Save Your Business Ship

So you’ve jumped into the sea of business and you suddenly discover you’re in treacherous water and your abilities to navigate your business ship begin to come into question. It doesn’t take long and you realize you could have been a little more prudent before launching your maiden voyage to have a handle on what lies ahead.

Nonetheless, wherever you are on your business journey, you can start taking steps to track your business, analyze our time and optimize the processes and procedures which yield the greatest return on your investment dollar, thereby maximizing your bottom line.

Let’s face it, the longer you can sustain your foray into business, the more time you will have to tweak your systems and increase your likelihood of success in your venture.

Here are some of the things you may be able to take a look at, which can make subtle differences yet yield positive impact and increasing cash flow while optimizing the operation of your business in real time.

1. Opt out of services that have no positive impact on your business

As burgeoning business people, we enthusiastically tend to join organizations, enroll in programs and manage a number of subscriptions to services with the best of intentions, thinking that this-or-that will help to bring potential clients or increase our value in the community.

You may be paying for a service that you’re not equipped to take advantage of at the moment. No need to pay for it while you wait for the planets to align.

Take this time to review these types of programs which consume your valuable resources but offer no return on your investment.

You can always opt back in when you’re in a better position to take action and reap the rewards, otherwise, cancel.

You may also be able to streamline processes by grouping them into one service which encompasses the features of many services you are presently using. This type of consolidation is in the best interest of your business while reducing administrative costs by reducing the number of accounts being managed and increasing your bottom line.

Though it may make you feel uneasy at first, because you have been led to believe that you need a particular product or service, letting go of the dead weight will yield a demonstrable benefit to your organization that can be measured in additional resources, production and/or cash flow.

Once you start paying attention to the details of your business, you will be on the lookout for new products and services which will help to optimize your operations even more, as more and more service begin to appear on the horizon to replace outdated services which are not as optimized for your particular business.

2. Prepare to bail out or jump ship

Being in a state of alertness and readiness can maximize your business acumen as you are tracking and reviewing your business plan and efforts along the way, keeping you from getting stuck in a rut.

No one wants a leaky ship, so keeping track of costs vs. returns can keep your ship in tip top shape. You can make repairs when appropriate of jump ship altogether. Marketing and promotion costs are problematic and can easily spin out of control if not properly monitored and controlled, as well as other production costs.

Sometimes being immersed in the day to day operations can be overwhelming and may make it difficult to be perfectly objective, so be open to the idea of inviting someone to assist you in reviewing your operations from a different perspective. It may give you insights that you may not have otherwise had access to from your present perspective.

It is fairly simple to create a mathematical formula to evaluate our cost of doing business – or engaging in a specific activity or process – and determining its value to your ongoing business.

Always be aware and reviewing the many aspects of your business and always ask yourself, “Is there a better way?” Look for better ways to conduct your business and you will be surprised at how new ideas will present themselves to help streamline your operations. You will find that in most cases you can do more with less by cutting out the fat.

An effective business person is always looking for ways to improve their operations and increase the bottom line.

3. Continuing education for higher efficiency

Unless your business is so unique that it cannot be possibly related to any other business venture in existence (which would be extremely rare) you can find ways to learn how other businesses are increasing their efficiency and increasing their bottom line.

You might be surprised to find a great deal of information readily available by making a few queries on Google, finding there are other businesspeople just like you who find themselves struggling with the same (or similar) challenges.

You may even find groups, forums, blogs and membership sites where like-minded businesspeople congregate and share their stories. Often, if you are active with these folks and build a relationship with them, you can find them an extremely valuable source of information and resources.

Continuing education is your most effective weapon in battling for your battling for the survival of your business. Not being plugged in and being aware of trends and improvements will anchor your business in stagnant water, leading to its eventual demise.

There are so many resources available to keep you on the top of your game, it would be folly not to consider embracing them.

So, take advantage of subscribing to magazines, joining trade organizations attending trainings and conferences about our area of business and/or areas within your business that can greatly affect your bottom line.

This is not a one-size-fits-all answer, and even if you were the most knowledgeable person on the planet regarding your particular business when you opened the doors, all marketplaces are constantly in a process of ebb and flow. It is your responsibility to be in the know and position yourself in such a way so as to be able to make adjustments quickly to ensure your endeavor’s longevity and continued success.

Always be on the lookout for ways you can leverage your resources and cash flow for maximum returns.

Lead With Love

Gone are the days of heavy-handed leadership in the civilized society. Civilians are less likely to respond well to militaristic management styles. As we continue to evolve beyond our basic humanity, there is an awareness emerging, a sense that there is something more to life than just being a simple worker bee.

This urge to sense there is more to discover is the root of an enormous awakening in humanity, though the professional communities are more likely to convince you the urge can be (and should be) focused on your individual quest for meaning and purpose through your career choices or working environment.

Excellent upgrades are permeating the workforce of America – and the world – as we look at better ways to treat workers, because the militaristic methodologies or slavery-style leadership is being viewed as cruel or inhumane as workers feel they bring more value to the planet than being reduced to simply being a cog in the wheel.

As humanity continues to evolve society must discover ways to accommodate the evolution of the human mind, body and spirit as we head into the future.

The emergence of a kinder, gentler counter leader approach to leadership is gaining ground among professional management, rather than leading with an iron-fist, we are finding that the most productive leaders

Lead With Love

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While this may be a difficult concept to embrace when you are first introduced to it, we all can agree with the idiom, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” It becomes necessary for leadership to treat their workforce with respect imbuing them with a sense of belonging, dignity and worth to achieve maximum effectiveness and higher retention.

It follows, if leadership were to turn up the volume on respect to its highest level you would be looking at “love” face to face. Hugely uncomfortable for some, but a brilliantly enlightened approach to team-building and the creation of uplifting support staffs.

Promoting camaraderie and a joyous work environment is trending in business cultures and the effects are paying off for the businesses and corporations utilizing these tactics… but as the workforce continues their evolution, there is an increasing sense of finding more meaning in what they do.

The most basic need of humanity is to love and be loved. Though we try to beat the sense of love or being worthy of love out of our societal structure (and certainly society has initiated many campaigns to persuade us to believe that love is folly and fleeting) innately we know that we were created to love and be loved, even if we’re unlikely to agree with the concept in the moment.

Work for Free

I work with leaders who lead with love. They are bold about it and their cultures radiate it within their organizations and to the communities they serve. Even though these workers are being well compensated, they are not motivated by the money at all. In fact, they have said – and I believe them – that they would work for free because they love their work.

To them, love is all there really is.

Now, that got the attention of leadership. Think about it, to have a team that was so in love with you, your business or organization (and each other) that they would work for free to support your vision.

Of course, leading with love and creating a culture of loving lovers is a daunting task if you are not truly a lover yourself. For those I know who lead with love, they are supported by the most amazing love cultures, and it just comes naturally to them.

Their business culture is an extension of who they are. As they are evolving into more loving individuals the love bug infects their entire organization like a sacred virus.

I am confident that as more people awake to the enlightened sacred virus, they will expect and eventually seek love in their daily lives even more than monetary reward.

How can you better lead with love?

 

Shiny Objects Everywhere

Ever get distracted by shiny objects? Those things that are newer, better things or processes that garner your attention with their sheer brilliance, clever packaging, advertising or have the possibility of garnering the support and love from your family and/or peers are indeed so shiny.

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They immediately distract you and pull on strings deep inside you and you imagine how magnificent it would be, “if I only had” that, or one of those, then my life (family, or business) would be complete.

Only, more often than not, the shiny object does not meet your expectations of fulfillment following obtaining the thing you sincerely desired and believed it would help you to achieve the sought after feeling. So, the search is on for the next thing.

This not only applies to products, but relationships, education, programs, services, technology, social networks, investment and business opportunities. You can find shiny objects in any segment of your life and in most cases, the shiny object is a distraction, interrupting your otherwise focused progress in your life.

Because, let’s face it, even if you have the best (insert anything) once you get used to it, you start looking for something else a bit shinier.

It’s never more apparent in our society in relationships which have become somewhat disposable due to the social impact of the acceptance of the idea of disposing of something old (or has lost its sheen) and replacing it with something new is actually a good thing. Certainly, it makes sense from a profit standpoint, because in most circumstances transitioning in relationships creates additional cash-flow supporting our economy.

As it occurs to you, you might think, “Oh, so it’s a profit deal.”
Pretty much, that’s the truth. We owe a debt to the economy for encourage the deterioration of the family unit as well as other relationships, personal and in business.

And if you think it’s easy to abandon a relationship when it gets boring as you seek an alternative, think about how much more difficult it is to stay focused on a particular business interest, especially if you’re starting from ground zero.

That’s why most new businesses fail in the first one-to-three years. Two-thirds of the entrepreneurs throw in the towel and never try again, because the whole affair was a bust, leading to a lack of self-confidence, as they find safety and security restrained to their more convenient everyday life, yet always wondering, “What if…” things had gone differently?

Then there’s the other third of the former business owners who are endlessly in pursuit of the next new thing. They are often distracted by shiny objects in business opportunities, programs or systems, even prior to successfully completing the projects at hand. We call them serial entrepreneurs.

On and on it goes for them, one thing after another, never finishing one thing and they’re off to the next. Although this is an inefficient method of business building, unfortunately one percent of serial entrepreneurs breaks through (even if accidentally) and makes a fortune.

This success story spreads through the serial entrepreneurial community quickly, encouraging the remaining seekers to increase their shiny object pursuits even more. The energy created from the success of the one percent that it even attracts otherwise healthy business owners (as well as people who have never even thought of starting a business) to start looking for shiny objects too.

A shiny object can be a tool, or a destructive distraction.

Think about taking a little extra time and thought prior to jumping ship, or investing in your next shiny object and ask yourself,

“Does this support my highest and best?”

If you have a clear set of defined goals, you can use this list to quickly qualify any shiny object.

Will it be a tool?

Or

Will it be a destructive distraction?

Stay on track and don’t count yourself as one of the accidental one percent, instead purposefully honor your purpose and mission, so that when you’ve become a member of the one percent, you know you can rest assured, it was no accident and your success is honorable and well deserved.

Who Do You Serve?

Ever wonder why it’s so difficult to find what it is that you’re looking for in your life?

The principle of focusing with laser accuracy on what you want, help you to attract what it is that you’re seeking. This approach works in all areas of life. Specifically, we will look at applying this approach to business target markets. In order for a business to achieve profitability, it is important to specifically define one’s target market.

Your target market includes a specific group of people that want your product or service. The more specific you are about defining your target market, the more effective your marketing efforts can be.

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Customer Avatar

The best way to define your market is to reduce the attributes of your target market to one particular person who represents your clients or customers. Be as specific as possible, give him/her a name and maybe even create a drawing or get a photo to represent your perfect client.

An example might be:

Name: Cory More
Age: 35 years old
Geographic Location: Greater New York Area
Education: High school
Profession: Hourly employee, data entry
Diet: Mostly vegetarian, somewhat interested in eating healthier, regularly integrates meat-eating (usually chicken and fish, beef rarely). Wife purchases food staples from local market.
Home: Rents (not a homeowner)
Auto: Owns an older vehicle (paid for), while wife drives newer auto (payments)
Family: Married with two children. Basically happy, but finds financial strain a constant irritant,
Regular spending activities: Cab fare 3x per week, eats restaurant lunch work days, buys commercial cup of coffee 2x per work day.
Spare time activities: Watches a lot of TV, plays video games, meets friends at bar twice a week after work, watches a movie at a theater once a month, smokes marijuana occasionally
Mental health: Moderately undiagnosed depression, feels unworthy – as if he could have done better – if he’d not rushed into marriage and family.
Satisfaction: Likes time commiserating with friends at the bar, twice a week. Faithful husband, basically enjoys intimacy at home (though flirts occasionally with saleswomen).
Secret wish: Would like a higher paying job or ultimately to win the lottery

On and on it goes, until you’ve added as many details as possible to clearly define your perfect consumer. Having this picture clearly in your mind will help you aim your marketing efforts to your target market. (Uh… That’s why they call it a target.)

Once you know who your Avatar is, you know what he/she does, what interests him/her, where he/she goes, you can align your marketing efforts to deliver the message that he/she wants to hear and be in the place at the time he/she is likely to be looking/listening for your message.

But My Target Market Is Everybody

Oh, of course, you just want $1 from every person in the United States, right?

If you do not focus on a target, you will certainly miss. This is one of the reasons most businesses fail.

If you want to get what you want, you’ve got to focus and exert some energy to create your desired result.

You can have multiple Customer Avatars, and create separate customized marketing efforts to best approach each one, but too many of them will water down your message.

Personal SWOT Analysis

Harvard Business School professors, George Albert Smith Jr and C Roland Christiensen developed the first incarnation of the SWOT Analysis in the fifties and later, Stanford University’s Albert Humphrey adapted it for use in organizational strategy.

This tool is as effective today as it was then and is an excellent way to establish your baseline prior to entering a potential business venture.

Personal SWOT Analysis strength weakness opportunity threat

Using this analysis you determine what are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

This same system can be adapted to evaluate your innate abilities and challenges.

To create a Personal SWOT Analysis, simply title each of 4 pages with Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat.


STRENGTH

Always start from a position of strength. So list all the strengths tat you possess, personally and professionally. Think about answering questions, like, what are the things that you do well? What unique personal resources can you call up? And, what do others see as your strengths?

No need to hurry, here; review and re-review adding any attributes, skills or gifts that you may have missed. Most people are amazed at what they have accumulated over the years in their personal escrow. Bask in the glow before continuing…

WEAKNESS

Understanding our weaknesses is so empowering. On this list you note the things that are difficult for you, that you admire in others and which you possessed yourself or activities that you’d rather not participate in.

Think about asking yourself, in what areas could I improve? Where comes easier to others than me? How do others see as my weaknesses?

This is an excellent opportunity to review skills that you need to be aware of either opportunity to gain the knowledge or skills for yourself or alternatively seek resources for outsourcing.

OPPORTUNITY

We are all surrounded by a myriad of opportunities for personal growth. You may be aware of some that are immediately within your grasp, others you may need to begin to look for.

List the opportunities that come to mind regarding personal growth or expansion at home, at work or in relationships within your circle of influence. Maybe consider taking steps to grow your audience.

Keeping a keen eye for opportunities to share, care and grow will keep you on the leading edge of your life’s journey in style.

Ask questions, be curious; about life, what are other people doing that you look up to, competitors, or associates in your field. You may uncover other opportunities by being more aware.

Thoughtful, metered Googling and social media excursions can help keep you abreast of opportunities, but you must stay in control. Don’t let these tools become your weakness.

THREAT

What are the roadblocks that appear to be in your way? What stands between you and what you desire? What are the challenges that you face?

BY clearly defining the threats to your success, it is easier to map out a route to circumvent the threats that may turn out to be opportunities for personal growth.

In the event that you decide that becoming an expert in the thing that may be blocking you is not congruent with the person that you are… No problem. It’s an opportunity to outsource; find, hire or trade services with someone who would love to handle this for you.


Using this personal SWOT Analysis will help you grasp what assets you possess (many we take for granted), and what your shortcomings might be (many are exaggerated and easily overcome) and having it in black-and-white will help you chart your journey to unbridled success.

Going With the Flow

I work with a wide variety of clients with just as varied philosophies and levels of personal and professional acumen. In my attempts to reach out to them – to help make their lives more efficient and/or effective – invariably we encounter obstacles along the way.

In every case, there are at least two options involving making a decision to attempt to deal with the problem or circumstance. It is my preference to evaluate the situation from as many perspectives as possible before taking action (if time and circumstance allows), weighing the available data and deciding to take the action that offers the least resistance.

Go with the flow life as a river raft trip personal spiritual professional business akiyoko photo
If life was a raft, you’d make it so much farther downstream in less time, by letting the current do most of the work.

If one approaches his or her life as a river rafting trip and thinks of the raft as representing one’s life or business, then you are more able to disassociated yourself from the circumstance enough to more successfully navigate the journey and allowing the flow of the water carry you to your destination.

In the same way that we use conservation to protect valuable resources and reduce waste, we need to approach problem-solving, navigating our business and lives by expending the least amount of effort to gain the greatest reward or impact. You want to conserve your strength for what might lay ahead, only using the necessary resources to get you from here to there.

Yet, the river’s flow and the terrain surprises you with what may be lying around the next bend (especially if you haven’t navigated a river trip, like the one you are currently taking).

Some, if not most, of your river rafting trip will not be torrential and you will be able to drift along enjoying your scenic oneness with all that is.

I am blessed to be invited to join others on their river rafting journey and it is my life’s ministry to offer my perspective to others to help maximize their efforts along the way.

Whether the trip is a personal, professional or spiritual one, my calling is to help others achieve their highest and best. This journey – whatever shape or form it takes – requires effort and resources to get from here to there; thoughtful conservation of energy and resources involved the management of your cache to increase the effectiveness of your time spent in the flow.

Find ways to go with the flow. Ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my efforts and resources at this time?”

You may find (if you’re able to remove yourself from the anxiety of the current perceived situation or crisis) that in some cases, little or no action may be necessary, because even though it looks like you’re hurdling straight for that rock… the flow of the river’s current will guide you around it.

Sometimes your choice to go to the left of the rock – or the right of the rock – can directly impact what lies ahead. The rock may represent anything, a life challenge, business opportunity, marketing approach or financial decision. Using a T Chart or having a co-pilot can be extremely effective.

A wise person uses the technological resources available to best navigate the journey. Although this approach may be offensive to the purist, I would embrace having lookouts with binoculars connected to me via a wireless headset to assist in navigation, if possible. (Just sayin’.)

In any case, be open and willing to take no action, if necessary and enjoy the thrill of the ride.