Is Your Hard Work Paying Off?

A few years ago I made a comment in passing that later really got me thinking. I was just having a casual conversation with a friend and kind of proudly claimed how much of a night-owl I had become. As I ran through all the things that were going on in my life that contributed to my night-owl-dom, it occurred to me how much I was sacrificing for “My Dream” of owning a business. In fact, I was almost right back in the same position that prompted me to start the business in the first place!

Why Did You Start A Business?

In the course of my coaching career I’ve heard a million and one answers to this question. When the tables were turned and it was my turn to start a business, the rationale was simple for me…to have more time freedom!

See, at the time I was working for a consulting firm and we had a requirement to BILL 40 hours a week. Well, to bill 40 you have to work 50 or 60…so here I am, diligently working long hours and weekends to meet the expectation. Then one day it hit me like a ton of K-Cups…I was wasting what precious time I had with my kids working! I needed to make a change and be present in there life!

Fast forward a few years, I’ve started my own business and I’m right back to working crazy hours. What exactly did I accomplish?

Are We Winning or Losing?

By all external appearances, the business was going great. Heck, by INTERNAL numbers we were doing great…and I still didn’t have the freedom I was really looking for. While everybody thought I was winning the business game, I was really losing the game of life! Again…something had to change.

So I locked myself away for a couple of days a took a long, hard look at what we were doing. I also spent time examining other businesses…and their owners…for what they were doing differently. I read every book I could find on growing a business, having work-life balance (spoiler alert…it’s not possible! More on that later)…basically anything I could read, watch or listen to that could explain what I was doing wrong or what I could be doing better!

The 9 CPA’s

No, not the ones that do you taxes!

After all that reading and listening and studying I narrowed it down to something I call the 9 CPA’s or the Nine Critical Performance Areas of your business. When I was able to identify and FOCUS (sorry, I know that’s a scary word), I began to see results. The business began to run more smoothly, there was less “frenzy” in the day, and most importantly, I could finally feel comfortable taking time away for the things that drove me to start the business in the first place!

Every business is unique…I get it, trust me! As of this writing I’m currently running businesses 12 and 13 that I’ve started from scratch and supporting many more. And even though your business is unique, you are still subject to the same 9 CPA’s…they are universal.

Now nine critical areas may sound like a lot, but in the years since I incorporated the CPA’s into my business coaching practice, I’ve never had a single business owner disagree once they saw the list! So whether you are in retail or wholesale, food service or grocery, services or Internet, they are all still there, waiting on YOUR FOCUS! And once they get them, they will deliver on the promise and you can see your hard work paying off!

So What Are the 9 CPA’s

In all candor, I would be doing a disservice to you if I just told you what they are. They’re a powerful set of tools to go in your business leadership toolbox, but just like a sledge hammer or power drill, if you mis-use them you will do great damage.

To make sure you fully understand the power of the CPA’s I’ve put together a web class for you. During this class I will outline the 9 Critical Performance Areas every business MUST focus on and how to use them to identify the barriers that are holding you back. And as a special bonus, I’ll show you how I teach my business coaching clients to write and track 90-day plans that will break down these barriers and make their work matter.

One Final Admission

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, this is material I’ve charged clients for in the past. Because I’ve charged it has been a really difficult decision to release this info in a free web class. But I talked with many of my past and present clients to get their input and they unanimously agreed that learning and focusing on these 9 Critical Performance Areas was THE KEY to creating the business they needed to have the life, and lifestyle, they craved.

If you have ever looked in the mirror and asked, “Is this as good as it gets,” the answer is NO…and I can show you how to make it better. Use the button above to reserve your seat in this week’s web class!

Is Your Business Running You? [webinar replay]

Our Time Management Secret

A few months back I surveyed my entrepreneur friends to ask what their most pressing time management questions were. I mean, we are all torn between working on the business and actually enjoying the time freedom that comes with being our own boss, but my favorite response, by far, was this one…

“When are we supposed to sleep?”

It can feel that way sometimes, and with both my wife and I being business owners, it can be even more demanding. For us, something had to be done! So, we came up with a plan!

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A few years ago we decided to dedicate some time each year to getting our priorities straight for the next year. For us, this takes the form of a weekend get-away, disconnected from most of the rest of the world, to spend time together planning the coming year. We’ve tried it at different times but it seems to work best for us the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Here are the three biggest benefits we’ve found from taking time away together to plan

Benefit 1: Time Away (obviously)

Technically (and practically I suppose) we could do this at home but…

  • There are always distractions at home
  • People still expect you to “do what you do”
  • We love to travel!

So, we take a trip. Now it doesn’t have to be much. Last year, we went all the way to Decatur, AL (30 minutes from home). It was far enough away that we could call it a trip and close enough that we could take all the stuff we needed to take.

Whether you decide to hit the road or not is entirely up to you. You can create the same outcome at home, just find a way to filter out all the day-to-day distractions that might make it more difficult. (FWIW, travel together is one of the things we value, and it shows up on our plan a lot! This is one way to check a couple of checks with one trip!)

Benefit 2: Having A Plan

I’m pretty sure it was General Patton who said, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Do you think that ever led him to question the need for having a plan? Probably not. See the value in having a plan is not so much the plan, although it can be valuable, but rather in the planning. Thinking about the possibilities and deciding on your response to them in advance! Without a plan, life, and your business, will happen TO you instead of FOR you!

In fact, I really like to call this an annual strategy rather than a plan. A strategy give guidance, takes specifics into account, and generally guides our progress toward an outcome or result. Think about it this way… if you’re going to drive cross country, from say Atlanta to Los Angeles, when you set out your choice of roads doesn’t really matter. As long as it heads west, you’re in good shape. So your strategy is to head west toward Los Angeles. Leaving Atlanta, I-20 is probably a good choice.

Along the way you will inevitably run into road construction or an accident that will slow, maybe even stop your progress. Does that change your strategy? No, probably not. Does it change your plan? Maybe. If the bridge ahead is out completely, then you’ll have to find another route heading west.

As you approach California your strategy for reaching Los Angeles is on track but you’ll need to narrow your plan to guide you north or south to your ultimate destination. Now your road choices begin to matter more and have a greater impact on your ultimate outcome.

In the same way, having a strategy and a working plan for the next few months can be a real benefit for you, your business, and your relationship with your spouse.

Benefit 3: Being A Team

This one may be a bit more subtle but powerful none-the-less. I’ve had my own business for a long time and for the vast majority of that time I tried to keep some kind of barrier between work and home (especially hard when you work from home!). The thought probably had something to do with that whole work-life balance myth but it never really worked.

Then it happened. One of my ventures didn’t exactly turn out as expected. It was spiraling down at almost terminal velocity and there I sat, consumed by the coming demise of my business, consumed by how to explain this to my family, all alone. THAT my friend, was tough.

A good friend of mine at the time was a pastor and we happened to go to a wedding he was officiating (beautiful wedding by the way, and only 19 minutes long! But I digress…) Anyway, one of the things he said really resonated with me that day.

“When you’re married, your burdens are cut in half and your joys are doubled.”

See, I wasn’t protecting her from anything, I was actually making it worse for both of us. She had no idea what was going on and I had no one to share the burden with. She was frustrated and had no idea how to support me. And I was just all alone! Teamwork is about playing to each other’s strengths to mitigate the weakness of the team…I’d been missing the point!

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So now that we (ok, “I”) have figured that out, bring in the strategy weekend! It gives us a structure for talking about what went well this year, what we still need to do, and what we want to do next year!

What Would Your Spouse Say?

If you watched the video above (seriously, you didn’t watch it? go watch it now, I’ll wait right here!) Vickie’s reaction to my first suggestion that we do this was, “Please don’t make me!” That video was completely unscripted by the way and that answer cracked me up, that’s so like her. But as the weekend progressed, she totally bought into the program and now, can’t wait for that weekend every year.

Guys, just trust me… she’ll love it!

Ladies, just tell him you’re ready for his help planning next year, he’ll be all over that.

Either way, talk to them about it. You may be surprise at the answer you get and you will definitely have a stronger year next year, working together toward your joint vision of success!

PS – GREAT NEWS! This year we are going to pull back the curtain on our planning process and invite a few couples to join us as we plan for next year! If you are interested in finding out more about how to get an invitation, just drop you info in the form below and I will be in touch!