running a business

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Extraordinary Business: Getting it all Done!

Running a business takes a lot of work – there is always something else than needs to be done – customer service to provide, product and service development, marketing, following up on leads, etc..  With so much going on, many business leaders find themselves quickly overwhelmed and moving into states of under-producing and disappointment. Time Management

Unfortunately, like most things, unless something is done about it, nothing will change.  Additionally, if not addressed, there is a good chance of it getting worse, snowballing until there is no choice but to stop.  At this point, there is often no choice but to do things differently.

In order to be proactive, here are a few tips to get things under control, be more productive and more satisfied with your ability to get things done:

  1. Keep your tasks prioritize.  Focus on those things that are important and urgent and important and non-urgent.  Everything that is urgent isn’t necessarily important.
  2. Be decisive.  Sometimes this proves to be a challenge for some, but with practice and the understanding that you are running an organization, indecisiveness leads to a weak foundation and poor followership.
  3. Be wise in managing time. Use a block schedule. If there is a history of underestimating the time it takes to get things done, add a defined percentage of time to any task you’ve timed out. Over committing takes a lot of effort and creates a great deal of stress.
  4. Have stopping points in tasks and celebrate completion those parts of a larger task. This actually help alleviate stress and make tasks less of a burden.  Celebration may be as simple as taking a quick break.
  5. Neither of these (3 & 4) means lowering the set standards, but it means, rather, taking the time to do things right. Many people tend not to work as well or do as good a job under stress (although there are those that do!)
  6. Don’t stress!  Getting physiologically flustered is inefficient.  If the same effort and energy was displaced to getting the work done, the work would get done that much faster.
  7. Considers hiring an administrative professional. Virtual administrative professionals can prove to be the best thing that ever happened to a business, without the cost and commitment of a full-time or part time employee.  Virtual professionals often have expertise in specific areas and are often quick to grasp concepts, work much faster and take responsibility for their work.
  8. Above all – don’t give up.  Focus on one thing at a time.  Other things have their own, unique set of challenges.
  9. Keep focused on the clear, concise vision.  If there is no vision, it just won’t work.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Extraordinary Business,Management and Leadership,Stress,Time Management

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Leading the Organization that Survives: The Business as a System

It seems like, when running a business, there are a million things that need to be done at any moment: employees need to get paid, vendors are dropping off new products, there is a leak in the bathroom and oh, yeah, you have to take care of your customers.  Often times, when managing the fires, leaders tend to focus on what is right in front of them at the moment � those things that are urgent.  Makes sense, right?

But how many of those �urgent� things are actually important?  Which of the important things are most important?  Which of the important things actually are urgent?

Businesses are like systems � kind of like a human body.  A system is always looking to be complete, or operate at its maximum.  In the case of a human, if you don�t have any food to eat, you�re probably not going to be interested in  buying a big fancy car � or any car for that matter.  If you don�t have any place to live, getting additional education or taking a vacation will probably fall by the wayside.  In other words, your needs, as a human are prioritized, whether you think about it or not.

In the same way, businesses have needs that can also be prioritized.  Where we as business leaders fail, at times, is when we put too much emphasis on high level priorities, such as dumping tons of money or resources into brand development or product innovation and miss the low level ones such as SWOT awareness or financial controls.

Part of understanding the needs of your organization also lies in knowing where your business lies on the growth cycle.  Again, we can compare the business growth cycle to that of a human.  When we discuss the growth cycle, we look at three distinct areas � Existence, Evolution and Emergence, beyond which, include experienced level and expiration stages � which are the antithesis of growth�so we won�t focus on them.

The Existence stage is when your business is a baby�the business is completely dependent  on you � seeking direction, stability, predictable resources and safety

The Evolution stage is when the business is becoming a teenager � somewhat stable in its ways, though tempted to get into everything that is thrown at it.  It is beginning to seek its own identity, walking on its own, but still requiring a great deal of guidance, and beginning to develop strong relationships � and figuring out how to keep them.

The Emergence stage is those early adult years where identity seems to be everything.  The business is up, walking around, talking about where it has been, what it is going to do, always trying to create something new and unique to accentuate its individuality.

If you�ll notice, in each stage, there is a different set of needs that is focused on.  Now, that doesn�t say that once the business reaches the evolutionary stage, that the existence-level needs are already met.  The perspective is actually the opposite � at the existence level, meeting the base level needs are going to be the business�s focus.

Once looking at the business like a system, it becomes relatively easy to identify what needs to be done, �next,� whether that means reviewing some lower-level priorities for the business, or stepping up to the next level of existence for the organization.  This allows business leaders to determine what fires truly need to be addressed by them � remember urgency versus importance � where the business is in its growth cycle and how to steer the business clear of Expiration. 

In the next segment, we�ll discuss what priorities exist at each level.  Knowing each level�s priorities, and being committed to managing that way is the second key to Leading the Organization that survives.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Business Decisions,Business Growth Strategies,Extraordinary,Management and Leadership,Small Business Consulting
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Leading the Organization That Survives: Don't be a STIFFNECK

How do you know you’re a leader? “Well, if you look behind you, you will find people following you!” says author and Dean at Regent University, Bruce Winston, PhD in his CD “Tabletalk”. He goes on to say, ” if nobody is following you, then you aren’t a leader. It’s as simple as that.”

If you want people to follow you, they need to know that you can make GREAT DECISIONS! Does that mean that all of them will be right? No! Must they all make sense? Yes! Does this apply to every leader? Yes! Running a business, no matter the size, requires a great number of decisions to be made, every day, such as:

  • Do we start a new marketing campaign
  • Has this product reached the end of its lifecycle?
  • Should we consider offering this customer a discount?
  • Should we spin off this business unit?

As a business leader, you are the one who must make those decisions. To be successful as a leader, you need to be able to make a lot of decision, effectively – which means that while every single decision may not be the right one, you’ve got plausible tools to be able to make that decision. In our line of work, we’ve discovered four ingredients leaders must have in order to make a good decision for the business:

  1. A passion for what is possibleclip_image002
  2. A commitment to managing priorities
  3. Reliable information or a reliable information source
  4. Courage to assume risk

The alternative, of course, to having the ammo to make the best decisions is to be a STIFFNECK. Let me explain:

Stiffnecks – def.: 1) Leaders that try to make decisions without considering the overall business – the business as a system, and thus, the rippling consequence3s of said decision or decisions on all areas of the business. 2) Leaders who have every opportunity and all of the resources to make good decisions, but allow themselves to get sidetracked before addressing issues that have greater priority for the business.

For example:

If you are trying to expand your business, but don’t have clear understanding off what you are selling or who your target market is, you’re probably a stiffneck.

If you get a shiny new Hummer for the company, but aren’t making the basic operating expenses for your company, you’re probably a stiffneck.

If you jump at every opportunity – every shiny new thing – and never take the time to focus on and fully develop one, you’re probably a stiffneck.

If you do the same things over and over again, but never bother to establish a process for it, you’re probably a stiffneck.

The simplest and most straight-forward remedy for this is – don’t be a stiffneck!!

While this seems straightforward, new candidates for the stiffneck category enter the business world every day, often with catastrophic results. Simply taking the time to go through the decision-making process could often put business leaders in a much better position with their company, and allow them to lead their companies to new heights.

Over the next few blogs, we’ll go through each tool necessary in the decision-making process in order to equip you with the strategy to manage the decisions for your company. We’ll talk about the difference between pipe-dreams and possibilities, what priorities for your business are, how to manage information valuable for your company, how to determine what acceptable risk looks like for you, and the necessity of follow-through.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there. We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning. As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: decision making,leadership and management,excellence

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It Was Just a…Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

I have two very sharp teenagers at home who tend to, shall we say, do the things that teenagers do. Of course, since they are boys, I get stuck having to “manage their behaviors,” which must be done. As a consultant, my goal is a) to get to the root of the problem, b) figure out what we could do differently and c) correct the problem while keeping the relationship in tact.

My teenagers, of course, have an agenda of their own, which pretty much goes a) No matter what, take no responsibility, b) find some way to blame dad for whatever the infraction is and, if all else fails, diverge, meaning, find a way to shift the topic away from the main point to something off topic that really keeps any sort of progress from being made.

I think that, sometimes, in business, we do the same thing: there are those important things that we need to do for our business that we tend to avoid, like business development, marketing, advertising, updating the accounting and the like, and focusing on the things that are right in front of us. I always refer to those things as, “the new shiny” – referring to the way a little child will instantly be in love with the shiny thing you will give them – until someone else gives them something else that is new and shiny.

The New ShinyWhat happens, though, when you avoid those things that you know are important to your business? Well, the same thing that would happen if you didn’t keep up with the maintenance on your vehicle or bicycle or even yourself: it would break down.

What does this have to do with keeping the main thing the main thing? Well, like my boys, when running a business, we can get off track performing activities that are outside of our core responsibilities (or what needs to be our core responsibilities!), which, for most business owners, is keeping the business moving toward the company vision, or where the business is headed.

Aepiphanni, for instance, has a vision of providing a suite of products and services for small businesses that will help to create strong, stable, lasting organizations. Therefore, I put all of my energy into keeping the organization moving in that direction. Anything that gets in the way of that, or slows the progress, has to be removed.

Do I get off track? Yes! absolutely! but I know what the main thing is, so that I KNOW WHEN I AM OFF TRACK, and can get myself back on target.clip_image001

Is it easy to stay on track? No! There are lots of “new shinies” that come across my desk and email every day. Can you say Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Skype? You can’t get much newer or shinier than those.

How do I avoid this and try to stay on track? EAT THAT FROG!!

Take a look at the 1:28 video from Simpletruths.com.

Remember: keep the main thing the main thing. It is vital to the success of your business.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are a Small Business Strategy Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping business leaders and executives organize, plan and develop strategies for their organizations. We are committed to our clients’ success.

If you have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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I Know How to Do It…

As a business, it’s great knowing that you are an expert at what you do.  It is outstanding knowing that you have it down to a science.  You know, full well, that you can do everything you need to do in your sleep.

Problem is, the business is you.  When you go to sleep, when you are sick, when you have personal challenges that you must address, the business will stop.  Basically, you have a job and you work for yourself.  Maybe that is the epitome of success for you.  This is an excellent and honorable stay.  But…

  1. Are you planning to retire some day?
  2. Would you like to take a vacation without having to close the business for a week?
  3. Do you have a backup plan, in case you can no longer do what it is you do?
  4. Are you going to pass the business down to a family member, or sell it to one of your competitors.

For many people, owning and running a business is their ultimate expression of giving back to their communities.   Others simply feel that they want to work for themselves, and feel like they can do things a lot better than their previous supervisor or boss.  Others, still, do it for a sense of freedom or for a means to an end.  Certainly, there are those who simply love to be in business, start, run and sell businesses.

Unfortunately, many of these dreams are ill-fated, even from the outset.

Businesses thrive when there are systems and processes in place for getting things done.  Businesses fail when they don’t.  Because you know what to do doesn’t mean you are going to be a success.

I was speaking with one of my favorite clients about her business and about her processes.  I reminded her that she can no longer “be the business” meaning that everything in the business revolves around her.  She readily agreed and we got to work listing out the things that needed to be done in order to run her business.  It would go something like:

“So, Michelle, how do you do this?”clip_image002

“Well, I just do…it just takes me a few minutes.  It’s not a problem.”

“Okay…excellent.  What do you do.”

“Well, I do this, then I do that.”

I’ve heard this in the restaurant industry, as well:

“How much does the recipe cost you?”

“Oh – about $4.50, $4.75 or so, I guess”

“How do you know?”

“Kinda guess, I suppose”

“Do you have a recipe so we can cost it out”

“Yeah…you just throw some of this, and some of that…a little of this….”

In both cases, the processes were much more complex (and costly!) then they’d realized!  After writing the process down, in both cases, they were able to talk about ways to reduce the costs in the processes by redesigning the way they did things.  This is called Process Improvement.  Here are a few benefits to process improvements:

  1. You can evaluate what steps can be given to other people
  2. By freeing up your time, you can do other things, such as grow the business or increase capacity
  3. By teaching your team the documented steps, you can take a vacation every once in a while
  4. If you decide to sell the business, it is less likely to die once you walk away, making it more appealing to a savvy buyer
  5. You will have less waste!  Be it food, employees, paperwork or innovation, by developing written processes
  6. When there is a breakdown, it will be easy to identify where the problem is and how to fix it
  7. When you need to reduce costs, you can logically decided where it is safe to cut them without damaging your business

So, while you can do it all yourself, the reasons for not doing outweigh them, substantially.  The word is PROCESS.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are a Small Business Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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