3 Time Management Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs

Businesswoman many hands business idea time management

The average entrepreneur is working 7.7 more hours per week than they would like to. In fact, 85% of business owners are working over 40 hours a week according to a recent survey by The Alternative Board.

Even though business owners are great at making the most of limited resources, they still want more. If they were able to free up time in their schedules, business owners would see this freed up time to dedicate to marketing, strategic planning and creating new business opportunities for their companies.

What can business do to reallocate their time?

Here are three time management tips that can help:

 

 

Delegate!
The survey found that 76% of business owners rate their time management skills as above average. And the same amount of people stated they would like to reduce the number of tasks that they don’t feel that they need to be doing. It is understandable, most entrepreneurs like being in control. It’s probably one of the reasons they decided to go into business for themselves in the first place. So while taking ownership is a valuable trait, it can also lead to a pitfall.

According to Jo Clarkson, TAB UK Operations Director, the biggest mistake start-up owners make is refusing to let go of control. A great way around this setback would be to plan your end game and visualize the journey ahead. Let’s say you are clear that the business should provide enough wealth for your family to achieve financial independence in 5 years and have the freedom to take a two-week vacation every summer; then you have better get over that hurdle and delegate!

 

Plan and then Prioritize
Forty percent of business owners recognize they don’t have a proper annual operating plan – or no plan at all – which negatively impacts productivity. Not knowing what is urgent and what is not leads to treating everything as an emergency. Jesse Viola, President of APM Shipping and TAB Member, noticed he was spending much of his time on the phone every morning putting out fires. When he brought this to the board’s attention, his fellow business owners suggested he hold off all his calls until 11 am each day. It has helped him focus on bigger picture items that need to be done first. The fires can be addressed next with more motivation and better attention to the cash flow priority.

 

Rethink Your Inbox Strategy
The top item business owners are losing time on is their inbox. According to the survey, business owners spend almost 31% of their time on email (more than calls, 14%). The second item on the list was interaction with employees – almost 25% – and 21% interacting with customers.

Cheri Giglia, Managing Director of Supporting Strategies North Shore Lo, suggests setting up a to-be-processed folder in your mailbox. As you review your inbox, move any item that needs further action into that folder. You won’t waste time reading emails multiple times and can access them later avoiding clutter or searching through your inbox.
HP Founders are known for their time management skills. The key to their approach was to touch a piece of paper only once. The approach also applies to email. Allocate a time of your day to read email, and when possible, respond. If the item requires further action, move to the to-be-processed folder.

 

What would you do with more time in your day?

Surveyed business owners said they would spend time on marketing (32%) strategic planning (24%) product/ service development (15%) and partnerships (11%) all of which can push their business forward and boost profitability. Improving time management does not only free time to dedicate to planning and strategy, but it also leaves more time for family, friends and personal pursuits.

If you feel your time management skills have room for improvement, learn how working with a group of fellow business owners can help. Get in touch with a local board for proven time management skills that can propel your business forward.

 

3 Steps to go from Doer to Executive

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When I meet with local business owners in the St Petersburg area where I do business, I hear this quite often. CEOs and founders of companies often struggle to figure out how to create the right structure for their business as they grow. When you first started the venture, it was very easy. It was, for the most part, a one-man show. As it has grown, it is harder to maintain that personal touch, that individualized attention that helped develop it into a larger enterprise. So the issue becomes: How do I keep that personal care and touch and create a company culture to continue the success as the structure grows.

I recently read an article in The Globe which is part of their leadership lab series which offered, what I believe is great advice on the way to accomplish this balance. They interviewed some founders of fast-growing tech start-ups in Ontario, CA’s growing business community. They came up with the following three key traits.

1) Recruit smart people that you trust to do what you used to do – It sounds pretty simple yet so many times, owners do not follow this important advice. Chances are you know what it takes to do your job successfully. Make sure that you outline the key success factors in a job description that you when you begin your search for the ideal person.

2) Empower your people – Organizations and their leaders many times make the mistake of pushing decisions from top to bottom. If you fill the company with smart people and empower them, all you will have to do is provide them a direction of where you are trying to go and let them fill in the blanks.

3) Your role as a founder is to set the vision – Now that you have the right people and have empowered them, you now have a new role. One where you lay the strategy for the organization. Once you have identified them, it will be your job to communicate them to the team. They now have a compass and a direction to direct themselves.

Sounds easy enough, right? We all know it is not. Staying out of the weeds and transitioning to this new role is much tougher in an entrepreneurial setting when compared to a corporate environment. My colleague Don Maranca, President of JDSM Enterprises, has written an interesting article that outlines the process of Creating a high-performing culture. I encourage you to read it. I think you will find it valuable in developing your culture.

 

 

5 Ways Generation Z thinks and buys differently

Generation Z - Timeline

Wait, you mean Millenials don’t you?

Please, they are soo last year. Move over for the next generation, Gen Z.

Who are they and why should you care? It’s in the numbers. Today, a significant number of customers belong to Generation Z – those born between the 1990’s and early 2000s – account for aprox 25% of the population and contribute $44 billion to the American economy.

Here are 5 ways that differentiate them from their predecessors – Millenials and Gen X.

 

  1. Technology is a medium – There were significant changes in technology in the period between 1990 and 2010. Apple went from selling the Apple II to the iPhone. Microsoft went from DOS to Windows 8. This was the period of time in which Generation Z was growing up. They have grown up seeing technology change constantly. They are so used to change that products which don’t constantly change, are seen as obsolete. To them, it’s hard to believe that information on a product is not available online. Generation Z prefer to use technology as a medium to their buying behavior. It’s very unlikely you will find them meandering in the malls like Generation X or Y did. If you want to reach them, you better make sure that your product is available to them via an app or online platform. Otherwise, you run the risk of them not knowing your company or product exist.
  2. Convenience is key – Most Generation Z kids were born to Gen X parents. The latter never appealed to marketers because of size and numbers that represented by baby boomers, which all of them focused on. In addition, generation X were born at a time when divorce rates were rising. They were the ones who saw the single parent family become a trend. So not only were they ignored by marketers, their parents were not that involved. Which is where the term “latch kid” came from. It’s all about convenience to Gen Z. Unlike their X or y Gen, they don’t see convenience as a luxury. For them, if you can do it with all the hard work, then go for it. Their approach is “why do it yourself when you can have someone else do it”. In other words, to Z convenience is the flip-side of efficiency.
  3. They are more selective – Convenience to Gen Z does not mean that they will buy anything that appear to be good. They saw the recession at a very early stage of their life, and as such, they tend to be careful with their money. This sense of financial insecurity reflects on their buying patterns. If you look at their parents, they have also been influenced by similar events. So not only if frugality in their genes but also conditioning, and it is obvious in the ways they shop. It’s very safe to say that they are the most discerning consumer in the market today. According to research, they will not be willing to pay more for something just because of an extra feature. They will consider it if the feature adds value to the product and if it is worth the additional cost. They don’t tend to be impulse buyers. Gen Z values convenience and gadgets and at the same time they value money. When it comes to a purchase, they will make sure that every penny they spend buys them real value.
  4. They love escapism – As with their Gen X predecessors, this generation values things that distract them from the mundane surroundings of the everyday life. This generation shows a keen willingness to transcend the natural limitations of time and space to experiment with the surreal. This has been clearly identified in the spending behavior. They will most likely not buy the second best sci-fi novel or movie and you can certainly count on them paying top dollar for the best one.
  5. They are more informed – This need comes from their discrimination and takes a slightly different dimension. The source of that information is going to be key. They trust the words of others in their generation, and this is the reason why they are the most obsessed-reviews generation in the US. If you visit any website or social network, you’ll notice that the majority of reviewers will fall in that age range. It’s a generation loves to research before buying. They will Google the item, possible alternatives, read reviews before deciding to buy the item.

 

 

4 Mistakes to avoid in Online Marketing

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In recent years, online marketing has become a very cost-effective method for attracting potential customers. But as any online marketing proponent will tell you, to be effective, it should be done properly.

Here are four common mistakes to avoid. In addition to time, it will save you money and resources:

1. Focusing on quantity not quality.

When attempting to share content with prospects, some companies mistakenly believe that quantity it better than quantity. Makes sense, doesn’t it? The more people you reach out to, the higher the likelihood of an acceptable conversion rate. In reality, this is almost never the case.

By using that scattershot approach, you are not doing yourself or your brand a favor. Chances are you do not know what someone needs before reaching out to them. To make matters worse, the approach creates a barrier. Since you haven’t first established trust or credibility, they are more likely to ignore your call.

It’s much more effective to undertake some preliminary customer research, identifying the particular segment where your products or services belong. Then target that niche with your online marketing efforts, significantly tilting the odds of conversion in your favor.

2. Neglecting email marketing best practices.

Email marketing is still a very effective method for engaging, nurturing and eventually converting prospects into leads—as long as you don’t neglect the basics. Here are common mistakes you should avoid:

Using a company name in the “from” field. Recipients are far less likely to click on an email marketing message if it’s sent by a company name or some other generic name. Put a real person’s name in the “from” field.

Sending out messages at the wrong time in your contact’s lifecycle stage. Some marketers bundle together their email messages, not caring if recipients are current customers or new names on the mailing list. Prospects are much more receptive if the message aimed at them reflects where they are in the cycle.

Forgetting to include a call-to-action. Some businesses simply forget to include a call-to-action, while others bury this request in a flurry of confusing messages. What is it you want the recipient to do? Make this clear, concise and to the point.

3. Having a flawed content marketing strategy.

Helpful, informative content is one of the most successful ways to influence prospects—all the more reason to have a clear content marketing strategy right from the start.

Before engaging in the time-consuming process of producing content, know what purpose each piece of content is meant to address. Are you looking to boost your email newsletter subscription rate? Generate sales leads? Establish a reputation as a thought leader in your industry?

Don’t rush to churn out generic and overly promotional content that no one really wants. “Many businesses assume they need to generate as much content as possible creating ordinary, boring, or unuseful information.  The content needs to be personalized for their target audience to keep visitors engaged.”

“When someone visits thin, poorly written, low-quality content, they’re most likely not going to stay in order to join a newsletter, fill out a form, or download a whitepaper.  They are even less likely to share it adding lesser value to the webpage.  Search engines will only rank the content that provides the best value for its users who are seeking this information.” notes digital marketing expert Ben Guest of Cyberlicious, Inc. Digital Candy for Sweet Results.

A smart marketing strategy incorporates content in more than just one form, in order to reach prospects. You can write blog posts (but should only do so if you commit to a regular and dependable publication schedule), but content can also be repurposed in a variety of other forms—from articles and infographics to case studies, white papers and video. Offering content of value in numerous areas boosts the chances the right people will come across it.

4. Failing to leverage social media.

Even now, some businesses are reluctant to dive headfirst into the social media pool. If you’re one of those, a quick online search will help realize how social media influences buying patterns and convince you otherwise. “Social selling” is a very real thing and can benefit you, as long you fully understand that social media marketing is not about the hard sell. A business’s long-term presence on selected, influential social media platforms can result in a legion of dedicated followers and potential customers-for-life.

What to do

Done well, online marketing can help your business forge relationships with customers and generate sales. No business can afford to overlook the growth potential this strategy offers.

 

10 Things to Look for in an Executive Business Coach

Business SuccessAccording to a Stanford Survey on executive coaching, “Nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive outside leadership advice, but nearly all want it.” What’s stopping them from seeking out that much needed advice? For many, it’s the hardship of choosing the perfect mentor or coach. Considering the time and costs associated with mentorship, you’ll want to make sure you identify the very best executive business coach for your business. To make the selection process easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things to look for in an executive business coach.

  1. A track record of success Do some research before contacting anyone. With platforms such as LinkedIn, you can see their profiles and get a sense of their accomplishments. Consult with other business owners about who they’ve worked with, read online reviews, and consider coaches from established mentorship companies that have built strong reputations on years of success. As they say, “past performance is a good indicator of future performance”.
  2. Experience A great business coach has experience both as a business owner and as a business coach. Find someone who has worn both hats (preferably for several years) and who can address your business challenges from both angles. A business professional who has experienced a lot of success and a lot of failure will have a lot of good advice to offer you.
  3. Specific expertise in your field While your coach doesn’t necessarily need to come from the same industry as you, you’ll want to find a business coach that is relevant and specific. Be wary of someone that advertises too many services or works across too many industries. There’s a good chance they lack specific expertise and are likely spreading themselves thin.
  4. AccessibilityThis should be apparent from the get-go. If you’re having trouble scheduling an initial consultation with an executive business coach, it’s only going to get worse once they’ve signed you as a client. Ask them about their other commitments and projects. Find out what their client base and workload is like to avoid being one in a million. Business coaching requires custom strategies. Pass on any coach that treats their business like a coaching mill.
  5. Willingness to challenge you Of course, you want a coach that exhibits goodwill and support towards your business, but a little opposition is key to any professional relationship. A great business coach will challenge you outside of your comfort zone and make you look at challenges in new ways. A lot of business owners have the best luck with coaches who are strong where they are weak. The opposing viewpoint allows them to fill gaps in their business processes.
  6. A large network Seek out a business coach that is well-connected, so in turn you become equally well-connected. An effective business coach can open doors for your business by introducing you to the right people. Likewise, if a business coach has a large network, that’s a good sign that they’ve had success with other clients.
  7. AccountabilityYour business coach should be equally concerned with you achieving your goals as you are. They’ll check in regularly to make sure you’re accomplishing tasks and sticking to your agreed upon path towards success.
  8. GenerosityThe best coaches become coaches because they want to help others. That should be at the core of their mission. Your mentor should love teaching, because it means giving back, and it should be very obvious in their approach to coaching. If it seems that they are dragging their feet, or that they have contempt for their clients, you don’t want to deal with them.
  9. TrustYou don’t have to be best friends with your business coach, but you should have a friendly rapport. If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t trust your coach, you can’t make any progress.
  10. A concrete processThe Alternative Board promotes the power of planning for every business owner, and the same holds true for every executive business coach. When TAB member Rick Maher, CEO of Effective Human Resources, Inc., first decided to seek out a mentor, the critical piece he was most concerned with was “a process that had to be followed, a regimen.” According to Maher, “I wanted to see it and understand it before I chose my coach. The Alternative Board has a very deliberate process. The process is the only way I can see success.” Avoid mentors who are shooting in the dark; seek out someone who has a specific plan for helping you achieve your goals.

When Susanne Meyers of Daily Affiliate Tasks decided she needed an executive business coach, she had a hard time finding the right person. “I wasn’t at a point yet, where I was comfortable spending a couple of grand on a coach, plus many of the coaches I came across just didn’t seem the right fit for me and my business.”

Meyers is not alone. It can be extremely difficult to pinpoint the perfect counselor, even when you know your business really needs one. Don’t be afraid to shop around and meet with more than one coach before making a decision. The Alternative Board’s Business Coaching Sessions simplify the process by providing you with a trusted advisor who can help you work through business challenges and opportunities to increase performance. TAB has perfected its proprietary coaching process over the past twenty-five years and continues to build its track record of satisfied business owners.

 

3 Misconceptions about millennials

Multiracial business people working outdoor in town

3 Misconceptions about millennials 

 

Probably one of the clearest signs that we are getting old, is a perception that the younger generation is so much different from ours, and in most cases, not in a good way. Plato was said to have complained that young people “disrespect their elders” and “ignore the law”. Peter the Hermit said that they “think of nothing but themselves” and are “impatient of all restraint”. You’ve probably read enough articles on the topic and how you must do everything possible to connect with this audience. From adapting your management style to meet millennials’ expectation to creating marketing strategies to cater to their specific purchase decision habits.

 

It isn’t without merit. Today, millennials make up 37% of the workforce, making them the largest group. Baby boomers today make up 34% of employees. Tamara Erickson, a consultant and author of “Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work” says millennials “think in terms of how to make the most out of today and make sure that what they are doing is meaningful, interesting and challenging. Andrew Swinand of Abundant Venture Partners, a venture capital firm, say doing millennials’ “new religion”. The only way to attract and retain these highly strung creatures is to turn your offices into playpens and boost corporate social responsibility (CSR) budget.

Are they really

  • Natural Collaborators –
  • Not career oriented –
  • Don’t want to be managed –

Let’s take a look at the data and see if they really are.

According to data from CEB, a consultancy firm that surveys 90,000 American employees on a quarterly basis, found that millennials are among the most competitive. In its latest poll, 59% of them said competition is “what gets them up in the morning”, compared to 50% of baby boomers.

About 58% of millennials say they compare their performance with other peers against 48% for other generations. While they may be spending a lot of time connecting with their peers on social media platforms on their smartphone, they don’t have much faith in them. A full 37% of millennials say they don’t trust their peers’ work. The average for other generations was just 26%. Data suggests they are Individualistic rather than team players.

When it come to their careers, CEB’s poll found that 33% of millennials mentioned “future career opportunity” among the top five reasons for choosing a job compared to 21% for other generations. The same for CSR, only 35% of millennials put a high emphasis on social responsibility compared to 41% of baby boomers.

Jennifer Deal from the Creative Center for Creative Leadership, an executive-training outfit and Alec Levenson of the University of Southern California studied 25,000 people in 22 countries and concluded that most generalizations about millennials as employees are “inconsistent at best and destructive at worst”. You have probably heard the generalization that this generation doesn’t want to be told what to do. In a poll of 5,000 workers conducted by Ms Deal and Mr Levenson 41% of millennials agreed that “employees should do what their manager tells them, even when they can’t see the reason for it,” compared to 30% of baby boomers.

It would not be fair to say that there are no differences among generations. There are variations in patterns of consumption. For example, millennials are more likely to read news form BuzzFeed than baby-boomers. They don’t necessarily translate into different attitudes at work.

Businesses need to pay attention to the millennial generation. A key to the success of a business is attracting and retaining qualified talent. In their enthusiasm to embrace the younger generation business owners and companies need to be careful about falling for misguided trends and misperceptions. In order to motivate younger employees, it might useful to focus less on corporate do-goodery and collaboration and more on rewarding individual performance and provide clear paths to advance an individual’s career. What is most eye opening about the research done by CEB and The Center for Creative Leadership is how much workers from different generations have in common regardless of the year they were born. They want roughly that same things: to be given relevant, interesting work to do, be rewarded on the merits of their contributions and to be provided an opportunity to work hard and get ahead.