EnMast http://www.enmast.com Small Business Community | Small Business Tools, Templates, Help and Resources. Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:39:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Thanks to my key business advisors who have helped me build my business http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/key-business-advisors/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/key-business-advisors/#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:08:25 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18456 I’d like to thank my key advisors… In growing my business I have relied on the advice and wisdom of LOTS of other people. Some of those people are close to me, and they know the impact they’ve made. There are others whom I’ve never met, but their wisdom has nonetheless shaped the business owner

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I’d like to thank my key advisors…

In growing my business I have relied on the advice and wisdom of LOTS of other people. Some of those people are close to me, and they know the impact they’ve made. There are others whom I’ve never met, but their wisdom has nonetheless shaped the business owner that I am. I’ve never gathered all these people together, or taken the time to give them the thanks they deserve. Here’s one humble step in that direction:

Key Business Advisors: They've got my back!

Clients

Every client I’ve ever had has taught me something. Some have taught me hard lessons (like always get paid in advance). But each one has truly made me better at what I do. Diane Yetter is the client I’ve worked with the longest. We’ve re-invented her business twice! She has taught me to be a much better communicator; how to be really clear and concise. And, because of Diane, I’m a much better listener. I’ve learned to hear what is spoken on the surface, but also to listen and probe for underlying concerns, unarticulated desires. In her pursuit of excellence, Diane has taught me these important skills. Thank you, Diane.

Peers

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two CEO roundtable groups: one C12 group and one Vistage group. Each group was instrumental in helping me overcome some tough challenges. My C12 group was there when I was moving from a “solo” business to building my team, and I got tons of benefit from thinking through how to do that with them. How to hire. How to pay team members. The folks in my C12 group helped me move out of my spare bedroom in and into a “real” office. I was able to see mature business ownes making all kinds of decisions – up close and personal. I was able to “grow up” some, in their good company. Their advise was key to my growth.

Later, I joined a Vistage group, where I met some other business owners who became key advisors. Ironically, the biggest impact that my Vistage group made was on my life outside of work. They helped me find resources when I had a kid crisis (and another…and another), and they supported me when I needed to be a better husband and father. This was only possible because Steve Larrick made it a safe place for us to go “beyond” our business issues and talk about our families, our health, and the “big things” – the things that matter most to us. I’m so grateful to that group; for all the support I received and for all I learned about supporting others.

Team

Each team member that has worked here has left his or her mark on my business; but Stacy French Reynolds has been with me the longest. Stacy has been the one to consistently challenge my thinking. Stacy values clarity – I value possibility. There have been a lot of points where my “possibilities” just didn’t make sense to her; and her questions forced me to make them more clear (or realize that she was right!). Stacy has also modeled generosity, and in that example, I’m inspired me to be more generous. Thanks so much Stacy; the impact you make is significant, unique, and very valuable.

Experts

The experts who have most shaped my business are people I’ve never met but who’s books, blogs, newsletters or speaking have dramatically shaped my thinking about businesses in general – and my business in particular. David Maister’s ideas about how to manage professional service firms are foundational to how I do business, and the principals I teach my clients. Alan Weiss taught me about how to be successful in a small consulting firm. Patrick Lencioni taught me new ways to communicate things I always believed to be true, but in a way other people could “get” it. His book The Advantage might be my favorite book on business management. There’s no room to talk about Verne Harnish, Jim Collins, Michael Gerber, and many others. I’m so grateful for all the wisdom that they have generously shared. Without them and their insight, my business wouldn’t be what it is today!

Friends

I’ve been lucky enough to make some friends in this business as well. Each of them is someone I can call when I’m having a bad day, or when I close a big new client. They are sure to congratulate me, or offer me a beer and tell me to get back on the horse (depending on what I need). They are people who care about me beyond my business; they remember to ask me about my kids, and my non-business pursuits. Susan Silver has been a constant business friend and a great listener. Andy Crestodina has been a faithful promoter; and he’s always encouraging me to do bigger things, inviting me onto a bigger stage. Becka Bates will always let me know where the dog died; she has generally kept me honest for many years. Being a business owner get lonely; I’m sooo grateful for all of you.

If you stop for a minute, I’ll bet that you can find 15–25 people who have all made significant contributions to the growth of your business. What if you stopped and sent them a quick thank you?

I bet they’d like that. And you’d feel great too.




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5 people to meet on your entrepreneurial journey http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/5-people-meet-entrepreneurial-journey/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/5-people-meet-entrepreneurial-journey/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:14:00 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18442 No business owner walks alone. We all work inside an ecosystem, a community, that supports our efforts and enables us to turn our passion into entrepreneurial success. Here’s 5 people that should be a part of that village. The customer, or client The only thing you need, to be “in business”, is a customer. Without

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No business owner walks alone. We all work inside an ecosystem, a community, that supports our efforts and enables us to turn our passion into entrepreneurial success. Here’s 5 people that should be a part of that village.

5 people to meet on your entrepreneurial journey.

The customer, or client

The only thing you need, to be “in business”, is a customer. Without the customer you may have an idea for a business, but you aren’t in business. Therefore, the customer, or client, is often the first person we meet on our entrepreneurial journey.

At first these clients are hard to come by. We treat them well, often underselling our value and over delivering our services just to make sure they are happy and don’t leave! While it’s true that happy customers fuel business growth, when we provide too much value we can starve our business of the profits it needs to grow. Also, by over-delivering and over pleasing we many not earn the respect we need to make a big impact on our client’s lives and businesses.

The client teaches you the value of your work.

The referral partner

Finding enough leads to grow your business is hard work; especially when you are delivering all the services yourself! It’s so much easier when you can find someone who values what you do (and, ideally, when you value what they do) who can refer your services to their clients and prospects. Someone with whom you have worked to develop trust; someone who sees people who are your ideal clients as part of what they do, and can simply introduce you (hopefully with a good word and a leg up on the sale).

When we find these people, they are like gold. They are better than a client – they are like 10 clients! Per year! If it’s possible for you to give them referrals back then that’s ideal, you’ve got a situation that can last.

Your referral partner teaches you how to scale.

The team

Eventually you’ll need some help. Maybe the team is helping you to deliver your services, or maybe they are just freeing you up to do more of what you are great at. Either way, you need to get some help.

Our first attempts at hiring are usually somewhat haphazard. I mean, who has time to write a job posting, sort through resumes, phone screen candidates, interview…it’s a giant pain! There’s this guy I know from high school, he’ll be perfect…

But he’s not perfect. He’s a disaster. Well, you both are actually. You hired him without really knowing what you wanted him to do, and without really knowing what he was good at…

After a few false starts, hopefully you find some team members who are solid, who know what they are doing, and can actually grow with your business. That’s when things really start to take off.

Your team teaches you how to create systems.

The peer

As a business owner, we have few people in our lives who truly know what our life is like day-to-day. The stress, the challenges, the disappointments, the wins and losses; it’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there. But when the only other business owners you know are people you’ve met at the Chamber of Commerce or in your networking group, they may not be much help. When we meet other business owners in a business context, it’s hard to be vulnerable. We don’t want to tell our referral partner that we haven’t closed a deal in 3 months and cash flow is stretched and we are asking ourselves if we should keep going! But we need to tell somebody.

This is when it’s great to have peer support. Just a handful of business owners that you aren’t “in business with” but who share you struggles. There are all kinds of places to find this: business owner roundtable groups, mastermind groups, industry specialty groups with similar businesses in different markets. The point is that you need to find one. You need someone you can share your ups and downs with, someone who really understands what you’re going through.

Your peers give you a true measuring stick; they teach you what’s you and what’s just “the business”.

The expert

If you are lucky, and work hard, and get good advice, and serve clients well, chances are good that you will grow your business to the point where you have hard problems. Problems that your peers haven’t solved. Problems that need an expert.

The expert is someone who is outside your business, or maybe even outside your industry, who can come in and look at your business with fresh eyes. The expert isn’t your friend, and isn’t afraid to insult you. The expert will tell you the truth and push you into uncomfortable changes that you wouldn’t make on your own.

The expert could be a coach, or a consultant, or a retired business owner who’s been down the road you’re on. But you will need one. It’s good to start keeping your eyes open now, have a short list, and be ready to invest when the time comes.

The expert will teach you to get out of your own way.

None of us has everything we need to make our business a success. We all need some help. Look for these helpers as you walk along your entrepreneurial journey.

Were there any we missed? Who have you met that has helped you?







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Business owners can’t do it all on their own: 4 ways to build a business support system http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/how-to-build-a-business-support-system/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/how-to-build-a-business-support-system/#respond Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:06:03 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18408 In 2001, I went out on my own. (That’s what I called it; going “out on my own”). I set up an office in a spare bedroom with a computer and a phone and started to try to find business. On my own. I’m a pretty resilient person. When I set a goal, I do

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In 2001, I went out on my own. (That’s what I called it; going “out on my own”).

I set up an office in a spare bedroom with a computer and a phone and started to try to find business. On my own.

I’m a pretty resilient person. When I set a goal, I do what it takes to get there. I can overcome a lot of obstacles and disappointment on the way to that goal… but a few months in, I was getting my butt kicked. My idea about what it would be like to be “out on my own” was a far cry from the reality of it.

how to build a business support system

Here I was, a single father of three. My corporate friends thought I was looney – they were no help. I couldn’t talk to other entrepreneurs – they would figure out that I didn’t know what I was doing. Where could I go for help? I was “out on my own”– for better or worse. It felt scary and lonely, and I was beginning to get desperate.

I finally found an older sales coach I thought I could trust. He didn’t want to be my friend, but he was willing to listen (even though I’m not sure he thought I was going to succeed). He had a couple of cups of coffee with me, and that got me started. Then I found a monthly networking group, mostly full of people who were just starting out, like me. We shared our challenges with each other and that helped.

Pretty soon I got the idea. Everyone is trying to figure it out! We are all learning; so the more I ask for help, the more likely it is that I will figure it out! That’s how I started my journey of asking for help. I started seeking out anyone who seemed to have a piece of the puzzle that I didn’t have. I found a client who was willing to teach me about websites. I read a book to learn about email newsletters. I found another business owner and we just met to be each other’s boss and hold each other accountable.

No one can build my business but me. That’s 100% my responsibility. But there are a lot of people who have taught me things I needed to know. People who gave me feedback I needed to hear. People who have helped me just by telling me their story. Here’s four things I did to build business support system, and still do, to get the help I need:

1. Be more open

I was so scared to ask questions of other business owners. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I didn’t want them to know that! Finally I got desperate. Once I opened up I learned something amazing: everyone is faking it.

That super successful person, you know the one, who you hold in awe and respect? His bookkeeping is a mess. That other business owner who’s business is growing like a weed? There’s so much turnover in her office you wouldn’t believe it. Only when we open up and talk about our failings do other people have permission to talk about theirs. Most of the best help I’ve ever received started with some version of, “Oh, yeah, I had that problem too. Here’s what I did…”

2. Ask for the help you need

If you know what you need help with, pick up the phone and ask for it. If you have never consistently had a newsletter, but you think it could help your business, call someone who has a successful email newsletter and ask them what it’s done for them and how they do it. (Then do what they suggest!) Most business owners have gotten so much help just to get where they are that they are happy to give help to someone else.

3. Have an open hand, offer help where you can

That person you just called because her newsletter is awesome? What could you help her with? Put your expertise out there! Offer a hand to other folks where there is something you’ve figured out. Sometimes, it’s only when we teach something to others that we really learn it – plus it’s good for your confidence and helps you expand your support system.

4. Focus on the positive

So, asking for help might not be all unicorns and rainbows. Some people might blow you off, or they might be jerks. That’s OK; just ask someone else. There are enough warm, generous people in the world that we can just ignore the ones who aren’t. Don’t give them another moment of your head space. As fast as you can, pick up the phone and try someone else.

Conversely, when someone does give you a hand, respond generously – with as much as you can give. Share their best stuff with your followers, recommend them anytime you find someone who they can help.

When we are alone and afraid, our world shrinks. In an effort to protect and defend ourselves, we retreat into a bunker, (or whatever you call your hidy-hole) where it feels safe. Bunkers are great when bombs are falling, but they aren’t suited for growth.

They aren’t places where you are going to do your best work. When we open up, connect with our community, and get help, our world suddenly expands. We find the help we need. And we get the chance we’ve been looking for to maximize our impact on the world.








Photo credit: Picjumbo

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Top small business articles | November 2014 http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/top-small-business-articles-november-2014/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/top-small-business-articles-november-2014/#respond Tue, 02 Dec 2014 17:14:42 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18415 We know well how tough it can be at the top. Running a business can run ourselves down. And we need confidence to give us the energy and perseverance to keep going when things get tough. So we made November a month about building your confidence so you can lead your team, yourself, and your company well. We

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We know well how tough it can be at the top. Running a business can run ourselves down. And we need confidence to give us the energy and perseverance to keep going when things get tough.

So we made November a month about building your confidence so you can lead your team, yourself, and your company well. We also talked about how to create an unstoppable business by focusing on YOU first.

small business articles

Next month we’re going to be talking about how it’s hard to go it alone, and how much we need people around us and our business to help us out when we need it. I’m really excited to share what we have lined up in December!

In the meantime, check out the top small business articles in November that you can’t afford to miss!

how to boost your confidence1. How to boost your confidence when you feel out of your league

Most of us started our business because we were pretty good at doing something (professional services, etc). We can be easily discouraged when we don’t know how to do everything. Here’s how to keep your confidence high despite your insecurities. Read on »

price increase letter2. Proof that raising your prices isn’t so bad (or hard to do)

Have you been thinking about raising your prices in 2015? We know it can be super nerve racking. Kaleigh show you how to notify your clients that you’re raising your prices. Read on »

business is getting you down3. What to do when your business is getting you down

Speaking from experience, small business owner Daniel Mason tell us about what to do when you traverse some pretty low valleys with your business. Read on »

holiday gift guide4. The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Business Owners

Yes, Christmas is almost here. And if you (like most people) are still struggling to come up with gift ideas for your employees, clients, (or spouse), here’s a few good ones that will help you out! Read on »

coaching Millennial employees5. Five Tips for Coaching Millennial Employees

Did you know that 64% of Millennials would rather earn $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they find unfulfilling? Find out what else you don’t know about coaching Millennials. Read on »









Photo credit: vidalia_11

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Small Business Advisory Board Tool: How to set up an advisory board http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/how-to-set-up-an-advisory-board/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/12/how-to-set-up-an-advisory-board/#respond Tue, 02 Dec 2014 02:55:58 +0000 http://www.www.enmast.com/?p=967 Owning a business can be fulfilling and gratifying, but also lonely, stressful and frustrating. Dealing with this full range of emotions can be challenging, and it’s difficult to find people who understand and who can help. Every business owner needs an advisory board — a team and group of mentors and people who can help

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Owning a business can be fulfilling and gratifying, but also lonely, stressful and frustrating. Dealing with this full range of emotions can be challenging, and it’s difficult to find people who understand and who can help.

Every business owner needs an advisory board — a team and group of mentors and people who can help them when they’re down in the trentches! An Advisory Board is one place where business owners can turn. And this tool will help you build one. 

Here’s what’s inside: 

  • A complete guide to setting up a board of advisors
  • An Advisory Board Member Job Description to help you define roles
  • A Sample Board of Advisors Invite Letter to help you build your board
  • And a Sample Advisory Board Agenda to help you start off your board on the right foot

Buy the tool for just $9.99 or get the whole sha-bang — our entire library of tools — when you become a Pro Member. (If you are one, login and an orange download button will appear below to download the tool)


Become a Pro Member!

 

Want to join a community of other business owners who understand your struggles? Looking for tools, templates and how-to guides for everyday business challenges and problems? Join EnMast.

 

tools displayWe’ve got a library of small business tools and templates that can fix everything in your business, from the flat tires (trouble employees and low productivity) to the major engine failures (no new sales, how to raise your prices) and more!

Plus you’ll have the camaraderie of other business owners who also face those same challenges.

 

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!

If this sounds like a community YOU want to be apart of, join us.

learn more enmast

   What members are saying:

jill salzman“EnMast’s tools are invaluable in helping anyone — not just me — grow their business and their profits. Small business owners would be hard-pressed to find EnMast’s community, tips and tricks anything but helpful. Brad Farris is one of the brilliant minds in business today and I trust his guidance. You should, too.”

 

- Jill Salzman, Founder of Founding Moms

Not a Member?

Buy Just the Advisory Board Tool Now!

The Advisory Board Tool includes a complete guide to setting up a board of advisors to help you with your business. It also includes an Advisory Board Member Job Description, a Sample Board of Advisors Invite Letter, and a sample Advisory Board Agenda.

Buy the EnMast Advisory Board Tool Now! Cost $9.99

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How to boost your confidence when you feel out of your league http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/how-to-boost-your-confidence-for-business-owners/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/how-to-boost-your-confidence-for-business-owners/#respond Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:31:40 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18330 You started this business because you knew a thing or two. Maybe you worked in a similar business for someone else, or it was something you did “on the side” and you finally decided to make it a “real thing”; but somehow you became good enough at it that people wanted to pay you for

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You started this business because you knew a thing or two. Maybe you worked in a similar business for someone else, or it was something you did “on the side” and you finally decided to make it a “real thing”; but somehow you became good enough at it that people wanted to pay you for it. So you took the leap.

how to boost your confidence

But now you find yourself in a different category. Now you have found all these other folks who do something like what you do; and they are good at it. Here your clients are working with you, but you aren’t as good as that woman who is so famous on the Internet. Why aren’t they working with her?

All of a sudden your clients are looking to you for answers. And when you give them your best guess, they take it as gospel! You worry, “What if I’m wrong? What if this doesn’t work?” So you start to hedge your answers: “One way you could do it would be…” or “Something you could try…” But clients don’t want one way; they don’t want to “try” anything. They want the answer, from an expert. And that expert is you.

So here are a few ways on how to boost your confidence and be the expert that you are:

You are the expert

I know there are other people out there with more expertise than you have. (That’s good; you can learn from them.) But of all the people your client is going to talk to today not one of them knows more about your area of expertise than you do. Maybe your client has years more business experience than you do, but how much of every day do they spend thinking about your area of expertise? If they spend an hour a day (which they don’t) it would take them 10 years to catch up to the amount of time you put in just this last year! You know more about this than they do; you need to act like it.

Show up with confidence

Walk in the door knowing you can help them. There is no doubt that you can make a difference for this client. Clients that are a big mess don’t need experts, they need the basics. Clients who are doing a lot well are just looking for that incremental improvement. You can do that for each of those clients! Think back to the clients who really took your advice — how did that go? Right, things are better already! (And just in case, here’s a few ways to build your confidence, too.)

Use your words

Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot right from the get-go. When we aren’t feeling confident, our language reflects our ambivalence. For confident clients, that’s like baiting them with red meat. If you show weakness they are likely to pounce! Don’t leave them that opening: make sure your language reflects that you are the expert. Speak with confidence.

  • Instead of “We could try…” say “I recommend…”
  • Instead of “Sometimes I’ve suggested…” say “In my experience…”
  • Instead of “Here’s some options…” say “There are a number of ways we could approach this, but my recommendation is…”

Don’t hide from the truth

Not all of our advice works out. When the results aren’t what you and your client expected, don’t wait for them to bring it up, don’t cower in fear — get out in front of it. Call them and tell them about the results. But don’t call without having thought about what went wrong and how to fix it. Call with a plan: here’s what we tried, and here are the results. I think this is the problem, here’s how we fix it. Experts take responsibility for results and don’t shy away from accountability.

Take some credit

If you are going to get blamed when results are poor (and you are) then you need to make sure the client recognizes when things go well. There are some clients who will brush right past the good results and jump right to the next assignment or challenge — these are also the clients who are quick to ask, “What have you done for me lately?” when things aren’t going well. Situations like these can lower your confidence level. But don’t be shy; stop them and review the positive results with them. Get an acknowledgement from them that something went well, and that your advice was right on.

You work hard to be the best you can be. You don’t have to be the #1 worldwide expert in order to be the #1 expert in your client’s world. Everyday you get smarter, better and more experienced. Bring that expert to your client meetings and that’s one of the best confidence boosters you can get.

How do you demonstrate your expertise to demanding clients? What do you do to show that you are the expert?








Photo credit: Unsplash

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What to do when your business is getting you down http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/what-to-do-when-your-business-is-getting-you-down/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/what-to-do-when-your-business-is-getting-you-down/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:29:55 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18164 Running a company is an intense business, with more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride. When profits are up and sales are high, being a CEO is a thrilling and exhilarating experience. However, in times of trouble, owning a business can start to feel like a heavy burden. Once malaise sets in, summoning

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Running a company is an intense business, with more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride. When profits are up and sales are high, being a CEO is a thrilling and exhilarating experience. However, in times of trouble, owning a business can start to feel like a heavy burden. Once malaise sets in, summoning the time and energy needed to turn the company around can seem like an impossible task and you can quickly run into burnout.

business is getting you down

If your business is getting you down, it’s important to seek help. Burying your head in the sand will only make the problem worse. It could even prove dangerous – the economic downturn saw a tragic rise in suicide rates amongst European CEOs.

Summon your support group

Be honest with your loved ones – trying to hide stress from others can often make you feel more anxious. If you’re struggling to cope with the demands of running a business, confide in a trusted family member or friend. Even if they can’t physically help you, the act of talking through your concerns can alleviate your stress.

I personally try to avoid talking about work issues with most of my loved ones, because I prefer to keep business and pleasure completely separate. However, even meeting up for a quick coffee with a friend can instantly transform my day from stressful to fun.

That said, I do have an aunt who also runs her own business. Even though we work in completely different sectors (retail and broadcasting), I find it really helpful to talk through my problems and issues with her.

Talk to other business owners

You might be the only small business owner in your family. However, you can still seek out advice from other CEOs. Some communities benefit from ‘local enterprise’ groups and events, where home-grown CEOs can talk to other local business owners. However, if there are no nearby groups, a larger regional conference can also be highly beneficial.

My personal favourite is Prysm’s annual Business Startup Show in London. Although it’s one of Britain’s larger conferences, there’s a real focus on forging meaningful connections between small business owners. If you can attend, I recommend booking a place at one of the more intimate Boardroom events. Each session brings business owners together to discuss common issues and problems, and you’ll leave with some great suggestions for your own company.

For SME owners across the pond, I’ve also heard great things about the Small Business Expo. There are ten different Expos each year – all completely free to attend – held in different cities across America. Each event attracts hundreds of CEOs, exhibitioners, and keynote speakers. Book yourself into some of the workshops, take advantage of the official networking events, and use the opportunity to ask other business owners for advice.

Take a break

Stress can strike small business owners at any time – not just when sales are slow. Burnout is a prevailing cause of anxiety for CEOs, brought on by working long hours with very few breaks. This is an extremely common scenario, as business owners often pour their lives and souls into their enterprises.

It can seem impossible to take a break from your company – particularly in the early stages. However, when stress levels are mounting, a short break from the business could rejuvenate your entrepreneurial spark. Research has even shown that working for prolonged periods of time can actually lower productivity – all the more reason to take a vacation.

Admittedly, for small business owners, spontaneous trips are a thing of the past. However, with the help of some planning and foresight, it is possible to take a much-needed vacation.

When to go

It’s generally a good idea to go on holiday when business is slow. My own business is relatively unaffected by seasonal changes, so I tend to plan my vacations based on the previous year’s booking trends. However, this won’t be true for everyone. If your company has an obvious ‘slow period’ each year, this is when you should be making your getaway.

Handing over the reins

Many people – (and I myself am guilty of this!) – struggle to relinquish control of projects to others. However, unless you want a stressful vacation, it’s essential to put your trust in your employees. If the thought of handing over the keys for a week fills you with fear, start out small. Leave your most senior employee in charge for an afternoon, and build your way up to taking a longer break.

When disaster strikes

As seasoned business owners know, it’s important to develop damage-limitation strategies before disaster strikes. If you’ve already created a worst-case-scenario plan, share it with your senior staff members before you travel, and give them the authority to act in your absence.

Step away from the phone

Even if they do manage to take a vacation, most small business owners never truly switch off. Never underestimate the temptation to pick up your smartphone – I once ruined a holiday by obsessively checking my emails and texts on my iPhone. I recommend turning your email facility off before you go away (change your password if you have to!). You could also implement a one-way contact policy, by asking your employees to call you only if there’s an emergency.

Remember you’re in good company

If you’ve hit a stumbling block, it’s easy to blame yourself and feel like a failure. However, it’s important to remember that you’re only human – and humans sometimes make mistakes. I take solace in the fact that even the world’s most successful CEOs don’t always get it right:

  • Henry Ford revolutionized modern manufacturing methods, and is now regarded as one of the most successful businessmen of all time. However, his very first company folded.
  • Before founding the studio that would make him famous, Walt Disney drove an earlier company into bankruptcy.
  • KFC is now one of the world’s most popular fast food chains. However, it took Colonel Sanders 65 years to find success, ploughing numerous other enterprises into the ground along the way.

There are many different ways to deal with stress as a small business owner, and you may well find other techniques which work better for you. However, if your stress is becoming harmful to your health – mentally or physically – please speak to your doctor.

Daniel MasonThis post was written by Daniel Mason of Westminster Live, an internationally recognized television studio based on the banks of the River Thames. Connect with him on Twitter at @LIVEwestminster.







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The one thing every business owner needs to do each day http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/practicing-gratitude-for-business-owners/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/practicing-gratitude-for-business-owners/#respond Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:08:16 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18381 This article originally appeared on Anchor Advisors. It only takes a minute each morning. Before I open my email, before I get started with my work, I stop and write down three (or more) things I’m thankful for. It’s a simple thing. Just a brief pause in an other wise hectic day, but there’s some

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This article originally appeared on Anchor Advisors.

It only takes a minute each morning. Before I open my email, before I get started with my work, I stop and write down three (or more) things I’m thankful for.

It’s a simple thing. Just a brief pause in an other wise hectic day, but there’s some kind of magic in practicing gratitude.

practicing gratitude

As business owners we have a lot on our shoulders. For many of us it’s not just our business, but we also have a lot of responsibilities at home; we are active in the community; we try to have a life… It can get overwhelming.

When I get overwhelmed my family tells me that I’m “getting grouchy”. I start feeling a little selfish, a little bit of a martyr. “Why can’t I just get a break? What do these people expect of me?” It can feel like it’s me against the world. Everyone just keeps piling it on. It’s up to me to just throw it on my back and battle my way out! So, like The Incredible Hulk, I get kind of ugly. It’s not a pretty picture.

It’s in these times that gratitude has been so powerful.

That 5 minute pause for gratitude helps me to see that I’m not actually alone. There are a number of people — my staff, my spouse, my friends and community — who are all pitching in to help me. Maybe not always in the perfect way that I want them to, but they are there. I’m not alone.

Practicing gratitude for those 5 minutes each day also helps me with perspective.

When I think about how thankful I am that my family is safe and healthy I don’t feel so panicked about the emails piling up in my inbox. When I’m thankful for the clients who have put their trust in us, and who give us interesting work that challenges our abilities, I’m not so grouchy about the long drive out to meet with them. When I’m thankful for the many mentors who have taught me how to be a leader, I’m not so frustrated with my young staff member who’s constantly coming to me for direction.

You don’t have to take my word for it. One control group study showed not just a marked improvement in happiness but more frequent exercise and fewer doctor visits for those who make a conscious effort to be thankful. There’s actually a lot of research about why this may work. Maybe you want to give it a try? (It works for Oprah).

How do I keep a “gratitude journal”?


1. Pick a regular time –
I do it first thing in the morning. Oprah does it before bed. But make your time consistent.

2. Make it easy to do. I use a journaling app (there’s lot’s of them).

I challenge you to try it out.

So before you start work each day, write down at least three things you are grateful for. Keep a running list so you can go back to it on especially tough days. Write it down, or use an app.

(And if the journal idea isn’t for you. Here’s 8 other ways to amp up the gratitude.)

Before we go, I want to say how grateful I am for you.

My readership has been pretty stable over a long period of time and I’m grateful for those of you who are on this entrepreneurship journey with me. Knowing that you are reading, and taking action on what you read, makes this all worthwhile. So thank you!








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5 ways successful people act differently, and the trait that makes it possible http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/5-ways-successful-people-act-differently-trait/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/5-ways-successful-people-act-differently-trait/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:26:10 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18328 There’s a common myths in the world of entrepreneurship that successful people were just “in the right place at the right time.” That they were somehow luckier than others who were working hard on the same problems. As I think of the really successful entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to know over the years, I have almost

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There’s a common myths in the world of entrepreneurship that successful people were just “in the right place at the right time.” That they were somehow luckier than others who were working hard on the same problems. As I think of the really successful entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to know over the years, I have almost never found that to be the case. Instead, I find people who were working really hard on a particular problem for a good long time. And then success “happened” to them.

things successful people do

Most of the “overnight successes” I’ve met actually had 5 – 10 years of hard work behind them before people started calling them an “overnight success”.

I wish I could tell you that those early years were nothing but smooth sailing building up to their ultimate success, but that’s not true either. The folks I’m thinking of were resilient people who “made their own luck”. Here’s a few things successful people do that I noticed they all had in common.

1. They got out the door

Successful people rarely find new opportunities sitting behind their computer screen. Instead, success is often found at a conference, or in a one-to-one appointment in a coffee shop, or in someone else’s office. The funny thing is, it never looks like success before you go — it’s only afterwards that you can see how that connection led to this opportunity… Have a bias toward getting out the door, toward meeting new people. Especially when you don’t feel like it! What can you learn from this person? Who do they know who might be able to help you?

2. They are open to possibility

Leaders are the kind of people who are busy; we get things done. We like to optimize. We don’t want to waste time. We want to be efficient. But that tendency can sometimes lead us to pre-judge (I’m going to blow that guy off — I can’t see how he can help me!) and reject situations instead of open ourselves to a short phone call to see how we could help him. When I look at really successful people, I find that they are remarkably approachable and open — I think they understand just how much others have helped them, and they want to be that for someone else too.

This isn’t just true of new connections, but of old connections too. If there’s someone in their life who they know to be of high quality, they will cultivate that relationship even as they go or grow in a different direction. You never know where investments in relationship will lead.

3. They swing at a lot of pitches

When I was young and single I had a friend who invited me to go to a party with him. When we got there it was kind of a drag. Neither of us knew very many people at the party, and while it looked like people were having fun, we were sort of on the outside looking in. I was about to suggest that we call it a night when he looked over at me and said, “I bet I can get turned down by more girls tonight than you can!” He proposed that we each find someone and ask them to dance, understanding that the person who got turned down the most was the winner. Of course the only way to get turned down was to talk to people we didn’t know and ask them to dance. And honestly, that was a lot more fun than just moping around feeling left out. No one is going to say “yes” if you don’t ask — so you have to ask a lot.

This is true in so many areas of life. If we don’t ask for the business, we don’t get the order. If we don’t pitch the reporter, we don’t get in the story. If we don’t ask, “What would it take to get you to come work with us”, we won’t get the help we need. We have to ask.

But we all know there’s a dark side to asking. When we “swing at a lot of pitches” we get rejected a lot too. The more we ask, the more people will say “no”. Get used to it. As my sales coach used to say, “No means next!” Get up and ask the next person (even if they say “no” too).

4. They ask for help

When your business isn’t well established it can be intimidating to ask for help. You know that you are “faking it until you make it” but you don’t want everyone else to know too! Those who have gone on to greater success don’t want to keep “faking it”. They want to learn, to get on the right track, to make quicker, better progress; so they ask for help when they see someone with the experience and knowledge to help them. Yes, they need to admit that they don’t know, or that their business isn’t as successful as it “should” be — but how will we be successful if we don’t get the tools, the resources, the knowledge, the help that we need?

The faster you learn, the closer you get to your goal. You know when you need help; ask for it when you can.

5. Pick a lane and be patient

As I mentioned earlier, it takes years to become an overnight success. That means that you may have to work at something for years, even when success is elusive. If you are learning, if you are making fewer (or different) mistakes than you did last month (or last year), if you are seeing progress, it’s likely that you are better off building on that learning and (limited) success than starting over at something else. It’s a tough call, to know when to throw in the towel. But successful people will tell you: when faced with that question, they repeatedly chose to stay in the game.

What do all these traits have in common? What do you need to get out the door, keep yourself open to possibilities, take a lot of swings, ask for help and be patient? You need courage and confidence. You need to believe that what you are doing matters (even if you are never wildly successful). You need to believe that this is your work.

How do you keep your confidence high? How do you stay in touch with your inspiration and drive even in uncertain times? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!







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How to boost employee morale when sales are down http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/how-to-boost-employee-moral-when-sales-are-down/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/how-to-boost-employee-moral-when-sales-are-down/#respond Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:37:12 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18169 When I first purchased MyCorporation from its previous owner, I realized I had some serious work to do to boost employee morale. No one seemed particularly cheery, and lacked work ethic. Thankfully, buying the company brought a great opportunity for change. Luckily I had been working as a MyCorp employee prior to making the move to buy. I

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When I first purchased MyCorporation from its previous owner, I realized I had some serious work to do to boost employee morale. No one seemed particularly cheery, and lacked work ethic. Thankfully, buying the company brought a great opportunity for change. Luckily I had been working as a MyCorp employee prior to making the move to buy. I knew my employees personally, and so I knew what needed to happen to improve. With this in mind, I began to completely change how things were run to try and amp up employee morale and keep everyone positive.

boost employee morale

Through this I quickly discovered that it’s a whole lot easier to keep employees happy when sales are up. In fact, it’s almost effortless to keep the team pumped up when sales are through the roof – the sales team is happy for the extra commission, and everyone else is happy the business is making money.

However, when sales slumped, I had to work hard to generate that same enthusiasm, though thankfully I eventually figured out how to do just that. So the next time your team is feeling a little down in the dumps due to numbers, try using one of these four ideas that I implemented to boost employee morale!

Offer incentives.

Reward smaller victories, like someone doing an awesome job at a big presentation they’d been prepping for, with little gifts. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but small tokens of appreciation let your employees know that you’re noticing the effort they put in. It’s a nice way to say “Keep up the great work – it doesn’t go unnoticed!” Even something as small as a Starbucks gift card or a lottery ticket is a nice little treat to make a day feel special. When employees feel appreciated, they feel like their work has meaning.

1. Don’t hide the numbers.

There are some businesses owners that like to share everything with their employees (including other employees’ salaries), and then there are some small business owners that keep the details of their business pretty much to themselves. I fall somewhere in the middle, in that I think being up front with your employees about how you’re doing financially is important. Even if numbers are low, I always practice an open policy with my employees.

employee morale

I think it’s great if my employees want to know how the business is doing, and I feel everyone should be on the same page when it comes to where we are with sales. So each month we hang a large thermometer on our front wall, and we color it in as we get closer and closer to our sales goal for the month – numbers and all on display. If you don’t want to be quite so open with your numbers you could do something similar with a vague representation of success, like percentages. Either way, displaying your progress and tracking it through the month as a team is a great way to get your employees excited about your business’s progress.

2. Celebrate the team accomplishments.

Though offering individual incentive is a great way to motivate employees separately, when it comes to small business, it’s important to keep the “big picture” in mind. We can get distracted by focusing on our own tasks, forgetting that we are all individual cogs working inside and for a larger machine. You don’t have to reward the team just when hitting a sales goal. You can reward the team for practicing a strong sense of teamwork, or contributing to a positive work environment.

Team celebrations

If you have a week where it just seems everyone is working hard and keeping a great attitude, despite sales being down, let your team know you notice. I like to bring in bagels or doughnuts at the end of the week when I feel like we’re all really clicking.

3. While you’re at it, celebrate whenever you get the chance!

One of the best ways to boost employee morale year-round is to celebrate the little things. In our office we celebrate anniversaries, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, holidays… you name it and we’re probably eating cupcakes in honor of it. There are not too many weeks out of the year where we’re not celebrating something, or at least enjoying leftovers from the last celebration.

celecrate

Some business owners worry that excess can lead to a distracted work ethic, but I’ve found that it keeps my team happy and motivated to come to work, no matter what our numbers look like. Work is work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop and enjoy yourself every now and then and stay professional.








Photo credit: akaitoriMrHicks46, ,joncandy

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How to use Twitter to grow your small business http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/twitter-grow-small-business/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/twitter-grow-small-business/#respond Sat, 15 Nov 2014 14:48:07 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18200 Twitter has been a huge resource and lead generator for both Jill and Brad. They share the top ways Twitter has helped them grow their small business on Breaking Down Your Business this week! Plus they have a hilarious conversation with Pete Aiello, the founder of Team Pete about his business, as well as Connie McLaughlin, the founder of Your

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Twitter has been a huge resource and lead generator for both Jill and Brad. They share the top ways Twitter has helped them grow their small business on Breaking Down Your Business this week!

Plus they have a hilarious conversation with Pete Aiello, the founder of Team Pete about his business, as well as Connie McLaughlin, the founder of Your Inner Buzz. TUNE IN!

ep-48-Horizontal-Podcast-Art-ORIGINALPodcast play button

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

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The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Business Owners http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/ultimate-holiday-gift-guide-unique-gift-ideas/ http://www.enmast.com/2014/11/ultimate-holiday-gift-guide-unique-gift-ideas/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:10:39 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18219 Christmas and the holidays are right around the corner. It can be really hard to find the right gifts for your clients, employees, (or boss). What should be fun to do (gift shopping) is actually a dreaded task on your to-do list. And if you’re like me, you want to find the ‘right’ gift for

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Christmas and the holidays are right around the corner. It can be really hard to find the right gifts for your clients, employees, (or boss). What should be fun to do (gift shopping) is actually a dreaded task on your to-do list. And if you’re like me, you want to find the ‘right’ gift for each person on your list. So finding unique gifts take time to research and find, and that’s a pain in the butt, too.

holiday gift guide

Your want your gift to get a reaction, right? Maybe it’s a laugh, an observation of someone’s personality, or just something that helps your team do better work. So this year, we wanted to pull together a holiday gift guide full of unique gifts you never even thought of before for your client, staff, (or boss). It’s all about utility with a dash of fun. Prepare to stop panicking over what to buy this holiday season. We got you covered. :)

The Ultimate Unique Holiday Gift Guide for Business Owners:

1. coffee mugNow you may speak coffee mug

Never again be confused about when it’s safe to engage in morning conversation. This handy mug makes it extremely clear.

 

GoPlug2. GoPlug Bag

Always on the go? No more crawling around airports or cafes looking for a plug in. Back this KickStarter and give the gift that keeps on giving.

 

Gigs 2 Go

3. Gigs 2 Go

These tear & share 2 GB flash drives are made from 100% recycled paper and can make you feel good about sharing files…responsibly. The Kickstarter for this product has been exceeded its goal, so get in before it’s too late!

 

Tens photo filter glasses4. Tens: The Real Life Photo Filter glasses

I mean, who doesn’t want to see the world through an Instagram filter? This is a unique gift idea for that ‘unique’ client or employee. Phones down, my friends. Just pop on these shades.

nap chair5. Napping desk chair

We’re all about multi-tasking. Especially when it means your desk chair can also lean back and turn into a power nap chair.

 

 

 

hardback leather book laptop cover6. Hardback Leather Book Laptop Case

So you can always say, “I have many leather-bound books.” It’s a conversation piece. And it’s useful.

 

desk foot hammock7. Desk Fuut hammock

How many times have you wanted to put your feet up but can’t at the office? Resting or working, your feet no longer have to dangle aimlessly below your desk.

 

 

coffee spoon8. Funny coffee spoon

Having a rough morning? Hold up your spoon and say, “You’ve been warned.”

 

 

solar phone charger9. Waterproof solar phone charger

For the outdoorsy folks in your office who will never have to worry about a dead cell phone battery again.

 

 

 

air conditioning cooler10. IcyBreeze portable cooler and air conditioner

Keep your drinks cold and have a cold breeze wherever you go. Sweating is gross, you know?

 

tea infuser11. 2 pack of Mister Tea Infusers

Coffee is not everyone’s jam. But this unique gift idea will give the tea drinkers on your list the coolest cup around.

 

 

 

solar keyboard 12. Wireless solar keyboard

Who needs plug in electronics, anyways? Move your keyboard where ever you need it (and save a few trees, too!) I actually use one of these. It’s awesome.

 

standing work station 13. Standing work station (for Apple)

Get off your bum! Everyone’s doing it! Your brain and body stay active while working on your feet. Plus sitting all day is bad for you.

 

 

14. bubble ballsBubble Soccer Balls

If you’ve never played bubble soccer, you’re missing out. Make it a company outing and see how hilarious and fun it is to play soccer as your own version of Bubble Boy. Also, you must watch this video.

 

photo lens mug15. Into Focus Camera Lens Mug

Photographer by hobby or by trade, this mug is sure to make any warm beverage a bit more interesting. It might help bring the morning into focus, too.

 

 

 

We want to see the best workplace gift idea you’ve put on your holiday gift guide this year! Share your unique gift ideas in the comments.







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