The most overlooked part of your business – and how to fix it

Today I invite you to give some thought to one of the most overlooked and important parts of running your business. That is your plan for making an eventual exit so you can harvest the value you’ve created – and go on to whatever is next for you.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend any time on this because they are so busy running the business and trying to build it. That’s a mistake. The strategic direction of your company should be driving you to your ultimate exit goal. By not proactively planning an exit strategy, business owners may find that their future options are limited.

Consider it this way: your business is a piece of property that you have invested money in. It generates revenue that supports your life and hopefully a sizable distribution of yearly profit. It should also be increasing in value, allowing you to gather more when the time comes.

There are many different flavors of an exit strategy. Some entrepreneurs consider their exit strategy to be the mechanism by which the company moves from one major stage to the next. Entrepreneurs don’t always quit a company, but their responsibilities do change considerably. This is why it’s important for you to plan your exit strategy and have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve.

There are a few things to consider when planning your exit strategy.

First, you need to decide whether you want to sell the business or pass it on to someone else. This will help you determine the best way to structure the sale or transfer of ownership.

Second, you need to think about what you want to do after you leave the business. Do you want to retire, start another business, or pursue other interests?

Third, you need to consider how the business will continue without your oversight and input. This often involves decoding your “secret success sauce” and company culture. You’re going to need a strategy to ensure the people, process, and technology are in place for ongoing success – and thereby transferrable value.

Fourth, you need to have the input of a trusted financial advisor and accountant to craft a financial strategy to address both taxes and how to meet your ongoing financial needs after you have exited the business. Remember, these professionals will help you manage your money – but their job is not to configure the business for your exit.

Finally, you need to think about your personal goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with your exit strategy? Do you want to maximize the value of the business, or do you have other goals in mind?

Planning an exit strategy can be a complex process, but it’s important to take the time to consider all of the factors involved. By doing so, you can ensure that you have a clear understanding of your goals and objectives and that you’re able to achieve them.

If you’ve read this far and you’d like to know more about what you can do right now to give yourselves the most options for an exit – whatever that looks like for you, then just hit REPLY, and let’s talk.

 

Doug BrownThe most overlooked part of your business – and how to fix it
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What to Look for in a Coach

When I interview potential clients we always talk about their experience with coaching.

Many talk about sports coaches they had growing up in high school and college.

Others have tried group coaching and even one-on-one private coaching.

Often their experiences have been less than ideal – or worse.

One person had a “life coach” picked for her by the president of her company. That coach gave her such sage advice as to be mindful of her wardrobe when in meetings with men. What?!

Another person related a story where the leader of a national coaching organization said that he didn’t really care if their members achieve their goals, as long as they paid their dues – just like a gym membership.

Oy! No wonder people are skeptical about coaching and coaches.

If you’re thinking about coaching for the first time – or maybe again – you might consider looking for these qualities in any coach that you interview.

Experience. How well does your coach know your profession, your business, and your industry? What has he or she accomplished? What have they overcome? You want someone who’s walked the walk in real life – not from a book. Ask about clients they’ve worked with who are in similar situations. Read testimonials. Talk to references.

Attitude. Great attitude comes from time and experience – including making mistakes and figuring out how to recover. The right coach will have been through it all and have perspective and a sense of humor about it. You’ll want a coach that is patient, persistent, and determined.

Willing to share. A great coach will share their experiences with you – including the bad ones. If you feel like a person is holding back, or won’t share how they stumbled then keep looking. Seek radical transparency and a real person.

Listens and asks great questions. You need a coach that listens to you – both for what you say and what you left unsaid. A great coach will read between the lines and ask questions that make you stop and think more deeply. They will hear you and challenge you. They will help you see truths you don’t want to see – when you don’t want to see them – in a way you can digest.

Access and focus. You ought to have open access to your coach at all reasonable times – not just during your regular sessions. Your coach needs to be responsive to you and your needs. You’ll also want to be wary of programs that take each person from the same place of beginning and work you in a lock-step linear progression – because that’s not how life works.

Accountability. You’ll want a coach that holds you accountable to show up and do the work. You’re making a significant investment and part of that is getting the push – and helping you knock down what’s in the way.

KLT. You need to know, like and trust (that’s the KLT) the person who will be your thinking partner, confidant, and mentor. Take the time to establish that at the beginning. If the coach won’t open up or it doesn’t feel right – then keep looking.

Did you find this helpful? Would you like to know more? Click here to get the complete Guide to Picking the Right Executive Coach or send me a direct message and let’s set up a discovery call.

Either way, don’t wait because I only have a few more openings this quarter – and you don’t want to miss out.

 

Doug BrownWhat to Look for in a Coach
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You Don’t Really Need a Coach, unless …

Why would a successful professional go out and spend their hard-earned money on a business or executive coach? After all, they are successful already. They aren’t broken. And they’ve made it this far on their own. So what’s the point?

You’ve been reading my messages (or at least some of them) for quite a while now. So you know I’m not afraid to tell it like it is.

So here’s the truth: You don’t really need a coach if you already know everything there is to know, don’t need to make any improvements in your world at all, you can see the world as it is with perfect clarity, and you’re 100% satisfied with your business and your life.

That’s right, you don’t need a coach, unless:

  • You have a lot at stake and need to move fast to keep up and get ahead.
  • You value a completely safe and confidential relationship where you can get an unbiased perspective and honest feedback on your most vexing problems.
  • You know that having personal attention and accountability accelerates your results
  • You want to avoid distractions and shiny objects that rob you of your valuable attention.
  • You’ve tried other group programs – just to find you could have taught the course.
  • You want a subject matter expert who can provide proven solutions and show you how to implement them.

And you’d only want a coach if you wanted to make more money, faster, and have time to enjoy the life you’ve built.

Besides, an investment with at least a 6x ROI wouldn’t be that interesting. Yes, that’s right research proves a significant positive ROI on coaching:

  • A Fortune 500 company wanted to study the ROI of Executive Coaching. They found that 77% of respondents indicated that coaching had a significant impact on at least one of nine business measures. In addition, they uncovered that overall productivity and employee satisfaction were the most positively impacted areas (which in turn has an impact on customer satisfaction, employee engagement, quality, annualized financial results, and more). In all, their study concluded that Executive Coaching produced a 788% ROI. The study noted that excluding the benefits from employee retention, a 529% ROI was produced. (Executive Briefing: Case Study on the ROI of Executive Coaching, Merrill C. Anderson, Ph.D., MetrixGlobal, LLC)
  • According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), 86% of organizations saw an ROI on their Coaching engagements, and 96% of those who had an Executive Coach said they would repeat the process again. Behind these results were tangible as well as intangible factors. Tangible factors were areas such as increased productivity, higher levels of overall employee performance, reduced costs, growth in revenue and sales, higher employee retention, and higher engagement of employees. Intangible factors were increased confidence of those being coached, improved communication, stronger employee, peer-to-peer, and key stakeholder relationships.
  • Additional documented benefits:
  • Improved executive productivity (reported by 53% of executives)
  • Improvements in organizational strengths (48%)
  • Gains in customer service (39%)
  • Increased retention of executives (32%)
  • Enhanced direct report/supervisor relationships (>70%)
  • Improved teamwork (67%)
  • Improved peer-to-peer working relationships (63%)
  • Great job satisfaction (52%)

Nope, the real question if you’ve read this far is this.

Why are you denying yourself the proven benefits of having a guide who can make your life easier, more effective, more profitable, and more satisfying?

Surely you deserve it, right?

There is no special trophy for figuring it all out by yourself. Do we think less of athletes like Tom Brady because he took advantage of all the coaching he could get?

If you’ve read this far and you’re thinking that you really should check out the “coaching thing” then you have two options: Get more info with the Guide to Picking the Right Executive Coach or send me a direct message and let’s set up a discovery call.

Either way, don’t wait because I only have a few more openings this quarter – and you don’t want to miss out.

Onward!

-Doug

Doug BrownYou Don’t Really Need a Coach, unless …
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Why Good Employees Quit

Your team is running like a well-oiled machine. Finally.

You might think that this is the time for a sigh of relief and to focus on other things for a change.

That would be a mistake.

The best CEOs are always working on protecting and developing their team – even when things feel like they are going perfectly. Because they know it’s always easier to get out ahead of a problem than to react when things go badly.

Here are some reasons why companies lose good employees. Don’t let this happen to you.

  1. Lack of Trust & Respect. Make sure you have open lines of communication with your team. Be mindful of work-styles and providing the right level of direction, leadership, and management to match the needs of the situation. If you don’t trust in them, or the knowledge skills or abilities then it is your responsibility to remedy the situation – or to replace the person. Carrying someone on the team who you don’t trust – or who doesn’t trust you – will undermine trust and respect with the rest of the team.
  2. Low Pay. Make sure you are paying your employees fairly for the value they bring. Consider the cost of replacing the team member when considering increases. It’s almost always more expensive to replace a high performer.
  3. Poor Company Culture. Culture may be intangible – but it is really important to your employees (and your customers). The culture you create (or tolerate) will either attract or repel people. If you have a team of loyal productive staff then get curious about what you’re doing right so you can work it into your operating system. If your people are leaving or underperforming then you’ve got to take a hard look at how to improve your culture.
  4. Feeling Overworked and Underappreciated. This is especially dangerous for your high performers who take on more and more responsibility and will be some of the last to complain – until it is too late.
  5. Lack of Growth Opportunities. Make sure you are talking with your employees about how they want to grow, learn and develop. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a promotion – it could be an opportunity to expand their knowledge, skills, or abilities.
  6. No Work-Life Balance. Make sure you respect the lives your employees have outside of work. And while you’re at it – respect it for yourself. Set a good example for your team.

One of the most effective tools to retain good employees is to adopt quarterly development conversations to replace the once-a-year “review”. Quarterly discussions are much less stressful for you and the staff – and they allow for a much more meaningful exchange of ideas and information.

Team development and growth need to be part of your own monthly CEO checklist – especially when things are going great.

Yours in Success,

Doug

P.S… If you are concerned about employee retention or engagement then it’s time to set up that free consultation I’ve mentioned before. I’ve only got a few each month – so if you’d like yours just Click HERE and we’ll set it up.

Doug BrownWhy Good Employees Quit
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The 1 Thing You Must Have to Grow Your Business

I used to believe the number 1 thing you need to grow your business is customers.

I was wrong.

Yes, you need customers to have a business.

But the most important thing to grow and scale a profitable business is having the right people on your team to deliver on the promise of your business.

Even if you are a solo professional, you’re going to need people to support you so that you can do the work you’ve been hired for.

In his business building classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins found that companies who made the leap to greatness focused on getting the right people on the bus first.

Getting the right people on your bus isn’t as easy as it used to be. In fact, the tables have turned in recent years from a buyer (employer) market to a seller (employee) market.

Today employees are looking for much more than fair compensation.

They want the opportunity for career growth. They want to be satisfied and feel like they are making a difference – and working toward something that’s aligned with their values.

Use the same discipline you bring to attracting your ideal client or customer to the talent game.

Who are the people you want to attract? What do they value? Why?

What words would they use to describe the work environment that would be most satisfying and engaging?

Let’s say you have the perfect candidate sitting in your office, just waiting to be convinced that you are the very best place for them to work. You can’t throw more money at them.

What would you say?

Would you take the job if the roles were reversed?

These aren’t rhetorical questions.  Take a stab at answering them for real – in writing.

The business you grow (or save) might just be your own.

-Doug

P.S…  I know first-hand how difficult it is to do this exercise by yourself about your own business. We’re so close to it we’re often blind to the good and the bad. If you want a really clear picture you’re going to need some honest expert guidance. If you do, give me a call. It’s what I do.

 

Doug BrownThe 1 Thing You Must Have to Grow Your Business
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5 Strategy Myths that Hurt Your Business

Matt never wanted to talk about “strategy”. Whenever it came up he even use the air quotes with his fingers to mock the idea. He saw it as an unnecessary distraction that didn’t apply to his decades-old business.

He had bought into some of the most dangerous myths about strategic planning – and strategic thinking in general. Myths like:

  1. My business is too small (or too established) for a strategic plan.
  2. Strategic planning is an expensive, academic exercise with low ROI.
  3. I don’t have time to write a strategic plan. Besides, it will be out of date as soon as it is done.
  4. It’s all in my head and that’s good enough.
  5. My operating work plans have everything I need to succeed.

The truth is that lots of businesses achieve a level of success without having a strategic plan. They might have been in the right place and the right time. They might have been lucky. Or maybe the founder really was that good. This kind of accidental (or fortunate) success can be dangerous because it isn’t sustainable.

Thinking strategically, and writing up a simple and actionable plan is essential to avoid or minimize the impacts of the plateaus and stalls that impact every business.

A good plan will help you:

  1. Establish and communicate clear priorities and directions for your business.
  2. Attract and retain excellent team members and partners.
  3. Ensure everyone is aligned and working together to achieve your true objectives.
  4. Simplify and accelerate decision-making.
  5. Anticipate and adapt to challenges and opportunities.
  6. Prepare for business succession and transition.

Now, I’m not advocating that you drop everything and go out and write a huge strategic plan.

I am inviting you to set aside some time to start educating yourself about the core strategic planning disciplines and how you can put them into action in your business. If you’d like some help getting started, just click here and set up a time to talk.

Consistent and persistent investments of time to develop your strategic thinking – and to creating a strategic plan will make your life and your business easier and more profitable.

Yours in Success!

-Doug

 

Doug Brown5 Strategy Myths that Hurt Your Business
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The Missing Links …

Michael came to me for help with building his practice. He was already a very skilled professional with a list of clients waiting to work with him. He was making good money and he had grand visions of the business he wanted to build – but it was all he could do to keep up with his current workload.

Like many professionals, Michael built his success on his intelligence, personality, work ethic, and excellent instincts. His business revolved around him and his ability to make virtually all of the decisions and be in control of almost everything. He knew in his heart it wasn’t sustainable – and he needed a way out – and up.

I see this all the time because professional education focuses on what it takes to provide professional advice and service – not how to run a business. At least that’s what law school was like for me.

These missing links for many professionals, including Michael, are core business disciplines such as:

  1. Strategic Planning and Goal Setting. How to create a practical strategic plan to guide your business so you can achieve what you really want, and move away from simply reacting to what comes your way.
  2. Leading and Managing People. How to use leadership and management skills to drive team productivity and improve client relationships and service.
  3. Building Processes and Systems to reduce errors and improve quality and speed.
  4. Protecting your own energy, time, and attention you can be at your best for yourself, your business, and your family.

The first step is most often creating space and time on your calendar to get to these higher-level tasks. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Especially when the stakes are high and everything revolves around you. Stay tuned for tips on how you can create this kind of space for yourself.

When you’ve created that space you’ll need to get in action to see which of the four missing links need attention in your practice. And if you’d like help with that, just Click this Link and let’s talk.

 

Doug BrownThe Missing Links …
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Do This 1 Thing To Manage Remote Professionals Effectively

If you want to keep your remote professionals engaged, happy and productive then you need to focus on the results you want – not the time they work.

Focus your management (and leadership) on the outcomes you need the employees to achieve to accomplish your goals. This gets everyone in alignment.

And you will avoid all of the downsides of old-school management focused on physical presence and face time.

Start by reaching an agreement on how you’re going to measure success unrelated to the hours it takes to get there. The word “agreement” is critical because simply transmitting your “expectations” doesn’t achieve the meeting of the minds you need.

Now, you might be thinking that you need a simultaneous physical presence for things to work well. And you might be right – for some things. But the truth is that asynchronous work can be more effective if you do it properly.

I invite you to:

  1. Start managing your professionals based on outcomes and objectives – not time.
  2. Think critically about which work tasks must be synchronous remote, asynchronous versus in person.

These changes are not easy – but they are essential.

A good coach will guide you through this process to you get results faster, and with less pain.

If you’d like help with that, just CLICK HERE and let’s talk.

 

Doug BrownDo This 1 Thing To Manage Remote Professionals Effectively
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Essential Quarterly Questions for Success

Can you believe it? We’re in the last week of the 3rd Quarter!

That makes today the perfect day to stop and check in on how you’re doing on your roadmap for the quarter.

This short and simple exercise gives you a greater sense of control and certainty for the weeks ahead. If you invest just 30 minutes to work on these 3 questions you will also greatly improve the chances that you actually reach your goals for the quarter and upgrade your income.

Ready?

Turn to a new page in your handy notebook and write down your answers to the 3 questions below. The act of physically writing out your thoughts, either in bullet points or sentences will help you remember and get into action. It will also be a handy reference when you do this again in 6 weeks.

1) What has worked really well for me in the last 6 weeks?

2) How am I doing on my cash flow and time/productivity goals?

3) What can I improve in the next 6 weeks?

Answering these 3 questions will allow you to celebrate your wins, and to course-correct to make sure you achieve your goals for the year!

And if you’d like the “TL;DR” version – and how to do it – keep reading.

Read on to learn more …

Ok, you’re still here.

1) What has worked really well for me in the last 6 weeks?

Starting with your wins helps get you in the right state of mind – especially if you are not in the habit of celebrating as the wins come along.

If you’re struggling to find wins it might help to think of it in categories. You might use business categories like time & productivity, cash flow, clients, the team that supports you, your network, and your own well-being. You might also use personal categories like career, family, fun, relationships, community, or spirituality.

2) How am I doing on my cash flow and time/productivity goals?

This gets its very own question because these are the primary causes of stress for most attorneys and entrepreneurs. How has your cash flow and productivity been over the last 6 weeks? What do you need it to be in the next 6 weeks?

If you’re ahead of plan then don’t let up – see how much better you can do. If you are behind the plan, or you are unsure, then this is the time to decide what concrete thing you can do in the coming week to improve. Commit to working on that for 30 minutes in 3 of the next 5 days.

If your thing is getting more qualified cases then you might start with the referral strategy. Simply identify one person who has been a great referral source in the past. You can call them – on the phone. Have a conversation about what is going on in their business, and see if there is a way you can be of service to them. They will ask the same of you, and that will be your opportunity to share with them (or remind them) the profile of a good and qualified referral for you.

One of my clients did this and after a single phone call got 3 additional referrals. Just imagine what it could do for you if you make one of those calls each week for the next 6 weeks. Remember, you are not calling to ask for referrals – you are calling in the spirit of service to that person because the relationship is important.

If you are not sure how to describe a qualified referral then it is time to get busy working on that. Because if you can’t describe the referral you want then there is little chance that your people can deliver those referrals to you. If you’d like help with that just hit REPLY and we’ll find a time to talk.

3) What can I improve in the next 6 weeks?

You’ll probably have a lot here besides money and time. Most attorneys are so self-critical that this can be a pretty long list. That’s ok, for now. Let the thoughts flow so they are all right in front of you. Don’t get hung up on what didn’t work. Focus on what you can do to make it better. Then pick the top 3 things that you control, and block time to work on one of them each week for the next 3 weeks. Then repeat for the following 3 weeks. You’ll have a chance to review how you did at the end of the quarter.

You will get whatever you focus on. If you focus on problems you will get more of those. If you focus on opportunities and growth then you will get more opportunities and growth. So use the experience of the last 6 weeks to find the opportunities in the next 6 – and work on those.

Make it a great week this week!

-Doug

Doug BrownEssential Quarterly Questions for Success
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FOMO is Real

What if there was a way to discover and overcome the hidden obstacles that are keeping you from growing your firm into exactly what you want?

And what if you missed it?

Perhaps you saw the opportunity and a voice in your head said you don’t have time to do it.

Here’s another chance.

This past Wednesday we revealed how to Overcome 5 Hidden Obstacles to Growing Your Law Firm.

We were so happy to see so many people attending – and to get great feedback on strategies we shared.

Here’s your link to view the replay.

I used to be in the same trap that makes it so hard for lawyers to grow their businesses.

The day-to-day grind was so intense that I’d lose perspective and motivation.

It was all I could do to “get through” the next thing and hope the next week, month, or year would be better.

Then I made the shift that we described in the webinar.

When I reconnected with my values and what I wanted to create in the world everything changed for me.

I just needed to give myself permission to do it – and a system to follow.

If you would like some of that just check out the replay here.

And don’t listen to the little voice in your head saying you don’t have time for this.

Doug BrownFOMO is Real
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