Hire to Your Weakness, Lead With Your Strength.

Know When it’s Time to Outsource

I have never been a detail person – much to my dismay. My handwriting is almost illegible, I make mistakes in calculations (thank goodness for formulas in Excel so I don’t have to do the math myself!), and I leave a trail of minutia wherever I go. I just don’t SEE the details and good enough is good enough in my mind – I move too fast, I have bigger fish to fry, I am a big picture person — You know the drill!

Those might sound like excuses, but they are all true. However, the reality is that sometimes my lack of attention to detail was getting in the way of my biz goals. It was time to take action.

Aha!

One of the biggest AHA moments of my recent career was hiring a copy editor. I was tired of getting emails back from friends saying “There was a typo in that last newsletter.” Or, having a potential client question something I had written in my proposal to them. (That was embarrassing!)

So I finally got real with myself and admitted that this was a shortcoming that I had to find a solution for, not just ignore. If I was going to be my best professional self, I had to appear that way with my words.

I hired a copy editor. She is a genius who not only corrected punctuation and spelling but also polished my words, clarified my intentions, and challenged me when she doesn’t agree with my direction. GOLD I tell you! (If you want her name, email me and I’ll give you her contact info.)

The heavens opened up at that very moment. Freed from the burden of the details I began writing up a storm creating weekly blog posts, a newsletter and writing copy for landing pages and sales materials. She even edits my most important emails and proposals so I don’t embarrass myself again.

Time for a Team

The lesson here for any growing entrepreneur is to carefully think about how you want to start to grow your team. The common path is to start with an assistant or VA (virtual assistant) first. This person can take care of enumerable back-end and administrative tasks from the simplest (keeping your email inbox clean) to far more sophisticated (like vetting and setting up speaking opportunities for you).

But I chose to start by addressing a weakness that I had and filling the gap. You may find bookkeeping, maintaining your schedule, or lead follow-up the most daunting aspects of your biz. Any of these things may be your Achilles’ Heel that can hold you back from productive activities that will actually grow your revenue – which is the whole point, after all!

Outsource: Sometimes it’s the Only Right Move

Start by taking a look at what you hate to do and are probably not doing, not doing well, or not doing consistently. That’s a great place to outsource.

Another thought is to calculate how much time it takes you to do a task, multiply by your hourly rate, and see if still doing that activity yourself makes sense. The answer will probably be “No!” You can probably find very effective support for a fraction of your hourly rate.

Outsourcing work does not need to be a huge cash commitment. “I don’t have the money” is typically the first complaint I hear from clients when I suggest they get some help for a particular area.

Think of hiring on a project basis, or ask for a commitment for as little as 5 hours a week to make progress for your business. You don’t even need to commit to hiring a part-time employee since there is an abundance of freelancers ready, willing and able to take work off your plate on a task-by-task basis.

The key here is not to get caught in the “I can do this myself, why should I hire it out?” rationale. Perhaps you could…. but should you? This kind of thinking will keep your business from growing and you with your nose to the grindstone. Not a pretty picture!

What Does Gaining 12 Pounds Have to do with Biz Strategy?

Self-Love and Entrepreneurial Resilience.

This is not my usual blog post and may be too much information. But many women may find themselves in this spot. And, it’s as much for me as it is for you.

I had been feeling a tad chubby recently and started the Keto diet about a week ago. (Please don’t send me emails or comments warning me against it, I’m not going to die). I had not weighed myself in forever as the awareness of that number has always made me crazy. I didn’t need that. I just needed to move forward. Similar to the way we need to act in our businesses. (Really, I am going to connect this to biz improvement!)

So I followed KETO faithfully for a week and felt lighter. Go me! I felt ready to get back on the scale and see where I was. Woot, I was ready!

I hopped on the scale and saw that I had gained 12 pounds since I last weighed myself.

What? How could that be? After a week of Keto!

That can’t be me! I haven’t weighed this much for ages, and I didn’t feel it.

Oh right. I had gone up a size in the last year.

Oh, wait. There is a closet full of lovely clothes that did not fit…and I missed wearing them!

My usual response to this new information would have been shame. But not this time.

My response was:

  • Wow – who knew?
  • OK, now I know
  • I have work to do, and that’s fine.
  • I still feel good about myself.

That last one is all about self-love. It’s a muscle that needs to be exercised.

Being an entrepreneur, no matter what stage of business you are in is a tough road. It’s full of ups and downs, failures, embarrassment, mistakes, pivots and “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” moments.

After 4 businesses, and working with many women entrepreneurs I can say that the best way through all of those down times is plenty of self-love. Being kind to yourself is the way through. Grace, not shame or embarrassment. Taking a deep breath and focusing on the next small steps will get you headed in the right direction.

One of my businesses failed and I ended up in a huge amount of debt trying to dig myself out. (That’s a story for another post.) After a terrible 3 months of shock and shame, I began to forgive myself. I took a corporate job to get the bills paid and went on to start another one.

Another of my businesses was a passion project that I adored. It was geared to the age 50+ woman and was focused on the notion that you could create a juicy life at any age. But after creating 3 courses, a few e-books, and many webinars, it just wasn’t reaching my revenue goals.

After an intense year of effort, I decided to fold it. It was going to take too much time and too much money to turn it around. It was the right business decision (no debt incurred this time!) but I was grieving, and once again, felt like a failure.

After a period of mourning, I took a big step back and reflected on the experience from a lens of self-love. I realized that I had incorporated all of those “life is a blast” thoughts and emotions into my own life and could continue to create my own definition of successful aging.

So I have had huge challenges as an entrepreneur. And I know that the sooner you can exercise that self-love muscle, the better off you and your business will be.

So my challenge to you, you fabulous women entrepreneur, you: Where are you showing yourself kindness? Where and how can you practice more self-love, forgiveness, and positive energy? It’s the strongest tool you will have in your toolbox. Trust me on this.

When Going it Alone is Going Nowhere.

Maybe it’s Time for a Mastermind.

I’ve said it before. We’re not meant to do this entrepreneur thing alone. Personally, I’d be lost without my Biz Besties, coaches and mastermind team. I thrive on the conversations, interaction, ideas and motivational accountability.

Masterminds are especially valuable for that accountability and forward momentum, but they’re not for everyone or for every stage of business.

So who is a mastermind for? And how do you know if you need one for your business? Do any of these scenarios sound like you?

  • If you’ve been in business a few years, you’re likely at a place where you’re no longer trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of business, but need an outside perspective to help you rise to the next level.
  • You are ready to implement some big new ideas and would love some guidance and ideas from others who have gone before you.
  • You’re making money in your business but sometimes (maybe too often) you get stuck in the weeds of working in your business, rather than on

What Are the Benefits of a Mastermind?

We will bring together women from different locations, industries, educational backgrounds, life stages, and experience levels. The whole point is to make space for diverse points of view, which will lead to incredibly creative ideas generated for your business.

Let’s face it. We can all get blinded by seeing things a certain way. Sometimes the approach we took in the early days is no longer working, but it can be hard to let go of the old way of doing things. I can tell you that being a part of a mastermind program has been an absolute game changer for my business. I have accomplished more, in less time, than I ever thought I could.

When you’re in the right mastermind for you, you can start to see your business and yourself through someone else’s eyes as you leverage ideas and support one another.

When you’re working inside your own business alone or with a small team, there aren’t a lot of people who know your business inside and out to help you leverage ideas. With a mastermind, you get the brainpower to do just that.

It’s really an amazing place to be in business and something that, when you show up the right way, can help grow your business by leaps and bounds.

Think about it. How many people in your personal life actually understand your business and what you do? If you run your business online, your family and friends probably give you a blank stare when you talk about Facebook ads, email marketing, client acquisition and the like

There is also something empowering about investing in yourself. It was a big leap when I started thinking of online courses, coaching, and masterminds as an investment in my business (and belief in myself!) rather than an expense. Major mindset shift there.

If you put skin in the game, you are far more likely to demand more of yourself and REALLY get results. That’s been my experience.

Even better, as a member of a mastermind, you also have the ability to share your expertise and perspective with others as you give feedback to your mastermind sisters. You learn about how others do business as you help, making you a better business owner at the same time. It’s a win-win for everyone.

 I’m offering just such a Mastermind starting in September. I’d love to have you join me. Click here to find out more and schedule a call to discuss it.

Work Life Balance – When Your Personal Life Throws Up Roadblocks

Stay Calm and Reframe

Most women entrepreneurs are workaholics, type A personalities, or passion driven to an extreme. I think that is built into our DNA and part of why we become business owners in the first place. But every now and again life throws us curve balls and we need to be able to adjust to our new reality to be able to continue in our biz – and life.

If you are a new mom, a mom again, have an aging or ailing relative that needs your attention or the kids are out on summer vacation, your old schedule may be a thing of the past. Give yourself some grace. You don’t have to be superwoman all the time. Life will go on. Your business will go on (if you want it to) but perhaps at a different pace.

This might be too much information, but since some of you may be in a similar situation, I thought it was OK to share on such a personal level.

I’m the full-time caregiver for my very sick husband. He has had two strokes and suffers from advanced diabetes. As a result, he can no longer walk, has had some cognitive decline, and needs help in almost every aspect of his life.

I love my husband dearly and am happy and grateful to be able to care for him. But this was never what I thought this chapter of my life would look like.

If you are in the midst of one of these roadblocks, or adjustment periods, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Take care of yourself.

I did a post earlier on The importance of Self-Care. People kept telling me this and I’d say, “OK, I will.” But you know what? It’s crucial.

The first 3 months or so after his last stroke, I could not leave his side, let alone the house. But as he began to get stronger I could lift my head and look around. I was starting to feel trapped and exhausted, which did neither of us any good.

I started to plan lunches out with friends, a daily walk (Egad – did I need exercise!), and other excursions to keep my sense-of-self intact. I’m still struggling with this, but getting better at it as time goes on.

Adjust your personal expectations.

This may be specific to me, but I’m used to being a multi-tasking, hard-charging gal, with a lengthy to-do list and lofty goals. This has been the hardest adjustment for me, by far.

I’ve had to re-frame what I can and want to get done in a day since our reality is always changing. I may have several things planned, but if my husband is having a not-so-great day, all plans go out the window. I’m running my business from home and there are days when even my most important business tasks have to be put aside. Learning to “go with the flow” has been my most difficult challenge.

Adjust to your new reality.

If your new reality has some predictability (like kids on vacation from school, as an example), create a new schedule for this time that includes playtime with the kids and enjoying summer with them and scale back your business tasks. Take a fresh look at your calendar.

A good friend who was in the early stages of her 2nd pregnancy and her business admitted that the way she dealt with her reality was total denial. She hadn’t given a thought to how her business activities needed to change once the baby arrived – it was too overwhelming to think about.

We were in a Mastermind together and she was able to get support and ideas on how to move forward in a very positive way from the group. We created a plan for months 1-3 after the baby’s arrival and then 4-6 to help her ease into her new life and still maintain her business, with only a small blip in her business momentum.

Reframing: A key to work-life balance.

Work-Life balance isn’t a “thing”, it’s in a constant state of reframing. As our lives change, so will that balance. The key is to allow ourselves the flexibility to embrace the lows (not very productive, if at all) and the highs (when we are conquering worlds on all cylinders) with equanimity.

The Trap of Working IN Your Business, not ON it

Don’t Get Stuck in the Weeds!

Danger! Danger! Most of us start our entrepreneurial journey with a passion. A passion to serve, to share our expertise, or just for the love of what we do. With that, we jump into our business with both feet, hands and everything else and devote as much time as we can spare for the creation of our baby. But there comes a time when operating from passion and not strategy is going to hold our business growth back – in a big way.

If your desire is to grow and scale your business, then you will need to start looking for other people to do the doing so that you can be doing the visioning and strategic planning.

What are some of the ways and reasons that you are keeping yourself stuck in the weeds?

You LOVE the what of what you do.

There is certainly no shame in that! But if you love it so much that you are still doing the day to day, then there will be a cap to how many new clients and new projects you can take on, and therefore the amount of revenue you can take in.

You like to feel needed.

Looking at a packed to-do list every morning certainly will make you feel like you are needed. It may even give you a sense of security. But is that what creates value in your business and is that the best use of your talents? Perhaps you need a revised vision of how you are needed by providing the strategy and direction for the people who work for you. It’s a shift of focus, but you are needed even MORE at this level.

Chaos becomes your best friend.

When someone asks you how you are doing, how often do you answer “BUSY!” In our fast-paced world, it has become a badge of honor to be “BUSY!” Being super busy can be addictive. And stressful. Be wary of this one, as it’s a great way to reach burn-out fast. You are not doing your business or yourself any good by burning out.

No one can do it as well as you can.

Perfection paralysis or fear of delegation is so common and one of the primary ways of getting in your own way. You are afraid that if you delegate to anyone the task will not be done correctly. You need to accept that there will be many differing ways to get the hoped-for result – not just yours. Be open!

No idea what it would look like if you weren’t the worker bee.

If you have been a solopreneur for any length of time then you may not have any idea of how your business could function any other way. As I pointed out in a previous post, it’s time think like a CEO and move from doing to leading.

In all of these cases, you may be afraid of taking the big leap of bringing in people and creating a team. Bringing on your first part-time or contract person is a big leap to a solopreneur’s identity and can cause a lot of fear, understandably so. Or maybe you have done that and have a small team – maybe even a largish team, but you are still hanging on to too much of the doing.

The skill set you have mastered, and grown so comfortable with to create your business is NOT the same skill set that is required to manage people and think strategically. But you will need a new skill set if you want to grow.

I love helping solopreneurs move into the entrepreneurial realm and start to experience real growth. Let’s schedule a call to discuss your business and how I can help you.

Creating Visibility: Do Your Customers Even Know You Exist?

Tips for Boosting Visibility for Your Biz

Visibility means having your entrepreneurial business be visible to the audience you want to serve. This means being in front of them in any number of ways and creating a strategy for promoting brand awareness that is custom-made for the stage of development your business is in.

This week, I will walk you through two main aspects of visibility strategy: Scaling visibility efforts to match your stage of growth and how to make the most of your networking efforts.

Stage Appropriate Visibility Efforts.  

Your strategy for creating brand visibility needs to be tailored to the stage of development your business is currently in, with an eye towards future growth.

Startup Mode: Your focus should be on awareness and feedback from customers so that you can craft your brand and offer to what your audience wants. Visibility should be one of your top priorities during this stage. After all, no one can work with you if they don’t know you are there!

Validation Mode: (The first active 1-2 years in biz) Your focus should be on positioning and developing expertise to cement who you are and what value you bring to your customers.

Scale Mode: (2+ years in biz). Now you are in a period of growth. You want to be seen as a thought leader to create more demand on a larger scale.

Multiply Mode: When you are ready to max out your growth and reach. You should be looking for ways to elevate your personal brand.

Here are a 5 ways to create visibility that are sure wins, especially in those first few years.

1. Network strategically.

We have all been to networking events that were a waste of time. The attendees were not your target audience, the event was poorly planned, or everyone was just handing out business cards. Not a good use of your time!

Do some research in advance of signing up to attend. Go online to their website and Facebook page, check them out on LinkedIn, find a few members and connect with them directly to get a feel for past events and the overall climate of the organization. Then decide if you want to attend.

To maintain momentum with your networking, shoot for 1-3 events per month to keep yourself in circulation. But not just any event – make it count!

2. Pick an organization to join and go all in.

Sign up and show up! It’s tempting to join several organizations that look promising and then attend meetings and events only sporadically. That does you no good for your visibility; in fact it may even be harmful.

Pick ONE group that you are going to commit to. Organizations like NAWBO, E Women Network, Women’s Networking Alliance all have local chapters. There are also many industry-specific organizations that might be a better fit for your business.

Choose just one to start and make a commitment to get the most value out of your membership by attending events on a regular basis, connecting with other members, and offering to speak or sponsor events to provide value to the group as a whole. The deeper personal connections you will make by investing in quality relationships have much more value in the long run.

3. Be seen consistently.

Choose your medium wisely. You may want to create a podcast, a newsletter, or YouTube videos, but the real value will be in creating content on a consistent and predictable schedule.

You are establishing your brand and consistency sends a message that you are serious about your business, are trustworthy, and can be relied upon.

If you can’t maintain a weekly schedule than appear monthly or bi-monthly. Whatever you choose, stick to your own schedule and you will build a loyal following. It will be small to start but will grow over time.

4. Be of service – Don’t just show up, engage! Connect with the intention of assisting others, not just asking for something. Actions will speak louder than words. You will add to your visibility by being seen as a connector and someone who provides ongoing value, rather than a taker.

5. Advertising? Be careful! This is probably the first thing that we all think of for creating visibility. But no matter what platform you are considering, this will be expensive. Wait until you know what you can afford to pay per lead and make sure your business can truly afford an advertising budget.

Don’t be shy!

The most important thing in business is being visible to your perfect audience. Develop strategies that are appropriate for the stage of growth your business is in. Reach out and develop quality relationships built on adding value for those you come into contact with. Take your time to identify the right organizations to join, and commit to being an active member of that community

Do You Hate Sales? Then Don’t Sell.

Change Your Mindset: Invitation Only

I used to dread the thought of selling. It didn’t fit my personality; I hated feeling spammy or pushy. I just dreaded the whole process. But business doesn’t happen, and revenue doesn’t come in, without the selling.

The game changer for me was moving from selling to inviting. It’s an offer, not a push. Need a visual? Picture an open hand and an inviting gesture, not a grabbing motion followed by a clenching, yanking movement.  To comfortably offer an invitation you have to have confidence in the value of your offer and of yourself. You have to believe that you can help a potential customer in some way. Help them solve a problem, or grow, or get healthy. You have to really know in your heart-of-hearts that you have a product or service that you know can help your prospect.

You have to be so confident in your value that there is no NEED to push.

What would you do with a friend? Invite, don’t push.

There are so many points in the sales process where, if you shift your thinking to offering an invitation, you are far more likely to get to the next stage.

Invite someone to connect on the phone for a Discovery Call. Or an initial conversation. Whatever you want to call it.

While on the call, once you have assessed their needs and if they are a fit for what you have to offer, invite them to hear about your services.

Invite them to choose among the 2 or 3 options you have presented. (That might sound like this: “Of the 3 packages we discussed, which one feels like the right fit for you at this time)? No pushing required!

Invite them to get started with you by scheduling your first appointment, even before you have collected any money.

If they can’t decide or are on the fence, or have to check with someone (and this is a show stopper for many!) that’s OK! Ask them how long they might need for the decision-making, and invite them for a “circle back” call to decide if and when you will be working together. Schedule that call right then and there.

Both of you want to know if you should continue the conversation or not. If they ultimately don’t want to move forward, or if they don’t show up for the call, that’s fine. They were not the right client for you!

None of these steps are pushy. None of these steps have to feel uncomfortable, awkward, or invasive. Invitations are polite and respectful of you, your product/service, AND your prospect.

Sales can be a comfortable and authentic process that feels easy and natural, just like any conversation with someone new. If you walk away without closing, guess what? You now have a new network contact that you can tap in the future because you chose to invite, not push, your offerings.

Speaking of Discovery Sessions,  I’d like to invite you to join me to explore your business and how we can work together.  Click here to schedule a 30-minute call.  I’d love to connect with you to help you grow your business!

Searching for Gold: How to Find Great People for Your Company

Where are all the Rock Stars?

When you are growing your team, the one thing I hear most often is “Where do I find good people.” If you have exhausted your friends and family for their connections and come up empty, here are many more ideas. Some may resonate more than others but keep your mind open for new sources of talent that just might be a perfect fit for your team.

Contact mutual connections.

I go to my personal network to find good candidates first. My past and present colleagues know me well. They know to recommend the right type of candidate who would be a good fit for my organization. I also use LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook if we are interviewing a candidate I don’t know to see if there are any mutual connections I can tap for a recommendation.

Incentivize current team to refer new talent.

Members of your current team might be the best source of candidates. A cash award for every prospect recommended who hired and retained, say a year or six months, often works great. Your current team knows what it takes to do the job. They have a vested interest in bringing in people who will contribute to a great company culture.

Look beyond your location.

Technology allows us to connect with people around the world to communicate and collaborate—working with a team is no different. There’s no reason a copywriter, for instance, needs to be physically located in your community. Your potential labor market will grow exponentially if you look beyond geographic limitations.

Ask team members to share on social media.

At my company, we encourage our team to spread the news about open positions on Facebook and LinkedIn. For difficult to hire positions, your team will often put quick messages on their Facebook accounts, such as, “We’re looking for a great web developer who wants a low-key family-friendly place to work. If you know of anyone, please share my contact info!” Informal messages like this can gain incredible reach, and will often bring in people who were not actively looking.

Try a paid search platform like ZipRecruiter.

ZipRecruiter includes resume searching and lets you post on dozens of job boards with a single click. You can easily search for resumes of job seekers who are looking in your zip code and nearby, as well as send them messages directly. There is also a ZipRecruiter feature that matches your posting to profiles in their database (Indeed does this as well). Note that these platforms tend to be better to find team members for entry to mid-level roles over senior positions.

Connect with local colleges & professors.

Some of the best candidates haven’t graduated yet, and to find out who they are, you may need to contact the college dean, career counseling office, or local university professors. Give them a call and ask about top students that they might recommend for your firm. You may also learn that the college has a bulletin board where open positions are posted, or better yet, a dedicated placement resource to assist students in finding jobs. Get to know those folks, and you’ll get a line on the best graduating candidates that may be perfect for your company.

Contact local chapters and organizations.

There are associations and organizations related to every type of field out there. Look for local chapters in your area and get involved in their events and meetings. If an association has accreditations or a certification process, then you know you can find potential candidates with the skill set you are looking for.

Go grassroots.

Try a grassroots recruiting campaign. It’s easy to do and best of all it’s free. Simply create recruiting flyers and post them in your community. You can even target your campaign. The key to success for small business grassroots recruiting is to have an easy way for people for apply to the job on their mobile device, so include a text number in your information. Set up an automated return reply asking for their email address. Most email service providers have this capability.

Look out for talent everywhere.

Keep your radar constantly up for great talent. You can teach specifics, but innate empathy and strong customer service skills are hard to fake. Plus, the best talent usually isn’t actively looking for a job.

Create a paid internship program.

These young minds are thrown right into the mix of client work and get the type of experience a full-time employee would. This allows us to test the waters a bit and find out which of the interns are strong, so when they graduate, we can pluck them the minute they walk off the stage with their diploma. It’s a great farm system.

Look on industry-specific job boards.

One piece of advice for any small business looking to hire is to find job boards and websites that are specific to your industry. They may be hard to find but do some Google searching.

Add a “Hiring” or “Careers” page to your website.

Create a “Hiring” page on your company’s website in case talented people ever come to check you out. Even if you currently don’t need someone in a specific role, it’s a good idea to keep job postings on your site. If someone is interested to look up your company and find the job posting, you know they are already one step ahead of the game when it comes to being an A-Player.

Attend a career fair or virtual job fair.

This may be a bit time consuming, but consider attending these events and find many possible candidates in one spot. Look in your local newspaper, or online through Eventbrite or Time Out, to find career fairs if you are in a major city. Otherwise, consider looking for a virtual career fair to attend, or host your own.

Find a freelancer.

We were reluctant to try a freelancer but have been pleasantly surprised with the results. We use a platform called Upwork, which tracks freelancer time (including screenshots of their work). You can hire, get reviews, and communicate with them all via this platform. It really gives us a sense of comfort to be able to verify work like that.

The right talent is out there, you just have to know where to look.

The old days when posting a job in the newspaper classifieds section was pretty much the only tool for finding talent are long gone. These days you have to be ready to do a little poking around to find the people that will help you take your biz to the next level.

Finding the right team today means mobilizing your social networks, activating your current workforce, tapping into community organizations, and utilizing online recruiting tools.

When you find the right team, you will realize that the upfront investment of your time was totally worth it!

Do You Have the Right Team for Growing Your Biz?

Plan for growth with the right support

This week I’m starting a series on team building for business growth. I’ll be touching on job descriptions, the hiring process, onboarding, performance reviews, the firing process, and more…Stay tuned!

Today, we will get started with an overview of why the right team is critical to success and a few strategies to start to evaluate the overall health of your team.

No question about it! Growth requires the right team.

In last week’s blog, I talked about moving from being a doer to being a leader. You have to learn to delegate if you want to be a true CEO.

Choosing the right team is one of those make-or-break decisions that can either be the foundation of a successful business, or it’s complete undoing.

It’s easier said than done.

Business growth creates a lot of moving parts which can create confusion when it comes to figuring out where to make changes to keep pace with expansion.

Staffing isn’t a single decision, either. Instead, think of it as a constant process of evaluating the structure of your biz, assessing workflow systems, and making choices about where people best fit in your organization.

On the other hand, if your growth is stalled, or if there is a bottleneck in your business, the first place to look for solutions is within your team.

Do you have enough support?

Business growth can creep up slowly or explode suddenly. Either way, it’s all too easy to get used to chaos, stress, and 12 hour days. Don’t let yourself get to this point! Take a deep breath and consider whether you have enough people in place to actually do all the work.

  • Spend some of your strategic planning time to write down tasks that you are ready to delegate to others. Get busy-work off your plate!
  • Would another full or part-time worker make all the difference?
  • Can you hire a contractor for a short-term project?
  • What processes can be outsourced for less money and overhead than you can provide from within your business?

Are you on the same page with core values?

Finding employees that not only understand but also share, the core values of your biz matters a great deal. After all, they will be representing your brand with every customer they interact with and every word of content they create.

In addition, team cohesion will be strongest with a diverse set of people coming to the table with shared goals. The point is not to fill your ranks with people that all think the same, rather, to find people that can bring their unique perspectives and expertise to the ideas that are at the center of your business’s mission.

 Does everyone know what his or her job responsibilities are?

It isn’t enough for the job responsibilities to be clear in your head as the CEO. Unless your team members have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do, they can’t possibly perform.

  • Have the job responsibilities been clearly communicated to the employee?
  • Are you checking in with a weekly meeting to be sure that they are on track?
  • Have you defined clear benchmarks for success so that your team members can reach growth-oriented goals?

Is everyone doing what they are supposed to do and achieving their goals?

 People may know what they are supposed to be doing, but are they actually doing it? Once again a weekly meeting (at least in the beginning) to check in and see if the employee/contractor truly understands her role, or has questions, will go a long way towards solving potential problems before you both get into trouble.

Is everyone operating in their “Zone of Genius?”

Along those same lines, do you have your people operating in roles that bring out their best assets? Do you know if your bookkeeper is a design wizard? Do you know if your customer service person is fabulous with processes and procedures, but only so-so with customer interaction? Both of these employees may be a great asset to your organization but may be in the wrong roles, or their jobs might need to be adjusted to really take advantage of their strengths.

Do they get along with one another?

Not everyone has to like one another, but they do need to be able to work well together. If there is unhappiness or friction between team members, everyone suffers, and the business will too.. Addressing this head-on with a meeting with all concerned will go a long way to resolving the tension, providing all parties are willing participants. If it the problem persists, it may be time to make a change in personnel.

Are they productive enough?

An employee may know what their job is and be good at it, but perhaps it’s at a snail’s pace–too slow for the growth your biz is facing.

Sometimes you can solve this kind of problem with some additional training. For example, they may need support with organizational skills, or perhaps productivity tools will provide a much-needed boost.

Or…they may just be in the wrong job. (Stay tuned for a future blog post in this series that will discuss the firing process.)

Do you enjoy working with each member of your team?

If this is not the case take a good look at your hiring process (more on that in a later post). If you as the CEO are not happy with your people, your business will reflect that friction.

Does drama get in the way of any of them taking care of business? This is one of my pet peeves. My assumption is that we are all adults and professionals here. If someone consistently acts or reacts, from a point of emotion, rather than clear thinking, and if they are repeatedly upsetting others in the organization, this must be addressed. If this is the case with any of your team members, let them know early that this kind of behavior has been noted and is not acceptable. If you don’t see vast improvement cut them loose, for everyone’s sake.

Is your organizational structure keeping pace with growth?

Typically we hire with a specific job description and certain responsibilities in mind. However, a business is not a static organization. As your biz grows, staffing is a moving target. You must be willing and ready to evolve to keep up.

It’s your job as the CEO to regularly examine the functional needs of your business and make changes accordingly.

Once or twice a year, take a fresh look at what needs to be done functionally at this stage of your business to support your growth and then see if you have people assigned to those tasks. If not, you have no choice but to move the tasks around to fit the personnel you have or create new positions to bring on the talent you need to thrive.

A strong team is essential for your business growth. Incredible creativity and productivity come when a team is working together and is accountable to each other and you. A team can meet or even exceed your expectations when they are clear on what you want. A winning team works together and gets you that much closer to being about to take a vacation without worrying.

Invest in and support your team and they will contribute to your thriving, growing business.

Are you a True CEO? Move From Doing to Leading

Time to Put on Your Big Girl Pants!

In 2003 I had a booming media buying agency. Business seemed to be rolling in faster than I could keep up with. I was a one-woman band for the first few years and loved every part of the business. But now I was drowning! I knew I needed some help, but wasn’t sure what kind or how much.   I had to do SOMETHING!

I hired 2 people – one a second-in-command (now I would call that an Online Business Manager) who took on as much as I could give her. The second was a part-time admin who dealt with invoicing and various back-end details.

After defining their roles and training each of them (which took a bit of time!), I took a step back and realized that a huge amount of work had been shifted from my desk to theirs. That was just what I wanted, but what I didn’t expect was how I was going to feel about it.

I would go home at night thinking:

“If I’m no longer the one DOING all the work – then what value am I bringing to the business? What am I going to do now?”

 It was a major identity crisis for me! I had spent the past 3 years of my business as the DOER. It was what I was good at, and I loved it – perhaps too much, which was why I was struggling now. It was what people paid me for. It was the place I knew best and felt the most comfortable.

And suddenly here I was – less doing on my plate and feeling like I wanted to take it all back because I didn’t know what else to do with myself!

Thankfully I had a great coach at the time who walked me through this and helped me to redefine my identity from WORKER-BEE to LEADER. It was a process to realize that I could still provide huge value by sharing my knowledge and expertise with my staff instead of being the person doing the work.

I find that when people struggle with delegation it can be based on a number of different things, but is often based on an underlying fear of losing their identity. If they aren’t careful, entrepreneurs can default to ‘taking it all back’ simply to hold on to that comfort zone.

If you are suffering from the same issue, here are some ideas:

  • Notice it – We can’t change that which we can’t see!
  • Honor it – Your identity has been the foundation of your success to date and it deserves to be honored! Also acknowledge the amount of expertise that got you here.
  • Redefine it – What new identity will serve the next level of your growth? Maybe it’s the shift from DOER to ADVISOR (like it was for me.) Maybe it is something else.
  • Shift it – This is key! Operate as though the new identity is in place. Make decisions from the position of being a leader. Spend your time in that new identity. It will probably be really uncomfortable to make this shift and the lure of going back to your old identity may be strong, but the only way to make the change is to stay in that mindset until your new identity becomes your norm. And it will happen!

Make no mistake, being a leader requires a completely different skill set than you have been relying on up to now. It may help you to hire a coach for this process. Or perhaps consider enrolling in leadership training, to build your new skills and your confidence.

Realize that this transformation will not happen overnight. It’s like any muscle that needs to be strengthened – It will get stronger if you keep using it.