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Be Excellent At This For Small Business Success

Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team
Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team

I like to think of myself as capable of most any task I take on. No doubt you do as well. Given enough time and resources, we can obtain the necessary knowledge and skill to do most anything.

Which is exactly why we shouldn’t do some things. 

Some time ago I took on the job of remodeling our bathroom. We had purchased an older home and the décor was dated.  My wife wanted (among other things) to have the 60’s vanity removed and to install a porcelain pedestal sink.

Removal was a breeze. Breaking things is in my skill set. Once removed I placed the pedestal sink in place and began the installation process. A few hours and a lot of water later I sat on the floor, surrounded by hoses, gaskets, and various tools. I was dumbfounded as to why I could not successfully install this sink.

Just then my wife came in and asked, “Is there anything I can get you?”

“The only thing I need right now is a plumber” was my reply.

What seemed to be a straight-forward, simple yet not easy task had turned into an epic challenge that I could not solve. And this is often what happens in our work lives as well.

No one wants to be incompetent. But admitting one’s incompetence is often the first step in moving forward with a project. How much revenue has been sacrificed, how many clients have not been served, how many opportunities have been lost because we feel the need to do a task ourselves rather than delegate it to someone who already possesses skill and knowledge we do not?

This is most common in small business. To compete we need to be experts in accounts payable, receivable, human resources, payroll, tax compliance and strategy, marketing, advertising, sales, retention, and now social media too. It can overwhelm the most competent person just as I was overwhelmed by the seemingly simple task of installing a sink.

Each task can be mastered individually. But when it comes to the pace of running a small business, trying to master any one task on the fly is insurmountable. You’re better off admitting you are incompetent and hiring someone who is. That way you can focus on what parts of the business you do well and get better results.

If you are good at selling but poor at bookkeeping, hire someone to do the bookkeeping and do more selling.  You’ll make more money because you’ll be doing what you do well and outsourcing what you don’t do well.

All the time you spend learning a new task and doing it poorly is lost opportunity time (not to mention poor execution which leads to higher costs as well).

And here’s the real risk in not taking this approach; eventually you will grow tired of doing the tasks you don’t do well and you’ll start to avoid doing it at all. And when things don’t get done they create bigger problems that must be done. This will undoubtedly call for hiring an expert.

To be successful in business today you must comply with regulation, compete with the competition, and communicate to your target clients why they should do business with you.  Then you must close the sale and do everything necessary to retain the client.  No one person can do this well for very long.  Soon you’ll have more to do than you personally can.

If you intend to grow you will be best-served to learn this now: The best business people are very good at one or two things and excellent at delegating or outsourcing the rest.



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New Year's Day is not Championship Day

new-years-day-orchampionshjipheading1Every player wants to win the championship. Professional athletes stay in shape during the off-season but a championship campaign begins with training camp.

After a few weeks, preseason begins. Here the players get back into the groove of competing. While everyone wants to win the real purpose of preseason games is to evaluate the ability of each player to execute both personally and with the team.

Some players won’t make the team. In the end, the manager puts the best team he can on the field with the intention of winning the championship at the end of the season.

Championships are often won or lost before the season begins. It is often the discipline each team member has during off-season, training camp, and preseason that makes all the difference.

What does this have to do with our personal success next year? Everything.

More than half of all people in the world look at New Year’s Day as a new beginning. The other half are in denial. A new year is simply that, “new”.

That’s where trouble begins. We approach New Year’s Day as Championship Day. It’s as if we suddenly are thrown into the biggest game of our lives. And the bad news? We prepared for the big game by doing everything we no longer want to do.

Imagine the manager telling his players, “Ok, listen here guys. During training camp I want you to try to miss the ball when you swing the bat. On the odd chance someone does hit the ball, I want you to be sure not to catch it if it comes near you. And if you’re the one who hits the ball, whatever you do, do not run those bases.”

Then, after camp and pre-season the manager says, “This is it guys. Everything we’ve worked so hard for. It’s Championship Day. Today, make sure that when you swing you don’t miss the ball. When the other guys hit it, you have to catch it every time. And run those bases as if your life depends on it. Go get ‘em!”

Take a professional baseball player and have him practice missing the ball for an extended period of time and it will take him a while to get back to hitting the ball at all.

It’s the same for you and me. We’ve been practicing all the wrong skills.

We desire something better. So we set New Year’s Resolutions or goals. Sadly, most of us will fail. Not because we didn’t earnestly desire or genuinely try, but because we prepared poorly in the off-season (aka last year).

So let’s take a new approach this year. Let New Year’s Day be the beginning of a winning campaign. Let’s bring our best discipline but be aware we’ve been enjoying the “off-season” for a while now. We’re going to make some mistakes, engage in some old behaviors, and yes, we’ll even fail.

But remain diligent and disciplined. When we fail, begin again with the knowledge we gained in failure. Examine what caused the failure and endeavor to avoid those circumstances next time.

In the end, we may find that some players (our new goals) won’t make the team. We just might find that we can win our championship without them. Better still, we may find that goal wasn’t big enough for us.

It’s time to put our best team on the field and begin our winning campaign.

New Year’s Day shouldn’t be the end. New Year’s Day is by its very nature is the beginning.



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Grossed Out! The Unlikely Death of Networking

Business Networking

Ask anyone in business where they get their best customers and somewhere in the first few sentences you’ll hear “word of mouth”. Ask anyone, anywhere how they found their favorite restaurant and it will likely be by referral. Even our best friends are often the result of meeting through others.

 

What you’ve just witnessed is the power of networking in tbe lives of people. And yet, everywhere you turn, networking is under siege. Local Chambers of Commerce are eliminating networking at an alarming rate. Some network marketing companies are giving networking a blemish, and major publications and business experts decry networking as an evil means to an end. It isn’t hard to find someone cheerfully announcing the death of networking.

 

And it comes as no surprise. For many, networking isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s awkward walking into a room full of people and finding your place. In the grocery line we do our best to keep our eyes on our carts to avoid a chance meeting with someone we don’t know.   Networking is, as one person recently told me, “As foreign to me as brain surgery”.

 

In a recent article on FastCompany.com, Samantha Cole leads with “Why Networking Makes You Feel Physically Gross”. It seems that all that discomfort you’ve been feeling when networking is manifesting itself physically in a not-so-good way. Perhaps you’ve felt it.

 

The article sites a University of Toronto study that finds we feel “icky” after networking. It goes on to surmise that networking forms relationships based on our, “…dirtiest motivations: Money and power.” More on that in a moment, but first, let’s dig a bit deeper into the study.

 

While the article doesn’t tell us specifically who participated in the study, it does conclude that people playing fill in the gaps word games are more likely to come up with words like “wash”, “soap”, and “shower” after what they refer to as “selfish networking moments.” You can read the complete article here: http://bit.ly/1q6MM3F

 

Further, they asked a whopping 165 lawyers about their networking habits and found that those who were most powerful were “less grossed out” by networking than those who were less powerful.  Notice the inference is that they were all grossed out, just those with power were “less grossed out”.

 

But perhaps the most telling line in the article is found in the final paragraph. It suggests you’ll feel “less slimy” if you “change your perspective—and your approach—to finding connections that genuinely do interest you beyond professional gain.”

 

This is where so many get genuine networking wrong. They just can’t help but come back to it being all about themselves. Notice the article suggests you find people interested in you, not you finding people you are interested in. Is this any less sincere? Isn’t this just as “dirty” a motive?

 

You can’t feel “less slimy” when you are focusing on yourself. Genuine networking is interested in self, but consumed with others. When you know how to be genuine in your networking endeavors, you approach each meeting , whether in a room full of people or in the grocery check-out with a genuine interest in others and a servant heart. You know that you will get what you need by helping others get what they want.

 

And here’s a news alert for you: Money and power aren’t intrinsically “dirty”. While there are those who obtain money and power illegitimately, more often money is a measure of service you’ve provided. Those with power in a community earn it through service. It never fails, serve others and they’ll reward you. If you’ll only focus on serving others they will cheerfully give you everything you need.

 

Which brings us back to the beginning. Where do you go to find what you need? Serve others and the answers will appear. And since most people are interested in themselves and their needs, there is a big opportunity out there for those who have a servant heart. Networking to find what people need and how you can help them get it is the best way to find your place of service.

 

So while figures and studies continue to confirm networking’s death, there will still be those who know the truth: Networking, genuine networking, is alive and well and will be for as long as humans communicate.



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Don't Let This "Creep" Ruin Your Plans

Making lasting change requires learning new skills that will be repeated over and over until they become habits.  Habits are the “remote control” of our lives, governing virtually every action we take.

I remember our first television remote control.  It had four buttons: On, Off, Volume, Channel.  Old Four-Button RemoteOddly, these are the four I use most when I can successfully navigate the remote control to this day.

Today our remote control has sixty-three buttons.  Yours may have more but it is doubtful it has less.  I have no idea what most of the buttons do, but I have them just in case I need them.  I presume I should be comforted by all the extra features at my fingertips and the “just-in-case” features I could use should I find the need.

But I’m not.  Actually, I’m troubled most of the time and frustrated all of the time by my remote.  And yes, you’ve guessed it, I’ve found my way out of the chair and back to the television to turn the volume up or down, change channels, and even turn the set on or off.  It’s just easier than using my multi-featured remote which was designed to make my life easier.

It is called “feature creep” and it refers to the things added to a device simply because there is space for it.  The processor has a bit more space, let’s add a feature.  We need a bigger processor to handle all the buttons, but when we add the bigger processor we have room for more buttons, and the process continues until no one knows why we have all the buttons.

I’ve found that remote control to be a metaphor for my life as well. In my early years there wasn’t much to think about or worry about.  My life was like that early remote with four buttons:  Play, School, Sleep, Eat.

Now my life is much like the sixty-three button remote I have.  Thinking about all those time-saving, money-making, life-changing gadgets I’ve purchased over the years fatigues me.  And that’s just the beginning.  What about all the features I’ve allowed to creep into my life, the ideas and information that seemed useful at the time? And the experiences I’ve had, the careers I’ve been in, the businesses I’ve started, sold or folded.  These things have slowly, methodically, and effectively crippled me.

I literally have hundreds of thousands of pages of information that I’ve downloaded onto my computer for future reference.  I have over seven-hundred bookmarks of websites that one day I’ll refer back to.  I have over seventy domain names for websites I’ll one day build or have built.  Who can keep up with such things?  Certainly not me.  I don’t even know half of them and forget about trying to find a document on my computer.  Not a chance.  I’ve simply created more information than my “remote control” can handle.  I bet you have too.

Which leads me to the first week of January and those pesky resolutions many of us have made.  Statistically, thirty-eight percent of us made no resolutions at all and a whopping twenty-five percent more have already failed at the ones we made.  If you made it this far you have a ninety percent chance to succeed through next week.   After the second week you’re a mere week away from the time experts tell us it takes to create a habit.  And a habit is life’s “remote control”.

And while all that is interesting, what does it have to do with the remote control?  Plenty!  You see, I (and perhaps you) don’t use the remote control or many of its buttons because we don’t understand how to.  We don’t understand how because we haven’t taken the time to learn how from someone who knows and to do it repeatedly until it becomes second nature.

Most of us with New Year’s Resolutions are entering into uncharted territory.  We’re embarking on actions and ideas in which we have no experience.  Imagine you are watching a program on television.  During the commercial break you change the channel to a different program.  Depending upon how interested you become in the new one, you will either stick with the new one or go back to the old one.  In life, by trial and error, we will either find our new “channel” or revert back to our old ones.

But here are some statistics you should know.  While it may be daunting, forty-nine percent of those who do make New Year’s Resolutions have some degree of success in positive change.  Experts say those who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who do not.

And perhaps the most important point of all:  You don’t need New Year’s Day to make a resolution.  Just as you can change the channel at any time if a program is no longer of interest to you, you can resolve to change your habit channel at anytime.  Here’s what you should know.

Delaying a resolution until a future date gives you more days of engaging in the undesired behavior, making it that much more difficult to change.  Further, the emotion you feel when you decide you need to change that is essential in ensuring your success will wane over time.

You will be ten times more likely to achieve your goals when you make a resolution.  You’ll be forty-nine percent likely to achieve some measure of success when doing so.  And when you engage in a new behavior for twenty-one days, you’ll create a habit.  You will effectively change the channel of your life.

So, resolve to be different to attain your goals.  Take action for twenty-one days and switch to a new channel, creating the new habit that will put your new lifestyle on remote control.

As for me, I’ve got to get up and change the channel.



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9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People - How Inc.com Got It Wrong!

9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People, an article recently published on Inc.com, attempts to identify what it takes to be a successful person through identifying the common beliefs held by successful people. For all its well-intentioned information, the article is fundamentally flawed.

9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People should be titled 9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful Assets. Somewhere, somehow, people have been reduced to workers exclusively. Their value is measured in productivity, value for time invested, and revenue generated. And while all this is true, this alone does not make for successful and valuable people. It merely makes for successful and valuable assets to organizations, communities, families, and governments.

People have intrinsic value. You cannot make one more valuable than the other. Once you do, you change the dynamic of people to assets. People can do immeasurably more than mere assets.

People are successful when they contribute to society to be certain, however one cannot truly be successful as a person until they have success in five areas of life:

Personal: Are you living a life that is pleasing to you? Are you living out your purpose? Have you reached a point in life where you realize that what you do matters and that you live in accordance with principles that are to your liking? Do you have rich, mutually rewarding relationships with others that bring joy to your life? Do you have a positive impact on society by giving of yourself through service?

Financial: Like it or not, money matters. Financially, are you living a life that is pleasing to you and financially positive for those around you? Are you financially independent and if not have you set in motion those things that will provide financial independence? Do you give to others financial gifts or tithes? Are you living within your means or are you financed to the hilt? Of course there are things you’d like to possess and experiences you’d like to have that are out of your financial ability, are you at peace with that?

Achievements: Everyone has a desire to achieve, to strive for something they deem worthy. Are you happy with those things you’ve achieved in your life? Have you achieved success in your family life? Are you an exceptional leader? Are you a tireless volunteer? Did you graduate from school and if not, did you overcome this hurdle? Have you experienced remarkable difficulty and persevered?

Health: One cannot be truly successful as a person unless they are healthy enough to engage in life. Are you physically fit or barely rolling out of bed in the morning? If you have a handicap, have you found a way to overcome it or live at peace with it? Health is as much physical as it is mental. Are you mentally tough enough to overcome a health obstacle?

Spiritual: Call it nature or call it God, to deny we have a spiritual existence is fool-hearty. Have you come to the realization that you are a part of something much bigger than yourself? Have you found that spiritual connection that gives you comfort in knowing that, while we have freewill, someone or something is beyond our existence? I believe in God. What do you believe in?

The questions above and others you will undoubtedly uncover in each of the five categories are just the beginning of the journey. And that’s exactly how it should be. Each person must decide where he or she is going before setting a course to successfully arrive at the destination. Decide who you believe you should be and ask the questions necessary to arrive at the destination of your life’s choosing. Be purposeful.

Earl Nightingale said, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” To be successful as a person you must decide what you want in each area of your life and make your life the pursuit of purpose.

For the record, there are 3 Beliefs of Successful People. They believe in a higher power. They believe they are a part of something bigger than themselves. And successful people believe and understand that what they do matters, even if they choose to do nothing. These beliefs are the beliefs of successful people because they ultimately determine all actions of their lives.