EnMast http://www.enmast.com Small Business Community | Small Business Tools, Templates, Help and Resources. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:57:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Inbound14 Day Two Takeways: Less inspiration, more perspiration http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/inbound14-day-two-less-highlights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=inbound14-day-two-less-highlights http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/inbound14-day-two-less-highlights/#respond Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:54:16 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17839 I’m spending the week at Hubspot’s Inbound14 marketing conference and I’m trying to give you a peek at some of the big ideas I’m hearing. Yesterday I was inspired by Dharmesh Shah’s ideas about reaching big to attract better people. Today I heard a number of talks about how you make this Inbound Marketing scheme really work.

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I’m spending the week at Hubspot’s Inbound14 marketing conference and I’m trying to give you a peek at some of the big ideas I’m hearing. Yesterday I was inspired by Dharmesh Shah’s ideas about reaching big to attract better people. Today I heard a number of talks about how you make this Inbound Marketing scheme really work.

Inbound marketing is full of terrific big ideas. We hear over and over “the prospect is in control of the sales process”, “don’t interrupt, be helpful”, and “teach, don’t tell”. These truths have shaped the thought processes of the modern Internet marketer.

inbound 2014 day two

But just “being helpful” and producing great content isn’t enough anymore. There’s more content than ever, and the search engines have made it more complicated than ever to make your content rank. So Inbound14 Day Two was filled with presentations with titles like:

Today’s content was more practical and down in the trenches. It’s clear there are lots of folks who are working the inbound marketing game plan, but aren’t seeing the fruits of their labor. This whole thing has gotten more complicated. We can’t just publish a blog post and tweet it out — we need to research content ideas for our ideal persona, develop clever visuals, identify influencers and amplifiers, coordinate distribution…The list goes on and on. How do we do it all?

Today’s content was focused around these dilemmas. Here’s some of my takeaways from Inbound14 Day Two’s sessions I attended:

1. Finding really great content ideas is hard.

Mark Johnstone told us to spend 80% of our content creation time/budget on research to find the really great ideas. The best ideas do exponentially better than average ideas.

2. Use a variety of tools to find those ideas.

Review the questions being posted on Quora or use Open Site Explorer to find the most linked to pages on your competitor’s sites. Sure, consider search volume of the keyword terms, but don’t make it your only tool.

3. Content isn’t an event, it’s a project. It needs a plan, goals, and follow through.

As the content creation process has gotten more complicated, it requires more coordination and planning, and we’re spending more money to do it! Since the content is costing more, we want to get more out of it. The stakes are higher. As the stakes go up, we need better planning and accountability.

4. That plan needs to be very specific about who your audience is and what you want them to do when they read your content.

Not all content is the same — some is attracting visitors, while some is for converting visitors. Know what you are creating from the get-go. If you don’t know what you are trying to get people to do, they aren’t likely to do it!

inbound14 day two5. The best content promotion comes before you make the content.

Think about who will amplify that content before you create it. Even co-create it with them, then build it. I heard several speakers talk about working with publishers to create content the publisher would want to publish or link to. The distribution was arranged before the content was created!

6. Don’t use any piece of content once.

Cut it up. Put it together. Share “bites”. If it’s working, use it again… You’ll get a tired of your content way before your audience does. Different people are going to engage with different types of content. You need different “versions” of any content to meet the needs of different social networks, publishers, or communities. By making different end results out of each content concept, you make your investment go further.

7. It’s not about technology.

We are talking to, and selling to, people. We can’t forget that.

Now that people are depending on content marketing to fulfill mission critical business functions, and we are committing real money to content creation, we need to get serious about the results that these investments are generating. This isn’t just a “movement” anymore; it’s big business, and it needs to pay.

What was one of your biggest takeaways from Inbound14 day two?







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Inbound14 Day One Highlights http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/inbound14-day-one-highlights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=inbound14-day-one-highlights http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/inbound14-day-one-highlights/#respond Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:01:36 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17821 I’m at Inbound14 this week in Boston attending HubSpot’s big annual content marketing conference. These are highlights from day one. Here are day two‘s! Attempting to write a recap of Inbound 14 Day One highlights seems like an impossible task. There are over 150 speakers (of them, 25 are Best Selling Authors) so there’s no

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I’m at Inbound14 this week in Boston attending HubSpot’s big annual content marketing conference. These are highlights from day one. Here are day two‘s!

Attempting to write a recap of Inbound 14 Day One highlights seems like an impossible task. There are over 150 speakers (of them, 25 are Best Selling Authors) so there’s no way to “be everywhere” at once. I can’t possibly bring you a sense of the knowledge bomb going off here. Instead, I’m going to try and give you a snapshot of the one thing that impacted me most each day.

Inbound 2014 Day 1

Day one at Inbound14 included Simon Sinek, Hubspot’s impressive product enhancements and their entry into a whole new product category. But the thing that stuck out for me was Dharmesh’s talk. Dharmesh Shah is the CTO at Hubspot. Brian Halligan may be the face of Hubspot, but Dharmesh seems to be the soul of Hubspot and he brought that soulful character to his talk about X-poential Growth. Dharmesh started off by echoing Daniel Burnham telling us to “Make bold plans.”

“Don’t shoot for 10% growth,” he told us, “Shoot for 2X, 5X, 10X growth.”

But this is not just growth for growth’s sake — there’s a purpose in it.

If you are a small company looking to get bigger, you can’t compete with money. There’s always someone willing to pay more for attention or for talent. To be a small player competing with 800 pound gorillas, you need to have something else to offer. Dharmesh believes that “something” is your culture.

In the years that Hubspot has been growing, they have religiously done quarterly employee surveys and have always looked for what drew people to work there as well as what made them stay. Over and over again, they found that it wasn’t the ping-pong tables, the free food, the casual atmosphere, or the social events. The #1 thing that drew excellent employees and kept them engaged was that they got to work with excellent, engaged people.

“The people you work with matter more than the perks you get. Peers > Beers.” – @Dharmesh [Tweet This]

So if you want to create a company full of really great people, you have to have really great people working on exciting breakthrough projects. You need a plan that will “stir souls” not for the thrill of it, but because it attracts people who want to achieve that kind of growth. As Dharmesh said, “You can’t get breakthrough results by playing by the rules. Great people want to win. You need to take bigger risks to get better people.”

Think about this for a minute: Playing it safe might be the riskiest thing you can do. Playing it safe may prevent you from attracting the top talent. It may mean that you are struggling along with mid-grade people and making pretty good products — but there’s nothing more difficult than that.

Need more?

Dharmesh and his team were nice enough to write down their insights about how make a better culture and they published it on their blog! They call it the Culture Code and it’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to read through.

Day One Inbound14

But wait — there was one other insight I will be thinking about for some time. This is an important concept, too.

We all know the average salary for developers has been skyrocketing for the last several years. While it’s true there are more things to program (so demand is up) Dharmesh posited that there was something deeper driving the salary increases. The work of a developer is highly leveraged. Once you create a piece of software, it can be used again by hundreds or millions of people. Their hours don’t produce value once — they produce value over and over again.

Dharmesh believes that Internet marketers may be in for a similar increase in demand and value. When you create a piece of content, optimize it, and it finds an audience, it can go on bringing in leads for years. On almost any website there are a few pieces of content that have consistently been bringing in traffic and leads month, after month, after month. If that’s the case, and if Internet marketers’ product can create value that goes far beyond the immediate impact, then the demand for their service and the salaries they earn should follow a similar growth curve. If you are learning Internet marketing, take heart!

There was so much more that happened at day one of Inbound14— I could go on and on. Simon Sinek brought his powerful message about the responsibility of leaders and there were terrific breakouts with lots of practical advice and knowledge, but Dharmesh’s words will be the ones echoing in my head for weeks to come.

Check back tomorrow when I will be listening to David Merman Scott, Malcolm Gladwell, and lots of other fantastic Inbound14 speakers.







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Want a long-lasting business? Here’s how to build one http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/longlasting-business-build/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=longlasting-business-build http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/longlasting-business-build/#respond Sat, 13 Sep 2014 14:05:46 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17796 There’s not a whole lot of business owners out there that want to build their business for the short term and then throw in the towel. We want a business that will grow and flourish and we’re in it for the long-haul. Jill and Brad discuss the types of skills business owners need to have

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There’s not a whole lot of business owners out there that want to build their business for the short term and then throw in the towel. We want a business that will grow and flourish and we’re in it for the long-haul.

Jill and Brad discuss the types of skills business owners need to have in order to build a business that lasts. And they’re not easy traits you can just ‘pick up’ — they take work to master! Persistence is one of them, and Jill + Brad share 4 others ones.

Listen in to their conversation as they talk with small business owners Dave Delaney, the founder of NBN Radio, and Rita Morales the founder of Brainy Girl Designs on their biggest business’ challenges and learn a few new things!

ep-39-Horizontal-Podcast-Art-ORIGINALPodcast play button

(Podcast player opens up on Breaking Down Your Business or subscribe on iTunes)

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Cube vs. Corner: How do the boss’ work habits affect yours? http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/boss-work-habits-effect-yours/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=boss-work-habits-effect-yours http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/boss-work-habits-effect-yours/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:31:39 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17766 Sometimes it’s difficult to know how much you’re supposed to reflect the boss’s work habits. Especially in regards to working hours. After all, he or she is the boss — so doesn’t that role come with increased responsibility? But at the same time, as an employee, it’s important to show dedication and drive — that’s

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employee employer relationshipSometimes it’s difficult to know how much you’re supposed to reflect the boss’s work habits. Especially in regards to working hours. After all, he or she is the boss — so doesn’t that role come with increased responsibility? But at the same time, as an employee, it’s important to show dedication and drive — that’s exhibiting ambition and is how one climbs the ladder. So where’s the happy medium?

In today’s Cube vs. Corner, Brad and I have a serious discussion about the blurred lines around the 40 hour work week.

How do your boss' work habits affect your own

 

Brad_smallBRAD:

Some people have told me that I can be a little intense. I’ve also been known to be a bit of a work-a-holic. I feel like I’m getting that tendency more under control — but I can still get “in the groove” and spend 5 – 6 hours with my head down working without taking a break. I will sometimes send emails into the evening or early in the morning, and vacations still don’t come easy for me.

Does this work style set an unreasonable standard for you? If you are only working 45 hours in a week do you end up feeling like a slacker? Do you ever feel guilty about getting up and taking a break? Or do you feel the freedom to work with your own style regardless of my work habits?


DEVAN:Devan_small

When I first started out in the workplace, I just assumed work was 40 hours and you’re done. Once it’s 5pm, you leave regardless of where you’re at in your work (well, that’s how it was at one past employer). But in a new role, you don’t know the ropes yet and that’s not really the case. You need to make sure your work gets done, whether that takes you 35 or 50+ hours.

I also get days where I’m “in the zone” and forget to eat and take breaks when I’m focused on something. I’ll work 10 or 11 hours straight. Those days I feel “proud” especially if it’s 7 or 8pm and I know you’ll see I was working late when you check your email.

Then there are other days I just don’t have that same focus and drive and have to take more breaks. And to be honest, I feel guilty on those days. You have a super strong work ethic where you can push through on those days and still work a solid day where you’re in at 7 or 8am, and then work more at night. And I see that when you send emails late at night the next morning.

To be honest, I’m torn because, yes — I want to work more and show you I’m super committed. And no — because you know I really value my time outside of work with things I’m involved in, and I can’t work as many hours as you often do.

Do you ever wish that I worked more or just as much as you? Be honest.


Brad_smallBRAD:

So, I can see from your response that I do set an unrealistic expectation for you. Sorry, we should have talked about this more explicitly before.

I’m glad you value your life outside of work. I don’t want you to be working all the time. You have done a great job taking ownership and responsibility for a big part of this project and for that I’m very grateful.

I don’t really care that much about hours — I’m more interested in results. If you know an email has to go out on Friday and you have to work late to make that happen, I trust you will do that. If you have to work late every week, I’d expect you to talk to me about your workload so we can adjust.

But I know you are ambitious. That you want to succeed, get promoted (and make more money) so sometimes that’s going to drive you to do more. I love seeing that, it makes me want to promote you and pay you more money. So there’s a difference between what is “good” work (for which you get to keep your job), and what is “exemplary” work (that gets you promoted). That difference is up to you.


DEVAN:Devan_small

No, that makes total sense! Exploring the workplace and expectations for growing in your role is different at many companies, especially small companies vs. larger ones. So knowing more clearly what it takes to move up in roles and pay scale at a company is something that I was never ‘taught’ before, but the way you lay it out completely makes sense.

I’ll be passing on that word to my colleagues as well, because I think hearing the boss’ perspective and knowing the ball is really in our court is invaluable advice for other millennials.







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Why business owners struggle with being control freaks http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/control-freak-recovery/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=control-freak-recovery http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/control-freak-recovery/#respond Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:38:59 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17751 If you’ve been following this control freak series you’ve either been hurt by control freaks, or you think you might be one. If you know this is you, take heart! Admitting it is the first step toward recovery. Yes, I’m treating your control freak behavior as an addiction. It’s a behavior that is keeping you anesthetized, preventing

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If you’ve been following this control freak series you’ve either been hurt by control freaks, or you think you might be one. If you know this is you, take heart! Admitting it is the first step toward recovery.

Yes, I’m treating your control freak behavior as an addiction. It’s a behavior that is keeping you anesthetized, preventing you from seeing the world and your co-workers as they really are. You can’t stop it, and it’s interfering with your work and your relationships.

control freak recovery

To recap: the control freak actually feels out of control inside. We are afraid of being exposed, and afraid of all that chaos going on. So we work really hard to control everyone and everything on the outside. To do this, we buy into a bogus picture of our own superiority and buy into another bogus picture of everyone else’s incompetence.

We set our team up for failure so we can be in control; we bolster false confidence by presenting ourselves as the one with all the answers. We are critical, nit-picky, explosive, and we take on all the work that cannot be done to our impossible expectations. We devalue the contributions of others (especially when they don’t do it exactly our way) and violate their personhood by talking over them, talking for them and prescribing their behaviors.

Being a control freak, like being an addict, is ultimately self-destructive. We are lonely and over worked and stressed out. We complain because we never have time to do our work because we are so busy doing everyone else’s. We miss out on the rest of our lives (friends, family, hobbies, our own health) because we have to work all the time. We have to continue to control because we never experience real confidence; and our judgements put walls between us and anyone who might help us. We are locked in a terrible cycle, and if any one challenges us, we tell them we have no choice. We MUST live this way.

Is this you?

If it is, congratulations. Admitting it, and owning up to this is a huge step, and necessary for recovery. Although this information is not really new, you are seeing it in a new way, maybe even for the first time. Good job. Go to bed early. Take extra care of yourself as you just sit with this information, and get comfortable with your admission.

And put your seatbelt on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

How does it feel to admit that your control freak behavior is having a significant impact on your life? Keep writing down pay-offs and costs as you recognize them. Notice your feelings, they will give you important information on your road to recovery.







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The truth about controlling boss behavior http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/truth-controlling-boss-behavior/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=truth-controlling-boss-behavior http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/truth-controlling-boss-behavior/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:31:50 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17733 This month is all about working through letting go some control so you can build a stronger business. In Part I of this series, we created a list of scenarios to help you see if you’re a control freak. Here’s part II: So you might be a control freak. As a small business owner, you see

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This month is all about working through letting go some control so you can build a stronger business. In Part I of this series, we created a list of scenarios to help you see if you’re a control freak. Here’s part II:

So you might be a control freak. As a small business owner, you see it as survival; it is your job to make sure you correct everyone’s mistakes. And any time someone does something different from the way you would, it’s a mistake.

Understanding the control freak

No one should tolerate incompetence; but the gap between an honest mistake and blatant incompetence is wide; and in this arena, control freaks don’t see straight. The painful truth is that the control freak’s behavior is not rooted other people’s incompetence…

What’s in it for me?

No one is a controlling boss because it’s fun. In fact, it’s exhausting and lonely. But there is a pay-off; or else we wouldn’t work so hard at it! Acknowledging the pay-off is another crucial step toward leaving that hyper need to control behind us.

Part of what we do as control freaks is to set ourselves up as the authority — on everything. We keep our team so focused on running around keeping us happy, that they don’t have a chance to see any ways we don’t have it all together. They are less likely to question us, or (ahem) judge us. Ever hear that the best defense is a good offense? Control freaks are masters at this strategy.We judge and control our environment and the people in it first, before they get a chance to judge us.

controlling bosses

There’s the pay-off: our outward controlling nature protects insecure and vulnerable feelings we already feel inside. When we project a strong, dominant, “right”, persona, not only do we succeed in masking our vulnerability in front of other people but, more importantly, we hide it from ourselves. We need to perceive other people as wrong, incompetent and failing – so that we won’t feel, or be discovered to be, wrong, incompetent, or failing. Controlling boss behavior has it’s roots in our own fear.

By revealing the underlying fear of the control freak, I’m not trying to challenge your confidence — in fact, I want to build it up. I want you to have real confidence. Real confidence allows us to take our weaknesses and imperfections — our humanity — into account. I want to build up real confidence in your decisions, and real confidence in your team. I don’t want to continue to prop up the control freak’s confidence; it’s a house of cards. That kind of confidence is based on a distorted perception of strength (the control freak’s perfectionism) on top of a bogus perception of weakness (the failure of the employee to meet that standard of perfection).

What’s it costing you?

One of the dangers of control freak behavior is that it prevents us from really having confidence in anyone. Our fear makes us hypervigilant. We are waiting for (and watching for) any slip up, any misstep — and, wonder of wonders — we find them! Each time we find a misstep it undermines our confidence in that person’s (and ultimately in any person’s) ability to perform. That’s the insidious nature of controlling boss behavior — it’s self-fulfilling. We expect people to fail, and they do. Now we expect them to fail more, and they do…

And that’s not all. Once we discover we are surrounded by a bunch of failures, we take more work on ourselves; and — whether by doing their work for them, or double-checking their work — a lot more ends up on us. “Over-functioning” (doing more than our fair share) is nothing more than a hiding place for our weak and scared alter-egos. When we over-function, we have all this “proof” that we are better than others around us, (we get so much done, after all). It only makes sense that we are more important, and deserve better treatment. It’s us and them. We bundle our staff (with the occasional exception) into a package with labels: “incompetent”, “lazy”, “not invested”, “disloyal”, “doesn’t get it”…etc. etc. These judgements are a giant wedge between ourselves and the very people who can help us!

The truth is that nobody likes to be in relationship with a control freak, much less work for one. It’s exhausting. It burns people out. As people get burned out and quit, the control freak’s belief that people can’t be trusted is reinforced. And the cycle continues.

Are you following? Controlling bosses have a distorted perception of incompetence; therefore they take on more work than is healthy and alienate the staff that could lighten the load.

We are going slowly through this journey. If this is you and you are screaming “Make it stop!” you need to know is part of bringing your control freak behavior to an end is sitting with it right now.








Take some time to think about how you express your control freak behavior, think about what the pay-off for you is. And then ask, “What is it costing me?” And write your answers down.
Photo credit: jurvetson

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Flash Reports http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/flash-reports-employee-accountability/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=flash-reports-employee-accountability http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/flash-reports-employee-accountability/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 13:10:46 +0000 http://enmast.com/?p=316 The flash report is a quick way for team members to “check-in” once a week with one another. It allows the team to see if the other team member’s activities and priorities are in line with their expectations. Are they getting things done? Are the things that they are working on the “right” things for the

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Flash ReportsThe flash report is a quick way for team members to “check-in” once a week with one another.

It allows the team to see if the other team member’s activities and priorities are in line with their expectations. Are they getting things done? Are the things that they are working on the “right” things for the company?

If everything is fine, it puts everyone’s mind at ease. If there are questions or concerns, it’s a trigger for everyone that they need to pick up the phone and find out what’s up.

Get the Flash Report tool when you’re a member, or sign up for a free trial membership!

 

 

 

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EnMast’s Toolbox is brimming with tools that can help you with your everyday business challenges and problems.

We’ve got a library of business tools that can fix everything in your business, from the flat tires (trouble emplyees and low productivity) to the major engine failures (no new sales, pricing jobs wrong).

Brad-Farris-web-square-120712Brad Farris, The Founder of EnMast

By joining EnMast, you’ll become part of a community of business owners who understand and who can help you become a better, more confident business owner. We’ll all work together to help you build your business faster, work smarter instead of harder and make more money!

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The Flash Report Tool is one of the most effective and proven ways to keep up with individual progress and performance from your team. Start using it at your business today!

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]]> http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/flash-reports-employee-accountability/feed/ 1 Control Freak Test: Are you a control freak? http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/control-freak-test/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=control-freak-test http://www.enmast.com/2014/09/control-freak-test/#respond Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:28:20 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17714 A lot of business owners are control freaks. That’s a fact. It’s understandable. This isn’t just a job — it’s your business. It’s your baby, your little alter-ego, your precious… Wait, that’s getting kind of creepy. Let’s just say it’s important to you and you don’t want incompetent people messing it up! My small business

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A lot of business owners are control freaks. That’s a fact.

It’s understandable. This isn’t just a job — it’s your business. It’s your baby, your little alter-ego, your precious… Wait, that’s getting kind of creepy. Let’s just say it’s important to you and you don’t want incompetent people messing it up!

My small business — for better or for worse — is an extension of me. So if everything is going well, that reflects back on me. And if it goes poorly…well, you understand why the stakes are higher for the small business owner.

control freak test

But that’s not all. Small business owners do not have the resources of a large corporation. You all know what I’m talking about: no HR department, no IT department, no marketing department, no controller’s office. We’re lucky if we have an office manager! With none of these specialists on our payroll, the amount of information the small business owner needs to know — and stay on top of — is simply too much for one person. We may have a small staff, sure; but in terms of leadership, we are it. It’s an impossible standard.

No wonder we become control freaks. We pass on that impossible standard to our staff; we micro-manage or mismanage; we may be nice, or have fits of rage; but the outcome is the same. We work like animals on the edge of some sort of freak out. Only special people can tolerate us. That’s why we’re called control freaks.

Hey, we’re just doing what we have to do, right? It’s like we don’t have a choice! We wouldn’t do it this way if we didn’t have to!

But what if you don’t have to? What if you do have a choice? What if that choice is between running a small, struggling business that you work really hard to make perfect; and leading a vibrant, growing business, with lots of messy folks working alongside of you?

I hate to break it to you. You do have a choice. And the choice you make is revealed in your behavior. Over the next few blog posts I’m going to delve into the psyche of the small business owner control freak. I want to help you develop an awareness of your controlling behavior — the costs and benefits of it. I want to help you decide which of the scenarios above you’d like to see played out in your small business; and then I want to help you get there.

But first things first. If you’re feeling queasy about now, you’re in the right place. Stay with me. Take a deep breath. I put together a control freak test for you. Read through the statements below and see if you relate to any of them.

Control Freak Test

You might be a control freak if…

  • …you think: “I would delegate that task, but I can do it better than anyone else; besides, it would take too long to explain to them exactly how to do it.”
  • …you believe your primary role is to find and correct all the mistakes everyone on your team makes.
  •  …you interrupt when someone is struggling to express themselves or articulate an idea and explain it for them.
  • …you find yourself thinking, (probably several times a day) “Things would be so much better if they just did it the way I told them to.”
  • …you act disappointed when someone makes a mistake, but you secretly relish the opportunity to correct them.
  • …you regularly express anger toward inanimate objects (your computer, cell phone, car, etc.) because they don’t work the way you think they should.
  • …you are annoyed at 9:03 because you think that your 9 AM appointment is late.
  • …you are feeling irritated right now because you are thinking “What’s wrong with expecting people to be prompt?” (Control freak. For sure.)
  • …you find that most people who disagree with you turn out to be stupid.
  • …you get offended when someone you barely know doesn’t take your advice.
  • …you are wondering if that time you stopped to correct the spelling on a sign that was being held by a homeless guy counts (“Just trying to help!”). It does. That was you being a control freak.
  • …you believe that questioning your authority should be a capital offense.
  • …you look for “socially acceptable” ways to get out of listening to your assistant’s story about her daughter’s birthday party so you — and everyone else — can get back to work. You’re being a rude control freak.
  • …you can always identify one or two “things” that each person around you could change to make you much happier.
  • …you “help them out” by explaining these “things”… frequently… and repeatedly. Oh dear. You are such a control freak.
  • …you position other people’s suggestions in the worst possible light, making every negative assumption, and predicting certain catastrophe as the only possible outcome.
  • …you can’t understand why people don’t just do things your way (because it really is so much better).
  • …you find yourself trying to explain, clarify, or dismiss the behavior of one person to another person. (You may also be co-dependent).
  • …you believe that people complaining about your behavior demonstrates their incompetence. (Yup. Control freak.)
  • …seeing an important file in the wrong place makes you want to inventory every file in the office to insure that there are no others out of place.
  • …you judge every action taken by others as either right, or wrong. If this wall of judgement seems like common sense to you, there is most certainly a thriving colony of control freak thought and behavior hiding behind it!

OK. So you might be a control freak, or maybe you have a few tendencies in that direction. So what should we do about that?

I know what you’re thinking “Nothing!” You think if you admit to being a control freak, you will have to stop being one; and if you stop being one, your employees will stage a coup and you’ll be out of business inside of three months.

If you saw yourself in any of the statements above, I know you have a lot to think about. Now control freaks aren’t created over night, and they aren’t transformed over night either. It’s complicated. If you are interested in change it is going to be a process that you will have to commit to. Are you ready for change?

How’d you score on the control freak test? How many of these apply to you? How does it feel to look at these behaviors?

Think of the two scenarios at the beginning of the blog again. What choice have you made?








Photo credit: celine nadeau

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How business owners can clone themselves (without having an actual clone) http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/business-owners-cloning/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=business-owners-cloning http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/business-owners-cloning/#respond Sat, 30 Aug 2014 14:04:32 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17694 We all wish (at least every business owner wishes) they had a clone. You’d be able to do twice as much work, get it done the way you want to, anddddd it would just be awesome. But since that’s not really possible to do in this day and age, they came up with some practical

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We all wish (at least every business owner wishes) they had a clone. You’d be able to do twice as much work, get it done the way you want to, anddddd it would just be awesome. But since that’s not really possible to do in this day and age, they came up with some practical alternatives to help you get work done faster, as IF you had a clone.

They also bring on business owners Coco Meers, founder of Pretty Quick and Malik Turley, the founder of Hip Circle Studio to talk about the challenges they’re having with their business.

It’s a hoot, and Jill shares how she wants to have 20 Jills not just one, and Brad identifies that that might not be entirely safe… for the world.

ep-38-Horizontal-Podcast-Art-ORIGINAL-2

Podcast play button

(Podcast player opens up on Breaking Down Your Business or subscribe on iTunes)

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Top small business articles | August 2014 http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/top-small-business-articles-august-2014/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=top-small-business-articles-august-2014 http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/top-small-business-articles-august-2014/#respond Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:23:22 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17703 Summer is starting to come to a close, but it’s been a sweet season for us over at EnMast! We’re loving our newest members and Member Spotlights a TON! (Curious to try it out? Sign up for a Free Trial Membership!) Each month we pull out the top small business articles in case you missed some of them — they’re

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Summer is starting to come to a close, but it’s been a sweet season for us over at EnMast! We’re loving our newest members and Member Spotlights a TON! (Curious to try it out? Sign up for a Free Trial Membership!)

Each month we pull out the top small business articles in case you missed some of them — they’re definitely worth reading.

Also, Brad is in the running for Small Business Trend’s Small Business Influencer Award. You all know Brad puts his heart and soul into his work here through the membership, the podcast, small business library and articles. Voting is opening now, so if he’s impacted you anyway, please give him a vote! :)

Now, here’s our top small business articles this month:

5 Free SEO Tools For Small Business Owners5 Free SEO Tools For Small Business Owners

Our good friend George Zlatin, SEO Expert Extraordinaire, shared his favorite free SEO tools that are most helpful to business owners. (And I bet you haven’t used all of ‘em!)

overworkingOverworking: 4 ways business owners can avoid burnout

Business owners are often work-a-holics. We get sucked in to our work and can’t turn it off most of the time. Here’s how Brad put limits around his work so he doesn’t burn out, or let it affect my health and family.

leadership habits10 strong leadership habits all business owners should have

Usually when we hear the word ‘habit’ it’s a negative thing. But actually, there are GOOD habits that we need to adapt to be better leaders. Kaleigh shares 10 leadership habits you need to start practicing TODAY.

high performance leadershipHigh performance leadership: You can’t lead when you’re running on empty

Brad argues why business owners have it worse than pro athletes — running a business is more stressful, there’s more at stake, and more to lose. If YOU aren’t running on a full tank, it affects your clients, your employees and your family.

running a small business4 business survival tips for running a small business

Running a small business is hard. You’ve got payroll, customers not paying on time, cash flow and sales pipelines to manage, the list goes on. Feel like your business is running you down? You’re not alone. Here’s how to get it all under control.

What was your favorite small business article this month?








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Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/proper-prior-planning-prevents-perplexing-problems/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=proper-prior-planning-prevents-perplexing-problems http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/proper-prior-planning-prevents-perplexing-problems/#respond Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:32:08 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17659 Mr. McMahon was my Jr. High Algebra teacher and above his blackboard he had the phrase “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems” in large block letters. It was a favorite expression of his. Often when we would come to him with a dilemma he would reply with that phrase. “Mr. McMahon, I left my homework

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Mr. McMahon was my Jr. High Algebra teacher and above his blackboard he had the phrase “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems” in large block letters. It was a favorite expression of his. Often when we would come to him with a dilemma he would reply with that phrase.

“Mr. McMahon, I left my homework at home…” His reply of, “Proper prior planning prevents perplexing problems,” let us know that bringing in our homework was our responsibility — he didn’t feel the need to adjust his expectations to accommodate our performance (or lack of performance).

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems

We had one classmate who frequently made it to class without a writing instrument of any kind. He would ask Mr. McMahon to let him borrow a pencil. After making him recite the 6 P’s (as we started calling it) Mr. McMahon would loan the lad a pencil but take a shoe as collateral (assuming that he wouldn’t wander off to his next class without his shoe). Mr. McMahon wanted him to be able to do his work, but if he was going to be irresponsible, it was going to cost him something.

As my children have reached adolescence, I’ve dusted off this phrase for my own use. “Dad, I’m supposed to bring 6 egg cartons to school today.” On my own, I admit I wouldn’t know what to do with such dilemmas, usually presented to me 20 minutes before leaving the house for school, or, sometimes in the school parking lot. But Mr. McMahon’s mantra has given me (and my kids) all the clarity I need. Just because you failed to plan for this need, does not make it now my problem to fix for you.

Of course, this mantra has started to find its way into my office as well. Instead of using Miranda Priestly’s iconic phrase, The details of your incompetence do not interest me… (which employees tend to bristle at) I’ve decided to try using “Proper prior planning prevents perplexing problems” instead. It seems more humane. Instead of being instantly offended, they are just mildly annoyed — and it still puts the responsibility squarely where it belongs, on the employee.

But there’s more to it than that. This phrase is not merely a shield which I use to thwart a hundred interruptions, potential distractions, or accidental to-dos to my day. It is an important reminder as well. If I’m managing MY time, and equipping my employees to do their jobs, and communicating my expectations – this pithy phrase reminds us all of the responsibility of responsibility.

If I have NOT communicated clear directives, and given my employees the tools to accomplish their tasks, and made sure they understand the timeline, then this phrase will just be a hammer to hit them over the head with. It will be a strange burden, a humiliation that could wear on them over time. My goal is not to burden my employees (or my children for that matter) with things that are too heavy for them. My goal is to let them carry their own weight, and, with any luck, develop a capacity for more.

perplexing problemsMy own perplexing problem could very well become a bunch of employees who are incapable of moving from step 1 to step 2 without me. I don’t want that. I also don’t want an entire team of mavericks, interpreting on their own words like timelines, budgets, and “quality”. I need to properly plan for delegating tasks — with solid recruitment and hiring practices, consistent on-boarding for new employees, appropriate training and clear communication.

And then, in that environment, if an employee has a mis-step, falters, or just slacks off and comes to me, “Proper prior planning prevents perplexing problems” is a gift to them. They get a chance to own their work, fix their mistake, troubleshoot or brainstorm. And all of that is a gift.

But wait, there’s more; the bonus for me is two-fold. For one, I’m training my employees to be prepared and to problem solve without me. A great deal for me, either way you look at it. Secondly, when I give the responsibility back to my employee, I can watch what happens; I get information. This information could be used to open up a conversation, like, “How do you think you handled…? What might you do differently next time?” There is a tremendous opportunity for learning in our mistakes; and I want to solidify and affirm any piece of that for my employee. If my employee happens to demonstrate a stroke of brilliance even as he is cleaning up his mess, I can acknowledge that too!

Conversations like these can be significant relationship builders in a boss/employee relationship. Those opportunities come so easily when our employees truly own their work, and take responsibility — including paying a price or receiving a reward — for how they do it. You can use my mantra (Mr. McMahon’s, actually) or create your own to avoid the temptation to jump in and rescue, micromanage, pitch a fit, or otherwise take responsibility from your employees that actually belongs to them. Oh, and make sure you practice what you preach.

Try it, and be sure and let me know how it goes!









Photo credit: villanovalawlibrary

 

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4 interview disasters you’ll never forget http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/interview-disasters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=interview-disasters http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/interview-disasters/#respond Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:30:02 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17674 When I’m successful in helping a business to grow, they ultimately need to hire more people. So I get involved in helping them to recruit, interview and hire. Our process is to help write a really excellent job posting that attracts top candidates, then we do a phone screen before we recommend a face-to-face interview.

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When I’m successful in helping a business to grow, they ultimately need to hire more people. So I get involved in helping them to recruit, interview and hire. Our process is to help write a really excellent job posting that attracts top candidates, then we do a phone screen before we recommend a face-to-face interview. But even with all that preparation and pre-screening, there are just some things that you can’t find out on the phone. Here’s a collection of my biggest interview disasters.

interview disasters

1. The red-headed surprise

The phone rings and it’s my client’s name on the caller ID. I pick up the phone anxious to hear how the interview went with the latest candidate I sent her. As I bring my phone to my ear, all I hear is raucous laughter. She’s got the speaker phone on and her whole team is in her office and they can’t stop laughing. This is not a good sign.

the toupee interview nightmare

Apparently the very qualified candidate that I sent in arrived wearing a bright red toupee on top of his very black/grey fringe hair. It wasn’t just that it was mismatched, it was also unruly; uncombed, and wandering around his scalp as he talked. The interviewers tried hard not to spend the whole interview just staring at his head, but the fact that it was only loosely tethered to his scalp made it impossible to look away (like when you can’t turn away from a car accident about to happen).

The interview was a disaster. I tried to get them to engage in a conversation about his qualifications and how he had responded to the questions — but the disastrous hairpiece overshadowed any consideration of his qualifications.

2. The over-reaching accountant

My client had been in the business over 25 years. She is very successful and capable, but numbers and accounting are not really her thing. We were interviewing for a new Controller and one of the candidates was young, but very impressive on the phone. He had some industry experience, had worked for another small, privately held business, and done well. I was hopeful that he was the one.

During this interview disater, it became clear that he thought very highly of his own knowledge and skills. He started out by “teaching” us about accounting, then went on to tell us about all the things we were doing wrong in the business (in his opinion) and finally suggested that we give him ownership in the business quickly, so that we wouldn’t go out of business. When the owner replied that she wasn’t interested in giving anyone ownership he replied, “That’s OK, I wouldn’t want to be a partner in a business that’s so poorly run.”

3. The persuasive felon

In this interview disaster, we were phone screening potential sales people. One candidate in particular sounded like he was calling from a house party. But we wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and pressed on. He told us about his superior performance on a tele-marketing team; how his performance was head and shoulders above the rest. When we asked him where he placed on that team — Top 20? Top 10? — he answered “Oh, I’d say definitely in the top fifty percent.” That impressed us, but not in the way he was hoping!

interview disasterBut it got better. When we asked, “Tell us about a time that you were persistent in persuading someone. We want to hear how you overcame obstacles to win a deal or opportunity.” This young man told us with pride about how he had been recently turned down for a lease application because of a felony drug conviction that showed up on his background check. “But it was a mistake. It wasn’t a felony; it was a possession charge, which is only a misdemeanor.” He regaled us with the tale of how he got his criminal record corrected (overcame obstacles) and how he got the lease to the apartment (he won the deal). But we didn’t give him a job.

4. I’m not really a morning person…

not a morning personWe were interviewing a new college graduate who had never held an office job before. I’m always cautious of these candidates — I usually want someone else to teach them the norms and standards of office work — but she appeared to be very talented, and she made it through to the second face to face interview. I talked about the work hours, 9 – 5:30, and the need for punctuality.

You mean I really have to be in the office by 9AM every day?” “Yes, every day”, we explained. “Is there any flexibility on that? I’m not really a morning person.” She wasn’t really going to be our employee either!

Preventing Interview Disasters

While these are some of the more extreme interview disaster stories, they do exemplify the importance of having thorough interviews with open ended questions. We usually recommend 2 rounds of interviews lasting around 2 hours each. You would never want your son or daughter to marry someone that they had talked to for just 30 — 60 minutes, and yet, we think we can judge someone’s fit with our business in that short a period of time!

In order to make that interview time productive, we use a written interview guide so that we ask the same questions to each candidate in order to get a better apples-to-apples comparison. Asking every question on the interview guide also keeps us from making assumptions about what the candidate would answer — we just ask the question and listen to the answer. You would be surprised how often I’m asking a question thinking, “I know she’s got this one, ” and it ends up that they don’t!

As the interview disaster stories above show — even a tight recruiting and interviewing process will not protect you from spending time with some real curious candidates. But they will ensure that you don’t hire them!

This post is also a part of a competition for Jobs Today Embarrassing Interview Challenge.

Do you have any interview disaster stories to share? Please do in the comments below!








Photo credit: History In An Hour, amatern,

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