Posts Tagged ‘business’

Running Your Business like a Referee

April 21, 2010

They are referred to as zebras but their ‘real’ title is official or referee. They stand right in the middle of the chaos and decide when someone breaks the rules, goes out of bounds, or catches the ball.

The referees all follow the same basic signals which tell us what went wrong or right. As entrepreneurs, we can learn how referee’s signals can help us in our businesses. The various signals let us know when something has gone wrong, when we’re making progress, and when we’ve made a touchdown.

Crowd Noise Signal – Are you spending too much time on non-business related conversations or out on errands when you should be working? Do you spend half your day opening, reading, and responding to emails? Excessive crowd noise in a game creates a virtually impossible situation for the visiting offense to communicate. It may be time to hush the crowd noise in your home office by focusing on tasks at hand first. This same signal can also mean dead ball. When you foolishly waste your most productive time doing non-productive tasks, it can mean a dead ball as far as your time. Quiet crowd noise and focus on your priority list.

Personal Foul Signal – This comes in many forms; roughing the kicker, roughing the passer or face mask. As business owners, we are often kicked around by rude vendors, high maintenance clients, or even social media discussions that get out of hand. Let’s make sure we aren’t the ones causing personal fouls and penalty yards to others by our bad behavior and loose lips.

Time Out Signal – When you’ve been working hard, accomplishing your to-do list with a vengeance, and not wasting time with non-essentials, it’s o.k. to take a time-out. Take Friday afternoon and get a massage. Meet with a friend for some ice-cream. I take every Wednesday mid-day to attend a Bible Study at my church for an hour (www.corchurch.org). Time outs are good when they refresh you and get you back in the game.

Player Being Disqualified Signal – Don’t disqualify yourself with negative thoughts or a defeated attitude. You won’t please every client every time. Sometimes, it’s just not a good client/vendor match. You disqualify yourself when you give up or work lazily.

First Down Signal – Gain 10 business yards by sending a handwritten note to a client. Include a personalized article, relating to your client’s interests. Call your present or former clients just to say hello and ask how their business is doing. Send an email and include a helpful tip that your client can put to use right away.

Touchdown Signal – You have scored! You’ve nailed a project exactly how your client was expecting it. You’ve received a glowing endorsement from a client, raving about your service or product. You’ve reached a major milestone in your business plan. Feel free to do a victory dance in your end zone.

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Half-Time

January 30, 2010

Whether a team is winning or losing…it’s inevitable…half-time WILL come. It’s a time when sports announcers  banter with each other and aggressively give their take on what’s happened in the first half. It’s a time when advertisers unashamedly flaunt their wares with multi-million dollar ideas. It’s also a time that coaches have to lay groundwork for the second half of the game.

Coaches are well aware that they have only 15 minutes at half-time to:

  • Analyze the competition and make necessary adjustments
  • Refresh, rest, and rehydrate the team
  • Motivate and focus on team strength’s
  • Keep their game face on while players offer feedback

Half-time often comes to businesses too. You’ve gone through the opening kick of start-up, you’ve toiled through the downs of marketing attempts and client interaction, and have more than likely reached the goal line of an increased client base and referrals.

Now, half-time comes and you find yourself needing to do all the above bullet points. I’ll break them down so you can go into your second half, revived and ready to give your all.

  • Analyze the competition and make necessary adjustments. Have you looked at your competitors’ websites lately?

Their call to action? Special offers?

Are there any adjustments you can make to keep yourself ahead of your competition?

Perhaps a website copy analysis? A press release to announce your latest product/service offering? A revised auto-responder to draw in a greater number of respondents and increase sales?

  • Refresh, rest, and rehydrate. How many hours a day/week do you work? I’ve consistently worked more hours than I ever have since I’ve been an entrepreneur. I attend a 6:00 a.m. resistance/strength training class to energize me for the first part of the day. I take an afternoon break during my body clock’s dip time, then it’s back to work until around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m.

The more I move up the field as a self-bosser, the more I realize I need to aggressively take time to relax and refresh myself. I have to make a conscious decision to get up at least once an hour and stretch, I need to re-fuel with food every 3-4 hours, and drink plenty of water.

I’m talking to myself when I tell you to take a break and read for 30 minutes. Go for a short walk. Eat a little chocolate (I don’t have any problem with that one). I’ll often take Friday afternoon off to pick up my 6-year old granddaughter for a sleepover. Of course, the piggyback rides and chasing games serve to exhaust me to new heights.

  • Motivate and focus on your strength’s. You’ll find plenty of ways to motivate yourself, you just have to look around. A simple Google search will produce millions of results of motivational content to uplift and inspire you. Also, make a list of your strengths.

It took those strengths to start your business and it takes your strength and talent to manage it. After all, what do football players think about…how inadequate they are? That they have no talent? Huh, I don’t THINK so or they’d have a one-way ticket out of the NFL.

  • Keep your game face on while others offer feedback. If you want to improve your business, you’re going to have to ask for feedback from your clients, your peers, and your mentors. How do you react to feedback when it’s less than what you expected? What if the feedback comes from a trusted source and is still not what you wanted to hear?

Do you keep your game face on or fall apart?

Do you get mad and hurl negative comments back?

Do you wince and glare with nonacceptance of critical comments, even when they’re meant to improve your game?

You can do whatever you want to with your game face in private but keeping your game face on in public is essential to show that you’re a professional – teachable and humble.

Half-time can be a time of commiserating, re-hashing mistakes, mishaps, or a symphony of woe-is-me’s, or it can serve as time well spent. How will you spend your next half-time?

Pressured for Promotion

August 16, 2009

I’d like to deviate from the football theme today and just express some thoughts. Thoughts about our journey here on earth, focusing on our journey from pressure to promotion.

I live in Huntington Beach, CA, about a mile from one of the best beaches in the U.S.A. One of my favorite things to do is walk along the beach in the morning or at sunset, taking in the fresh ocean air, watching the surfers bob up and down along the waves, but most of all, I love the sound of the surf. I find it to be just the right place for praying and pondering…you know, just getting a lot of the inside gunk worked out.

Just the Facts Ma’am

I’ve been downsized three times in the past nine years.  I’ve decided I don’t want to go back into the corporate world – the entrepreneurial life is the life for me. Along the way though is pressure…pressure to support myself, pressure to pay for my own medical insurance, pressure to just survive sometimes. Self-bossing is not for the faint-hearted.

I want to share what my journey has taught me, in hopes it will encourage you in whatever pressured place you find yourself in.

1.  Start and end your day with an attitude of gratitude. The first thing I do in the morning is thank God I was granted the privilege of waking up. Some people didn’t even get to do that. Every day I wake up is a gift I’ve been given and I need to value that gift like the priceless treasure it is.

Every meal I eat, however humble, is greeted with a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving because many people are starving in the world. Sometimes, it’s a matter of living in the moment and thanking God that I’m o.k. that moment.

2. Do SOME kind of exercise every day. Whether it’s walking up and down stairs a few times, through your block or apartment sidewalks, or maybe even doing jumping jacks in your living room, something is better than nothing. It will get the endorphins pumping in your brain and that alone will make you feel better and will also help you sleep better. Making better food choices will help you feel more energized as well.

3. Know that your choices make a difference. Every moment, every circumstance, every personal encounter requires a choice. It has been said that you are the sum of your choices, and when under pressure, the choices you make shape your minutes, hours, days, and ultimately your life. Choose thoughts that fill your brain with hope and happiness.

Ask yourself, “Am I successful in my depression and isolation?”

“Is that thinking helpful?”

As the Bible says, “this day I set before you life and death…choose life.”

If you have a personal relationship with God, you can choose to focus your thoughts on His love and goodness. It’s my power source for trying times as well as good times. As they say in my church, “Why you trippin’ if God’s got yo back?”

4. Choose your friends wisely. I have three close friends who are my greatest supporters and confidants. When I’m in the pit of doubt over ever seeing my goals and aspirations fulfilled, I know who to call. Albeit, three very different perspectives, but three doses of wise counsel. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for these friends…actually, I tell them so. When you’re feeling pressured, reach out and call someone, the RIGHT someone.

5. Kill doubt. How often do you give life to your doubt?  Do you feed it daily with negative thoughts and replaying the same old mental record? Doubt destroys your destiny. It keeps you stuck and stagnant. Don’t kill your dreams with doubt. Are you willing to sacrifice death of your doubt for an abundant, productive life?

Under pressure, we become indestructible – like a diamond – which only becomes a diamond through pressure, heat, and time. Promotion comes  when we’ve allowed the pressure, heat, and time to mold a multi-faceted, impenetrable spirit, abundantly abiding in our own body. Indestructible from the forces that seek to destroy it.

Promotion to a higher level of thinking comes from practicing the five steps above on a daily basis. It’s a process and certainly not an easy one. Take the tender garden of promotion and plant seeds of gratefulness, exercise, productive choices, and wise friends while killing the weeds of doubt to yield a higher mental altitude. What have you got to lose?

Time for a Time-out

July 23, 2009

A time-out in football is a break in the action by either team or an official. It gives both teams a few seconds to gather themselves and strategize their next plan of attack. It can be prompted by the officials to give them time to analyze a play and make a determination. It gives the fans a lull in their adrenaline rushes.

A team can prepare for time-outs by orchestrating plays that gain large chunks of yardage. A team can also conserve their time-outs by simply moving the ball down the field and scoring.

When was the last time you took a time-out to evaluate your business plays and to plan your next system of action? How often do you take time away – a personal retreat – to analyze, strategize, prioritize, and harmonize?

I urge you to take at least one day a month to get away from your desk or workspace to clear your head and re-set your personal business clock. Then, take at least one weekend a year to go somewhere relaxing and have your own personal retreat.

If you have a family to care for, it might just be a day trip. You can prepare for your own time-out by orchestrating client work flow for maximum efficiency and productivity.

Analyze – What’s working and not working in your business? Which marketing efforts are producing the most results? Which efforts are more trouble than they’re worth? Is it time to outsource some mundane tasks to free you up to use your strengths more effectively? Do you need to eliminate some non-productive tasks? Draw a line vertically down the center of a page and make a list of your answers.

Strategize – Make a list of what you want/need to accomplish in the next year. Use strategic planning to map out the most important projects that need to be done to take your business down the field to the next level. Make a list of what you can do to not become intellectually and emotionally stagnant in your business and life.

Prioritize – Write down  three important action steps you want to accomplish tomorrow. Next week. Next Month. Next year. Arrange the list according to priority – what will make the big play for you? Do those first.

Harmonize – List ways you can bring more balance to your life. What can you build into your daily schedule to aid in balancing your work and life? Taking an hour a day to stretch and exercise? Taking 15 minutes to meditate or read something inspirational? Taking 5 minutes to just breathe deeply? We humans are at our best when we have a balanced, harmonized life. After all, we take time to eat and brush our teeth. Make harmony a daily routine.

Instead of putting yourself on a chair in the corner, take a drive away from your workspace to re-focus on what’s important in your business and life. Accept a break in the action.  De-toxify yourself from the daily addiction to adrenaline. You’ll return refreshed, renewed, and revived to take on new challenges with relentless pursuit.

Is it time for a time-out?

Draft Picks

June 19, 2009

The NFL Draft is always an exciting time. Coaches have been watching potential talent for their teams, hopeful players, waiting for their chance to play with the team of their choice, and of course the fans, anxious  to know who will make their team stronger the next season.

I was thinking of how the draft relates to being a solopreneur and a revelation hit me…you know, one of those ah-ha moments. If you think about what the draft is all about, it’s picking the right players to be on your team…period. Sure, there are tons of politics involved; salary caps, signing bonuses and the like. But, basically, it’s picking the right players to be on your team.

What players are on your team? Do you maybe have some you’d like to trade? Are there a few who want too much money for their time and talent? If you work alone or have a small business, here are a couple of pointers on choosing top-notch talent for your team: This includes your vendors as well.

1) Research – Find out all you can about the character and business ethics of the person or company. Do online searches, ask around to find some feedback. Check and verify references.

2) Give Yourself Options – Don’t just pick the first vendor that comes your way. Check out a few to see how they do businesses, what they can offer you that the competitors can’t and what the cost of doing business will be.

3)Money, Money, Money – People seem to like the stuff. When building your team, use wisdom, especially in the area of finances. If you are a solopreneur and need a team member to handle those yucky books, make sure it’s someone with strong ethics who has a healthy perspective and vision of YOUR money.

As a solopreneur and businessperson, don’t you want to be surrounded by top-notch team members?   Team members might include a graphic designer, web designer, digital photographer, printing company,  or accountant.

4th and Long

June 4, 2009

A football team in a 4th and long position is poised to make something out of nothing. It’s a long shot…slim chance. The Dallas Cowboys’ new show, 4th and Long on Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Spike gives 12 wanna-be players the chance for a spot on the team.  There are only a few remaining and the final two men standing will have their own 4th and long for a single place on the roster.

How often do we, the freelance or small business person, have our chance at the 4th and longs? Every day? Hopefully not, but we’ve all been in that position where it’s a long shot to get that big client or pay that business debt off once and for all, or meet that right person who will give us our big break. What are our options for play calling on that 4th and long?

  1. Use tried and true methods – Play it safe.
  2. Give the ball to someone else on your team – Delegate
  3. Take a gutsy chance and push forward toward that 1st down – Make something from nothing

O.K., now that we’ve made our choice, what happens next? In pro football, does a team always make 4th and long? A resounding NO way. Does the team give up? NO way! So what if we take that gutsy chance and it doesn’t work out to our expectations? Oh well…you’ll have the ball again and it will be 4th and long and you’ll try it again.

But what happens when you do make a daring play call and you get that client or that big break? You have to be ready for that too – ready to accept the fact that you’ve made something from nothing – ready for humble self-confidence (yes, the two can coincide side-by-side) – ready to plan your next strategy for winning your game.

What 4th and long are you facing today and what will your next play call be?

The Heart of the Matter

April 2, 2009


What makes a football player great? What makes an entrepreneur stand above all others? What is the key ingredient that makes each excel?

HEART! A player can have all the talent in the world but without heart, they won’t ultimately succeed. Players with heart impose their will on the opponent. A defensive back with heart will always cause a wide receiver to watch his back. A player with heart will back up the talk which equals credibility.

Without heart, talent becomes a lifeless, sterile environment. Going through the motions without the passion.

As entrepreneurs, we impose our will on our prospective customer with our dynamic closing skills, made with heart…really caring about our customer’s needs and wants.

Of course we don’t want people to have to watch their back around us, that’s not what I’m talking about here. We want to have so much heart that we make a splash wherever we are; people are aware of us. When we promise end results to our customers, backing that up with action also equals credibility for us as individuals and for our businesses.

When I think of the greatest pro players, past and present, I think of Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner and Payton Manning just to name a few. All of them played with heart and their stats prove it.

How will you set yourself apart in the business community? Are you known by your heart? Do your customers really know you care about them and their businesses? Reach out today and get to know your customers then check your stats.