however, is likely to ruin your business. Risks must be weighed against the potential pay-off, the odds of success, and the availability of other options.

Finally, note that even with a good idea, hard work, and wise business moves, failure is not.

100% avoidable. There are times when the best option is to “cut your losses” and re-invest in another entrepreneurial venture that may prove to be more successful.

7 Great Quotes About Revenue Growth

Chart of revenue growth drawn with chalk on a chalkboard

Great quotes are great for business owners because they constitute three things at once: good insight, practical advice, and memorable wording. With the voluminous literature on revenue growth in a business context and the seemingly endless array of new voices that want to be heard, we can only select 7 great quotes out of the vast ocean of quotations available.

Below, we have chosen 7 quotes that cover multiple aspects of revenue growth and then given brief explanations following each quote:

  1. By author Tim Cook: “Companies that get confused…think their goal is revenue.” Cook goes on to say we should focus on things that lead to revenue rather than simply on revenue itself. While this might seem a too-fine distinction, it does point out strongly that, while a business exists for profit from one side of the equation, it exists to render a product or service from the other vantage point. Thus, serving the customer well will naturally lead to revenue growth.
  2. By Google co-founder Larry Page: Revenue is the engine that funds all our innovation. Without revenue, nothing will happen- it will remain a mere idea. This quote is somewhat akin to the old saying, “It takes money to make money,” and points out the importance of investment capital.
  3. Also by Larry Page: Our goal is long term growth in revenue…so we invest aggressively in future innovation while tightly managing our short term costs. Here, we see the importance of not using all of our revenue on immediate business needs but investing in the future.
  4. GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt, said: People ought to invest in us because they like our company and the way they run it. To increase revenues by gaining business investors, you need to show management skills and have a product/service that others can believe in as much as you do.
  5. Australian author, columnist, and t.v. host (general financial “guru”), Paul Clitheroe, tells us: It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend. One way to gain “new” revenue is by spending less of the old revenue.
  6. Along a similar line as the above-given quote, we hear from author Peter Orszag: A deficit reflects an imbalance between spending and revenue…narrowing it requires acting on one, the other, or both. Either revenue directly increases, spending diminishes, or a combination of both- there is no other way to increase revenue overall aside from borrowing or receiving a gift.
  7. On a more “charitable” note, listen to business author Carlos Helu, one of the richest men in all Mexico: The better off you are, the more responsibility you have for helping others. Many businesses give generously to help the poor. When potential clients know of such generosity, they sometimes patronize your business for this very reason, which in turn, increases revenue.

Letting Go, The Secret To Developing A Business That Works Without You

depositphotos_100173548_m-2015All entrepreneurs are a special breed of people. You have a dream and are willing to put in the hard work to make that dream come true. You grab onto an idea for a business, add a process of trial and error, and nurture it until it bears fruit.

Occasionally your idea produces success quickly, but most often it can take years. During those years, you serve as founder, CEO, CFO, president, and vice-president in charge of business development. In short, you are the company.

You hire employees who do a good job but always following your direction. You feel stressed, never see your family, and desperately need a vacation; however, you worry about what will happen in your absence.

It’s time to let go. You need to find a way to have your business work for you instead of you working for your business. How can you make this happen?

Make a Plan to Change

The process of change is like a journey, and just like any journey, it is important to know two things, the starting point and the destination. Develop a crystal clear understanding of where you want to go. Do you want to sell your business, go public and expand, or keep it as is but move on to new projects.

Whatever path you consider you must develop ways to get there. Your plan should define the tasks you perform, outline a process for choosing and training your replacements, and create a timeline for the transition.

Teach, Delegate, Let Go

Teaching requires showing your replacements the basics of their new task. Establish guidelines for each position that create a systemized approach. These guidelines should progress step by step and clearly define the goal.

After your successors become comfortable with their tasks, give them control a little at a time. Start with an afternoon off and slowly transition to taking full days off. When you feel confident that your company is in good hands, go on vacation.

Don’t be surprised after a short time when you notice your replacements doing things you never thought of, and hello, it’s working.


Delegating control of your company to others is a difficult thing to do. Your business is like your child and who would ever consider giving away a child, teenagers notwithstanding? You must remember, selling might be difficult if potential buyers worry about your company working without you.

Another concern is finding time for strategic matters instead of daily operations, and spending all important quality time with the people you love. Giving up control might surprise you by allowing you to improve the quality of your life and your business at the same time.

Use the Power of a Deadline to Advance Your Business

Blackboard DeadlinesDeadlines are, in essence, goals that you have set for your business for the sake of getting tasks completed in an efficient manner. At times, particularly when clients and external business partners are involved, they can amount to promises, but in many cases, it is the fact that business was taken care of in a reasonable amount of time rather than the exact time of completion that is more important. Nonetheless, without use of deadlines, your business could easily become lax in its efforts, displease customers, and fall behind the competition.

Below, we look at 4 steps involved in setting achievable deadlines that will help your business grow and succeed:

  1. Estimate how long the task will take: In determining the length of time necessary to complete a task, and thus, when to set your deadline, it is important to be realistic. For many, there is a tendency to underestimate how long major projects will take and to overestimate the time needed for small ones. It is advisable to give yourself a buffer to avoid having to move the deadline out due to unforeseen delays since a missed deadline is particularly depressing. Yet, you still should have no more than a few extra days allotted for even a major project. Also account for attention that must be given to other tasks and either allow sufficient time to do both projects simultaneously or put one thing or the other on hold until the more pressing project is completed.

2. Formulate a specific time table: First, the deadline itself should be specific: not “the end of next week” but “Friday at 5pm,” for example. Next, you need to break the task down into smaller tasks and set a deadline for each of these smaller goals. This will create “milestones” that keep the project on track to meet deadline and also serve to motivate workers as they see they are getting closer to achieving the end-goal. Also provide for incentives that encourage your employees to reach each milestone by the designated time.

3. Account for potential problems: Sit down and think of all the problems that could crop up and slow things down. Then set up “contingency plans” to use should any of these issues arise. These contingency plans should outline how you will manage to still meet the deadline in spite of these difficulties.

4. Delegate out each task: Having a goal and steps to accomplish it by the deadline will do little good unless specific employees are assigned to handle each step along the way. Take pains to assign the most qualified person to each task, and don’t overburden anyone. If, however, an employee ends up needing extra time, manpower, or resources, let them know they can ask for whatever they need.

Deadlines help you organize your time, set priorities, and get you motivated when you might not otherwise feel up to the task. Knowing how to set appropriate deadlines and how to meet them will keep your staff motivated and help your business succeed.

The Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance, Why You Should Never Step Over The Line

Blackboard I can do thisThere is a great gift in being a confident business owner. It opens doors, creates trust, and builds powerful relationships with fellow business owners and potential clients. But the moment you step over the line and allow your confidence to turn to arrogance, is the same moment you single-handedly destroy your reputation and quite possibly, your business.

If you’ve ever experienced someone that had all the answers, someone that talked over you because they believed they knew better, or someone that treated you as if you were beneath them, run away. They’ve stepped over the line where self-confidence is no longer valued. Their skewed perception of themselves leads them to believe they are someone of great importance, and they will stop at nothing to prove it.

Are you teetering between the land of confidence and the soil of arrogance? Here are some things to keep in mind, should you decide to take the trip to the dark side:

1) You will be treated like the plague.
While you think you know more than everyone else, you actually don’t. You want to, and that’s great, but projecting your insecurities (because that is actually what you’re doing) is never going to serve you. The energy you give off in this state of mind will turn people away. You’ll be treated like you have a wicked disease, and will be left flying solo in the corner of the room.

2) Your colleagues will no longer value you.
The colleagues you hob-nobbed with once upon a time will likely no longer spend time with you. Those that once valued you and your work ethic will change their tune because you did. And once you lose your shine, you lose your following.

3) The phone will stop ringing.
Remember all of those referrals that you used to get? Those will stop. A successful, respectful business owner is a direct reflection of those they associate with. If your disposition is tainted, no one with a stellar reputation wants to taint their own with your ego. Referrals will go elsewhere and your business will dwindle.

The only time arrogance in professionalism will ever serve you is when you recognize how it once crippled you. There is great freedom in this. The most successful business owners are those that are willing to be completely honest with who they are, who they were, and who they strive to be. Someone said once, “There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance…it’s called humility. Confidence smiles, arrogance smirks.”

Keep smiling. It works every time.