Your Business’ Health Depends on Your Mental Health

There’s no denying that it has been a whirlwind 18 months and, for business owners, the demands have been non-stop. From closures to staffing to supplies to mandates, just keeping the doors open is an 80-hour-a-week job. But no one can keep that up forever.

As Growth Coaches, we see burnout all the time, but the crises surrounding COVID-19 have brought it to a fever pitch in a way we haven’t seen since 2008. It’s time to take a stand for your own mental health and the health of your business. Just like with your regular health, you can’t wait until you’re dying to ask for help. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

First of all, a public service announcement: if you are truly struggling in a way that’s impacting more than your business, please reach out to mental health professional. While we are passionate about business and the way your mindset impacts your company, we want you to get the right help. With that out in the open, here’s where we start with our clients and with our own businesses…

Step back. Before you can even assess your current situation, both mentally and with your business, you have to be able to see the forest. You have to get out of the trees. We know it’s hard – you’re short staffed, your supplies are running low, you’ve lost your best manager – but it’s critical that you find a way to step away from your business and take an objective look at your successes, your challenges, your goals and your shortcomings.

The next step comes down to mindset. Are you swimming in the challenges? Are you forgetting to celebrate your successes? It’s easy to pity yourself and use something like COVID as an excuse, but businesses have always had to focus on change, growth and challenges to be successful. It’s time to retool your mindset and, at The Growth Coach, we suggest creating 90-Day Goals. Don’t waste your time worrying about how close we are to the end of the year or what you’re going to do in 2022. Just think about the next three months.

Now that you’ve taken a step back, gotten your mindset in order and created goals, it’s time to trust your team and empower them to help you reach those goals. And, if you can’t trust them to run the company in a way that helps you meet those goals, it’s time to take a look at your staffing, your systems and your leadership.

And that brings us to balance. We know starting a business is crazy. We know the last year and a half has been unprecedented. We know you are killing yourself to keep this dream alive. But we have to ask you something… What’s your why? And what’s the point of all of this if you lose everything else in the process? We understand what it’s like to have a dream and to sometimes feel like it’s slipping through your fingers, but we’ve seen too many business owners find themselves burned out and miserable because they didn’t focus on creating balance.

If you’re having trouble with keeping your business healthy by focusing on your own mental health, your local Growth Coach can help. Find them online at https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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Dear Business Owner: You Need a Vacation

You need a vacation. Not a checking-my-phone-all-the-time-because-I’m-home-anyway vacation. A real vacation. A get-the-heck-out-of-dodge vacation. A night-time-at-a-campfire-in-the-wood vacation. A day-drink-on-the-beach vacation. Whatever strikes your fancy – and you feel like you can do safely – go.

Getting business owners and entrepreneurs to take time off to recharge has always been difficult, but when you tack on 2020 and the way we’ve all learned to work from anywhere, people are having more trouble than ever unplugging. What makes this even more interested is that the COVID-19 pandemic gave us a fresh perspective on spending time with family, traveling and truly appreciating every day… so what’s the problem? Why can’t we just take our own advice and go?

Sure, finances might not be what they were in 2019 and maybe you’re not as well staffed as you were 18 months ago, but at The Growth Coach, we think the real issue is the same as it’s always been… Business owners are so entrenched in the day-to-day operations of their business that they don’t feel like they can get away to relax and recharge. Sound familiar? If this strikes a chord with you, we have some suggestions to help you get to the beach, or the woods, or wherever you want to be on your next vacation.

First of all, you need to hire and train great team members. It’s important to be able to delegate your work to someone on your staff, but if you don’t trust your team to run the business without you, you’re not going to relax anyway. So start at the bottom, find the right people to run and staff your business and onboard them with the right training and systems. Make sure they feel like they can operate the company without asking you 1,000 questions every day.

Secondly, delegate the work and trust your staff to run the business without you. We know it’s hard, but half the battle here is making them feel like you are confident in their abilities. Create systems they can use and trust them to use those systems in the best way possible. The bonus here is, once those systems and leaders are in place, you’ll find that you’re able to take more time out of the office to build your company rather than run the operations in the future.

Thirdly, practice. This is more for you than for your team. If you’re having a hard time imagining how the business can operate without you for a week or two, try taking the afternoon off. Try taking a long weekend. Try calling in sick and seeing how it goes. This isn’t a test for your team – don’t make them nervous. This is a low-risk way for you to reprogram your brain into realizing you aren’t always the lynchpin.

So why is taking a vacation so important anyway? When you are deep in the everyday operations of your business, you aren’t able to step back to see the big picture, you can’t take time to imagine and innovate and you aren’t your most creative self. You’re going to burn yourself out. Vacation is as important for you as it is for your business and your employees. If you don’t feel like you can take a trip – or even a long weekend – this year, it’s time to connect with your local Growth Coach.

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Four Ways to Engage Your Employees and Improve Your Business

While the last year has impacted businesses and individuals in a million ways, there’s something in the undercurrent we’re all starting to realize – the pandemic has helped us get back to seeing people as people. They’re not numbers. They’re not cogs. They’re individuals with their own motivations, successes, challenges, strengths, weaknesses and needs. As we get to whatever our new normal is going to be, treating those people as individuals is more important to employee engagement, retention and the bottom line than ever. So how do you help everyone be their best? Here are four ways to get started:

The Thank You: In the fast-paced world of business, we sometimes forget to say thank you to our managers, teams, employees and partners. Sure, they are doing the work you’re paying them to do, but if you show your appreciation, chances are that they’ll do that job even better. When was the last time you took someone to a (safe) lunch not for a business meeting, but just as a genuine thank you? When was the last time you thanked someone openly in a meeting for something great they did? Taking the time to say thank you makes a big difference.

The Note: While a verbal thank you is awesome, taking the time to create a handwritten thank you note can go even further. Write it yourself – don’t have your assistant do it – and call out the specific things you are thankful for. A simple “thank you for all you do” is great, but it gets old quickly. Sometime like, “thank you for the work you did to make our campaign a success” is much stronger and, if you can call out specific tasks that your team member did, that’s even better.

The Team Gathering: Depending on your individual company, you might not be ready to have a company party – and your team members could be spread around the world – but what can you do to get them together for something more than a meeting? Could you or your managers host small group parties or get everyone together for a happy hour, even on Zoom? Many companies have been doing this throughout the pandemic, but as we return to a more regular working environment, it’s important not to lose out on the togetherness our teams have built while we were apart.

The Conversations: This often goes unnoticed, but as we see more of each other, take time to truly talk to people. How are they doing? How is their work going? How is their family? How are they doing with coming back to work? Is there anything the company can do to make the new normal feel, well, normal? The conversation between leadership and employees is a three-way success story – you’ll get to know your team members better, they might give you some great ideas for improving the workplace and they’ll appreciate that you took the time to have a real conversation that’s not just about the next project.

If you need more ways to connect with your team or your culture is struggling post pandemic, we can help. Find your local Growth Coach at https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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The Growth Coach Partners with RevLocal to Offer Digital Marketing Solutions

For more than 20 years, The Growth Coach has been helping the owners and leaders of small- and medium-sized businesses to build stronger businesses and find balance. Now the business and sales coaching company is excited to announce that, through a new partnership with RevLocal, local coaches will also be able to provide clients with trusted, robust digital marketing solutions.

RevLocal is a digital marketing agency that was founded in 2010. Their focus is on building success through strong relationships and positive experiences. This allows business owners to focus on the other areas while RevLocal works on their online/digital marketing presence, which can sometimes be the most overwhelming part of developing a business in the digital age.

As a major coaching franchise, what made The Growth Coach choose to work with RevLocal? Because RevLocal is flexible, honest, transparent, dedicated and data-driven – all elements that are directly in line with the priorities of The Growth Coach.

First, RevLocal doesn’t expect clients to sign long-term contracts. They understand that clients want control over how long you work with an agency based on how they are hitting goals and expectations. Without a long-term contract, RevLocal is constantly working to earn – and keep – their clients. This speaks to one of The Growth Coach’s key tenants: accountability. RevLocal also has dedicated account managers, meaning clients have the opportunity to develop relationships based on their business needs.

Secondly, RevLocal’s dedicated account managers don’t set clients on a pre-set plan. Sure, there are some best practices for every business, but no two businesses are the same. Much like Growth Coaches use the tools in their toolbox to coach business owners and leaders to greater success, RevLocal uses their vast knowledge of digital marketing and accompanying tools to build an online presence.

Finally, they are honest. They provide clients with hard data about how initiatives are performing, what’s working and what’s not, what they can adjust and what’s making a big difference. Because of this honestly, they also aren’t going to make false promises – like getting businesses to the top of Google with SEO alone.

The Growth Coach is looking forward to working with RevLocal and providing clients with digital marketing solutions that work.

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Developing Innovative, Collaborative Teams

While small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our culture across America, no entrepreneur can do it successfully alone – at least not for long. We all need a corps of team members who are able to work together, innovate together, thrive together and take our companies to the next level. You can’t work on your business if you’re constantly working in your business.

So how do you build “the right” team? And how to do you keep their momentum moving forward in a world where you might not be doing the same teambuilding activities and department lunches you were doing before? And did those activities even truly make a difference? The good news is that we’ve all found ways to work through the location barriers in a variety of ways and the better news is that, if you build the right team, it doesn’t matter where they are located or whether you can take them to lunch.

It all starts with understanding your team members. What drives them? What motivates them? How do they prefer to work? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? How can you build out company teams that help everyone and your company to succeed? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you do all of this as a small business without the human resources team of a large company?

Building the right team is about so much more than behavioral analysis and personality tests. You have to have someone on your side who understands the data and someone who can help you put that data to good use as part of your teambuilding process. That’s why we built our GC Insights program. Sometimes it’s a matter of hiring the right person, but if you’ve already hired and trained a few standout individual employees, it means giving them the right jobs, offering them the right training, putting them on the right team and giving them an opportunity to grow. We can help you get there.

More importantly, building the right teams, training managers and delegating is how you get out of the day-to-day of your business so you can grow your company and enjoy your life.

Let’s explore an example: Kellie owns a marketing company with 12 employees. It’s a small business, but they are doing good work, their clients are coming back and they are on a strong growth trajectory. However, Kellie has a hard time letting go over creating every marketing plan. Is it because she’s passionate about marketing plans? Or has she not built a team she can trust to do that work on their own? And if she micromanages every part of the process, her strongest employees are going to quit and – possibly – start their own firms. If she can create and train a team she trusts to work on their own, she can be out working on getting clients, focusing on branding and recruiting new talent. She can also take a vacation without checking her email every day. It’s not just about building a great team – it’s about building a great team that works seamlessly toward the growth of your business.

If you’re ready to get started, check out The Growth Coach’s GC Insights program or contact your local coach today to learn more: http://thegrowthcoach.com/find-coach/.

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Growing Your Business Through Partnerships

Owning a business can be a lonely career path – you don’t have traditional colleagues or coworkers, you aren’t going to happy hours with your team and you don’t always have someone you can lean on for support. Mentors can make a big difference in that journey, but in this post we want to talk about another approach – developing partnerships.

Strong partnerships – from referral partnerships to promotional partnerships to actual supply and service partnerships – can truly mean the difference between succeeding alongside another entrepreneur and struggling in your own corner. Before we get started, we want to take a minute to mention that, as Growth Coaches, partnerships are an integral part of our own business journey. Our clients trust us to help them along the path of business growth and personal development. Partnerships are vital to the work we do in communities around the world.

So, when it comes to industry partners, take a look around your community, both locally and within your industry. Who you can develop relationships with to help you both grow your businesses together? For example, if you own a restaurant and you meet another entrepreneur who runs a farmer’s market, is there a way you can work together so that both of your businesses can benefit? Of course you can buy your produce from the farmer’s market, but how can you work together to make sure all boats rise together?  

To get started, consider the best ways to develop partnerships in your community and industry. In most situations, it doesn’t make sense to show up on someone’s doorstep with a proposal you created in a vacuum. Does meeting up at networking events make the most sense? Can you approach the potential partners directly in a email? Do you have a shared colleague or friend? Does it start with a LinkedIn connection? Whatever the best way to approach a potential partner might be, it’s important to be clear about your intentions and to outline the potential overall benefits for your business and for their business. Like in any relationship, trust has to be earned and built. It will take time and effort.

Once you have someone’s interest in a partnership, the next step is to create a strategic plan that benefits both parties equally. Sometimes it makes sense to do a brainstorming session over lunch or coffee. Making sure that both partners are getting the full benefit of the partnership is key to keeping everyone satisfied and moving forward. Perhaps your partnership is promotional? Maybe you buy your produce at the local shop and put their logo in your menu and, in return, they include your logo in their advertising and sell gift cards to your restaurant at their store. Maybe it’s a product trade at a reduced rate? Perhaps it could be a direct referral agreement?

If you’re unable to get something started, that’s OK. Not every approach works out and there are typically other options in the marketplace. Our advice is to look for potential partners who are at your level. If you own a small restaurant, it will be significantly harder to break into Whole Foods than the local grocer. The key is that, by working together, you can grow together.

If you could use help creating these kinds of partnerships and developing strategic plans that align your goals, your local Growth Coach can help: https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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Learning Grit with Passion, Practice and People

Persistent. Unshakeable. Tough. Devoted. Steadfast. Resolute. Determined. Driven.

There are a lot of words to describe those whose passion and perseverance help them stand strong, even when the tides change and the winds are strong. The ones with the Indomitable Spirit. At The Growth Coach, when we’re talking about entrepreneurs and business owners, we call that trait Grit.

Somewhere in the universe is an entrepreneur who hasn’t heard no, who hasn’t faced disappointment, who hasn’t had to pivot… but since we haven’t met that person yet, we believe that grit is what separates mediocre business owners from amazing entrepreneurs. It’s that little something that keeps those entrepreneurs from giving up. It’s the trait that keeps them going to funders even after hearing “no” a dozen times. It’s the characteristic that encourages them to focus on innovation to keep their business growing, even when times are tough.

We all know people who are naturally gritty, but it’s also a trait you can learn or grow. There are countless articles and books available on how to grow your grit, but there are three things we’d like to focus on in this post:

Passion: The first – and most obvious – thing to help you have grit is to pursue something you’re passionate about. Sometimes this is as simple as having a product or service you really believe in – something that you feel so strongly about that a hearing “no” a hundred times won’t shake your foundation. The second thing is to think about the passion of the outcome of your business. But what if your business is something more straight forward… like plumbing? Owning a plumbing company might not be the sexiest business venture, but it creates jobs, meets a need in your community, allows you to give back, gives your family the live you want for them… Fueling your drive will keep you passionate and help you to be more gritty.

Practice: This one also has two meanings – you can practice having grit and you can practice to have grit. If you are practicing to have grit, it starts with forcing yourself to learn to get back up when you fall off the horse. You can’t wallow in self-pity when something doesn’t go your way. Practice finding ways to help you accept feedback in a way that keeps you pushing forward. Secondly, when we say practice to have grit, we literally mean to practice. Learn your trade. Practice your speech. Have as many answers as possible ready before you walk into the presentation. Being truly prepared – and not defensive – will help.

People: While this is the most simple item on our list, it’s also tough… Surround yourself with people who are driven, passionate and determined. Hanging out with the “right crowd” will help you learn to have more grit. So why is this hard? Being an entrepreneur is a lonely life sometimes, so making friends can be hard. Try finding fellow entrepreneurs through your Chamber of Commerce, join a BNI group or asking a mentor for help.

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Growth Coach Check In: Where Did Q1 Go?

If there’s anything we can all agree on, especially in challenging times, is that even when the days seem long, time still goes quickly. We’re pretty sure Christmas was, like, two weeks ago… and yet the first quarter is already over! If time has snuck up on you too, chances are good that you haven’t done a 90-day check in on your quarterly or annual goals yet. Before you get discouraged, remember that it’s still only April and you have time to get on track.

To get moving, open your calendar and schedule an out-of-the-office meeting with yourself. We’d recommend taking at least two hours, but the time you think you’ll need is up to you. Block out that time on your schedule, stick to it and plan to leave the office – and your email – behind. If you don’t have this time set aside, checking in on your goals will continue to slip to the backburner and, if you don’t leave the office, you’ll be distracted.

Once you have your meeting scheduled, do your research. You want to spend that meeting examining your original goals, digging into your data, considering the adjustments you made and then planning what actions you can take moving forward to continue to move the needle. You don’t want to spend your meeting trying to dig up Facebook data or sales reports. Round up those materials ahead of time so you can reference them as needed.

When it’s time for your goals meeting, start with examining your goals and comparing them to your progress. If you’ve created SMART goals, they should be fairly easy to measure. If you’ve hit your benchmarks, that’s an opportunity to either decide you’re on the right track and continue your progress or adjust your goals to reflect the progress you’ve made. If you wanted to grow your sales by 3 percent and they grew by 5 percent, don’t just pat yourself on the back and slide back to where you were last year.

If you aren’t quite hitting your benchmarks, we’d suggest looking at three things: (1) Have you fully implemented the changes you were going to make to reach those goals? (2) Are your changes enough to reach those goals over time? (3) Are your goals in line? Sometimes we have to make educated guesses for benchmarks and those guesses aren’t always on point. It’s important to be honest about what’s keeping you from reaching your goals so you adjust, take action and be on track for success throughout the year.

Goal setting, strategic planning and implementing changes are some of the most difficult tasks business owners have to do. If you are struggling in this area or you feel like you are treading water, The Growth Coach can help. Find your local coach at https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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Organize Your Dreams into a Strategic Plan

Most entrepreneurs create a business plan when they launch their company, but sometimes, when you’re wrapped up in the minutia of actually building a business, those plans fall to the wayside. When was the last time you updated your business plan? And does that business plan have a strategic plan behind it?

You read that right – a strategic plan outlines the goals, key performance indicators and targets you’ll work toward in order to support your business plan. Think of it like the roadmap to your success that helps you allocate resources. If you don’t have a strategic plan, this is your wake up call. You need one and it doesn’t have to be a complicated process.

First, take a step back from the day-to-day operations of your business for a bit and look at your business plan. Does that original – or updated – plan still jive with the business you have today? Does that plan itself need updated? If so, start there. If not, then you’re ready to build a plan.

Once you’re ready to start on your strategic plan, you need to know where you stand today. Look at the last three years and put together some high-level data about your business growth, business challenges and business opportunities. Once you have that data, start building out your SMART goals. How many goals you set is likely going to be depend on how aggressive those goals are, the support systems you have in place and the resources you have available.

One you have goals, you need to set key performance indicators, or KPIs. KPIs are the things you are going to measure to see how you are progressing toward your goals. For example, if you want to grow your business by five percent, your KPIs might be an increase in sales, additional staff members or even something like follows on Facebook. Your KPIs are going to depend on your individual goals.

Next you’ll want to set your targets. Targets are the numbers against which you’ll measure your KPIs. If you’re looking at sales, what percentage do you want them to grow or is there a number you want to reach? If you’re looking at staff size, how many additional people do you want to hire. If you have SMART goals, these should be easy to determine.

Once you have your goals, KPIs and targets, you can compare those to your business plan, make necessary adjustments and then start making decisions about how you’ll allocate your time, resources and energy.

A strategic plan is a map to help you reach your goals to help you grow your business. If you need help building that plan, it’s time to reach out to your local Growth Coach.

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How SMART Goals Can Help You Make Smart Progress

When people are talking about goals for their life or their business, it’s easy to keep things generic and bold. Saying “I want to grow my business” is less scary than “I want to grow my business’ income my five percent by the end of the year.” One is easy to brush off and one requires a plan that can be tracked, measured and evaluated. One can be built into a strategic plan and one is just a wish.

Without Goals that are SMART – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based – it’s hard to work toward meeting and exceeding your goals. But where do you start? We can help:

Specific: Goals need to be specifically outlined. If you want to grow your business, do you mean you want to increase your profits? Add staff? Serve more clients? What is the end goal? While some of those boats may rise together, for you to measure your success, you have to get into the specifics of what “growth” means to you.

Measureable: Profits, staff size, sales… those are all measureable goals. However, if your goal is around something like community impact, branding or staff training, things get a bit more nebulous. For example, let’s look at branding. Are you going to send out surveys? Are you going to measure the growth of your social media channels? What’s the number for your goal?

Attainable: Goals should be challenging, but attainable. If you’re going to stay motivated, you need to be able to celebrate successes along the way. If you want to grow your business by five percent, consider the growth you’ve had in the past and what you’ll need to do to see that five percent increase. However, if your business has grown five percent every year, then maybe you can aim for a 7 or 10 percent growth goal.

Relevant: Business growth is likely a relevant goal because most people do want to grow their businesses, but what if that’s not your end game? What if you want to be able to sell your business at the end of the year? In that case, business growth is important, but it might not be the goal you really need to work toward. Maybe your goal is to create a business handbook by the end of the year? Maybe you need to have a business sales plan in place by the end of the year? Goals aren’t always percentage based.

Time-Based: This one is easy – at what point will you measure your progress against your goal? A quarter, a year or two years? Whatever your goal is going to be, it needs a timeline for success.

So let’s look back at our original goal statement: “I want to grow my business’ income by five percent by the end of the year.” Is that a SMART goal? It’s specific: You want to grow your business by five percent in a year. It’s measurable: That’s where the five percent comes in. It’s attainable: This is subjective based on your past business year-over-year growth, but we’ll assume yes for this exercise. Is it relevant: Again, this is subjective, but we’ll assume you want to grow your business, since that seems likely. Is it time-based: Yes! The goal is to reach that five percent growth by the end of the year. How can you rethink your goals to be SMART goals so you can plan, track, measure and evaluate your progress and then take additional action? If you need help, contact your local Growth Coach!

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