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9 Timely Tips for Small Business Owners January 21, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, business intelligence, business strategy, Business Success Coach, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Notes for Business, small business coach, Veracity, women in management.
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Is your small business feeling the pressure of a new year that’s starting slowly?  In this blog, executive and leadership coach John M McKee provides tips he’s seen used successfully by winners around the world.

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“John, I need some help and some different ideas!  My business is slowing down – I’m concerned it’s going to get worse before it starts getting better and I want to make sure I’m still here when the economy gets good again. I do not want to lose my business after all the hard work and struggles I’ve been through. What can  you suggest?”

These comments were from a client of ours at BusinessSuccessCoach.net. She runs a small business that, while still profitable, is very dependent upon the economy running smoothly. And, obviously, the outlook for the US economy is still not exactly positive. The economy is tough right now and forecasts don’t call for much improvement in the near future.

Credit remains too tight, many costs are going up. Revenues seem hard just to maintain with each passing month and that’s across almost all industries.

So, what’s a small business owner to do?

First, don’t over react. Economies cycle up and down. Admittedly, this one’s more severe than we’ve seen in a long time; but it’s going to pass. And when it does, the market demand for services and goods will return.

In the meantime, here are 9 tactics and strategies I’ve seen used successfully over my 30 years as a company leader and coach:

1. Have a plan. Great businesses – of any size – have a plan that looks ahead at least 3 years and includes all their critical needs such as revenues and expenses by line, cash flow forecasts, new options to grow the business, and ideas for surviving in a bad situation. Any business person who says that (s)he’s just focused on making through each week or even month will have more difficulty recognizing opportunities as they arise. And opportunities always arise for those who are watchful.

2. Manage your plan. Your plan isn’t something to do annually and then file. It should be reviewed frequently and regularly to help you understand trends that you may otherwise may not want to face up to. At least as important, it may clue you in that a new business option which didn’t look great before, is now much more viable.

3. Check your receivables. You may be surprised to see that your “best” clients are paying more slowly than others; or that your suppliers aren’t giving you the same discounts you’d been promised.

4. Cash is King. You already know that credit is more difficult than way back in 2009; and even when one’s been given it, they are often surprised when they go to access a credit line that it’s being withheld. Keep enough cash on hand to survive at least 2 months in the worst case.

5. Reward your best clients. Keep them happy, show them you care, make sure they don’t ever want to try out another business partner – which is how you should regard yourself.

6. Cut expenses to the bone. It’s those “everyday” little things that need to be examined now and you may be surprised to find goods and services at lower prices as everyone adjusts their offers. Just like some people saw McDonald’s new coffee drinks were about the same as what they’d been buying at Starbucks have saved big; most businesses can do the same.

7. Keep your perspective. As I said at the beginning, “this too shall pass”. A primary trait of entrepreneurs is being able to see opportunities that others miss it entirely and that skill may be what got you into business in the first place. So, while it’s important to be realistic about the situation, doom and gloom has no place in small business success.

8. Look for small successes.  Celebrate them. Focus on success by being on the lookout for those little wins. And when you find them exploit them and be grateful. If someone on your team accomplished something, make a big deal about it and encourage more of that behavior.

9. Look after yourself (and your loved ones). Everyone can behave well in good times but how we behave in difficult times is a true measure of who we are.

Here’s an old adage that bears repeating in today’s business climate, “The harder I work; the luckier I get.” Keep this nugget in mind as you make sure that your small business isn’t just surviving – it’s thriving!

– john

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Japan regaining relevance. Again. December 29, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in American Dreamers, business and career coaching, business success, Business Success Coach, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Notes for Business, Veracity, well being.
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If you’re focused on Asia, but only watching China, Korea, or Taiwan; then you’re missing an important player.  In this article executive coach John M McKee comments on what he found in Japan last week.

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I just returned from a trip to Japan .  I was pleased to note that it no longer feels like a “formerly great” country.  From the perspective of an executive coach, it was clear to me that the country’s firing on all cylinders, again.

In Tokyo for one week and then up to Sapporo for another week, I had ample time to get a feel for the pulse of the country.  It didn’t feel like life support is needed on either island.  On the contrary – it felt vibrant, the people seemed upbeat in general.  And, although Christmas isn’t celebrated much ( only about 1 million of the 136 million population are Christians so the lack of “traditional Christmas activities” was not surprising,) the stores were still very busy.  People weren’t just kicking tires, they were out to buy.

I went to Akihabara, aka Electric Town.  If you’ve never been there, make a point of finding it on your next trip to Tokyo.  (Not hard, it’s right on one the main subway lines.)  Japan has always had a great electronics industry and a trip to Akihabara showed that it’s not just alive but it’s thriving.  I wish a lot more of their cool stuff showed up in North America and sooner.  And, if you’re a shopper who thinks that Best Buy is the pinnacle of electronics retail; you’ll be blown away.

Some stores are 8 stories high.  Other stores look like a “mom and pop” place opened at the end of world war 2.  But it’s all wonderful and cool and inexpensive for the most part. You can’t think of any product with a cable or connector that they don’t have.  Plus, they have staff, demonstrations, and education areas.  If you arrived and weren’t sure what you needed, there is always someone to help you.

We all know that China and India are the Asian Tigers, consequently we spend a lot of time tracking their progress and watching their growth with deep respect.  But it’s worth noting that Japan remains the second largest national economy after the US.  They are growing their exports again – actually had a positive balance of trade with China last month.  And judging by their leadership in fashion and anime over the past few years, they have taken a strong position in several cultural sectors in addition to their auto and electronic industries.

Up north in Japan’s 5th largest city of Sapporo (yes it’s the home of the beer and a brewery visit is in order when you go), the scene was similar.  Shoppers were energized there too.  The island’s tourism biz seems to be growing with great skiing and snowboarding adding to the luster of the wonderful and popular spring fed bathhouses in the mountains which housed the Olympics a couple of decades ago.

If you haven’t been to Japan – go.  If it’s been more than 5 years, go again.

Keep an eye on this country – there’s lots to learn and it’s easy to forget with all the hype of their neighboring countries.

Looking forward!

john

Great leaders get things done. Most leaders don’t. September 10, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, business strategy, business success, career success, Coaching.
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Successful managers and leaders often share similar approaches.  In this article, executive and business coach John M McKee provides 12 characteristics that are common to effective leaders across all levels and organizations.  Use them to improve your own success.

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Great leaders get things done.

When you think about it that statement could be their job description. After all, when giving an individual the role of leader, we almost assume that they, more than others, can get the job done. 

And yet, so many do not. So – what is it that makes a great leader, great?

Over the course of my career, I’ve been very fortunate to have spent time with many great leaders. I’ve worked one-on-one with the leaders of large, well-known organizations like the former chairmen of General Motors, DIRECTV and AT&T.

I’ve spent quality time with top politicians from both the United States and Canada including Bill Clinton, and the former Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien as well as the secretaries of the US Government and the Ministers of the Canadian one. I’ve also been lucky enough to have worked with great leaders in small businesses and start-ups as well.

During that time, I came to realize that there are certain characteristics that all the truly great share. The following was created as a result:

1. They live their lives and run their organizations “On Purpose”. They know what they stand for. They recognize that their organizations are a reflection of their values and standards, and behave accordingly.

2. They help others to succeed. They mentor, train, assist, demand, challenge and model for others to help them become better.

3. They get results. With teams that know where the organization is going, and who are better trained and capable, they overcoming the odds. They usually beat expectations while others fail.

4. They put back into their communities. Volunteering, tithing, and giving; they support non-profits & other initiatives dependent upon others’ for support

5. They excel in difficult environments, making their own success. Macro issues are often incidental to their approaches. Through Intention, they overcome difficult obstacles that slow down others.

6. They are great listeners. To everyone. Customers. Employees. Competitors. Consequently, they are more likely to be innovators, testing new ideas which others in the same sector may not.

7. They can make tough decisions. When action is required, it’s taken. They can admit mistakes and correct them. Merely “good” leaders often falter when it comes to decisions affecting people, money or strategy.

8. They are honest and ethical. Like a ‘business Karma”, they know that what goes around comes around. As a result, more people will help and support them.

9. They understand the differences of power vs. force.  Many others fail to realize that forcing outcomes ultimately causes negative results. Helping to build new understanding of the motives on both sides, and the benefits one can realize using new approaches ensures long-term success.

10. They don’t need all the recognition, all the time. Loyal and stronger teams result, in turn making better organizations more inclined to go the extra mile in tough times.

11. They continually upgrade their skills. They recognize that the marketplace is constantly changing and that they must as well.

12. They have a clear, actionable plan for their life. Managing their plan, they lead balanced lives while delivering great results.  In our research at my coaching practice Business Success Coach.net over the past few years, we’ve seen that over 80% of those who say they are satisfied with their lives also have a plan.  This is not a co-incidence.

Here’s to your success!

john

Stressing out? Try this. August 20, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, anxiety, business success, Business Success Coach, Canada, Career Wisdom, Coaching, Job advice, life balance, quality of life, Tempur-Pedic, Veracity, wellness, Women.
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tn_john-002.jpgToday, more than ever, people are feeling the effects of stress.  In this week’s VERACITY Blog, executive coach John M McKee discusses a free audio program which can help individuals get past their stress and move forward.

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There are a lot of people stressed out – about a lot things – right now.

You’ve probably noticed.  May even be feeling the impact of stress yourself.

When we’re stressed, we function less effectively.  It’s harder to make decisions, and then we may second-guess ourselves.  It’s harder to fall asleep and stay asleep – this affects us during the day of course; often manifested by being more emotional than usual.  (“I never cry.  But I cried! What’s up with that?”)

There are a lot of reasons to feel stressed today and I’m not going to list them here.  You know what’s going on in your life.  But you may not be conscious of this fact: even if things are fine in your life, you may be impacted by stress simply be the news or hearing from others about increased difficulties they are experiencing.  This is particularly so for individuals who have a strong sense of empathy; which usually translates to women more than men.

If you’re feeling more stressed than usual, you should  check out this free audio program currently offered by Business Success Coach.net.  Recorded by a Canadian medical doctor whom I regard as one of the finest experts in this field, Dr. Alan Banack, it’s been used successfully by patients and individuals for over 20 years.

A similar audio tape of his helped me to quit smoking back in 1988. Quite simply – these work.

Each of us get stressed out at different times.  Usually we can manage it and it goes away on its own.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  It kind of grabs onto us and doesn’t let go.  Then we see our performance drop.  We may feel tired or lack energy.  We become less than we were on many fronts.  This audio will help you overcome it.

If you’re not sure that something you download for free can actually help you: then I urge you to test it out.

Dr Alan Banack, has been practicing for nearly 30 years.  He has patients throughout North America who have benefited from his psycho therapy and leading edge approach to reducing or eliminating the effects of stress.   You should try this free program.  Let me know how it worked for you.

It’s available our organization’s website at Business Success Coach.net.  Listen the my interview with Dr Banack beforehand too.

Here’s to your future!

john

Cranky? It could kill your job August 12, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", anxiety, business and career coaching, business strategy, business success, career success, Coaching, Job advice, life balance, quality of life, replenishment, small business coach, stress, Tempur-Pedic, The Secret, Veracity, well being, wellness, Women.
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abc1Sleep issues often cause poor performance on the job. In this article business and executive coach John M McKee discusses 5 tactics to make you more successful.

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“I’m simply fed up!”

And, with that comment, a new client of mine started working with me last January.

He went on, saying that, “I’m already in a very pressureful business. I shouldn’t have to deal with more bureaucratic bulls*** that makes it even tougher to get my job done.  The HR department seems to feel that its job is to prevent me from hiring good people or firing the dead weight!”

He’s a temperamental senior executive, known to have a big temper.  But the organization – a midsized cable television network – puts up with his fits because he helps them to succeed.  They asked me to do some remedial coaching to try to help him act a little more “business like”: no screaming fits, no cursing, door slamming should stop. The objective was for him to at least try to act like a normal human being in meetings with his peers.

In our first meeting I could sense his frustration level.  I dealt with it head-on.  “What’s your problem?” I asked.

He started to list all the things in his life that are driving him crazy.  To be fair it was a list that would make even the most even-keeled person become unbalanced. (His wife had left him, his 401k is now a 201k after the events of last year, he was promised a big raise but then the company didn’t deliver the goods, he hurt his knee skiing and it aches all day, and he isn’t sleeping much.

That last one caught my attention.  In addition to being an executive and business coach, I am also a Wellness Adviser for Tempur-Pedic.   During my 30+ years in boardrooms and executive suites I have seen firsthand that a lack of sleep can have a major impact on one’s performance, attitude, and behavior.  It struck me that this client may be sleep deprived and that everyone may be seeing the result of that.

We discussed how long he sleeps each night, if he’s one to toss and turn, how fast he goes to sleep when his head hits the pillow, and how he feels when he gets up in the AM.

From his answers it was clear that he wasn’t getting enough quality sleep.

This makes him emotional and drives his actions and behavior.  My client didn’t need a coach to help him understand fundamentals of good management practice – he needed more sleep!

I gave him some suggestions, he put them into practice and – like magic – he’s become the “old executive” everyone knew and loved.

If you’re feeling emotional, irrational, cranky, foggy, or just plain run down; consider a few of these ideas to improve your sleep.  It may make you more effective, content, and successful:

1. Caffeine – if you have trouble sleeping, drink no more than 2 caffeinated beverages a day, none after lunch.  This includes tea by the way.  And many things we eat have caffeine – check the labels.

2. Booze – This is a trick one because it can make you sleepy and you go right to sleep without all that “noise”.  So it seems like it’s a sleep aid. But it’s not a good sleep.  Then you usually wake up still feeling tired.  Try not to drink within 4 hours of bedtime.

3.  Bed – Don’t try to save money on your bed. It’s probably one of the best investments in your personal success you can make.  If you are uncomfortable (bed is too hard, too soft, too hot, too cold, too small, too crowded, etc etc) you toss and turn, and that breaks up the important deep sleep that replenishes you.  If you need to save money on furniture buy a less expensive dining room suite.  They never get used as much as people expect anyway.

4. Environment – Your bedroom should be dark – any light can interrupt your sleep. It should be quiet – for obvious reasons. Ideally it’s a bit on the cool side – about 64 degrees.  If you have a tv in the bedroom, don’t watch it at bedtime and don’t read before you go to sleep either.  Both can stimulate your brain just when you want it quieter.  Finally, if you are prone to waking up and looking at the time, put the clock in a drawer so you can’t see it.

5. Exercise – Regular exercise helps us sleep better.  I know that it’s tough to find the time to exercise but cut back elsewhere and figure it out.  Do it in the AM or early PM, but not too close to bedtime.  Exercise will help you work out stress and clear your head too – each important for some good zzz’s.

I realize that this list may seem pretty short and that many readers will have seen similar lists.  But if your job performance is not what is needed, I strongly urge you to consider your sleep patterns. Adults need about 8 hours of sleep each night to perform a peak levels.  Anything less is going to hit you.

If you chose to ignore your sleep issues, you can always feel free to call us at our Coaching Practice here at Business Success Coach.net.  Our phone # is 720.226.9072 and we’ll be happy to work with you on other ways of improving your results.

But it’s probably going to cost you more…

Here’s to your success!

john