As entrepreneurs, we’re frequently required to navigate the challenges that come with a dynamic and often unpredictable business world.
We create forecasts and budgets for the upcoming year, strategies and goals, and metrics to measure it all.
But as the year marches along, we need to stay on top of this roller coaster of highs and lows.
We can better prepare for this journey by implementing a few strategies that allow for adaptability and resilience over a rolling twelve months.
So what are some key considerations for leaders when planning on a rolling twelve months?
One of the most important aspects of planning is to hold regular reviews. Because if it's a plan that you never review, it will very quickly become out of date.
Doing a quarterly review means that we get to adapt our annual plan for the next 12 months, and so that's how we end up with that rolling 12 months. An annual plan, of course, is an important idea, and I still do the annual plan at...
If you’re a solopreneur who has been juggling all the tasks in your business, you may be feeling the pressure of getting it all done. But not JUST done. Done and with quality.
You may have considered hiring some support but are unsure what you could be delegating. Or even whether you should.
So what can solopreneurs or small business entrepreneurs do to determine what and whether they should delegate?
The very first thing to look at is what can you afford? Have a good look at your budget, look at your revenue, look at your expenses, and have a good look at those expenses. Review your subscriptions. Have you been spending money on subscriptions that you haven't used in months? And, I know, I frequently hear: “Oh yeah, but I might use it.” Well, how about we deal with it when it comes?
Because if you haven't used it for months and months, chances are you don't need it unless it’s an annual subscription paid per month, but that's a whole...
If you’re anything like me, these past few years have created habits of overwork.
Both growing a small business and being a leader have become so all-encompassing that I’ve been dropping the ball on an essential part: continuous growth.
I used to be really consistent with reading leadership books, business books. I used to attend webinars, take courses, regularly meet with people and then, somehow, operational aspects of the businesses took over.
Realizing this, I ensured to still make time for strategy by forcing recurring meetings which would, in turn, push me back out to planning strategically. But that did not address the growth part. Unless you count overcoming challenges but that is more unintentional growth. And I’m talking about controlled, intentional growth.
So what can we do to get back on the learning track when operational requirements have taken over?
One thing that you can do is join a book club. Now, to be fair, when I told my...
Recently, I met an absolutely wonderful solopreneur. We were talking about various challenges, about messaging in marketing, about pitching potential clients, and, as part of this back-and-forth conversation, I shared something about a difficult moment I experienced as a leader. This person’s demeanor changed instantly. “I don’t have a team. It’s just me. I’m still learning. Trying to get better at business.”
If it had been said with confidence it would be one thing. But it was said as an apology. As though, because this person was a solopreneur, that they wouldn’t have anything of value to contribute to our conversation.
So, to the solopreneurs who are finding themselves feeling like they're somehow less than others because they don't have a team, here’s some perspective on putting those thoughts aside and embracing the power of being a solopreneur.
Or at least it should be.
Denis Waitley said:...
To truly unlock a business's full potential requires addressing two complementary aspects in parallel.
The first one is the business side: understanding the strategy, financials, planning, operations, product services, marketing, etc. Basically, all that comes together to make a business functional.
The second one is the people side: the individuals that make the systems work together and fulfill the organization's purpose.
Because many entrepreneurs frequently start out by themselves, they typically will focus more on the functional side of things to build enough of a profitable business to, let's say, start paying themselves.
But what happens is, as the business starts to grow, they still heavily favor the functional side to the detriment of the people side.
So what can micro-business owners do to ensure that they are growing the people at the same time as the business?
The first thing is to understand how leaders make the difference....
Typically an organization's mission and core values are shared with new team members as part of some form of onboarding activity.
Then, they may be repeated at a yearly meeting of sorts. And maybe at that yearly meeting of sorts there's also going to be goal sharing and various ways that progress will be measured.
And for most organizations, that's pretty much the extent of the team member's exposure to ongoing strategy, the mission, and the values.
Basically, “Here's how we're going to measure and here's where we're going.” And that's pretty much it. It's sporadic and it's vague.
So what can a leader do to help create more opportunities for team members to connect with that broader picture?
The very first thing to verify is whether the elements are clear. Do individual team members understand what is the organization's vision, its mission, and its goals?
It's one thing to share these with the team. It’s another to know that they...
When evaluating how our business is doing, we tend to gravitate toward stats. Numbers are that objective measure of growth or signal that there are significant issues that need to be addressed.
I know, for me, digging into numbers is that comfortable place. I just love it when I analyze the impact of implemented strategies. Okay… I don't always love it when the results aren't what I was hoping for, but it's certainly that fairly objective measure where I can really see whether the strategies are working or not.
But, as much as stats are essential – and a good SWOT – one aspect that is frequently neglected is measuring whether we’re remaining creative.
Creativity is key in helping entrepreneurs stand out from the crowd and gain a competitive edge.
So, in which ways do we employ creativity to ensure we’re driving innovation and growth?
One way is in recognizing opportunity. In another article, I talked about how to separate that...
Phil Knight, the creator of Nike, once said: “History is one long processional of crazy ideas. The things I loved most – books, sports, democracy, free enterprise – started as crazy ideas.”
Let's face it. Entrepreneurs are usually known for having a ton of ideas. They're idea-making machines. And it might be tempting, as a small business owner who's looking to grow, to try all these ideas. That infamous shiny object syndrome. “This is exciting, let's try this.” “That is exciting. Let's try that.”
But what quick framework could you use to begin evaluating whether you should explore pursuing your latest “crazy idea”?
The very first thing to consider: is their market for it? Are there people with access to money who will be willing to part with their hard-earned cash for what you're offering? Because if you're targeting a group that can't afford what you're offering, that's problematic.
Of course, if...
Recently, I talked about the importance of considering cash, not just the profit and loss statement, when running an organization. As a result, I was asked by a business owner: “What financial reports should I be looking at?”
Again, I am not an accountant. But I work closely with a trusted team of seasoned accounting professionals. And I highly, highly recommend that any business owner takes the time to work with a trusted accounting professional.
They are not all created equally, so take your time and find someone that you get along with, and answers your questions in a way that makes you feel as though they will be an awesome partner in helping you grow and sustain your business.
Even though, as business owners, we're not accounting professionals, and we're not expected to have the depth of knowledge that accounting professionals have, it's still essential for leaders to understand the basics of accounting – the basics of financials – to be able to make...
It's great when we get lots of time to dig into a problem before having to choose a solution to implement.
I love it when that happens!
Except that, in my experience, it rarely ever happens. In fact, in my experience, leaders usually have to make decisions essentially while still processing incoming information.
More than once, I have found myself having to stop and refocus because my mind was wandering off in “analysis land” in the middle of a meeting.
So, what process could we follow if we wanted to do a rapid risk forecast?
The first thing we could do is ask ourselves for simple questions:
Write it all out.
If you have something that is likely to happen and the consequences are low, consider whether it is something that is extremely risky that you need to address...