Everyone wants a business that creates profits, whether they’re actively involved or on vacation for a few days (or weeks!). But very few people know how to make that happen...
Recently, an entrepreneur I was working with commented “I’m so tired of my business running me. I need to take control of this thing!”
My response: “Are you prepared to do what it takes to make that happen?”
Too many entrepreneurs are stuck:
Looking just at the day-to-day grind
Getting stuck in the doing of the business
Feeling resentful toward the team because it feels like they aren’t working as hard as you
Putting out fire after fire after fire…
The list goes on. In order to move beyond, entrepreneurs have to give themselves time to cultivate the garden of the business and it requires more energy and more work than they’re already exerting, and that can be daunting!
Think about this as an analogy for a second. The water softens the soil. The soil supports the plants. The plants thrive on the soil and water. The plants attract the right bugs and animals. Those animals help create an incredible ecosystem that keeps the garden going as it’s cared for and a few weeds are removed a few times per week.
If the garden is overgrown and overrun, things dry up. The wrong plants get the nutrients that are there, so the bugs and animals stop coming to support the soil and eventually the good plants die. Things die and are more likely to burn out of control if they catch fire.
The challenge for most entrepreneurs is taking the garden of their business from overgrown and crazy to well-cultivated.
Here are the steps I’ve taken to make that happen in my business, and the steps you can take in yours.
Key 1) Manage Yourself
Figure out where your time should be spent for the growth of the business, and keep yourself accountable to spend time in those growth-activities.
You’ve got to find your perfect combination to create your own accountability, but here is what I do:
Regular coaching calls:
When I get on with my coaches, I make sure we both know it’s not “Chatty-time.” This is the time to sit down and work through the structures and results of the business and see where I’m keeping up and where I’m not doing so hot. My coaches know that it’s a time for them to hold me accountable, not hold idle conversation.
This one is for my inspiration and to jump-start myself. Being around other business owners who are working toward business growth keeps me energized and excited about creating that kind of growth in my own business.
Inner CEO Meeting:
Once a month I sit down and hold a conversation with the inner me that is running the business. Asking questions like how are we doing in the business? What have we learned? What are we going to change? What strategy are we going to implement next? This keeps me focused on moving forward and looking beyond the day-to-day grind of the business.
Weekly Success Schedule Review:
At the end of every week I sit down and compare my actual work catalogue to my schedule of success for the week. The schedule of success is the amount of time allotted during the week to different aspects of the business for maximum efficiency, which I compare to how much time I actually spent in those different aspects of the business.
The hard part comes when you notice that things are not where they are supposed to be. Many entrepreneurs tend to reset, brush it off, and keep going the same way. That’s not helpful.
You have to be willing to acknowledge the failure. Sit down, realize you didn’t hit the goal, and figure out why. Then decide how to improve yourself and your business so you hit the goal the next time, and move forward. The whole point here is to analyze why you didn’t hit the goal and learn from it!
One more aspect of managing yourself before I move on…
Your Business Plan! This is something that should be roughly a page long and easy to read and review. Check in with it daily to be sure everything you’re doing is taking the business in the right direction.
Key 2) Manage Your Team
Entrepreneurs often hire people and expect that individual to perform like they do: self-management for success. Projects get thrown at contractors or employees with minimal explanation or accountability. That’s how we, as entrepreneurs, operate (receive a goal, figure out a path) so we forget that the people who are like us, are running their own businesses.
The majority of people we hire need structure and management to thrive and live up to their potential.
Part of your job as a business owner is to be a good manager of people, which can be difficult if you’ve never had a good manager over you.
I know, I’ve been there.
But it is possible! Here is what you can do to fulfill that good team manager role...
Individual, planned out, weekly meetings with team members are imperative to good management.
Entrepreneurs often struggle just to get the meetings on the calendar, much less prepare for them. Those meetings end up unproductive wastes of time, and fall off the calendars after a couple repetitions because no one has extra time to waste. .
To make the meetings productive, prepare them in advance.
Know what you need to talk about: where did this team member do well? Where do they need to improve? What did they complete well last week? What do I need from them in the next week? What tasks do I want to put on their calendar for the future?
The goal is to address issues as they arise so it keeps it from becoming a big deal and a major source of frustration, while also empowering them to take on the tasks you need them to complete.
Remember: this isn’t just a chat time to become best friends. This is an update on what they are doing, how they are doing, and where they are growing the business. Set expectations and let them know you’ll be holding them to those expectations because you believe they can reach them.
Let them know you’ll be checking in on them for a process update by X date and you’d like to hear how they overcame Y initial hurdle. Specific expectations set them up to succeed.
Hint: Do NOT check in with them just to see if they’ve gotten started. Expect them to get started. Make comments if you need to about how excited you are to see how far they’ve gotten if you think they’ve forgotten BEFORE your check-in date, but do NOT remind them to get started. They already know to get started. You’re supporting them when they get stuck, not babysitting them.
The more clarity, structure, and support in the meetings, the better prepared your team is to live up to their full potential and thrive in their position.
Key 3) Manage Your Business (KPIs)
KPI are your Key Performance Indicators.
You’re managing yourself and your team, now you need to manage those KPIs. You won’t pay attention to every part of the business as it’s growing, that’s just not feasible. But you can manage the key pieces of your business and train your team to manage the other areas to your level of expectation.
First off, know which KPIs matter.
What do you need to track that will tell you the health or illness of your business before it becomes blatantly obvious that it needs help?
Many people track sales, which is a great one because it tells you how much revenue you’re bringing it. But just tracking sales numbers is misleading about the health of your company. You could be generating sales, but have no incoming leads and be chewing through your pipeline and setting yourself for a rough few weeks.
So track the number of leads coming in and appointments run.
Beyond sales, you could track the number of repeat visits needed to make customers happy, or the number of new five-star reviews popping up.
First, determine what areas of the business NEED to keep operating without you, then find a few numbers that your team can track that will indicate whether there is a problem and that number gets reported to you at a frequency you decide.
Now you track them. The best way to do this is to have your team work on tracking the important KPIs for you.
I have a team member who does all the sales calls and appointment setting, so I assigned her to track sales activity; the conversions team then tracks how many of those appointments and calls turn into actual sales.
This helps not only to take tracking the actual numbers off my plate, but empowers her to take ownership of that part of the business and be responsible for it. If things aren’t measuring up, she has the latitude to go in and work on ways to improve them; she presents those to me during our weekly meetings. While I’m managing her, she is able to talk to me about ways she wants to improve her section of the business.
Use the information you’ve collected on the KPIs in planning your strategies.
If you want to have service fulfillment in 24 hours and the KPI says it’s taking 36, you know that you need to look at what is causing it to take that much longer. Once you’ve figured that out, you can begin setting strategies in place to overcome that and get that KPI to where you want it.
Setting up proper management is a lot of work!
If you haven’t had this stuff in place before, it’s difficult to get it into place. But take it one step at a time.
Just like working with a garden: if you’re willing to take it one corner of the garden at a time, you can slowly work on the other corners until you’ve made it to the center and organized the whole thing. Eventually, it only takes a few hours a month to run upkeep on those management systems and keep your garden weed-free.
The Grow Retreat is designed to give you the tools you need to organize your business and prep it for growth in the upcoming year. It’s a content-filled event that is bringing never-before seen content to the San Antonio area in mid-January. If you want to see your business grow and thrive next year, check out the website here to see if this epic event is for you!