What Does Tangled Fairy Lights Have to do With Business?
How do tangled fairy lights relate to 10 key areas to pay attention to in business? It is that time of year, when people are getting the christmas tree and putting the holiday decorations up. What does tangled fairy lights have to do with business?
First of all I hear some people saying, “What are fairy lights?” In England, this is the name for the lights that we use to decorate the trees and garlands during the holiday season. When the fairy lights get taken off the tree after the holidays, I’m guessing that they were put away in some kind of organized fashion. Maybe back in the packaging that they were bought in, a zip lock bag, a box, or neatly and tidily coiled up and put away all nice and tidy for the next year. They weren’t put away in a tangled mess. How then, in the course of the year, when nothing has been touched or looked at in that time, did they get in this kind of tangled mess? The lights are all caught up and the wires are all raveled in knots. How did this happen when nobody touched them?
Well, the same questions get asked in business when an incident or problem comes to light. “How did this happen?” “How did we get in this mess?” Sometimes when we don’t look at our business, when key factors are ignored, we end up in a tangle without actually realizing it, and the problem only shows up when something happens. It creeps up on us when we weren’t looking. We may not actually have done anything to create the tangle, or so we thought. What a business coach or executive coach does is look at unraveling the tangles that have occurred over time from daily actions, tasks and processes. We look to see which parts need to be unraveled, changed, redone, just like untangling fairy lights. Then we look to be proactive and see how to prevent the tangles in the first place.
Sometimes when we try to untangle something, we find that there are also external forces hanging on to the other end, pulling them down to an easy reach. Watch the video and you will see my cat Leo doing precisely that. The thing is, when we don’t look at what we are doing in our business and are not keeping track of the key success factors and indicators that can give us some kind of indication or warning, we can end up in a tangle. Some of these tangles are more weighted than others and have more consequences. Just like the sequencing on the electrical wiring, when one bulb goes out, it has a knock on effect on that whole sequence, and the other bulbs go out accordingly. We can also become an easy target and have opportunists taking advantage and grabbing at the loose ends or areas where our business might be seen as vulnerable, or within easy reach of our competition, which ultimately creates more problems for us. In the SWOT analysis, we call this external threats.
Look to see what parts of the business needs attention that may have been neglected for a while. Is it the finances? Is the marketing in the right direction? What are the results that are being achieved from the campaigns or strategies that the business is working towards? Is it that there are employees and there are no processes and systems in place and a lack of communication between individuals? When a business is growing fast, more things tend to get untouched or ignored. Each of these areas will create a problem, and if we are not careful our competitors could come up from behind and pull at those loose and exposed strings of the business which in turn could be a loss of clients, customers or product sales.
10 Key Areas to Monitor & Track in Business
- A most important area to keep track of is your financials. Particularly important is the operational costs and gross revenue. Are you spending more than you are earning?
- How much does a product really cost to develop or put together? I have seen many times that not all of the hidden costs are accounted for, which could, over time create a significant loss if not monitored. Take for example a restaurant that miscalculates the cost of laundry for linens. This is a costly oversight over time if not accounted for. The miscalculation might only be $1 per table that is reflected, now multiply that by 20 tables, with 2 seatings per night, 6 nights per week for 52 weeks. The grand total at the end of the year is a whopping $12,480!!!!
- Have budgets been set? It is amazing to see where money goes and how easy it is to slip through our fingers if it is not monitored appropriately. Set budgets (ask if you don’t know where to begin, I have lessons for that).
- Track marketing campaigns. Figure out a way to know where your business is coming from.
- Keep track of the sales cycles, average price points and popular items.
- Know what doesn’t sell. Where is energy being wasted?
- Have a strategic plan of action and follow it. A business plan is so important as a road map to success. Use the business plan as a living working plan of action and change it accordingly on a regular basis as the business develops.
- Have policies and boundaries about how things should be done and a chain of command for who to report to.
- Make sure that you know how your clients and customers feel. Do they love the product? What else would they like?
- Make sure you take advice from experts in their field before you spend money or attempt something that has a risk to it, particularly where the law or where money and people are at risk.
There will also be many other areas to pay attention to, these are just a few. The more that is learned, the more is understood and that leads to opportunities and better decision making. Focus on the information and seek appropriate advise because it could save you pain and financial hardship if ignored.
What Slows You Down & Drives Your Business
How often do you drive on the freeway and find the driver in front of you is poodling along on the outside lane? There is a stream of traffic behind them and they are totally oblivious to it, this is soooo frustrating! They are probably caught up in who knows what, day dreaming away without any consideration for what is going on around them. It slows down your progress and triggers a frustration that could potentially cause a foolish or rash decision on your part to try to pass them somehow.
This could also be happening in our business!!!!
Our business is like a car engine that needs fine tuning and maintenance as well as an observant, focused, responsive driver. There are many things that could be slowing the business down and holding it back or could be helping accelerate the business momentum.
What is slowing it down or driving the business momentum? Let’s look at 5 easy areas where we can shift gears to speed up and fine tune the business.
5 Ways to Speed Up Business Momentum
- Do you need to learn a program, software or skill that would speed up your progress and make life so much easier? Take something as simple as your email or calendar. How many versions or places are you doing double or even triple entries? You can speed up your business just by this one simple activity. By entering something once and populating all the devices, this also minimizes errors. Find out what you need to learn or update to speed things up.
- Are you doing everything yourself? Get out of your own way, control freak!!! Yes sometimes we think it is much quicker if we just got on and did it ourselves, but we reach a level a capacity that prevent futher growth. Over time and with too many tasks, this will stop us from doing what we really ought to be doing. We should be doing what we do best that leads to building and progressing our business. Define what your strengths are and teach others how to do the rest. Delegate effectively to other people’s strengths so that the business has the ability to grow.
- Are we not giving our staff the boundaries, tools and resources that they need to be able to do their best work? Even something as simple as a slow printer can hold up the work significantly. Give staff and subcontractors the tools, boundaries, policies and procedures to work with that allows for easier, smoother management. Create a line of communication and delegate accordingly. Find out what they need to do a better job.
- Don’t have the financial resources? I get it, when you are bootstrapping your business, money only goes so far. However, work out budgets and use an organizational chart to determine what things in order of priority will be outsourced or roles be hired for. This way you know what the goal is and how long you can predict it will take to achieve this. Know how much business needs to be created to be able to financially support these roles and make that a priority.
- Poor work ethics and attitude from employees. If you have given your staff every opportunity to succeed, trained them numerous times, given them every tool possible and they are still a liability to your business, it’s time to let them go. Poor quality of work or poor attitude has a huge impact, not only on your business development, but also with other staff members, your clients and customers. Fine tune the engine for more speed and efficiency.
Increasing Your Stride In Business
What can you do in your business to increase your stride, gain better results and increase momentum?
How often do you go running or walking? I can walk really fast for endless length of time, but running is an effort, or so I thought. My kids would laugh when I ran, and my husband swears I walk faster than when I run!
Apparently, when I run I take really small steps and when I walk I take longer strides. Interestingly when I take the longer strides in walking, it is easier and much less strenuous, allowing me to go a longer distance at a sustained pace.
For me with running, by refining the length of my stride and slowing down the number of paces, I found I was actually moving faster over a longer distance and putting less energy into that movement, which also meant I could run for a longer time without getting exhausted.
In business, there are many occasions when the effort we put in to doing a task is actually more than is required, and if we looked at changing the way we did it, we would get much better results.
6 Steps [pardon the pun!] to Increasing Your Stride in Business
- Plan the order of work by the highest priorities that are in line with your goals. It is so easy to get off track by getting caught up in other people’s agendas if we don’t proactively plan our workday and work our plan towards reaching a desired goals.
- Know what is most important. It makes decision-making much easier when we cut out the things we don’t need to focus on. We stop filling our day with busy work that serves no purpose.
- Know your numbers. When you track your numbers such as your average client value you can focus on the activities it takes to find the clients that bring a higher return and so increase your average client value. It is much better to have 10 clients each earning you $10,000 than have 100 clients each earning you $1000. This means you have less clients bringing in more money to your business and allows you to spend more time servicing those clients more effectively. Of course this depends on your focus, we do tend to leave money on the table though with our existing clients that if we took the time and planned appropriately, we could do far better service and tend to more of their needs.
- Have good systems in place that make your business run smoothly. Have a follow up system for your prospects, clients, customer service and marketing funnel. We tend to work better when we have good habits in place and we can make our business systems become part of our good habits regime.
- Take breaks and vacations. Yes for those who think working long hours is good for your business there are many statistics to show otherwise and that it causes ill health in the long term. If you work long hours your brain actually gets slower and slower and less effective. Even a short 15 minute break will increase your ability to work more effectively.
- Collaborate with others. We can find strengths and better quality business referrals when we collaborate with strategic partners and create a hub of colleagues. When we work entirely on our own it is difficult sometimes to do all the tasks that need to be done, and having others to run ideas by or share ideas can be very helpful in gaining another perspective.