Tag Archives: execution

Break It Down Again: Coming Soon, A New Year

How are your plans for next year coming along? Hopefully you’ve had some time to yourself to sit away from the holiday rush to work on them.

No pressure from this corner of the internet, really. And don’t beat on yourself if you don’t have next year’s goals written down and printed out in monthly and quarterly break-downs. We each have our own way of preparing for the future. We do what we can, when we can, especially when everything else going on right now on is tugging at our shirtsleeves to give them our attention, since ’tis the season and all.

A memory can make you grab pen and paper to remind yourself what to pay more attention to, and you have your trusty little notebook right there with you. Or maybe you catch your goals on the fly and capture the snippets with the note-taking apps or voice recorder on your smartphone — and your notes are happily synced across all your devices.

Perhaps you’re the type to open your day-planner and see neatly written notes and highlighted reminders already in place — and aren’t you glad Past-You did this for Now-You to rely on?

Block out quiet time for yourself : Planning for a good year is important, vital, and urgent for your own personal and professional fulfillment. Make sure you won’t be disturbed, since planning can have many moods.  There are serious ones–contemplative, sombre, and sometimes heavy with regret and intent. There are relaxed moods, which are open spaces for your idle day-dreams and thoughts to meander in. There are playful moods, where the sky’s the limit; no shame in dreaming, eh? There’s brainstorming, and asking questions, but in the end, there must be a plan. And if you want to plan better, you need to go back and review.

“X marks the mistakes.” What were yours this year?
Three things that can get us in trouble, and probably have in the past, are unrealistic scope, unrealistic deadlines, and unrealistic expectations. Continue reading Break It Down Again: Coming Soon, A New Year

Get Your Product Out The Door

When you’ve been an entrepreneur long enough, one thing is for sure:  you have to ship or die. Whatever product or service you offer, as long as there’s a viable market for it, you’re in business.

You stay in business as long as you keep producing or serving to meet the demand that identifies your particular market, whether it’s left-handed scissors, specialty wax seals, or antique car detailing. And if you truly are fully engaged with these things, and get to make a living out of that engagement, then more power to you.

There is a caveat, though.

“Follow your passion,” overlooks the goal of your work.
It’s easy to overlook that the root word of ‘passion‘ comes from the Latin for ‘suffering.’ Following your passion is easy to say; it’s just three words anyway, but the sentence doesn’t cover  what happens after, and that’s where many people stumble. Pipe dreams die easily when you apply hard logic to them, and for many who prefer the dream, they can come unprepared for the hard work of making it into a reality.

See, the hard part is that some parts of the dream won’t make it, so you need to let them go.

“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” – Erica Jong, author

 

Now, let’s take about productivity, and how it ties in to “ship or die.”

One idea  you have to learn to relinquish is the thought of a perfect product. If you have trouble releasing a product to face the public, have you ever really tried to answer the question, “When will it be good enough?” definitively? Do you have a protocol for bug fixes and releases, but have a habit of  being slow on the actual launching? Continue reading Get Your Product Out The Door

Get Rid Of Red Tape

We all have our own war-stories about red tape and  bureaucracy, but  if you’re an entrepreneur or run your own business, have you ever stopped to think that you may also be a source? Factors that can contribute to red tape are unnecessarily complicated procedures,  unwarranted redundancies, and having too many people in control over too few points of control. Red tape drags on, and it is not limited to the government. Companies have red tape too, which means businesses aren’t immune.

“Red tape” is used to describe bureaucratic policies, procedures and forms that are “excessively complex and time-consuming” in nature.

The term comes from when  Henry VIII bombarded the Pope with around eighty petitions to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his first wife (In his lifetime, Henry had six wives, and Catherine was Henry’s older brother’s widow.) Anyway, the court documentation was collected and sealed  up in red ribbons, which was the custom at the time for official state documentation.

In time, people started using the term ‘red tape’ to describe slow, unnecessarily complicated, and time-consuming filing, forms, and procedures.

Turning the focus on your own work now, have you ever encountered problem in your work flow due to  ‘internal policies’ you follow in running your business? When was the last time you updated your procedures and protocols? Have you reviews your ops manual lately? Continue reading Get Rid Of Red Tape

Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Life is all about negotiation. We do it every day in ways we don’t even recognize as negotiation. For instance, internally, we bargain with ourselves all the time. Five more minutes and then we’ll get up. Finish these last three pages and then we can go get coffee. We weigh our needs against our wants, and try to work things out to get the best possible result that we can out given the requirements of a particular situation.

Externally, we do this all the time. We just don’t think of it like the formal sort of negotiations we see in media. It could be as simple as asking if someone is available to talk to, for example, then suggesting alternative times or ways to communicate, like sending a follow-up email, or leaving a voicemail.  Basically, we ask if something is possible, then we find a way to work with the information and the reactions that we get.

The goal of negotiation is to work things out so that the people involved get what they need amicably, without feeling cheated or taken advantage of. Everyone with a stake in the proceeding gets to have their time, and during it, consensus and concessions are made and given.

At times the word “compromise” can come off in a rather bad way because sometimes we take it to mean “Everyone walks away unhappy, and not with all of what we want.” That comes from seeing all the dramatized negative spin in movies and popular media, and from how we’re socialized to believe winning is the only way to succeed, and for someone to win, someone else has to lose.

We have to understand that that’s not what compromise is about. Compromise is not ‘capitulation’, which is giving in. A compromise is the result of people coming to an agreement on the results they want out of the negotiation, where both parties can move forward.

Negotiation is an incredibly valuable  skill to develop and the more you practice it, the easier it gets .

Self negotiation and self-discipline — psyching yourself into doing something hard or uncomfortable now and rewarding yourself or enjoying the pay-off later, trains you to put the long-term good over the short-term boost, and the more impactful returns over shallower ones. Continue reading Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Help Your Goals Survive The New Year With Flexibility

With all the important plans you made to make you this your best year yet,  one of the most effective ways you can help to realize your goals is to have built-in, supportive flexibility in your life.

Think of this familiar scenario: Most gyms see a lot of money come in during the first month of the  year, because a lot of people sign up to lose weight and get fit at part of their resolutions. Those aren’t bad goals at all,  but a common observation shows that most enrollees peter out over the first eight weeks of their membership.  Many sign up, but not all follow-through.

There could be all sorts of reasons for dropping out: People couldn’t adjust to the regimen they picked for themselves. They develop an injury from over-training. They get discouraged. There is a conflict in their schedules and they can’t keep up regular visits… so they do a slow fade.

Not showing up to exercise is just an example of the ways our goals fall off to the wayside, but you can already see where the weak spots are in the previous example. An inability to adjust, failure to adapt, pushing too hard too fast, taking on too much too soon…To help your plans survive past the first month or two of the new year  and reach fruition– you need  to factor in flexibility.

Building your flexibility
Let’s go with imagery:  You need flex so you can absorb shock and bounce back. Working within too rigid a structure, you can shake apart or break down after exposure to repeated blows of  stressful events. When you are flexible, you can bend, you can lean over, you can bow– but not break or snap, right?

You anchor those flexibilities to something solid: a structure, a routine, or a schedule.  You  deliberately make space so you can move. Continue reading Help Your Goals Survive The New Year With Flexibility

Strip The Noise From The Signal

When it comes to making good choices, we all want to know the facts before we decide. The sheer amount of information available out there, however, often makes it harder to do so, and our  brain’s own hard-wired responses to data can often work against us.

Issue one : We have too much information readily available.
We are overwhelmed with information we are simply not physiologically equipped to handle fully, or well, in such large volumes.
Goals: Cut down on the volume of  information, and go for relevance, quality and timeliness.

Issue two: Our brain’s pattern-recognition functions often makes for unconscious bias that can lead to faulty assumptions.
Goals: Recognize and be aware of your own personal biases so you can make checks  and balances for them in the decision-making process. This means practicing an internal system that pushes for clarity, relevance and timeliness in decision making.

Dealing with this two-fold problem means  approaching the problem from two fronts. One, devise means and ways to cut down and filter the data you need to make decisions, and two, recognize how you can be fooled by unconscious biases and have strategies in place to get make sure you stay on track, on target, and on time.

 

Now, being good in business can be attributed to a myriad number of factors, chief among them, timing, risk-taking, fore-sight, and sometimes, sheer luck. The pressure is always present to make the best choice for the next step, and that means looking at the information needed to take the next step. You want to make good choices, you’ll need information.

With the internet, however, we run into problems of scale and and of understanding. Continue reading Strip The Noise From The Signal

Finding the Right Metrics For Your Success

  • When you find yourself breaking even for the first time since you started your business venture, does that mean you’re doing well?
  • If you receive fewer customer complaints this month than last month, does that mean you can relax?
  • When your click-through rate rises after a new site design, does that mean you can go through with the new marketing scheme and thoroughly overhaul your processes?

When it comes to making anything a success — your business, your work, your projects, yourself, the question itself, “How do you measure success?” just opens the door to an overwhelming number of choices.

Success is a complex event, and is made up of many factors. Focusing on just symbols or thresholds for success, when you’re running a business  there are three kinds of markers right off the bat.

  • There are financial markers: I will be successful when I’m making enough money at my side-venture to leave my main job. I will be successful when I’m making $100,000 a year.
  • There are physical markers: I will be successful when I have expanded my operations to 5 new locations within the year.
  • There are emotional markers: I will be successful when I can stop worrying about making this business get off the ground.

In the question itself, “How do you measure success?” the parts “You” and “measure” should be pointed out as critically important.

For you to really feel the success, attaining it should be personal to you: there are too many accounts of people who, after looking back at their ‘successful’ lives and realizing they fulfilled the goals they were expected to have, were left feeling bereft and like personal failures when they realized those goals weren’t really their goals, they just sort of… slid into them.

In this vein, you need to dig deep and find out what matters to you enough that you would freely put in the labor for it, engaging and wrestling with all the details and activities involved in making the work a success. A success stands out because it demands more from you. Continue reading Finding the Right Metrics For Your Success

3 Tips To A Better Business Mindset

As a business owner you aren’t given any guarantees by your market, your customers or your clients. Your business survives and thrives from the strength of the connections and the relationships you cultivate with your business partners, with your on-line community and with the people you work to supply solutions to.

In the unspoken social contracts of on-line business, expectations are set and managed. You market your product as being capable of doing certain things better than your competitors, or being able to supply exactly what your target market needs.

Then you have to deliver, and the processes involved in providing quality products and customer satisfaction requires you to do things often covered by cliches: tackling the roadblocks, doing the drudgework, ironing out the details and smoothing out the obstacles, making things presentable, etc.

You know, the small details and repetitive tasks involved in running a business.

 

As someone who owns and runs their own business, by this time you must’ve already experienced the gut-wrenching anxiety that comes with facing all the demands that your brainchild, your creation, generates.

In the years to come new technologies and their ensuing social impact will come that can change the way you do things, or eliminate the need for your product entirely. You need to be able to focus on your core competencies and practices that will help you adjust to and change with the times.

 

You head your own business. You report to no one but yourself. As an independent entity, your business has no guarantees except for the projects, contracts and commitments you have right now.

Compared to people who work in companies and spend their workweek in cubicles or offices, you do exercise and have a greater degree of freedom: your schedule each day isn’t handed to you from on high, and where you spend your labor and time isn’t controlled by corporate.

On the other hand, this also means you’re responsible for ensuring the business survives and that you make a living off of it for as long as you want to run with it. Your ever-renewing goal then, is to look for and develop ways to prepare to thrive in an uncertain future without a crystal ball at your side. Continue reading 3 Tips To A Better Business Mindset

Make Up Your Mind: The Power of Decisiveness

22 March 2013, by A. Cedilla

So-oo…. how are your New Year’s resolutions going? Good, bad, so-so?

What about the important personal goals you drew up, right around the promise of twelve brand new months to fill? Did any changes stick?

I mean, we’re far enough into the year to make a fair assessment on any appreciable progress you’ve made since then.

 

  • Have you seen or felt any tangible results from working towards your goals? What have you learned about yourself in the process?
  • How are these commitments working with the other responsibilities you have? What adjustments did you make to accommodate these changes?

Have you looked at the patterns of your life that aren’t working in your favor and addressed them? You know what they are:

  • The ones you tolerate because it would take too much effort to fix right now.
  • Or you’re just waiting for a better time to fix them. Or more money to come in. Or for a current issue to blow over.
  • Or because ”it’s not that bad…anyway. Much. Anyway, it could be worse, you know.”

 

It’s a pain to be so confused about important things, right? You had goals, you have a brand new year to see them through, you had months, and yet, and yet…

You were supposed to be somewhere, making something happen by now. Where did you go? What happened? Continue reading Make Up Your Mind: The Power of Decisiveness

Goals And Their Breakdowns

15 March 2013, by A. Cedilla

When it comes to making sure I stick to my goals, I tend to visit blogs on the areas I’m struggling with. The advice that really resonates with me come from people who’ve lived through the same issues that I’m currently facing, and were able to articulate how they found their way though. These people have been there and done that, and I get read their ‘shirts’ for free, so to speak.
So it was a nice coincidence that just when I was getting ready to give up on an important personal project (out of frustration at how slowly things were going), I remembered “My Resolution Revolution” on The Simple Dollar.

In this excellent article, Trent Hamm presented a well-reasoned argument about why so many New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside. Many big goals are presented in a way that’s inherently unattainable because they’re stated in a manner that is absolutist, and so don’t factor in our very human natures, and how time affects that. Stark goals like:

  • “Lose 100 pounds.” Or “Gain 25 pounds of muscle.” {more}Or other things like dropping X dress sizes.
  • Save 200 dollars every two weeks. Cut down on spending by 25% immediately.
  • Exercise every day. Eat only nutritious food.
  • Finish cleaning out all the junk and clutter in the basement. And the closets. And the attic. And the garage.
  • Double the size of my mailing list in X months.

Goals like these can look all fine and worthy on paper, especially at the start of the year, but we’re far enough from that to see that in daily life, goals like these can suffer in their execution. Generally, without commitment, careful attention and discipline, goals fade into wishes. Continue reading Goals And Their Breakdowns