By Denise Kirk-Murray, MBA, owner, EntrepreneurTraining.com, Finance professional with expertise in business credit, entrepreneur training & business coaching
Wow, what a last couple of years it has been for so many of us! We have experienced times where financial management was crucial to maintaining our businesses and households. There are some lessons learned that can be carried forward both during good economic times as well as challenging ones. Having a plan, being creative and getting help are key ways to survive and grow.
Have a Plan: A business plan will help guide you through the rough spots and inspire you through the boom times. When looking for financing for your business, a business plan is one thing a lender will ask for you to provide. But, it is also necessary for you to have for the day to day operations of your business. It is your road map or GPS for your business. Imagine going down a dark, unfamiliar road without your GPS. Make a wrong turn and it may be difficult to get to your destination. The same is true if you do not have a business plan that is up to date and available for you to reference. That plan will direct you to your destination of business success.
Be Creative: As entrepreneurs, we can be naturally creative. Get your creative juices flowing to explore faster and cheaper ways of doing things. If your challenge is managing your cash flow, and who isn’t challenged by that, then be innovative in how you approach it. Find ways to cut costs without impacting quality and service. Seize new opportunities and be open to what they may bring. Reward yourself along the way to keep you motivated and creative.
Get Help: Assistance is out there for you when you need it. Reach out for help. Often times if we feel we are alone in the process, we do not reach our goals. A business coach can help you identify those goals and partner with you to reach them. If you are not comfortable where you are in managing your business, there is training and support systems that will help you with that as well. If you just need a sounding board to through ideas, seek out groups for entrepreneurs since many may be going through similar issues as you.
As part of the Chef’s Table for Entrepreneurs Telesummit, I made available the EntrepreneurTraining.com’s new e-book, “10 Steps to Zoom to Business Success”. This e-book provides a step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs to plan and grow a successful business. It highlights the critical things you need to know as a business owner from financial management to marketing to technology. To give you the jump start on getting the help you may need, I will extend to you the free offer to get this e-book for a limited time. Send an email to email@example.com and you will get instructions on how to get your free copy.
So there you have it. By always having an up-to-date plan, being creative and innovative and seeking out assistance, you can move forward in your business during any economic climate you may face in your journey as a business owner. Enjoy the ride!
Denise Kirk-Murray, founder of EntrepreneurTraining.com, has over 20 years’ experience as a business owner, finance professional, consultant, business coach, instructor, and public speaker. Denise worked in the banking industry on small business issues and was Director of Finance for an economic development corporation, managing small business loan funds. She also developed the EntrepreneurTraining.com’s small business management course, U SMALL BIZ, a 15 module training program with critical steps to start a successful business. As an instructor at St. John’s University, she taught business courses, including “How to Run a Successful Homebased Business". Her articles have been featured in numerous publications and she frequently speaks on small business and banking issues. Denise has a BS and MBA in Finance from St. John’s University and is a graduate of Coach U. She created and hosts the Coach U Business Coaching Special Interest Group (SIG): an international forum for business coaches worldwide.
By Richard Francis, Right People, Right Businesses, Right Reasons, Owner at Boardroom Breakthrough
“Do one thing every day that scares you” (Eleanor Roosevelt). Or if that’s too unpalatable – just ‘tweak for value’. Take the elements of what you already know and are already doing and change them about a bit. Bolt-on something related and add-in more flavor.
Recently – for the Smart Boardroom service – I saw a program on British TV about a go-kart track struggling in the economic downturn. Their corporate business (which was most of their income) was in the tank. No-one wants to be seen to party in corporations in the UK right now – they’re all under far too much scrutiny – both externally in the media and internally with their senior management. I saw this program and was driving past it one day. (Of all the go-kart tracks in Great Britain, this one is under 5 miles from my front door.) I met the owner who’d been on TV and suggested that we investigate combining my Smart Boardroom service, where people have to run around a failing ‘virtual company’ with a series of team building challenges on the go-karts. Presto – exit the ‘corporate jolly’ and enter ‘the team building challenge that develops leadership and management skilling’. Of course, the winners get to do some go-karting, but no-one can hurl rocks at them anymore right?
One thing to remember about ‘tweaking’ is combine it with ‘timing’. At a recent convention, I met a man who had in 1999 invented and marketed a fabulous online and offline picture sharing package on a PC. It was brilliant and reasonably priced. People could share (and find) photos on the internet with it. Sadly – in the UK in 1999 – not many people had PC’s connected to the internet, and still more of them were reluctant to give up film cameras. Digital was nowhere as cheap, as good quality, or available as it is now. The product bombed. A few years later, a free service called ‘Flickr’ did exactly the same job with a slightly different model. It was sold not so long ago for millions of dollars.
Tweaking, Timing, Testing and Refining
Also, use the tools that can make you look bigger than you are. A lot of fluff has been made of social media tools. But whilst I abhor most of these ‘destiny changing programs’ – some of which are re-packaged common sense with a large price ticket on them – there are some things you really can do to ‘punch above your weight’. Top of the heap is 1) Learn the tools – without doing that you are not going to get anywhere. Twitter, Facebook, Blogging on Wordpress are not excessively complicated and they are free. 2) Use them, and put out a LONG TAIL of user-generated content. U.G.C will be your differentiator in the years to come.
It doesn’t matter if your website blog is targeted by loonies and spammers – keep blogging! Use meta-tags so that the search engines can find it, again and again. Remember the web is BARELY out of NAPPIES – it’s hardly more than 5000 days old. If you REALLY want to know why this is so phenomenally important, search for ‘Kevin Kelly’ on Google and go listen to his talks on TED.com. In brief, by 2040, the web will have more collective ‘artificial intelligence and computing power’ than the WHOLE OF HUMANITY. Information will be ubiquitous – so I’d suggest you let go of hoarding your knowledge and rationing it out – and GET SEEN. Trust me, you’ll receive more than you give. IQ + EQ + SQ = Business prosperity.
So in summary, lay on a spread. Try some new ingredients – or at least fiddle about with those you have – and then be prepared to change your recipes. If we didn’t do that – we’d still be eating raw meat off the end of a spear!
Richard Francis has spent over two decades selling, marketing, building channels and relationships with people to forge significant and sustainable results. He uses this knowledge to help others find their breakthrough formulas to success. Richard is a lifelong devotee of crafting and refining knowledge and is always looking for useful connections that allow better application of learning into action. He has worked for and with many companies, including Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Sony. He has also managed a small but complex overseas property business. So, he has empathy with entrepreneurs at all levels of business – and not just in boardrooms but also at all levels right down to the shop floor. Richard likes to see the right people in the right businesses for the right reasons. This generally tends to make for better results and happier people driving them. To receive a free copy of You don’t need three years in catering college to cook good food! Learn about IQ, EQ, SQ and Other Key Ingredients for Business Success (in e-book format), visit http://boardroombreakthrough.com/lets-talk/come-on-board/ (Available for free until Friday, November 5th, 2010.)
By Snowden McFall, author of Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers
The number of stressed Canadians increased 30% in 2009, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Large numbers of Canadian workers feel they have no control of their lives with the economic recession, unemployment and lack of financial security. The study by Desjardins Financial Security found that 1/3 of people surveyed have headaches and anxiety as well as physical tension and sleepless nights.1
Careerbuilder.com says that 78% of American workers feel burned out. One third of Americans say they’re living with extreme stress.2 The American Psychological Association says stress costs industry $300 billion a year in absences, medical costs, lost productivity and turnover. Worldwide data is equally staggering: UK, 4 billion pounds, Australia, $14.81 billion, Canada, $12 billion, annually. That’s billions of dollars each year in each economy and millions of people who are under stress!
As an entrepreneur, you are especially prone to burnout. From worry about cash flow and payroll to new business and rising costs, entrepreneurs are especially challenged at this time and getting even less sleep. Thirteen percent of those polled by Fortune Small Business reported having trouble getting to sleep every night.
What Can You Do To Combat Stress?
1. Take Vacations. Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan discovered that when his clients doubled their vacation days, they doubled their income.3 Boston College determined that for women aged 45 to 64, two weeks of vacation cut their incidence of heart attack in half.3 Expedia found most people feel rejuvenated after vacation, and are more productive and more satisfied with their marriages.
2. Get More Sleep. The World Health Organization is considering labeling less than 7 hours a night a carcinogen: a cancer-causing agent. Less than 7 hours means you are three times more susceptible to colds and flu. You are functioning at a cognitive disadvantage. The solution: plan for a good night’s sleep. Go to bed earlier, do not check email before bed, do not watch TV in bed. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleeping, making love and resting: no phones, computers, or beepers.
3. Complete what you start. Incompletions drain large amounts of energy and create stress. Each incompletion is a broken agreement, and it saps a little bit of energy. With enough incompletes, you feel like a failure. One solution is to record your successes daily. Whether your action was to close a million dollar account or make the bed, if you set out to do it and finished it, to your brain, those are equal successes. Every time you complete a project, new energy is released to start new projects and you create a pattern of successful accomplishment.
4. Cultivate Optimism. Optimists live 7 years longer than pessimists, have better lung function and are far less likely to die young or from cancer, according to the US NIH and Yale University. It also helps your success as an entrepreneur. Dr. Martin Sullivan of the University of Pennsylvania interviewed 350,000 executives and learned that the top 10% performers are all optimists! So if you want greater success, achievement, and profit in your business, become a more positive thinker. As an entrepreneur, you have the chance to impact lives, add value to your customers, and create a good livelihood for you and your employees. But only if you take care of yourself and manage your stress.
1. Stress levels up in Canada, mental health association warns, CBC news, http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2009/05/04/mb-mental-health.html
2.“Stress in US Rises, Causes Health Problems,” The Scoop, The Meeting Professional, March 2008, p.442.
3. Brown, Sarah, “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003
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