A business is so much more than a “job”. It’s a lifestyle, a world-view, a reflection of the type of person you want to be. It’s how you want to contribute to the community, where you see yourself in your future, and in some cases, it’s what you want to leave behind.
So many business owners tell me that they want to take their business to the next level, but they never define why. Everyone has goals, but they rarely take the time to write everything down and decide the “how’s” and “why’s” of what they want their business to be. In my experience, it’s not only helpful to carefully consider and record your vision – it’s essential.
These personal goals and business goals can be defined and followed by crafting a personal vision and a business vision. Here is a brief outline of both and not just how they are different, but also how they can work together.
Create your personal vision first. As the owner of the business, your vision is key to where you want to take the business.
Do you dream about being able to take your family on vacation to an exotic location once a year? How about a four-day workweek, or buying your dream home? These things could be part of your personal vision.
When crafting a personal vision statement, you’ll need to write down where you want to be in a year from now or 2 years from now. This could include considering your desired material lifestyle, your passion giving back, your ideal workweek, time with your family, and time enjoying the things you love (not your business). If you want to make sure that you are making enough money so that your children can have their college tuition paid for, this should be recorded in your personal vision statement too.
In addition to this, it’s important to include an exit strategy in your personal vision. This will detail how you would like your business to proceed when you retire, including whether or not you intend on naming a successor (e.g. a spouse or child), or if you would prefer to sell the business. Be mindful that your exit strategy is carefully considered, and entails what you plan to do in place of work. Some business owners find it hard to leave their business behind, and it can never hurt to plan ahead for how you will fill your free time in the future.
Once you’ve completed your personal vision, it’s time to concentrate on your company vision. The two go hand in hand. If for example, you want to spend only 6 months of the year working at your business, then part of your business plan needs to include finding a current or future employee who can take on some of your current roles and responsibilities. If your plan is financial freedom, then your company vision will be to increase your sales and marketing efforts, etc.
As the business owner, it’s up to you to set the company vision; it is not a team approach. Although you need to share it with your staff, the company vision statement needs to be synergetic with your personal vision so that the two can work together to create a business that benefits both you and your employees.
The company vision will also help you create a big picture idea of what your company will look like as a whole, for both you and your employees. This is why creating a company vision can enhance your existing leadership skills, which in turn helps your employees attain their own career visions.
Writing out a personal vision and business vision and following them is crucial, and often, overlooked in creating the kind of business you’ll be proud of. Writing out what you really want out of your business in a personal vision and then writing out how it can be achieved through your company vision can be both humbling and gratifying.
To get a better understanding of how to help your business grow, contact me today to find out more about joining The Alternative Board.
It’s not out of the ordinary for employees today to ask to work from home. Many business owners tell me that their employees feel like they are more productive overall when working remotely.
What can you do to accommodate them, especially if they feel like the arrangement will make them a better asset to your company?
Many employers are making it a priority to keep an open door policy with every one of their employees so that they can be aware of anything that may prevent them from coming into the office. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the possible pros and cons of allowing your employees to work from home:
There’s no better way of ensuring employee retention than meeting them halfway. In my experience, a happy employee is a loyal employee. The satisfaction that an employee experiences from being able to work from home can be a great way of motivating them into being more productive. This can also serve to create a strong sense of employee/employer trust. If an employee feels like their employer trusts them to get the job done, they will feel valued. When you empower your employees, the possibilities for growth are truly endless.
If having all hands on deck is essential to your company, letting an employee work from home may not be an option. It can also be an issue in terms of monitoring your employee’s progress. You will have no way of controlling your employee’s production, which can be difficult if you like having the ability to check in with your staff throughout the day. Although Skype and FaceTime can help maintain a connection, it’s not a replacement for face-to-face mentoring. Additionally, personal life distractions, especially technological ones, can be unavoidable for most employees working from home.
As a business owner, you are keenly aware that your employees are the most valuable part of your business. Be sure to maintain an open dialogue with each employee and come up with a working solution that fits both of your needs.
If you’re wondering what more you can do to assist employees who want to work from home, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.
As a business owner myself and through interacting with business owners nearly every day, I understand that it can be difficult to let go of certain aspects of your business. However, you can’t be everywhere doing every job all the time, especially as your business grows. I’ve seen many TAB members stretch themselves thin this way, which can lead to important matters slipping through the cracks.
In a perfect world, no one would wear more than one hat at a time. If you’re wearing so many hats that you’re feeling weighed down, find out if any of them will fit your existing employees. If no one is a match, or if your current employees are also overwhelmed, it may be time to recruit.
Needing to delegate is not a weakness. In fact, acknowledging that you need to practice delegation can reveal the following positive qualities of a leader:
You have big dreams for your business, but you may be hesitant to take the necessary steps to reach your end goals if you have enough on your plate as it is. By delegating you are preparing your business for future growth. By freeing yourself of tasks that can be trusted to your employees, you will have the time to look for new growth opportunities. It’s hard to see the horizon when your many hats obstruct your view.
When you show your staff that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses and know they can take the lead in areas that aren’t your strong points, you build a trusting work relationship. By respecting the skills of your employees, their performance and the overall work environment can drastically improve.
One of the best ways to show self-awareness is to listen to your employees. How would they suggest the business processes could be improved? What are their opinions on employee morale? They may even have constructive observations on how you can improve as a leader. I encourage business owners to welcome feedback from their employees.
Inviting your employees to provide feedback opens the doors to communication. No matter how approachable you may be, it can be difficult for some employees to feel comfortable around an authority figure. Communicating both your strengths and shortcomings to your staff humanizes you to an approachable level. If they seem resistant in the beginning, I would suggest sending an internal survey that staff can submit anonymously. Once they see that their anonymous proposals are being taken seriously, they may be more willing to come forward for future communication.
To discuss how you can find out how other business owners take initiative with delegation, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board!
As your business becomes increasingly successful, certain aspects of your business will need to change and/or grow to keep up with your demand. Through TAB meeting discussions, I’ve seen this growth take the form of increasing your inventory to meet local demand, expanding to another location to meet national demand, providing more offerings to meet client interests, or outsourcing or hiring more staff to meet all of the above. If you keep hiring more employees, there will come a time when you need to reorganize your reporting structure or even your departments.
In anticipation for future growth, I encourage all business owners to create an organizational restructuring process to ensure your business expansion goes as smoothly as possible. Here are just a few topics you may want this process to cover:
Promoting vs. Hiring
When your business requires a new department, you will need to decide if it’s best to promote an existing employee or hire someone new to manage it. It may sound ideal to promote someone who already knows your business, but it could be best to hire someone from outside your business with a more precise set of skills. For example, your highly skilled and dedicated salesperson may not have the right qualifications to lead a new marketing department.
If you do hope to promote from within, how will you prepare your employee for the tasks and responsibilities that come with a higher-level position? If you anticipate expansion in the coming months, I have seen many business owners see success with managers mentoring talented employees to prepare them to take on the same or similar position. An outside hire can learn the ins and outs of your business this same way.
To ensure everyone in your business is on the same page at every step of growth, you may also want to detail how to communicate to staff that the growth may affect their roles within the company. If big changes are coming and your employees aren’t aware of what they are, they may jump to the conclusion that their jobs or the business may be in trouble when in fact the opposite is true. Your success is their success, and clear communication of any changes in roles or responsibilities can greatly help the progress continue.
Once your organizational restructuring process has been developed and implemented, I encourage you to regularly monitor and reassess its effectiveness. Perhaps there’s an area that can be improved or wasn’t ideal for the type of growth your business experienced. Did you actually need to hire more in-house staff, or should you consider hiring contract workers in the future? It’s important to be flexible and allow your processes to grow and improve with your business.
If you would like to discover how other business owners have restructured as a result of growth, contact me today to discuss becoming a member of a TAB peer advisory board!
You may have a firm grasp on how to run your business, but if you left the company today, would someone else know exactly how to fill your shoes? I have seen many business owners make the mistake of storing an abundance of knowledge in their head and overlook documenting company processes and procedures for others to reference in their absence.
As a business owner, it is understandable that the needs of your business can consume a substantial amount of your time, which sometimes means documenting your processes takes a backseat on your priority list. If you would like to improve your business’s organization but are unsure where to start, here are a few procedures to consider documenting first:
- Customer relations
- Product development
- Organizational restructuring
Once presented with a list, I’ve noticed that many TAB members don’t seem to have problems identifying which processes they use, but they do often question exactly which details they should write down. Again, this may differ from business to business, but I encourage every business owner to describe as much about their processes as they can.
Once you have prioritized your business’s processes and decided which to detail first, here are the next steps you can take:
- Choose a name. What will you and your employees call this process so that it can be easily referenced? Consider a name that is clear and concise yet informative enough so as not to accidently be confused with other processes.
- List the steps. What event triggers the start of this process, and what has to happen to reach the desired end result? For example, the need for a new employee would trigger your recruitment process, and writing a detailed job description would be one of many steps that must be taken to reach the end result of a qualified hire.
- List the roles. Who is in charge of which step? Continuing with the recruitment example, your HR manager may pass along the job applications to the applicable department head, who then conducts the interviews and hiring negotiations.
- Organize the document. How will you and your employees ensure the process is being followed? You can create a summarized version of the process in the form of a checklist or flowchart that can easily track completion of steps.
This may seem like a daunting undertaking, especially if you have a lot of processes that need documenting. However, you may find some employees are equipped to document the processes of certain tasks that only require your final approval.
If you would like to discuss how to organize your business processes, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.
Have you ever considered running a family business? Perhaps you’re enticed by the convenience of working with people you already know, or maybe you’re seeking to leave a family legacy for your children and theirs. While there are many benefits to working with family, it can also have its downsides. Although many families succeed in business, sometimes the stress of running a business can get in the way of family relationships and vice versa.
I have worked with dozens of family businesses over the years, and through TAB meetings I have noticed several pros and cons family business owners seem to experience. Here are a few pros and cons you may encounter if you decide to work with family:
- Kick-Start Your Succession Plan. Your business may be your pride and joy right now, but if you ever plan on retiring or starting another venture, you may need to consider eventually passing it along to someone else. Partnering with or hiring a family member can be a great way to show them the ropes so they can one day run the business.
- Gain a Valuable Marketing Angle. Consumers prefer purchasing from family businesses. Although this doesn’t mean you should partner with any family member for the sake of owing a family business, hiring a qualified sibling or child can improve your business’s image.
- Trust Who You’re Hiring. Hiring can be a convoluted process, and it can become discouraging if your business experiences a high turnover. By hiring a family member, you likely already have a strong sense of their work ethic and whether they’d be a good fit for your business and team.
- Taking Work Home With You. Many business owners I know are guilty of this, but you may find it difficult to keep business discussions within business hours. For the sake of continued positive family relationships you may not want business to be at the forefront of every family gathering.
- Concerned Employees. Unless your entire staff is family, some of your non-related employees may worry that they won’t be treated equally. I encourage you to communicate to your staff that all employees are held to the same standards, and are subject to the same policies and codes of conduct.
- Maintaining Professionalism. Regardless if you’re working with relatives, a certain level of professionalism should still be maintained in the workplace. Keep family gossip out of the office and treat each other no differently than you’d treat a normal co-worker.
If you truly believe that one of your family members would be a valuable asset to your team, I encourage you to hire them. If, on the other hand, you are considering working with family solely out of convenience or family pressure, I suggest standing firm on the decisions that are in the best interest of your business. There can be substantial benefits to partnering with or hiring a family member, but it takes a strong, communicative family to make it work.
To discuss the ups and downs of your family business with a TAB peer advisory board, contact me today!
Since profit is essential for longevity and overall success of a business, it can be difficult to not obsess over your business’s numbers. As a passionate business owner, you may find yourself spending a lot of time worrying about unmet sales goals, overspent budgets, or unforeseen expenditures. These are all valid concerns, but is fixating on them benefitting your business?
Probably not. Instead, I encourage you to look at your business’s big picture. I believe that numbers are better used as a point of reference for the future rather than as an immediate source of panic. To help free you of the burden that numbers place on many business owners, here is what I suggest:
Build a Detailed Plan
You may have annual or quarterly financial goals, but are they included in an in-depth plan that includes steps and strategies to reach those goals? It’s generally easier to reach a destination with a map. Consider implementing KPIs into your business plan to help you recognize that a poor financial quarter doesn’t necessarily mean your business isn’t growing in other relevant areas.
Re-evaluate Your Existing Plan
If you already have a detailed business plan, it can be understandably frustrating if you are not meeting your goals. You have big ambitions for your business, but every business moves at its own pace. Consider that perhaps some goals may be currently out of reach and can be postponed until next year. Aim for greatness, but ensure your goals are realistic for your current means.
Communicate With Staff
Part of re-evaluating your business plan may include confirming that individual staff and departments are aware of the specific part they play in achieving the company’s goals. Perhaps your employees are doing their best to play their parts, but their best could be better if offered the right motivation. Budgets are often tight, but there are ways to keep employees motivated without giving pay raises.
Remember, going over budget on one item or for one quarter rarely means that you need to stop everything. Businesses have their ups and downs, but you will remain on the path to success as long as you treat everything as a learning opportunity.
If you would like to discuss how to build an effective business plan, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.