Family Business

One challenge that is familiar to many entrepreneurs and small businesses is the intersection of your family life and business life. Many of us rely on our significant others, children, siblings or other close family members to help us launch and sustain our business because there is already a connection and level of trust. The challenge is presented when your personal relationship challenges begin to influence your business function.

Productivity is the biggest loss when family culture interest ts with business practices. This loss in productivity has the potential to result in the following:

  • Increased internal conflict
  • Loss in motivation and desire to move the business forward
  • Bad customer service. Unhappy employees don’t connect with clients.
  • Stressful home life

Your loss in productivity leads to a loss in customers and profit in your business. This in turn impacts your home life where work stress makes the relationship at home much more tense. It is a dangerous cycle.

If you do work with family and/or friends, how do you minimize the impact of your personal relationship on your business practices?

Establish role expectations. Treat your family member as you do the other employees. Follow the same onboarding process, articulate role expectations, and follow procedure.

  • Establish a feedback loop in your business communication. It is important to set aside time during the day to talk about tensions at work.
  • Schedule a time to talk about business during the day. Dedicate your time at home for family and relationship building.

 

Working with family members can be productive and profitable for your business if you establish boundaries for your time and communication. There are too many stories about failed relationships when business becomes stressful and more demanding. You can take action to help preserve your relationships as your business grows.

Let’s explore some custom strategies for your business communication so your relationship can grow with your business.

Motivation

Motivation

 

The year is half over, summer months are finally upon us, and family schedules fill up. We have many distractions that keep us from being completely committed to our work. Employee burnout and lack of motivation is common during this time of year.

 

The cost of this low employee engagement is enormous. A Gallup poll estimates the productivity cost per year is between 450 and 500 billion in the US alone. Forbes estimates that disengaged employees cost a business 34% of their salary per year. If an employee makes $70,000 per year, the cost of a disengaged employee is 23,800. Does your business have room to lose that kind of money?

 

So how can you increase productivity and avoid this cost in your business? Here are a few basic strategies:

 

  1. Establish and reinforce a system of accountability. When leadership engages with employees to establish performance goals, there is an increased commitment,
  2. Engage employees in the decision making process. Increased responsibility and participation will elevate the investment in the projects.
  3. Ask for feedback. A transparent communication atmosphere will enable your employees to have more agency in their work. This communication loop will increase productivity and employee satisfaction

 

Employee engagement is an investment, but the increase in productivity will translate into increased profit. Employees will also be more engaged with your core values and brand.

 

Let’s talk about we can create a custom employee engagement plan in your business.

Custom Strategy Sessions Available

Do you ever feel that your business is just not operating at full potential? Have you felt that your employees are not on the same page? 

 

This disconnect within your business has an immediate consequence with the productivity of your business operations. Reduced productivity means lower profit and fewer business referrals.

 

A simple solution to this disconnect is to align your business under a common mission, vision and core values. When you engage your employees in this process, you present a unified and consistent front within your business and your marketing. 

 

The mission, vision and core values serve as an important baseline for business operations. When employees are aligned under the same core themes, your product or service becomes consistent and predictable. Your productivity becomes more efficient and your profit will only continue to increase.

 

An articulation of the mission, vision and core values also serves as an important marketing tool to gain clients. When businesses have a consistent message and display those values in their communication, customers are more likely to return and refer business.

 

Contact me for a custom strategy session to create excellence in your business.

The Trickle Down Effect

What is the biggest financial and productivity challenge in businesses? Employee turnover

When there is employee turnover in a small business, there is a trickle down effect in every area of the business. There is a gap in productivity because of the absent person, the focus of management shifts to reacting to that gap and to hiring a new employee, and the climate of a business is changed. The cost of a low employee retention rate for a small business is huge. The loss in productivity and search for a new employee can cost a business up to $50,000.That number only increases with the specialty of the position.

Why do employees leave a business?

The most common reason for employees to leave a business is because they are not inspired by the work environment. With so many options for local and remote jobs, it is a challenge for businesses to keep their employees. The millennial generation that are fulfilling many of the leadership roles have different visions of work and priorities in their careers. Turnover will continue to be a significant cost for many businesses.

How can small businesses attract and retain employees in this work environment?

The simple answer is to strengthen your business culture by focusing on the needs of your employees. Involve them in decision making, challenge them with new tasks, ask them for their unique perspective to solve problems. When employees are part of business operations, they become more invested in their work. Create opportunities in your work environment to enable relationships to develop. People want more from their work environment than just a paycheck. Professional development opportunities and developing relationships will keep your employees interested and engaged.

Invest in your employees to create a stronger foundation for your business and to prepare for growth.

Let's explore a custom strategy to find excellence in your business.

Networking

Networking is not just asking for business, it is developing a long term relationship with another person. Relationships with other businesses is one of the most important dimensions in small business development and operations. Connections with other business professionals provide you insight to the most current and efficient practices in your line of work. In addition, a well developed local business network will also be the source for leads, referrals and partnerships that will only enhance your business and your community. A strong professional network is critical for any business.

As a business professional, you should choose the networking atmosphere that matches you and your work personality. People with extroverted personalities may enjoy the bustling Chamber of Commerce networking events, where more introverted personalities may enjoy a one-on-one meeting over coffee. Whatever method you choose will start a business relationship that could impact your business operations, a future employment opportunity or professional development.

Here are a few tips about networking;

1. Be consistent in your professional presence

In the age of social media, networking has seemed to explode. Platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter, enable multiple opportunities to create connections with other business professionals. You are likely involved with multiple platforms to promote and market your business. It is important to have a consistent messaging throughout your platforms so you can establish an authentic vision of you professional presence. When your network begins to refer you to potential clients, you will have the best representation of yourself in your online presence.

2. Listen and Engage

While networking is important to promote yourself and your business interests, your primary goal should be to create an authentic connection with the other person. By showing genuine interest in a person and engaging with their business challenges, the relationship will more likely yield a referral or a return in business. In addition, you will develop a trusted connection that could benefit your business needs in the future. Authenticity will always create a foundation of a sustainable and beneficial relationship.

3. Don’t be afraid to network outside of your immediate business sphere.

At networking events we frequently fall into the same sphere of conversations because it comfortable to be around those we trust. Nurturing existing relationships is critical for our business sustainability but creating new connections can help lead you down the path of business growth. Even though there may not be a direct connection within your industry, there are foundational business skills that are necessary in any business environment. Topics like payroll, marketing, customer relations strategies and client communication are critical to any business operation. A connection outside of your directly connected business network could expose you to a more efficient, productive and profitable idea that may change your business.

An authentic connection within your network will only benefit your business. You will develop a trusted relationship and set the stage for future business. It is important to be an active part of your business community to help growth and scale of your company.

I help small businesses discover strategies to develop a strong foundation in your business and to prepare for growth and scale. Contact me to create a custom strategy for growth.

Business Culture

Business culture is embedded in all communication transactions within a business, between businesses, and with clients. Communication behaviors are central to how a business establishes and develops relationships and displays cultural values. A positive and productive business culture is critical for employee retention, an engaged business operation, and productivity. Corporations and small businesses alike benefit from a strong organizational culture. The result is a clarified network of communication, an empowered workforce, and an evident core identity.
People typically identify business culture through the mission statement, goals and codes of conduct that have been established by the company. Where you can identify some elements of culture through the stated mission, the real culture of the business lies in the communication environment within a business. When businesses establish a clear network of communication and are transparent about the expectations of communication, the culture dramatically improves. When there is a positive business climate, productivity will be enhanced and you will be more profitable.

Here are a few general ideas about how you can improve business culture.

1. Manage conflict

Conflict is a natural part of a business culture. Conflict can be the catalyst for positive change in the workplace but it can also destroy relationships and processes within the business. It is best for employees and supervisors to handle these conflicts with a quick and open approach. The conflict stays isolated and employees witness the approach as fair and objective.

When businesses have a positive culture, conflict within the organization decreases because employees are empowered take control of their own workspace.

2. Have a collective and unified culture

The culture of a business is determined by owners, supervisors and employees. Involve all levels of employees in the discussion of culture. When everyone is involved with the process of articulating the business environment, there is more investment. More involvement from employees creates more dedication and a collaborative environment.

Supervisors,  owners, and employees of businesses must also be open to this feedback. This transparency and openness will create a business environment that is dynamic and flexible for to confront challenges when they emerge..

3. Cultivate strong relationships

If you are a business with many employees, invest time and resources to create a collaborative and supportive atmosphere at work. Recognize workers for their accomplishments, trust employees with projects, encourage a collaborative environment, and inspire employees to be involved with business processes. These methods will help employees feel more engaged and connected during work.

If you are an independent business owner, give the relationships with your clients significant     attention. Be transparent through your business processes, engage them in a candid discussion of your service, and be honest in your transactions. Referrals and return business are critical for small business owners. Separate yourself from your competition by being memorable, personable and a trusted.

Business culture collectively displays the values and behaviors that are central to a company. This communication is the first glimpse that a client has before there is a business transaction. This conduct also displays the core ethics of a business. Clients and employees stay loyal to companies that align the culture of their company with their established mission.

Let’s create custom strategies to address the communication network and culture of your business. We can explore how to make your business more productive and profitable through an investment in your culture.

January 30th, 2019

Relationships are essential to business. Relationships between your clients, your employees, and other businesses are necessary for creating and sustaining your business. These connections are the source of your business culture. We rely on this network to sustain and grow our business. In my next few blog posts, I will explore these different relationship levels. This week, I will explore the relationship with the client.

Client generation is critical to any business. Businesses need clients to survive and it is impossible to think about growth unless we expand our client base. Client generation does not happen without communication. When business owners and employees understand the needs and communication habits of clients, there is a higher potential for a business transaction.

Communication is key in the sales process. There is an important connection between the task of selling and the relationship that is built during a sale. The tension between the task and relationship dimension between the buyer and seller is critical to a successful transaction. An understanding of the different buyer types and how to adapt your communication to these clients will help you build trust between you and the client. This is great for immediate business, future business and referrals. Studies vary on this topic, but there is agreement on a few major themes. The typical buyer personality types fall into four categories: AssertiveAnalyticalAmiable, and Artistic

Assertive
The assertive client likes to be in control, is competitive and goal oriented. They are less concerned about developing a relationship with the person and more concerned about the outcome.  Be logical, direct and fact oriented when speaking to assertive buyers.  They will respond to direct statements but will also attempt to drive the conversation. Take control and discuss results and the return on investment with these types of buyers.

Analytical
An analytical customer is thoughtful, comparative, and typically distrustful of sales people. They like to see the logic behind the purchase. Use facts and examples when selling to an analytical audience. Compare your product/service to your competitors and take your time with these personality types. Ask questions and discuss some potential drawbacks to avoid risk. Analytical buyers appreciate the extra attention and thoughtfulness rather than the sales pitch.

Amiable

An amiable personality is friendly, loyal, and low risk. These customers are primarily concerned with developing a relationship. Seek common ground through small talk and show a general interest with amiable buyers. They are loyal to service providers and sales people with whom they choose to business because they tend avoid conflict and negotiation. If you show a personal commitment and attempt to create a relationship, you will gain business with this buyer type.

Artistic
Artistic and expressive buyers are assertive and impulsive. They typically have a short attention span and will make quick decisions, These personality types are fulfilled by relationship as well as accomplishing a task.  Tell stories and discuss experiences with artistic buyers, because they typically make decisions in the first day. Artistic buyers are assertive so use goal oriented language to help close the deal.
Adapting your communication to your audience is essential in business. Start to understand your client base and their communication needs to build better relationships, create a returning customer base, and to gain more referral business.
I help you develop unique communication strategies for your business transactions. The target audience is key to marketing and to business but communicating with different personality types is how you compete in this market. Let’s explore the different possibilities of your business culture.Feel free to email or call.

Manage, Organize, Declutter, Engage (MODE)

 You know how important time management is for the productivity and profit. Time management as a skill that someone needs to be successful at business, however, it is noticeable when a manager or employee does not organize their time. Ineffective time management can have serious consequences in any business, including decreased productivity, a stressful business culture, a loss in clients and a loss in profit. When we begin to organize the limited time we have to accomplish our tasks, we take control and discover that we have more time for our life outside of work.
          Time management is the process of how we organize the hours in our day. It is important that you understand your working behavior before you begin to identify a time management strategy that will be successful in your schedule. Ask yourself:
            
-  When am I most productive? (time of day, day of the week etc.)
-  Where do I accomplish the best work? (office, coffee shop, home)
-  What inspires you to work?
-  What work tasks to you avoid?

When you understand your productivity tendencies, develop a method that will fit your schedule and the demands of your job.

The following ideas will help you begin your time management strategy. Find your MODE of time management:

1) Manage your relationships 
You will be more inspired and motivated to work if your business relationships are cordial and supportive. Relationships with your family and friends is also important in how you function at work. Dedicate time to nurture the social element of these relationships to help maintain a positive approach to work.

                       2) Organize and Prioritize your tasks 
It is a good practice to identify the tasks that need to be accomplished each day, week, month or year and then prioritize them in the order of importance or urgency. I find the tool of the Eisenhower matrix to be very helpful when thinking about how to organize my day and accomplish my goals . An example of the matrix is below.

                      3)  Declutter your work space 
Remove distractions from your work space. Discover the environment in which you are most productive and keep it organized and ready for work. Eliminating distractions such as your phone, TV, music or physical clutter can help you be in a space to be more productive.

                    4) Engage Boundaries in your workplace 
If you work at home, create a space that is exclusively for work. In any work or social environment become more comfortable saying “no” when additional requests are made. Dedicate time for your work, yourself, your family and friends to engage boundaries between your work time and family time.

Take control of your time. When you strategize and organize your time, you will reduce your stress, have time for yourself and find yourself being more productive when your time is dedicated to work.

Contact me for additional strategies for time management or business practices that increase the efficiency of your work environment.

Work smarter, not harder

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Business practices in the new year

Happy New Year business owners! I hope your business had a prosperous and successful 2018 and that you are prepared to take your business to the next level. As a new year begins we all take time to think about what ways our business can evolve and grow. Here are a few tips to help your business have a smooth transition into 2019.

1. Invest in your business culture

The beginning of the year is always a good time to assess your business practices and explore ideas that can make your business more cohesive. Businesses that invest in employee development can increase the productivity of their business by over 20%. That increased productivity translates to increased efficiency and profit. You can invest in training, hire a business coach for an objective view of your business, or explore the practices of other business professionals to help improve the culture of your business.

2. Invest in your professional development

You are a crucial part of your business. Make a commitment to improving your professional skills. Your business will only benefit from your professional development. Improve your leadership by joining professional groups like your local chamber, business leader groups, a Toastmasters club, or even audit a class at your local college to help you keep up with local and national business trends. Not only will you grow as a leader for your business and employees, you will also increase the visibility of your business.

3. Create successful habits

Successful businesses follow a similar recipe: A healthy infrastructure, consistent communication with potential, current, and previous clients, and a strong business culture. Planning activities to support each of these areas on a regular basis will help prepare your business for the next stage of growth.

Business growth is a challenge, but a strong business infrastructure with simple business habits can prepare your business for growth and profit. Contact me to discuss custom strategies to help take your business to the next level.

Branding and Business Culture

Branding and Business Culture

Branding is equally important for large corporations and small businesses. Businesses must think about how they are perceived by employees, customers, past clients, and target audiences. A brand must capture the values of the business and be flexible to capture a changing business culture.

Branding happens at multiple phases of business ownership. Businesses that think about branding before they begin their business planning help set a strong foundation for you business. When businesses need to readjust what they offer because of growth, downsizing, or transition, there should be a reinterpretation of the brand that you represent.

I help businesses articulate their brand during any phase using my 4 Cs strategy. When businesses think about Creativity, Culture, Competition and Consistency, they have a strong foundation.

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