Thursday, March 16, 2017

Set Your Mind On Success

I am known as someone who gets things done. This trait is what has enabled me to be successful in my corporate career, to run a successful business of my own, and to help others to do the same in my role as a trusted Business Advisor and outsourced CFO. So what are some of the strategies that I use to get things done? There is nothing new here that you haven't heard before, but these are all things that you can put into play in your own life.

1. Set Your Mind On Success. Envision what "successful" means to you. Create a vision board if you find that helpful. Picture yourself as your successful version of you. I believe in the power of positive thinking, in the idea that  you can create your own reality if only you can envision it. Believe it or not, I sometimes sit in my car before a client meeting and envision myself listening well and making meaningful, thoughtful contributions.

2. Set a plan. Set a goal for the year, then break that down into smaller parts. What is your plan for the month? What do you need to accomplish to reach your success? What do you need to accomplish this week in order to stay on track? And then finally, what is your plan for today? Write these goals and plans down. Publicize them. Tell other people. Let others help you to stay accountable. My friends and coworkers think that I share a lot about myself, but doing so helps me to stay true to my goals. If others know what I am trying to accomplish then it motivates me to succeed!

3. Break large problems or projects into manageable pieces. This, I have learned, is a natural gift that I have and what makes me a good problem solver and puzzler, but it is something I believe that everyone can train themselves to do. In fact, I may have learned this in my younger years as a pianist because in order to learn large bodies of music you must break them down into smaller segments. Once you see a project as a sum of pieces, you do not need as much available time in one sitting to accomplish one part of the project and thus keep yourself moving forward to completion. I find that people who have not mastered this skill often procrastinate because they do not know where to start and do not feel they have enough time at the moment to complete the entire job.

4. Make lists. I keep most of my lists electronically these days and I have a lot of them. To Do lists by each client. A To Do list for my own company (yes, I need to remember to work on my own company too!). A To Do list for home tasks. Various shopping lists. Lists of books that I want to read, movies that I want to watch, places that I want to travel to. Keeping lists helps me to clear my mind of having to constantly remember and acts as a reminder of what I am trying to accomplish.

5. Prioritize. It is not enough to just keep lists. You must look at them and prioritize. In my constant effort to stay balanced, I make an attempt to accomplish at least 1 home/personal task from my list each day and 1 connection with family or friends. When working on my client work, I prioritize based on deadlines and also on what will make the most impact to their businesses. Sometimes a task is not necessarily my highest priority personally, but it is something that needs to be accomplished so that others can keep moving forward in their jobs and so that type of task moves up in priority.

6. Do a priority task FIRST. It is easy (and in fact quite pleasant) to start your day reading a bit, sifting through email, doing some mundane tasks, only to find that you have just blown through an unproductive hour. On my most successful days, I take the bull by the horn and force myself to start with my highest priority job. And then continue at it, if at all possible barring the inevitable interruptions, until it is done. On a personal note, I have been getting up and exercising early in the morning so that it is done. My daughter who is in her 3rd year of medical school tells me she is starting her day with getting through a certain number of board review questions before she heads to the hospital so that she is sure to get them done. Completing important, high priority tasks first builds a momentum that will continue to propel you forward through your day.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What small business owners struggle with: getting everything done

It is often said that small business owners wear many hats.  This is usually true, especially during the early stages of a business.  While it is a good idea to keep costs down during the start-up phase of a business, what many entrepreneurs fail to realize is that there isn't enough time in the day to do it all themselves.  I taught a class on entrepreneurship at our local technical college which walked the participants through the process of creating a business plan.  One woman planned to open a small coffee shop and hoped to do it all herself!  I had her estimate the time it would take to make the coffee, bake the pastries, clean the facility, do the bookkeeping, make the bank deposits, buy the groceries/supplies.....  She soon realized that one person could not do it all.  She had to build employees into the business plan.

Employees will cut down on the time a business owner has to spend on the task the employees will be handling once they are trained.  Notice the italics! The process of hiring and training employees takes time and a smart business owner won't rush this.  Employees who are a good fit for the job and are well trained in the tasks assigned to them will help a business grow and prosper.  Employees who are hired with little thought as to their fit in the company environment and are not trained properly can create chaos and frustration for both customers and the business owner.

Employees aren't the only solution to not having enough time in the day for the small business owner.  Using outsourced service providers can free up time and allow the entrepreneur to concentrate on income generating tasks and areas which require the owner's expertise.  Just like hiring employees, taking the time to find the right service provider is the key to successful outsourcing.

Using a calendar is a great way to stay on track.  Block in time for all the key tasks which need to be accomplished and try to stick to the "appointments" with yourself.  Make sure you make tax deposits/payments and filings a top priority as missing key deadlines can be very costly.

The variety of tasks a small business owner tackles is one of the things many people enjoy about being an entrepreneur.  The key to being a successful entrepreneur is knowing when it is time to delegate some of those tasks!