Are You a Leader? Four Ways Small Business Owners Serve

leadership signWho do you think of when I say, “Leader in the world of business?”  

A Warren Buffet or Bill Gates type? Maybe a Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerburg?

Perhaps the phrase doesn’t bring to mind a particular person, but rather a “type.”

A CEO in a well tailored suit. The company President who is firmly rooted behind his desk.

If you own a small business, you are not only in business for yourself, you are probably in business by yourself. Even if you employee a small staff, my guess is that you don’t think of yourself as a “Business Leader.”

As Sherra and I work with our clients, we are reminded time and again that small business owners are the real leaders in the world of business.

If you are struggling to see yourself as a Leader, here are a few reminders of the things we see you doing. Day in and day out:

1. Serving as Leaders in Your Industry.

You are involved in professional organizations, networking groups, and continuing education. You represent your market with professionalism and a constant thirst for knowledge. Most importantly, you share freely with others, knowing that helping others be successful is a leader’s greatest gift.

2. Serving as Leaders in Your Community.

Small business owners often have flexibility in the work week. You choose to invest time in service. Whether at your child’s school, a local non-profit organization, or in small town politics, you model ways to give back to your own neighborhoods and cities.

3. Serving as Role Models in Your Family.

Small business owners have vision. You share that vision with your family and find ways to work together toward a shared goal. Many of you put your family right to work! Others remind your children and your spouses that time invested in business hours has a tangible pay off — a vacation, family time, bills paid, dreams made real.

4. Serving as Leaders for Your Clients.

This one is my favorite. For me, a real leader is someone who builds up other people. A real leader shares confidence, skills or products that make life better. You encourage others with a smile, a compliment, and a helping hand. Simply put, you make a difference.

As we wrap up February and look forward to the renewing energy of Spring, allow us to take one more opportunity to share our love and respect for those of you who work diligently to build something of your own. And to serve others at the same time.

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4 Steps to Using Your Calendar for Success

blank calendar

Using your calendar as a strategic tool is key to running a profitable business.

In my blog post 6 Steps to Creating a Strategy for 2013, I talk about planning and tracking financial goals on your calendar. Your calendar is a tool to measure how income producing business activities directly impact your goals. Double checking yourself on a monthly, weekly and daily basis will keep you on track.

Here are four concrete ideas on how to use your calendar for short and long term success:

1. Decide how many hours you will work per week.

Be realistic. If you are a work at home Mom or Dad with small children, the time you spend on your business may be less than it will be when they are in school. If you own a brick and mortar business, your hours will be longer and will match the needs of your consumer.

2. Determine if your weekly work hours mesh with your financial goals.

How many clients will you need per week? (ie., how many paying jobs, products sold, etc.) Now is the time to either adjust your financial goal, or your time investment.

3. Block your calendar.

  • First, mark the times during your week that are non-negotiable — weekly appointments and meetings, carpool, family time, exercise.
  • Next, determine your business hours. For some business owners, these hours are the same every week. Others require more flexibility so each week looks different.
  • Build in time for unexpected changes. Minor emergencies happen! If you are able to build in an extra hour or two each week, one of two things will happen — less stress when you need to be flexible, or more productivity if you are able to use those hours for business.

4. Double check yourself on a weekly basis.

Here is where your calendar is more than a scheduling tool. When you mark your financial goals in advance, you can then measure your progress towards monthly and annual goals each week. In order to meet your goals, you will sometimes need to adjust either the hours you work or the activity you do during the week.

Like goal setting, using your calendar effectively is simple in theory — a bit harder in practice. If you’d like a little help, we are glad to give it!

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6 Steps to Creating a Strategy for 2013

moleskin and favorite pen

January is a time of new beginnings. A time to refocus and set goals.

For small business owners, the new year means creating or resetting strategic goals designed for success.

Here are some quick tips to create your strategic plan for 2013:

1. Start with a brand new calendar.

Whether it’s electronic or paper, I find that a clean calendar helps me think big!

2. Set aside time to think about what you would like your business to look like this time next year.

Think broadly, and not only in terms of profit.

  • Picture those you will meet and serve.
  • The work you love to do.
  • How you will invest each day.

Your plan should be based on practical financial goals as well as your passion and love for what you do.

3. Based on your answers, determine a realistic financial goal for the calendar year.

Write down that number.

4. Divide your number.

First into quarterly goals. Then monthly. And next weekly. Write these goals on your calendar so you see them as you begin to schedule your time.

5.  Schedule events in your calendar.

What events will help you reach your goal? Appointments with clients, continuing education programs, trade shows, conventions, etc.  Write down the events you already have scheduled.

What events would you like to schedule?  Pencil them in as tentative.

6. Narrow your focus to weekly activities.

Perhaps most important are the daily tasks you choose to complete in order to build your business. What activities do you need to do to meet your financial goals? If you are new to business, or getting restarted, most likely these activities will include networking, making phone calls, and meeting with potential clients. Start scheduling your days so these business building activities are central.

The concept of strategic planning is a simple one, but not always simple to put into practice.

If you need some help, or just someone to give feedback while you bounce around some ideas give us a shout…we’d be glad to help!

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