4 Reasons Your Business Is Out Of Control

Smart people learn from their mistakes, wise people learn from everyone else’s – Brad Sugars

If you’re a business owner, there’s a good chance you feel your business is out of control. You may be working too many hours, have employee issues or just not getting the money to the bottom line. Let me share 4 reasons why this is the case…

Headed for a fall?

Headed for a fall?

  1. You don’t know what’s going on. Many business owners struggle to get financial data on a timely basis. It’s not unusual to get final accounts months after the closing. This means you never know what your true performance is and can’t make adjustments quickly. But even if you do get financials, you probably don’t have good information about things like productivity, lead generation, conversion rate or customer behavior. I call that Mastery and you need it to be in control.
  2. You don’t know what works. You throw money at marketing and you hope it sticks, but you don’t know how to test and measure your marketing programs. You don’t know where your business comes from or why it came. You don’t have clear strategies for growth and don’t step away from your business regularly to evaluate and plan. I call this Niche and you need it to make money.
  3. You do everything yourself. Everything’s in your head. You don’t trust others to do things as well or as fast as you. You don’t have written procedures or manuals. All questions come to you because your Team is afraid to make the decision. Your business depends on you for at least one key function. I call this Leverage and you need it to stay sane.
  4. You can’t find good people. They come to work and do what you tell them. They have no loyalty, no enthusiasm. They’d switch jobs for a buck an hour more. You can’t trust them and you don’t think you can find good people. I call this Team and you will never succeed until you learn how to build one. There’s 6 keys to a winning team, but it’s up to you to implement them.

BONUS 5th Reason: You don’t have a Coach. You need someone who doesn’t work for you, isn’t married to you and doesn’t loan you money to discuss, brainstorm and dream with. Someone who’ll challenge you but not turn on you. Someone like me.

If your business seems out of control, let’s meet. I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

Want more evidence your business could be better? Take my free Business Health Check!

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Quick, without looking, how many Magnum, P.I. episodes were there?

You probably have no clue.

Now, think of a range of numbers that you believe will include the right answer. You probably came up with something like 50 to 100 or 25 to 75.

Why? If you didn’t know the answer, why did you think you could guess a range? Turns out this is a brain function. Our brain does not like to accept the fact that it doesn’t know something, so it works hard to put a framework on things. If it doesn’t know, it creates filler knowledge to avoid conflict. You’ve seen the robots who cannot compute and fizzle out – our brain prevents this by guessing.

The problem is, it closes our mind to the real answer. You would go on the rest of your life thinking there were 50 to 100 Magnum episodes if I didn’t tell you there were 158.

To grow ourselves (and our business), we need to be exposed to new information, fresh ideas. But if we don’t allow ourselves to see that there may be something we don’t know, we’ll never have the chance for that growth.

As a business coach, much of what I do is help business owners explore their self-imposed boundaries…help them see there’s more out there than they think. Just because you haven’t discovered something in 30 0r 50 years doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I’d love to help you look over the fence. I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

You don’t know what you don’t know, so take one of my Business Tests and see where your business opportunities are.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Listen Up! 10 Tips To Make You A Better Listener

Most people don’t listen with intent to understand; they listen with intent to reply. Stephen Covey

One of the 6 Keys to a Winning Team is 100% Inclusion/Involvement. Here are 10 great tips on how to listen more effectively from www.skillsyouneed.com.

1. Stop Talking

Don’t talk, listen. When somebody else is talking listen to what they are saying, do not interrupt, talk over them or finish their sentences for them. Stop, just listen. When the other person has finished talking you may need to clarify to ensure you have received their message accurately.

2. Prepare Yourself to Listen

Relax. Focus on the speaker. Put other things out of mind. The human mind is easily distracted by other thoughts – what’s for lunch, what time do I need to leave to catch my train, is it going to rain – try to put other thoughts out of mind and concentrate on the messages that are being communicated.

3. Put the Speaker at Ease

Help the speaker to feel free to speak. Remember their needs and concerns. Nod or use other gestures or words to encourage them to continue. Maintain eye contact but don’t stare – show you are listening and understanding what is being said.

If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Mark Twain.

4. Remove Distractions

Focus on what is being said: don’t doodle, shuffle papers, look out the window, pick your fingernails or similar. Avoid unnecessary interruptions.  These behaviours disrupt the listening process and send messages to the speaker that you are bored or distracted.

5. Empathise

Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Look at issues from their perspective.  Let go of preconceived ideas. By having an open mind we can more fully empathise with the speaker. If the speaker says something that you disagree with then wait and construct an argument to counter what is said but keep an open mind to the views and opinions of others.

Listening is the only Core Competence. Tom Peters

6. Be Patient

A pause, even a long pause, does not necessarily mean that the speaker has finished. Be patient and let the speaker continue in their own time, sometimes it takes time to formulate what to say and how to say it. Never interrupt or finish a sentence for someone.

7. Avoid Personal Prejudice

Try to be impartial. Don’t become irritated and don’t let the person’s habits or mannerisms distract you from what they are really saying. Everybody has a different way of speaking – some people are for example more nervous or shy than others, some have regional accents or make excessive arm movements, some people like to pace whilst talking – others like to sit still. Focus on what is being said and try to ignore styles of delivery.

8. Listen to the Tone

Volume and tone both add to what someone is saying. A good speaker will use both volume and tone to their advantage to keep an audience attentive; everybody will use pitch, tone and volume of voice in certain situations – let these help you to understand the emphasis of what is being said.

9. Listen for Ideas – Not Just Words

You need to get the whole picture, not just isolated bits and pieces. Maybe one of the most difficult aspects of listening is the ability to link together pieces of information to reveal the ideas of others. With proper concentration, letting go of distractions, and focus this becomes easier.

10. Wait and Watch for Non-Verbal Communication

Gestures, facial expressions, and eye-movements can all be important. We don’t just listen with our ears but also with our eyes – watch and pick up the additional information being transmitted via non-verbal communication.

Find more at: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html#ixzz2llqfbJs3

Feel like talking? Let’s meet! I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

How about some feedback? Take my Free Business Health Check.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too Many Lions?

The sluggard says “There’s a lion outside and I will be devoured in the street”. Prov 23:13

Our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past. -C. Palahniuk

What are you afraid of? We often hear people exhorting us to “get out of our comfort zone”. Why? Our natural inclination is to find and build a Comfort Zone. Who wants to be uncomfortable? Houses, air conditioning, good food, leather recliners – we all want comfort.

Maze Entry

Afraid to move?

But, of course, little happens in a recliner. The world makes progress through action. People getting up and doing things. Creativity, innovation, Outside the Envelope – those are the engines of progress.

Now, we’re all for progress, as long as we can get it in our recliners…

For business owners, change is scary. We work hard to create a successful business, one that works. One that makes us comfortable. But Change is constant, and fast, in the world. And our business has to keep up. But we’re afraid, so what can we do?

At ActionCOACH, we define FEAR as False Expectations Appearing Real. That’s what the Proverbs quote is about – we’re afraid there are lions in the street, so we don’t venture out. But if we did, we’d find there aren’t lions out there – there are opportunities.

We need to shift our Comfort Zone thinking. We need to become comfortable with change – then we’ll be in our comfort zone when we are take charge of our own future. Dream, Design, Train and Lead are the key functions of the business owner and all of these attributes help us eliminate fear as we build the future we desire.

Change isn’t scary if we initiate it. As business owners, we have the opportunity to create our own future.

Too many lions outside? Let’s meet and see if we can clear the streets. I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

How about an inventory of your fears? Take my Free Business Health Check!

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Owner Work or Employee Work?

Employee work is done once and gets paid back once. Business owner work pays you back long term. -Brad Sugars

When a person starts a new business, they do everything – sales, service, installation. And emptying the trash. But as a business grows and we add a Team, the lines get a bit blurred as to what the role of the owner should be. How can a business owner know if they are doing the right things?

Role of the Owner

Who’s work are you doing?

Brad’s quote is the test for answering this question. If the work you are doing is taking care of a customer order, serving a client, or doing any task that your company will invoice and be paid for, then you are doing Employee Work and it should be delegated to a Team member.

But if you are working on things that will grow the business, expand your market, generate more leads, develop your Team or save money, then you are doing Owner Work and you are doing what you need to do. You don’t invoice Owner Work – it grows the business and profit by generating more Employee Work.

Think about your day – how much time do you spend in Employee Work vs. Owner Work. How can you shift that balance? It’s all about leverage in doing more with less.

Need to make the shift? Let’s meet – I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

Not sure how your business stacks up? Take my free Business Health Check.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KPI: Keep Penguins Irritated?

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. – Winston Churchill.

How do you measure success? I’d like to introduce you to Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)


How do you measure success?

In my businesses, I’ve always been a numbers guy – detailed budgets, frequent measurements, etc. So I was surprised to learn how much variety there is among business owners when looking at their company’s performance.

Most business owners have some way they measure performance. Some look at daily or weekly sales. Some know how many units they have to sell in a month to pay the bills. Some just look at their checkbook – if there’s money there, they are happy. If not, it’s gloom. The fact is, that all of these can work to a degree. The goal is to find KPI’s to measure what’s going on in your business in order to create strategies to improve it. You can’t change what you don’t measure.

KPI’s don’t have to be financial, either. When I was in the restaurant business, we focused on Speed of Service. This was a critical predictor of our future sales. It was not a financial measurement, but critical, none the less.

Sometimes you can measure attitudes – customer surveys. Sometimes you may want to record physical characteristics, such as percent of units meeting quality requirements. Whatever you decide to measure, having KPI’s to track your performance over time will enable you to continually improve.

Not sure what to measure in your business? Let’s meet – I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

Take my free business Diagnostic. It will give you a clear picture of what’s going on in your business.


View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Connected?

Tim Mushey recently blogged a quote from Robert Kiyosaki: “The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.”

As our business landscape has changed from a manufacturing base to a knowledge base, this quote is ever-more accurate. Even if you build hard assets, your success in business will depend on how well you build your network of buyers, referrers and fans.

Build your network for success.

Get Connected!

This is not an easy concept for some. We think we sell widgets and we need widget users to buy them. Why would I need to go beyond that model? Well, the answer is because your competition is networking your customers right out from under you!

Building relationships with a broad base of people will expand your user base, develop loyalty and generate referrals. You must have clear and active strategies for this process. And most business owners never take the time to develop strategies of any kind, let alone clear and active ones.

This goes to the heart of the role of the business owner – creating a Dream, Designing a Plan, Training and Leading a Team to execute the strategy.

So take some time to consider your network strategy – focus on your database of users and contacts. Social media is a powerful tool but so is old-fashioned mail, email and phone calls. Sponsor events, connect your existing customers so they can build their networks, as well. Create strategic alliances with businesses with the same target market as you. The more connections you link to your hub, the more people will see you as a valuable part of their network – and they will reward you by remaining customers for the long haul.

Not sure how to get started? Let’s meet – I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

If you’d like a fresh perspective on your marketing, take my free Marketing Test.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment