Tag: Business Mastermind

Are You Ready to Close Your Doors for the Holidays?

Get set to stop working, at least for a couple of days. No matter what season you are celebrating the days around the Christmas statutory holidays are often slower, completely shut down, or can be incredibly busy, depending on your industry. We all know that business never really takes a break. So what are you going to do to ensure you are still marketing your business and helping your clients while you shut your doors for a couple of days?

In Canada there are two stat holidays, Dec 25 and Dec 26. This year because they fall on the Sunday and Monday the holidays will be the Monday and Tuesday following the weekend. Most businesses and government offices will be closed from Friday December 23 to Wednesday the 28th. Retail will be open on the 26th for Boxing Day Sales. If your company is closed for the four day weekend you will need to ensure you have everything in place so you can do what needs to be done or not do anything at all.

Here are three steps you can take to ensure you truly enjoy the holidays and don’t loose sleep over your business.

Get Organized!

Give yourself one or two days before the holidays without any booked events. This means that you should try to have large open times on the Thursday and Friday this year to prepare your ongoing marketing and to help clients last minute if needed. If you are completely booked on those days you will likely need to do work throughout your days off to ensure that your marketing is ongoing.

Get as much of your work complete and then book what is not complete into the days you are working the following week or after the New Year. When you book something it is like tying a knot in your shoes. You don’t have to worry about tripping over the laces as you walk through the holidays. You don’t have to worry about what is not done because you have made plans to complete it.

Who’s Available?

Decide what days you will be available for clients and what you are willing to do on those days. My local spa is open for pampering, but on a much reduced time and increased staff level. If you need something between Christmas and New Year you had better book it now. My dentist is only available for emergencies and my Optometrist on the other hand is not available at all.  I would have liked to have been able to book my kids checkups while school was out, but they are not open and that is OK; I booked for another time.

Send out the Message.

Prepare your messages and notices. In any correspondences leading up to the holidays you can let people know when you will be open for business. My friend Lara puts this into her email signature about 3 weeks before so that every email message is a reminder which days she will be available. For her clients, marketing during the holidays has to continue so they need to know if she will be available to help them, and when. On the other hand, my dentist sends out his Season’s Greetings cards and includes his hours.

Here are 5 places you can include your notice for your clients

  • Put a notice on your door or behind your counter in your store
  • Add it to your email signature
  • Update your voicemail to include a holiday wish and your dates and hours of closure
  • Put your seasonal hours in your holiday cards
  • Include the information in your newsletter

Remember, you have to be organized because if you want to enjoy your time away from your business, you will need to make sure your clients feel you cared enough to let them know when you would be available to help them during that time.

Relationships Are Like Soundwaves

In the physics of soundwave interference there is something known as ‘Constructive and Destructive Interference’. This occurs when two (or more) waves interact with each other. The amplitude of both waves are changed by the other. Specifically, the amplitude (which refers to the height of the wave) can be increased or decreased by the positive or negative height of the other wave at the time they interact.

Wave Interference

Relationships are like this. Your positive energy can be increased or decreased by the positive or negative energy of the people you interact with. If you have ever had a friend that is typically negative, you know that it takes a lot of your energy to support your relationship.

For example:

I have a close friend (let’s call her Jane) that has just come to realize that one of her best friends fits this description. They are very close, but Jane has never been able to explain why she feels exhausted after spending time with her friend. During a conversation with Jane about the energy of our relationships, Jane had an epiphany; the things that she is passionate about and can spend hours speaking to, without effort, are not the things her best friend finds interesting.

In fact, her friend will not accept the ideas and will often nay-say the topic. The result is that Jane will only bring topics to their conversations that they can both speak to and share interest in. Unfortunately these topics are not Jane’s passion.  To hold a sustained focus on something that is not your driving passion requires more energy. So for Jane, her friend’s negative response to and lack of acceptance for her highly-positive passion requires Jane to actively engage in conversations that require more of her energy to focus on and thus is not as positive experience for her.

Relationships in Business

We have all heard that we are the combination of the success of the five people we spend the most amount of time with. That is that we can only achieve the level of success that is a result of the highest level of success of our closest support and peers. If we are more successful than all the people we spend most of our time with, we are then seen as a mentor to all and that requires energy and stops us from growing.

Ken Robinson, in his book ‘The Element‘, refers to this as our ‘tribe’. We choose our tribe for how they make us feel and how easy it is for us to communicate within the tribe. The people in the tribe understand us and make it easy for us to be understood. We are usually supported for the way we think and encouraged to reach goals that are seen as achievable.

This is why, when we want to change our level of wealth or health or other, it is important that we reach out to others that have done it or are going through the same thing. So, in business you want to reach out to the others in your support system that can increase your positive energy by easily understanding what you are doing and support your goals. Their positive support should match the energy of your passion so that you can reach the greatest level of success as possible.

If you have a negative friend, don’t dump them, just spend more time with the people that will really help you with your vision and make it easier for you to achieve it.


Who Are Our Next CEO’s?

I was reading an article from C Level Strategies, “The CEO’s Most Pressing People Challenges” asking CEO’s what they foresee as the most pressing people challenges for the next 10 years. One of the responses by Craig Juengling he got me to thinking not just about the employee challenges but management and C-Level challenges for the future.

As the current management of Baby Boomers retires it may be the expectation that the Gen-Xer’s get to take over the positions, but there is a lot of indication that our bosses will be younger than us. Gen-Xer’s were brought up the same way as the Baby Boomers except we were told that we probably would not have a pension when we retired, like our parents. We were still told that getting a good education would reward us with a good job.

My friends that have had a good job for many years are now finding themselves out of work, highly educated (in fact at one point we were described as the most educated generation in history) and unemployable. When I tell people I stopped counting after my 23rd position I used to feel unworthy of a good position, but now I know I have the skills to be valuable to not only my own two companies but many other companies as well. I am marketable because of my diversity and so are the younger generations.

The younger generations are not as likely to be told that they will have a job for life. With effective globalization, outsourcing, and automation many of the jobs we thought our children could get as a job do not exist or will not exist when they graduate. They are brought up in a world of whirl-wind change and accept change as a norm. They are more willing, by nature, to accept change, to create progress because they know that progress without change is impossible.

I feel that the Gen-Xer’s will fail to step into their Baby Boomer roles because these roles will not exist and they will not be as willing to accept the acceleration of change required to succeed in this new economy.

So what does this mean for your business? You will need a different mindset around business growth to be competitive in today’s market. Continue to learn, read books like “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink or “The Element” by Ken Robinson to find your passion and hone your right-brain skills so that you will be on the top of your CEO game.

Our next CEO’s will be individuals willing to think critically and creatively and not necessary those with the longest serving record or the most credentials. And my prediction is, with the trend of women starting new business, CEO’s are likely to be women in their 30’s and 40’s.


Do it Now or Later: Perfection Paralysis Revealed

Have you ever felt that your list of things to do keeps getting longer as you get closer to the time you need to launch something? Often we will set ourselves soft-release dates because we know that it is difficult to make hard-deadlines.

When you continually put off completing something because it never feels quite ready we referred to as ‘perfection paralysis’. This is the paralysis of the growth of business due to the inability to make some piece of the business perfect enough to share it with others. Business just does not work like that.

I have worked many years in manufacturing. The clients that I have had that are really successful meet their deadlines. They do this by defining their specifications (what they expect to create) and then they make it. They don’t add extra touches, because the client would like it, during this round of development. For every change they could add it would change the deadline. The problem with making changes during development is that the deadline date often does not change with it and it is then missed or it keeps getting pushed out arbitrarily. It has the side effect of making the people working on the project weary and frustrated because they feel ineffectual.

This could happen to you too. If you set a deadline and deliver on that date, you have achieved a goal and you will be keen to continue to create. If you continually develop, missing deadlines or, even worse, not setting deadlines you will feel like you can never close. Do yourself a favour, follow these three tips to give yourself and your business the reward of accomplishing great things and then continue to create.

3 Tips to Overcome this Debilitating Syndrome

1. Set a deadline that cannot be missed.

To make your deadline more concrete, invite people to be a witness to the unveiling. For instance, if I want to start a new program, I host a free introduction and in that introduction I announce the upcoming date for my new program. This way, people are expecting it at a specific time and I will be required to be ready on that date.

Tell people you have a new service, even if you don’t have a name for it. Announce your opening, even if the location is not ready. Advertise your new product, even if it is not complete. What is the worst that can happen? You will have to postpone. But I guarantee you won’t want to do that and you will be much more likely to be ready, even if it is not exactly the way you perceived it to be when complete.

2. Think to yourself, “just get started”.

The sooner you get started the sooner you can start making money with it. Make sure the key components are in place (the brand language is used, the clients can purchase it, it works as expected). If it is a good product you will have time to continually make it better, which is what you should be doing anyway.

3. Act ‘as if’

Act as if it is exactly what you wanted – then continue to improve as you grow the business. I guarantee that it will never be perfect and even if it is, within weeks of launching, something will be revealed that can make it even more perfect. Everything you create will be like a work of art in production. To create a business that grows, you will always need to be evaluating the value of your products and service and your client needs. Don’t think you can create something, launch it, and that is it.

So don’t waste excessive time making it perfect for that launch. Get the pieces in place to make the business work and your clients happy, launch, and then improve.

Check Out this Book

A great book to help you with this mindset is Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, by Seth Godin, which spends some time on what he calls ‘shipping’.

The ‘Give’ That Will Give Back

We have all heard the statement “If you give you will get back” and sometimes that is appended with “in spades”. It starts in grade school with the teaching of ‘The Golden Rule’ (do onto others as you would have them do unto you). There are several businesses that base their foundation on this idea, like  BNI whose philosophy is “Givers Gain” and eWomen Network which uses “Give First”. But what some people sometimes feel is they give and give and never see anything back (or at least not what they have put into it.) Here are some tips to make your ‘gives’ really meaningful so that others will truly see you as a giver and will give back.

Give without Expectation

This one is hard because we have been told to expect reciprocation, or that is what many of us read into the statements above, but it is not necessarily reciprocation. When we give we should not be expecting for something in return.

I worked with someone that would give all the time and then spend much of her time in tears because these people where betraying her by not giving back. Maybe she was giving to the wrong people and expected something they were unable to give, but more likely it was that she always gave with the expectation that these people would become or continue to be ongoing clients.

What would have been a better way of looking at it would be to hope that these people had the ability to help someone else out. Then this person would have been seen as a true giver and people would have wanted to help her out instead of feeling indebted to her. Being in debt to someone is a crappy feeling and is a form of payment. Don’t make people feel this way. When you are in ‘the giving place’ the gifts come back to you, often from unexpected places.

Know People’s ‘What’

When you are talking with people don’t be listening for what you can get from them, but be thinking about what you can do for them. It will put you into a true giving place and will also make you a better listen. Great listeners are often thought of as great people. We all like to be heard, so put your listening ears on and focus on their ‘What’ or their need. It will be easier for you to help them if you can.

Make an Effort

Giving takes more time than most people allocate for it. You will need to make time to contact and connect the people you have promised to help. Sometimes I’ve had to make more than one attempt to connect with someone I know but the better I get at helping people the easier it is for me to reach people. When I make a concerted effort to help someone once, they are more likely to be available for me to connect them with someone else. Remember, this is also part of your marketing so you will have to put aside not only time to do the networking, make the connections, and follow up, but also set aside time to help others reach their goals. If you are not putting aside time for marketing each day then do it now. Start with 30-90 minutes a day, schedule it in, and follow through on focusing your efforts on your marketing and the people that you can help.

Share your Goals

People cannot help you if they do not know what you need. When they have put on their listening ears and are giving you the gift of their attention then use it wisely. Know what it is you are working towards and what you need to achieve it. Be specific so they can really make the connection between what you need and what they can do to help you.

Be Thankful and Genuine

People love to help because it is like giving a gift. When you give a gift it is not only given to the recipient but it is also a gift to the giver. We love the feeling of being able to give something that makes others happy. So, when someone gives you a gift (a referral, their time, their full attention, or more) remember that it is also a gift for them. Accept it graciously and say thank you. As simple as that sounds it is often hard for us to accept gifts. Here is an easy example to see where we go wrong.

Two friends meet each other in a store.

Patty, “Hi Sue, you look amazing. I love your hair”

Sue, “Thanks, I need to get to the gym more often plus I really need to get my hair coloured soon.”

Why don’t we just say “Thank you”,  accept the gift, and keep the negative talk for another time.

When you give, make it real. Give it and let it go. Don’t spend time or energy waiting for it to come back. Give for their benefit, not your own. Genuine gifts are the ones that create a person that others will want to be in a relationship of reciprocity with. Become that person.

Aside – My friend and colleague Jackie Ramler has a program in her business that supports her employees’ giving to charity. They each get to pick their own charity and then they get one day paid a month to volunteer for their charity. That gift has given her back the most incredible team to work with.