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I am so tired …

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People in leadership and management positions are particularly prone to feelings of exhaustion due to overwhelming workloads. These 3 steps will help you turn down the dial on "I'm so tired": Read more

In order to succeed in today’s business you need to either hire or develop home-grown top talent.  It is simple.  You are only as good as your weakest link.  Attracting top executives is often difficult and extremely costly, especially if you are competing against large companies with deep pockets.  However, if you have good raw employees, with a bit of work, they can achieve greater things than you could ever imagine. Read more

Start with a plan
Many business executives often find themselves in an odd position.  Maybe they joined a company or industry and through various detours and curves in the road they found themselves where they are today.  Not every career follows a script.  However, leaving your career to luck and chance doesn’t always end up in your favor.  Start with a plan that you can be happy with. If a plan sounds ominous and hard, start with one goal.  Make it simple and stick to it.  You can always add more goals or come up with a grander “Plan” later.  But you need to set direction.  Without direction, it is impossible to make good decisions or know how to sift through the mud of information, distractions, and people pulling you in different directions?

Still need more help?  Try working on Customer Service.  Look, I don’t care what company you are part of today, but customer service is the one thing that drives loyalty.  It drives referrals.  It drives more repeat business.  It drives higher prices and more.  It is an elusive goal sometimes, but you know how you would like to be treated.  If you can treat each client as you would want to be treated, that is a beginning of a great business.  Every business can improve customer service.  Every business.

Build around the goal.  If you are working on customer service, remember your own employees are not just workers, but they are customers as well.  Keep them in mind when making decisions.  They are your pipeline.  They are your marketing team.  They will follow your lead.

Focus on your strengths

You often get paid the most for the things you do the best.  So, do them.  Focus on them.  Not everyone can do what you do.  It may seem easy to you.  It isn’t for everyone.  That is why you need to focus on what you do well and provide that service to others that don’t have that skill set.  Trust me, they need you.

So, what are your strengths?  Here is where you can survey people.  Ask employees.  Ask clients.  Ask anyone that knows you and works with you.  Tell them to be honest.  You need to know.  Make a list.  Keep a business journal of the things you find out.  Keep special notes of decisions you make and whether they were good or bad.  Chances are that you made good decisions around your “strengths” and poor decisions around your “weaknesses.”  That is ok.  Maybe delegating the work related to your weaknesses is a way to strengthen your business, leadership and mental well-being.

Listen to your inner voice

Your inner voice tells you information all day long and all night long.  It is your subconscious that is with you everywhere you go and whatever you do.  It isn’t always positive.  Sometimes you need to thank your inner voice and accept its criticism as just another critic and then let it pass.  You don’t need to dwell on these thoughts.

Thoughts are not things.  Yes, without a thought, you can’t create anything.  Yet, just because you think something, it isn’t immediately true.  You have to take action for a thought to become reality.  A good example of this is that if your subconscious is saying you are messy and disorganized.  In fact it depresses you when you see a paper out of place or not filed.  You are, in fact, compared to most people, probably one of the most organized persons on the face of the earth.  In fact, organizational skill is probably your biggest strength.  Yet your inner voice is pounding you for even the slightest disorganization.

Thank your voice.  It has taught you this skill, and helped you hone a vital and useful talent and shape who you are.  But let it pass.  You need to pull yourself above the voice and realize the bigger picture here.  Be proud of your strength and understand that not every inner critique should be a global meltdown of your world reality.  One mistake does not define you.  One criticism does not make you the generalized “worst person at …. in the world.”  Be aware of the bigger picture here.  You are extraordinarily valuable.  Flaws and all.  You have tremendous value.

Make the best decision you can make now

The most successful people in the world make decisions even though, in hindsight, they may not have been the best decisions that could have been made.  One of the founders of LinkedIn was tremendously embarrassed by the first release of the website.  That site recently sold to Microsoft for billions.  But the initial version of it was a far cry from what it was today.  If he waited until the product was PERFECT, it would never have caught fire, and become a massive success as it did.

Make decisions based on the information you have in front of you.  If you don’t have enough info, get some.  If you don’t have time, ask for help.  If you don’t have enough money to hire someone to get help, listen to your gut and move forward.  You can change course and direction in the future.  You aren’t stuck with the decisions and directions you made in the past.  Life isn’t a STONE TABLET.  It is like water.  You want to drive the river of decisions in the right direction.  You don’t need to have every decision be perfect.  As long as your overall direction is going the right way.

In my experience, you could often make 100 different choices when posed with making a single decision.  However, in most situations there are probably 10 good decisions, 10 terrible decisions and 80 decisions that can fall somewhere in between that scale.  Do your best to pick one of the top 10-20 choices, and move forward.  This world is about speed and taking fast action.  You will move forward faster and get more done if you decide now.  The more decisions you make the better you will become at making good decisions.  Experience will hone your sword of powerful decision making.

Leaders who delegate tasks can get more done

If you are a business leader, and yet are working in the trenches doing everything that flies across your desk, you are not being as effective as you could be.  The only way to move forward is to learn how to delegate work to others so you can focus on the bigger tasks.

It isn’t effective to just be busy.  If you sit down and made a list of all the things that you could do today to get you closer to your bigger goals, chances are many of the things you are doing today would be just considered busy work and won’t help you close the gap to your goals.  In fact, you could even argue that doing these low level tasks is a kind of PROCRASTINATION.  I am not saying that doing work that has to get done is not important.  If it helps you deliver value to your client then by all means it should be done.  But often, this work can be outsourced or given to a hired employee so that you can focus on bigger tasks that get you closer to your ideal goals.

What should you delegate?

Repetitive tasks that can easily be done by others should be outsourced or delegated.  Hire people that can really help you and think on their feet.  Give them the ability to make decisions and take action without your direct supervision.  This lets you focus on other things.  Give them authority to make decisions.  Even if you have to tell them – if you have to solve a problem and it will cost less than $200, do it.  You can always follow up later and get a report of issues that were solved this way, but at least that takes the burden off your plate and gives the employee power to truly make a difference to the business.

Set up a system

The more you can systematize your repetitive actions, the more efficient people will become and the more accurate they will be.  Set up a system for New Client Acquisitions.  If you get a client, the staff has to do A, B, C and so on until the client is fully set up and ready to give you projects and orders.  If a client places the order, set up a system for placing the order, following up, etc.  Make a checklist that has to be followed and filled out for everything that is worthwhile to your business.  The more systems that are in place the more successful you will become.

Make sure you follow through on your biggest tasks

If you do the above items, you should have free time to focus on the bigger things.  You might focus on getting better marketing, doing networking, going and setting up meetings with potential partners, referral partners, etc.  You may focus on developing products or acquiring the rights to sell other products from other businesses.  Sometimes there are key business hang-ups that can keep you from selling more services and products.  If you are competing against bigger competitors, you often have less products or services and may need to focus on how you can make your offerings better than theirs.

Survey your clients and develop an AVATAR of the perfect client you want to go after.  And go after them.  What does your avatar do for a living?  What do they like?  What do they hate?  What do they spend time on?  How big is the organization that has this target client?  How can you find these people?  What groups do they belong to?  When you understand what your perfect client looks like, thinks like and wants, it is easy for you to go after and find them.  When you speak to them, you are speaking to the avatar which you know and have spent time customizing solutions just for them.  Now that is value, that people will want to trade you for money.