It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are held accountable.
Every business is a brand, whether yours is good or bad is up to you. Successful entrepreneurs know that their business will flourish when they’re accountable. They take the time to not just ‘get the job done’ but to get it don ‘right’. When leaders take responsibility of their projects and processes, they create an environment that demands accountability.
Customers flock to work with businesses that consistently go above and beyond (everyday). An accountable business doesn’t just happen overnight, but the foundation must be put in place from the start and carried throughout the life of business relationships. Here are three key ways to build an environment of accountability in your business.
1. Take Ownership
Establishing clear roles and processes removes confusion in the work place. Support the input of your team. Make sure they have the resources, knowledge and assistance they need to successfully complete projects. Obligate your team to participate in the solution process. Ask them to give and receive feedback on various aspects of the business. For your business to be accountable, members must be comfortable taking on new roles and increasing their skills. This builds confidence and ownership of assigned tasks.
Plan for progress: Have a detailed growth plan for every team member. Specify what their career goals are and what steps they will need to take to obtain it.
Measure progress: Keep detailed track of your team member’s progress. Have regular progress meetings that applaud the team’s commitments but speak to areas where they are lacking as well.
2. Establish Core Values
When businesses consistently fall short of promises, it’s saying to the customer, “we’re not committed to you.” Lack of commitment directly results in low or no accountability. Be prepared to call out members who don’t follow through. Leaders who value their customers work hard improve and maintain the integrity of their business. No team member can achieve any professional goal to customers, if they don’t personally hold themselves accountable from the start.
Don’t point fingers: Never tolerate your team to point fingers and blame each other. This is the beginning of chaos and will not produce any responsibility within the team. Only team members with integrity will Acknowledge and correct themselves first before lashing out at others.
Own Strengths & Weaknesses: Accountability in a business trusts the business team to acknowledge both strengths and weaknesses. Just as you are confident in projects you know your team will do well, be just as accountable when it’s a project that you know you can’t do well. The integrity of your business will be rewarded when you honestly do what’s best for the customer.
3. Consistently Drive Improvement
Accountable businesses are always growing and improving their services, products and processes. For a business to grow, the team must have regular access to education and training to develop new skills. Business owners must be able to map out exactly what the teams needs to drive improvement. To do this a leader must know what’s working and what isn’t.
Routinely evaluate: Have the team take self-assessment test on a monthly or quarterly basis. Have the team share their results and brainstorm about what positive changes they each could make going forward. When people are forced to recognize their short-comings they’re more likely to correct them.
Ask, how are we doing?: Just like the bumper stickers you see on trucks that say “How’s My Driving?”, Invite the outside in to help improve what your business is doing. Perform regular customer surveys (potential customers too) and share the results with the team. Again, have the team brainstorm what changes need to be made and the best way to get it done.
Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked. ~ Peter Guber
We now live in a society where ‘realness’ has become a requirement in every aspect of life. We demand it from our government, business leaders, community leaders, and even social media. It’s believed that you can’t be successful if people don’t feel like you’re presenting a true sense of who you really are.
Authenticity is needed today for everyone regardless of the situation. From the least to the greatest, self-awareness makes it easier to see life choices more clearly and brings our values more into focus. When we are authentic, we align our actions with our beliefs, values, strengths and weaknesses as one.
To Be Authentic You Must Conquer Two Things:
1. Clarification of Who You Are
For most people, this is not a problem. I personally embrace authenticity, and regularly reap the benefits of it. But there are some who find it hard to be so open about who they really are. This makes it difficult for some to reach the full level of success in business and in their personal lives. In most cases, lack of authenticity is not because a person is deliberately being dishonest. Lack of authenticity can also come from not truly knowing who you authentically are; therefore unable to authentically express it. If you want to be relevant in today’s society, you must first clarify who you are and incorporate that authenticity into everything you do. To bring clarity to who you are, start asking yourself some specific questions. These honest answers will get you started on a path of defining yourself. What are your core values? What is your life vision?
2. Consistency at Being You
Do you constantly hide behind a mask so that you will blend in? Take note; it’s perfectly fine to have an opinion and profess your personal likes and dislikes. “Be yourself” is possibly the most commonly used phrase in history and yet so many people still find it hard to do. To be yourself simply means to define yourself on your terms. To be consistently authentic you have to stop caring about how other people perceive you. Doing specific things every day is easier to maintain than dropping things and picking them up over and over again. Consistency is not about seeing and reaching a finish line. Consistency is about doing (or being) the same with no timescale. You are authentic, irreplaceable and unique. Your authentic self supports your purpose in life. For example: Carpenters are naturally gifted to use their hands to create things. Successful public relations professionals have a naturally gift of great communication.
How can you become more consistent at being you?
- First, Make a commitment to define your personal values.
- Create business and personal relationships that allow you to be authentic. (Practice makes perfect)
- Be aware, authenticity means some people will not like or agree with you.
- Don’t be afraid to disagree with things that do not agree with your values and beliefs.
- Identify and embrace your weaknesses.
- Identify and articulate your strengths.
- Be sure that everyday your actions mirror your values and beliefs. (Walk what you talk)
Prosperity and fulfillment flows free for those who have taken time to ‘do the work’, get real with themselves and discover what makes ‘You’ you. Surround yourself with people who clearly now who they are and is committed to being consistent to their true self. People (family, friends, colleagues & customers) will not support what they don’t believe.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. ~ Benjamin Franklin
When I start working with a small business’s finances I always begin with their budgets, and the budget that 90% of business owners want to tackle first is almost always their marketing budget. It makes perfect sense, marketing is what will get the word out about your new business and start driving profit. The biggest cost for any new small businesses is competing against larger companies who have marketing budgets much larger than theirs. This does not have to be negative; any size budget can effectively be used to generate great marketing results.
The most important step to make the most of a small budget is researching and choosing the correct avenues to market through. Once you have determined your target customer, put a solid strategy in place and start your marketing activities be sure you regularly visit your marketing activities and its results.
There are 2 types of budgets:
- An Operating Budget which is a prediction of all expected revenues and expenses over a 12-month period. It projects your gross and net sales, along with your net profits or losses. An operating budget allows business owners to explore different assumptions that the business may go through in a one year period. The focus of an operating budget is to ensure there are sufficient funds to maintain the operation of the business, and that those funds are distributed in the most cost-efficient way.
- . A Cash-Flow Budget is based on actual revenue. Positive cash flow means the business generates enough money to pay all the bills through out the year. With that being said, it’s important to remember that a business ca be profitable yet have cash flow problems. This is an issue for business that purchase inventory upfront and will not receive a profit from the sales for 30 days or more. In these cases a cash flow budget is best because it allows owners to see where revenue gaps are and to have alternate financial resources in place to keep the business running smoothly.
Step 1: Build a Strategy
To be effective you must first answer the question, “what do I want my marketing to do?” This is what you will measure your results against. Brainstorm a few ideas, and decide which idea will best reach your customers. Next, you are ready to build a strategy around your idea. Some questions to get you started might be:
- What specific theme will you focus on? (will this include print & video)
- How will you make your theme or message most relevant to customers?
- How you will measure the results of your marketing?
- Will you have assistance from an outside PR/Marketing agency?
- What social media networks can you market on (Paid & Free) to build customers?
Step 2: Build a Budget
Developing a good marketing budget is the most important part of your marketing plan. A solid budget allows you to make realistic choices as to what your business can do to increase revenues. Without a budge your business will be in a financial rut from the start . Leave room in your budget for last-minute changes or updates to your marketing plan. As your business grows or shrinks, it will directly affect the budgets you have in place. Here are some steps you can take to development a marketing budget that won’t eat up your finances:
- Do an overhaul of your finances to determine how much revenue your business generates each month.
- Subtract your monthly expenses from this revenue, this is what your actual working revenue is.
- Determine what percentage you want to focus your marketing on. For example; if you’re doing print and email, will you split it 50/50 or will 80% go to email and 20% to print?
- Look at your current marketing strategy and find ways to expand on it with the least amount of funds. If you choose new marketing avenues, be sure to use a small portion of your budget until you’re sure it’s working for your business.
- Always seek business to business marketing opportunities that will cost you nothing but a few hours of work services.
If you’re overspending on your marketing, then you’ll never see the additional revenue that you’re working so hard for. Remember, the only purpose of marketing is to generate more revenue. If your marketing strategy is not bringing in new revenue, you need to let go of your strategy and try something new. Talk to business owners that are not your direct competitors. Use the information they give you as a financial benchmarks for your business. Whatever marketing strategy you choose, be sure to build a budget around it that will allow you to reach your business goals.
Equality doesn’t exist in this universe. Either one prevails and the other follows, or both negotiate their differences and create a greater partnership. ~Harold J. Duarte- Bernhardt
Today women entrepreneurs represent nearly 50% of all privately held businesses make in the US. There is no secret that men have a huge head start when it comes to entrepreneurship but statistics support the theory that women led businesses survive and thrive more than male run ventures. Many well-known, successful women admit to having a male mentor who played an important role in their career. This leads to the question; how can men make great mentors to women, yet women entrepreneurs are more successful?
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur I worked in corporate banking. The majority of my career I was surrounded by male colleagues, managers and customers. Now, looking back I view the experience as the perfect platform for entrepreneurship. I absorbed the different qualities that men bring to the table. Men have a different approach to business leadership, problem solving, and negotiating. I am a huge advocate of women entrepreneurs, and I strongly believe that women must support each other as much as we can. However the uprising of the women’s self help movement may sometimes facilitate lost advantages of women seeking help from, and in some cases a partnership with men. Studies prove that men and women are taught differently from childhood how to lead. Now days a lot of that teaching is changing, but if we learn and appreciate the differences women and men have in business, we would have more successful collaborations and more successful businesses.
Men vs. Women in Business
Male entrepreneurs view their businesses as a well oiled machine, while women entrepreneurs put more of their personal values into the business making it their number one priority. Women are known for their great improvisation skills. Which is a huge part of successful entrepreneurship. Women are more focused on the sustainability of the business. Women don’t have a problem with leading from behind, not making a lot of noise but orchestrating behind the scenes. By nature men have larger egos and love giving orders to others. Leadership in women comes from the ability to attract and inspire talent, not having to be the talent yourself.
Though men and women think, listen and speak differently, the result is the perfect combination to a well-rounded business structure. The law of nature speaks for itself, yen and yang work. If you’re starting a business or have a business and are considering a partner, don’t go for the obvious go for the opposite.
Reference: Businessweek: Men Dominate, Women Orchestrate
Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones. – Benjamin Franklin
If you’re a business owner you have a vested interest in your finances that no employee or outside consultant will ever have. As a business owner, take the responsibility for developing and executing tactics that will keep your business financially stable. Many business owners focus on growth and fail to pay attention to their business’s financial operations. How your business financially operates will determine its future growth or slow demise.
After working more than twelve years in corporate banking, I can assure you that it’s the proficient operations that keeps a successful business on top. What the public sees everyday is the extensive advertising and marketing that big businesses spend, but what they don’t see is the daily process of how the big businesses run their operations. There are many different financial factors that every business (big or small) will face. Even if you’re a small business owner you can still execute these factors the same way big businesses do. I’ve thought of five financial factors most small businesses face that affects their bottom line, and offered tactics you can incorporate to get the best results.
Here’s 5 crucial finance tactics small business should incorporate in their daily operations
1. Tracking Assets
Business asset tracking is needed to establish value for accounting purposes and to help manage the allocation of resources. Accuracy is extremely important. A good tracking system allows you to locate information about any asset quickly. This will ensure proper depreciation of the asset, as well as tell you what assets need to be replaced or upgraded. If you’re using an accounting software be sure to enter purchased assets immediately to be sure the date, value and description is correct. If you do not use accounting software, create a Fixed Asset Spreadsheet of items you want to depreciate. Each month these items will show on the Balance Sheet Report prepared for your business.
2. Tracking Expenses
If you need to make large business expenditure, a review of the income and expenses for the last several months will help decide if the purchase can be made now or put off for later. When it’s time to do your year-end taxes, a detailed list of your expenses will make it easier to identify which tax write-offs your business qualifies for. If you’re using an accounting software be sure to enter expenses weekly or monthly. If you do not use accounting software, keep a spreadsheet log of your monthly expenses. Scan receipts and file them in a cloud based folder by category and month. Store the original hard copies in a binder for easy reference.
3. Scheduling Invoices
Revenue is what keeps your business alive. Keeping a steady cash flow is vital to your survival. Developing a billing process is a must. Set a date (preferably at the beginning of the month) that you will send out invoices to customers. Customers who receive invoices at the same time every month are more likely to be prepared for it and pay faster. Keep in mind that once you send the invoice it important to track your billing until payment is received. You may also need a process for sending second notices and making follow-up phone calls. Using an accounting software will allow for easy distribution, research and receiving of payments.
4. Recording Deposits
Your average business has one main source of revenue that generates deposits to the business account. Although it may derive from a variety of services or products, it all counts as income. However, there are bank deposits such as a loans or transfers that should not be counted as income. If these deposits are not recorded separately from income, your profit & lost statement will be incorrect and at year-end you possibly could pay taxes on more money than your business actually made.
5. Paying Taxes
Be sure to keep a record of tax deadlines on your calendar, and allow sufficient time to prepare so payments are made by the due date. The IRS can levy penalties and interest for not filing quarterly tax returns on time. It’s suggested that business owners set aside a certain amount of money throughout the year to pay taxes to keep from being in a money crunch every time quarterly taxes come due.
Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion. – Jim Rohn
When you’re motivated and inspired, you are capable of achieving almost anything. Thinking positively about your work and life is the foundation of the success we seek. There comes a time when we all need a little extra push – the normal process is to seek encouragement from outside, but as an entrepreneur, the voice you must consistently hear is your own. When you’re going through the a rough patch in your entrepreneurial life, learn to look inward for motivation and inspiration. Here are 10 affirmations you can say to encourage yourself.
10 Daily Affirmations for the Entrepreneur’s Life
1. Start each day remembering the why – “I am an entrepreneur because____.”
2. I visualize my success. I attract success and prosperity with my ideas.
3. Every obstacle I face is molding me into the person I need to be.
4. Everyday I will achieve a goal and make a new one.
5. I am aware and confident in my self-worth. Others do not dictate my value.
6. I will listen to and trust my gut instincts. Negative outsiders will not affect my vision.
7. I will move forward no matter what choosing positive actions in the face of fear.
8. My reputation will precede me, my hard work and diligence will speak for itself.
9. I am successful because of my intelligence and skills. I produce what I promise.
10. I am conscientious and present in every aspect of my business success.
There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there. Indira Gandhi
After twelve years of a corporate banking career, I know all too well what it’s like to thrive in a male dominated environment. Men and women respond differently in competitive environments. Men are aggressive especially when challenged by another individual. Research has shown that there are gender differences in the way competitive attitudes are displayed. In head-to-head competition men beat their female opponents over 72% of the time.
There is change on the horizon. In the article, The Important Role of Female Small Business Owners , Beth Solomon and Diane Tomb discuss how the glass ceilings are breaking. It is a fairly new situation, but men and women are being considered equally competent to compete against each other with no special considerations. Women are starting their own businesses at 1.5 times the national average. This means that men are seeing female entrepreneurs as their competitor more and more.
Men vs Women in Business
Women can’t allow imaginary lines to determine how far they will go in their careers.
Men view themselves as “work-centred”. Women desire the professional opportunities, but not a life dominated by work. To be competitive women don’t have to give up who they are and start acting like men, but they do have to change their approach and think like men. When I was in the corporate world, I went out of my way to maintain my femininity. I also went out of my way to prove I was as tough as the next guy. “Actions really do speak louder than words; or in this case, than heels.”
How can women create a competitive edge?
1. Use your natural gifts
Women are strategic multitaskers, much more focused and patient with details. Women are not easily distracted and don’t allow their ego to get in the way of what need to be accomplished. Women naturally cultivate relationships, which is much-needed to humanize a business. Know your strengths, constantly develop them and allow your inner gut to guide you.
2. Be what the customer needs
Play the small team willing to help. Today customers seek out businesses with management who are passionate about what they do. While you’re supplying what the customers needs today, pay attention to what customers will want tomorrow. To stay in the business game you must be consistently filling a demand.
3. Catch one big fish
Testimonials can make a huge impact with potential customers. Put in the extra time and effort to capture at least one high-profile customer and then use that credibility to your advantage. When potential customers see the testimonial, it will help build instant trust and rapport.
4. Hang with the boys
There’s a lot of truth to the saying; “Act like a lady, think like a boss.” Although women have come a long way (and can easily stand on their own) being competitive comes naturally for men. The better prepared you are in business, the less mistakes you will make along the way. Ask any man what’s his most precious business asset and most if not all will say his network. Associate with men within and outside your industry. Develop a network of “winner” professional men who can help you grow some business balls and start thinking like a boss.
5. Make strategy an ongoing process
Regular communication about business priorities and strategies is crucial to your professional growth. Establish your aspirations for your business and come up with concrete goals to measure your progress. Stay on top of the path your industry is going. Have a detailed and focused plan to grow your business, but create different scenarios of how to accomplish your plan. You never know what’s waiting around the corner. Keep the blinders off so that you will always be ready.
In preparing for success, the best question to ask yourself, continually, is: “What can I do, that if done well, will make a difference?” Your ability to appraise yourself, identify areas that are holding you back is critical to your competitive edge and ultimate success. What strategies do you use to stay competitive?