A holiday party for the rest of us

As an entrepreneur, your startup or small business might not be quite large enough for a traditional “company holiday party”. That’s where the folks at Startup Grind and StartupOKC come in. They’re joining forces to put on a holiday party for the rest of us! And it’s being held at our place!

All the fantastic details are here: https://www.meetup.com/StartupOKC/events/rnfmdqyxqbbc/

And (very budget friendly) tickets can be bought here: https://www.startupgrind.com/events/details/startup-grind-oklahoma-city-presents-startup-grind-holiday-party/#/

Hope to see you there!

5 Action Items if you are contemplating starting a business

Two reasons I hear from people wanting to start a business is to make money and to have more freedom. However, the reality is you won’t get either of those from owning your own business, especially in the start-up phase. In fact, you won’t get those things in the long term without a solid business strategy.

So today, I wanted to offer 5 Action Items to help delve into your motivations, follow your curiosity and determine if having a business is really the path for you.

#1 Update your resume.

Your resume is your brochure until you figure out what your business is going to be. Your resume tells potential customers, vendors, bankers, partners, who you are and what skills and expertise you have.

  1. Spin you current and past jobs to highlight those skills that align with your future business. I’m not asking you to lie, just think in terms of how all those jobs and experience prepared you for what you are thinking about doing now.
  2. Update or create your LinkedIn profile. This is your virtual resume. Make them mesh. Don’t say one thing on the paper resume and a different thing on your LinkedIn profile. Be authentic. Put this link in your email signature. This is a great substitute for a website that you don’t need right now anyway.
    SIDE NOTE: Now is the time to get rid of those yahoo and hotmail email addresses — create a clean gmail one, like firstname.lastname@gmail.com. Gmail is free and you get 15 Gig of storage and the Google suite of office products, Docs, Sheets and Slides.
  3. Connect with recruiters and get their advice on how to improve your resume and Linkedin profile
  4. Go for job interviews. This is an amazingly cheap way to practice selling yourself and your abilities. This doesn’t mean you will accept a new position, but you never know.

REALITY CHECK — your desire to be your own boss might actually be coming from the fact that you are simply unhappy in your current job. This act of updating your resume and talking to recruiters and going on interviews could very well lead you to an amazing new job where you can have more freedoms and flexibility that you are craving

#2 Work for a small business.

Small as in a company with less than 10 employees. This could be a part time 2nd job.

  1. Small business owners wear lots of hats. If you’ve been working in big business then you’ve probably had a fairly well defined job role and it would be good to experience first hand what running a business really looks like.
  2. Small businesses can’t pay as much and might not have the great benefit package, but it’s a step in the right direction of getting use to living on less (see action item 5) and making needed adjustments to start your own business.
  3. In a small business, if you have business chops, you can advance quickly. You can position yourself to become a Key employee, maybe even negotiate some equity after you’ve proven your worth. Perhaps this is the balanced approach because you can compliment the talents of the owner that way. Finding this ideal match is going to take some effort though.

REALITY CHECK — Owning your own business isn’t easy and it is no get rich quick strategy. It’s not for the faint of heart of thin skinned. Get a front row seat to the real ups and downs of cash flow and supply and customer issues. Working in a small business also might give you the freedom of being your own BOSS because the environment is much less structured when the business is small.

#3 Take personality tests

Follow your curiosities (suggested ones are at the end of this article)

  1. These are fun tools and are actually kinda interesting to help you figure out areas of interest, strengths and weakness, risk tolerance, communication styles.
  2. There isn’t one specific personality type that makes a successful entrepreneur. However, the most successful do share certain traits, like high tolerance for risk (living without health insurance or taking a pay cut, for example), visionary, perseverance, able to fail and /or be rejected and still keep on trucking.

REALITY CHECK — If you are thinking about being a business owner or your own boss, it’s really important to create clarity around those musings. You might be thinking of these things for not so obvious reasons. Try to honestly evaluate your goals. In 10 years, if you achieved what you are currently thinking about, what would that look like? Would you be sailing around the world on a yacht? If so, then you might research cost of yachts and go to a boat show so you have something tangible to aim at. Also, you might explore job opportunities that exist in the charter yacht business. See where I’m going with honest evaluations? Dreams are good but if you really want to achieve them it’s important to create actionable steps to make them reality. Owning a business to make tons of money to allow you to sail around the world on a yacht, does not a business plan make.

#4 Ask for the sale

This is a confidence building exercise and will take practice.

  1. Don’t give away all your products and services for free. Even if you only charge $20 for your service to start, you are getting in the practice of valuing yourself. These prices are NOT set in stone – You can and will and should change them as you figure out your business revenue models.
  2. Don’t worry about pricing yourself too low. These first sales are going to help you develop your products/service and give you feedback to what works. Then when things start getting serious you have some experience to base your strategy and pricing models on.
  3. Don’t give away 100% of your products. Set a limit on the quantity for promotional use. Limiting the number you give away means you have to sell the rest. Learning how to ask for the sell is crucial. And to get good and find your style, you must practice. Use % off coupons instead of give-a-ways.
  4. Ask for referrals

REALITY CHECK — If you struggle with this then you might not be cut out for being a business owner or you might need a partner that can handle sales.

#5 Learn about money, cash flow and budgeting

YES YOU MUST DO THIS

  1. Start at home. Look at revenue ( that’s your income. Aka your paycheck.) Now compare that to your expenses. (That’s your bills and where you spend your money). The difference is your profit. Ask the tough questions. To make more profit you either have to bring in more revenue (increase sales) or cut expenses (reduce spending)
  2. Businesses that have awesome sales can fail because they don’t know how to budget and control costs and spending. You must know your numbers. If your significant other does the bills at home, then get involved and learn your profit margin.
  3. As you look at your home P&L (that stands for profit and loss) statement, your first money goal is to create a start up fund by reallocating where you currently spend money and shift some into your startup fund.
  4. If you are in debt, then before you do your startup fund, pay off your debt. (this doesn’t mean your mortgage, but it could)
  5. Learn the difference between fixed costs and variable, between overhead and cost of sales expenses.

REALITY CHECK — This doesn’t mean you have to be the bookkeeper forever, but you must understand the numbers and the ratios and how the economics of business work. You need to be able to read your financials and determine your pricing markups and make decisions about expenses. Start today with your personal P&L.


I’ve covered a ton of info here. I’m happy to help you navigate any of these Action Items as you figure out if starting a business is right for you. Being a BOSS Member is a great place to start and get access to coaching and mentoring.


Personality tests:  Use these as self-assessment tools and as a way to learn your likes and dislikes, your strength and weaknesses, and creative process to determine your interests.  Don’t take them too serious.  Again, follow your curiosity and explore who you are.

14 Free Personality Tests – The Muse

EVENT: Whodunit Dinner Theater Program – Oct 25, 2018

We would love to have you and your team join us for our first ever Employee Appreciation Dinner- Murder Mystery Style. Join the fun in solving a WhoDunIt mystery, enjoying a catered dinner, and a cash bar. Buffet style dinner starts at 6:15 pm with the show starting at 7 pm. This gives you 45 minutes to eat, network and show off your team to other businesses in the OKC area before the show starts. Everything should wrap up by 9:15 pm.

Purchase Tickets HERE

Hosted by Easy Time Clock

Running Wild Catering will be providing dinner.

Whodunit Dinner Theater will be putting on the show.

Treat your employees to a special night of fun as Whodunit Dinner Theater  presents “The Gravest Showman”.  Can you guess who did it? There will be lots of laughs!

This event is open to the public.

Details:
Thursday, Oct 25, 2018
6:15pm
$35 each
$130 for a Table of Four.
$250 for a Table of Eight

Purchase Tickets HERE

EVENT: Visions, Plans, Strategy, OH MY!

Welcome Fall.  Welcome 4th Quarter.

Hey BOSSes!

4th quarter is a great time to start planning for next year. Vision Boards: A time to prepare for end of year, look into next year, and clarify your visions. Business Plans: A time to hone your intentions and assess your goals.  Strategic Planning: A time to reflect on whats working and what isn’t.

Let’s take these daunting tasks and give them some creative energy with our Boss Art™ event for October.

DETAILS:
Monday Oct 15
Noon to 6pm – Come and Go.
At Project 3810 Event Space
3810 N. Tulsa Ave.  OKC 

REGISTER HERE

Things we’ll have

  • magazines
  • markers
  • poster board
  • tape, glue, staples
  • BOSS Advisers
  • samples vision boards
  • snacks and beverages

Things you can bring

  • your laptop or tablet if desired to assist with ideas and research
  • your own stack of old magazines to share
  • open mind
  • positive energy

REGISTER HERE

Is It Performance or Behavior?

I’m always amazed when the last puzzle piece falls into place.  Ah ha, the satisfaction. 30+ years in business and navigating now 40 employees and yet very excited about this puzzle piece that fell into place recently.

I’m a student of Patrick Lencioni since around 2012 (a book review on that to come later). I have methodically worked to implement his concepts in our business because they make sense to me.  He advocates an approach to the mission, vision, values that connects with me. So, around 2014 we created our core values based on his approach. In 2017, the latest iteration of our core values was rolled out. 

Both Lencioni and Greg Crabtree and other HR professionals alike, suggest that all personnel documents should tie into those core values.  We haven’t yet reached that state. I’ve been struggling on the exact specifics of what that looked like. It just hadn’t all come together yet. 

Currently, we have one discipline system.  Verbal, written, termination. Standard 3 strikes system. Any and all issues use this one system.  We’ve used it. Its worked OK. There’s been sometimes where it just kinda felt like it fell short. But I couldn’t tell you why specifically.

While our current system and process was working, I knew there was something that was incomplete.  I had worked hard to get our HR systems to grow from the mom and pop atmosphere to one of standard processes.  We have departmental managers in place working on developing their teams. Yet, at the heart, there was still some subjective decisions, ineffective hiring, and incomplete employee development.  

In July we transitioned away from our previous PEO to our new one, Insperity. Insperity brings a more established HR approach and systems to our business.  And low and behold, there it was right in front of my face.

The HR system should include two processes.  One for conduct issues and one for job performance issues.   AH HA! The missing piece.

Let me break it down.

Is It Performance or Behavior?

Behavior problems are usually within the employee’s control, e.g., when an employee is chronically late, tells off-color jokes or spreads hurtful gossip. Other examples of unacceptable behavior include: not following rules or procedures, being untruthful, failing to follow instructions and so on.  Core values most generally align with behaviors and attitudes.  

Performance problems are different from behavior problems because they are not always within the employee’s control. Performance problems, such as poor productivity, usually occur due to a lack of training, awareness or understanding about requirements, and so on.

Ok — so more specifically.  These two types of employee problems require two different methods to address and hopefully correct.

Behavior problems are classified as misconduct and a company can tie their established core values into the behavior category.  Thus effectively giving a means to gauge an employee based on how well an employee aligns to the company culture. Addressing behavior problems, aka misconduct, uses a counseling approach.  The progressive employee discipline –the standard 3 strikes process.

Performance problems however should not use a 3 strikes process but rather a results based metric about achieving the desired performance on a consistent basis. The purpose of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is to define areas of concern, reiterate performance expectations, and to allow you the opportunity to demonstrate improvement and commitment. The strategies, actions or tasks to achieve the performance expectations should be clear, realistic and measurable.  

Are you seeing the unique differences between these two employee issues taking shape? Let me know show one other huge difference.

Unemployment benefits.

Qualifying for unemployment benefits is different based on these two distinctions as well.

If termination was strictly for performance reasons and no behavior problems were involved, unemployment benefits most likely will be approved. Performing to the best of one’s ability but not having the necessary skills or experiences for success in the position is an allowable reason for unemployment.  

On the other hand, behavior problems, aka misconduct, are a reason for denying unemployment.  

Management accountability.

I can now see using this to better hold the correct teams accountable for our turnover metrics. Tracking trends in order to improve employee engagement and reduce turnover.  Understanding these two components of a successful employee will ultimately help in choosing employees who will achieve and succeed in your business.

It all makes so much sense and seems so simple now.  How did I miss this last piece of the puzzle? It just goes to show that we don’t know what we don’t know and there’s always more to learn.  Heck, this probably isn’t actually the last piece – but it definitely is a completion of sorts — like finding all the edge pieces.

Keep following your curiosities, keep asking questions, keep implementing new ideas.

Achieving is a balancing act  

If you are struggling making progress on your goals, ask if you tend to focus on one — learning or doing — rather than both.  Do you drift easier towards one side of the scale verses the other? The the side you tip to is your procrastination zone.


The Learner:

Too much learning and not enough doing means you aren’t applying what you’re learning and you aren’t working on the tasks that will get you where you want to go. You instead are avoiding. Put down the book, cancel that seminar.  Now go make that phone call, design that prototype, write that press release, crunch those numbers. Put into practice what you’ve been learning. Try. If this is hard then you are dealing with our old friend fear. Fear that you will look silly or mess up or not do it perfect, or worst still… FAIL. Lower your expectations of perfection and try anyway. As you DO that self-talk of self-doubt will start to change to self-confidence. Trust yourself to use the skills you’ve been learning. Psych yourself up. You can DO it! Go forth and get something DONE.

The Doer:

Too much doing and not enough learning means you might be spinning your wheels and not getting where you really want to go. Allow yourself to see the big picture and formulate a road map. As you stop and reflect, you will realize there are questions you have and those questions are scary. How will you ever find the answers. Doing for the sake of doing is another way to avoid what you don’t know. No need to be embarrassed. There are no stupid questions. Start by writing down the questions that arise while you are still and quiet and NOT DOING. Just write them all down. No judgement. Now refer back to your road map. One of those questions will stir more stress than another. Focus on that one first. Now google that question. Read, research, LEARN. Make notes. Keep reading and seeking until you feel good about what you have learned. Until you realize your question is answered. This answered question will most likely create more questions and that is the idea. Keep on keeping on.

The Summation:

Learners don’t get going and Doers don’t know where they’re going.

The Fix:

Doers — allow yourself pauses and time to reflect.
Learners — allow yourself a chance to get something done.

Get out of the comfort zone you tend to hang out in and find that balance of learning and doing.  Results will not be far behind. 

Balance is allowing time and space to be both a learner and a doer. We need to have both to reach our destinations. We must learn the things we don’t know; and, yet, do the what needs to get done.

Only then can we call ourselves Achievers!

 

Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!

BOOK REVIEW

Greg Crabtree is a CPA. He knows what he is talking about. His book breaks down the money strategies a business should follow into easy to digest chunks. This is a process book, not a concept book. Crabtree gives us actionable steps to implement in our accounting, HR and sales departments.

This isn’t a book you read and then set aside. This is a book you study and implement and tweak and adjust and then read and study again and implement and tweak. Rinse and Repeat.

The way we manage our business on the financial side of things can be overwhelming, especially if your forte isn’t accounting. However,  if you aren’t managing for profit then you will find that profit eluding you.

This book changed the way I plan and budget for our business.   I especially appreciated the salary cap idea and avoiding salary creep.

A definite must have in your business how-to arsenal.

Read an excerpt

Workshop and warehouse space for lease

We have the following spaces available.

  • Suite K:   417 sq ft of conditioned workshop space
  • Suite W7:  1150sq ft of conditioned warehouse/shop space
  • Suite W8:  1558 sq ft of conditioned warehouse/shop space
  • Suite W2:  540 sq ft of warehouse/shop space
  • Suite W3 & W4:  850 sq ft of warehouse/shop space

 

What’s the next step?

Business is business.  This is nothing new.  It’s been done a thousand times before.   Just google “business advice” or any other business question you have and you WILL get lots of great articles with absolutely great advice on that question you needed answered.

So what’s the problem.  Why is starting a business so hard?

Because you don’t know what you don’t know.  You haven’t actually done it before.  You don’t know what questions to ask.

We do. We can help.