EnMast http://www.enmast.com Small Business Community | Small Business Tools, Templates, Help and Resources. Sat, 30 Aug 2014 16:42:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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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Super awkward conversations that happen at work http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/awkward-conversations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=awkward-conversations http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/awkward-conversations/#respond Sat, 23 Aug 2014 14:05:23 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17616 If you’ve ever watched the office, you know how painfully awkward Michael Scott can make things at the office. And then in reali life, sometimes similar awkward situations happen at work, too. Jill and Brad share their most awkward conversations in business in this episode, and embarrassing things that recently happened to them. PLUS they

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If you’ve ever watched the office, you know how painfully awkward Michael Scott can make things at the office. And then in reali life, sometimes similar awkward situations happen at work, too.

Jill and Brad share their most awkward conversations in business in this episode, and embarrassing things that recently happened to them. PLUS they talk to Jonny Andrews, the founder of AudienceHacker.com, and Natalie Eckdahl, the founder of BizChixPodcast.

Don’t miss it! Click the items below to list, or subscribe on iTunes.

ep-36-Horizontal-Podcast-Art-ORIGINAL

Podcast play button

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

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Meet an EnMast Member: Treena Pitham of Octopus Admin http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/enmast-member-treena-pitham-octopus-admin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=enmast-member-treena-pitham-octopus-admin http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/enmast-member-treena-pitham-octopus-admin/#respond Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:14:39 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17631 Our Member Spotlight this month is on Treena Pitham of Octopus Admin. She calls herself a Solopreneur; when we asked her to say how many people were on her team she said “Me, myself, and I”. Treena is a Virtual Assistant (VA). She can support SME’s with, virtually, all of their administrative needs.  Her business provides

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Our Member Spotlight this month is on Treena Pitham of Octopus Admin. She calls herself a Solopreneur; when we asked her to say how many people were on her team she said “Me, myself, and I”. ;)

EnMast Member Treena Pitham

Treena is a Virtual Assistant (VA). She can support SME’s with, virtually, all of their administrative needs.  Her business provides business owners with more freedom so they can focus on the core function of their business. She’s lovely and from Australia! Chat with her on Twitter!

Tell us why you started your business…

I started my business to help business owners with something I believe is quite important, and that is getting organized.  I get a real sense of satisfaction from knowing that I have helped make a difference, no matter how small, to the way someone runs a business.  I have found, throughout my years of working in office environments, that business owners sometimes under estimate the importance of good organization. When this aspect is really attended to, a business can run much more smoothly. The frustration that comes with inadequate systems becomes a thing of the past.

I also have a young family (see picture below!). I wanted to start something that could allow for a certain level of freedom and flexibility for the benefit of my family.

What’s been your greatest challenge as a business owner?

As a new business owner, the thing that has been most challenging so far is sourcing clientele and managing a fairly tight budget.

treena pitham

What’s best about being a business owner?

I love talking to people, listening to their needs and developing a solution tailored specifically for them.  I also really like being able to take charge of my own professional development and feel like starting a business has opened up a whole world of possibility and learning for me.

What’s one thing you wish someone told you before your started your own business?

Things won’t always go according to plan! And, when you start out, the amount of time required to research is enormous!  But it’s important to make sure you offer something that sets you apart from the competition, so it’s worth spending the time to figure that out.

What’s your favorite tool, or device you use for your business?

I have fallen in love with Harvest!  It’s a time tracker; it makes managing time on different projects an absolute breeze. It integrates with my invoicing too, so all I need to do is press a button, the invoice is done, and emailed to the client in a flash.

What’s your favorite thing about EnMast?

The articles, business tools, webinars, e-books…what’s not to love?  EnMast is a valuable source of information for anyone starting out in business.

What’s your favorite tool on EnMast?

I love the Sales Pain Questionnaire. In my business, getting down to the nitty gritty of exactly where the pain points are is crucial. Many small business owners don’t have a big budget for administrative help, so working out what needs attention first and foremost is a huge benefit. From the Sales Pain Questionnaire, I can also make sure my proposal addresses the client’s main administrative concerns.

Connect with Treena on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook!







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Awkward Biz Moments: How to NOT quit a job http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/awkward-moments-business-owner-edition-quit-job/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=awkward-moments-business-owner-edition-quit-job http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/awkward-moments-business-owner-edition-quit-job/#respond Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17643 Introducing awkward moments: The Business Owner Edition! We’re starting a new series called “Awkward Biz Moments” where we collect stories from you guys of really awkward and hilarious moments we’ve experienced in our business with our employees, clients and everywhere in between. “I was walking into the office around 9:30 — I had been at a

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awkward iconIntroducing awkward moments: The Business Owner Edition!

We’re starting a new series called “Awkward Biz Moments” where we collect stories from you guys of really awkward and hilarious moments we’ve experienced in our business with our employees, clients and everywhere in between.

awkward moments

“I was walking into the office around 9:30 — I had been at a breakfast meeting. When the elevator doors opened one of my team members came out of the elevators carrying a bag.”

“Good morning!” I said cheerily.

“Oh, HI!” he says, “I’m just running out to feed my meter.”

I ride the elevator up to find half my staff huddled around the reception desk. “What’s up?” I ask.

The employee I just met on the way down had just resigned. Told the whole team, left a note on my desk, then lied to my face in the lobby of the building.

WHO DOES THAT?

Employees quit for all kind of reasons; and they often act weird when the do it. Don’t take it personally. It says more about THEM than it does about you.

Do you have an awkward or hilarious story to share? We want to hear ‘em! Email Devan with your story to get on the next edition. :)








Photo credit: Cannabis Defense Coalition

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4 business survival tips for running a small business http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/4-survival-tips-running-a-small-business/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=4-survival-tips-running-a-small-business http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/4-survival-tips-running-a-small-business/#respond Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:53:38 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17620 Running a small business can feel like a race against time. A never ending series of sprints. Payroll comes every two weeks whether you are ready for it or not. Customers come and go, some pay on time, some don’t. Sometimes it feels like there’s no time to catch your breath before you have to

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Running a small business can feel like a race against time. A never ending series of sprints. Payroll comes every two weeks whether you are ready for it or not. Customers come and go, some pay on time, some don’t. Sometimes it feels like there’s no time to catch your breath before you have to start running again. The sprint is for survival.

But that “sprint to survive” is can be a trap.

The way we get beyond survival is not to work harder, but to work smarter. We’ve heard it before, but what does that mean? How do we suit up to really go the distance? How do we develop a capacity for a more measured pace and greater distance? How do we build endurance?

running a small business

Just like training for a sprint is not the same as training for a marathon, we need to do different things to running a small business with long-term value; if we want to see beyond just trying to survive or make it to payroll. Here are 3 areas to focus on that will build the long-term value of your business (even if you feel like you are caught in a “sprint” cycle for survival):

Build your LIST: your fan base, the group people you have permission to educate (and sell to)

Your most valuable long-term asset is a permission based marketing list. With a list of people who know you, like what you are saying and doing, and who trust your recommendations and referrals, you have a long-term asset that you can use to make money lots of different ways. The bigger this list is, the more money it can make you — but only as long as the people on it continue to know, like and trust you.

  • Do you have a way to capture your business contacts to continue to build a relationship with them?
  • Are you sending out regular messages to them that build trust?
  • What are you asking of them? Referrals, purchases of information products, and affiliate sales are all ways to develop an income stream from that list.

Build your TEAM

You are an amazingly hard worker, and smart too. I know you are. But you alone can never work as hard, or be as smart, as a team of people can. Building your team is a long-term investment. It actually takes more time, and costs you more money now — but builds the capacity for running a small business business over the long-term.

  • How are you investing in your team members right now?
  • What are they learning that is making them more valuable?
  • Do they see how they can grow, learn more and make more money here?

Build SYSTEMS and automate them where possible

Since you are going to be doing this for a while, it’s worth it to create systems and processes — a standard way we do things — that’s written down, not handed down through an oral tradition. Once you have a system that’s written down, and you know it works, then it’s worth trying to automate it. There are thousands of online tools that you could use to improve and automate bits of your processes that would yield not just efficiency gains, but also improve quality and consistency of your end product.

  • Where are there patterns that you have confidence in? What “just works”?
  • How can you build that into a process? (Don’t make this your task, make it something that those who are doing that task can be responsible for!)
  • What part of that can be automated to make it more consistent and provide some better monitoring and reporting of progress and quality?

If you build it, they will come: goodwill

Goodwill is an accounting term that places a value on the intangible value of your brand name, regular customer base, and positive “vibes” that you have with your customers, community and employees. Goodwill is created when you do things that make people know, like, and trust your company. Investing in your team — equipping them to do their jobs, recognizing they have a life outside of work and giving them slack when they really need it, giving them a stake in what happens in the company — these are all ways to grow goodwill within. When you create systems that endure even if you are out of the picture, this builds goodwill, too. Your customers and community learn that they are not simply counting on you, but they can count on your organization, your brand. All of this goodwill you are generating can help you to realize a premium value for your company.

So you see how building a customer list, a developing your team, *and* creating more consistent processes aren’t just good for running a small business today — all of these things together will build your long-term value for tomorrow. Get off the treadmill. If you want to endure, if you want to go the distance, start investing in these three areas now. You may find you need to sprint now and then, but it won’t be a sprint to survive.








Photo credit:

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Is your business a sprint or a marathon? http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/business-sprint-marathon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=business-sprint-marathon http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/business-sprint-marathon/#respond Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:01:24 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17605 There are a lot of entrepreneurs who are running a sprint. They work an untold number of hours — racing the clock, giving up a life today for some greater reward in the future. It’s a high-stakes, high-risk gamble that, by doing what others won’t today, they will get to enjoy what others can’t later.

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There are a lot of entrepreneurs who are running a sprint. They work an untold number of hours — racing the clock, giving up a life today for some greater reward in the future. It’s a high-stakes, high-risk gamble that, by doing what others won’t today, they will get to enjoy what others can’t later. I understand the thinking — but I know it’s not for me! I’m not a gambler, I don’t play the lottery. I have young kids, and there’s no amount of money later that can pay me back for time with them now. So that plan doesn’t work for me.

sprint or marathon

Others say that they are lifetime entrepreneurs, but they are really just running a series of sprints. They start a new business every two or three years, calling themselves “serial entrepreneurs”. I don’t understand this either. Starting new businesses is hard. While the start-up phase is thrilling, and you learn a lot, I’m not sure what skills you are building. What are you getting good at in that process?

Instead, I’m running a marathon. I started one business, and I’m looking to stay in it for a long time. I want to get good at it so that I can earn good money, deliver excellent value, and still have a full and rich life. That doesn’t mean I’m adverse to change — there have already been lots of changes in my business — but the fundamental business is the same.

In a marathon you have to pace yourself. You can’t take off like a rabbit right from the starting gun; you’ll run out of energy before you get to the finish line. Also, you need to know the course. Parts of the course will take you up hills, parts of it will take you down hills. There will be some sun and some shade. Knowing what’s ahead means you can anticipate the hills and adjust your stride. Lastly, you need water and nourishment along the way to keep up your stamina, so you can finish the race.

If you, like me, are running a marathon in your business and not a sprint, here are some things you are going to need:

1. Persistence.

Entrepreneurial journeys have ups and downs. There will be days when clients are lined up at the door and you can’t hire fast enough, and there will be days when it’s like nuclear winter with not a scrap of work to be found. If you are in it for the long haul, neither situation will throw you. When they are lined up at the door, you will serve all you can. When work is scarce, you will find a way to keep going.

There’s always a temptation, when things get tough, to start something new. Now that you know all the limitations in your current business it seems attractive to find a new business where you can see all the opportunities (and none of the limitations). That’s a trap! You are giving up something you know for a lot of unknowns. If you have persistence you will stay the course and solve the problems with your current business.

2. Margin.

Remember, this isn’t a sprint — you need to pace yourself. So whatever resources you have that can run short — like time, energy, money, friends, supporters, or any resource you need to be successful — will need to be replenished along the way.

I used to look at my calendar and keep adding meetings until there was no white space. But that pace is exhausting, it leaves me no time to think or breathe, (or go to the bathroom). I’m a better leader when I have some time to unwind and think bigger thoughts. And I’m not talking taking vacation time, I’m talking about getting this time every day! Time to look at the implications of what I heard in those meetings. Time to step back and review all that is going on with my clients and my business.

I need to charge enough for my services so that I can afford that time. I need to charge enough so that I can buy new computers when my current one gets old and slow; enough so that I have something to live on when the nuclear winter comes. A successful business needs to cultivate margin.

3. Focus.

There are about 1000 things I can do to improve my business today, but I can’t do all of them. If I plan to do two or three things today I might actually finish them before I run off and start something else. This means that every day there are about 997 things that I could do to help my business that don’t get done. And they won’t get done tomorrow either. I have to learn to tolerate that in order to maintain enough focus to get done just the two or three tasks that I have planned to do.

4. Priority setting.

The key to maintaining that focus and tolerating all those good things that I could do, but that don’t get done, is to have a clear set of priorities. Since there is always more to do than there is time and energy to do it you need to get really clear about what things are most important. You need to know where you are headed and ruthlessly measure your progress toward getting there. The secret is not doing more, but knowing what the most important things are and doing those things.

5. Confidence.

Self-doubt is a huge suck on your energy and productivity. If you do the work to free up time to focus, and set priorities, but then you doubt the priorities you set and have to re-examine them over and over, you will not make progress in your business. If you have confidence, based on experience and regular feedback from people you trust, you can spend less time planning, questioning and re-examining — and more time boldly doing!

Regular relationships with people who know you and know your business are essential to building your confidence. There are millions of folks out there writing articles and selling information that is designed to distract you from what is most important for you. Find people who can cheer you on and spend regular time with them; avoid folks who feed your fear and doubt. This is where a business coach or mastermind group can really help you. They can provide a place where you can take those doubts and fears and trade them in for more accurate feedback. They can hear your process and confirm your decisions (when they are solid) or redirect you (when they aren’t) so that you are less likely to be blown back and forth.

Since I know I’m going the whole 26.2 miles, I need to make sure that I’m maintaining the energy, stamina and health in both me and in my business to endure to the end.

What are you doing to make your business last? What are you doing to keep your own energy and enthusiasm high?








Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

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Hey business owner — you’re doing it wrong! http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/hey-business-owner-wrong/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hey-business-owner-wrong http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/hey-business-owner-wrong/#respond Sat, 16 Aug 2014 14:12:21 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17554 There’s some things that we do in business that are just plain stupid — business norms and professional courtesy’s that everyone has experienced at one point or another. Here’s one of them: Someone connects you to another person because “you two are both lovely,” and should know each other and so they ‘connect’ you two via email

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There’s some things that we do in business that are just plain stupid — business norms and professional courtesy’s that everyone has experienced at one point or another.

Here’s one of them: Someone connects you to another person because “you two are both lovely,” and should know each other and so they ‘connect’ you two via email — in Jill’s words, that is just “stupid!” “Okay, thank you for calling me lovely, but both parties are left wondering why we should connect?” There’s no purpose, and it’s a waste of time.

She shares 4 other ones that will have you laughing, and agreeing and nodding because you hate them just as much. Plus Jill + Brad yell a lot in this episode; even more than normal.

Plus they talk to wonderful guests, Lola Wright, the Executive Director of Bodhi Spiritual Center, and Elise Jaffe the founder of Big Teeth Productions.

business owners doing things wrong

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EnMast Business Owner Tip of the Week No. 02 http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/enmast-business-owner-tip-week-02/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=enmast-business-owner-tip-week-02 http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/enmast-business-owner-tip-week-02/#respond Fri, 15 Aug 2014 14:18:46 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17586 One of the things we see business owners do a lot is take on work that their staff should be doing, rather than focusing only on the work they have the ability (or authority) to do. It’s not sustainable! That’s what this week’s tip of the week is all about. Click here to tweet the

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One of the things we see business owners do a lot is take on work that their staff should be doing, rather than focusing only on the work they have the ability (or authority) to do. It’s not sustainable! That’s what this week’s tip of the week is all about. Click here to tweet the business owner tip of the week.

business owner tip

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Overworking: 4 ways business owners can avoid burnout http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/overworking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=overworking http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/overworking/#respond Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:10:44 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17576 One of the things that I believe has helped me to be successful in my business is my passion. I’ve never been someone who wants to do things half-way — if we’re going to do this thing, let’s do it. Because I’m very passionate about the things I’m doing, I am compelled; and I have

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One of the things that I believe has helped me to be successful in my business is my passion. I’ve never been someone who wants to do things half-way — if we’re going to do this thing, let’s do it. Because I’m very passionate about the things I’m doing, I am compelled; and I have trouble finding a healthy balance. I can be a bit of an addict, a work-a-holic, and find myself overworking. Give me a project that I think will really move the needle in my business and I can work on it all weekend.

overworking

But if I really want to be in this business over the long term, that’s not a dynamic that’s going to work for me. It may seem counter-intuitive, but working all weekend to get a project done is going to kill my business; just as surely as eating everything on the buffet table is going to kill my body.

Having a business that lasts, that’s indestructible, means pacing myself. It means that I can’t consume my time, or energy, or money, or relationships all on this project, or for this year’s results. I need to be able to keep at this — so I need to sustain those resources over a long period of time.

But in the moment, I don’t think about that long-term need. When the work is in front of me, I think about how much I want to get it done, about what a big difference it will make once I’ve done it, about the money I’ll make and the people that will be helped. I want to see the results. I want to finish it. In the moment — facing that pile of work — is NOT a good time for me to decide what my limits are.

I learned this lesson trying to be more healthy with food. If you ask me, standing at the buffet, “How much is enough?” I’ll have a hard time answering. It all looks good. But if I decide ahead of time that I’m only going to eat so many calories per day (that’s what’s healthy for me after all) then I need to make choices, I need to set limits and keep to them.

OverworkedIf I do that with my work I might say, “I’m not working more than one weekend a month and I’m home by 6PM 4 nights a week.” I don’t set those limits because I don’t want to work, I don’t set those limits because there isn’t good work to do, I set those limits because I need things outside of work to sustain a good healthy me.

I need to participate in my life outside of work in order to be at my best. I need healthy relationships with my family and friends to give me perspective. I need them to celebrate my successes with me, and to support me in my defeats. It’s actually the relationships outside of work that give those things real meaning. Setting limits around my work creates space for those relationships; and those relationships mean that I’m a happier healthier person who can do better work when I am working.

So what would it mean to you to go on a “work diet”? How could you decide how much work is enough and how much work is too much? How could you track your work hours and stop when you are “overworking”?

1. Would restricting your work time make you more effective?

When I work with a client to review how they are spending their time, I frequently find some very ineffective habits — ways of working that actually increase the time they are spend. Because they have never tried to work a lot less, they have never had to find a different way to work. Necessity is the mother of invention — if you constrict your work hours you might find new ways to do things, or things you can automate.

2. What would you have to give up, or reduce in order to get there?

Being more efficient is a great first step, but to make big gains you need to find some things that you can stop doing. Things that you can assign to team members, or things that just don’t need to be done at all. Yes, letting go of some of those things is risky — but so is overworking!

3. What support would you need?

If you are going to cut back, you might need some support. Can your current team step up? Can they take on more? Can they take things they are already doing further? What are some specific ways for them to provide you additional support?

4. How would you invest that time that you aren’t spending at work?

It’s a hard truth, but there are some of us who are overworking overselves because we wouldn’t know what to do with that extra time if we had it! Friends? Hobbies? How can they be as compelling as the work I could be getting done? Sure I love my kids, but have you spent much time with kids lately? It can be kind of boring. I mean they are cute, but just how many lego houses can you build?

Cultivating a life outside of work is it’s own kind of work. We need to invest time with people to see if they are going to become real friends. We need to go through at awkward “beginner” phase before we really enjoy a new hobby. The benefits aren’t as immediate as what we would see from one more hour in the office — but if we persist, they are there.

Having a business that’s indestructible means that you have the capacity and reserves to lead that business. Without you, the business is at substantial risk, and overworking yourself will put it at even more risk. Building a better, healthier, more balanced you is a first step to a better, healthier, more balanced business.









Photo Credit: Mad Wraithhiyori13

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High performance leadership: You can’t lead when you’re running on empty http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/high-performance-leadership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=high-performance-leadership http://www.enmast.com/2014/08/high-performance-leadership/#respond Wed, 13 Aug 2014 16:26:24 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=17558 Have you seen The Wire? Wow. It’s one of the most compelling shows I’ve seen on T.V.! I couldn’t stop watching it last night. I sat down to watch one episode; three episodes later it was 1AM! When my alarm went off early this morning I lost count of how many times I hit snooze.

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Have you seen The Wire? Wow. It’s one of the most compelling shows I’ve seen on T.V.! I couldn’t stop watching it last night. I sat down to watch one episode; three episodes later it was 1AM!

When my alarm went off early this morning I lost count of how many times I hit snooze. I ran out of the house without breakfast to make my first meeting on time. Then I hit the traffic! I can’t believe what a little rain does to some drivers.

Then I got to the office and heard my whole staff sitting around the conference room table having a big coffee party. They know about the deadlines we’ve got for today! How can they just sit around talking about their weekend? I launched into a tirade. “Hey, do I have to do everything around here? Is this how we get things done on a busy day?” I was moving into “If this is how you feel about your job maybe you should just go“, when my office manager interrupted to explain that the Internet was down, that they had called the provider and it should be back up in the next 30 min. My mood did not improve.

Stomping back to my office I felt really crappy. I walked in feeling really low. Low on energy, low on will power, and kind of alone really. I saw a situation that triggered me and I let all those low feelings fly. Unfortunately they hit people who didn’t deserve them! Now I need to somehow apologize and make it up to them. But wait. Just because they didn’t deserve it this time doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it. I feel like this a lot. We do have a lot of deadlines we need to hit today — screw it — I’m just going to get to work and try to get stuff done. That will feel better.

Leaders, like professional athletes, have to perform at a high level when they are in the game. (click to tweet)

Making high performance leadership priority, is imperative for business owners. If you lead a team, those people (and their families) depend on you. They need you to perform at a high level every day. That’s an incredible burden — and also a truth. If a professional athlete came to work on just a few hours sleep, in a crabby, and coping with a sugar crash, their performance would suffer. And their team mates would get on their case. Their coaches would take them aside and talk to them about how that’s not going to happen again. “There’s always another talented athlete waiting to take your place…”

But you are an owner, king of your castle, ruler of your company. No one tells you what to do– you’ve earned that. And it’s true; no one is going to take you to task. But they don’t have to respect you, either. They don’t have to give you their best work.

sustainable leadership

We all want a loyal, hardworking team. It makes all the difference in any business. It’s the difference between pushing the rock up the hill all by yourself, and coming back after a long day to find the rock is already at the top of the hill! But getting that kind of high performance from our team comes from honoring them. We honor our team when we do what we have to do to bring our best every day.

When we come to work ready for peak performance we set a standard, and we have fewer outbursts and negative experiences. We are a are someone people want to give their best work to. By elevating our game we elevate the game of those around us.

Here are some words for the wise on high performance leadership:

1. Take care of yourself

I recently heard an NFL running back talking about what it took for him to come out on the field and run as hard as he can toward a bunch of 300 pound guys who are trying to crush him. He attributed his continuing stamina and durability to “the little things I do to recover”. He got a massage after every game, and again on his day off. He felt like stretching, good nutrition, and extra sleep all played a role. He arranged his whole life around keeping his performance at a high level.

Is business ownership as demanding as being an NFL running back? Maybe not, but I believe the stakes are higher. If the running back gets hurt, his team loses. If you aren’t displaying high performance leadership, it affects your clients, your employees and your family. Are you working out? Do you get enough sleep? How’s your nutrition? What changes do you have to make to be able to stay in top form not just today — but for the long-haul?

2. Keep short accounts

When issues come up between people it takes time and energy to resolve them. That’s time and energy that you could be using to get work done! Most days it feels so much more rewarding to get that work done than to have some dramatic conversation resolving things with a co-worker. But over the long-haul those unresolved conversations become like weights dragging down the performance of your whole team. Take a minute to apologize when you blow up, or resolve issues when you become aware of them. Not only will you be free from that weight, but dealing with those issues in the moment will mean more productivity in the long run. [1]

3. Be brave…

Your team is there to support you. If you have the right team they want you to succeed. So let them know what you need from them. Be clear. “When I come into the office and find everyone in the conference room chit-chatting when we are under a big deadline it really stresses me out. I need to know that you are thinking about those deadlines too. How can we do that?”

You need things from them. Be clear, and ask for what you need.

4. …and kind.

Catch some people doing something good — let them know how much you appreciate their support. When we are paying their salaries it can be easy to think, “Why do I have to thank them, I’m paying them!” Even when you are being paid, it feels good to be thanked, to have your efforts recognized. And, for some people, that “thank you” means more than the paycheck.

I intend to be working at this for many years. I know I can’t keep every team member, or every client for decades. But it’s going to be so much easier for me if they love working here. If they leave reluctantly, and have good things to say about me where ever I go. If I’m taking good care of myself, it gives me the internal reserves and capacity to be good to the people I work with and it makes the whole office a nicer place to work.

[1]There are those people who love drama and who regularly need the attention and intensity of “resolving” things. If keeping short accounts with someone is increasing the time and energy you are spending on these issues with a certain team member, you may need to choose to have a different team member — one who needs less attention!

This article is part of our series on how to build a healthy / indestructible business.








Photo credit: VinothChandar

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