Category

Uncategorized

California Small Business Owners – Here’s how to prepare for new employment related laws in 2018…

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
Small Business Consulting

Are you a Small Business Owner in California?  Do you know what came in to effect today, January 1st 2018?

The CA legislative branch has continually come up with more ways to protect the employee, hundreds to be exact!

Just this past October (2017) our governor signed 859 of the 977 employment related bills that came to his desk, only vetoing 118.  If you’re a small business owner in California, then you’ve probably noticed in recent years this “pile-on” of laws by the state legislation and have already been trying to make sense of the quagmire.

As a Small Business Coach here in California, now more often than not, I am telling my small business clients “you need to hire a lawyer”.  This is because the laws are so numerous, and often extremely complicated, that interpretation and implementation are fraught with pitfalls.

Some recent bills I have found to be so impacting that businesses are seeing adverse effects on their business model.  In some cases, I have seen employee-related expenses potentially skyrocketing, putting in jeopardy the very jobs the State intends to protect.

Take for instance, SB-490 that comes in 2018;  barber shops, hair salons, spas and beauty salons are required to pay twice the State minimum wage for commissioned wages to licensed barbering and beauty employees.  I’m not going to delve too deeply into this one now, but here’s a snippet/link of the bill to check it out later:

Small Business Coaching

In short, for a salon spa client of mine, and probably many of the businesses in this industry, this is going to be a hard pill to swallow.  Spa and salons already have very tight margins, especially here in California.  Payroll tends to be in the 60-70% range of overall expenses before this law comes in to play (when paying current minimum wage, plus commissions).

A conservative interpretation of this new 490 bill would potentially push payroll to 85% or more of total expense.  This is forcing these owners to look at ways to adjust their business models and reduce the impact of this bill.  (Note: I do not interpret laws; that should be accomplished by an employment attorney, which I am not. This was an estimate based on a specific interpretation of the law, but the text of this particular bill I found extremely difficult to interpret. The impact may differ, depending on an attorney’s interpretation.)

So what can be done? How can you as a small business owner in California weather the storm?

Here are 4 things that you can do to help prepare your business:

1) Get professional legal advice when interpreting these new and recent laws.

Work with a business/employment attorney, especially if you are in an industry that has recently been affected, like the example above.

Get to know which laws impact your business, what’s already in place and what’s forthcoming. This is your responsibility as a business owner, and it’s just wise to do so.

Understand how your business is affected. For instance, some laws have lowered the number of employees limit from 50 to 25 before you have to comply.  This means you could now be out of compliance in some cases.

2) Hire a Small Business Coach to help review any impacts to your expenses and bottom line.

A business coach can help you redefine your business model to limit impacts and mitigate risks.

I am continually working with the business attorneys of my clients to analyze bills like these and understand the impacts to their bottom lines.  I help them understand how, and to what extent, they can adjust their business models to lessen the impact.  I expend a lot of effort helping them understand that the need is even greater to assess the business model in light of new rules.

3) Ask your payroll company for help with your HR and employee policies.

Many payroll companies have options for HR and policy management.

Payroll companies provide their services in a streamlined way, thus helping the business owner keep track of all these entangled employment requirements.  They can provide you with an HR consultant to review all your current policies and get the right policies and procedures in place.  This ensures you are in compliance with all the new laws. They also provide services such as creating employee handbooks and safety manuals that can get your documentation where it needs to be.

4) Sign up with California business advisory groups to stay informed.

One such group is the CalChamber, with their HRCalifornia Extra newsletters. They regularly send out information about new and changing laws here in California. They also send Alerts when potential bills move through the State assembly and Senate floors.

So here is my advice to sum it up:

Your New Years resolution as a CA business owner should be to become more informed and get well advised.  Thus, hopefully, avoid losing a potential lawsuit in the future, and get some small business coaching advise on how to keep your business model “weather-proof” in this ever-changing California climate.

Contact INFIX and we can work out if you need to reassess your business model in light of these new and changing laws.

To sign up for a FREE 60-minute small business consultation, click the button below and my Calendly schedule will pop up. Choose your spot and calendar it and we’re good to go!

Small Business Coaching

Smart Small Business Growth: Enjoy Your Business & Make a Profit, Too!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
small business growth

Andy v. Cake!

 

How many of you had mothers who said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too!”

Mine certainly did.

And yet here you see me finishing off a nice slice of vanilla raspberry with Italian buttercream. It was delicious [thanks to Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.]!

 

What’s the point of having a nice slice of cake if you can’t eat it?

What’s the point of having your own business if can’t enjoy it?

It’s small business growth handled carefully that gets owners out of the business grinder and into the easy chair.

After the excitement of the honeymoon period, many small business owners find themselves toiling under an oppressive workload and struggling to keep effective employees while dodging local tax regulations. [Andy feels your pain!]

There actually is another way to have your cake and eat it, too, or have a business and actually enjoy both it and your life!

Take my client, Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. That’s the remains of their delicious cake in the above photo. Elaine and her partner Donna were nearing burnout. Despite working 12 hours, 6 days a week creating delectable cakes and pastries that had won community loyalty and many awards, they were frustrated with the business cash flow.

“Nearing our 10th year in business and annoyed that we weren’t profiting more, my business partner and I finally decided to reach out to a consultant. We were not happy with the food-specific consultants we interviewed, but we really liked Andy Kemal at INFIX the day we met him. His intelligence, experience, commitment and immediate suggestions impressed us. He kept emphasizing how to work via “the data,” and now we know why. After only a few months, we have already seen an enormous improvement in our costs, cash flow and teamwork!” 

Elaine Ardizzone, co-owner Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.

After focusing on “the data,” (to which they refer in their testimonial above) for just one year, the bakery was able to improve cashflow significantly AND pay back debt and think more positively about the future.

More importantly, however, Sweet Cheeks Baking Co additional revenues and reduced expenses means that Elaine and Donna can actually take vacations without worry. They can afford to pay staff larger bonuses and have the extra time to work on promoting and expanding the business. They now feel in control of their business rather than constantly crushed by it. They say the increase in confidence and peace of mind they now enjoy is priceless.

5 Steps to Having a Small Business and Enjoying It, Too

Most small business owners start out thinking they just need to do a marketing campaign and the money will start rolling in. Robust demand doesn’t always make you successful, however. It can make you more busy and overwhelmed, even to the point where you completely paralyze. It’s not uncommon for companies to fail because they can’t keep up with orders and customer demand. I call this “so successful you fail” syndrome!

Small business growth must occur in a clear-eyed, controlled way when the owner carves out the time and energy to take the five steps below. While these steps involve tracking many numbers and much data, I swear to you that it’s the only way to sustain for the long-term and create a business that is more like a 9-to-5 than 6 a.m.-to-midnight. Some misguided glory exists for small business owners reporting that they “put in a 100-hour week.” I’ve seen the results, however: burnt out people struggling to determine their next move after entrepreneurship.

Most of the small business owners I coach feel they do not have the time to take these steps. I can’t emphasize enough that they switch you from working IN your business to working ON your business. Working ON your business is the only way to achieve sustainable small business growth and a balanced, enjoyable life. In other words, working ON your business is the first step in having your cake and eating it, too. I cover the importance of working ON your business in this previous post.

Working on your business requires drawing back and gathering the data that reveals what’s really going on over the days, weeks, months and years you fulfill orders and hope for enough money to get by. 

Capacity –        Knowing your capacity, or how many products or services you can provide in a day, involves understanding how long it takes to complete one product or service. This means you must time track to determine when you start a job and when you finish it. You can then append a block of time to each task or product. From there you understand just how many clients you, as the owner, can take on in any given week.

Since most small businesses start in starvation mode with no clients or customers, they have a hard time shifting to more realistic understanding of their capacity. We’d all like to think if we just work hard enough, we can fulfill all orders. That’s just not possible. Understanding your capacity means sitting down with a spreadsheet and filling out time for each product or service you offer.

Capture –           The key to boosting revenues is capturing more leads, a portion of which you will eventually convert (sell to). This includes using sales people to make calls, leveraging the most effective marketing tools today (email!), and holding events to get PR. It also means having a way of capturing interested parties contact information (again, email!) so that you can market to them repeatedly. After all, it takes 8 to 12 touches from a business before a prospect actually buys.

Always gather data on the leads captured via each outreach. Efforts that win more leads should be redoubled. The less effective should be dropped, even if they were fun at the time!

Convert –           Getting a lead to buy has become the subject of much discussion, particularly since so many sales are now transacted digitally. When you hammer out your business’s key steps that get more leads to convert, you can repeat those for a higher “conversion rate.” You can also train your team on these steps so that they waste less time enacting ineffective methods.

Often, getting conversion rates up is a matter of trial and error. After all, each business, customer and product or service is unique. Small business must test to hone their unique best practices.

Compound –     The most successful small businesses know that current customers tend to buy more new products or services. In fact, it’s common knowledge that acquiring a new customer costs 5 times more than selling to an existing one. While we all need new customers to keep the pipeline full, determining what other types of products or services your current customers want shortens the buying cycle significantly. You can skip the whole nurturing process. Loyalty programs tend to be very successful for retail businesses.

Calculate –        Calculate your margins so you can know exactly which products are making you money and how much. Anyone who’s watched “The Profit” with Marcus Lemonis has seen him scolding boutique owners who keep an unprofitable product simply because the store owner’s mother designed it. Successful small business owners must get brutal and make a list of all product or services costs (labor+materials+overhead+marketing), their prices and margins. This data enables them to drop what doesn’t pay.

Did you think you left “data” behind in college? Much of life is about data, and when you get a grasp on your business data, it actually becomes your friend!

Small Business Growth Takes Conscious Tracking

Landing your business on easy street takes growth and growth is a multi-faceted thing. Too many think growing your top line or revenues means success. It doesn’t. What happens when you have twice as many orders to fill than your staff (or you) can produce? Often, it means turning to expensive business loans, and loans can make life MORE stressful rather than less. You can grow steadily, even slowly, keeping revenues ahead of expenses when you use the 5 steps toward business growth outlined here.

Want some hand-holding while you do it? I offer two, FREE 60-minute in-person or phone consultations each week. We can work out whether you have a capacity, conversion or any one of a number of problems that plague small businesses today.

With your problem identified, you can start working on it right away. My outside perspective, which comes from two decades running engineering department, overseeing costs, margins and revenue at Qualcomm. You can learn more about me here.

To sign up for your free 60-minute consultation, click the button here and my Calendly schedule will pop up. Choose your spot and calendar it and we’re good to go!

Book a Free Consultation

and start growing your business now or call 949-4U-INFIX

My Tie is My Talisman. What’s Your Small Business Charm?

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Small business talisman the bow tieMy tie is my talisman.

A talisman contains magical properties that draw good luck to the possessor. It also protects them from evil or harm. If anyone is in desperate need of a talisman, it’s the struggling small business owner who’s overcome endless challenges to bring unique products and services to underserved audiences.

As a business engineering manager for Qualcomm for 2 decades, I hardly go in for mystical remedies. Still, somehow, I depend on my bow tie as my small business talisman to embody my understanding of my business and where I’m meant to serve in the world. Developing your talisman keeps you focused on your ultimate goal. 

My goal at this point in life is to coach other businesses to adhere to their schedules, cut unnecessary business expenses, hire smart and pursue only the right markets. Still, I, too, need reminders and clarity from time to time. I’ve infixed my vision of the realities and dreams of my business in my bow ties.

These unassuming pieces of fabric become my small business talisman because they represent:

  1. Consistency: Every day one of the first things I do is tie my bow tie because I know that consistent habits demonstrate to your prospects that you are a reliable source for what they need. Even when I’m not feeling like assessing my financials or making those cold calls, my habit of doing so on a certain day and time keeps me on track. I have no excuses. It’s like making your bed, the first accomplishment of the day.  You begin how you mean to continue.
  2. Differentiation: the fact that only a fraction of American men wear bow ties doesn’t intimidate me. I WANT to broadcast my unique business and mindset. Every small business must differentiate itself from competition. I am a colorful and friendly person. The businesses who want only a dull number cruncher shouldn’t use me. Let much of the market go: work with only sliver  you’re ideally equipped to serve.
  3. Memorability: someone I meet at a networking event may not remember my name or background, but there’s a good chance he or she will remember my bow tie. In fact, I get calls that start with, “You’re the bow tie guy. Right?” Recognition that my bow ties work as a mnemonic device is extremely satisfying. As a small business talisman, it also gives me a little boost as I walk into an unknown situation.
  4. Persistence: Every day, I work hard to tie the perfect bow tie. That I don’t always get there reminds me that many days for my business owner clients (and me) will be imperfect. Not every day is a triumph. Operations and revenues can be going along smoothly when a key employee suddenly quits; a solid deal falls through and mother nature unleashes a hurricane. Bumps in the road are part of both business and life. Every day presents a new opportunity to get it right.
  5. Self-Congratulation Upon Mastery: When I tie my bow tie with neat corners and smooth faces, I realize, I am a master! Owners who finally master a sales process or presentation should take the time to enjoy the moment. Relishing the times you got it just right feeds confidence and energy reserves. Battling for market share takes both.
  6. A Networking Tool: Some businesses love the whole networking scene; others . . . not so much. My bow tie acts as an icebreaker, allowing others to approach me and ask why I’m wearing it. I get the chance to discuss all the reasons my bow tie is my talisman. This humanizes me and demonstrates how dedicated I am to providing excellent service.
  7. A Symbol of Change: I left the best reminder for last. My bow ties help me remember the relentless fluidity of commerce, capitalism and entrepreneurialism. I change my bow ties depending on my mood, my clients’ moods and even the current feeling in society. When the “zeitgeist” or overall trends shift, business owners MUST shift with them.

Consider that I just heard an announcer on a Kohl’s radio commercial saying, “If your favorite retail chain is closing, we’re still here for you.”

It’s hard to believe, but retail stalwarts like The Gap, J.C. Penny, Kmart and Sears (SEARS! which created the very first catalog in 1888! It was one of the few places pioneers could get a decent wash cloth!) are closing many (if not all) of their bricks-and-mortar stores.

When commerce changes, small business owners must be ready to shift with it. Reaching prospects today means using social media, search engine optimization, email newsletters and content. Those determined to stick with print ads and television commercials have failed to keep up with competitors. Great business at the turn of the 20th century went bust by the 1920s because they tried to institutionalize their processes and strategies, rather than evolving them, and hence their competitors who adapted by constantly changing process and strategy overtook them. Companies like the sailing ship manufacturers didn’t embrace change that steam power brought and that killed them. I switch it up and I tell my clients they need to as well.

What symbol can or do you use to keep your business on track toward better profits and more streamlined operations? Business success takes support. Using a small business talisman in the way I use my bow ties can embody your business principles and goals.

If exactly what symbolizes your business escapes you, know that each week, I offer three, FREE 60-minute in person or phone consultations. We can work out whether you have:

  • a capacity problem (too much work and not enough staff),
  • a focus problem (trying to delivery everything to everyone),
  • a revenue problem (margins too low and costs too high)  . . .

. . . or any one of a number of other problems small businesses just like yours struggle with! Feel free to call me at 949.48.6346 or send a quick note to inquiry@infix.us. I will get back to you right away!

woman staring at computer hoping to fix small business problems

The 5 Typical Small Business Problems a Coach Solves

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I’m a small business coach, and having spent much time with many owners and entrepreneurs, I have come to see some common patterns in their most pressing problems.

Small businesses vary wildly from boutique $2,000-per-month consulting services to high-volume bakeries that hand over three cookies for a dollar.

Still, the same five small business problems keep emerging for nearly all, no matter size or revenues:

  1. Time Mismanagement: too many small businesses get stuck carrying out daily tasks of providing their product or services rather than working on their business growth. I wrote a whole post about escaping the small business grinder! Do read it.
  2. Lack of vision.
  3. Lack of systematized, documented processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities. I know: boring! But having these in place translates into profits. More below.
  4. Ignorance/lack of interest of the numbers. A few episodes of Marcus Lemonis’ The Profit on CNBC reveals how critical it is for a business owner to understand product/service costs before pricing.
  5. Short term thinking. Small business owners must invest to win. Putting a little extra effort and money in the beginning saves astronomical effort through the middle and at the end.

I’ll discuss more about the risks of falling victim to each and the rewards of getting them right below.

Name Small Business Problems and You’re Halfway to Solving Them

Consider my client Julian, an installer of fine (even priceless) art and sculpture whose clients live in La Jolla, Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe. Julian is a precision guy, tasked with getting measurements and lighting perfect for very discerning home and business owners. He must measure the weight of each piece as well the capacities each wall and ceiling has to support them. Yes, Julian has insurance.

I’m doubt any other of my clients has a target market with higher expectations. I understood, therefore, why Julian insisted on doing most of the installations himself.

Home where fine art is hung on wall

Homes like these have very discerning homeowners.    Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt on Unsplash                                 

Business owner dedication to quality service helps him or her thrive. Still, as Julian’s reputation grew, orders for his services began to outpace his ability to complete them. Large stone sculptures and fine art with heavy frames often required Julian and one or two assistants carry out the hanging tasks. More, home and businesses owners with upcoming parties or important business meetings needed the art up in a short period of time. Did Julian dare send one of his assistants?

Further complicating things was the fact that training a lower-level installer took time away from Julian’s precision work. Then, installer prospects that responded to his ads for $12/hour workers weren’t of the highest quality. They often left after only a few months’ work, squandering all of the skills Julian had painstakingly imparted. These elements added up to a business that had high demand but was still struggling.

Which Common Small Business Problems Risk Dooming Julian’s Business?

Julian has a thriving business but it’s causing him all kinds of stress AND insufficient revenues. Worse, he’s not capturing the business opportunities his hard work has earned him. Which of the following small business problems do you think Julian should tackle first?

Small Business Problems Risks of Falling Victim Rewards of Executing Correctly
Time Mismanagement Business revenues eternally capped at the level to which the business owner can carry out all of the work orders. Business owner working IN business rather than ON business. (Do read that blog post linked above!) Business owner freed to work on bringing in more business and letting hired staff carry out duties, deliveries, admin, etc.
Lack of Vision Business owner “takes all comers” or tries to deliver everything to everyone in their niche. This approach quickly leads to low profits, overwork and burnout. Business owner specializes and gets the highest pay for unique work.
Lack of systematized, documented processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities Employees constantly take business owners’ time and energy with questions. Employees make crucial mistakes that cost time and money. Employees feel as frustrated as business owners, and may quit. Binders with business processes and training provide all employees with workflows and charts to get the work done independently. Employees feel supported and empowered by the business and enjoy solving problems on their own.
Ignorance/lack of interest of the numbers Costs outpace revenues and business fails. Fast. Profits stay sufficiently ahead. Margins wide enough to pay for all costs, overhead, taxes and labor, leaving profit for the business.
Short-Term Thinking Working just to make payroll, not investing in the company especially when some small investment early on can save $1000s or increase growth 10x later. Business owners get to celebrate when goals are met. Share celebration with employees to create positive work environment. Win loyal employees by showing that the owner and the business is there for the long haul. Make it clear there is a future and they will join!

Julian is a San Diego Small Business Coach’s Dream

Julian’s art installation business has fallen victim to four of the five most common small business problems listed above.

The only good grade I would give him was that he knew his numbers. One may expect that it’s easier to get a service business’ profits above costs because of the low level of supplies involved. I happen to believe that time is money, however. Each hour a service provider loses is a significant loss of money. Understanding one’s cost of doing business is critical to understanding the value of time in the business, If you know your cost of business is $30 per hour then you will think more about having an employee sit and do nothing for an hour!

Time spent in each of the tasks below takes revenue away from the paying tasks:

  • training a new installer
  • explaining procedures to a new installer
  • spending time on tasks that a lower-paid, less-skilled employee can handle
  • researching your target market and understanding how your niche serves them.

All must be worthwhile so that the time lost is recouped several times over the long-haul.

Julian’s primary problem is capacity. If that doesn’t sound like a serious issue to you, rest assured that businesses go OUT of business every day because of the inability to meet customer demand. Turning down business due to overcapacity is a business killer.

We set about putting Julian on the right track with the following steps:

  1. Brainstormed why $12/hour employees left
  2. Developed a ladder of employee levels which included
    1. Apprentice Installer
    2. Installer I
    3. Installer II
    4. Installer III
    5. Master Installer.

With pay and benefits increasing at each level, new and potential employees were able to see the benefits coming their way when remaining longer with Julian’s company. This documented employment structure has led to higher retention rates and employee satisfaction. The company is beginning to stabilize and will continue to do so after Julian gets his processes, procedures and roles and responsibilities documented. Not only will this save Julian thinking time, but with employees required to read the binders, Julian will waste less money in the form of his time training employees one-on-one.

With these systems in place, Julian is better able to form a long-term view of his business. The long-term view, in turn, helps him structure goals and then the tasks and tracking to reach those goals. Julian now sees his business as a straight-forward series of clear actions rather than a brewing, oppressive black cloud of doom roiling above his head. We have work ahead, but I must say Julian’s demeanor has turned far sunnier in the past few months!

Which small business problems are you struggling with? Can you identify them specifically? Do you know your cost of services or goods? Do you have a capacity problem (not enough labor to meet orders)? What are your short- and long-term goals? Do you have a strategy and action steps for reaching them?

Each week, I schedule three, FREE 50-minute in person or phone consultations. Do you want to be one of them? Contact me here and we’ll set it up! Need to know a little more about my team? Check out my handsome mug here!

frustrated small business owner in need of a san diego small business coach

A San Diego Small Business Coach’s Secret to Success

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

A small business coach diminishes the overwhelm while expanding the profits.

As a San Diego small business coach, I see many clients approaching their breaking point. While they’ve found a niche that needs serviced and are even earning steady income, they work 60+ hours per week. Vacations are a thing of the past. Relationships suffer.

At the heart of these issues lies the fact that most business owners are still working IN their biz and haven’t transitioned to working ON their biz. As a San Diego small business coach, I intend to get people, process and product synergized for small business so that it can run independently to some extent. At least so the owners can have a 4-day weekend without needing anti-anxiety meds.

A San Diego Small Business Coach’s Biggest Secret: Hire & Plan

What do I mean working IN their biz as opposed to working ON it?

Owners still dealing with the day-in and day-out of actively completing work and the minutiae that surrounds it simply tread water. Billing, returning emails and picking up ink for the office printer, dealing directly with clients, etc., all end up taking hours. 6:00pm comes around again and you haven’t accomplished your goals for the day. Handling immediate small matters one after the other reminds me of the same habit teens are guilty of today: checking and responding to social media messages. Sure, we knock down one task after the next, but major projects get pushed to the following day, only to be pushed again.

We get stuck in the grind, like a broken washing machine cycle that never seems to end; soak, wash, rinse, spin, repeat. With no end in sight, financial achievement is capped by the capacity of the owner, with only small peaks in productivity giving rise to fleeting increases in earnings which can never be consistent or even seen again. The success bar is set high and the small business owner is hindered in meeting it by a lack of productivity, not doing the right things and at the right time and to some extent by a stubbornness to not get help or delegate.

Sound familiar?

Working ON your business not only has a whole different look and feel, it’s the only way to scale to the point of stability and freedom.

Business owner relaxing after getting help from san diego small business coach

Ready to relax? 90% of successful businesses have used a small business coach.

Working ON your business (rather than IN it) means making it structured, streamlined and set up to grow. And that means hiring, something small business owners can be loathe to do. Why? They get used to a level of income that they have from the initial growth of their biz. An owner may be thrilled to earn $60,000 working independently and adjust his or her standard of living to that. Small business owners needing better work/life balance (and more income), however, CAN achieve it when they hire!

Another shot of investment (e.g. bringing on an administrative assistant) can yield 10-20 times more growth because the focus is kept on prioritizing the tasks to the appropriate person. It’s why doctors have nurses, why teachers have assistants, and, yes, why executives have secretaries. For instance, does it make sense for an owner who has the potential to earn $100/HR, to run to the store to get ink for the office printer rather than do billable work for a client for an hour? Chances are an admin person at $20/HR would be better spent on such time in the former task.

Many owners put off hiring help even when their numbers say they can, for several reasons. First, they can’t get to the planning stage of their business because they’re so busy with the minutiae or chaff. Secondly, they assume help will not perform the same level of work. These habits of mind will keep them running the treadmill at the same level of income indefinitely.

How to Both Stay Afloat AND Hire 
In essence, hiring is both an investment and a sacrifice.

Owners have to make a mindset change to recognize they can’t do everything and delegation has to happen. It’s an investment in the future, to know that now their efforts can be spent ON the “business” of developing and growing their biz, rather than just being a servant to the grind.

Even if you don’t think you have the cash flow, look at what it would take and what could you sacrifice temporarily to hire the right help for you.

A lot of small biz owners have reached a level of lifestyle that their company supports and that they are now used to, but with a little adjustment to work process or even personal living they typically find the money to hire someone a few hours a week. This sacrifice should pay off if they focus their efforts with the extra time to do the right thing.

For example, a recent client hired a budget coach to help live more frugally and make the investment in a personal assistant. This paid off fairly quickly as they were able to take on a new client with the extra time they gained and easily pay for the help. Any San Diego small business coach will encourage you to offload the low-skill minutae to low-paid help.

There’s no magic sauce here. I’ve seen owners wait for years for cash flow to improve before hiring help, however, and they never get off this treadmill. A business loan or angel investor can be helpful but ONLY if you have a vision, strategy and goals towards growth (essentially a biz plan to expand your business so you can pay it back). Every situation is different but it always boils down to sacrifice and invest. Hire a coach and an admin person, to keep you on track and to get the chaff off your plate and then focus ON YOUR BIZ and escape from BEING IN IT.

Each week, I schedule three (3), FREE 50-minute in person or phone consultations. Do you want to be one of them? Contact me here and we’ll set it up! Need to know a little more about my team? Check out my handsome mug here!

 

How I saved my client $70,000 per year

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Business Coaching and Consulting

Well it’s all in the bottom line, as they say!  If you’re a regular small business owner you are probably stuck in the daily grind– you know dealing with clients, trying to develop the business, doing the networking and marketing, managing the cash flow, etc, etc.  Unfortunately this happens to the best of us, and it means you are focused on the short-term needs and likely not paying attention to everything that’s affecting your bottom line.  Typically I find that business owners have money locked up in expenses and operational costs that can be retrieved with a little guidance.  So how do you unlock the hidden cash in your business? 

Here’s a few things that you should consider:

Look at your focus and take notice of where your time is going 

Sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees, and if you are spending time on unnecessary stuff or “busy work” instead of billable hours then you’re loosing opportunities to make more money.  Remember time IS money.

Expenses happen, but are they necessary?

When you’re in the grind you stop questioning things, you get complacent, you figure “that’s the way it’s always been”, you welcome the status quo.  Like they say with personal auto insurance– challenge your premium every couple of years, shop around and it may save you $$$s.  Well the same idea holds true for business expenses.

Hire a Business Coach

The most successful small businesses will use a business coach at some point in their evolution.  Sometimes it can be refreshing to admit you don’t know everything, get a little guidance and fresh perspective on where you are at.  It’s where true profound knowledge comes from– the outside view.  A coach will:

  • Show you how to look at your business from different angles rather than just from the grinder. 
  • Get you to ask the right questions about the business so that focus can be adjusted and help you create the right Vision & Mission that brings alignment to your organization so there is an effective path to change.
  • Use data to understand your processes, costs, capabilities & capacity, and drive improvements in behavior.
  • Lend their experience to guide you through the necessary changes to make your company perform better. 
  • Be a life-coach– for your business life.

All these things and more can be improved using a coach/consultant.

In conclusion

I made my client this money using all the above methods– to focus efforts, improve expenses, create efficiencies in process & workforce, make corrections in pricing, drive elimination of bad products, and rectify margins. All these things added up to real and significant savings to the bottom line.

So what are you waiting for?  Start thinking differently about your business and you’ll be surprised at what treasures you find.

INFIX “Life Coaches for Companies” – We believe in the power to realize your business dreams, transform to perform, and evolve to new levels.

http://infix.us/contact

Success, what does it take?

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Success, what does it take?

There’s tons of advice out there on how to be successful, but really… what does it take?

For instance, everyone want’s to be an entrepreneur these days— you know, the super successful seekers of a “boss-free” destiny.

But what is the real thing that sparks greatness and feeds success? Intelligence? Versatility? Opportunity? Innovation? Luck? Daddy’s money? 😉

I’ll tell ya’ what— it’s D R I V E!

Yeah some people might say “drive” is just what gets them out of bed in the morning, but really everyone has that, well almost everyone right? I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about the kind of drive that makes someone workout at 11pm because that’s when they have time, or the drive to pick themselves up after the 10th failure to try again, or the drive to pursue a life long dream to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with only a “special backpack” on their back 🙂

Yeah sure all the other qualities help too— for instance, you need a little luck and you need the smarts to spot opportunities when they arise. However, it’s drive that pulls all the qualities together. Drive is what makes you seize that opportunity by the horns, drive is what makes you try harder next time, drive is what makes you win after a lucky break, and drive keeps you moving forwards when you fail.

Think about it, when you achieved something in your life, anything, what made you win? That swim team medal in school, that first job you got after college, that love interest you romanced, that nice new car you saved for– what was it that got you there? That determination you had was “drive”, the goal was in your sight and you wouldn’t let it go. I tell my kids, get as good of an education as you can because that gets your foot in the door, but drive is what makes you push through and conquer the castle. So, above all, be driven!

Drive is curiosity and determination. It’s the want to know and be something different. It’s having a passion and a goal. It’s your mind, heart, body and soul being in motion towards that goal, like all living things in the universe. That’s where life is, not the alternative of inanimate and dead.

DRIVE can be defined as: Determined Resolute Inquisitive Voracious Enthused.

Be all these things and don’t be passed over by others. Don’t be the rock in the road. Grab life with DRIVE to realize your dreams, pick goals, have focus, make changes, try, learn, modify, retry, conquer, and ultimately succeed.

By INFIX – Life Coaches for Companies.

http://infix.us

Great Leaders: Superstars and Heroes?

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
Infix.us

Great Leaders: Superstars and Heroes?

To be a great leader a person must concern themselves with the activities of both strategy and operational management.  All leaders must have some level of competency in these areas, but for reasons we’ll discuss here, not always in equal amounts.

As an example of this, let us look at the roles of a Chief Executive Officer, CEO and Chief Operating Officer, COO.  The CEO is the strategic head of the company, their role is to drive the business, vision, strategy, and interface with the shareholders.  The CEO sets the goals for the business strategy.  The COO’s job is to complement the CEO with a far more operational role, working with the day to day functions of the company, driving the operating processes and ensuring execution happens smoothly.  The COO sets the priorities -of the goals given by the CEO- for the whole organization.  These separate qualities -strategy and operational management- are a difficult for a single person to master together, because both are huge in scope, requiring a lot of time and energy.  This is the same problem for leaders at all levels in an organization.

Superstars & Heroes

I like to say there are two [3 actually] kinds of leaders in organizations– Superstars and Heroes.  Superstars (like the CEO) have great vision and are good at PR’ing the organizations ideas and projects, typically they get a lot of visibility and acclaim, they are highly concerned with and effective at strategic and visionary activities;   Heroes (like the COO) are selfless and work behind the scene to execute on those visions and ideas, typically getting less visibility, they are highly concerned with -and effective at- all operational management activities.  [The 3rd kind of leader, well, let us just say- simply should NOT be!]

Strategy and Operational Management

Strategy is the activity of creating a path to follow, setting and being clear about the goals, and providing consistency and purpose around those goals to the organization.  Explaining why they need to do the things they are doing and conveying enthusiasm to the organization to achieve those things.  Strategy is extremely important to an organization, and deployment of the policies and procedures down to that organization -derived from goals with priorities- is how strategy gets executed effectively.  Strategy focuses and aligns the organization towards the end goals, and outwardly drives the business towards the customer end game.

Operational management can be simple things like defining email lists in a consistent manner for all teams in an organization, or more complexly defined formal communication channels in a matrixed organizational structure.  Operational activities include:

  • Creating organizational structures and running the organization with clarity- which makes communications easier.
  • Formalizing communication channels; i.e. what to communicate, who to communicate things to, and when to communicate those things.
  • Setting priorities to goals.
  • Assigning resources to projects- ensuring teams have the resources to succeed.
  • Defining & communicating clear individual roles & responsibilities.
  • Centralizing project and team information for clarity.
  • Instilling discipline, training and repetition in teams.
  • Understanding time factors- allowing time for operations & best practices.

What are the other qualities that distinguish a great leader?

The great leader should understand the 3 P’s— the People, the Process, and the Product, in that order.  The leader who ignores this will not be as effective.  It is very simple, firstly the People are most important, they need to be instructed in what they do– given their responsibilities.  Secondly the Process, must be defined and clearly communicated to the people so they know how to perform their responsibilities.  Finally the Product must be defined so the People know the requirements to which they must apply their responsibilities, using the process.  If these are given in any other order the outcome will be less effective.

A great leader understands the importance of keeping it simple, KIS.  There are always many ways to solve a problem, good guidance from a great leader is about defining the 3-5 important things to solve thus keeping the focus to avoid dilution by less important things.  This can be demonstrated by the 80-20 rule, which defines that typically the team delivers 80% of the benefit by doing the important 20% of the things on the list.  It is the great leader who is able to identify the right 20%.

Knowing what is good enough, separates the great leaders from the rest. For instance, demanding absolute quality from a SW project, rather than weighing the pros & cons of the business and customer expectations against the final product, can be to the detriment of a project.  Bringing congruence from the stakeholders on what is good enough, is a key skill possessed by the great leader.  Again, the 80-20 rule comes in to play here, i.e. sometimes a customer might be willing to take the 20% that are the best features of a product first, such that the other 80% could be provided later, or even changed by the customers feedback on the initial 20%.

Fairness but firmness, is a key quality in a great leader.  In order to build trust and respect with their teams they are honest, trustworthy, direct and clear.  They are not afraid to make a decision when the team needs one, or when no-one else can provide one, and they are willing to accept the responsibility for that decision.  Fairness comes with supportive and shielding qualities that all teams need to feel happy and be successful.  Teams will follow these great leaders to the ends of the earth -and back- because they trust and believe, and simply because of these qualities they see in their leader.

Lastly compassion, understanding, and humor, are effective medicines that the great leader uses to help release pressure during stressful times and enthuse their teams to achieve better results, build success from failure, and do great things for their organizations.

Ask yourself, which are you more of- Superstar or Hero?

INFIX – Life Coaches for Companies. Infix.us

How To Maximize Your Margins

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
infix.us

How To Maximize Your Margins

When working with clients I often find that the margins they garner could have been better if they changed their mentality around price setting.

The common thing I see is a propensity to set prices, and hence margins, based on the level of effort expended to produce/provide the product/service. However, this thinking – whilst generally a good starting point – doesn’t do justice to the real sellable price and value of the product/service, because it leads to standard (linear) margins across the board. That is to say, margins end up being proportional to effort, which is not necessarily where they have to be.

Consider this– Product “X” took less time to produce than Product “Y”, but does that necessarily mean it’s price should be lower? No, it could be the same or more. The customer doesn’t know what effort was expended, their view of price will be based on the value they see or perceive.

Price setting should be an effort in understanding the value that a product/service represents to the end customer through market research, customer surveys, and understanding supply & demand trends. When prices are set this way margins will become variable (non-linear) and not linked to just the effort expended. The advantage of this is that margins can be maximized for each product or service based on the value they represent in the market.

Therefore, greater margins should be captured across product lines and services if you understand the value each provides, as well as looking at the effort you expend.

infix.us