Predictability – How did you do?

How did you do with predictability in your business?

Crafting a business that works for you starts from knowing what it is you want to do with your life and how your business can support you in doing that.

Who do you love working with?

How can you help them?

What do your customers expect from you?

How can you make that happen in a way that they get what they want, when they want it and the way they want it?

What does it take to create it having everything you need and a clear, easy process?

How can you give your staff the comfort of knowing that their future is secure?

Crafting a business that works means everyone knows what to do. They know when they must do it and how what they do affects everyone else.

Does that make sense? What changes have you made this week to make things more predictable for you?


Janet and the girls talk about Predictability

Janet was helping Maggie and Michelle load the truck with the tools. Mrs Winchester came out with a tray of lemonade and some cookies. “I swear I will explode if I have another glass of that delicious lemonade.” whispered Maggie.

“Thank you so much girls. I was so worried about my roof. I watched the weather forecast every day hoping it wouldn’t rain. Have another cookie. You’ll mail me your bill, right and I’ll send a cheque along straight away. Thank you, again.”

“Err. Your welcome, Mrs. Winchester. We’re happy you’re not worrying anymore.” replied Janet.  She wasn’t worried about not getting paid, but she could sure use the cheque right now.

As they got underway in the truck, Michelle said,” At the last place I worked, we got the final cheque as soon as the work was done. What is your policy about getting paid? It just seems like sometimes you get paid right away but for others’ I know you’ve had to chase a few of them.”

“Well, I…”

“The last company I worked for made really good money. They bought new trucks all the time.” said Maggie

“How did they treat you guys? Did they really care about their customers?” asked Janet

“It was okay. We all did what was expected. I like working with you, you don’t push us so hard and I can’t imagine getting lemonade and cookies from the homeowners there. But, to tell you the truth, Janet, I worry sometimes that you don’t charge enough. It feels like we are always kind of scraping by. And what if anything happened to you? The whole thing would stop. Everything depends on you” Both girls looked a little worried. It seemed like they had discussed this together before.

“That’s a good point and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I have some ideas about how to make things work better here, but, every time I think about charging more I think about people like Mrs. Winchester on a fixed income.”

Maggie and Michelle looked at each other. “She’s doing okay. We saw her write a cheque for the carpenter who built her gazebo. He looked pretty happy with it. Janet, you need to separate business and helping. Charge appropriately and get paid right away. Then figure out another way to help people.”

“We could help!” they both said.

Janet didn’t feel so alone anymore. The conversation emphasized how important predictability was for everyone.

Overwhelmed? Don’t Panic!

What to do when you are overwhelmed
I had a dream this morning. One of those anxious, nothings-working dreams. As I was waking up, The thought came: ‘they will know your mind’. In the dream, it wasn’t fully a good thing, it was a double edged sword.
I still haven’t figured it out fully, but as I was thinking it through, I got the idea for this post.

Don’t Panic
Douglas Adams had it right on the cover of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Universe. When you feel overwhelmed your body releases adrenaline and you respond with the fight or flight instinct. This is not helpful when your overwhelm is caused by a staff or customer problem! Unless there happens to be a saber toothed tiger bounding towards you, all else is manageable. This response was designed to deal with saber toothed tigers, not a mix up at the bank. Remember: you are the boss of you. You can control this.

Take a deep breath. Close your eyes, Smile. Smiling releases endorphins and makes the people around you respond by smiling. We mirror the people around us as mechanism to fit in. Again, this is a pretty ancient survival tactic. If you weren’t part of a tribe, you died.

Slow down
I know, it seems counter-intuitive that you need to slow down to go faster.
When you go fast, you mess up, you drop things, you make mistakes and you don’t do a good job. This means it takes longer or you end up doing it again.

When you slow down, you think it through, you get it all, in the right order and faster. Your mind opens and you are creative, brilliant and you do a great job with it.

Life isn’t something you get through so you can get on to the real fun. This is it. Life ain’t no dress rehearsal (I love that line). If you are not enjoying yourself, then why bother?

One of the big changes I made in my life that paid off big time, was to give myself the gift of the first hour of the day to work on whatever projects interest me. This book, blog and community is one of those projects. We all have ideas that we plan on getting to ‘once we get all this working well and under control’. I’ve got news for you, it will never be under control. Start your projects now.

Single Task
This isn’t even a question anymore.

Build Capacity
This means have more resources than you need so that if something happens, you have the ability to deal with it.  Sleep, health, money, people, contentment, joy, time, love.

Even your best work, the work that only you can do and that puts you into flow can’t be sustained all the time. You hit a place of diminishing returns. You get tired and depleted. You need to surround it with white space, a palate cleanser, rest.

The more you do this work, the more productive you are. Ideally you set up your life so that you do this work in several intense spurts through the day, with breaks to do other fun, yet different and productive work.

We all get overwhelmed at times. Try these tips and let us know how it went
Please share your best tips for dealing with being overwhelmed

Harvest – a predictably wonderful business

If you are focusing on predictability. environment, team and profitability does that mean you are not working on marketing, operations, HR and finance?

Of course not.

It does mean taking a different view of them: one that’s predictable, creates a great environment with a great team and that pays well.  You can’t do that if your product or service isn’t top notch; if you don’t have a clear vision; if your finances are in a mess.

Harvest for your home is predictable. Every time I go there, the staff are helpful, enthusiastic and happy. They sell beautiful things I can’t find anywhere else. The tea is hot and fragrant. Those things are predictable and they are remarkable. Michele is very clear on who, what, where, when and why she is selling her goods.

She and her staff know what to do when goods are delivered and when people buy. That doesn’t mean the business is boring or average. It means that when I go there, the surprises are all about the interesting things they have found for my home and garden; the delightful way they have arranged them and the unusual flavour of the tea today.

That’s their story. Their marketing consists of telling that story.

Are you clear on your 5W’s? Do all your team members know what to expect? Are all your surprises good ones? Do you have a great story? How do you share it?

Start the Ball Rolling

I love checklists

One of the first moves I made when I decided to work towards making my business more effortless (although I didn’t call it that back then) was to create a little checklist on an index card for the Crystal Clear Lunch & Learn series I was running.

I listed the 4 things I needed to bring:

Signs I had great signs with movable direction arrows and a white board area for writing in the day’s topic and speaker

Cookies  You gotta feed people something at a Lunch & Learn.

Handouts and other resources pertaining to the topic

Supplies This was a prepacked (ie, it wasn’t emptied) bag with a table cloth, cups, tea bags, sugar etc.) and my business cards and other marketing material, because the series was a marketing initiative.

On the back, I had the phone number for the local café where I picked up a premade carafe of coffee.   They made the coffee and supplied the little milk and creamers.  I think buying the coffee is worth it just so I don’t have to worry about dairy products.  I had the phone number of the venue.   I started to call to check in the morning of.  A couple of times there was a hitch. This meant I had a few hours to straighten it out.

That little index card meant more than not just forgetting something on the day, which would not be catastrophic, merely annoying.  Much more than that, it meant I didn’t have to think about it until a few hours before.

I took the time to think about what I wanted to get out of the series and what was needed to make that happen.  By recording it and having it available, I didn’t have to think about it again.

The heavens didn’t open, angels didn’t sing, but I sure recognized a tool that saved me time, cleared brain space and optimized the situation.

I made a checklist a few years ago during an HR workshop. I won a coffee card for it, but that’s not the point here, although it probably put the whole thing in a more favourable light.  I spent a few more hours adding in pages about our mission, our policies and privacy.  Since that time I have used it every time we have a new person start here.

It works.  Once again, I don’t have to think about it until it’s time.  The rest of the team hear about our mission, our policies and privacy, again (we have an open office).  Everyone knows what we are doing here, how they fit in and how everyone else fits in; and they know everyone else does, too.

The New Employee Induction Tool is for sale on our resources page. A free Employee Handbook Template that is very comprehensive and a free sample Employee Evaluation are available for download, too.

This is just the beginning.  We will have many more resources for you – paid and unpaid.  Here’s to making Your Business Effortless!

What checklists do you use?  What checklists would you like to use?  What do you do over and over again that should have a checklist?

Do you want to craft Your Effortless Business?

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Are you selling what people want to buy?

A couple of women from a local job-finders group just stopped into my office.  They are walking around to gather information about the businesses in our town.  They had only just begun and they were surprised by how many different kinds of businesses there are tucked away.  I was once asked for what I look for when assessing the entrepreneurial spirit of an area.  “I look to see how niched the businesses are,” I replied promptly.  “Not just plumbers, or renovation plumbers, but plumbers specializing in bathroom remodeling in a Victorian style with claw foot tubs.”

How do you get to that point?

Most people start a business aiming pretty widely.  They start as a plumber for hire.  They may prefer renovations over new installs.  As time passes, they may do some jobs involving claw foot tubs.  If they have a passion for it and if people are interested they will develop more expertise.  They’ll find out who has a few in the back yard; who refurbishes them; who has the taps that fit them.  Eventually, people will get to know that they are the ones to call about claw foot tubs.

This happens because they tested the market as they went.  They listened to what people wanted and they followed their passion at the same time.  They won’t be working with the tub insert crowd and they won’t be working with the whirlpool crowd.

I told the women from the job-finders club that starting a business is an option and that I help people in business. That sparked for one of them as her eyes lit up.  She told me her passion is retail – sales retail, but (with sagging shoulders) she said that requires too much money and there’s too much involved in setting up a shop.

I told her about a friend of mine who sells environmentally safe products in pop-up spaces about once a month.  She also sells one to one to the people who know her.  I mentioned the farmer’s markets – we have several in the local towns.  There are restrictions about what products can be sold there. There are also craft fairs, specialty shows and flea markets.

It won’t take a big investment, she can start part-time and the best part, I said, is that it’s a way to test what people want.  Once she finds what takes off, she can think about growing into a full time shop.

Keep listening to your customers.  They will tell you what they like of yours.  They will ask for other things.  They most definitely talk with what they buy.

Your Effortless Business is predictable and pays well.  Selling what people want to buy is one of the keys.