Tag: small business

How Much of My Time Is Needed If I Hire a Fractional Chief Operation Officer?

How Much of My Time Is Needed If I Hire a Fractional Chief Operation Officer?

The most significant stress point for small businesses is TIME. Can my current business operate without me needing to be there every minute of the day? Can I take a two-week vacation? Can my employee take responsibility for the workplace?

If you can’t answer these questions, how long will it take to diagnose and fix the problems that keep you from living the life you want?

Usually, this challenge drives the typical small to mid-sized business to look for help because they don’t have the time or experience in-house to re-build, repair, or build the systems required for sustainable achievement. Using an Outsourced or Fractional COO is an excellent fit in these circumstances.

Once the top executive understands the workings of the IAS model, the question I often gets is, “How much of my time is needed if I hire you?”.

How Often Do We Meet?

Based on the scope of our involvement, we are on the ground in your business 1-6 hours per week. Working with you, your team members, contractors, etc., to identify, educate, and improve the ability of your business to operate without dependence on any individual.

This minimal time commitment results from our experience building operational efficiency in non-traditional businesses and knowing how to leverage the client’s domain knowledge to guide our efforts.

Early in the relationship, I invite my client champions to invest additional time by attending staff meetings we lead, participating in discovery sessions we facilitate, etc. I’ve found this extra involvement up front helps us form a productive working relationship and allows the client to get more comfortable with the new concepts.

Throughout this journey, the client sponsor and us stay in lockstep by focusing on high-level activities during our routine check-in meetings, such as:

  • Individual support plans for employees
  • Maintaining alignment
  • Reviewing the work products we produce and refining them as needed before roll-out.
  • Partnering on culture transition objectives.
  • Checking in on milestone progress and establishing the next set of goals.

What Do You Take Ownership of?

Most often, there are six phases during our involvement:

  • Discovery & Assessment
  • Design & Implement
  • Operationalize with Adoption
  • Evaluation
  • Adjust improve (introduce continuous improvement)
  • Continuous growth

After completing the Discovery & Assessment phase, we develop a plan to serve as our guide. We oversee the steps and actions necessary to create the change you brought us in for. With this plan defined, we’ll take full ownership of designing the agreed-upon work products and implementing them with designated members of your team.

We involve your employees during the design process to glean insights from their subject matter knowledge while also gaining their buy-in before new solutions are implemented.

During this heavy lifting phase, you remain at a high level yet aware of the changes by gaining updates during our routine meetings.

We focus on the key organizational competencies that most small to mid-sized businesses struggle with Strategy, Performance Management, Process Documentation & Improvement, Culture Alignment, Ownership, Trust, Communication, etc.

We work with your team to implement, evaluate, adjust and improve organizational behavior to create sustainable improvements.

How Do We Work Together?

While we’re in the trenches with your employees throughout the six phases described, acting on your behalf to ensure the proper changes are made and adopted. This is most effective when we develop a strong bond of trust, honor one another’s authority areas, and are committed to seeing changes through.

We guarantee that we can fix 1 of your top 5 problems in the first 90-days or less.

We have seen owners panic when the company isn’t completely fixed within 90-days. They grow impatient and feel drawn to undo the work. To avoid ending up at square one, leaving the new processes and systems in place is critical to gaining the desired outcomes.

The Best Outcome: Trusting Your Business to Succeed without you

We enter many small to mid-sized businesses every year. We’ve found that most business owners struggling to reach their goals are the same ones who are personally overseeing/involving themselves in all their departments.

Usually, that means late nights doing someone else job, making excuses for others, stressing out about sales, and trying to figure out what went wrong. Unfortunately, this often leads to a lack of focus, crunched windows of time, and a never-ending project load.

Imagine the time you’ll immediately get back by hiring an Outsourced or Fractional COO Leader! Not to mention how it will feel to be able to take time for yourself.

This freedom allows the owner or top executive to work “on” the business, creating a greater sense of impact and personal fulfillment.

You can actually take a vacation and not spend the entire time fretting about an order not being fulfilled or a project not being completed. No more sleepless nights filled with stress. You can enjoy time away knowing your business is going in the right direction to achieve the growth you’ve always dreamed of.

By partnering with a Fractional Chief Operations Officer, you are gaining a partner with the skills to create immediate impact while only investing a fraction of your time.

If you’d like to discuss the improvement you’re looking for in your business, contact me through these methods: (412) 397-7967 or doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com or book a slot on my calendar.

I also invite you to follow me on LinkedIn to gain exposure to future article posts that will offer more valuable insights.

5 ways to ask your clients about their problems (unintrusively)!

5 ways to ask your clients about their problems (unintrusively)!

Every business wants extended engagement or to sell their clients additional products and services. There are many fancy strategies to increase the initial sale like cross-selling, upselling, and subscription services; you get the point. 

 

However, if you really want to keep a client, you don’t need to sell them extra bells and whistles. Instead, what you need to do is solve their problems.

 

 In this article, we will discuss 5 strategies (opportunities) to discover additional problems and bring additional value to your people without making your people feel uncomfortable.

 

Problem Identifying techniques

 

Listen for the keywords.

When going through your prospecting, sales, or delivery of the experience, pay attention to what and how things are said. For instance, when people use words such as ” I think, ” I would like, ” it would be nice too. This is because they have opened the door for a question. So let’s explore this example:

 

Client “I think I rank well on google.” If you’re a marketer, the next question should be, how do you know? This creates an opportunity to engage in discovering how much they know and where their education gap is. Thus creating a chance to sell an additional solution.

 

In conclusion, study what language people use to understand when they have an unknown or none defined problem.

 

Magic Wand Sale’s Question

Now many consultants have some form of magic wand question. It could be if I had a magic wand that could fix any problem in your business; what would it fix? Or it can look like this, if we were celebrating a year from now, what would have happened in your business?

 

Getting your people to chat about what they want to see changed is key. They will describe something with more detail than my staff to their job or 5 million in revenue. Instead, they start describing a scenario where their employees know what to do, how to do it, ask fewer questions, and solve more problems. Now those are all tactical elements that be solved. 

 

The lesson to learn here is to get to the details and push the person to share how they think and feel.

 

Share your observations

This is my favorite way to learn more about a person because it takes a lot of finesse. In the first two, you were simply asking questions and listening for what and how they responded. However, here we’re going to share our responses.

 

I am going to share my simple steps on how to share an observation without offending others.

  1. Ask for permission “may I share an observation.”
  2. Shit sandwich, share something good, the observed problem, and the hope. 
  3. Shut up, let them speak; the key is to wait for them to agree
  4. Offer a solution
  5. Add it to the contract

 

I know this was highly simplified, but when done right, you can bring up the many additional problems you want to work on and solve with your client. Practice the steps above and see how things begin to change. 

 

Indirect Survey 

Many businesses use satisfaction surveys; however, very few genuinely use them well. We tend to only survey at the end of the experience, depending on what may be correct, but if you provide the ongoing or long-term service, it is best to have multiple engagement points. My cadence is 6 weeks in, 3-month mark, and then every 3-4 months after that. Once you have your sequence, it is time to discuss the questions.

 

When, how, and what you ask are the superpowers of an excellent survey. So many of us will use questions to understand how we did but rarely do we add questions about unmet needs. In this article, we’re talking about discovering additional problems; if you want help creating a kick-ass survey, feel free to reach out.

 

Here are a few questions to add to your next survey to get to their problems:

  • Was there anything that you expected but didn’t receive?
  • Please finish the statement; it would be nice if (insert company) did …? 
  • If (insert company) had a magic want that could solve your biggest problem, what would it be

 

Those are just a few of the ones I through into my survey, but the point when you craft these questions is to think about what would be helpful to hear. Think about adding this to your next survey, and don’t forget to follow up. 

 

Qualitative research

It is essential to discover precisely what your customers want. Conducting a qualitative market study includes mapping customer journeys and evaluating data regarding customer pain points. Some vital steps for conducting research are:

  • Map out your customer journeys gives businesses valuable insights and understanding regarding common customer pain points.
  • Create customer personas to focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development per customer needs, and align all work across your business.
  • Holding focus groups with internal and external customers
  • Using survey data

 

You can do this while you’re currently engaged with a client, or you can do it before engaging. Information and education are the most important pieces when solving a problem. The more you have, the better equipped you will be to help your customers. 

 

The superpower of qualitative research is it provides you with a tool to discuss issues you have observed but have felt uncomfortable bringing up because of the level of emotional attachment. It allows you to turn those issues into objects, thus depersonalizing them. 

 

I hope you enjoyed this quick blog about my top 5 ways to ask your client about their problems. I look forward to connecting if you need additional help or want to discuss anything in this blog. 

 

Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better start today.

Sometimes life and business are chaotic; which choice are you making?

Sometimes life and business are chaotic; which choice are you making?

Businessman with umbrella overcome challenge in chaos office. Mixed media

Do you choose to fight against chaos, or Do you decide to order your chaos?

Sometimes life and business are chaotic; which choice are you making?

In my former career as a summer camp director, as an industry, we used to use the term controlled chaos to explain what camp was like.

However, I was not too fond of this term; it was like we were in conflict with what we were doing and not truly in control.

In reality, we can control our experience by creating processes and systems to give all of our people the greatest level of preparedness as well as teaching them what to do if it does not go right.

My team and I created an intentional, repeatable experience through processes and systems. This was everything from a detailed schedule with employee roles to how, who, and when we communicate difficult information to our two client types (kids & parents) and how we handle a problem at the moment and after.

If your business is feeling crazy. Build yourself a system that can be replicated over and over again.

Let me know what is causing chaos in your business below?
#business #process #IASbiz #experience #summercamp

Why is signage important to your customer experience?

Why is signage important to your customer experience?

As I am sitting here at my favorite coffee shop. I enjoy the quiet, but I can’t help but notice when people use the restroom because they never know how to get in. 

People will stand there giggling the handle, waiting patiently, or knocking. Since I am a nice guy, I tell them, “you need to get a key from the counter.” I am usually sitting there getting work done; this process can be disturbing. I ask myself every time, why don’t they just put up a sign? 

Adding a sign that says, “Please get the bathroom key from the front counter,” could elevate this minor problem. My point is that signage is your passive communication tool for getting your clients/customers to do the things you want. 

Think about your sign on the door; it is designed to catch a person’s eye to entice them to walk in. The menu on the wall is to explain what options are available. Every single sign is about creating an ideal behavior. With all this in mind, here are a few tips on making and using effective signage in your business.

 

Tip 1: Design Your Sign to Convey A Clear Direction

 

A good sign tells a person where, when, and how to do a specific behavior. Therefore, it is essential to think of your signs as a sequence of physical actions—a step-by-step experience. You need to consider the person who will follow these directions, who they are, and what problem they have? 

 

Tip 2: Does Your Sign Tell Your Story 

What is your business identity? Why do you exist? What problems do you solve? A great sign can convey these messages. For example, take Royal Caribian Cruises. A few years ago, they rolled out their Live, Love, Cruise Campaign. It was to transition their brand from cruise vacation into a lifestyle.

 

If you walk around their ships, they have artwork, decals, and signage just to share and reinforce their beliefs. So when you think about your own location, consider what beliefs will support your companies identity.

Tip 3: Know Your Desired Customer Behaviour

 

Make sure you take the time to map out the action that is important to a successful customer experience. This may take the form of walking through your experience as your customer or creating a process map. It doesn’t matter but make sure you get into the head of your customers. 

 

Tip 4: Talk with a professional about all the above elements

 

Take your time to find a company that will understand your brand and the experience you want to create. Then, they will add their expertise to design signage that does all your desired outcomes and more.

A quick suggestion is to talk with my friends at Spark Signs and Graphics; they get that a sign is more than a sign. It is a visual story ready to be told. Here is what owner Alex Maurer has to say 

 

“When working with clients, we set out to understand their business and what challenges they are trying to solve. As an example, effective directional signage within a building – whether it is a corporate environment or a church – can make a visitors’ experience so much more positive when they get from point A to point B in an efficient and easy way.”

 

As you seek to create the best experience for your customers and yourself, make sure to consider these 4 tips. If you want additional help creating a business that thrives and generate the lifestyle you deserve, consider taking a test drive and see what our profit acceleration can do for your business.

 

Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better start changing today.

Why is signage important to your customer experience?

Why is signage important to your customer experience?

Why is signage important to your customer experience?

As I am sitting here at my favorite coffee shop. I enjoy the quiet, but I can’t help but notice when people use the restroom because they never know how to get in. 

People will stand there giggling the handle, waiting patiently, or knocking. Since I am a nice guy, I tell them, “you need to get a key from the counter.” I am usually sitting there getting work done; this process can be disturbing. I ask myself every time, why don’t they just put up a sign? 

Adding a sign that says, “Please get the bathroom key from the front counter,” could elevate this minor problem. My point is that signage is your passive communication tool for getting your clients/customers to do the things you want. 

Think about your sign on the door; it is designed to catch a person’s eye to entice them to walk in. The menu on the wall is to explain what options are available. Every single sign is about creating an ideal behavior. With all this in mind, here are a few tips on making and using effective signage in your business.

 

Tip 1: Design Your Sign to Convey A Clear Direction

 

A good sign tells a person where, when, and how to do a specific behavior. Therefore, it is essential to think of your signs as a sequence of physical actions—a step-by-step experience. You need to consider the person who will follow these directions, who they are, and what problem they have? 

 

Tip 2: Does Your Sign Tell Your Story 

 

What is your business identity? Why do you exist? What problems do you solve? A great sign can convey these messages. For example, take Royal Caribian Cruises. A few years ago, they rolled out their Live, Love, Cruise Campaign. It was to transition their brand from cruise vacation into a lifestyle.

 

If you walk around their ships, they have artwork, decals, and signage just to share and reinforce their beliefs. So when you think about your own location, consider what beliefs will support your companies identity.

Tip 3: Know Your Desired Customer Behaviour

 

Make sure you take the time to map out the action that is important to a successful customer experience. This may take the form of walking through your experience as your customer or creating a process map. It doesn’t matter but make sure you get into the head of your customers. 

 

Tip 4: Talk with a professional about all the above elements

 

Take your time to find a company that will understand your brand and the experience you want to create. Then, they will add their expertise to design signage that does all your desired outcomes and more.

 

A quick suggestion is to talk with my friends at Spark Signs and Graphics; they get that a sign is more than a sign. It is a visual story ready to be told. Here is what owner Alex Maurer has to say 

 

“When working with clients, we set out to understand their business and what challenges they are trying to solve. As an example, effective directional signage within a building – whether it is a corporate environment or a church – can make a visitors’ experience so much more positive when they get from point A to point B in an efficient and easy way.”

 

As you seek to create the best experience for your customers and yourself, make sure to consider these 4 tips. If you want additional help creating a business that thrives and generate the lifestyle you deserve, consider taking a test drive and see what our profit acceleration can do for your business.

 

Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better start changing today.

Part 4: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 4: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

It looks like we have gotten to the end of another series; man, has this one been a pleasure to write. We have learned several tactics and mindsets that can help you overcome your business growth challenges in this series.

It was a pleasure sharing reasons 1-6 in the first three parts of this blog. If you have not read them, make sure to read them on my Linkedin page or my website before diving into part 4 today.

Here is a quick recap of what we have covered in the first three parts.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model 
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust) 
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage 
  6. Lack of curiosity 
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

In this final installment, we will chat about arguably the two most important reasons you have not been able to grow your business the lack of sharable and actionable vision and to set yourself up with a mirror, a system of honest, open feedback.

Vision with a plan

Most people start their business without a plan. To be honest, it is a reaction to a problem that leads them to create a solution. That solution begins to create a vision of what their life could look like without this problem.

I fully agree that this is the best way to start a business. It allows you to follow an organic path and respond appropriately. However, there is a point in this experience where the moment begins to wain, where vision alone will not push you through.

I encourage you to create a plan before you get to this point. Most companies call this a strategic plan or business plan. It doesn’t matter what you call it if you don’t use it. This section will talk about some tips & tricks for constructing your plan, making it actionable, and ensuring it is something your company lives.

Core elements of your plan should include:

  • How you deliver your experience? Think of this as your external client journey. The step-by-step experience of your client. This should include all the actions and feeling your client will go through.
  • How you create your experience? Think of this as your internal client journey—the step-by-step experience of your employees. Include not only what they do but also think about how they will feel when they are doing it, what they need to be successful, and what their benefit is.
  • The financial model. This is self-explanatory but make sure you are projecting revenue, expenses, gross/net profit, and, if you can, cash flow for the next 3-5 years. Bonus if you can include where your expected revenue will come from.
  • Why do you exist? This is the most critical section to live every day. This is the great problem you solve or what change you hope to make in the world. This is the fuel that feeds your engines and those of your employees.

There are many other sections to a good plan, but in reality, it should fit under one of the above four areas of focus.

Tips for making your plan actionable

  • Write 1-5 concrete action steps for every goal in the plan to get it done. If you follow the above core elements, you will do this instinctively.
  • Assign the person or position/positions responsible for achieving the goals. Bonus point if you can break it down into the roles/ responsibilities based on the above journey.
  • Create how you will evaluate your plan’s performance. Include how often you will review goals and action steps. Include who will hold you accountable (best to use an outside coach or third party who can provide a penalty or reward based on achieving).

The final component is to make your plan sharable, making it a part of your companies everyday experience. If you followed all that has been said above and focused on creating your plan as if it is lived experience and not just goals on a piece of paper, then you have taken the first step in making it a livable component of your company. To take it to the next level, you can do a few things.

  • Bring in your leaders from all levels of your business. Create a cross-functional team of people from executive/top-level management to your front-end employees to review and give feedback. Then empower those leaders to propel the plan forward.
  • Create a corresponding training program to push the core reasons why. Teach the necessary skill to achieve the company goals.
  • Give autonomy to execute these plans.
  • Sit back and let things run their course.
  • Repeat your reason why as often as you can.
  • Have your employees share their reason why often and ask them to incorporate those reasons into the companies why.

I know this is a brief overview of strategic planning. However, it is essential that you engage in this process if you wish to grow your business and you’re currently slowing down or lacking momentum.

Lastly, do not do this in a vacuum; get help; it is excellent to engage in an outside agency to help facilitate it. It is worth investment as it will allow you to think and operate with a long-term mindset. Finally, start your planning process before it is too late.

A Mirror

If you have read this far, your head is spinning with the action you can take. However, before you do anything else, could you do one thing?

Turn the camera on your phone and make sure it’s pointed at you. I am assuming you’re now looking at yourself in the screen. Now wave.

What did you notice about how you waved? Did you see your facial expression or the angle of your hand? Did you notice the bags under your eyes or the position of your feet? Did you feel anything interesting?

Now, what if that mirror could talk? What if it could share what it is seeing, the experience it has, and the things it has heard? How could that change you?

If you genuinely want to solve your business’s problems, you need to get an honest view of what and how you’re doing. There are many ways to get this feedback from family, friends, employees, but the best way is going to be through coaching.

The main reason is that you have invested in making yourself better by facing your faults and insecurities. That is in addition to them seeing opportunities where you don’t, providing you business education, access to additional resources, and so much more. However, I don’t want to write an entry on the benefits.

Sidebar: I personally have three coaches, one for business marketing, one for general business strategy, and one for mindset.

Instead, I want to talk about the insecurity of getting help.

The first insecurity to be prepared for is the fear that your coach will make you face yourself. They will force you to confront the things you don’t want to or have neglected. When you start this process, it can hurt, but the relief as you start making progress and begin to see your vision come to life. It can be the most rewarding thing.

The next insecurity to be prepared for; is do you really trust. A great coach is not only going to help you implement profit-generating changes in your business but also time freeing strategies. This usually requires you to invest in more people that can be employees, or it can be outside services.

One of the most demanding challenges is to give up control over your baby. However, learning how to build real trust is a game-changer and the only real way to have the lifestyle you want.

The final insecurity to be prepared for; is delayed reward. Change takes time, and lasting change takes even longer. There are plenty of gurus out there that will say they solve the “insert problem” in just a few weeks or months. Many of them can do it but will that solution last. The answer is no.

The only way to create lasting change is to change yourself. Be prepared that it may take you time to make the internal changes to get the external results, but please do not allow that to stop you.

Thank you for reading this four-part series on the 8 reasons your business is not growing. I hope you have found it enlightening and that you implement at least one change. If you have read this far, I want to make you a special offer. I will provide you with one profit acceleration assessment and one month of coaching for free. All you have to do is email me and write in the header, “I want to grow my business.” Then, I will contact you to get started.

I look forward to helping you achieve your dreams. Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better change today.

The offer of free PAS and one month of coaching is good from January 20th, 2022, until February 20th, 2022.

Part 3: 8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 3: 8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

In our last installment of the 8 reasons why we discussed two roadblocks that, when done right, can provide you with the structure for effective growth. I strongly suggest reading the previous blogs before jumping into this one.

Today we will discuss numbers 5 & 6 on our list of roadblocks. In addition, we will be chatting about leverage (use of debt) and the lack of curiosity.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust)
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage
  6. Lack of curiosity
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

As with this entire series, one of these roadblocks is more tactical while the other is cultural. Why change a good thing now? Let’s get to discussing these two essential roadblocks.

Leverage

Many first-time or small business owners have the dream of being able self finance their business. Amazingly they will generate enough profit to pay themselves and provide the lifestyle they want while fueling their business growth. However, this is rarely possible. Instead, you will need to get some source of financing, which brings us to leverage.

Before I explain leverage and how you can use it to pole-vault your business. I must share a warning. With leverage comes taking on debt; debt comes additional risk with potential greater reward. However, if you have assembled a team of supporting organizations, including CPAs, CFP’s, & Business coaches, you can mitigate this risk.

Now that I have shared the warning, let’s dive into the superpower that can come with leverage. What is leverage?

Leverage results from using borrowed capital as a funding source when investing to expand the firm’s asset base and generate returns on risk capital.

Okay, so what does that mean. Let me give you a scenario that may help. Say you have a fantastic toy that requires you to cut out many small pieces using a laser cutter. However, your company is currently only worth (equity value) $100,000; this is the money you are using to cover your current operating expenses.

However, you know if you were able to purchase a few laser cutters for, say, $300,000, this would expand your max capacity and allow you to increase your total production by a factor of 10. So how can you raise this money?

If you watch Shark Tank, then you have seen companies raise money by giving up equity. However, there is another way by using debt financing.

You can borrow the money that you would need to purchase the equipment. Essentially you provide the lender with a promise to pay back the debt plus interest. This is an excellent option because you do not have to give up any ownership control of your business.

When to use leverage? When it comes to business, it is best to use leverage when launching new projects, increasing inventory, capital expenditures, and expanding the company’s overall operation.

If you’re considering expanding your business or have the desire to grow, make sure to consider leverage (debt) as an option to reach those goals. Once again, make sure to consulate your team of experts before taking on the additional risk. This can be a great tool to grow your business without giving up a level of operational control.

P.S. There are many ways to debt finance your business, from private lenders to small business loans.

Lack of Curiosity

Would you consider yourself curious?

Building a culture of curiosity can be one of the greatest tools to getting your business past the roadblocks that keep it from growing. Curiosity leads to problem-solving, problem-solving leads to calculated risk-taking, and calculated risk-taking leads to exponential returns.

This trait needs to be developed into your culture, not just an owner trait. You want all of your employees to be curious. This is a weird thing to hear from a consultant who specializes in creating SOP’s, but to me, it is truly the most important trait have in a company. So how do you build curiosity? There are many ways, but here are a few of my favorites.

  • Manage through questions
  • Have a failure policy
  • Communicate your guidelines
  • Create time for staff to explore their interests
  • Create employee dream plans as part of your onboarding & employee review process
  • Engage all levels of your organization in strategic planning

Anyone or a combination of these systems can begin to develop a company-wide curiosity. So what are the benefits of curiosity?

  • Your team will feel more positive and driven toward building the organization.
  • As an owner, you will have reduced stress because your employees will constantly use their problem-solving skills.
  •  Your company will develop a shared language organically and system for communication.
  • As an owner, you will develop higher levels of trust
  • Your company will become a place where people want to work
  • As an owner, you will begin to see problems solve themselves

With all that said, how are you developing a culture of curiosity?

Wow, what a third entry in our series. I hope you have begun to see changes you can make in your business at this point. Next week we will wrap up out 8 reasons your business is not growing with the importance of creating a shared vision and the most crucial reason a lack of a mirror,

Please feel free to share this series with a friend or colleague and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if we can be of any assistance or answer any questions, please feel free to email us. 

Remember, the best time to make a change was yesterday, so you better start changing today.

Part 2: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 2: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

In our last installment of the 8 reasons why we discussed two of the most immediate issues holding back your small business cash flow & owner-dependent model. I strongly suggest reading that previous blog before jumping into this one.

Today we will introduce the next two business roadblocks, your supportive relationships and lack of efficiency.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust)
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage
  6. Lack of curiosity
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

These might not seem that important, and out of the eight on this list, they can make a lasting impact. We will discuss them today because prioritizing them can create the structure to move your business faster.

Supporting Relationships (Trust)

What is the first thing that comes up when you think about supporting relationships? I bet it is some combination of a spouse, a best friend, spiritual leader, doctor, etc. These relationships allow us as individuals to reach our highest potential, and thus you need to build a similar network for your business.

What does this network look like? It looks like many supporting businesses, from lawyers & accountants to your strategic joint venture partners. Many business relationships will be needed for your business to reach its greatest potential. Today, we will talk about two categories: the business that keeps you safe from the government and the business that keeps you focused on achieving your goals.

Keep you safe from the government: 

Business Accountant (CPA); there is a significant difference between an accountant and a business accountant. A general accountant can do your annual tax filing, but a good business accountant does your tax filing, plus evaluates your business for risk potential, and evaluates your business to provide strategic suggestions. When you select accountants, look for those that offer additional services. Plus, make sure to ask about monthly financial reviews and what they will provide.

Business Attorney: You need two types of attorneys (sometimes they can be the same person). The first is your preventative attorney; they can help you develop the best way to incorporate, write contracts, provide HR guidance, etc. The second one is a litigator; you will need this attorney for the inevitable time something goes wrong, and you need to handle a suit. This is why you need to ask questions about their core services. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:

What is your experience with my particular legal issue?

What are the potential consequences of this legal action?

Who all is on your legal team?

Are you willing to refer me to other small business lawyers as needed?

Business Insurance: The final business to keep you safe will be your business insurance partner. Now there are many options out there, but the best guidance I can provide is that you should be reviewing this provider every six months to continue to make decisions that are best for your business and provide you with the right amount of coverage.

Keep you focused on your vision: 

Business Coach: Everyone needs a coach. Listen to this carefully after you get develop your safety team. Your immediate next step is to find a coach. A coach is an objective person who can point out your flaws, help you to develop new skills, and it is in their best interest to help you reach your goals. When it comes to selecting a coach, it is essential to consider a few things:

What stage is my company in?

How honest am I about my flaws?

What is the biggest change I need to make to reach my goals?

You will notice that none of these questions are about the coach. This on purpose, many business owners fail to look at themselves first. Remember, growth is change; if you want to grow your business, you will have to make personal change, and the coach is the best person to help you do that.

CFP’s: Working with a good Certified Financial Planner can have several benefits, but most importantly, they should help you to get the best financial result out of the profit your business makes. In addition, they can provide many services from insurance to investment.

Bonus

  • The Networkers: The community connecter is the final relationship that is an absolute must. This person has been around for so long that they know all the players. This the person that all they need to say is “hey, you should talk with …” and that person responds with, of course.

Waste/inefficiency

The earlier a business puts in practice to reduce waste and inefficiency, the sooner they can scale. This is because a good efficiency plan allows your business to grow lean and while investing back into your business versus taking the best guess approach.

Now there are seven areas of lean waste:

  1. Delay: Waiting for any essential part of your process
  2. Replication: repeated tasks or information capture in your process
  3. Processing: simply too little attention or too much attention to a specific task
  4. Motion: This physical time it takes to walk across a room to get a document or disorganized inventory which is hard to look up a product.
  5. Under communication: the most extensive form is lack of systematic understanding. How are you confirming that your people know what to do?
  6. Errors: mistakes that are made multiple times and have not been improved in the process
  7. Under-utilized talent: Make sure you’re using your people correctly and checking to ensure it is still optimal.
  8. Opportunity Lost: This is the magic of your process; this is where your people have the guide rails to be flexible and help create the customer experience.

Now you will see that reducing waste and improving efficiency comes down to process. Do you have a process?

Most small businesses operate without clear SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures). These procedures should be the top priority of any business going from start-up to growth. However, the sooner you can create your SOP based on the eight areas above, the sooner your business can scale.

We covered a lot today, and I am sure you have a ton to think about. As always are coaches are standing by to assist you. If you want to discuss anything in these articles or if Fractional COO is suitable for your business, click here.

Next week we will discuss the two more reasons your business is not growing. But, remember, the best time to make a change was yesterday, so you better start today.

8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

There are 30.2 million small businesses in the US, accounting for 99.9% of all businesses in the country. Even though they account for 99% of all business;

  • They employee less than half of the American workforce
  • The average annual business revenue is $46,978 
  • 86.3% of small business owners make less than $100,000 a year in income

It begs the question; what is holding back your small businesses from reaching its full potential and becoming multi-million dollar businesses. This series will discuss 8 reasons why your business may not be growing and the action you can take to fix it. Today we will discuss numbers one and two.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model 
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust) 
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage 
  6. Lack of curiosity 
  7. Vision with a plan 
  8. A mirror 

Cash Flow

Cash flow is considered by many to number one business killer. There is a saying cash is king when it comes to your business; there is no more accurate statement. For those that don’t know this term:

 

The term cash flow refers to the net amount of cash and cash equivalents being transferred in and out of a company. Cash received represents inflows, while money spent represents outflows. A company’s ability to create value for shareholders is fundamentally determined by its ability to generate positive cash flows or, more specifically, to maximize long-term free cash flow (FCF). FCF is the cash generated by a company from its normal business operations after subtracting any money spent on capital expenditures (CapEx). (definition provided by Investopedia)

 

So how do companies get into cash flow trouble? 

  • Accounts receivable; you have provided service but have yet to receive the cash. Again, this usually comes down to your payment terms and your ability to collect whenever possible try to get full payment before or at least at the time of completion. 
  • Paying Bill First; we all hate owing people, but many businesses do not take advantage of the same payment terms. For example, if someone offers you net 30, 60 payment terms, take advantage of them and wait until the last opportunity to complete payment without accruing penalty. Also, consider renegotiating for a more favorable term.

There are many other ways to develop cash flow problems, but these are two of the biggest. Please take the time to review your cash flow statement & balance sheet see how your cash flow looks. Then, consider setting goals to improve your cash flow as a tool to increase the value of your company.

 

Dependent Model

Now that you have begun to conquer cash flow, the next step will be to make an independent business model. But, of course, you’re probably asking yourself what the hell does that means?

It means creating a business model that does not rely on you as the owner to push the buttons, pull the levers, provide the basic service. It is the philosophy of shifting from working in the business to working on the business. 

There are several reasons why owners struggle to make this transition; we will discuss a few today but remember there are many more, and it is up to create time to do the work and discover your cause and correct it. Today we will discuss the sphere of control.

This is a big one for most owners. At some point, you will get to the place where you can’t be everywhere at once and can’t interface with every client. This can be very tough because this usually means you need to hire middle management. It requires a different set of skills than the ones you have hired before but usually comes with a dip in profit. So what can you do about it?

The first step is to get organized and answer these two questions:

 

What do I need them to do?

Where is the information they need to get the job done stored?

 

Simply put, to create a stable sphere of control, you need to have a documented process with clear expectations, responsibilities, and most importantly, the information to be successful. The standard term for this is SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).

Creating your companies SOP’s or engaging these new hires in creating the first version can significantly reduce the mistakes, miscommunication, and headaches that occur.

I hope you have begun to see your opportunities to improve your business. As always, our fractional COO’s are here to help with these and all of your other operational challenges. Thanks for reading, and remember the best time change was yesterday, so you better change today. 

Is growing your business your goal? Then a COO should be your next hire.

Is growing your business your goal? Then a COO should be your next hire.

The right time to hire a chief operating officer (COO) is just before trouble appears in your company. But, unfortunately, the reality is that most businesses realize they need a COO too late.

Signs that you need a COO:

  • You spend too much time working in your business and not on your business.
  • You find yourself stopping business growth activities to maintain your everyday. 
  • You are feeling constantly overwhelmed and struggling daily in your company.
  • You know you need to strengthen and solidify your leadership team.
  • Your company needs to grow significantly in scale operations.

A COO — especially your first one — should come from outside your company. Insiders are typically part of the problems you are facing. However, they lack the perspective, required knowledge, skills, or experience to view your company objectively and with checked emotions.

The COO Position

A COO is quite different than any other employee in your company.

Typically, the leader of a company is a visionary. As the visionary, you operate best when thinking long-term, generating big ideas, fanning a fabulous culture, and cultivating strategic relationships. Without a COO, you become mired in the day-to-day operations, which can cause your business to stagnate, wither and eventually die.

A COO is your team’s number 2, your MVP! As your integrator and executor, the COO brings your entire company together to deliver products and services effectively and efficiently.

The COO is the quintessential “change champion.” They define needed changes, lead the change effort, manage the change and even celebrate the success of the change.

Your COO is your closest partner, coach, and mentor. The COO is trusted to run your company when you are not there. They have the ability to take your vision and execute it to an extent unimagined. As a coach and mentor, your COO not only supports your personal and professional business development but that of the entire company.

Your First COO

When you need a COO, you are looking for someone typically with years of experience and education — much more than most companies can afford for their first COO.

A COO is much more than a highly paid operations manager. However, companies typically make one or all of these four mistakes when they need a COO:

Mistake #1. Possibly the most egregious mistake is they hire the COO last. Instead, the companies prioritize the  CMO, CTO, VP of Sales before hiring their COO, causing an effect that leads to dysfunctional and siloed organizations without a clear vision and priority.

Mistake #2. Instead of hiring the C-suite executive they need, they seek a director or vice president of operations. This choice saves them an executive salary, benefits, bonuses, and perks. People hired in this role are expected to operate at the position of a COO without the title but usually cannot.

Mistake #3. They lowball the salary of their new COO position. This forces them to hire someone capable of being a director or vice president of operations but who will fail to meet the expectations of a COO.

Mistake #4. The company treats the COO position as if it were any other position within the company. Thus, the hiring process, benefits, bonuses, and perks all mirror those of most other employees.

The reason companies make these mistakes are because of two things. One, they cannot afford the true talent they need. They do not understand the inherent differences between this position and every other position in their company.

The first COO is one of the most critical positions to get right. Hiring the wrong COO can cause your company to struggle significantly.

Consider A Fractional COO

If you cannot afford what your company needs, how do you move forward? You cannot keep struggling in your visionary role while being the full-time integrator.

A fractional COO is a business professional with many years of experience willing to work in a temporary capacity, part-time. That would typically amount to the same as hiring someone full-time. However, you can bring on talent with experience as a business owner, business coach/consultant, or former full-time COO without all the costs. Fractional COOs might get paid the same as a full-time COO, but they bring to your company much more. Plus, there are many other benefits to contracting with a fractional COO.

Benefits:

  • A fractional COO will take a company through a process that produces the tools to answer the essential questions of how can we grow?
  • A fractional COO works in a hybrid model, saving you from creating a separate executive office.
  • Fractional COOs do not require an elaborate executive hiring process — thus, you do not have to build separate HR processes for just one position.
  • Being a contract employee, the fractional COO does not require executive benefits, bonuses, or perks.
  • A fractional COO creates a try-it-before-you-buy-it experience, allowing you to kick the tires and determine what you need from a full-time COO.
  • The fractional COO is there to work themselves out of a job — they focus on building your company so you can truly afford a full-time COO in the future, and they can even help you find and hire their replacement.
  • If the fractional COO does not work out, let them go — firing an executive can be a grueling situation fraught with cost and legal dangers, but allowing a contract employee to go is relatively easy.

If you take anything from this blog, invest in a COO if you want to grow your business, produce franchises, make a sellable business, or achieve whatever goal you have. They’re your partner who specializes in making your dream come true. 

If you want to discuss if your business is ready for a COO, click the link and sign up for a one-hour strategy consultation. Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better make the change today.