Archive for the 'Delegating' Category

Do you value your soybeans more than your time?

Ever think about time as a commodity? Commodity: something in common use, readily available and virtually the same wherever you find it.

Time certainly fits that definition, doesn’t it? But so does a soybean.

Time may be the only commodity we haven’t synthesized. Until we do, it will continue to be unique among commodities and, consequently, our most valuable. And yet, as precious as time is, it’s an expensive irony that it’s the commodity we often waste the most, sometimes as if it were worth nothing. Meanwhile, we take extreme measures to protect every soybean.

So, what’s the solution? Organization – it’s the nexus between time and productivity.

We commit resources to acquire all kinds of stuff – information, materials, etc. – with the intention of accomplishing something, like a bid or a marketing project, which typically will need to happen within a predetermined period of time. But whether it happens as planned — including on-time —often depends more on how organized we are than our capability, or the information and resources we’ve acquired.

If someone stole your new $2000 computer, you would have them arrested. But how often has being unorganized cost you more than $2000 in an unsuccessful bid, loss of a contract or other opportunity? In the justice system of the marketplace, that’s the same as being arrested, indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced to some level of failure. So what does your organization “record” look like?

But let’s cut ourselves a little slack. It’s not easy for a small business to be organized when you have one person doing the work of three, or 25 doing the work of 40. Such ratios are one of the markers of a small business – doing more with less – especially these days. Consequently, a large project can be so intimidating that it creates the dread disease that’s worse than anything your soybeans could get: procrastination.

Professional organizers say cure procrastination with one critical practice: Break large projects into an assembly of smaller ones. Instead of thinking about a large project like it’s an elephant you have to eat all at once, split it into an assembly of smaller pieces and take them on one at a time.

How small is small? How about small enough to complete while you’re waiting on hold? Not with the IRS. Much shorter, like with a customer.

Break big projects into bite-size pieces to help you work smarter, not harder; increase your competitive advantage; and use that most precious commodity - time - more efficiently.

Write this on a rock … Value your time like you’d value a load of soybeans.

SBA Poll: Are you outsourcing?

The Question:
How much outsourcing of tasks (payroll, accounting, web development, etc.) do you do?

24% - We outsource anything we can that isn’t our core competency.

39% - We do some outsourcing and expect to do more.

17% - We haven’t done any outsourcing but probably should.

20% - We don’t outsource and don’t plan to.

My Comments:
One of the most powerful and important small business management practices of the past generation is outsourcing: contracting with another person or company to perform certain tasks your business needs but is not good at. You should focus on your core competencies - usually whatever touches customers - and let someone else perform the non-core competency tasks.

As you can see from our responses to this week’s online poll, 63% are doing at least some outsourcing. I’m extremely pleased to see these numbers, but more than one-third are still MIA as outsourcers. This will change in time.

I’ll have more to say about outsourcing in an upcoming Feature Article, including the difference between internal and external outsourcing. Stay tuned and thanks for participating.

During a recent segment on The Small Business Advocate® Show I explain how outsourcing could help make you business run more efficiently. Click the link below to listen.

Use outsourcing to get that last drop of operating efficiency

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

You are a CEO, but are you doing the job

The hardest job in the marketplace is the Chief Executive Officer of a small business.

So how could it be harder to be the CEO of Excel Supply, LLC, than the CEO of Exxon? Let’s look at the definition.

Investopedia says a CEO is, “The highest ranking executive in a company whose main responsibilities include developing and implementing high-level strategies, making major decisions and managing overall operations and resources.”

For every element of that definition, Exxon’s CEO has a cadre of presidents reporting to him about how they’re managing battalions of VPs, brigades of managers and armies of employees. Exxon’s CEO manages that handful of presidents who bring him performance updates.

The CEO of Excel may have managers reporting to her, but she’s never more than one degree of separation from the work, and likely the alpha member of any given task, especially things like capitalization, cash flow, business development, etc.

There is one thing that sets all CEOs apart from every other position and it’s the first item in the definition: high-level strategy. A CEO’s primary job, which can be supported but never delegated, is to determine the long-term direction of the company. Every business, large or small, must have someone doing this CEO job, whether they use the title or not.

Big business CEOs spend very little time managing and most of their time working on strategy and future direction. Conversely, and unfortunately, most small business CEOs spend too much time managing and too little on executive thinking.

Recently in our online poll, we defined a CEO and asked small business owners: “How difficult is it to budget CEO time away from managing?” Here’s what we learned.

Only 3% said they had “…found a way to balance management and CEO duties,” and 8% allowed they were “…inconsistent but getting better at it.” Over half of our sample said they “…can’t focus on CEO tasks for putting out fires,” while one third rejected our premise with, “I’m a small business owner, not a CEO.”

Here’s a practical way for small business owners to increase their CEO activity: As often as possible – at least once a year – fire yourself from jobs someone else can do and promote yourself to jobs only you can do. This will push you toward more executive thinking and behavior and put you on a natural path toward performing all the tasks of a CEO, including charting the long-term course for your small business.

Every business needs someone doing the work of a CEO – that’s you!

###

Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about becoming a better CEO for your company. Click on the link below to hear what I had to say. I’m also interested in what you think, so please leave a comment.

Commit to the resolution of becoming a better CEO

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Ladies, solve problems, don’t just manage them

Since 1997, I’ve devoted many hours of programing on my radio show that focuses on issues that are at least more dramatic, if not unique, for women small business owners than for men.  I conducted this programming with women who are either experts on the topic of women making their way in the marketplace, or they are women who have overcome these challenges, or both.

Debbie Meyer is both. She’s an inventor, an entrepreneur and she’s a highly successful business owner. Debbie invented the Green Bags, among other innovations that make life easier, and is co-CEO and co-founder of Housewares America, Inc. And she’s a member of my Brain Trust.

Recently, Debbie joined me again on The Small Business Advocate Show and I asked her about my theory that one of the problems women bring on themselves is thinking that it’s enough to manage a problem instead of find a way to solve it and get rid of it. Debbie agreed with me, and we discussed this issue. Take a few minutes to listen to my conversation with Debbie and, as always, leave your own thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

For small business, Cash is no longer King – it’s the Emperor

For generations, business owners have learned that while Profit may be the Queen of business, Cash is King. And there is never a moment in the life of any business, large or small, when this generally accepted truth doesn’t apply. But in 2009, or anytime the economy slows, small businesses must elevate Cash to an even more supreme level. Consequently, these days, and for the foreseeable future,

Cash is Emperor.

Any Questions?

Blasingame’s 3rd Law of Small Business states: “It’s redundant to say, ‘undercapitalized small business.’” There are at least two reasons this statement is a law and not a maxim:

1. In every small business, there is always a place to put whatever capital may be available.

2. Small businesses typically have only three sources of capital: a) Retained earnings – profits left in the business; b) Bank loans; c) Investment capital, most of which comes from the owner.

Because of the impact of Blasingame’s 3rd law, any cash in a small business is precious and, therefore, availability must be maximized.

There are many fundamental best practices that can be executed to maximize cash. Here are a few:
- Sell at a gross profit margin that will more than fund operations.
- Manage expenses like a she-bear guards her cubs.
- Manage accounts receivable like your life depends upon it – it might.
- Establish and maintain a close relationship with a bank.
- Re-invest as much of the profits back into the company as possible.

Recently on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate show, I interviewed three top experts on cash management and capital acquisition. First, Gene Siciliano, author of Finance for the Non-Financial Manager, second, Joe Knight, author of Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs, and finally, Tom Markel, founder of iBank.com. Be sure to take a few minutes to listen to what these three world-class cash management experts have to say about this critical small business management fundamental. And, of course, be sure to leave your own thoughts.
For Gene Siciliano: For Joe Knight:
For Tom Markel:

    How dear are your small business mistakes?

    Mistakes are worth contemplating, and yet we often don’t. The reason, I think, is because it hurts a little to focus on them. It’s not fun to see ourselves that way. Mistakes are definitely not ego food.

    But there is something very important to remember about mistakes: Not focusing on them can ultimately be more painful.

    Sixteenth century French Renaissance writer, Michel de Montaigne, wrote, “Those things are dearest to us that have cost us the most.” Think he’s talking about mistakes? I do. Do you think of your mistakes as “dear”?

    If you don’t contemplate your mistakes and learn from them, you are subjecting yourself to double jeopardy. Because today you will not only make the new mistakes we are all destined to make as we go through life, but you’re also doomed to repeat the old ones you should have learned from yesterday.

    Whether your mistakes are valuable or expensive depends on whether you contemplate and learn from them, or deny them and keep on paying for them. I think paying for a mistake once is “dear” enough, don’t you?




    Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: php_network_getaddresses: getaddrinfo failed: Temporary failure in name resolution in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142

    Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: unable to connect to twitter.com:80 (Unknown error) in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142