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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How Not to Hit it in the Marsh

The reason I’m telling you this story is because there’s probably a marsh like this for you somehow in your life. Maybe it’s a sport. Maybe it’s a mindset. Maybe it’s a person that’s irritating “you know what” out of you, but everybody’s got a marsh, they got to get over.

It’s not that hard to get over the marsh. It’s not even that far, but when we’re faced with it, we freeze up, we get this fear. We get into these habits of forgetting what we’re doing. We’ll swing too hard. We’ll rush through it. So how do I, how did I get over it? It’s about mindset and routine – and that’s today’s topic.

 

Doug BrownHow Not to Hit it in the Marsh
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5 Strategy Myths that Hold Your Business Back

Matt never wanted to talk about “strategy”. Whenever it came up he even used 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.

Matt agreed that he wanted all of the things that a plan would give him.

But he wasn’t sure where to start – and it seemed like such a big undertaking.

Especially when he was so busy trying to keep up with all of the urgent and important things that packed his calendar.

I’d been in Matt’s shoes before, both as a small business owner and from my corporate life.

I’d also seen how overwhelming the planning process can be.

Luckily I’ve learned how to simplify and streamline the strategic planning process so it is doable – and usable by really busy professionals.

And when we do the work together – all of the various pieces and parts of the business fall into place and everyone starts pulling in the same direction – on purpose – to build the business you really want.

Have you done formal strategic planning before?

What’s worked out well for you? What would you do differently next time?

Doug Brown5 Strategy Myths that Hold Your Business Back
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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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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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A Storm Brewing?

In this video, I share why leading indicators are important, and how to use them to prepare for storms over the horizon.

 

Doug BrownA Storm Brewing?
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False Start!

False Start! 5 Yard Penalty. Repeat First Down!

I once witnessed our high school football team suffer 5 false start penalties in a row. The 4th down punt was inevitable.

False starts don’t just happen in football games, track meets, and swim competitions. They happen in your practice too. And you can suffer the same fate as the football team – except that don’t have the option to punt.

Business false starts happen when you unsuccessfully attempt to begin something.

You know, the important and urgent project. The one with the deadline looming like the headlamp of an oncoming train.

Then, you sit down to get started only to discover that you don’t have what you need to complete the task.

So you waste valuable time and momentum getting ready. Before you know it, your time block is up and all you did is move backward.

You don’t have to tolerate false start penalties in your practice.

Instead, find ways to improve and practice your planning system so that the information you need is at your fingertips and ready to go at the right time.

What’s one thing you’re trying to improve in your system to avoid false start penalties?

Doug BrownFalse Start!
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The July Reset

“Every July is my reset month”, said Kate. “It is my opportunity to look at the first half of the year and adjust. It energizes me because it feels like a fresh start”.

She uses the time to reflect on all aspects of her life: business, family, community, health & wellness – and whatever else is important to her.

Kate does her best to silence her inner critic during the reset. Because it is really easy to beat yourself up about what didn’t happen – and what’s left to do.

She finds that being kind to herself is much more productive. That doesn’t mean she overlooks the bad or makes excuses.

Instead, she gets curious about why things went the way they did so she knows what to keep and what to do differently.

These insights give her the focus and power to achieve her goals.

I get at least one of these wonderful nuggets in each of my mastermind groups.

Sometimes they are really profound.

Other times – like now – they are simple reminders of time-tested ideas – like slowing down to speed up.

What would it be like to give yourself space for a July Reset?

Doug BrownThe July Reset
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How To Avoid Collapsing at the Finish Line and Build Momentum Instead!

Have you noticed that time seems to pass more quickly as we age? Or maybe it’s just me.

We’re always coming up on a month-end, quarter-end, year-end, or some other big milestone.

It’s exhausting, right?

So it’s pretty tempting to give ourselves a break and coast over the finish line.

Unfortunately when you do that you can lose your edge and can make little mistakes that can have a big impact.

You can lose the momentum you need for the next period – or lose the race altogether.

My kids were ski racers through high school.

They were trained to accelerate through the last turn and power through the finish line – because the difference between a podium and 5th place was measured in hundredths of a second – even at the junior level.

The next time you’re coming up on a big milestone – which seems like all the time – use these tips to power through the finish and carry your momentum forward.

#1 Stay Focused

Maintain your focus on what you are trying to accomplish by the end of the year. Watch out for distractions or interruptions.

Cull through your to-do list and prioritize the items that will have the biggest impact this year – especially around maximizing revenue and cash flow.

If your list is like mine there are plenty of “nice to have” or “I’d love to get to” items that are not essential. They have waited this long so they can wait a bit longer.

#2 Commit to the Future You Really Want

Decide once and for all that you are finally done tolerating what doesn’t work and playing games or settling for table scraps.

Decide that this is the time you will begin achieving your potential.

You will build a great practice that you love.

You will make better time choices.

You will have less stress.

Create a vision for what you want your life and your practice to be like 12 months from now.

Get really specific – in Technicolor and Dolby Surround Sound (yes, I know I’m dating myself with those references). The more clear and specific your goal is the more likely you are to achieve it.

Once you’ve got the vision – break it down into specific, measurable, and achievable goals or milestones. Make it really concrete. But don’t get so hung up in creating the perfect plan that you don’t start. You need to be in action.

Once you have decided: Don’t waffle. Don’t equivocate. The future you will create for yourself cannot be a “should” it has to be a must. Once the decision is made. Once you have committed, you can be in action.

#3 Create Ambitious Deadlines.

If you really want to get something done you need a non-negotiable deadline. If you make it easy on yourself it won’t get done. A deadline gives you a tangible sense of urgency that will drive you to accomplish more than you thought possible. The end of a calendar year is a great non-negotiable deadline.

When you make the commitment to others then it takes away your wiggle room. When you set a tight deadline (like the end of the year) it creates a sense of urgency that you need to get into action. And that’s a good thing.

#4 Get Comfortable Saying “No”.

There is only so much of you to go around. If you are like most professionals I know then you are over-committed to things you are only marginally interested in – typically out of a sense of obligation to others.

Stop it. Stop doing things that do not serve you. Make “no” your default answer. I know that is easy for me to say, and difficult to do. That doesn’t make it less important. When you start saying “no” to others then you have more bandwidth to start saying “yes” to what matters.

Give yourself the freedom to make a “stop doing” list. If it doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t have a direct and proximate correlation to achieving your goals then add it to the stop doing list. It will be a bigger list than you think. Even if you took just 1 or 2 things off that list you can probably save significant time and mental energy for what really matters.

#5 Get into Action – Massive Action

Once you have decided what you want to do then get going. There is no time to waste. You don’t need a perfect plan to start. You need to have an idea of where you want to go and the first and maybe second step to getting started. Then do it. Don’t just “dip your toe” in the water. Dive in and take massive action.

You’re probably trying to break years of habits of incrementalism or tolerating a less than optimum situation. The only way to do that is with massive focused and persistent action. You will probably stumble and fall. Most of us do. That’s not a reason not to be in action.

#6 Commit to Self Care.

Don’t wait until January 1st to (re)start your self-care routines. Sure, you’ll have some cheat days through the holidays, but there are still days to get good habits going. Get up at the same time each day, hydrate, meditate, eat well, sleep more. You are your most important asset. You are worth at least the same care that you give your car, right?

Which one (or more) of these will you implement for the next quarter?

Doug BrownHow To Avoid Collapsing at the Finish Line and Build Momentum Instead!
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