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Do I Suck it up, or Delegate?

There’s no question about it; delegation is difficult for most small business owners. No matter how big our business gets and how many employees we have most of us started out as one person enterprise and we’re used to running all of our own show.

There’s also no question that delegation is a skill that’s critical to business success and a healthy work life balance. Even a one person business can get so busy that there’s no way that a single person can do all that needs to be done. And even the smallest of small businesses can take over a person’s life to such a level that causes personal unhappiness and friction within the family.

So take a deep breath. You have to make delegation a priority if you’re going to do what you want to do and stay sane and happy. Practice some of this delegation primer will help you let go and learn how to delegate successfully.

So What Should I Delegate?

I recommend that people delegate first the tasks that don’t directly bring in the bucks. So an IT consultant, for instance, should probably outsource bookkeeping and accounting tasks. It’s just not the way he or she makes money. The purpose of delegation isn’t just to have someone else do something; it’s to free you to focus on using your developed talents and skills most productively.  Let’s face it, if you delegate enough of the right things, you can be incredibly more productive. And in terms of service businesses, that translates into a lot more available revenue hours.

How to Get Started Delegating

1) Decide that you’re going to delegate.
You need to admit that you can’t do all the things that you would like to do and stop just trying to do more yourself.

2) Decide what you’re going to delegate.
Is there a particular area where you need help or something that you don’t like doing much? It is probably a good candidate for delegation. Remember that you don’t want to delegate the core part of your business (what brings in the revenue).Remember, what you delegate doesn’t have to be a business task. Delegation is leverage. It is about doing less so you can achieve more or a better balance. A small business owner may find that hiring a maid service to clean the house or a landscape service to keep the exterior of the home in shape gives hours of more time to focus on the business, for instance.

3) Find the people to delegate to.
It’s fine to say that you’re going to delegate something, but if you’re not going to do it, you need to find someone else that you can trust to get it done and do it well. Finding good people may take a bit of a search. Start by asking your friends, family and other business people (like your coach) who they recommend to do what you need done. Finding the right people at the right time is a reason that being a member of various small business groups and networks is so invaluable.

Research the potential candidate and check credentials. Ask him for names of other client customers that you can talk to, and then talk to them. E.g. if you’re looking for an accountant, use a good interview process to help you make the best choice.

Tips for Successful Delegation

Delegate, Don’t Abdicate.  Be as specific about what you want done.

It’s no good hiring someone, telling them you need some help around the office, and then complaining because they haven’t done what you wanted them to do. You can’t expect an accountant to provide good advice when you haven’t bothered to sit down with him and talk about where your business is now and where you’d like to see it going. You have to be very clear about what you need done and how you want it done.

Let the person get on with it.

We smile when we hear about the business person who goes on vacation for a week but phones the office or shop ten times a day every day he’s gone, but we’ve all been there. You have to realize that when you delegate something, it’s literally out of your hands and you need to avoid interfering with the process of getting it done. As hard as it is, wait for the end product before you judge how successful the delegation has been (accountability).

Do not delegate a lot of tasks at once.

In fact, if delegation makes you uncomfortable, start by delegating one thing only. Your delegation comfort and confidence level will build over time as you see the job you’ve assigned completed successfully. Then you’ll be ready to delegate something else.

Do not give up too quickly.

By example, my relationship with my first accountant was not a success. He was competent, but I didn’t feel that he was willing to give me enough of his attention. Rather than throw up my hands and start to do my own pathetic accounting again (or putting up with a relationship I was not happy with), I went and found another accountant that I was much happier with. You may not necessarily find the right person the first time. You need to stick with it persist and find that right person if delegating that task is going to work. If you have existing employees, be careful of off loading tasks that they are untrained for or for which they clearly not interested or capable of learning

Delegation goes against the grain for many small business owners who started alone. But if we want both our businesses and our personal lives to thrive, delegation is a critical skill to master

I OWN THE BUSINESS!

“I own this business, Russ, I know what needs to get done – by me and everyone who works for me.  That’s what ownership means – ‘I own the ship and I’m the captain.”

 
That is not an uncommon feeling or statement that I have heard from many top business owners. After all, good business owner-executives should be disciplined enough to hold themselves accountable to take the actions they know they need to take, right?

Not!

The built-in challenge that you have as a business owner is that if you’re the owner there’s often no one there with you to support you and ensure that you’re being accountable to your business, your team and yourself. Being accountable doesn’t always mean that you’re getting ‘everything’ done. It also encompasses taking ownership of the situations around you. Business owners and, for that matter, company executives face problems and issues on a daily basis, so there is always a great reason why they cannot do something they initially committed to getting done.

Many “managers” of a business operate in a reactionary way, handling one fire after another. So they fail to plan a direction for their company. What complicates this further is if the company is generating revenue and profits, the owner or manager may not have a burning need to work on the direction of the business rather than the day to day routine.

So, the real issue is just paying lip service instead of taking action. For example, it’s easy for an owner to get fired up in a seminar on Friday and decide that on Monday he or she is going to start a training and coaching program for his people or to take on some other initiative. The problem is that, come Monday morning, the phone rings and they are now off doing something else. They are now “managed by distraction.”

Nearly every owner needs more than just a solid strategy, systems and procedures to accomplish their goals. The number one reason for business failure has less to do about the people, strategy, product, process, service or profitability and everything to do with consistent execution on every level. Execution is owner’s or general manager’s responsibility.

As business owners, nearly every one of us can get a measure of advice and accountability from our spouses, industry peers or friends, bankers and accountants But an increasing number of business owners and executives are turning to coaches because they offer expertise, third-party perspective, targeted advice, a safe sounding board to talk about their challenges without worrying about being judged and regular phone meetings to speed progress and build in the accountability that is often lost when alone at the top.

Experienced coaches have also heard most of the excuses, so we make sure the client stays focused on making the progress they seek.

If a real business is a business that operates without you, how far do you have to go?

A winning team is an invaluable asset and essential component in all successful businesses. Outstanding people are pivotal to building a strong foundation and yield dividends, which include greater leverage and productivity, improved customer service, and an increase in revenue and profits.   

Your team is critical to realizing your dream of time and financial freedom that you had when you started the business.  “Team” can be different things to different people, including employees, vendors, alliance partners and family members.  Anyone who helps you and your business grow is part of your team, at least that’s how your customers will see it. 

 

Building a great team is a process anyone can master.  For many though, it is often a monumental challenge. A large number of business owners and leaders experience situations that lead them to believe that “there aren’t any good people out there” and “no one could or will do it the way I do it.”  Beliefs can change in an instant if people want them to.  Are your beliefs about building a great team limiting the steps you could take to move your business to a higher level?

 

The ActionCOACH Atlanta Team is dedicated to the value of teams, team building and the leadership required to develop high performance organizations.  You’ll be better prepared for your team building journey when you learn keys to building a winning team, how to determine how each member of the team views their relationship with you and your company, how to program yourself for leadership success and where to get other resources to help you grow your leadership and team building talents. 

 

In abundance,

 

Russ Young,  Russ is  a Partner of ActionCOACH Atlanta  a Business Coach, affiliated with many community activities and an expert at helping others grow their business through marketing and sales activities. 

Systemizing Your Business…..

Effective systems can save you and your team both time and money and frustration.  The basic rule for systemizing is ‘Systemize the routine – humanize the exception’.  Anything that can’t be systemised needs to be run by people.  Always look at putting a system in place rather than employing more people. A system means that things are done consistently, regardless of the team member.

Remember…

–          Systems run your business…

–          People run your systems…

–          You lead your people…

There are four basic steps to systemization…

  1. Flowchart your processes.  This will show you how it all fits together.

 

  1. Document how it gets done.  Get the team member who is currently doing the job to write down every step in performing a task.  This person then gets a new person to do the task following the written down steps.  If the person currently doing the task has to step in and explain anything to the new person then that information is added to the step, etc.  Once completed start again with another person until you have demonstrated that any person can do the task without intervention.

 

  1. Measure results using key performance indicators.  Typically, these will be the top five measures to show system performance.  Get these from the person doing the job (i.e. in sales you could use no. of leads, conversion rate, average $ sale etc.).

 

  1. Allow the system to change/grow as your business changes and grows. Ensure that the system is self-correcting so as to allow it to evolve at the same pace that your business evolves.

 

When determining where to start systemizing, ask yourself…

  1. What are you doing on a regular basis that a lower paid team member could be doing if it were systemized?  Systemize it, hand it over to the lower paid team member and spend your time on higher level activities – remember the goal is to work on your business.

 

  1. Is there anything you hate doing which could be done by a lower paid person if it were systemized? Systemize it and hand it over.

 

Some final tips…

  1. Don’t over complicate systems or people won’t follow them.

 

  1. Use lots of photos, videos, tapes etc.  This may be as simple as printing a computer screen or videoing someone doing the task at hand.  This will make the systems much easier to follow.

 

  1. Document your system in a policies and procedures or operations manual in an easy to access format.  And make sure everyone has one or  knows where it is! Require all of your team members to periodically review the manual with the goal of identifying needed changes on a timely and qualitative basis.

 

Your systems checklist…

 

Daily office operation systems

  • Answering the telephone
  • Receiving and opening the mail
  • Purchasing and maintaining office supplies and equipment
  • Faxing and e-mailing
  • Dealing with incoming/outgoing delivery needs
  • Backing up and archiving data

 

Product development systems

  • Developing product and protecting it legally
  • Developing packaging and collateral material (eg catalogues)
  • Developing manufacturing methods and procedures
  • Developing manufacturing costing and bidding process

 

Manufacturing and inventory systems

  • Selecting vendors
  • Determining product or service warranties offered
  • Establish product or service pricing (retail and wholesale)
  • Establishing reorder process for inventory production
  • Receiving and storing product inventory
  • Reconciling physical inventory with accounting records

 

Order processing and tracking systems

  • Taking orders and recording the orders by mail, fax, phone or online
  • Fulfilling and packaging the orders
  • Confirming details before service or product delivery
  • Sending the orders
  • Management system for freight, couriers and vehicles
  • Order tracking systems

 

Invoicing and Accounts Receivable Systems

  • Invoicing customers for the orders
  • Receiving payments for the orders and crediting customers for payment (whether cash, check or credit card)
  • Monitoring credit control and age of accounts
  • Starting the collection process for outstanding receivables on a timely basis

 

Customer Service Systems

  • Returns procedure for inventory receiving and customer payment return
  • Responding to customer complaints
  • Replacing defective product or performing other warranty service
  • Measure quality and professionalism of service delivery

 

Accounts Payable Systems

  • Purchasing procedures and approvals required
  • Payment process for supplies and inventory
  • Petty cash

 

Sales and Marketing Systems

  • Create an overall marketing plan
  • Designing and producing promotional materials
  • Developing general leads and prospects
  • Creating an advertising plan
  • Creating a public relations plan
  • Creating a direct mail plan
  • Developing and maintaining a database
  • Developing and maintaining a website
  • Analysing and tracking sales statistics

–          Continuously measure number and origin of all leads

–          Measure conversion rate for each salesperson

–          Measure your average dollar sale for every team member

–          Keep a record of your profit margins

People and Education Systems

  • Recruitment procedures
  • Training employees
  • Payroll process
  • Induction program
  • Team member positional descriptions
  • Career planning
  • Company rules of the game
  • Company vision and mission statement
  • Company and individual team member goals and performance indicators
  • Conflict resolution
  • Contingency staffing plans
  • Redundancy systems

 

General Accounting Systems

  • Managing the accounting process with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports

–          Complete and monitor monthly and yearly budgets

–          Complete a monthly balance sheet

–          Daily or weekly update cashflow statements

  • Managing cash with future borrowing needs secured and available
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Reporting payroll taxes and withholding payments
  • Complete weekly bank reconciliation
  • Have a daily banking system
  • Maintaining an asset register including depreciation

 

General Corporate Systems

  • Negotiating, drafting and executing contracts
  • Developing and protecting intellectual property
  • Managing insurance needs and coverage
  • Reporting and paying federal, state and other taxes
  • Planning for federal, state and other taxes
  • Managing and storing records
  • Maintenance of equipment
  • Maintaining investor/shareholder relations
  • Information flow processes
  • Ensuring legal security
  • Developing a business plan for planning and managing growth

 

Physical Space Management Systems

  • Maintaining and designing telephone and electrical systems
  • Upgrading office equipment
  • Planning permits and fees
  • Licensing
  • Ensuring physical security

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick M. Lencioni

Business owners and leaders who read “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” are in for a few BFOs (Blinding Flash of the Obvious ah ha moments or epiphanies) Written in leadership fable style, you’ll easily be able to see where your team performs well and where there are opportunities for it to achieve more of its potential.

 You will clearly realize how absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results corrupt a team’s chances for success.  Reading this book will be like looking in a mirror; sometimes it takes courage to face the truth. 

After you read the book, check out “Five Temptations of a CEO” by the same author.  “Five Temptations” will help you understand the leadership behaviors that let the five dysfunctions occur.  Contact actioncoachatlanta.com if you’d like a short powerpoint slide set that depicts the main points these two books by Patrick Lencioni convey.

Learn how to receive a special promo code for an upcoming event by following us on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/ActionCOACHAtl and pressing the “Like” button on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/actioncoachatlanta

Four Points of Wisdom from Peter Drucker

From the publication of his first economics book in 1939 until his recent in 2005, Peter Drucker was known as the foremost authority on how to run a business. (But he never had a secretary and he answered his own telephone.)

Though much of his work was done some years ago, his ideas are timeless. These are a few of his statements that most business owners, managers and leaders believe in and try to practice.

On decisions: Every decision is risky. It’s a commitment of present resources to an uncertain and unknown future. Risks can be minimized if you know when a decision is necessary, how to clearly define a problem and tackle it directly, and that you’ll have to make compromises in the end. You haven’t made a decision until you’ve found a way to implement it. (He was quoted in Fortune.)

On work: Focus on opportunities rather than problems. Problem solving prevents damage, but exploiting opportunities produces results. Unless there is a crisis, problems shouldn’t even be discussed until opportunities have been analyzed and dealt with. Exploit change as an opportunity, and don’t view it as a threat.

On organizations: Human beings tend to close out the outside. But effective organizations exist not to satisfy themselves but to fill a customer need. Leaders have the duty to focus an organization on the outside in a way that continually refreshes what everyone is doing inside the company.

On management: Don’t ever say “I think,” say “we.” Effective leaders know they have authority only because they have the trust of the organization. They understand that the needs and opportunities of an organization come before their own needs.

Simply, Peter Drucker said we have to view problems and change as opportunities. We have to think of the customer and how we can fill his needs. We have to have a clear way to implement change before we make it. The interests of the organization come before individual interests

Teach to Learn

As a coach, educator, business owner, entrepreneur and parent I have always been curious about the learning process of “gaining an education.”  Whether that education is formal or day to day practical, the value is immeasurable, though not always understood at the time. 

We have all been influenced by various teachers, mentors, family, peers and others that have stood above the rest because they communicated with us, touched us, and influenced us with their knowledge, passion and personal involvement in our lives.

Many of those teachers/mentors were often learning as much or more than we were, simply by teaching.  I have found the greatest tool to learning anything is to teach, train and help others.

When we have to explain a procedure, concept, or demonstrate a skill to another person we integrate the information mentally, physically and emotionally in a completely different way than when we are just listening to the information.

If you are currently trying to learn something new, start teaching it to someone else as fast as you can. You will quickly discover what you do not understand or pieces of information that you have missed or misinterpreted.

Because you will have to translate the information into your own words you will begin to ‘own’ the information mentally. Teaching requires you to think of related analogies and experiences. This connects the information to your internal data base and ‘hooks’ it into your deeper long term memory.

If you are excited or just interested in the topic, you will engage your emotional creative energy and will quickly gain a natural high just by sharing the information.

The more times you teach the material the more deeply you will come to know and understand the subtle aspects of the subject. The information will take on a richness and context that would never have occurred to you other wise.

RY

P.S. We, who coach, continually learn through the countless books we read and study, the classes, seminars, conferences we attend, the communication and mentoring we have with our peers, but some of the richest learning we get is in the “teaching” we do with our clients and their teams.

A Must Have Lead Generation Strategy

 

” I need more leads” is a common refrain heard these days. With strapped cashflows business owners correctly understand that cutting expenses can go only so far in generating needed cash. I’m not discounting the importance of closely monitoring your expense but an over dependence on reducing costs could materially hurt your company. I see companies reducing key employees, curtailing marketing, forestalling differentiating programs all to save money. In the long term, perhaps even in the short, these efforts can have dramatic and unintended adverse impacts on your business.

We need to focus your attention on the revenue production side of our business. Efforts to increase revenues and profits fall into 5 areas of focus: 1) lead generation, 2) conversion rate, 3) average dollar sale, 4) number of times clients buy from you, and 5) profit margin. For the next couple issues I’ll be focusing on what you can do to generate more leads.

Lead Generation – Referrals
Bob Burg in his book “Endless Referrals” points out that referred prospects are twice as easy to close and buy more in the first two years than clients who weren’t referred. There are two significant reasons why referred prospects are easier to close:

1. It’s easier to get an appointment – the referrer imparts their trust on you
2. Price is less of a factor – you are differentiated by the referral 

So, certainly every business owner and sales manager must be asking clients for referrals…right? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Most businesses don’t actively ask their clients for referrals. The reasons vary, but two of the more common are:

1. They don’t know how to ask for referrals
2. They are embarrassed to ask clients for referrals

People don’t know how to ask for referrals
Early in the sales process make it known that your goal in servicing their relationship is to provide exceptional quality, and that you will be asking them for people they know who would benefit from the same service quality. This simple statement lays out your service quality goal while at the same time letting them know that in the future you will be asking for referrals. 

When the time comes that you want to ask for referrals, tell your client “I’m never too busy to help any of your friends, colleagues or family members. Who do you know that would benefit from the service I provide?”

People are embarrassed to ask clients for referrals
Start by realizing that your clients are interested in helping their friends, colleagues and family members. When you provide exceptional service quality that is valued by your clients, their interest in helping others will compel them to promote you to their interested audience. View asking for referrals as offering to help others with your quality service and not pushing product. Change how you think about asking for referrals…you are looking to help as many people as you can by providing a valuable service rather than pushing products. 

Assistance with your referral program
If a formal referral program is not part of your sales process you are missing an wonderful opportunity to increase your customer base. Contact ActionCOACHAtlanta.com to learn more about the advantages of a quality referral program, how to build a lead generating referral program, or how to raise the bar on your referral program.

Success and Victim Thinking

Very successful people seem to have common beliefs. Successful people and highly evolved people use their thoughts to create the lives they want. They tend to live with a sense of total responsibility for what happens to them. Even when they do not like what they see, successful people realize they can choose to create what is in their lives, and they choose how they react to circumstances. People who are winners and happiest in life tend to believe they have creative abilities to change their lives. Winners refuse to live as victims!

Victims believe they have no power or control over their circumstances. If you feel you are powerless, you proclaim to life, “I am a victim.” When you are coming from the powerless victim mode, you attract all the circumstances that reflect being a victim, such as struggle, sickness, poverty, emotional strain, and people who treat you badly.

 Both being a winner and being a victim are beliefs. Since you can choose what you believe, why not choose to focus on beliefs that create value instead of suffering?

 Always be conscious of your self-talk, the internal dialogue, that ceaselessly marches through your head. Focus your self-talk in a direction that creates value for your life. Because the victim role is easy to get into, you may not always be aware when you are projecting victimhood into your life by your self-talk. For instance, victims usually are worriers. Victims usually believe if they do not worry, something will not turn out right. In actuality, when you worry you attract what you fear! (Remember, your thoughts create through Cause and Effect.) By constantly associating something with negative feelings or thoughts, you create a breeding ground for the situation to happen, most probably the very situation you don’t want!

Focus your thinking on what you want and watch what happens!

The Power of Knowledge

There are few of us who would attempt driving a car without some sort of training before getting behind the wheel for the first time.  Yet most entrepreneurs start a business without thinking about how they’ll navigate the roads of successful entrepreneurship, either.  If you aren’t sure about where and how your business is going before you make a decision, then your small business has no plan for growth.

Many entrepreneurs find themselves owning their own business out of rationally made decisions: they needed immediate cash, were laid off, found a location that motivated them to do something special or renew a business that otherwise would have gone out of business, and so forth.  Others start knowing they have it the skill in a specific field they are working in, but can’t take care of the sales or administrative tasks that also need getting done to survive.  For those in this situation the next step is to determine your daily tasks and getting the education in all aspects of the business.