Spring Challenge: Battle the Business Owner Blues

BluesWhen you launched your business, you had a grand dream. You wanted to sell a particular product or service, make enough to live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted and have the freedom to do whatever you wanted with your life. So… how is that going?

Launching a small business is extremely tough work and it takes time to get your company on solid ground, but after a few years, many small business owners suffer serious emotional and motivation burnout. You still want to be an entrepreneur and you don’t want to give up on your business, but you’re working 80 hours a week and you haven’t taken a real vacation in years. In other words, you might be dealing with a bad case of the “business owner blues.”

As we embrace Spring – a time for renewal and spring cleaning – I want to challenge you to dust off your dreams of being a successful business owner. You don’t have to be overworked, overwhelmed and a prisoner to your business. Your dream does NOT have to be a nightmare. Turning this corner and reacquiring the fire all starts with reconnecting with your WHY and working smart instead of just hard.

Answer the following questions:

  1. What was the initial purpose of your business?
  2. Why did you want it to exist and bring it to life?
  3. What was the spark that led you to open your business rather than just dream?
  4. What were you seeking – freedom, flexibility, free time, creative expression, money, security?
  5. How does your business serve others? How does it make their lives better?

Now take 15 minutes to really lose yourself in your answers. Take yourself all the way back to the beginning and remember what it felt like to cut that grand opening ribbon. No matter how many years you’ve been in business, you should still be able to reconnect with the emotional outcomes you wanted before you even considered your first customer. THAT is your WHY and THAT is what will keep you strong moving forward.

Once you’ve found your happy place, ask yourself two additional questions: Where did you think your business would be today and where do you want your business to be a year from now? Consider what’s been holding you back and create small, timed goals to overcome those challenges. If you are having a difficult time with this level of accountability, it’s time to talk to a Growth Coach about being your accountability partner: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/locator.aspx.

 – Nathan Owens, President of The Growth Coach

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10 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Michael NeuendorffFor this week’s blog, The Growth Coach is proud to welcome a guest post from Michael Neuendorff, our franchise owner in San Mateo, California. Michael recently shared an article on his own blog about the value of setting goals we thought our readers would find especially helpful. Here’s the post:

Now you know I’m not a fan of resolutions. However, I am a fan of goals. The concrete decision about what you want to have happen in the future written down and worked on with a real plan really can work. I’ve seen it happen for my clients numerous times and I’ve seen it happen for me.

I found a study online that was created by a PhD student at Dominican University that supports the value of goal setting (in writing) for achievement.

Now let me give you 10 tips to add a greater degree of likelihood to the achievement of the goals you write down: 

  1. Write them down every day when you wake up
  2. Look at them each night before you go to bed
  3. Affirm yourself often as being capable of accomplishing your goals
  4. Share them with someone
  5. Create a written plan for how you’ll achieve the goals with clear action steps you can follow – or – just keep plotting out what the next action is on each goal and get it done one by one

To see the full list and for additional information, visit http://www.buildandbalance.com/blog/.

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A Business and a Life – You Can Have Both

Judi CogenAt The Growth Coach, our process is all about helping people find their WHY, which, for me, is a mission that’s close to my heart. I’m Judi Cogen and before I started with The Growth Coach’s corporate team, I lived the struggles that many of you face every day. Let me start at the beginning…

When I graduated from Columbia Business School in the 80s, I joined a big consulting firm. I traveled constantly and I understood that was how it was supposed to be. But after a while, I realized my plants were all turning brown and I hadn’t had a date in 6 months. Something had to change. I took a job with Avon, got married, had a son, moved to Cincinnati and had a daughter. I had work and life balance. I was happy.

Along the way, Avon had some major changes and I left the company to rejoin the consulting world before opening my own retail franchise. I thought I was being smart by getting into a franchise early, but the system wasn’t strong enough and the economy was crashing. Even worse, it was retail, so I was working seven days a week. My kids had to call me to say goodnight. Even my marriage was falling apart, although I didn’t realize that until after we decided to close the store. Money was tight and I didn’t know what we were going to do, but at least I had my family. That’s when I joined The Growth Coach.

The Growth Coach is special because we help people get their lives back. I am here because I understand that no business owner – our franchise owners or their clients – should have to go through what I went through. No one should have to choose between owning a business and having a family. No one should be faced with having to choose between being able to feed their family and actually having a family to feed.

The Growth Coach is known for our Strategic Business Owner quarterly workshops and the thing we hear most often is that business owners don’t have time for the program. Let me tell you something I’ve learned – you don’t have time NOT to dedicate to being strategic about your business. If you don’t schedule time with yourself to make changes and improvements to your business, nothing will change. Everyone wants a business they don’t have to manage every day that can run on its own – and The Growth Coach can help you get there – but it takes time.

Sit down and think about where you are dedicating your time right now. Are there tasks you can delegate? Or errands you can combine to save time? Sometimes making time for the most important things takes making an adjustment in your life. A while back I read an article in the paper about a man who had written an email to his college-age children every day while they were away at school. It was a lovely article and, when I shared it with my son, he asked if I would do that for him. I accepted his request and decided to turn what could have been daily emails into a daily blog called Dear Kid, Love Mom. No matter how busy I am or how little I think I have to say that day, I make time to do this for my son because it’s important to him. We don’t usually talk about the posts or what he thinks of the topics (which are quite varied) but he always notices if a new post hasn’t been published, so I know he’s reading them and I know it’s important that I keep writing.

I’m hoping you can think of your business the same way. Even on days when you’re staring at the proverbial blank screen, take the time to figure out where to go from there. Make a conscious decision to make the business – and your life – better. Make time to make your business stronger and make time for your friends and family. You can have both, but you have to find the balance that makes it all work together. If you’re having trouble doing this on your own, The Growth Coach can help.

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Falling in Love with your Business Again

 With the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, it’s the perfect time to look at the relationships in your life and be thankful for the positive influences in your life. If you’re a business owner, that should include examining the relationship between you and your business.

As President of The Growth Coach, I want to ask you some tough, but potentially revealing, questions:

  • As a business owner, could you leave your business today for one or two months and come back to find it operating smoothly and profitably?
  • Could you even escape for two weeks?
  • When was the last time you had a work-free, guilt-free vacation with no work calls, emails or paperwork?
  • If you found yourself seriously ill or disabled, would your business survive?
  • When physically away from the business, can you be mentally away from the business?
  • Do you have systems in place that keep you out of every transaction, decision and problem? Or does every aspect of the business depend on you?

If you answered “no” to most of these questions, odds are that you’re a prisoner to your business. That’s not how it should be! You opened a business to OWN a business – not to RUN a business. You should have a business and not just a stressful, 80-hours-per-week job. Your business should serve you and your dreams, not keep you from them, and it all starts with having effective business systems in place!

Bottom line, you should run your business. It should not run you, your family or your life. Your business should work harder so you don’t have to. It should be systems-dependent and not owner-dependent or even expert-dependent for its success. Your systems should be consistently directing your employees on what to do and how to do it. Your business should have its own heart, mind, and soul – it shouldn’t steal yours!

Stop for a moment and think of the consequences. If everything in your business flows through you and is dependent upon you, then you are dramatically restricting the growth and profits of your company. As a single person, there are natural limits to the amount of work, transactions, problems and decisions you can manage in a given day. By being involved in every aspect, you will continue to restrict the development of your employees and business and ensure your persistent exhaustion. Stop missing out on greater personal freedom, money and happiness. You need to step back and manage the business instead of run the business!

Here are some resources to help you stop feeling like a prisoner to your business:

 – Nathan Owens, President of The Growth Coach

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Don’t GAMBLE with Your Business

compassStarting a new year is always about new beginnings and starting fresh, but it’s been a few weeks now, so are you sticking to those resolutions? Because if you’re not planning ahead, building a business on strategy and just reacting to the changes your business faces, then you are gambling with your business. Don’t sit back and HOPE that things will change or tell yourself that THIS TOO SHALL PASS – create a plan for making improvements!

Instead of gambling with your business, try this G.A.M.B.L.E. to build a stronger company:

Growth: Your business can only grow when you, the business owner, grow. Are you focused on personal professional growth? To face reality about where you spend your time and money, check your bank account and your calendar. Did you make personal growth and development a priority in 2014? Did you work with a coach? Buy coaching books? Take a class? Great wealth and fulfillment await you, but you have to leave your comfort zone to grow. Challenge yourself to identify ways you’re going to grow for the next 90 days and for all of 2015.

Accountability: Are you spending your time making money? Or just excuses? You can’t spend precious time blaming the economy, the competitors, the customers or anyone else. Your business can only soar if you take 100 percent responsibility and ownership of your results. You cannot be the victim of your business because that means you’re giving away the power to change and improve. If you’re not holding yourself accountable, consider hiring a coach or building an accountability partnership with someone in your life like your CPA, banker, attorney, business partner, etc.

Marketing: It doesn’t matter what product or service you’re selling – every business owner is in the business of marketing. If marketing is not one of your top three priorities, then you won’t be in business for long. Go back to your calendar and your checkbook to find out if you’re truly making marketing a priority. Spend time in the next 90 days thinking about how to generate and close more qualified leads and how you can be more of a go-giver in your community. Decide to become more than a technical expert so you can be successful.

Beliefs: Take a strong look at all aspects of your business and your belief system and ask yourself, “what’s holding me back?” It’s your fears, uncertainties and doubts. Don’t let your limiting beliefs build a ceiling over your business. If you could do one thing to improve your business today, what would it be? What’s holding you back? Just because something is scary doesn’t mean it’s not the best option. You have to step outside your comfort zone to build a great business.

Leverage: Every business owner needs greater leverage, which means finding ways to get the greatest results/return with the least amount of time, effort, money and risk. Learn to leverage your employees, marketing, best practices, technology, business systems, referral sources, strategic alliances, etc. As a business owner, you need to be the CEO of your business, not the person working the front desk. By leveraging your resources, you can create time for you to focus on growing and running the business.

Enjoyment: If you’re not enjoying the journey of being a business owner, you’re letting the business steal your life. Did you get into this to work 80 hours a week? Or did you become a business owner to build a better life? Step back and learn to balance work with life – for the sake of yourself and your family, but also for the sake of your business and your employees. Consider this: Are you really the best version of yourself after 80 hours of the continuous grind? Probably not. Disconnect from work, reset your emotional battery and learn to balance life with work.

If you’re having trouble with any of the elements of G.A.M.B.L.E, the Growth Coach can help. Find a coach here: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/locator.aspx.

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Grow Your Business in 2015 by Writing a Better Future

rising arrowCan you believe we’re already more than a week into 2015? What actions have you taken to write the story of your business for the year? The future of your business – and your life – all starts with you. You are the one who holds the pen and nothing will change if you don’t. Embrace this New Year as a new opportunity to do things differently. Make a resolution to improve your business and your life in 2015 by making more effective decisions moving forward.

To get started, take a look at 2014. What were your goals for business growth in 2014? How close did you come to meeting those goals? Go through all the decisions and actions you made last year that may have kept your business from growing and hold yourself accountable. Making tough decisions always includes embracing risk, but you have to start making changes to build a more successful business in 2015. If you aren’t willing to take risks, you can rest assured that this year will be just like last year. So take a step back, evaluate 2014, learn from your successes and failures, and make the appropriate changes for 2015. You can start with these questions:

  • What didn’t work in my business in 2014?
  • What do potential buyers see when looking at my business? What are the concerns and fears?
  • Were there any problems or issues I refused to face?
  • Did I put off making decisions or making changes?
  • What worked well last year and how can I replicate that?
  • If I could change one thing about my business or personal life, what would it be?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you have a place to start from on writing the future of your business and personal life. You have to understand what’s wrong so you can fix it. The New Year is an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself, but you have to be ready to embrace these changes as a way of life and not just another resolution. Schedule monthly and quarterly meetings with yourself this year to ask these questions, reevaluate your goals and create a strategic plan for success.

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Hurry Up and Slow Down … A Day for Reflection

HolidayAny job can get old after a while when you’re working 60 hours a week and living at the office every weekend, and anyone who has lived that life can tell you that being worn out means you’re not doing your best work. The same is true for business owners and entrepreneurs. I’m publishing this blog post on Christmas Day because I want you to ask yourself, when was the last time you took a break? When was the last time you took a real break from the craziness, complexity and chaos? When did you do something fun and rejuvenating just for you? I’m willing to bet it has been a while.

Don’t you deserve an occasional day off where you can be free from the daily obligations, routines, challenges, headaches, worries, and tasks?  Absolutely!  Couldn’t you benefit from time away from your business to do something fun or relaxing to recharge your body, mind, and soul?  Without question!  Failing to get away from the business on occasion is a major mistake that will cost you and your company dearly.

Our Growth Coaches around the world regularly tell their clients to take time to get away from their businesses. Building a successful business is a marathon – not a sprint – and you have to take care of yourself if you want to survive the long haul and end the race with a smile on your face. Here’s the bottom line: if an entrepreneur builds a successful business and earns great wealth but it’s at the cost of their health, heart and happiness, then what’s the point?

The best way to fall back in love with your business and stay sharp is to build fun into your schedule. Open your calendar to Q1 of 2015. Pick a day within the next three months when you’re going to do something fun and write it onto your schedule. If you need to move the date around, that’s OK, but at the end of the quarter, hold yourself accountable for having that day of fun. Time away can help you relax your mind, refresh your spirit and come back with a new perspective and attitude. It’s a powerful tool and it will help you to be more successful.

Make a New Year’s Resolution this year to avoid getting caught in that vicious cycle of business and take breaks when you need them, even when you seem too busy. It will pay off in the long run!

Nathan Owens

President of The Growth Coach

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Why Do Some Achieve Amazing Business/Life Success and Others Fall Short? Grit.

Nathan OwensWhen Angela Lee Duckworth presented at TED Talks Education last year, she tackled a subject prevalent not just in education, but also in business – Grit. Grit, she explained, is that perfect combination of passion and perseverance. In her research, this teacher turned psychologist could predict everything from which kids would graduate high school or win at the spelling bee to which cadets would make it through West Point United States Military Academy and which sales people would be successful at their jobs.

Of course having that passion and perseverance is also what makes a successful entrepreneur.

Think about the most successful business person you know. I’m sure they’re smart people, but are you measuring that based on IQ or business sense they’ve learned over the years? In Duckworth’s research, she found that people with grit also follow a certain growth mindset – a belief that failure is not a permanent solution.

To me, one particular quote stood out above the rest of Duckworth’s presentation: “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in and day out … and working really hard to make that future a reality.”

So are the best business people those with high IQs? Or those who are willing to work hard every day to fulfill their dreams and overcome failures along the way? I would absolutely say it’s the second group. Being successful in business and as an entrepreneur is not about how smart or talented you are – it’s about how hard you’re willing to work for success. If you’re a budding business owner or entrepreneur, ask yourself, do you have the grit it takes to be successful and reach your long-term goals?

While researching for this blog post, I came across a post on Forbes.com from contributor David K. Williams. David turned Duckworth’s research into an aptly titled Gritometer Quotient. Check out his story to see if you have what it takes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2014/12/01/do-you-have-enough-grit-to-make-it-as-an-entrepreneur.

Nathan Owens

President of The Growth Coach

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Slow Down, Reflect and Give Thanks this Thanksgiving

thanksgivingIn honor of Thanksgiving, this Growth Coach blog is focused on the importance of giving thanks. First of all, I wish you and your family a very relaxing and blessed Thanksgiving and may you truly recognize and count your many blessings today and on a regular basis. It’s important to regularly slow down, reflect, and appreciate all the wonderful people and simple pleasures you have in your life.

To get started, let’s face reality. If it’s been a tough year, you’re probably feeling less thankful, grateful and appreciative of your business and more anxious and irritated. Ask yourself, are you focusing more on your burdens than your blessings? Are you giving more time to your problems than your opportunities? Business may still be rough, but the special people and simple things closest to our hearts still exist and are close at hand. Isn’t that so? What matters most is still available for us to recognize, love, enjoy and appreciate. Don’t let turbulent times blind you.

We all just need to burn off the fog of adversity and negativity to gain a better perspective and clearly see our true and meaningful wealth, not just our monetary wealth. Slow down, catch your breath, reflect, and count your bountiful blessings this Thanksgiving. This will help recharge your spirit, confidence, energy level, positive attitude, and sense of clarity – all essential for greater success.

So, my fellow business owner, entrepreneur or professional, who and what specifically are you thankful for? I am thankful for all our passionate franchise owners who serve and help several thousand small business clients each and every year. I am also grateful for all our dedicated Growth Coach employees, vendors, and advisers who help support our critical mission of improving communities around the world by helping the entrepreneurs in those communities achieve greater success in their businesses and balance in their lives. What we do makes a real difference, touches lives, and is very fulfilling.

What are you really thankful for this year? Go ahead, slow down and think about it. Many goal-oriented, hard-charging and successful professionals have a hard time slowing down to reflect and count their blessings. They tend to be focused on the next goal, next sale, next project, next result… They seldom stop to smell the roses, enjoy their victories, look back at their progress or count their good fortunes. Take time this Thanksgiving to truly give thanks.

Nathan Owens

President of The Growth Coach

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Business Owner: Don’t Get Comfortable

Stressed Woman Business OwnerWhen was the last time you settled for good enough? Or made the excuse that you’ve tried everything and none of it worked? Come on – let’s face it – there’s no way you could have actually tried everything, right? Sure, not every solution will be perfect for you or your business, but you can’t get comfortable with good enough.

Although the economy is recovering and businesses are more stable than they were three years ago, people are still using the economy to explain why people aren’t buying their product or service. Or they think people aren’t coming to their coffee shop because there’s a chain shop down the street. You have to face the truth – if your business isn’t as successful as you’d like, YOU are the answer. Step back, evaluate the failures and successes, create a plan and then get back to work.

I’m sure you already work a lot of hours and are slaving away to make your business successful while still having balance in life. Ask yourself this: is the work you’re doing during those hours busy work or work that’s vital to the growth of your business? Don’t spend time on non-essential tasks that are not income-producing.

Basically, you can’t get comfortable. If you go to work every day with a set routine of work that keeps you busy, but doesn’t improve your business, that’s not good enough. You need to be able to clear the fog that being comfortable has created to find the right path. Having a strategic mindset means finding ways to manage your time, delegate non-essential tasks, create effective business systems, marketing your product or service and focusing on growth.

Is your mindset strategic or are you settling for good enough?

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