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!

The Entrepreneur’s 5 Capitals

TRC

 

 

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One of the oft quote excuses for business failure is “lack of capital”. So what capital does an entrepreneur have at his disposal? It’s more than money although it belongs on the list.

Let’s take a careful look…

The Capital of Relationships. Who you know is important in business, but not nearly as important as who knows you. Here’s a quick exercise to see who knows you. Pull out your phone. Who can you call that if they saw your number come up on their phone would say, “I better take this it’s _______”? How can that person help you? What is the nature of your relationship? What could you call them about that could help your business?

That person who will take your call because it’s you is valuable capital. How will you maximize that relationship? How will you extend that same kind of relationship to others outside your circle? Is that number growing or shrinking?

The Capital of Finances. Money is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Money only gives you access to the things that you need want and desire. As a business capital it can either be yours or it can come from somewhere else (bank, investor, etc…). Leveraging your capital of finances is the secret to gaining more. Making that money work for you to grow your business is an entrepreneurial skill you must perfect.

Finances involve knowing how to properly price your services, knowing how to handle price increases, how to negotiate with vendors, as well as dealing with bankers.

The Capital of Goodwill. How you treat other people is a capital essential for successful business. How do other people see you? Do they see you as a rich and valuable resource that they want in their circles? How do customers rate their experience with you? Do they believe you’ve done everything you promised to deliver? Are they going to be eager to recommend you to their family and friends? Goodwill is a capital that you can constantly be building to help your business grow.

The Capital of Resources. What resources do you have that will be essential for your business? Do you have the necessary tools? Do you have access to the necessary tools? What is the current condition of the tools you have? If you use that computer everyday how long will it be before it will need to be replaced? When was the last time you had a serious upgrade in the resources you use to build your business?

The Capital of Spirituality. Spiritual capital is the motivation to do what you do. It’s fulfilling your why. It’s the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. It answers the “my place in the world” question that we all have. It’s your drive. When that capital runs low you find yourself “Closed for Remodeling”. Nurture your spiritual capital above everything else. It’s the fuel that feeds the fire of desire so necessary when everything else seems down.

 

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5 Bad Habits Entrepreneurs Need to Quit Today!

Habits are an important part of your success journey. Developing positive habits must be a regular part of your everyday life. However, sometime we develop really annoying bad habits that tarnish the entrepreneur experience for the rest of the world.

Brandon Turner, contributing editor to Entrepreneur Magazine, offers some power insightsManBubble to those bad habits that are just plain annoying to the rest of the world. I was amazed as I looked over his list an found myself guilty at times. Check out the major points on his list:

  1. Constantly talking about how busy you are. Entrepreneurs are busy, but so are other people. There isn’t one kind of busy for an entrepreneur and a different kind of busy for the rest of the world.
  2. Stop “humbly bragging”. Yes, you might be in the spot light, but don’t find humble ways to brag about it. It makes you look really bad.
  3. Job Shamming. No one should feel bad about the fact that they have a job and no entrepreneur should ever make them feel that way.
  4. Canceling plans at the last minute because something more important just came up.
  5. #Firstworldproblems Complaining about your credit card process being slow in the morning really pales in comparison to more than one-third of the world’s population without access to clean water.

The author claims he wrote this article for himself. I disagree! I think he wrote it for all of us…

 

Employment In America July 2016 – Good News?

employment in americaEmployment in America – What Does The Future Hold?

Employment in America is changing rapidly. Do you need to look at your future differently than you might have a couple of years go? According to a survey sponsored by the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative, the Markle Foundation, Burson-Marsteller and TIME – the answer is a most definite YES! 

Let’s pull some of the numbers from this survey. How is this going to impact your future as an employee or hiring employees.

While most employers prefer full-time employees, more than half are currently using independent contractors and expecting themselves and others to use more in the future.

So if you’ve been downsized or are seeking employment – this might be a good time to understand that fewer traditional employment opportunities will exist in the future. The good news is that you could find contingent work almost immediately as the need increases. I’ve addressed the solo-entrepreneur in another blog post.

With the demand for contingent workers on the rise there will be more opportunity for an employer to find “good help”. As more people enter the workforce as “part-time” or contingent workers the pool increases. The pressure of hiring a full-time worker when you really only need 18 hours a week is greatly reduced as the quality good up.

Both employers and employees see the on-demand economy as a completely different way of doing business.

This completely different way of doing business is the new economy. The world of work is getting leaner. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there are fewer opportunities. It fact, it may mean just the opposite. The new opportunities will just present themselves in a very different fashion.

Almost and employers are satisfied with the performance of contingent workers.

Clarification of terms from the survey: For this survey, the definition of non-employee contingent workers is those who work for an organization on a non-permanent basis and typically work on a form 1099, as opposed to full time, W2- based employees of an organization. Contract or non-employee contingent workers are also known as freelancers, independent contractors, or temporary contract workers. They do not include workers, part time or full time, who are issued a Form W2. Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) conducted 800 online interviews with employers (i.e., employers or business owners who make hiring decisions for their organization), from June 5-16, 2016.

What Do I Do With This Degree?

Have you ever wondered about that degree you worked so hard to earn and maybe you’re still paying for. All kinds of things are being proposed today to (because it’s an election year) find ways to make a college degree more affordable. But is that really the issue?graduation-879941_640

A recently article from Entrepreneur Magazine suggests that maybe that’s not the solution at all. Maybe traditional means of education no longer apply to our non-traditional world. While most of the world was waiting for the economy to improve the most successful enterprises in the world today began to capitalize on the new economy instead of expecting a resurrection of the old.

Andrew Medal author of the afore mentioned Entrepreneur article, identifies six reasons why starting a business might be far better than working to earn a degree. Here’s a snapshot of his thoughts: 

  1. Networking– Successfully starting a business requires an increased network.
  2. Compounding laws – Experience. Money. Business. The sooner you start, the more these variables will compound.
  3. Practical experience – Practical experience trumps theory-based learning.
  4. Autonomy – Starting and building a business allows you to control your destiny.
  5. Deferred degree– Both siblings say, “College can wait. Building a company can’t if there’s a good market/need in some space.”
  6. Limited risk – Limited risk to start a business while you’re young can be a key differentiator.

So go ahead a check out the article. You might be surprised that the real solution(s) is/are found in places that you might not have expected to look.

Business as usual, produces results as usual. ~Thom Rigsby

A very informal survey of any segment of the population will reveal that the vast majority of people aren’t working the field in which they earned a degree. After 10 years people start to find their place, their purpose and their passion. They get past that, “I get a degree, I get a job” thinking and discover that isn’t the way things work any more.

They understand that there is far more value in finding solutions to problems people face than there is in depending on the degree. Entrepreneurs think: “what solutions do I bring, not eduction do I have?”

Failing a test is way easier than failing at a business, BUT the lessons learned are far more valuable. To get ahead in the future you must let go of the past. Maybe it is time we applied that same principle to entrepreneurs starting business.

 

 

 

 

Army of Solo-Entrepreneurs

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The Army of Solo-Entrepreneurs

The most recent downturn in the economy has created a new and exciting era – the era of the solo-entrepreneur. Downsizing has caused companies to rethink their position on non-mission critical employment. It now is easier to outsource then it is to justify keeping someone in a less than full-time capacity. This creates an enormous demand for the services of the solo-entrepreneur.

This army of Solo-entrepreneurs will be the business model for the next decade. They are the key to making the current economy work again. They allow the small businesses of America to be lean and efficient in a struggling economy – they are the “new” workforce. This is local outsourcing. It is keeping local money in the local economy or it is bringing global money to the local economy.ManBulb

This army will have needs:

  • They don’t have deep pockets to spend on advertising and exposure
  • They don’t have vast resources to do research and development
  • They will have to market differently
  • They will have to build new teams of support
  • They will have to create joint ventures
  • They will need networking opportunities that work for them
  • They will need coaching
  • They will struggle
  • They will survive and thrive!

The solo-entrepreneur is in a position to change the economic climate for multitudes. The more profitable businesses become, through the services of this “part-time” army, the quicker the economy turns around. Putting back to work many who are involved in the mission-critical positions. This always provides economic stability for the solo-entrepreneur. No longer does their “job” depend upon having enough work with one employer to justify their existence.

Many of the jobs that were once possible in a thriving economy are longer available. They may never be available again. Before those jobs get shipped off overseas have you considered how you might develop a business model to fill-in that gap?

Things are different in this economy, but they might actually be better for solo-entrepreneurs. They’re in a better position now to control their future than ever before.

Are you considering a role as a Solo-Entrepreneur?

You may very well possess the skill set that an employer can’t afford full-time but can’t afford to be without either. This is could be the opportunity of a lifetime for the one who is ready.

If you would like to explore the opportunities of self-employment or being a solo-e? I’ve prepared a brief survey that can help you determine if you’re ready for the next level.

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