You’ll Be Grateful You Read This…

You’ll Be Grateful You Read This…

As a business owner, thanks and giving are constants. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the opportunity to serve my clients. This gratitude is something most of my clients have echoed, too, in their own businesses. By being thankful for the opportunity to be in business, we feel gratitude for all the people supporting us: customers, team members, partners, family members, mentors, colleagues, you name it.

No wonder Thanksgiving feels natural to us.

Sure, it’s also about the food, spending time with loved ones and taking advantage of killer sales. Whatever gets you most excited about Thanksgiving, I recommend you really take the time to reflect, gather even more gratitude and then share it in a way that will be impactful—for you and your business.

Start With Reflection

What better time of year to look back on how far you’ve come? OK, yes, New Year’s Eve makes logical sense to look backwards, too. In the context of Thanksgiving, we’re simply looking at it from a different vantage point. This is your time to reflect specifically on the progress you’ve made.

Imagine you’re scaling a mountain. You hoist yourself up with your system of pulleys, the crest of another slope rolling out in front of you. It’s all you can do not to blink in the sun creeping over from the other side of the mountaintop. You still have a ways to go. You look down, and instead of feeling gratitude for how far you’ve come, you see the plummeting depths beneath you. The fear of falling forces an involuntary shudder.

This sensation will ring true for many (if not all of us, at some point). We often walk around with more fear than gratitude—we’re living the dream, working our businesses and doing what we love. Who wouldn’t be scared that it could all go away? There’s always the real possibility of “falling” from where we are now, and that possibility is frightening.

Thanksgiving can be your opportunity to look at how far you’ve come in the context of what is real: the present. Your reality here and now has you dangling from a mountain, sure, AND you’re making progress. You’re securely harnessed. You even have a crew to keep you company (and root you on) along the way.

Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to all of us all of the time, which is why reflection is important to talk about even if it does seem self-evident. In the end, thankfulness is a key to business health. It has a positive impact on your mood and outlook toward the future, and as a result, opens up possibilities that you might not see if you weren’t looking through the lens of gratitude.

If you’ve made progress in your business this year, there was probably some figurative pulley system that supported you (after all, you can’t do it all yourself). Maybe that was your team, your board of advisors, a key referral source or your business partner. Don’t let what “could” happen tomorrow take away the gratitude you have for where you are today.

Show It

Once you’ve found what you’re grateful for, next comes expressing it. If you feel a little silly about the cliché of Thanksgiving and the sudden onslaught of “thank you” cards and “I’m grateful” statements, you can pepper in your thanks throughout the month. On each occasion, make it about the moment and about the person who played a part in whatever it is you’re grateful for.

Believe me, taking one person aside to tell them “thank you” a few weeks before Thanksgiving will not only feel more genuine, but in the context of work relationships, will help build trust.

I have seen this play out in teams over and over again. In fact, recently, a client mentioned to me that she had been having performance problems with an employee, and after considering multiple options for how to address the issues, she opted for gratitude. She expressed to the employee how valuable he was, and how much his contributions to the team mattered. Immediately, she noticed an incredible change in his work, his attitude and his contribution to the team. The performance issues were completely resolved as a result of this simple and heartfelt recognition. How powerful!

I have always believed that the simplest things can ultimately mean the success of a business. The big epiphanies have their place (and we all know how celebrated they are), but the simple things made habit have a much deeper and longer-lasting cultural impact.

For instance, you probably say “thank you” to your customers on a regular basis. How often do you say it to team members? How often do you say it to a supportive partner? How about your banker, your mentors, your friends or referral sources?

You really can’t go overboard here, as long as it’s genuine. Being sincere when expressing your thanks is essential not only to you feeling great about it, but to the recipient feeling great and building that trust I mentioned before.

Don’t Hold It For Thanksgiving

After you’ve introspected, you’ve thanked people, you’re full of passion and good cheer and extra servings of gratitude…what’s next? You’re excited to get things moving next year and chase down your 2020 vision. You feel great about the people you have around you. So don’t hold it in!

Remember that gratitude need not be reserved for Thanksgiving alone. The more thanks you spread, and the more often you spread it, the better.

You’re recognizing more than someone’s effort or kindness—you’re recognizing that person. And that feels good for both parties.

As an added bonus, saying “thank you” also sets the scene for more efforts and kindness on the part of the person recognized. Showing gratitude primes people to continue contributing.

With small businesses accounting for 64% of new job growth over the last 25 years1, as business owners we have a lot to be grateful for. So pause to let it all soak in. Then share that gratitude, and don’t stop sharing! You’ll be grateful you did.

1 https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_Sept_2012.pdf

How To Disconnect From Business—To Better Your Business

How To Disconnect From Business—To Better Your Business

You own a business. Yes, you’re the keystone of operations. Yes, it’s critical to the success of your business that you take due responsibility. But if big bank CEOs can still go on vacation and switch their phones to “off,” why can’t you? Sure, they have enormous teams to take care of everything while they’re gone, however there’s a simpler reason why they’re able to disconnect: they have the processes in place to keep the engine running without them.

Let’s say you’re still many, many written processes away from feeling that kind of independence. That can be remedied (especially with the new online, self-paced course I’m offering that dives into all-things-process). And…the idea of disconnecting is something crucial you need to understand here and now.

Stop trying to maximize every second of the day with productive to-dos, savagely crossing tasks off your list. If you don’t prioritize downtime to disconnect, you’ll be sitting on the edge of overwhelm and burnout. I am speaking from experience here.

There are at least a few hours every day that must be “sacred,” those hours where no one should bother you and where you have NO obligation to view an email or take a phone call. And I’ll go further—it’s essential to your health and to the growth of your business that you make it your highest priority to find even longer windows to disconnect.

Let Me Tell You Where I’m Coming From…

I’ll be frank; this has been on my mind a lot lately thanks to a recent trip I took. It’s not that long ago that I came back from one and a half weeks overseas. I had a lot of things on my mind while I traveled—places to see, agendas to keep—and above all else, I had one primary focus: to be present.

I had this idea that “being present” would leave me open to whatever experiences happened upon my path. And in order to be more present, I had to disconnect.

It started on a bus where I simply disconnected from the WiFi. As I traveled between cities, I looked out the window or talked to the other travelers instead. I took time and (equally important) made a deliberate effort to immerse myself in the people, culture, history and stories that were quickly building what became a life-changing experience.

By giving myself space, disconnecting from the notifications and the rest, I found perspective.

Please answer honestly—when did you last break away? Do you actively cultivate a space for yourself?


Here’s how.

Step 1: Accept Your “Productive Downfall”

productivity downfall am i too productiveI’m included in this and so feel empowered to say it: business owners face many challenges, and one that continually rises to the top of the list is the need to always be productive. It can feel at times like business success rests squarely on your shoulders, and so there’s always more you could do—projects to finish, deals to close and services to launch out of the park.

Even downtime is filled with “to-dos.” Everything from doing the laundry to cleaning the house or taking care of the errands you haven’t had time to do. It’s a compulsion for most of us. We get that same rush after our “free time” that we do in the office, thinking with satisfaction of the list of things we just accomplished.

What you have to remember is that any amount of time devoted to relaxation—real relaxation, not running errands—is a profitable investment. It will make you a better businessperson and it will render you more equipped to do your job. Giving yourself room to introspect will directly impact your business in the most positive ways. Down time opens up space for creativity and to see things in a different way.

If you really want to be “at your best” for your business to grow, a healthy frame of mind is where that starts. Your best ideas come when you’re relaxed and recharged, not stressed. And what do businesses thrive on today, if not great ideas?

It’s critical that you accept the idea of disconnecting, relaxing, living in the moment…and that you build this time in without ever thinking twice about it. Whatever you want to call it, however you want to see it, you need to appreciate its value. Not coming naturally to you? Keep reading about the importance of time off to learn more.

Step 2: Draw A Line In The Sand

If you’re serious about disconnecting, you need to commit to it just like you do everything else on your agenda. And then, you need to draw a line in the sand to start classifying activities that promote relaxation and living in the moment versus those that don’t.

I’ll be the first to add something to column “B” for you—it does not count to be “in the moment” or disconnected from the noise of work and life if you’re on your phone, not even blowing time on social media. That’s why I shut the WiFi off on the bus that day. Our brains need a break from constant engagement, and the risk of notifications coming in and taking you a step away from dedicated time for introspection will be counterproductive to everything you’re trying to gain by it.

What You Need To Know About Your Phone

Even better than disconnecting from WiFi is shutting your phone or tablet off altogether. The buzzing or dinging, those endless vies for your attention, will steer you away from personal growth. Apple proudly announced in 2013 that more than 7.4 trillion push notifications had been sent through its servers. They haven’t spoken to that number since, but how much do you want to bet that number has doubled? Tripled?

By turning your phone off altogether, you’ll quickly discover that you don’t miss the stream of push notifications filling your lock screen. You’ll no longer allow just any app to interrupt your time for reflection.

Apple wants you to look at your iPhone, Gmail wants you to open your inbox, Facebook wants you to open Messenger and dozens of other apps and advertisers are competing every second for your attention. This will not change without your intervention, so make the call now to turn your notifications, WiFi or phone off. Leave it behind.

Step 3: Use Reflection Time

Know how to reflectWhat do you do with this down time? The short answer is: nothing productive. What I mean by that is to strike the idea of “maximizing” your time with things that “have to get done.” You can use your reflection time to walk somewhere, go to lunch, read a book or talk to your neighbor. The point is that it should leave you open to the moment and all the experiences, ideas and feelings that come organically with it.

Not sure which activities or experiences fall on the right side of that line in the sand? Look at this article by American Express to see which of these ideas resonate with you. Personally, I connect with quiet and creativity by getting out into nature, by doing yoga and by cooking.

It’s amazing what’s possible when you step out of the daily grind. Heck, it’s amazing what’s possible when you simply look up from your phone.

Block off time to disconnect starting today. Then increase that time little by little. And then, plan bigger windows of time (like a vacation) to support your “in the moment” experiences. What you find might surprise you in the best way.

Think slowing down is a luxury you don’t have? Think again.

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey

Three Business “Do Or Dies”

Three Business “Do Or Dies”

The barrier to entry to start a business in this country is extremely low. Have an idea? Think you can do something better or different than others who are doing it? Than start a business! File some simple documents online, and you’re official.

But that doesn’t mean that you can run a successful business.

When it comes to running a business, there are three core functions that you absolutely must have. These apply across every business model and industry without exception. These are mission-critical, and without all three, failure is inevitable.

I talk about these functions seriously because they are that essential. You can develop these functions internally or you can outsource them, but you must have them covered one way or another.

So, without further ado, these three necessary skills for anyone running a business are:

  1. Generate and convert leads.
  2. Read and interpret financials.
  3. Create and put processes in place.

These are each make-or-break, and it’s not just your business that’s at stake—it’s your life. Keep reading and I’ll show you not only why, but also how, to effectively master all three.

1: Generate And Convert Leads

Your business will fail if you don’t have leads coming in. Right? At least, that’s what all the digital marketing companies are telling you. And it’s the truth, but not the whole truth.

Lead lists and how important it is to convertYou do have to be growing your lead list, that’s for sure. I’ll take it a step further, though, and say that your conversion rate on those leads is even more important. If you need nine new clients a month and are only generating a dozen leads, but converting nine of them, you’re right on track.

Your conversion rate will depend on a multitude of factors, and business-to-business those factors will vary a lot. Identifying the right KPIs will help give you direction on where your numbers should be.

Maybe you’ve already identified those KPIs. Maybe you already know where your numbers are, and you’re painfully aware that you desperately need more leads—and a much higher conversion rate. To get to the heart of this, I’ve outlined the steps to get going in the right direction. This is something you have to work on immediately, because without generating and converting the right number of leads, it’s just a matter of time until your business is toast.

Step 1 – Identify Where Your Ideal Clients “Live”

You’ve probably heard and read about this many, many times. Your ideal client, or avatar, is the profile of the client you best serve.

As much as you might know about your avatar (their gender and age, where they are located geographically, what they do for work), do you know where they hang out? Do you know what percent of that audience uses one social network versus another? Can you name a book that multiple people in your audience have read? Do you know what their favorite websites are? What magazines they read? Where they go for fun? What they really care about deep down?

You can get these answers through interviews of your ideal client. This will help you know where to go and what to talk about to attract and convert more leads.

Step 2 – Make A Valuable Offer

We’ve gone over how you’ll have a much easier time reaching your ideal client when you know where they “live.” You’ll also have a better understanding about what makes them happy, sad, scared, relieved—and make an offer to them that’s valuable and alleviates their concerns, helps them realize their dreams, etc. In essence, that takes care of what they care about. Anything that can bring real value to your avatar (while speaking to the “need” and emotional backdrop you know is there) will help position your offer as the solution.

Step 3 – Follow Up

Let’s say you’ve done all the work up to here. To tap the well and convert even more leads, you need a system in place to easily (and, ideally, automatically) follow-up.

Sometimes called “touch programs,” “top-of-mind awareness” and “drip campaigns,” this refers to the marketing and messaging you push out to warm leads who already contacted you but didn’t bite. This is the segment of your target audience that knows who you are and knows you provide a solution they need. Generally, two thirds of this segment learned about you before they were ready to buy, and following up is your ticket to staying in the picture until they are ready to make their decision. Without following up, it’s dangerously unlikely that decision will be made in your favor.

Building a system for following up also generates content that’s often sharable and repeatable, and helps bring new leads in—and thus the cycle continues.

Take these steps seriously, and remember that even a mammoth lead list won’t do anything unless you both generate and convert leads consistently.

2: Read And Interpret Financials

Your financial statements are commonly referred to as “the scorecards for business performance.” I love talking about the KPI scorecards I help Kleriti clients build, and financials are always a big part of those. This acumen is so essential to your business that, if you aren’t on solid footing in reading and interpreting financials, you truly need to solve that now.

Financials and how to read financial reports

The Balance Sheet

The balance sheet gives you a “snapshot in time” of:

  • Assets
  • Liabilities
  • Shareholder equity
  • Net worth

This sheet is the quick overview of the health of your business. It’s also used to calculate things like your business’s capital structure and rate of return.

The Income Statement

The income statement, also called the profit and loss statement (or P&L), reports the money in, out and owed over a specific time period (rather than the balance sheet, which is a snapshot at a specific point in time). The focus of the income statement includes the net balances of money in and out.

Cash Flow Statement

We all know what cash flow is, and the cash flow statement is an equally essential concept to understand. This reports the operating cash flow as well as the financing cash flow, and—if you have investors—also includes the investing cash flow. Knowing what cash you have on hand, where it’s coming from and at what cost, is essential for assessing any business’s liquidity.

After you know what these financial statements are (and how to read them), knowing how to use that information is the next crucial hurdle. The good news is that this essential, do-or-die task is one of the most practical to outsource. Or, who knows, maybe it’s time to upgrade to a CFO?

3: Create And Put Processes In Place

Processes know how to put process in placeYou know how your business works. In fact, you know it better than anyone. That knowledge transfer is fundamental when you bring more people onto your team—and having documented processes in place is how you transfer your knowledge (and your expectations) successfully.

Processes act to streamline and communicate recurring tasks, as well as to support improving them. So, how do you know what needs to be turned into a process? And how do you craft that process, document it and teach it to others? My new self-paced, online course DuplicateU teaches you how to do just that. And in the meantime, here are some basics to get started.

Step 1 – Determine Recurring Activities

Every business is comprised of predictable, recurring business activities. Since time is money, engaging in recurring tasks depletes your bottom line. The more you can automate, the more time and space you can free up to attend to more creative endeavors.

Step 2 – Document Everything

I can’t tell you how many owners say to me, “Don’t worry. It’s all right here,” as they point to their head. To which I respond, “That is precisely the problem!”

You see, our brains are not meant to keep track of mundane information. They’re meant for higher level functioning and problem solving. Yet, when we fill them with all these details, there’s no room for anything else. Do you ever feel like your brain is sometimes foggy? Or like it’s really hard to concentrate on one thing? This is why! Not to mention that brains are fallible.

Operating this way is not just risky…it’s reckless. Put everything on paper. This makes it shareable and teachable with others in an efficient, effective way. And it frees up your brain for more fun stuff!

Step 3 – Design Tools for Support

Every process has a set of elements (like templates, scripts and checklists) that support it. These are necessary to execute the process seamlessly and consistently every time. And these all need to be on paper so that anyone can follow/use them. The right tools allow you to automate the process, making each repeatable task easier to execute consistently every time.

Mission-Critical Means Immediate Action Needed

This article was a to-the-point description of the three do-or-die functions for business owners. As you can imagine, each of these is so important that I could devote not just a whole blog, but an entire course to it—like I did with DuplicateU, the course I designed to empower business owners to put the processes in place they need so their businesses can run without them.

There’s a lot of information out there on each of these concepts, and even some excellent tools to help you. For example, read what Lucid Chart has to say about process documentation, and you’ll see how their “idea board” SaaS is especially well-designed to help.

Whatever you do, don’t look at the end of this article as the end of the lesson. These three business tasks are non-discretionary for your business and for your own well-being. You need to generate and convert leads, you need to know how to read and take action on your financials and you need to have defined, documented processes in place—or your business will fail. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Start today, and check out DuplicateU. You’ll be happy you did.

How To Create And Use KPIs For Real Results

How To Create And Use KPIs For Real Results

Analytics today. How much data do we have available just a click away? It’s unreal.

Most of the data we can access today about our business, our clients and the market in general is downright fascinating. But the excitement of all that information quickly deflates when you find yourself neck-deep in data without any idea how to use it.

Not all data is created equal. You can end up with a ton of information that doesn’t inform you on your daily business functions and which quite frankly isn’t that useful.

Gain relevant and actionable insights by developing and using the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Easier said than done, right? It’s true that this will require some development. Well-crafted KPIs are worth it, though, when you see them clearly outline your business’s road map to success.

First, I’d like to back up to one essential KPI “pre-step.” The following section is a must read before starting strategic KPI work, because ultimately your KPIs will be based off of this basic ingredient.


Start With The Right Goals

the best kpis start with the right goalsYour KPIs, in essence, are the metrics to check your progress against your goals. So setting the right goals for your business is essential to later craft the KPIs that measure their status.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you just rebuilt your website. It seems obvious that increased traffic would be a goal, right? That means increased visibility, maybe even improved SEO or a better user experience bringing more people to each page. But is website traffic necessarily the right goal to know if your website is performing well?

Websites aren’t (or shouldn’t be) built solely to “get more traffic.” If the business’s goal is to get more business, then a more appropriate goal for the website would be to get more online conversions. Higher website traffic comes with more conversions sometimes (for sheer volume), but definitely not always. By looking at conversions instead, you’re encompassing all the other factors that ultimately lead you to your goal.

Specific website conversion goals might include when users:

  • Register for an event
  • Submit a question
  • Make a payment
  • Fill in a form or opt in to something

Did you catch it? These goals all have a direct and measurable effect on our number-one business goal: growth. And by making it measurable, you naturally identify the KPIs that are worth watching to get where you want to go.

For some businesses, KPIs around things like employee performance feel harder to quantify—at first. Let’s work with another example. Is it the number of calls your front-desk employees are making that you want to monitor and improve? Or the number of appointments set with potential clients? By identifying the right goal, your KPIs will be easier to pick out.

How about business strategy KPIs? Client retention KPIs? See more examples and tips on choosing your KPIs in this well-done Hubspot article. Right here and now, I’ve got some more ground to cover to make your KPIs usable and effective.


Lagging Vs. Leading Indicators

It’s important for me to take a moment and talk about lagging vs. leading indicators. This is one important and fundamental way that performance management is broken down in business, and it’s also something I talk about with Kleriti clients and in my new self-guided online course, DuplicateU.

  • Lagging indicators are usually “output” oriented, meaning they measure something you’re looking at in hindsight. Think about financial performance, profit and cost metrics. These indicators are very easy to measure, while being more challenging to influence.
  • Leading indicators are the “input” factors in your business’s performance, meaning they measure something that’s in your control now. Leading indicators are measurable in the context of today or the immediate future, making them harder to measure but easier to control.

Want another example? Imagine a business that has some form of tech user support, like a SaaS start-up. They might have internal policies stating how to resolve client issues. Let’s say they even sold their clients on a commitment that they resolve all help-desk issues within 48 hours.

The output or “lagging indicator” is easy to measure—how many tickets are closed within a 48-hour window?

And how do you influence that lagging indicator? If tickets aren’t getting closed out, what KPIs are in your control? Maybe you see that incidents not touched within two hours are those that don’t get closed within 48. Your “leading indicator” could be the percent of incidents not worked at least once in a two-hour window.

what are lagging versus leading indicators in business kpis

For more examples, you can check out this accounting-specific article on leading and lagging KPIs.


Crafting Your KPIs In A Usable Way

So you have your goals and you have your KPIs. You even know how lagging and leading indicators work.

How do you ensure your KPIs are not only insightful, but also actionable?

An actionable KPI is an effective KPI, because the whole point of these metrics is to make smarter business decisions.

To spur action, your KPIs are effective and useful once you set targets for them. And describing the desired performance of these metrics is how your data will be interpreted later. This step defines good performance and bad performance along with thresholds for upper and lower limits.

And here we are at another “how:” how do you measure against those targets?


Establishing KPI Scorecards

how to establish kpi scorecards to track kpiOnce you have all these numbers clearly defined, the final steps are to set them up in a highly usable scorecard and establish a cadence for scorecard review.

The scorecard should include:

  • The KPI
  • The target
  • Who in the organization (team or individual) is responsible for driving it
  • How the metric is collected/measured (to ensure consistency)

Then establish a process where the scorecard is reviewed regularly (I recommend weekly) with a red light/green light report out so that corrective action can be taken as soon as possible to get metrics that have gone off track back on track.

For example, I work with the leadership teams of Kleriti clients to elect a set of 6-12 numbers that on their own give an absolute pulse on the business. These KPIs are formalized into a scorecard, data is collected and reviewed weekly by the leadership team and red light items are discussed with specific action items assigned to individuals to get them back in the green.


Ensure KPIs Are Understood And Used Across Your Organization

It’s essential that everyone on your team be aware of what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re measuring progress. KPIs form part of your business strategy decision-making across the board, and everyone should be clear on how their contributions affect major KPIs.

Communicating KPIs keeps your team on their toes and it also provides an opportunity to applaud success. People react to numbers, and meeting goals is something that can be shared and promoted company-wide when KPIs are hit out of the park.

Data and metrics are everywhere. For your business, only KPIs that are well designed and actionable will be effective in tracking progress to reaching your goals.

I spend a lot of time with Kleriti clients helping them define goals, identify KPIs and create the scorecards to assign responsibility and streamline the collection of usable data. If you have questions or want to know more about any part of this article, don’t hesitate to send me an email directly.

Trouble Finding Talent? You’re Not Alone!

Trouble Finding Talent? You’re Not Alone!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “dig your well before you’re thirsty.” In finding and hiring the right talent for your business, this means building a bench of rock star candidates to reach out to with offers as positions in your organization become available.

If only it were that easy.

You know you need the right team to grow your business, but finding candidates with the right set of skills, behavioral traits and ambitions interested in joining your team can be a real challenge. I’ve been hearing this again and again from Kleriti clients in recent weeks.

The unemployment rate as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May was 3.6%, well below the normal rate. This means many of today’s would-be candidates are asking for salaries that immediately disqualify them from the running.

Your hiring process can be simpler and at the same time more effective. There is a path of less resistance to find the talent you need when you need it—and at the price you can afford. I’m going to break down the key factors at play to put this all into perspective—because, with these factors worked to your advantage, finding and hiring the right people for your business doesn’t have to be hard.

How to build an effective and repeatable hiring process

Building a hiring process that is effective and repeatable comes down to assessing:

  1. Where is hiring on your priority list?
  2. How do you write your job descriptions?
  3. What is your process for reviewing, interviewing and evaluating candidates?
  4. And how realistic are you at the onset?

Where Is Hiring On Your Priority List?

To attract the right talent, recruiting has to be a priority. More specifically, this means devoting time to:

  • Promoting openings
  • Searching for candidates
  • And reviewing applicants

For starters, any time you’re in public you have the chance to act as a spokesperson for your business and your team. Give your brand a voice and speak to its mission. You never know if your neighbor, or the café barista or the guy in your running group is looking for a new opportunity. Or maybe they know someone who is. If you start your search for talent by networking and promoting openings in day-to-day interactions, you’ll end up planting seeds that could later yield harvest.

Next, to get more proactive, searching for and researching talent is a must. A natural place to start is on LinkedIn, and you can also look for groups on Facebook that are devoted to the industry or type of work you’re scouting for. Depending on the talent you need, some of these groups might be specific to trade groups or associations where those professionals convene.

These activities take time, and it might feel like devoting energy to one more thing will push you over the edge. Just keep reading through the following steps and you’ll see how this process can become repeatable and easier over time.

How Do You Write The Best Job Description?

Writing the best job description requires clearly outlining the job’s requirements—and a little intrigue on top of that can create an even more effective post. Start by outlining the essential duties, behavioral competencies, education and experience needed for the position. The more time you devote to getting specific here, the more likely you are to bring in the right person.

Expert tip: If you’re unsure where to start with responsibilities or competencies, look at your current staff. How are you using the talent you have today? A quick assessment can act as a springboard to be clearer about what you need out of a new hire. For example, if you wish your current staff had stronger project management skills, highlight that competency in your job description. How you’re using your current talent—and where they need help—can give you direction on what to look for in the next role you fill.

If you’re writing a job description for an entirely new position and you’re struggling with where to start, another option is to read descriptions on job boards for like roles in your area. What do you see in other job descriptions that you want to look for in your new hire?

With responsibilities and competencies clearly defined, the icing on the cake is the “intrigue” element of your job description. If your business is growing, mention that in the post. Give a brief summary of what your business does and how this role fits into the bigger picture. And if you’re looking for talent with a specific energy (like a “go getter” attitude, or someone with a sense of curiosity, or someone who’s flexible), use that language to make your post more human and relatable. Remember that you’re selling your organization along with the role and use language that really attracts the right candidates. 

The best job descriptions come with a little reflection of your current talent, a little research on the competition and clear and relatable language. Keep reading to see how far this takes you into an optimized hiring process.

What Does Your Hiring Process Need?

Your hiring process needs to be practical and repeatable. And yes, you do need a process. By building a step-by-step system, you’ll make life easier the next time you have to hire—and you’ll also ensure that you compare candidates apples-to-apples. You can tweak your hiring process as needed, but here’s my recommendation to get started:

  1. Get creative in the search

Step one is the first concept you read about. By investing time up-front on LinkedIn and Facebook, and in promoting opportunities within your network, you’ll end up with a bigger pool of talent to consider. Posting and ad on a job board and waiting for the right candidate to appear doesn’t always cut it. If you proactively reach out to professionals whose experience, skills and energy align with what you need, you’ll save yourself time in every other step of your hiring process.

  1. Be resourceful in promoting your job descriptions

Let’s say you’ve written a clear and intriguing job description just like I outlined above. Posting it to a job board is a natural place to start. Some options are ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor and Google for Jobs. And sharing it on your own LinkedIn profile, on Facebook and within relevant social media groups and trade organizations will help you make an even bigger splash.

  1. Decide how you’ll compare resumes

Here, not only do you decide what criteria you’ll favor when reviewing candidates, you can also list your priorities in order of importance to help compare candidates in a consistent and weighted fashion. In fact, when you craft your job description, one easy hack is to list the responsibilities, competencies and required experience in their order of importance in their respective lists. Then you can use the job description itself to rank candidates against those key requirements.

One caution here is to remember that a resume is simply one piece of a more complex puzzle. It’s likely the first exposure you have to a candidate, but a sheet of paper and a human being are very different. So use the resume as a starting point for evaluation and comparison, but by no means the entire picture.

  1. Standardize your interviews

Interviewing consistently—using the same questions and making sure those questions are written to get at the heart of the role’s responsibilities—is essential to make your hiring process consistent and repeatable. Keep your open-ended interview questions organized and clear, and take notes when you sit down with each candidate. These notes will allow you to complete an objective evaluation when comparing candidates and choosing the right talent for your business.

  1. Consider the right assessments

Most of us have had the experience of interviewing a candidate we thought would be just perfect for our organization, and months later finding out that they misrepresented their skills or competencies. I always recommend adding assessments into your hiring process to combat this. What combination of tactical skills assessments (typing speed, Excel proficiency, etc.) and communication/cultural/job fit assessments can you work into your process? Again, these become repeatable every time, and help break through the tendency to hire people we like in favor of people that will do the work we need well and add value to our organizations.

After finding and hiring the right talent, read my article about training new hires to your standards to set new employees up for success right away.

Why you need the best hiring process for your small business

Your Market: How Realistic Are You In Hiring?

Even the best hiring process won’t pay off if your expectations aren’t realistic. When looking at your market, one of the big business decisions to make in hiring is what you’ll be able to pay. Don’t stretch your budget or lower your expectations so far that you feel like you’re “settling,” because that never works out. (Mr. Good Enough is out of fashion in dating, so why should your business ever settle?)

Looking at my home state of Colorado and all the Kleriti clients here, the balance of budgets against the job market has been especially tough. I’ve had clients say that it feels like candidates come in asking for a million dollars.

Naturally, with unemployment rates falling lower and lower, top talent will have the luxury of being pickier about their next job. This is where the intrigue written into your job description comes into play by adding excitement and relatability to the opportunity you have to offer.

And while large corporations may be able to offer bigger salaries and more robust benefits packages, small businesses can offer incredible benefits to employees that often go undersold. In small business, employees may get:

  • Greater exposure to multiple roles, allowing them to grow and develop their interests and skills more quickly and robustly
  • More ability to see the impact of their work by directly serving a population they care about
  • Increased opportunities to impact the organization with recommendations and insights that can have an immediate effect on the organization’s direction
  • Greater flexibility

Do not underestimate these benefits, and remember that at every step of the hiring process you’re selling your organization and the role to the candidate as much as they’re selling themself to you.

If you’re looking for new talent now, it’s not too late to do a little extra research, revamp your job description and see what’s hot in your local job market. By taking a look at the most popular positions posted by large employers in your area, and how the associated job descriptions are written, you’ll be able to gain insight into what’s attracting local talent. Use this data to inform your decision regarding salary and benefits, but again, stick to what’s right for you and where your organization is at in its growth.

If you’re still feeling down about finding talent for your organization, drop me a comment here or send me an email to get the conversation started. Your organization certainly has great opportunities to offer the right team members, so there’s no reason not to start with that call today.

To Automate or Not to Automate? That is the Question!

To Automate or Not to Automate? That is the Question!

The idea of automating just about any task is an attractive one. You can save time, sometimes hours a day, for you and multiple members of your team.

But then, in the face of changing a routine, finding an automation tool and setting up a new system, you have to ask: is it worth it?

Knowing whether a task is worth automating first requires taking a look at the total time, energy and trouble going into completing it the way it’s done today. From there, you can explore what tools are available to address concerns.

I’m going to break down these three major factors so you can apply them to whatever tasks you’re thinking about automating. Any one of these alone can make it clear that it’s time to automate a process. If you aren’t compelled by one factor, look at the sum of all three. And if you still aren’t sure, apply the questions I’ve listed at the bottom of this article to fully assess your path forward.

Factor One: Total Time

This factor is easy to assess since is quantifiable. For any task you do on a regular basis, there’s usually an opportunity to automate all or part of it, especially since these tasks are almost always repetitive.

For anyone who owns a business, the more tasks you have that require daily or weekly attention, the harder it is to take that vacation you deserve or step back from the daily grind.

My two cents is that any task you’re doing daily can probably be automated to cut the time it takes in half, or eliminate the need for a daily recurrence all together. I’d say the same for many weekly tasks, too.

Here’s a table you can use when assessing how much time you’re really spending on a regular task. Look at the time you could save after migrating that task to an automated solution. Not every task will have an obvious automation solution, and many will depend on other factors like what software is easily available. At the very least this can start to put daily and weekly tasks into perspective of the total time invested.

Table to see how much time you really spend on a repetitive or regular task

Start by jotting down how much time you spend doing regular and repetitive tasks. Especially those that are stressful when you’re out of the office. Better yet, keep a time log for all of your regular tasks to identify room for automation. You might not even realize how many times you’ve performed a single task until you look back over the course of the month.

Expert tip: This concept is so important that it’s discussed in greater depth in the first module of our new online course, DuplicateU: Lay The Foundation. To get additional guidance on this step and what it can mean to you and your business, learn more about DuplicateU here.

Factor Two: Energy

This is where we get into the more open-ended assessments. The energy you spend doing a regular or repetitive task should be a major consideration when looking at automations—after all, you have a lot of responsibilities requiring energy throughout the day. And energy is a finite resource that must be managed with intentionality. If any recurring task is taking energy away from important business functions like strategy and planning, marketing and sales, or financial oversight, it might be worth looking at another solution.

A task can take little time and still be exhaustive mentally/emotionally. Take financial management tasks, for example. One question I answered recently is whether it’s time to upgrade from a bookkeeper to a CFO. If it’s not time to take that step yet, and you’re trying to do away with a few regular data entry tasks, a simple spreadsheet automation might save you energy spent entering sensitive information and validating data fields.

If you’re not sure how much energy a task really requires, ask yourself how you feel after the task is done. Are you able to jump right into something else, or do you need time to “recover” before tackling the next thing? If your answer is the former, it’s likely that task gives you energy. If your answer is the latter, it’s likely that task depletes your energy, and reducing the amount of mental/emotional energy it takes should be a priority.

Factor Three: Trouble (Frustration)

Frustrating tasks and how business owners can automate themThe frustration factor comes down to a little self-awareness. Do you complete certain tasks grudgingly? Are there recurring responsibilities that you put off and put off and put off until absolutely the last minute? Do you have to push yourself to get them done with several pep talks? If a regular task is causing you grief or if it feels like you’re “going to the trouble” to get it done every time, that’s a big flag to consider properly delegating or looking to an automation.

If you feel resentful toward a task, or even hateful of sitting down to do it, it’s probably time to get that task off your plate.

Expert tip: Remember that toxic tasks can weigh down your employees, too. While delegating can serve as a short-term solution, an automation is often the better way to go for repetitive tasks with a high frustration curve.

A final pointer regarding these three factors:

While any one of these factors can illustrate what tasks can be automated, sometimes it’s the sum of all three that point you in the right direction. Imagine an equation: Total Time plus Energy plus Trouble. Label each factor as “high,” “medium” or “low,” and you will feel that much more empowered to invest a little time upfront to move to an automation that will save you time and boost morale in the end.

Questions to Ask if You’re Still not Sure

Automating tasks sounds great. But doing so often require time you feel you don’t have just to get a new system up and running!

If you’re thinking about a specific task and still aren’t sure, or need a few more reasons to justify the time or budget invested in making the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If you delegated this task instead of automating it, would it be a headache for the person taking it on?
  2. Is the task prone to human error? (Great examples would be bookkeeping and setting appointments.)
  3. Could automating the task improve the quality of work?
  4. Do you know others who have implemented this kind of solution before?

(Expert tip: Making time for a single conversation with a peer or consultant can save you hours of googling, deciphering software features and price-comparing.)

If you answer “yes” to any of the above, that’s a strong indicator that automation could save you time, money and strife.

Looking Toward the Future

Instead of living with frustration or feeling the burnout bubble up, make a move now to automate recurring tasks in a way that is intentional and well planned. These moves will pay off not only in time and energy savings, but also in opening up opportunities to scale your operations. The sooner you have automations in place, the more seamless your ramp to growing your business will be.

Automations often require new software and subscriptions, so weigh these expenses with the benefits these solutions bring and move decisively. If there’s one epiphany that business owners come to time and time again, it’s that we can’t do it all.

Start a time log today to look for tasks begging for automation, or drop a comment here if you already have one on your mind. I’ll reply directly with tips and will be available to point you in the direction of solutions that can help you survive today and scale tomorrow, like the new self-paced online course DuplicateU that will start by working through this exercise. Learn about new automations today to set your business up for a self-sustaining future with lower stress and bigger returns.