Death to the “Should”

Death to the “Should”

I recently returned from a business planning retreat, where my mastermind group escaped to the mountains for two full days of visioning, strategy, idea sharing and prioritizing activities for the year ahead. During the course of the retreat, I met one-on-one with each member of the group for a coaching session, and in every single session, the word “should” came up. “I should be doing more on social media.” “People tell me I should raise my prices.” “I should develop an online program.” And on and on and on.

Every day, you receive messages of what you “should” be doing. Whether from an article you read, a guru you follow, the wisdom (solicited or not) from business contacts, family members, and goons. The messages are seemingly never ending.

“Should” overwhelms us.

“Should” keeps us stuck.

“Should” brings us guilt.

No good comes from these messages. Inspired by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, “Do. Or do not. There is no should.” I suggest erasing this word from your vocabulary immediately. Here’s how:

Be Selective

It’s great to get advice and perspective from others who have been there, done that; or from people who are there, doing that. But that advise needs to be put through a filtering mechanism to decide if you will take the advice now, take the advice later, or not take the advice at all. There is no benefit from internalizing this advice as a “should.” Process it and assign it one of these three categories.

Park It

Don’t for a second let advice take up space in your head.

If the advice you get is advice you decide to take now, capture it in your project management system, your calendar, or whatever system you have to manage your priorities and your time. Then don’t think about it for another second until it’s time to focus all of your attention on it. When it is, focus on it, and do it well.

If the advice you get is advice you decide to take later, capture it on a master project list where it can live safely and securely until it’s appropriate to decide to pursue it or cross it off the list. Creating a parking lot for “future ideas” keeps them from taking up brain space (and energy).

Gauge Success

Don’t continue taking the advice (or doing anything in business for that matter) without carefully evaluating success to determine if it’s worth the time, energy, money, etc. to continue doing it over and over again. Sometimes advice becomes so engrained and habitual (send a monthly e-newsletter, cold call 10 prospects/day, etc.), you may fall into the routine of doing it, without pausing to evaluate if it’s bringing you the results you expect and need. Pause, evaluate, and then decide to continue or not.

And for goodness sake, stop “should-ing” yourself. DEATH TO THE “SHOULD.”

3 Questions to Create the Future

3 Questions to Create the Future

People might think of running a business as a solo endeavor, but the truth is that none of us can do it alone. In order to make a big impact in or contribution to the world, we need to share our vision with others, inspiring and motivating them to join us. This is leadership: creating a shared future together and working to implement it. And all of that happens in communication.

After returning from the Institute for Generative Leadership’s Foundations Workshop, the essence of leadership has never been clearer to me. While the program is truly an immersive experience, and one that I highly recommend business owners and leadership teams attend, I had a few key takeaways that I want you to start benefiting from now. So here are my thoughts distilled into three key questions for your team to ask every day to create strong communication and therefore greater business success:

1. What do we care about?

What we care about as individuals shapes every aspect of our life and work. When we’re connected with what we care about, we have value, meaning and satisfaction in our lives. When we don’t, we feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied and unhappy.

Similarly, every business owner gets into business to take care of something, to solve some need we identified in the world, and to do it our way. When we live and work in alignment with that care, things click and make sense, and we’re able to find flow. When we are surrounded by team members whose care is in line with ours and see them contributing to it, we flourish.

Yet so often, we’re distracted or cut off from our care. We bring team members into our organizations without clearly articulating our care or taking the time to understand theirs. Or we post our care on walls and in notebooks without living it day in and day out. The result is breakdown and burnout.

Define your care and keep it front and center every day. Don’t merely state it. Live it.

2. What shared language and understanding do we need?

Everyday we throw around words like “customer satisfaction,” “revenue” and “team.” Business conversations and meetings focus on the “how” around these ideas. How to increase customer satisfaction. How to bring in more revenue. How to build a team. But what if I have a different definition of what customer satisfaction is than you do? How can we possibly get on the same page when our language is not aligned?

We often make the unconscious assumption that others see the world how we do, because our history and our stories are so close to us. We fail to realize that there are other histories and other stories that shape the way those around us see the world — and the way they define words.

Generate a shared understanding of what words mean. Ask “what” before “how.”

3. What are our standards?

When standards are assumed and not spoken, it’s the same as asking other people to be mind readers. It’s simply unfair and unrealistic. When we assume that someone understands what we’ve never stated, we can bet that communication will break down. That in turn generates waste, dissatisfaction and distrust.

Our teams make many promises every day – to team members, promises to customers and vendors. In order for these promises to be trustworthy and shape the right action, we need to ensure that our standards mean the same thing to everyone on the team.

Clearly define and articulate your standards.

All of these questions manifest themselves in communication – the conversations we have, and the conversations that are missing. With alignment on care, a shared language to use in expressing that care, and commitment to standards, you have a “we” orientation from which to create the future together, one small step at a time.

Could your business use guidance in how to build better communication that drives success? Contact Kleriti Business Solutions today. We’ll help ensure that your team members have a shared understanding of future goals and how to reach them.

Make Q4 Count: 4 Plans to Jumpstart Your Company’s Year Ahead

Make Q4 Count: 4 Plans to Jumpstart Your Company’s Year Ahead

How was your year? Of course, we still have a few months left. But it’s important to start reviewing what worked, what didn’t work, and why not, so that you can hit the ground running once January arrives.

Q4 is the perfect time to plan. And no matter what stage your business is at, these four essential plans are key to achieving your business goals and growing in the year ahead.

Operations Plan

An operations plan covers all of the things that are necessary to the day-to-day life of your business. They’re so necessary, in fact, that they might seem obvious to you. But writing them down helps you plan in advance, making sure that you have what you need before you need it.

Questions to get you started:

  1. What do we need physically to get things done? (e.g., location, equipment)
  2. What goals aren’t we achieving? How can we achieve them every day?
  3. Which processes are inefficient or ineffective and need to be improved?
  4. What kind of budget do we need to implement our operations plan?

Personnel Plan

A business is only as good as its people. Having a personnel plan in place ensures that you assemble the best team for your business. And if you already have an amazing team in place, knowing how you will support their development in the coming year is invaluable.

Questions to get you started:

  1. What kind of team do we need to achieve our goals? What roles need to be filled and what do ideal employees bring to the company (education, background, skills, etc.)?
  2. How can we further develop our current talent?
  3. How do we recruit, onboard and train new employees? How can that be improved?
  4. What do employees need from us when they start?
  5. What kind of budget do we need to effectively recruit, onboard and retain star players?

Marketing/Sales Plan

We’ve talked a bit about sales in the past. Finding, qualifying and onboarding the right customers is just as important as finding, qualifying and onboarding the right employees. Sales and marketing go hand-in-hand, so it’s a good idea to plan for them together.

Questions to get you started:

  1. Who is our target market?
  2. What is our unique selling proposition?
  3. What’s the current ROI on our marketing activities? How do we want that to change?
  4. Are our services and prices fair and meeting the needs of our target market? How are we communicating that?
  5. How can we generate qualified leads that result in sales?
  6. What kind of budget do we need to achieve our sales and marketing goals?

Financial Plan

You might have noticed that each of the above sections ends with identifying a budget. Finances are important, and if you identify your company’s financial needs early on, it will help you invest in and take action on each of the plans you’ve created.

Questions to get you started:

  1. What’s the profitability of our clients, service lines, etc.?
  2. What are our monthly financial projections, based on anticipated income and expenses?
  3. What’s the most optimistic financial scenario?
  4. What’s the most pessimistic financial scenario?
  5. What’s the most realistic financial scenario?
  6. What are our financing needs for the year and how can we work toward achieving them?

Does your business struggle to create actionable plans that your team will follow through on? Contact Kleriti Business Solutions today. We’ll help get you on your way to your most successful year yet!

Stop Spinning Your Wheels: Implement Your Strategy and See Real Change

Stop Spinning Your Wheels: Implement Your Strategy and See Real Change

There are two steps to achieve a goal: plan and execute. Yet so often, businesses get stuck in planning mode and never move into action.

This is exactly what happened for years with a new Kleriti client. During a recent strategic planning session with them, members of the leadership team told me how they never gain traction or make progress because they’re stuck spinning their wheels talking about what they should do. This lack of execution paralyzes them, holding them back from realizing success.

For your business to get where you want it to go, both parts of the goal-achievement equation must be in play. In fact, entrepreneur and author Tim Berry goes so far as to argue that, “Good business planning is nine parts execution for every one part strategy.” Without the action, the words — and planning — don’t count for much. They certainly won’t get you to increased profit, a powerhouse team or more efficient workflows.

Overcome this stall-out and translate your strategy into action to realize positive change with these 5 practices.

Determine The Decision-Making Process

Lack of clarity on who is empowered to make which decisions is a quick way to hit a wall when it comes to execution. Decide how decisions will be made up front and by whom, to save your team time, confusion and even contentious debates as you implement the plan. How you handle decision-making will be influenced by your company’s culture. For example, if you encourage employees to share their opinions, you may include them in a vote. If you hold decisions closer to the vest, your leadership may come to consensus and communicate decisions downward.

Establish Deadlines And Responsibility

As you outline who makes the decisions, also decide on other key aspects of each person’s role in the strategy’s implementation. Clearly communicate to every relevant party what you expect from them, and by when. Your team can best implement the strategy when they have complete clarity about what they’re responsible for.

Define 90-Day Milestones

Delaying tasks until it’s absolutely necessary to do them is human nature. Research shows that up to 20 percent of people are chronic procrastinators. So it stands to reason that team members will wait until the deadline is staring them in the face to complete a task. Break your plan into chunks with milestones every 90 days, and to dos every week. This allows you to focus on smaller, immediate steps and to feel the motivation and satisfaction of making continual progress.

Hold Regular Check-Ins

Keep your team (even the procrastinators!) on track with ongoing check-ins. We suggest structured weekly meetings — one for leadership and one for each team or work unit. This drives appropriate focus at all levels of the organization. Confirm whether the previous week’s to dos were completed or not, and allow team members to share the issues facing them. That way you can overcome challenges and continue moving forward.

Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

It’s easy to become distracted by a new idea or change in direction. Avoid this tendency like the plague, and keep your eye on the ball. Don’t allow anything else to come into the plan unless it passes the litmus test of aligning with your company’s vision and mission, and supporting the goals you’ve set. And if you do opt to add something, take something else out to help keep your team and the action they’re taking on track and manageable.

Does your company struggle to translate your strategy into action? Contact Kleriti Business Solutions to get you moving. Our consultants will partner with you to break the trend and realize execution momentum like never before.

What Improv Classes Taught Me About Business and Life

What Improv Classes Taught Me About Business and Life

I recently wrapped up Level I improv classes at the Bovine Metropolis Theater in Denver. Going in, what I knew of improv came from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” – a show I used to love! I admired how the artists on stage created real life out of thin air. They cracked the audience up, while seeming to genuinely have a blast themselves. I wondered how they could possibly think and act that quickly. My introverted, planner self who thinks everything through first decided that now was the time to find out what this art form was all about (“There’s no time like the present” and all)!

While I did, in fact, learn how the comedians on “Whose Line” did it, I also came away with much more.

Here’s what I learned from improv classes that carries over into business and life.


Let go of expectations

One of the foundational tenants of improv is, “Yes, and…” When you or your scene partner put something into the world (“Wow! Look at this beautiful purple river,” or “Hi, what brings you into Lucky Mart today?”), the one thing you CANNOT do is explain that the river is in fact clear or that we’re in Lou’s Bakery. You accept what is given and build onto it, which, to me, means remaining open and accepting and going with the flow. And when you’re in that state, what you cannot do is hold onto your expectations of what’s going to happen. There’s no place for expectations in improv. You have to let them go — all of them.


You may think you’ve started a scene as an office worker, when all of a sudden a college student enters the scene to apply for a job at your bank. And wham, bam. You’re in a bank. This is also called “give and take” or “win and lose” in improv. At the end of the day, sometimes you have to let go of your expectations and your ideas in order to make a great scene. So you do. You have to let go of your ego and what you think might be right in service of your fellow players and the world you’re creating together.

Bovine Metropolis Theater in Denver - photo by Sarah Krivel Kleriti Business Solutions - Improv Lessons for Business and Life

Tune in

In order for a scene to be believable (dining in a restaurant or pulling in a fishing net), it has to truly look to the audience like you’re really there doing it. This means that every part of your body has to be engaged. You have to see it, taste it, and especially feel it (the fork you’re eating salad with, the slippery floor of the fishing boat). No matter what it is, you have to be fully there. It goes from being make-believe to being your reality. And when you step out of a scene and realize how fully you had embraced being inside of it, like you really were enjoying a delicious meal with a friend or hauling in a giant catch at the end of the day, you realize the ultimate presence. If that presence breaks for even a second, the impact is palpable to the audience. So you stay there.


Trust yourself to make the best choice you can in that moment

Early on, we played a game where one partner acts out an everyday repetitive activity (think brushing your teeth, driving your car) and the other partner mirrors them until both are in sync. Then the second partner evolves that activity to something entirely different. Our teacher, Holly, coached us to slow down the action and listen to our body to change it. We don’t change it, our body does — a truly crazy concept for someone as heady as me to grasp. And that’s exactly the point.


When it came my turn to evolve the activity, I did what Holly instructed, and literally came up blank in my mind. I had no expectation, nor clue, of what I was going to change it into. I felt confused, at a loss, and a bit bewildered. And instead of fighting those feelings, I stayed there. I slowed it down and listened to my body until low and behold the barbell lifting activity my partner sent me became painting a portrait. After the fog came incredible clarity. But I had to slow it down and remain open to the process to get there. In improv, there’s no right and wrong. There’s no pre-meditation. You just have to “jump” – to enter a scene, to start to speak, and believe that it will come. It’s amazingly freeing to have a space where nothing is wrong, and everything is right.

It can be scary to get outside your comfort zone and force your brain into a new way of thinking like I did with improv, but the new insights you gain from it can be amazing. Fortunately, Kleriti Business Solutions can help you see new perspectives on your business challenges — and we won’t require you to put yourself out there in an improv class to make it happen! If you feel stuck with where you are in your business and want to break through to greater success, contact us today for your free Spotlight Session.

As for me, it’s on to Level II!

Is there a business challenge that you’ve struggled with for too long and could use outside perspective on? Tell us in the comments below.

Get Out of the Owner’s Trap and Get Back to Your Life

Get Out of the Owner’s Trap and Get Back to Your Life

You started your business to be the boss and call the shots. To find flexibility and fulfillment. To create and to help others. But after a while, it started to control you. It sucked you into working around the clock to keep up, sacrificing time with family and friends, your favorite hobbies, and more.

Some recent anecdotes I’ve heard from business owners facing this dilemma include: “I’ve been working until 10 p.m. each night” and “I’ve worked seven days a week for 29 months.” And the worst part is that even though these businesses are growing, staff is ramping up, and profits are strong, they would collapse if you took the owner out of the equation.

It’s a scenario I often find business owners in, and one that brings them to realize they need Kleriti. Because there’s nothing worse than putting in so much tireless work to realize there’s nothing left if you step out. Simply put, a business that relies on its owner to run is unsellable, and all your hard work and sacrifice will be lost. But fear not — there is another way!

Here are 3 practices to get into right away to help build a sustainable business that will allow you to step out for that much-deserved vacation, passion project or eventual exit.


1. Define and Document Your Way

After I had a project returned to my desk no fewer than three times in a past job, I found myself marching into my boss’ office declaring, “I’m never going to get to what’s in your head. So can you please share it with me?” The fact is that people need to clearly understand what’s expected of them to succeed in your organization.

So what is your way? Define it and put it on paper. That makes how you do what you do every day teachable and replicable.


2. Don’t Be the Lynchpin in Your Process

If every document requires your approval, every meeting requires your attendance, or every decision requires your OK, you’re just as stuck as if you were doing all of the work yourself.

Hire right. Train well. Then let the people manage the process and the day-to-day.

Empower people to raise their hand when they identify an issue/lapse/areas of opportunity, and have them propose the solution. This helps you step back rather than be seen as the only one who can solve a problem.


3. Step Into the Role you Really Want and Don’t Go Back

When a long-time client of Kleriti’s first engaged with us, she said, “My ultimate goal is to not to have to be here. I’m working 60-70 hours each week now, and I want this to run without me.” Last month, she looked at me and asked, “What should I be doing now?” With standard operating procedures, checklists and forms, a restructured team, and clear internal and external accountabilities, her business is operating like never before. Employee turnover is down 17 percent, and monthly revenue is up 24 percent — and she’s out of the work she had previously been doing for over 25 years.

She got what she asked for and is now fully stepping into the CEO role, embracing this as the new normal without slipping back into old habits.

Business is an evolution — it’s never perfect, and it’s never 100 percent “landed.” As an owner, you’re constantly learning, shifting, getting closer and closer to where you want to be.

Once you break free from the trap, incredible potential opens up for exploration, creativity, innovation and impact. You owe it to yourself, your team and the world to get out!

If your business is running you and you need help flipping the situation, get in touch with Kleriti Business Solutions today to learn more about how we can help you get off the work treadmill and into your ideal role as a business owner.

Is something keeping you in the owner’s trap? Tell us what it is in the comments below.