Running a business means making smart decisions about strategies, processes, and people. You name it, you’re responsible for it.
Tmima Grinvald, a certified professional coach and former military officer, helps you make business decisions that will pay off big. Just as important, she walks you through how to fix costly mistakes that hurt morale and erode profits. In seventy-three focus lessons, you’ll learn skills such as how to:
• improve your crisis management skills;
• master the core skills that mean the most;
• sustain a consistent level of performance; and
• do something outside your comfort zone.
She also shares strategies that will help you learn more about yourself, including what makes you tick, what you’re most passionate about learning, and what causes you to think negative thoughts.
The daily focus sessions are your guide to continual improvement and evaluating and improving company performance. Break challenges into manageable parts and prioritize efforts with the guidance and insights in The Truth about Your Business.
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Read an Excerpt
The Truth About Your Business
Seventy-Three Focus Sessions To Grow Your Business
By Tmima Grinvald
iUniverseCopyright © 2017 Tmima Grinvald
All rights reserved.
DO YOU HAVE NO TIME FOR SETTING A STRATEGY?
Have you ever heard of a CEO informing his board of directors that he has no time for strategy? What if he actually did that? I assume he'd get fired.
Yet business owners let strategy fall off their busy schedules all the time without giving it a second thought. To be sure, you have a lot on your plate. You juggle so many things, and it's only a matter of time until something is dropped. If I asked you why you juggle so many things, you'd probably say that all these activities are urgent. No one would argue.
Strategy is just one of those things you'll get to when you have time — and you never have time.
When did you last make a serious effort to reflect on the strategy you have chosen to lead your business, your career, or your life? How about high-level objectives and a method of addressing any of the following:
Many people (though not nearly enough) engage in some kind of self-evaluation around New Year's, for obvious reasons. Others get inspired along the way and form a vision. So it is quite possible that you have given some thought to strategic moves that encapsulate what you want to see happening in the near future. But have you seriously planned the specific actions that will be needed to achieve those objectives?
Make some meaningful time now to review and evaluate the success of your actions and their alignment with your overall vision. Schedule on your calendar an hour to two hours this week to identify how successful your strategy has been. If no such strategy exists, this will be the time to create one. The sessions in this book will support you in ensuring your strategy serves you well.
Who is the CEO of your endeavor? Is it time to fire the CEO?CHAPTER 2
REDUCE THE RISK THAT YOUR VISION WILL END UP IN A DRAWER
What happens when your vision takes the form of a strategy to be implemented throughout a quarter, a year, or even a much longer time period? Reviewing your plan periodically is critical to staying focused and producing results that are in line with your vision.
Without a meaningful review deadline, you can spend all the time you want planning, but life will always get in the way. You come to the end of the period realizing how far off you are from manifesting your vision. You might as well have put the plan with your vision in a back drawer.
Some of my clients have asked me how often they should engage in reviewing their strategy and their vision. I'm not referring to a daily to-do list. Instead, review time is when you do the following:
Evaluate plan progress.
Identify delays and challenges.
Discover resources you may need to reach out to.
Make adjustments to your plan.
The more complex and involved your plan is, the more frequently you will need to engage in review. If others (employees, vendors, etc.) are involved in implementing your plan, make sure they are aware of your adjustments, or even become part of your evaluation process.
I have worked with managers who incorporated a monthly review and were able to maintain a high-level view, understand the details, and adjust resources in a timely manner. In some cases, a biweekly review did the trick, because more people and resources were involved. One way or another, do not go more than a quarter without taking a high-level view of your strategy.
Use your vision as a beacon. At the end of each review, ask yourself: If I continue to do what I've done so far, how much closer will I get to my vision? If the answer doesn't satisfy you, it's time to work with a professional and get some leverage on yourself.
Is your vision working for you right now?CHAPTER 3
DON'T CONFUSE YOUR STRATEGY WITH A CHECKLIST
Many professionals spend a big portion of their time paying attention to daily issues. It's normal to create a checklist of all the items you need to accomplish during a workday or workweek. A checklist is not only helpful, it's encouraging. Many people experience that moment of great satisfaction when they cross an item off the list, so go ahead and use it.
Be aware, though, that just working off a list might give you a false feeling of being productive, while what you're really doing is replacing productivity with activity. In other words, to what extent do your daily activities (that you happily check off of your list) move you forward toward the goals that matter to you most?
The limitations of your checklist will be reduced when you are mindful of the makeup of it. The real art of the checklist is to ensure that at least 50 percent of your daily activities are tied directly to your strategy. This week, carve out an hour of your time to review your big picture. Work with someone you trust to bounce ideas off and discuss challenges. Bring your last few checklists for reference. And start asking:
What am I doing that most effectively impacts my goals?
What activities distract me from staying true to the strategy I've set?
What's not working nearly as well as I'd like?
Where do I need more help to get the right things done right?
Are the activities you checked off today part of a strategy you have defined?CHAPTER 4
DO YOU TEND TO SET UNREALISTIC GOALS?
For many people, the start of a new year is a time for personal reflection. You may find yourself joining the 45 percent of Americans who make a New Year's resolution. It is quite common to share these resolutions during celebratory events on December 31. Everyone is always in a great mood, and you become energized — not only from the support and the acknowledgment everyone gives, but also from the overall excitement that a new year brings.
It's the perfect time to aim for new highs on a business level as well as a personal level. You might decide, for example, to increase revenue by 15 percent. But are you sharing with your friends the goals that you already know are simple enough to achieve, or are you committing to goals that are so out of your comfort zone that two weeks into the year, you'll be trying to forget you ever made them?
A while back, a business owner told me, "We were working to accomplish a sales goal that was set by a consultant at the beginning of the year. We couldn't keep up with it because it wasn't really our goal."
Only 8 percent of people who make New Year's resolutions are successful in accomplishing them — and at least one out of four doesn't make it to the end of the first two weeks! One of the main reasons for this is because people set unrealistic goals. To make things even more challenging, setting goals is frequently done without access to proper tools and methods that can increase effectiveness and consistency in following what you truly wish.
Don't set goals for the new year on a whim. Have some method to your madness. If you want to increase your chances of accomplishing what's important to you in a specific time frame, be it a year or a quarter, invest some meaningful time in learning how to set the right goals and develop a strategy to overcome anticipated obstacles. There are many goal-setting programs on the market — you just need to find the one that matches your needs.
Are you aiming too high or too low?CHAPTER 5
DECIDE WHAT TO MEASURE
How do you know if your business is doing better than before? Traditionally, success has been measured in terms of leads, sales, income statements, and balance sheets. These measurements are easy to use and easy to track. They're a core part of your organization's performance, which is why they're referred to as key performance indicators (KPI). Are you familiar with your KPIs?
While businesses track these numbers by default (for both practical and legal reasons), these figures don't tell the whole picture. What additional indicators measure the health of an organization? Employee turnover and customer retention are a good place to start. They're pretty easy to track. They tell a story about your business's ability to serve its people and to foster a culture of loyalty.
Speaking of culture, the trouble is that other indicators that are just as important to the health of your organization are much harder to measure. Spend some time considering how to track the following:
systematic interpersonal communication failures across your organization
the impact of poor management on your organization
the ripple effect of draining employees on team productivity
Knowing all of your organization's relevant KPIs allows you to evaluate areas of business based on standards and trends. So set up a mechanism — maybe a spreadsheet or software tools — to track not only revenue, sales, referrals, and customer retention but also employee turnover and culture.
If you don't track performance indicators, your ability to improve and grow your business is marginalized. What can be measured can be improved.
What are the five most important performance indicators in your business?CHAPTER 6
SET DEADLINES ON LONG-LOST PROJECTS
It's perfectly normal to have a long to-do list and then not get to important or valuable projects because you're focused on doing all the easy or urgent stuff. This kind of problem shows up a lot when your important projects are not urgent. Because delaying has no serious consequences, it's natural to push off non-urgent but important projects unless you define a "by when" — that is, a deadline.
All major projects in corporate America follow timetables, which include milestones and estimated completion dates. At the same time, it's common to skip out on setting deadlines in more informal settings, like when you're planning your own work or your small team's work, or when you're rolling with the punches.
Here is the tricky part. A lot of people avoid setting a formal deadline because it scares the hell out of them. What if they miss it? Could they bear the thought they had failed? By focusing on the possibility that you might fail and working around it, you actually move further away from completing your project on time. Instead, focus on how meaningful a timely completion would be. Remember that deadlines are designed to protect, not to attack.
What are some of your organization's projects that have not progressed for at least a month? Maybe there was no deadline, maybe the deadline has passed, or maybe you knew that you were not going to be able to finish it as quickly as you originally thought. If you need to adjust the deadline, go ahead and do that. Communicate to all interested parties, set milestones on your calendar, assign resources to get it done, and start to pay attention when each milestone draws close.
Which milestone do you need to keep your focus on in the next week?CHAPTER 7
GET READY FOR GROWTH
It is a well-known fact that growth requires investment. Let's say you already have a concept, a product, or a service — and you even have customers who are pleased with what you have to offer. So you figure that now is the time to expand your business.
Whether you have investors backing you up or are using your own seed money, it is wise to determine exactly where you'll be spending that money. Watch out for the following snares that often trip up business expansions:
Most of the money goes into developing a superior product or acquiring top-of-the-line equipment, so there is very little left to tackle other challenges.
Marketing and branding take a backseat to uncoordinated advertising.
Staff members are not ready for expansion.
A key factor for accelerated growth is having the right people on your team. When I say "right people," I mean not only qualified technical people but also potential leaders. Great leaders are the essence of growth. They can make decisions, deal with uncertainties, take initiative, motivate others, and challenge the assumptions around growth. Answering questions like the following will help you avoid problems in the areas above:
What will be the impact of having the latest piece of equipment without the resources to integrate it into a smooth operation? How do I convince customers of the benefits they could attain from it?
When was the last time I reviewed my overall marketing strategy?
Would my team and infrastructure be able to support this projected growth?
As part of your big-picture planning, you will need to identify the gap in your existing resources, outline the kind of talent you require for growth in your own business, and review your strategy with a professional.
Are you planning for growth?CHAPTER 8
DO YOU REALLY WANT THAT CHANGE?
You're finally starting to move gently toward your annual goals, and you've discovered that holding on to your commitments is not such an easy task. You might have initiated those big moves thinking that change would be easy. But whether you wanted to implement a new sales process to attract new clients, adopt some healthier habits, or take steps to improve any other business area, at some point you will be hit by the reality of these challenges.
To embrace the change more easily, do the following:
Stay tuned to your reasons. Ask yourself why you wanted to make that change from the get-go. If you are clear about that, a dose of perseverance is required.
Speak to your support system about your challenges. Find a friend, a mentor, a coach, or someone who simply believes in you, and together revisit your timeline.
Acknowledge your progress.
At the same time, you'll want to avoid doing the following:
listening to people who tell you that no one accomplishes their annual goals, just like with New Year's resolutions.
dismissing your own goals because they are hard to achieve.
Are you ready for the change that's coming?CHAPTER 9
FIND WHAT YOU'RE MISSING
Did you know that every army operation must be followed by a debriefing? The participants go over the details with a fine-tooth comb to examine what worked and what didn't. The whole process is considered a lesson-learned opportunity, so that when the next operation takes place, they can avoid mistakes and repeat successful actions.
As mindful business owners wrap up the business year, they engage in a similar process. A true year-end evaluation, or something similar at the end of a major initiative, is needed not only to identify successes but also to pinpoint opportunities that didn't materialize.
Some individuals choose to quickly move on to setting up new goals for the new year before addressing what was not accomplished. I am all for setting goals, and I help people do that in a smart way. Nonetheless, it is just as strategic to learn from what was not accomplished. What can you learn? A ton!
Here is your warning: refrain from blaming others. It may be easy and simple, but it's also completely ineffective. Although others may have contributed to your results, the one thing you have definite control over is yourself. If those opportunities were presented to you, you had something to do with how they did or did not materialize.
If you are open to learning something significant about yourself, you can get to the core of achieving all the future goals you'll ever set.
Schedule some quiet and uninterrupted time to do your own debrief. Review various opportunities that came your way and ask yourself the following questions:
Did I seek out opportunities but then find convenient reasons not to take advantage of them?
Did I see opportunities and move on to take action to seize the moment as soon as possible?
Did I see opportunities and get stuck in paralysis-by-analysis until it was too late?
Even if year-end is far away, make sure you benefit from this process. Schedule your quiet time to debrief the last quarter or the latest project.
Being honest with yourself may be the best thing you can do to avoid repeating mistakes.
Are you ready to do some searching?
Excerpted from The Truth About Your Business by Tmima Grinvald. Copyright © 2017 Tmima Grinvald. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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