You started the year with great plans and expectations, but sometime during the month of March, the work seemed to end. It was if your customers went into hiding and your telephone stopped ringing. If you are a retail business or retail store, you had to shut down. You had to layoff much of the staff you had hired and trained over a period of months and years. You found yourself disheartened and in a state of crisis.… Read the rest
So often we find that a business or a nonprofit organization has wandered into an area which might not be consistent with their Mission. They are spending time and energy addressing some idea that diverts them from the important issues which need to be addressed. Let me remind you that our business name is RLS Focused Solutions. One of the roles of a business coach is to remind the client not to lose their focus.… Read the rest
During several of our seminars we often project the illustration shown here on the right. Upon noticing it, the most common question is: “What is this?”
This is referred to as the KASH Box and as we explain its purpose and meaning, the listener usually nods their head and smiles. They often said, “I’ve believed this for years, but I never saw it expressed this way. Seeing it reinforces what I’ve always known.”… Read the rest
Susan is the owner of a profitable and growing service business. She has worked hard to grow the business, spent many hours away from family and friends. She has done most of the business management herself, dedicating only minor clerical tasks to others. Her strengths are in sales and marketing, but she is frustrated by being constantly pulled away to supervise the work crews and address customer complaints. The conclusion is that she must begin to delegate some of the supervisory responsibilities to someone else.… Read the rest
As we work with small and emerging businesses, one of the most rewarding milestones is when the business leader is able to read and evaluate the state of their business by reading and understanding their monthly financial statement. Most start-up business leaders manage their businesses by the balance in their checkbook. This is understandable since they must have the funds to pay employees, supplier and feed their family. As they grow, this is not enough to control and manage their business. They must develop an understanding of the profitability of the work that they do and its ability to cover the expenses generated. Is there enough income to pay for advertising, administration salaries, rent, taxes, etc.?… Read the rest
Maybe you are a business or a non-profit that completed writing a strategic plan within the last one to two years. You spent many hours with your board of directors or management team carefully crafting the wording within each step of the process. Maybe you used a consultant or let a team member lead the discussion. Everyone felt good about the completion of the document, but a year later the status quo continues. What happened?… Read the rest
Strategic Planning has always been a key leadership tool in the development of successful for-profit organizations. Its format and time scope may vary, but it serves as an important function in business success. It has helped many businesses focus their priorities on future growth and profitability.… Read the rest
When a business owner or manager is asked to describe their greatest challenge, the response is, too often, an obvious symptom. My competitors’ undercut my prices. I need to find a better location, but this is all I can afford. I can’t find good employees who will provide good customer service. These are the stated obvious issues, but they will not help us get past the obvious and lead to developing a plan for business success.… Read the rest
We were recently asked by an Agent in Charge of a real estate office to make a presentation to a number of new realtors. He explained to me that although they had extensive sales and legal training, they had little understanding of how to build a successful business. Real Estate Agents are, in fact, independent contractors and although the agency provides much support, success is the result of their own plans and efforts. The agent explained to me that many had never been in business for themselves before and find this a new experience. In fact, 80 percent don’t make it to the second year.
I first explained to the group that I was not an expert on real estate sales, but would share with them my observations on how small businesses had grown to be successful.… Read the rest
One of the key ingredients in building a successful business is financial control. As we work with clients, we often find that they are managing their business through their checkbook. If there’s cash in their checking account at the end of the week, they can make their payroll and pay their bills. That’s the extent of their control. Real financial control comes when the manager knows that the operation is profitable and can build it successfully. The first step in increasing this level of financial control is the development of a budget associated with one business plan and reviewed on a regular basis. Let’s consider three areas of budgeting; building the budget, reviewing the budget, and cash versus accrual accounting.… Read the rest
Over the last few years, we have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of family businesses. As students of formal business education, we have had to learn to adapt to the family business environment because it differs from that which is associated with Corporate America. From that experience,there are a number of ideas which we would like to share:… Read the rest
In his book, Traction-Getting a Grip on Your Business, Gino Wickman tells a story which needs to be consider by both businesses and nonprofits. Picture a small plane flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Halfway across the captain announces.” I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news. The bad news is that the gauges aren’t working. We are hopelessly lost. I have no idea how fast we are flying or in what direction and I don’t know how much fuel we have left. The good news is that we’re making great time. Management meetings often center on solving the crisis of the day or celebrating the lasts success, but metrics, the airplane’s gauges, are not often reviewed.… Read the rest
Over the last 13 years we have had the opportunity to work with a number of small businesses, all owned by an individual, with some degree of family involvement. It has been truly a unique learning experience because the majority of my business background was either with larger corporations or in the academic community. In that environment, great importance was placed on growing revenue and profit. While most of these smaller businesses are motivated to grow and be more profitable, several are more interested in sustainability. Maintaining a family-centered life style can often be a chief motivator.
Our focus has not been on brand new businesses that might be classified as start-up. Our clients tend to be already well established businesses who may be in need of making changes required achieve higher levels of success.… Read the rest
We recently conducted a workshop at the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in Savannah GA. There were approximately 120 chamber leaders, from across the nation, and the question was asked, how many have a formal strategic planning process? There was an overwhelmingly positive show of hands. The response from these participants reflects our experience with all nonprofits, that most have a strategic planning process. It may vary in timing or method, but it is essential to the success of the group. Without it, there can be a loss of faith from those who invest their time, trust and resources to an organization.… Read the rest
Warren Buffet is quoted as saying, “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.” Mr. Buffet is considered one of the smartest investors in the modern era. One might say that he is a very knowledgeable investor. What makes him a knowledgeable investor? I would suggest that he works hard to become knowledgeable in the companies in which he invests. He learns to know their management, their product/services, their people, their plans, their competitors, their markets, their technologies and their people. He never assumes anything or works on a tip. He is in a constant search for knowledge.… Read the rest
We are often in a social situation where we meet people, who will eventually ask us, what we do. When we reply that part of our practice is business coaching they often reply, “OH that’s nice.” They say that in a way which indicates that they are unsure of what that means and are fearful of finding out more about the subject. They assume that they are well equipped to handle their business issues or that this is a “touchy feely” subject that makes them uncomfortable.… Read the rest
Every entrepreneur I have ever talked to has had to come face to face with his/her fears. I have had to as well. I want to share with you some of the techniques I have used to face them.
The first step is not to be in denial. You have fears even if you don’t readily acknowledge them. They sometimes take the form of chatter in the back of your head that says you can’t do it.… Read the rest