How to Become a Better Manager

TeamworkOne of the “pearls of wisdom” that has stuck with me throughout my career is this:

“Thinking, talking, planning count for nothing – doing counts for everything”

Ultimately, in business, the company that is best at executing and delivering products and services obtains a huge advantage over the competition. Effective marketing and selling can attract customers, but your employees must deliver on what your company promises to retain customers.

Proper management of your workforce ensures that your employees are executing the mission of your company and following your systems and procedures. You can plan and design systems to infinity, yet if your employees do not implement them properly the result will be failure.

Here are some factors that contribute to shaping up your business for maximum success through execution.

Management Techniques

Most business owners and CEO’s have difficulty accomplishing everything that must be done in any given day. Two factors perpetuate and compound this problem.

  • Trying to do everything yourself
  • Trying to do many jobs at once

Both of these problems can be addressed and the personal execution of the work you really need to do greatly can be enhanced.

Trying to Do Everything Yourself

This first problem––trying to do everything yourself–– can be solved with relative ease. Just don’t do it. Get help. When you try to do everything on your own, you become a bottle neck to productivity and growth for your business. The only way for your company to grow is to expand your staff and outsource some elements of your business process.  From your point of view that means delegating tasks which do not require your personal attention. Your time is worth money and when you examine your tasks, you may find that others are not only better suited than you to accomplish a task, but that less expensive people can be utilized resulting in lower costs for your company.

When you want to get something done, evaluate the task on whether or not it can be delegated. If it requires your specific knowledge, determine if you can divide the task into smaller segments which can be delegated while maintaining control of the main project. Perhaps you can train someone, or have them report to you for critical decisions.  Examine all of your responsibilities with the goal of reducing your workload and ultimately the costs for your company.

Trying to Do Many Jobs at Once

Once you’ve solved the first problem, the second one––trying to do everything at once––is somewhat ameliorated. Delegating unnecessary tasks should have freed up your time for more productive leadership tasks which are critical to the growth of your company. Now, when addressing the remaining tasks, do not try to multi-task. The brain isn’t organized to productively manage tasks in this way and none of your tasks will be done really well or in the most efficient manner. Multi-tasking is the equivalent to taking longer to do many jobs poorly.

To minimize multi-tasking and increase your efficiency, focus on one thing at a time. Block time out to do one job and arrange to avoid interruptions. You cannot be answering phone calls, emails and have people knocking on your door and efficiently do anything else.

My preferred time-management technique is a simplified version of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” This technique involves managing your daily activities and tasks so that you accomplish as much as possible. David Allen’s approach emphasizes staying abreast of a heavy workload in a “relaxed manner.” For more information on his methods, you will find he has free articles and information on his website:


When you are able to focus on an activity without interruption you can accomplish far more than you can with constant interruptions. This concept works not only for you, but for your business. You should evaluate your business environment in terms of enabling your staff to focus. Do your work areas maximize concentration and minimize interruptions?  If you have a 9-5 environment, can your employees start working at 9:00 and work in a concentrated fashion until 5:00 PM? Upon careful examination you may find that your business environment encourages interruptions and reduces productivity in your staff. Your employees may only have a few hours each day that they can actually focus on their work.

To design a more efficient work environment, you need to consider several factors. If you have office workers, do they have a very clear defined desk space where they are able to focus on getting work done? Are there lots of miscellaneous papers and files lying around? These items contribute to drawing attention away from the task at hand. They distract attention from the work.  Ideally an absolutely clean desk with nothing on it other than a computer and any files necessary to accomplish a task is best. Everyone has their unique style for work, which should be accommodated whenever possible. By providing the appropriate tools and an uncluttered environment where your staff can focus will result in more work being done.

Share this Post[?]
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Growth through Customer Care

Senior woman meeting with agentYour role as a business owner is to solve your customers’ problems.  Your ability to determine what your clients want and provide them with solutions is a large part of your success.  Part of getting you into your best business shape is increasing your effectiveness in coming up with good ideas on how to solve your client’s problems in a unique way.

To deliver, you should know your market and what your company can do. As the business owner and CEO, you are the solution.  Your client’s problems are just lying around waiting to be seen so you need to be receptive to those problems and creative about the solutions that you will offer.

For both you and your customer, things are changing faster than ever before. Technology has become more sophisticated, competition more keen, and consumers––the people who buy your products and services––have become more educated and aware.   You are in the unique situation to stay current on the latest technologies for your industry and use them in ways that show your customers that you can apply the latest technologies to solve their problems.

In addition, because your client’s choices are ever expanding, regardless of the industry you are in, it is very difficult to be either unique or less expensive.  What is important is the service your client receives from everyone in your business.  From the receptionist at the front desk to the accounting clerk in the office, everyone who talks to a client must provide them exceptional service and professionalism.    You can be the very best at attracting clients and even selling to them, but what will ultimately make the difference between success and failure is your service.

If you’re really going to be effective and successful in the marketplace today, it is necessary, even vital, that you continually change, improve, adjust and update your selling, service, and problem-solving skills, as well as your methods of marketing and general business operation. Keep in mind that:

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

One of the best and most effective ways you can show your prospects and customers you care is by helping them solve their problems in a satisfactory, cost-effective, and professional manner.

Getting New Ideas

Since having ideas and recognizing opportunities are so crucial to your business, you need to do everything possible to heighten your awareness in these areas.  You also need to be able to use your knowledge of your customers and their needs, your industry and the new advances in your industry to come up with ideas for products and services for your business.

However, being exposed to a new idea is one thing, but what you do with it once you have it is just as important as getting it in the first place.

Studies on retention show that you remember:

    • 10% of what you read,
    • 22% of what you hear,
    • 37% of what you see,
    • 56% of what you see and hear, and up to
    • 86% of what you see, hear and do.

So an idea that is heard but not acted on is only half as likely to be retained as an idea that is actually put into practice and that means it’s going to take some effort on your part.

In their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap, authors, Jeffrey Pheffer and Robert L. Sutton mention that every year there are 1,700 new business books published, $60 billion spent on training, $43 billion spent on consultants, and our universities turn out 80,000 graduates with MBA’s. Yet, most businesses continue to operate day in and day out in much the same ways as they have always done.

Again, and this theme will keep coming up because it is so important, knowledge without action is no better than no knowledge at all. Just knowing isn’t enough. You’ve got to do something with what you to know.

The ideas presented here work. They’re not theories. They’re not speculations on what “should” work. And they’re not philosophical musings. These ideas, concepts and techniques are currently in use by business owners across the country in one form or another. They’re being proven in actual field use day in and day out.

They work for others, and they can work for you.  You are going to have to take the time to study them, understand them, and make the necessary modifications to tailor them to your own personal and business style and operation. And then finally, you’re going to have to apply them in your business.

Share this Post[?]
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

Five Steps of Learning and Retention

5879640_XLThese five steps will help you to get, use, and keep good ideas.  Learning is the acquisition of new information or knowledge, and retention is the ability to capture that information and recall it when wanted or needed. This can be broken down into five steps.

  1. Impact
  2. Repetition
  3. Utilisation
  4. Internalisation
  5. Reinforcement


First on the list is Impact or the receiving of the idea into your mind. Impact can be in the form of a word, a visual observation or a concept. It may involve new information, or it may be a new juxtaposition of old information. This mental processing results in a new concept of the world, however small that concept may be. Thousands and thousands of bits of information, loose ideas, and more fully formed concepts continually wash through the mind. Separating out the useful is the first step; it is all too easily swept away in the torrent of everyday thought. Retention is now the more important facility.


To achieve that, the second step is Repetition. One university study revealed that an idea that was read or heard only one time was 66% forgotten within 24 hours. But if that same idea was read or heard repeatedly for eight days, up to 90% of it could be retained at the end.

So once you’ve read this article all the way through, go back and read it again. But this time read with a highlighter, a pencil and notepad handy. Mark up everything that needs to be highlighted. Write down the ideas you feel that fit your personal business situation. This repetition will help you retain more of the information than if you had read it only once.


The third step in the learning and retention process is Utilization. This is the “doing” step. It is here that neuromuscular pathways are actually developed, creating a “mind muscle memory.” And according to the study quoted earlier, once you physically experience an action, it becomes twice as easy to recall it than if you had heard it only.


The fourth step is referred to as the internalization. That is to actually make the idea a part of you. That may involve some customizing or tailoring of the idea to fit your situation or style, but it is vitally important for you to personalize the idea and make it “yours.”


The fifth step is Reinforcement. In order to maximize the effectiveness of an idea, you should continually be looking for ways to support and strengthen it. The more you can support the idea, the more you will believe it, the longer you will retain it, and the more effective it will become in helping you serve your customers’ needs.

Now, what does all this have to do with your business? In your daily business and personal activities, as well as throughout your experience, you are going to be exposed to a great number of ideas. Some will be brand new, that is, you’ve never heard them before. Some will be ideas you have heard in the past, but have forgotten. And others will be ideas you come up with on your own as a result of something that was triggered in your mind as you read. Understanding and applying these five steps in the learning and retention process can help you retain more of what you read and experience.

Share this Post[?]
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Five Phases of Business Growth

When you first enter into business, you are in the first phase: start up mode. Once through that, you move into the second, a growth phase, and then maybe into a rapid growth phase, and then a more mature phase.

typical phases in the evolution of a businessFor the owner or the CEO, each of these phases has its own requirements, and the skills needed for the startup phase may not easily translate to other phases.

There are always exceptions, but as a general rule, a business fails because the CEO or the owner cannot carry the business between these phases. In moving from one phase to another, it is often the owner who cannot transition between phases and as a result becomes a detriment to the business and can even jeopardize the success of the business.

To meet these challenges and change yourself from a potential problem to a strong vital leader you need to know how to recognize these phase transitions. The technical term for these transitions is infection points or junctures where the needs of your business drive it in a new direction. Let me give you an example, in the startup phase you are generally worried about revenue, cash flow and how to pay the bills. The skills required are those that keep expenses low and ensure that bills get paid.

In the next phases, you have enough revenue to cover your fixed expenses, and you are not worried about where the money is coming from on a month-to-month basis. Now, however, you need more staff. The skills you need are now more on human asset management. You hire staff, and then you begin to have staffing problems. Once you’ve acquired the skills to handle that, you can then start to build the business momentum and take on more work. However, with more clients, you begin to run into customer support problems. Once you solve these, your business really takes off, which means more staff, and managers to manage the staff. You can see that as you move from phase to phase, your skills as a CEO are continually evolving. What you do has changed completely, and maybe you are not so good now at what you do.

In addition, when you start your business, you are probably doing most of the work. In the next phase you are doing some of the work, but are beginning to hire other people to assume some of the workload. In the next stage, you have stepped away from the grunt work, but now you need to be a motivator to make sure that everybody stays on the same track. You must be the one with the vision and inspire others to support your vision

The range of skills necessary to transition a business through the various stages is daunting at the very least. How often have you heard, that an owner is a detail kind of person, or a people person, or a creative type. As a business owner, you learn the strengths and skills of your staff and you employ them as effectively as possible to maximize their efficiency. You don’t expect an employee who is a stickler for details to suddenly be able to ignore them. Yet, this is exactly what is expected of a business owner or CEO. The odds of a business owner being able to lead a business through all the phases is approximately thirty percent which means that about 70% of the time, according to the research studies, businesses will fail.

How often have you heard of companies that replace the CEO with a new person and suddenly the business sky-rockets? Within six to twelve months it is a completely different company. What happened is that the new CEO suits the new business phase in a way the old CEO could not, although he might have been excellent in the previous phases.

This can often be seen in the turn-around industry. The first thing that you generally do with an ailing company is replace the existing management team, the concept being that the team that got the business into trouble, is unlikely to be the same team that can get the business out.

Share this Post[?]
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

4 Ways to Grow Your Business

shutterstock_172642112One of the most important things for any business owner, manager, entrepreneur or professional to realise is that there are four principal ways to grow any. If you learn to apply these simple concepts believe me, your competition won’t stand a chance.

  1. Get More Customers

That’s it. Build your customer base by converting more prospects into paying clients. When more people buy from you, you take in more gross dollars, and as a result (depending on your margins and overhead), you make more bottom-line profits. As a spin-off benefit, the more people you add to your customer base the more people you have to mine for additional sales and an increased opportunity for more referrals.

Each business, industry, or profession has their own methods and timing to contact those who are most likely to be interested in their products and services. For example:

Telephone Soliciting - You probably have received your fair share of calls from these telemarketers. They tend to call at the most inconvenient times such as just when you are sitting down for dinner. This is a cold calling scheme made from a list. Companies can buy lists, or use their own customer list.

Television Advertising - Chiropractors, car dealers, truck driving schools, and lawyers often take a different approach. Many of them advertise heavily on television, especially during the afternoon hours to attract new customers. They’ve found that a large part of their intended audience… the people who are most inclined to use their services, watch television during those hours, and it’s a cost-effective way to reach them.

Doing What Everyone Else is Doing - Most likely, the method you use is the same method that nearly every other business uses. It’s called the, “That’s how things are done in our industry or profession,” method. Typically, when a person first chooses to go into business they look around and see what everyone else is doing. They imitate their competition in most every detail. Who says it’s right, or that it’s the best system for you to use?

  1. Get Your Customers to Make Larger Average Purchases

Get your customers to spend more money when they buy something from you. This just happens to be the quickest and easiest way to increase your profits. Simply increase the size of the order, and get more money from each of your customers every time they buy from you.

Up-Selling and Cross-Selling

Nearly every fast-food restaurant incorporates up-selling and “cross-selling” principles in their order system. When you place your order at a restaurant, the waiter would typically ask if you’d like an apple pie, or fries with your order. That’s a classic example of cross-selling, or selling an additional product in addition to, or beyond the initial purchase.

They might also suggest that you “super-size” or “giant-size” your order. This is an example of an up-sell… increasing the size of the initial order. In any case, if you take them up on their suggestion, what they’ve done is just increase their profits substantially. They made an additional sale, with no acquisition or marketing costs.

By being aware of what their customers might want, but may not ask for on their own, and then by asking questions or making suggestions, they bring in a substantial number of dollars.


Another technique fast food restaurants frequently use is called “bundling,” or “packaging.”

They combine a sandwich, a drink and fries, and throw in a couple of “bonus” items, like maybe a cookie and a toy. They put it all together in one package, and give it a name like “Happy Meal” in the case of McDonald’s. They’ll charge you less for that package than what each of those items purchased separately would have cost, but the total dollar amount you spend will be higher. Since there were no marketing costs involved, just product cost, it’s pure profit and goes straight to their bottom line.

Developing Customer Loyalty

As a reputable business, you have an obligation to your customers. If you have additional products or services that can enhance their purchase, then you should do everything reasonable and ethical to see that they at least have the option of taking advantage of those items. Again, it’s playing the numbers game. Only a percentage of your customers will take advantage of your offer. But at least you will have given them the opportunity, and you will have fulfilled your obligation to them.

When applying this concept to your business, be sure you train your employees properly. You need to be sure you don’t make the decision for your customers. Give them a choice, and let them decide. If you come across as sincere, and not pushy, they’ll realise that you are really trying to do them a favour. They will see you as helping them get more value, more use, and more benefit from their decision and their purchase.

  1. Get Your Customers to Buy From You More Often

Give them reasons to want to come back and to continue doing business with you. The longer your customers go between purchases from you, the more chance they have of buying from your competition. Use educational information, notices of changes in the law, or updates regarding the products or services they’ve purchased from you that can affect them. Tell them about new products, new lines, special incentives and other offers that might benefit them.

This idea works two-fold.

  • It “locks” your customers in, so they can’t afford to do business with anyone else.
  • It makes it so attractive to do business with you, that they wouldn’t even consider going anywhere else.

What you really want to do, is lead your customers to the inescapable and undeniable conclusion, that they would have to be completely out of their minds to even consider doing business with anyone else but you. This transcends your selection of products or services, the prices you charge, your location, or any relationship they may have with another business.

  1. Extend Your Customers’ “Average Buying Lifetime”

Customer Retention refers to a measure of the average amount of time you keep a customer. Have you ever even stopped to figure this out? This is an important step, and one that we’ll be discussing in more detail in later pages.

Next, what are you doing in your business right now to make sure your customers continue doing business with you? If you don’t have a strategic plan, a working system in place, you are going to lose a certain percent of your current customers to the competition. There’s no doubt about it.

The question you need to ask yourself is not, “What are you going to do about it?” The real questions are:

“What are you currently doing about it?”

“What are you doing about it right now?”

Let’s factor in word of mouth referral. What if 100 customers tell 5 others about their experience with you? That’s an additional 500 potential customers who won’t be doing business with you this year (or maybe ever again, for that matter). What if each of them had been spending an average of $200 per year with your company? That’s $100,000 you won’t be receiving from them, PLUS the $20,000 you lost on your existing customers who left. That brings the total in lost income to $120,000 in just one year!

All customers are important. In fact, they’re critical. A business couldn’t remain in business unless it has someone to buy its products and services. Those “someone’s” are real people like you and me. If you sell your products to the business community, remember, businesses don’t buy from businesses. People in business buy from other people in business. Your market is always people, not businesses.

Share this Post[?]
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off