Always a pleasure and an honor to interview a trusted colleague. I met Jeffrey Daniels, Esq. not too long ago, towards the beginning of this pandemic on a zoom networking event. This right here is networking gone right. We kept in contact and I got to learn more about this unique, genuine professional. In this Zoom interview we discuss a few things: 1. the problem of adequate capital for small businesses 2. the importance of a sound mission statement for your business and 3. a truly in depth conversation about arbitration and mediation as your optimal dispute resolution platform. Take a listen, you will not regret it.
I talk a lot about having the right systems and processes in place for your business. It’s important because you make your business more efficient, and you as a business owner are more effective. We’re talking about creating a system for qualifying your clients. So, putting my money where my mouth is, sorta, here is my 3 step intake process for new engagements or prospective clients. Feel free to comment!
There’s nothing we as business owners crave more than predictability. So why not make efforts in your business plan to hedge against risks and the general “unknown”? Your business plan is the written foundation for planning for risks. Putting together your business plan is an exercise in vetting the various risks to your business. With that in mind, excited to announce that in a few weeks myself along with a panel of other professionals will be conducting a webinar on risk and adaptation within your business plan. Stay tuned!
There’s quite a lot of talk about the importance of being able to “pivot”. Are you pivot-ready? Is your business able to adapt? I would argue that the key to being able to adapt and improvise stems from having the right tools and foundation in place at the outset. This is the heart of, purpose of, and core of the concept known as business planning.
In this video I discuss the conversations we have as business owners (and generally), how most of those conversations are with ourselves or in our head, and how to make that a productive asset for your business and your happiness. This video is about business planning whether or not we’re living in a time of crisis. Business planning can be daunting for many. The goal however is constant simplicity wherever possible. Business planning is about taking the clutter in your head and executing on your overall vision.
In a day and age where we have so many opportunities to get our message “out there”, we as business rarely stop and think about the potential liability we are exposing ourselves to in the process. What you say matters. The representations you make on your website, social media, and marketing campaigns have very real legal consequences. Do not engage in marketing on any level without considering a discuss with a business attorney or an advertising law attorney, as discussed in more detail in this video. Understanding how advertising can subject you to a lawsuit is a critical part of your business plan.
In this epic rant I discuss the value of staying humble and always keeping your mind open to new educational opportunities and experiences that will further your growth as an individual and as a business owner. I sound like such an adult!
Many businesses fail for many different reasons but mostly because they fail to properly consider the crucial challenges at the very outset. The following is part I of VII of my assessment of critical business failures.
Startups fail to spend money on viable human resources.
It is an unfortunate truth that many business owners try to cut costs wherever possible. However, as the saying goes, sometimes spending money is the only way to make money and break past the financial plateaus that most businesses face. So, the question is, where should you spend money? The answer is simple: you spend money on viable human resources. If you want to grow, you need to at least consider investing in the right human capital. You invest in human capital because you want to become more efficient at the number of repetitive tasks your business employs so that you can focus on developing the human relationships that feed your business.
I would argue that one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make as a business owner, if done right, is letting go of control. I’m referring to no longer micro-managing every aspect of your business, no longer wearing every single hat and instead engaging in high leverage activities such as delegating tasks to others. By others I mean employees, independent contractors, or outside service providers.
The key however is effective delegation. i.e. giving your employees the tools and motivations and a clear picture of the desired result. In other words, giving your employees the education, resources and know how to achieve a result — not micromanaging their personal process.
People that can perform the services that otherwise take away from your time engaging in more important tasks — the personal aspects of your business such as business development, networking, and client management– are the wisest investment you can make for yourself and for your business. You can systematize repetitive tasks. You can outsource tasks that are more complex to the right professional service provider (think accounting, contract management, project management, bookkeeping, etc.). You cannot systematize human relationships. Human relationships follow a different principle: slow is fast and fast is slow.
To this end, I have created for my own business: templates, answers to questions most frequently asked by clients, answers to questions most frequently asked by new hires, template terms and conditions for each client engagement, educational guides, and preferred protocols for anyone who is performing services on behalf of my company for my clients.
In doing so, (1) I provide people who work for me with the tools and resources to accomplish the given task, (2) I identify minimal parameters for executing the methods for each task, (3) I create efficiencies with the things they do for my company without micromanaging, (3) I set forth a clear upfront mutual understanding and commitment to specific expectations and results, and (4) I set forth a quality statement of what the results will look like. I create efficiencies where efficiencies make sense.
Need some guidance? Let’s chat!
The motivation for starting a small business can vary greatly. For some it is about escaping corporate life, for others it is about maximizing income, and yet for others it’s about a more creative expression. Whatever the reasons for starting a business there are certain truths I’ve come to understand that effect all startups across the board to one extent or another.
1. Startups fail to spend money intelligently on marketing.
Many new business owners fail to maximize a return on their marketing investment. For instance, buying advertising space is often, at least for most businesses, money thrown out the window, especially if it is not placed properly. Advertising helps with brand recognition so yes, it has value. But for most startups a better way to spend money is to build relationships with centers of influence and to get found online. The easiest way to accomplish those goals is to pump money into your website, maximize the search engine optimization, and join networking groups and associations that see your company as an asset.
2. Startups fail to spend money on viable resources.
Piggybacking off the prior criticism of startups, many business owners try to cut costs wherever possible. However, as the saying goes, sometimes spending money is the only way to make money and break past the financial plateaus that most startups face. So the question is, where do you spend money? The answer is simple … in people that can perform the services that take away from your time building business, networking, or performing more meaningful/expert tasks. As a business owner, I don’t spend my time doing bookkeeping or taxes, or developing my website. Instead, I pay people to perform those services so that I can spend my time focusing on building relationships and networking. Even when it comes to more menial tasks, hiring a part time associate to perform those tasks ends up leaving room for more productive things.
3. Companies fail to set a standard for the target client they want to attract.
I see this all too often especially with those in the service industry. Don’t just take on any and all clients you can. Sometimes, a client will cost you more time and money then they are worth. Set a standard for who you want as your target/ideal client, and mold your services and fee structure to cater to that type of client.
4. As a business owner, simply failing to take care of yourself.
If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. When you lose sleep, don’t eat well, don’t exercise, get too stressed, your work product is the first to feel the impact. How you live gets reflected in your daily presentation. Failing to take care of yourself becomes a reflection on your professionalism for certain. But more importantly, if you don’t take care of yourself, then you’re missing the point of working hard. Work-life balance is an important concept. Don’t lose focus of what is important in life. When it comes to your clients, being responsive, reliable and professional are all very important. But unless you’re walking into surgery tomorrow, client issues can wait. The key is balancing the expectations of your clients. If you don’t want to be stressed at 11:00 pm then don’t answer the phone or client email at 11:00 pm. Your personal time is about recharging and becoming fresh for the next day. Your clients will respect your boundaries and you’ll be a more fulfilled business owner.
5. Absorbing too many financial sacrifices in order to gain favor with a client.
I represented a few contractors that will especially identify with this scenario. Yes, there are times you want to discount your services in anticipation of maintaining a long term relationship. However, there’s a fine line between treating a long term client to the occasional discount and letting your clients take advantage of you. Furthermore, when you continually provide non-requested discounts, you undervalue your services. Be confident in your services and project a sense of positive self-worth. You’ll be less frustrated in your business and your clients will respect you for it.
6. Failing to accept failures as a normal part of business.
All businesses experience failures. Failures are a natural part of the business life-cycle. What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes and set a concrete plan for rectifying the issues. Dwelling over your failures is not healthy, but analyzing them and approaching them with practical approach, or the right professional, is in fact a healthy business practice.