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Protecting Your Profits

January 11, 2017 Leave a comment

20 Under 40 20_3This is my monthly column for the Kitsap Sun / Kitsap Business Journal. It’s Part 2 of a 3-part series but will stand alone in it’s value to you. Enjoy!

Last month’s column unveiled Part 1 of creating a strategic growth plan with eschewing the traditional business plan model and focusing on a strategic marketing plan. This month, we dive into a topic that most business owners and entrepreneurs should care a lot about – profits. A strategic growth plan better include profitable growth or you’re just messing around.

There are three components in my strategic growth plan — marketing, protection and financial. This column will cover protection, with the final one to follow next month.

Let’s face it; talking about growing profits is a sexier topic than protecting them, right? The problem is that there are so many monsters out there ready and willing to devour those profits that you need to build a fence around them.

I hate the phrase “risk management.” To me, it implies that “risk” is a bad thing. Without a healthy dose of risk, there are no rewards. Risk is simply a function of your tolerance for it. As an entrepreneur, you need a lot. That’s why I suggest you need to be resilient. My personal definition of resilience is this – the ability to take a punch; jump back up and throw two more of your own. Heck, as a business owner, this may be a daily discipline!

The “burden of reactive chaos” is a state where you’re constantly putting out the proverbial “fire” at the office. Instead of having a plan of attack to deal proactively with chaos, you’re seen constantly running around stamping out those flames with the same vigor and angst as kids hitting a Whack-a-Mole at a carnival. You are reacting to outside crisis and allowing that effort to exhaust your time, your energy, and your mindset. Left unchecked, you’ll find your profits dwindling because you and your employees are working less effectively, while also leaving gaps for those profit monsters to eat at your bottom line.

In order to avoid the “burden of reactive chaos,” you need to have a strategic resilience plan. Have no fear. I’m about to tell you how to get started with one!

How to Create a strategic resilience plan:

— Commit to investing time and money for the protection of your profits and sanity. This is the same concept as preparing your house for a disaster (which I’m certain you all have done). If you as the boss don’t commit to this investment, then who will? That’s right, nobody. Consider your ROI gobs of discretionary time, dramatically improved performance, and happier employees.

— Identify the monsters. What are the most probable obstacles to being wildly successful? The answers are bunched into four categories: physical (e.g. fire); human resources (e.g. employee issues); liability (e.g. negligence to someone else); and loss of income (e.g. brand/reputation). You can’t plan or prevent without identifying what can hurt you. This is the most important step.

— Assess the threats. Are these “monsters” lying in wait under the bed, or almost non-existent? Based on your industry, geography, and best practices, you can determine the likelihood of the chaos. You can also guess how bad it might be (e.g. lost days versus lost weeks). You can build a plan around certain calamities or create a “plug and play” model.

— Write it up. Once you’ve got a plan, write it down and share it with everyone. Create a committee or task force in charge of implementation. Make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergence, especially how to evacuate. If it’s not written, it won’t be followed and your work will have gone to waste.
Practice. When I coached basketball, we would drill daily on end of game situations so we would be prepared when it happened. You need to do the same thing. Ask yourself how many employees can actually use one of the many fire extinguishers in your building. If there is no confidence in carrying out a plan, then reactive chaos flourishes and eats away at your profits like a hungry dog on a bone.

— Build a team. There are plenty of experts out there that can help you. Insurance brokers, consultants, technology specialists and more should be part of your team. Once a year, bring everyone together and brainstorm. Your resilience program needs to be nimble. Things change all the time, and your plan needs to be ready for that.
Patience. This isn’t the most fun thing you will do in your business, but it may be the most important. The main reason smart people let this slide is because they get impatient and allow it to not be a priority. In this case, patience isn’t only a virtue; it might save your business.

There are three key factors that keep otherwise savvy entrepreneurs from getting out of the “burden of reactive chaos.”  They are apathy, complacency, and arrogance. They think it will never happen to them, they’ve done all they can, or (worst) they will figure it out when it happens. Don’t be that guy or gal. Too many people need you to be profitable and open for business – your employees and their families, your clients and customers, your key vendors and partners, and your community. Invest your time in slaying those profit monsters, escape the burden of reactive chaos, and stay constantly in the pink (or in this case, the black!).

Next month: Strategic Growth Plan #3: Financial Fitness

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life. He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. Contact Dan at 360-697-1058, dan@danweedin.com or visit his web site at http://www.DanWeedin.com.

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points:What’s Your Punching Bag?

January 9, 2017 Leave a comment

This Week’s Focus Point: What’s Your Punching Bag?Dan Weedin Unleashed-40

I got a great birthday present last week from my wife and kids. They banded together to get me something I really wanted…a heavy (and speed) bag for my exercise room. I’d started using one in a class at the gym, but I wanted to have access to create my own routine. It’s a great core and endurance work out, and the new year was the perfect time to get going on it!

One of the advantages of working from home for me is that I can access this bag any time I need it. We all are susceptible to periods of frustration, stress, angst, anger, and sadness. It doesn’t need to be a mountain of a problem; often it’s a pebble in our shoe that while temporary, still has consequences to our comfort and peace of mind.

When in a bad mindset – that will happen to all of us – my practice is to change the brain chemicals. That means getting physical. In order to stabilize your emotions and optimize your “smarts” (e.g. mental acuity) to more successfully deal with issues, you’ve got to change the brain chemicals. For me, I can put on the gloves and go thump on the heavy bag until I’m tired. That physicality changes your brain by getting your emotions steadier, and allows you to make better decisions, improve performance, and create a better perspective.

You may not have a heavy bag to thump, but you have something. Go for a walk (even around the office). Do knee bends. Do push-ups. Heck, go on the internet and find dozens of ideas on how to increase physical movement while at work. The important thing is this – if you allow yourself to get emotionally out of sorts, it will kill your productivity, poison your self talk; and lead to poor decision-making. And worse, it will continue the cycle until you break it.

Change your mindset by changing your brain chemistry. The quickest way to do that is by (with apologies to Olivia Newton-John) getting physical.

If you’d like to discuss how I can help you and your company punch out the obstacles in your way for success and unleash your potential, then please call me at (360) 271-1592 or email me.

Quote of the Week:

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

~ Muhammad Ali

punch

 

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: The Burden of Reactive Chaos

January 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Dogs aren’t normally proactive. Captain Jack and Bella are constantly reacting to sights, sounds, and opportunities happening around them. For example, Captain Jack hates the sound of electronic noises emanating from phones (even if they are on TV). His immediate reaction is obnoxious barking, pathetic whining, and a seek and destroy mentality on the object producing the noise. Dogs have no great concern for their future (at least mine don’t), so reacting is simply a part of their instinct.

Many of us humans choose that same instinct. We use terms like: putting out fires; running around like a chicken with their head cut off; and constantly running. The consequences are working late hours, reducing time with family and friends, lack of productivity, and health problems. I’ve witnessed people defend this behavior as a badge of honor, implying that they perform best under crisis.

That’s just dumb.

There is a very real burden of being in constant reactive chaos. It’s mentally and physically fatiguing; it leads to bad decision-making; and it creates anxiety for employees, co-workers, and family members. I believe if given the choice of being in constant crisis reaction mode versus cool and calm, most people will choose the latter.

Here’s what you can resolve to do this new year to reduce your reactive chaos: Identify areas of recurring and constant chaos or adversity. Find ways to eliminate them, rather than constantly putting bandages on them. Take necessary (and often unpleasant) steps to implement your strategy. Be nimble. Set priorities. Stop trying to please everyone. Get outside help. Be resilient. Enjoy the moment.

Note that crisis will occur when least expected and you’ll need to deal with those unexpected setbacks and adversity. However, if you’ve drastically reduced the amount of chaos through proactive behavior, you’ll ultimately be more resilient and happier.

If you’d like to discuss how I can help you and your company reduce your own reactive chaos and unleash your potential, then please call me at (360) 271-1592 or email me. We can all use help in stopping chasing our tails!

Quote of the Week:

“Errors are the consequence of a complicated life.”

~ Alan Weiss

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Look Both Ways Before You Cross

December 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40A few weeks ago, I just barely missed getting hit by a car while I was crossing the street in a crosswalk. This was more than just a close call; it happened so fast and was so close I could actually see the driver’s face clearly as she whooshed by me, oblivious to what nearly happened.

It was early evening and dark on a Friday and I was leaving the funeral reception of a friend. It was cold and crisp and I was bundled up in my black dress overcoat and black hat. As I hit the crosswalk – deep in thought about my friend and her family – I glanced up and looked to my left and saw the car and driver waiting patiently for me to walk by. After about three strides, a car coming from my right and behind came barreling through the intersection almost hitting me. I was so lost in thought I’d really not even slowed down; timing was on my side. I looked at the driver to my left and his expression said it all. That was a calamity averted.

My initial reaction was anger at the driver. I had the right of way and she wasn’t paying attention. In reality, I had culpability. I knew that dressed as I was, I’d be harder to see in the evening. I know that even thought I had the right to be there, but that it didn’t assure my safety. And above all, my parents certainly taught me at a very young age to look both ways before crossing a street. That I failed to do and I was lucky.

Here’s the deal – business (and life) daily are filled with close calls and near misses. While they may not seem as dramatic as my story, you never know what the consequences are. The ramifications might include lost business or opportunity; damaged relationships; loss of revenue or income; loss of reputation; and/or personal stress and anxiety. But most is in our control, just as my situation was.

Take control. If you’re not aware of your surroundings and in the moment; if you don’t dutifully follow your processes that make you successful; if you become complacent or even arrogant; then you’re setting yourself up to get smacked by a car in the intersection of your world. In order to unleash the power your talent and potential, and that of your business, then I’d implore you as my parents did to me decades ago…

Look both ways before you cross…

If you’d like to discuss how I can help you plan to dodge those nasty obstacles that get in your way and unleash your potential, then please call me at (360) 271-1592 or email me. very often, we all need help crossing the road!

Quote of the Week:

“Public opinion is no more than this: what people think that other people think.”

~ Alfred Austin – 19th century English poet

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Enemy Within Your Walls

December 16, 2016 Leave a comment

He is ready to fight for success

This past week, Wake Forest University had to deal with a very unsettling matter. It was revealed that a former assistant football coach turned team radio analyst for the Demon Deacons football program was found to have passed on game plan information from his team (provided to him as part of his job in preparing for games) to opposing teams prior to games.

Let’s make it clear. This guy (for ease of the example) was an assistant coach for the Wake Forest football team. When a coaching change was made, he was not retained as the new head coach brought his own team of assistants with him. This guy was a Wake Forest supporter through and through, seemingly accepted his fate, and then immediately was brought on to the team as the color commentator for the games. Unbeknownst to many, this is akin to be a member of the team. He has access to practices, gets private information on game plans, and is trusted with this material.

After a game against Louisville, it was discovered that game plans had been distributed to Louisville prior to the game. Further investigation found it wasn’t an isolated incident. Long story, short, This guy was implicated and fired. We still don’t know the reasons for this betrayal, but let’s just guess.

Here’s This guy that was terminated. He was allowed to stay in the program because he was deemed “loyal.” Turns out he harbors a grudge and gets on the inside to sell team secrets to opponents. Who knows how long this would have continued if This guy hadn’t been caught.

I know this isn’t national security stuff, but let’s not minimize that these are organizations that employ people. These people keep their positions based on wins and losses. Families are impacted; students are impacted; and the university is impacted. I’ve worked with many small and mid-size businesses that have had similar issues. In fact one small painting business – about 15 employees – had their bookkeeper (acting with CFO functions) steal $25,000 over a 3 year period and used that money to fund her wedding! My client said, “I would have never imagined she would do this.” No kidding! If he had, she wouldn’t have been working there. Problem was, she had done this to a previous employer and my client had not checked references prior. (Yes. She listed the company she stole from. You can’t make this up.)

My question to you is this – could this happen to you?!

The answer is YES. It can and may be to some of you reading this now. While you can’t prevent this in totality, you can greatly minimize the risk to it. Here are three things to consider:

  1. If you terminate someone – or they leave on their own accord, like retirement – the escort them out the door nicely. Do not let them leave with anything that is yours. Cancel their log-in information.
  2. Take care of your client list and proprietary information. That means check their phones for addresses and other important information. If you don’t know how this works, call me and we can discuss.
  3. Be aware of anything that can harm you, including social media.

Bottom line – terminated and disgruntled employees can cause great harm to your company. It happens all the time, yet we rarely hear of it when it happens to small businesses. Protect yourself with a resilience plan that includes this very important issue.

You just may then be able to assure that your “game plan” is safe and secure from This Guy in your own house.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Full Swing Thinking

December 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40I had a great idea a couple of weeks ago. At least, I think it was a great idea.

My garage is very tall because we have a full daylight basement. It’s easily 20 feet straight up and wide enough for two cars. One day when I was in there, I spotted a couple of golf driving range mats I’d purchased for next to nothing from the range when they were going to discard them. I observed my surroundings and came to the conclusion that my garage made a perfect private driving range for me to practice during the winter.

I plopped down a mat about a dozen yards away from the closed garage door and grabbed an 8-iron out of my bag. I took one of my practice balls that is made out of rubber and dropped it on the mat. I took a couple practice swings to feel comfortable. I eyed my target on the heavy wooden door. And then I boldly took a full swing and connected solidly with that 8-iron. You know what happened next…

When rubber traveling at a high rate of speed impacts a very heavy wooden door, the result is the ball shooting straight back to me like a cannon ball being shot out of a cannon. As agile as Russell Wilson evading a defender, I dove out of the way of the ball coming straight for my head. I determined a net would be in order for future use of my new innovation.

Funny thing. Had I been out on the golf course with the same 8-iron and real golf ball staring at my next shot, I might have been (based on experience) distracted and potentially “fearful” of the sand traps guarding the green; the out of bounds stakes to my right; and the water hazard directly behind my target. All those factors might clog my brain, lessen my confidence, and alter my swing. Ironically, faced with the potential of getting struck in the face with a rubber ball traveling 1,000 mph (you had to be there), I was fearless.

We often let real life hazards distract us. Those hazards you face when making hard decisions; when assessing results vs. consequences; and when determining your own path (see last week), will clog your brain, lessen your confidence, and mess up your swing.

Don’t be scared of onrushing calamity because you can avoid it. Be scared of choosing the path of least resistance; be scared of wasting valuable time; be scared of not living your life to the fullest; and be scared of not living outside the fence that you built around yourself.

Take a full swing with boldness and confidence. You may just hit the green.

Quote of the Week:

“I’m not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”

~ Alexander the Great

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Seattle Shrimp Tank – Dec. 6 Episode

December 9, 2016 Leave a comment

Our guest was Ingemar Anderson who is the owner and publisher at Kitsap Publishing in Poulsbo, WA

Below is our video wrap-up segment. I encourage you to not only watch this six minute clip, but to also listen to the entire podcast on our website.

Subscribe either on the website or at iTunes to never miss an episode. The next broadcast is on December 20th and our guest will be Michele Doyle from Michele’s Interiors.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved