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Small Business Revitalization Blog

Small Business Coaching: Revive Your Profits, Revitalise Your Perspectives, Reinvigorate Your People

3 Strategies For When Your Plans Stop Working

"Help!  My plans for growing my business aren't working!"

Every entrepreneur has moments like these when no matter what you do, nothing seems to work and you are going round in circles.  You have two choices.  You can get frustrated.  Or you can start to create from a totally different space.  So many times when things haven't worked for me, I have realised that there were other possibilities that actually would create the business even more dynamically than I had imagined.  I just needed to be willing to be flexible and change my plans.

Here are three 'get moving fast' strategies to explore:

1.  WHAT is it EXACTLY that is not working?

We often assume that we know what it is that's not working.  And mostly the root cause is something else entirely.  Ask a lot of questions to discover what is actually going on.  Have you been trying to fix the 'wrong' problem?  For example: If you are not winning enough business, look at the entire process - where exactly is it not working? 

Ask questions of your sales team, your clients and potential clients.  What is the system, process or relationship that is not delivering the results you desire? (This is not a head-hunt for poor performing staff!!  In most cases there is another reason - that is just the lazy business owner's assumption.)

2.  WHAT could you do DIFFERENT that would create a different result?

 

What worked 2 or 5 or 20 years ago may no longer be relevant.  What has changed inside and outside of your business?  What do you need to change in response that would change the results you are creating?  What are the new possibilities that you haven't even considered yet?  When we take off the blinkers and start to be creative, new choices arrive. We must be willing to change.

In one of my businesses, I recently went from being fully booked for the next two months, to having almost nothing going on.  The causes were diverse and beyond my control.  I gave myself ten seconds to be frustrated and then I was asking 'what's next?'.  

I realised this situation had created the possibility for something new that I have desired to do for a long time, that I just never get to.  The new strategy will also create the future situation where it won't matter if people don't do what they say.  My revenue streams will be diversified enough to make their choices irrelevant!!    And what else is possible that I haven't imagined yet?

 3. Make your business FLEXIBLE!

Whatever systems, processes, products or services your business has, you need to be aware of how you can be flexible with what you have.  There is a lot of chaos in the world right now, and will be for the foreseeable future.  When you explore future scenarios for your business, take note of what can be changed quickly, and where you are locked in.  If you are agreeing to new contracts, look for the flexibility.  If you are employing staff, engage people who are flexible and willing to do whatever it takes.

I was called into a client's business to work out what was not working with their processes.  I had been there less than 5 minutes when the new office manager sat down (uninvited!) and told me how she was being asked to do things that weren't her job and that she wasn't going to do.  There was no willingness to contribute to the success of the business, there was no interest in being flexible. There was no interest in ensuring that clients were attended to quickly.  Her attitude was all about 'I'm not going to....'. She was first on my list of what needed to change.

So what is it that would make your business way more flexible and responsive to change than it is now?  Cross-skilling staff?  Space for a change in attitude?  Simpler processes and systems that people will actually be willing to follow? 

These three strategies can change things quickly.  Ask enough questions and you will become aware of exactly what else is needed for your business to move forward again.  Staying stuck is a choice. 

If you are really really really stuck, you can always ask an external coach or mentor to assist.  That independent point of view truly does bring a fresh perspective.

What can you change to make your business more profitable!  (What if you could enjoy making the changes??)

Lisa

 

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Right Timing - Does it Exist?

 

I’m not known for my patience, or a willingness to wait, and so have created many a business project that was before it’s time!

And you know what that often creates? Over-enthusiasm, a lot of people who are not exactly clear about what is being offered, or not in a position to engage with you, and often overwhelm, disappointment or disillusionment when it doesn’t work out as desired.

This comes from placing a significance upon the timing. Whether it is for goal-setting or strategic planning, we have been taught that timing is significant and that we must create as much as possible as quickly as possible, and no matter what, we must meet the timing set.  

Does this truly work?  Or is it a way of forcing ourselves into action prematurely, without the support of the many underlying energies that can actually allow us to create with ease.

For me personally, it’s now come to the space where I know that around 95% of the ideas I come up with are a little more than the world is ready for right now!  So, what to do with a dilemma like that?

Flexibility seems to be the word for the year. The timing on everything is shifting and changing rather dynamically for all of my projects and I am learning to surf those waves in surprising ways.

I’m becoming more willing to create things in their ‘right timing’ as I’ve seen how much time and energy goes into forcing an idea into existence before it is ready!

We always have a choice when timing shows up differently to what we expect.  We can force things to be how we have planned, or we can allow for a flow that may lead to something greater!  

I have been playing with the idea of working with ‘what is’ (ie what is available right now), rather than trying to make my ideas and plans fit the schedules I would like to create!  I am onto my 48th version of my travel schedule for this year, and only now am I seeing that mostly I can’t schedule more than a couple of months ahead - there is much that is yet to fall together for the ease and flow to show up!

Which raises the question of ‘right timing’.  Is there such a thing?  Here’s what I am discovering...  Right timing simply means that everything that is required is in place.  That there are no huge mountains blocking the way, no deep valley’s to plunge into, nothing that would make the project disappear or crash.  

The changes required in the universe have been made.  The connections required are set-up and will show up exactly as needed.  There is a sense of flow.  Right timing means the people that are required are available, the information you need is available, the energies that support the project coming to fruition are in place, there is an underlying sense of possibility that feels light and expansive.

Almost everything will flow with more ease if you are willing to wait for the point of right timing.  Sometimes you’ll receive an idea or start a project where you have already passed the point of right timing... so everything is available immediately. That’s why not everything has a sense of having to wait for ‘right timing’.  The timing arrived before you were even aware of the choices you could make!

Sometimes we become immobilized by the idea of ‘right timing’.  We’d like to do something but we’re not sure.  We become the bunny frozen in the headlights, wondering if we should turn right or left.  

What if it’s not procrastination?  What if it’s an awareness around timing?
  I have had so many moments of this and a little later discovered exactly the reasons I was hesitating.  Sometimes it was after I forced myself to act (leading to situations I did not have ease with), other times I was smart enough to wait and ask some more questions!

How do you know if you are waiting for ‘right timing’?  If you have an idea but it has a heaviness or a slowness to it, or it doesn’t have clarity, you’ll know that timing could be an issue.

And here’s the cool thing. Somewhere inside of us we always know.  So ask some questions... ‘Is now the time for this project?’  ‘Is there something else required for this project to come to fruition?’  ‘If I create this now, will it create a flow for something greater or will it be creating through force?’  Go with whatever feels light!

Once you have reached the point of ‘right timing’ the changes required have been made and all of the little bunnies are lined up ready to run,  your project has it’s green lights and the exact timing becomes a choice.

How much more ease could you have if you are willing to have an awareness of whether your project or idea is in it’s right timing?

So the other thing to know here is if you have tried something before, and it didn’t work, instead of going straight to the conclusion that the idea was wrong or that you were a failure, what if you ask ‘Was the timing incorrect?’.  And ask the universe to show you when the timing will work.  

What if your ideas are a lot more brilliant than you have ever given yourself credit for?   If you are wondering what I am talking about, read about Nikola Tesla... he’s a perfect example of bringing great ideas through in the ‘wrong’ timing.  What else would be possible if you were willing to allow ‘right timing’ to contribute to your business and your projects?

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

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Got a Flexible Map for 2013?

 

This time of year is flush with people posting their ‘year in review’ thoughts, dissecting everything that went right or wrong with the year before, and promising themselves they’ll do better.  Because I am always seeking a greater return on the energies I invest in my businesses, my personal ‘planning’ strategy is to explore the energies that are going to make the greatest difference in the upcoming year.

Why don’t I look at the previous year?  I review where I’m at about 25,000 times a year… my choices are made daily, based on what is possible in that particular moment, not on what was possible last week, last month or last year.  Have you noticed how fast the world is changing?  Is it time for our planning processes to catch up with the space we actually are operating from?

This radical difference in my ‘planning process’ led me to create these Ten Commandments for Dynamic Business Growth.   So, #1 became “Treat your business as an asset – create FOR the future, not FROM the past.”  What does this mean in practical terms? Lots of change and lots of choices!

Firstly, what I don’t do…

  • I don’t assume that just because I did something in a particular way in 2012 (or before!) that it will create the same result in 2013.
  • I don’t assume that products I have created before will continue to produce results.
  • I don’t assume that previous ideas that I haven’t got to yet are the ones for this year.
  • I don’t assume that I must build on what I did previously.
  • I don’t assume that anything will be the same, including me!  (I did over 60 days of training in tools and techniques to create change during 2012… I use the tools daily and constantly create from a different space as my awareness expands!)

Instead of doing business from the ‘rinse and repeat’ cycle, I do business from a universe of possibilities – I ask lots of questions about what will allow me to ‘outcreate and grow’.  Which one is more fun for you?  Do you love creating more and more and greater?  Or do you love doing the same thing over and over and over, with ever-diminishing results, as your competitors catch on and copy you?  It’s just a choice.

And that choice is how you build your business assets from future possibilities rather than past performance.   To build your business assets you need to be present with your business.  Aware of everything connected to your business performance.  Willing to change any of it in any moment.  

Most businesses are so committed to the past that the present disappears in the overwhelm of keeping up.  What if you never had to keep up?  What if you could just keep choosing whatever would create the greatest possibilities for the future?

That’s what commandment #1 offers… a choice to build the future from the now, not the past.

Curious?  Want some more examples and practical tools so you can use these commandments in your business?

Download your free poster and find out more at www.revivecoaching.com/growth

And one more thing…these commandments are a moveable feast… they are what’s working right now!   I’d love to know what YOUR commandments for growing your business are… do you have a favourite you can share?    Lisa

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Are You Solving Problems Or Out-Creating?

 

I have a mentor who sees the world totally different to almost anyone on the planet.  His unique views on business make a lot of sense and he creates his businesses from an energy that is all about out-creating rather than problem-solving.  Why?  Because it works!

“Problem-solver” is a label much touted as a good thing in most businesses. The funny thing is, if you are a problem-solver, then you are always going to be creating problems to solve.  Oops!!  How is that working for your business?  Are you a little tired of fixing the problems in your business that you are creating? (Truly, if they are there, you are creating them somehow!)  Is it time to create a greater possibility?  One that could be fun for you?

A business truly focused on growth will create from an energy of out-creating, rather than problem-solving.  Look at how Apple began – they weren’t solving a problem, they were creating something totally different.  Richard Branson doesn’t solve problems; he out-creates the really average stuff that is on offer by his ‘competition’.

Two weeks ago I asked my mentor a few questions about people copying me (there seemed to be a  trend on that!) and he showed me an energy of out-creation that was far beyond what I have been playing with.  Out-creation is ALWAYS a more generative strategy than copying or competing (just in case you were wondering!!)

This week I came up with a new business model for one of my businesses that has the potential to make it into everything I have been asking it to be!  On a much larger scale… with a lot less of my time… that no-one else is doing… and in a way that would be way more fun for me!  How does it get better than that?

Here’s how it gets even better… I come up with another 10 business models that are game changers.  It really is that simple.  I became aware that the only ‘problem’ I had been creating in this business was not allowing it to be big enough… or amazing enough... or creative enough… or DIFFERENT enough!  Cute… not bright.  Changes are afoot!  

So, you could ask your business this question… and be willing for inspiration to come from anywhere…

“What could I be or do today that would allow me to outcreate myself right away?”

 And if you would like to know more about how to create a whole lot of this in your business, here are some choices:

If you have been thinking too small, now is the time to outcreate everything you have ever dreamed of.  Go Play!

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Relevance, Randomness and Being Right in Business

Have you noticed how most people are obsessed with getting business ‘right’ – as if there is only one right answer and once they find it they will have the perfect business for the next hundred million years?

What if, instead of getting business right, we start looking at what is relevant and what random brilliance we could create which would contribute to creating something greater than we have ever generated before? Could that be more fun than having to be the control freak from hell to make it all perfect?

One of my favourite tools is having everything be ‘out of control’… so that I can create from the random chaos of everything that is shifting and changing around me rather than the fixed and limited structures that people like to describe business as (you know... like the strategic plan, the business plan, the swot analysis, the competitive advantages, and all the other buzzwords…. yeah yeah yeah… is that just one big yawn for you??)

What if it could be more like shaking a kaleidoscope and creating a new pattern of possibilities every ten seconds…? ‘Oh this looks fun, what could that look like if I institute it into my business?’ rather than ‘Here is a structure that everyone uses and it has been proven to work for them so I know it will work for me…’  Which one of these makes you feel lighter? Which one makes you feel like you’d rather die??  What if business is truly fun and there can be a lightness with it that allows for infinite and playful creation?  

When I operate from the energy that I will put into place only what is relevant to the impact I desire to have on the world, it makes it easy to come up with randomly brilliant and adventurous ideas at astonishing speed... and the implementation is ease and joy too.  When I do it all by the MBA textbook (of which I have a few!!) there is a heaviness which soon translates into boredom and a lot of unfinished projects… oops!  Cute… not so bright!

Is any of this making sense to you?  What if your true state of being in business is a combination of relevance and randomness, rather than someone else’s idea of rightness?  

What if you were to Houdini yourself out of the definition and limitation of what business ‘should’ be? What could you create as your business?? And how much fun could you have?

(Image:  Pinterest)

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Do Less. Raise The Bar.



When in need of inspiration, I often randomly open books.  Today two ideas arrived within seconds of each other.  Seth Godin suggests we need to Raise The Bar – as that is where great progress occurs.  Jason Fried from Rework is adamant we need to Do Less.

Putting these two ideas together sounds incongruous, until we see that in doing less, we create the space for seeing where exactly we should raise the bar (and how high!) if we really want to create profitable change in our business.

When I look at my project list for my businesses, I can see the two or three projects that totally raise the bar.  That make everything else I do look, well, not so important.  I can see the 30 or so projects that would be nice to do, if I had the time, resources or inclination… and I can see the 10 projects that need to be taken off the list right now because I already know that they won’t deliver the world-changing impact I require when I invest my full energy into a project!

What could you do less of that would allow you to have more impact? 
You don’t need to spread yourself thinner, you just need to make the hard choices that allow you to be phenomenal!  We get caught up in being nice and saying yes when really we mean no.  What if you saying no gives that opportunity to someone else who does have the energy to invest – would that allow them to raise the bar in their own unique way?  Could the world be a better place for that?

This is one simple tool for looking at everything you have in front of you and seeing what is truly important.  What will make the biggest difference?  What raises the bar and makes your business more enticing and more enchanting for the people you serve?  Choose that one thing.  And do it with everything you’ve got!  

Less is More.  LEAP forward, don’t crawl!

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Overcome Procrastination - Harness The BIG Idea!



This week I’ve been hot on the trail of creating #TopSecretProject
(soon to be revealed!!) with two colleagues who share some common frustrations around networking, workshops and business!  It’s been fascinating seeing just how much action is being taken since we came up with the ‘BIG Idea’ in just 3 hours on Tuesday!

Do you find you take way more action when you have a big, inspiring idea that you want to create?  When was the last time you chose to follow your instincts and create an awesome idea that really had your attention?

As small business owners, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily doo-doo, procrastinating on all the stuff we 'should do',  rather than asking:
  • What would be a game-changer here? 
  • What would boost my business beyond what I can imagine?
  • What would give my clients massive results? 
  • What one strategy could move my business into the stratosphere?
Instead we play small.  Get stuck in doing the little things that make us feel like we are moving forward, but which are so slow and so incremental that nothing amazing ever really shows up!  Is this enough for you and your business?  Do you really want to creep slowly forward or would you be willing to leap tall buildings with a single step?

So, what would it take to implement a BIG Idea in your business today?
1.   Gather a small team of people who are willing to have massive change show up with ease.
2.   Discuss the resources, talents and abilities available, the common challenges and what you’d like to see instead.
3.   Come up with a BIG Idea that has the capacity to be a game-changer for your business and your customers.
4.   Take massive action very quickly.  What can you get ready within a week?  How soon can you launch?
5.   Ensure you create a support plan for leveraging the game-changer over the long term.  Know why you are instituting your BIG Idea, what you hope to achieve and what happens after the launch.

If you are tired of being the only motivating force in your business, play with a different model!  Find people with similar values who are willing to contribute to the possibilities of a BIG Idea.  And act quickly.  Work out if the idea has legs and start running!!

You can do this with an internal team or as a strategic alliance.  I am working with two other business people whose values match mine.  We are geographically dispersed but have kept the momentum going daily via Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Dropbox (great for file-sharing!). 

Share your experiences below in the comments section...
have you ever used a BIG Idea to get yourself moving?  Would you like to but something is stopping you?  What support do you need to give your business a boom?

Image courtesy Flickr user Gene Hunt, via CC

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The Secret to Keeping Your 2011 New Year Resolutions




It is January 10 already and business owners everywhere are getting back to work and hoping that 2011 will be way more profitable and generative than 2010!!  Most of us have made the odd New Year resolution or ten for our businesses and are now wondering what it’s going to take for it all to fall into place with ease!

The single biggest mistake I see people make when setting targets is to make a decision that there is only one acceptable outcome.  What if there were hundreds of fantastic possibilities that you just haven’t become aware of yet?  Would you be willing to have any of those instead of, or as well as what you have in mind?

When I make a target (New Year or otherwise!) I set it with the intention that I’m willing to have something much greater, something I haven’t thought of yet or something that will lead my business into places that set me up for an even more phenomenal future, despite what may sometimes look like ‘failure’ on the surface!

When I worked in corporate, so much importance was vested in the strategic plan. How much of that is a traditional point of view we have bought as real when maybe the current truth about success in business is something else?  Strategic planning has been around for a long time and comes from a time when the world moved at one zillionth of the speed it does now.  If we stick to our plan, then we fail to factor in all of the new choices and possibilities that are always coming our way!

In my experience, it is much more effective to get your projects up and running as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible so that you can see clearly what needs to change!  The most successful people and businesses are not caught up in doing exactly what they said they would in their plan – they are focused on regular reassessment, realignment and adjustment so that they can attain the best results possible given all of the possibilities.

January is a time to put lots of energy into getting everything you can set up, for setting a solid foundation for what you desire to have in your business in 2011, and most importantly for working out quickly what strategies are going to deliver your vision with ease and what ideas need a tiny tweak or a total reinvention!!

Think of your business like surfing… you paddle out, you choose a wave, you paddle like crazy… you catch the wave (or not!), ride it until it stops flowing for you and then do the same again… and each time the wave is different, the conditions are different, you create new possibilities and have different choices.  Time to lose the blinkers!! 

If you fall down, you get up, have a look at what happened, develop a new balance and have another go, all the while looking out for the next great wave rather than lamenting the one you missed… that’s what distinguishes successful businesses from failures!!  What would it take for you to catch a whole lot of waves this month?

This simple strategy is the first step in ‘keeping’ your New Year resolutions!  What are the infinite possibilities of 2011 being so much more than your New Year resolutions and your plans?  What abundant surprises would you be willing to receive and enjoy in your life and your business this year?


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Creative Empire Building

Have you ever wondered how Richard Branson built his empire from nothing?  What’s certain is that when he was 19 and larking about with his student newspaper he didn’t sit down and write out a business plan that included owning a couple of airlines, a space program, an island paradise and a financial institution or two!  

At 19 Branson was just like most small business owners… thinking really creatively about where  income could come from so he could pay the bills.  So what changed?  Those who dare to think big with their businesses are adept at taking the next step…

What’s different about their next step is that it is the step beyond what they can see clearly now.  Leaders who live large are willing to take steps into the unknown.  If you want to live a life larger than any movie star or business guru, this is the first and only step you need to take… and you’ll need to take a lot of them!!

So what’s the use of a business plan or strategic plan if stepping beyond the obvious is all that’s required?  Well, this morning I woke up at 4am (sleepless in Brisbane) dreaming intricate details of the products I’m creating for BlissTribe.  

Over the weekend we had done some creative brainstorming on BlissTribe and this had clearly carried over into my subconscious.   Last night those plans showed me the next steps beyond my waking imagination…that’s why I create plans!! I use plans to dream and to create… to develop my ideas beyond what I can see now… to catch glimpses of what else is possible and to discover what those ‘next steps’ could look like.  

Does this make planning sound just a little more interesting and appealing to you?  If you want to accelerate your business with ease… the Revive Business Coaching Planning Playshop on 21 June could be just the catalyst you require!



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Rework Your Business Strategies



If you are tired of throwing out your strategies time after time (or you need to throw out the ones you've got and revitalise your business!), the phenomenally useful book “Rework”, written by the founders of 37Signals, offers some of the best advice on business strategy I have seen in a long time…  consider these five little gems (and there's more Rework inspiration at www.onstartups.com) :

“Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service.”  If you ever wondered where to find your twenty of so points of difference to your competitors, this is a fantastic place to start!

“You have the most information when you’re doing something, not before you've done it.”  The best way to answer your strategy questions is to put your toe in the water and get real customer feedback.  Don’t just imagine… test and measure!!

“Saying yes when you should say no leaves no bandwidth available for the great rather than the merely good.”  What’s NOT in your strategic plan matters more than what is in some ways!!

“The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch.”  Quick wins… quick wins… quick wins are the key to getting traction and profits quickly. I launched a product for BlissTribe before I had a website… I was testing the BlissTribe concept and playing with ideas… now I know it has great legs and is worth putting lots of time into!!

“A business without a path to profit is a hobby.”  This is my favourite… I see this happening every day with new businesses… the funny thing is an hour or two spent on developing your business model (ie the plan of where your profits come from) will solve it!!

If you want some different perspectives on Accelerating Your Business strategically, the next Revive Playshop is for you.  21 June 2010 in Brisbane, Australia – miss it and you’ll miss out on insights that will make your business more profitable than you can imagine!!

There's more Rework inspiration at www.onstartups.com too - what's your best strategic business advice?  Share it below...

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