Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

What’s Your Brand?

As I’m preparing today to speak on personal branding for an audience of administrative professionals, I opened my inbox this morning and found a fresh article by Ephesians Four Ministries.  I subscribe to their weekly devotionals.

This particular one was quite timely and a great personal reminder for me, the speaker, to get and keep her act together!

Personal branding moves us from wearing masks to wearing hats.  We all have many roles we play throughout our week.  The issue many have is that they are trying to balance all of their roles and end up wearing a mask.  They are pretentious in their actions and spend their days just trying to fake their way through.

I am a wife, mama, daughter, sister, friend, in-law, teacher, entrepreneur, business owner, volunteer, and speaker.  Rather than wearing a mask and faking genuineness, I try to focus on the role of the moment.  I don’t wear masks which attempt to hide who I really am.  Rather, I try to develop my character and strengthen my personal brand, so that who I am is consistent no matter which role I am in.  I have made the switch from wearing masks to wearing hats.

We cannot balance every role at all times.  It’s too much, too distracting and non-productive.  Rather, I change hats and attempt to dedicate my attention and mental strength on the hat of the moment.  This mental switch helps me listen and respond so much better.  Better behavior enhances my personal brand.  Granted, this approach is not always easy and their are days I just want to hide behind a mask and hope nobody notices.  We are all life in progress.

Here is a segment of the e-mail I mentioned above.  For more of the article, subscribe to their free e-mail list here http://msg1svc.net/servlet/FormListener?Y2dpOjE6TE4=

“Coca-Cola is the number one “brand” in the world. Companies spend millions of dollars making their brands known in business. They want you to recognize their brand. When you think of their brand they hope you will have positive thoughts in hopes it will influence your next purchasing decision.

Every individual has a personal “brand” whether you want it or not. Cultures have a brand. Ethnic groups have a brand. Your brand is defined by your conduct. If you are always late, you’ll soon develop a brand or reputation for being late. Others will even show up late because they know you will be late. If you are a person who exaggerates the truth, others will soon fail to take you serious.

However, the opposite can also be true. Your brand can be incredibly positive. By being a man or woman of your word, who is consistent in dealing fairly and honestly with others, your brand becomes known as someone who is faithful in all aspects of life”.

 

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

 


Let Me Help You Get Organized and Save Money!

So, several years ago my husband and I read Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover.  Nathan had become a regular listener to Ramsey’s nationally recognized radio program.  Through our Total Money Makeover experience, we discovered emeals.  Emeals is a meal planning system that I found extremely helpful.  As of yesterday, I learned there is now a new emeals APP!  I was so excited, I must share!

A quick history…

While my hubby and I were not in financial disarray, we had the desire to launch our own business.  This meant big changes. We wanted to be successful entrepreneurs and knew enough to know that most entrepreneurs fail.  Starting with no personal debt is what has allowed us to continue growing our businesses without the fear and pressure that comes with trying to keep all balls in the air.  Financial freedom is…well…it’s freeing.

That said, as a young wife, I needed help managing our grocery budget.  I barely knew anything about cooking, much less grocery shopping effectively or organizing meal plans for the week.  However, my husband desperately wanted to continue eating.  So, I needed a plan and I needed to spend as little money as possible.

That has not changed.

Today, we have added two children to the mix, I have come to enjoy cooking —sometimes — and use emeals often to do the work for me.  I think I like it most because it makes this Choleric/Sanguine look organized, efficient and food savvy.   I quickly learned that meal planning was a huge part of maintaining a tight grocery bill and keeping us on track financially.

Here are my top 10 reasons for recommending this to you:

1) It is totally done for me.

2) I can choose how we want to eat.  We have been on a low fat diet for years now.  You can choose everything from organic to low-carb to classic meals.

3) I can choose my grocery store.  Emeals helps you find the right brands, actually available at your store, to cook a meal that tastes good but costs little.

4) I can choose how many people I want to feed.  With pre-school age children, we are still able to eat off a menu for two.

5) The recipes are easy!  I hate using fancy cookbooks.  I never know what they are talking about.  Emeals keeps it simple and easy to follow.

6) I can easily eliminate meals I know my family won’t eat or when I know I won’t be cooking every night.

7) The plan updates everything automatically and accordingly, so I really don’t have to think too hard.

8) Perhaps my favorite part: the grocery list is itemized by department at the grocery store.  This makes it easy to find what I need, fast.  Very helpful with two toddlers in tow!

9) The menu tells you what staples you should already have.  A quick mental check or physical check and I never get home and get mad because I forgot something for a recipe.  (You know how that can frustrate a cook!?)

10) And now…everything is on the app!  I no longer have to print the menu and carry those papers around the store.  Yippee!  This makes me happy.  I can check things off the list, add extra things I need to pick up, like bread and milk, and I can quickly eliminate things I know I have at home with the delicate touch of my index finger.

Yep.  I’m a fan.  I’m sure there are similar meal plan systems on the market that are also good. But, if you are like me and you don’t have time to research it out…here’s the only link you need.  http://www.emeals.com/welcome/index.php?source=app

Or, search your app store.

Here’s to simplifying life!

 

 

 




Etiquette Matters to Me

I recently received certification as an expert in American Business Etiquette from the American Business Etiquette Trainers Association.  While I have practiced some etiquette techniques for years, I learned several new things through the hours of training in twenty different etiquette modules.  I am now more convinced that etiquette is the key element in growing your business.  The success of any business, large or small, hinges on relationships.   Etiquette opens the door by  helping you build rapport and immediate trust with others in business dealings.

However, to be perfectly honest, I am discovering that not all proper etiquette comes natural to me.  It is a skill I must consciously practice with the hope it will become habit.  What I love about the idea of etiquette and what continues to motivate me  is that it truly is about putting others first.  Studying the art of etiquette has given me appropriate tools for a professional environment to SHOW that I care.  It is true you know?  People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

If you have a desire to help people and to make a positive difference through your business, hobbies or other passions, then I believe you cannot ignore your good manners skill set.  Good manners are tied to building good relationships and good relationships are tied to truly helping others grow and change.

“Let noting be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”  Philippians 2:3


4 Secrets to Effective Communication

I am currently in the process of studying proper business etiquette through the American Business Etiquette Trainers Association (ABETA).  Today, the topic of training was on effective communication.  As a personality trainer, I was intrigued by how closely their perspective related to the topic of personalities and character development.

Remember, highly successful people, in all types of professions, know this information and apply it!

Here are the four secrets to effective communication.

1) Effective communication is not about you.  It is about others.  Learn to listen and to suspend your thinking and judgement.  ABETA calls this “self-forgetting.”  I like that.  However, this is easier said than done for me!  My trainer also said something worth thinking about, “the listener is the one in control of the conversation.”  If I can just learn to truly listen, I can turn and guide the conversation in a positive and productive way.

2) Effective communication is being aware of what other people understand you to say.  In other words, you are actively perceiving what others are hearing you say.  We have all been in a situation when our intentions or our words were misunderstood.  As the effective communicator, it is your job to make sure they are getting you.

3) Effective communication is knowing and applying a conscious repertoire of effective nonverbal communication skills.  Your body language, facial expressions, posture and gestures are ALWAYS saying more than your mouth.  This is a skill I teach as a speaker trainer and one I have had to learn as a speaker.

4) Effective communication is about self-control and self-awareness.  Surprise, surprise.  Everything relating to personal growth, spiritual growth, character development and maturity boils down to these two things.  One thing that stuck with me in the training today was that self-control and self-awareness are signs of a great leader.  Technical skills alone will not help you get where you want to go, but practicing self-control and being self-aware certainly will.

All summed up, effective communication is this: speaking THEIR language.  This is where being able to identify someone’ s personality and communication style is ever important.  I’ll be discussing the connection in my newsletter at the end of this month!  If you’ve never signed up, it’s totally free.  Just go to my personal webpage and complete the form on the contact page.

Until next time, start listening.

 

 


4 Steps to Resolutionize Your Life

If you are new here, welcome!

This month, my FREE Personality Newsletter was about how our personalities affect resolutions.  This article offers great support for this topic

As I seek to grow this blog, one thing I’d like to start doing more is sharing good information I find.  This article was written by a fellow Personality Trainer and Life Coach, Kathryn Robbins.  Enjoy!

The Holidays have come and gone, and for some, so have our New Year resolutions. It doesn’t take long to fall off the wagon. Why is that? What are resolutions anyway?

According to a dictionary definition, resolution is:
1. the act or an instance of resolving
2. something resolved or determined; decision
3. a formal expression of opinion by a meeting, esp. one agreed by a vote
4. the act or process of separating something into its constituent parts or elements

Many times our “resolutions” are nothing more than good intentions, but if we look at the definition again, it gives us step for making real and lasting resolutions.

1.  The act or an instance of resolving. Before you can resolve anything, there needs to be a problem. This requires taking a good look at where you are, how you got there and where you want to go. Looking back over past years is not a bad thing even if it is a bit painful. Adjustments are harder to make and have a greater failure rate if you have no idea where you are or where you want to go. The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland said it best, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” The truth of the matter is each year builds on the other, so it’s logical to look back and take inventory.

Get out paper and a pencil and let’s make a few lists. Look back over the past year. In a word or two, describe how 2011 was for you?

2011 was ___________________.

Make two lists for these next questions, one for your business or career and one for the personal side of your life. Be honest as you formulate your answers. False humility or over inflated ego will not serve you well in this area, save that for the Oscars.

What are you MOST proud of accomplishing in 2011? Make a list of at least 5 things. Go ahead; pat yourself on the back. Chances are you worked hard for it.

What skills did you gain this year? Make a list of at least 5 things. The moment we stop learning, we stop growing, so – good job. Be proud of your accomplishments.

Where do you feel you blew it? Here’s where we will find our problem to resolve. Thomas Edison tested over 3000 filaments before he came up with his version of a practical light bulb, so let’s not think of blowing it as failure. We can look at it the same way Edison did, each time he tried and missed, he knew he was one step closer to finding the one that would work.

Our resolutions don’t have to be the same old ones everybody makes; lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, yaddi-yaddi-yadda. Resolutions can also revolve around personal growth or relationships. Here’s where it is a good idea to know your personality type’s strengths and struggles. Let me give a typical problem for each personality type and show how personality strengths can aid learned skills in resolving personality problems or struggles.Click here to see chart.

Playful Sanguine: Problem – time management. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a Playful say, “I really need to get my act together,” I’d be a rich woman. One of the strengths of a Playful is their ability to be creative – add today’s technology and a Playful can get a handle on their schedule. Most cell phones have an ability to set an alarm; they can even be set to repeat at the same time each day. A little ringy-dingy goes a long way.

Powerful Choleric: Problem – too brash. Powerfuls value honesty, but blatant honesty is like a laser blast to the eyeball – too harsh. A natural strength of a Powerful is their ability to fix almost anything, coupled with the learned skill of tolerance; you could have a wise sage on your hands, one who has the ability to see the solution and the maturity to say it in a way that is helpful.

Proper Melancholic: Problem – self-centeredness. Propers desire perfection or something close to it and people mess up their plans, so they like to go it alone, making sure their work is right and not becoming overly concern if others fail by their own inabilities. Their natural strength is the ability to analyze – think it through – do the research, unite that with the learned skill of assisting others and the world would be a much better place.

Peaceful Phlegmatic: Problem – procrastination. “I was just going to do that.” I’m thinking not. Peacefuls are known for their patience and long suffering, and if that is partnered with the skill of good work ethics, we would see a character worth its weight in gold.

Each resolution needs a problem. Review your blew it list, pick one struggle and work through the next steps.

2.  Something resolved or determined; decision. Now that we have taken a look back, let’s use that information to make a plan for moving forward. If we are lacking in resolve or determination about what we should do, or get talked into doing something that’s good for us, chances are we haven’t truly made the decision. It’s still just good intentions and the chance of success is greatly diminished.

Make an educated decision; know what you’re getting into. Be sure to listen to your heart as well, because our emotional needs will always win any power struggle waged in the subconscious mind. Feed the need and the rest will follow. Click here to see chart.

3.  A formal expression of opinion by a meeting, esp. one agreed by a vote.We all have a friend who at some time or another planned to do something stupid, and more than likely we tried to talk them out of it. When we bounce our thoughts and ideas off other people, we benefit from their experience and knowledge as well as our own. If most of the people in your life are telling you “don’t do it” or “go for it,” chances are they see things you don’t see. We either don’t see clearly, because we are too close to the situation, or we want what we want and there’s no talking us out of it. There really is safety in numbers.

For me, I have found group life coaching to be a great tool for making goals and decisions. The women in my group care about each other, but aren’t all up in each other’s business. This gives freedom to share, try, fail or succeed without embarrassment.

4. The act or process of separating something into its constituent parts or elements. Now we are getting to the nuts and bolts of a resolution – the plan. With each resolution, ask yourself, “What does the process look like to me?” If you can see it, you can do it. If your plan is fuzzy, the outcome may stay out of focus for a long time.

Any successful plan needs clear, measurable goals. For instants, let’s say I want to be less brash, (I hear the cheers) what does that look like to me. First, I need to identify what brash looks like to others, seeing my brashness is more offensive to them than it is to me. Be brave; ask them what kinds of things are offensive. Be prepared to hear things you won’t like. Remember that’s how change works, but if nothing changes – nothing changes.

Then I will have to monitor my behavior to see where I get myself in trouble. Do I say brash things when I’m upset or is it my sense of humor that hits people wrong? Tune in and pay attention to how people react. Once this is identified, I need to “own” my behavior, admit that I do it, without blaming others for my actions and reactions. This can be very painful and humbling, but worth the journey. Now comes the hard part, catching myself before engaging in the troublesome behavior.

Were you able to see the “parts” or steps to my resolution?

Step 1- What needs to be resolved? My brashness.
Step 2 – Do I care? My decision – yes, I care. I want to change in order to have better relationships.
Step 3 – Find consensus and support. I ask for people’s opinions – painful, but liberating.
Step 4 – Break it down into parts, so it’s not so overwhelming. For example: Q-What’s the first physical action I’m going to take, to move me from the problem to the solution? A-Only blurt out half the advice I want to say. In time I will work my way up to only giving advice when asked.

The first 30 days of a resolution are the most critical. It’s estimated that by January 2, more than half of the resolutions made on or before Jan 1, are broken. By January 3rd, another 10% will be abandoned and sad to say, by April 1st, 90 % of resolutions morph into half-hearted good intentions or regrets. It is vital to the success of any resolution to have clear measurable action steps in place during those first 30 days. In the immortal words ofThomas Jefferson, “Never put off tomorrow what you can do today.”The founding fathers of any nation had a huge resolution in front of them, follow in their “action steps” and change your world.

In a word, how do I see 2012? Resolutionary!

To your success!

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Kathryn Robbins, Certified Personality Trainer, Life Coach, Speaker and President of  Personality Principles LLC, who has helped hundreds of people find the missing pieces to their relationship issues, by understanding personality strengths, struggles and emotional needs. Kathryn is available for speaking and training events as well as private coaching sessions. Visit the website for more information www.personalityprinciples.com.
Take the FREE personality profile.

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Jaclyn Rowe is a Personality Expert and National Speaker.  Information on speaking topics and booking may be found at www.jaclynrowe.com.


REPRESENT

Point number one: Your reputation matters.  In professional environments we call this personal branding.  In family circles we call this the family name.  In church or spiritual environments we call this representation.  Regardless the angle, having a good name is valuable.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1

What others know about you, what others think about you, and what others think they know about you matters.  If I hear one more teenager say, “I don’t care what people think about me.”  I’m going to scream.  Not true.  Above all other people on planet earth, teenagers care, deeply, about what others think.  Ever heard of peer pressure?  And so do you and so do I.  Let’s not be so dishonest.

And here’s the thing, point number two: we should care.  A good name is to be chosen…

You have to want a good reputation and make choices that reflect that desire in order to make it happen.  Now, to be clear, I do not base my worldview, moral beliefs and standards on what others think.  However, I do think it is crucial for success and living a life of significance that I strive to develop into a woman of unquestionable character and integrity.  What I desire is that my reputation or my “personal brand” matches or lines up with what I claim to believe.  For example, what if I claim that I believe it is important for people to take good care of themselves physically, to eat right, to stay in shape, and to live a healthy lifestyle; and then you see me 100 pounds overweight and snacking on a coke and french fries?  You would think one of two things:  either I no longer believe what I claim or I am a hypocrite.  And in that moment, I have lost your respect and any ability I may have had to encourage you to believe and pursue a healthy lifestyle as well.

If we are going to make claims and state our beliefs it is crucial that we follow through.  Don’t even make the claim if you can’t back it up with your life.  If you want potential employers,  colleagues, even friends and family to respect you, to trust you and to care about what your ideas, then you need to present yourself in a way that matches your desires.

When I spoke to about 150 teen girls last week,  I focused on three areas that dramatically impact your reputation: modesty, manners and the mouth.

Like it or not, immodest dress sends so many wrong messages, it just isn’t worth it.  Cover up.

Manners such as saying please and thank you, sharing, taking turns, opening doors, going last, greeting people, knowing how to introduce yourself and others, etc. go a long way toward building trust with people.  Proper etiquette goes beyond just saying that you care about someone to actually showing it.  And we all know the saying, “actions speak louder than words.”  Or do they?

That brings me to the last focus area, your mouth.  This is a tough one for me because I genuinely like to talk and sometimes in speaking all those words, I say things I should not.  There is a Proverb that says, “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” The ability to control your mouth and to speak only things that help or encourage is a powerful, beautiful skill.  As your mama used to say, “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”  Good advice.

Personally, all of this comes together under an umbrella of understanding that my life is not about me.  (Note: Convincing teenagers – and many adults – that all of life is not about them is quite a task in and of itself and they are not likely to begin caring about modesty, manners or their mouth as long as they continue believing the world revolves around them.) Rather, I get it that I represent my business, my clients, my family, my community, my faith and my heavenly Father.  How I dress, how I treat other people, and how I speak not only reflects on me, but on them.

A good name is founded on a selfless attitude.

Reputation matters and we should care.


What is wrong with people?!

I have been traveling this week and am utterly amazed by how many people obviously hate their job and, more importantly, appear to hate people as well.  Ordering a meal from a fast food restaurant, I didn’t know whether I should laugh, cry or start lecturing the young lady attempting to take my order.  She was clearly unconcerned about how I felt about her or if I ever returned to that restaurant again.

A few months ago, I joined a teleconference call  hosted by a so-called professional in my industry who makes the big bucks.  After a long introduction which included all of his impressive credentials, he had my full attention and admiration.  I was taking notes like crazy, so thrilled with the opportunity to gain his insight.  And then, with regret in his voice, he decided to tell the listeners that the best way to get into this particular speaking market was to lie on our cover letters.  Just lie.  Really?  Red flags starting flying and the internal dialogue began in my mind…

Was any part of that amazing introduction of yours true?  Are you  really speaking from experience and giving us valuable insight, or am I now involved in a big marketing scheme designed to convince me to purchase whatever audio or e-book you will surely have for sale at the end of this call.  Hang up, Jaclyn.

And so, I did.

If you have a desire to influence the world around you in a positive way, then please — for heaven’s sake — pay attention to what I am about to say.  The way you present yourself to the world around you matters.  Your attitude, your dress, your behavior, your character, all of it matters.

If you can master the art of proper etiquette, you will set yourself apart from the crowd of rude and crude people.  If you can establish a solid personal brand that rings true, you will earn respect and become a person others want to follow.  And if you can back up your acts of etiquette and your attempts at creating a personal brand with the aggressive and continual development of genuine character; now that would really be something!

Here are the three layers described, beginning with the most shallow down to the nitty-gritty.

1) Proper Etiquette – Just be nice.  For whatever reason, manners have become a lost art.  Many people, often it seems those working in public service, are painfully bad at using good manners.  I personally thank my mother and Grandma Beverly for teaching me to say “please” and “thank you” and to take turns and to smile and to do my best to make others feel comfortable.  And then, I thank Sue Thompson, the author of etiquettedog.com, a blog on the subject.  I met Sue years ago at a conference, and when she spoke I realized how true and how important behavior, image and presentation really are, regardless of how we feel about it.

Did you know there is a right way to present your business card, to introduce yourself and others, to write and send e-mails, to eat, to make conversation, to set a table, etc.?  Etiquette is not just an art, but a science that yields results.  People learn quickly to trust you and your business when you consistently practice proper etiquette.  And, the ironic part, since very few people still do, you easily set yourself up as the example.

2) Personal Branding – Who do others think you are?  Your personal brand is basically your reputation or what is left in the room when you leave.  You can easily determine your current personal brand by asking people what words they would use to describe you.  The four or five words you hear most represent your brand.  Scary thought?  The key to branding is getting people to say about you what you want them to say about you.  Now, here is the ironic thing about branding:  a few years ago, we wore different faces.  At work, we put on our work face and did the work thing.  At school, we put on the student face and the two could look very different.  For example, someone may have been a real jerk of a student and a great employee.  However, technology and this crazy thing called social media has changed all that.  You can no longer be different people in one body.  (I don’t recommend that anyway. How exhausting.)  You are you, period.

People who are business and life savvy, are the same regardless of where they are physically or online.  If you want a strong personal brand, the facebook “you” should match the work, student, mom, daughter, church worker, whatever, “you”.  As a rule of thumb, especially if you are an entrepreneur, young person or an out-of-a-job person, if you wouldn’t put it on your resume or job application, then don’t put it on the world wide web.  Protect your reputation, therby protecting your brand.

P.S. – For years I spoke for Monster.com, and one thing I’ll never forget learning and presenting to students is that employers work really hard and spend a ton of money developing their brand and company image.  The last thing they want to do is hire an employee who will taint that image.  So, if your image doesn’t really match up with theirs, forget it.

3) Character:  who you are when no one is looking.  Your personal brand may be who others think you are, but your character reveals the truth about who you are.  My pastor recently said, “character is who God and your spouse know you are.”  Without solid character, it won’t be long before the truth about how you fake etiquitte and present a fake image will surface.

Remember, you were not born with perfect character.  Think about how your sweet little baby decided one day to smack you in the face, and a couple years later lie to you about who put the doll in the toilet.  Did you teach them those things?  Of course not.  We are born messed up.  Character must be developed through conscious decision making and action.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a children’s character development book entitled, “Eight Keys to a Better Me.”  In the book, eight character traits are listed: Honesty, Respect, Patriotism, Kindness, Courage, Responsibility, Feelings and Self-Worth.  While written for children, I realized they still applied to me.  Which ones do you truly possess and which ones need some work?

The girl taking my order at Captain D’s severely lacked etiquette, represented the brand of her employer terribly, and therefore, I assumed — right or wrong —  she was lacking in character.  The “professional” hosting the teleconference clearly knew and applied proper etiquette and was a master at personal branding; I had cleared my calendar for this call and had a credit card ready!  However, he lacked character.  See, it takes a whole person who is real, authentic and full of purpose to truly make a positive impact.

As the new year approaches, I am taking time to examine myself, again, and see what else needs transformed.  I’m re-studying the timeless principles of etiquette, working weekly on establishing a solid personal brand and daily on developing the weaknesses in my character.  Transformation is tough.

So, to answer my own question, what is wrong with people?! We don’t want to look in the mirror and examine ourselves.  We don’t really want to change because we see don’t want to have to admit we are flawed, wrong, or messed up.  We don’t want to say, “I need to change this,” much less actually do it.

Listen — be ye transformed.


Economic Feast or Famine: How to prepare for both.

This post is for entrepreneurs or those who work in small business.  Last weekend, I had the opportunity to speak for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Women Inspiring Entrepreneurship conference, and I was asked to speak on this topic.

My goal in posting this is two-fold: 1) to recap for the audience who attended and 2) to share some valuable ideas that will help business owners make progress regardless of the economy.

As I told the audience on Saturday, my father is Mr. Entrepreneur himself.  He and I have had countless conversations about business, and most of what I know about business comes from him and his vast experiences.

First, allow me to define a feast as a season of great sales and growth when the money is flowing and life is good. During such a time there are a few things you should do and keep in mind in preparation for the famine.

1) Feasts are always short term.  Generally, the market will not let you feast long.  The markets will catch up via a competitor or supply and your season of feast will end.  This should not surprise you.

2) Don’t get carried away.  Often, companies are so excited during a time of feast, they make poor long term decisions.  For example, they serve contracts to new hires, expand their operations, move to larger buildings and ultimately create more overhead.  When the feast subsides, these companies find themselves in big trouble.

3) Stash your cash.  When cash flow is good, make sure you save some.  Save enough to carry your business through at least 6-12 months of famine.

4) Maximize all investments.  Employees, buildings, equipment, supplies, inventory, etc. are all investments.  During a time of feast, rather than expanding, creatively maximize the use of every tool in your belt.

5) Value your leads.  It is easy to let potential sales leads slip through the cracks when you are busy and “busy” does not even begin to describe the time of feasting.  Remember to make time to follow up even when it feels like you don’t need too.

6) Keep your books.  As a small business owner, you are probably the accountant.  Again, busyness is not a good excuse for falling behind on your records.  It is a huge headache to back track. Trust me.

7)  Push to the limit.  Because it won’t last, milk the feast for all its worth!

8)  Renegotiate your deals.  If you need to refinance or re-negotiate a contract, do it while your numbers are in the black and that balance sheet is looking good.

Now, for the famine.  Allow me to define famine as the opposite of the feast.  Here are a few tips for handling a season of drought.

1) Don’t panic.  We have all been there.

2) Do react. Immediately.  Do not sit and wait, hoping for a big break.  As soon as you recognize the slump, adjust your costs.    If you keep paying out and spending as if nothing has changed, it won’t be long that you are in big financial trouble.

3)  Get creative.  You will need to cut costs while performing a new marketing strategy.  Technology gives us a huge advantage and many ways to promote our businesses for FREE.  You may have to learn some new skill sets, but if the money is not there it is not there.

4)  Communicate with your employees.  Make sure your employees understand your plan for adjusting costs and why it is necessary, preferably BEFORE cuts are required.  In small business, employees must understand there are no guarantees and that employment is sales based.  It is not personal.  It is entrepreneurship.

5)  It’s all YOU.  Depending on the size of your business, you may become the one man or one woman show during a time of famine.  It’s okay.  It is healthy to spend time in the P.I.T….a.k.a…Putting In Time…for no pay.

6)  Maximize downtime.  Because you aren’t nearly as busy, use your time wisely and get some of the not-so-fun things done that have been on the back burner.  Spend time doing research, brainstorming, or setting new goals.

7) Know your out.  As an entrepreneur, don’t expect a bailout.  Have a plan and strategy for exiting your business, whether it be to sell the business, sell the inventory, find a partner, etc.  Networking is key.  Never burn bridges.


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