A Job Well Done

Blog 13                                                                       81213



When was the last time you experienced ‘a job well done’?

What service or product was it? What was it about that service or product that made you think, “Wow, what a great …”

Can you pin point what it was that was so great? Maybe everything was great.

Friends and I went to a local restaurant, The Five Mile House, outside of Nevada City and had great service, great ambiance, a great meal, and great entertainment at a reasonable price. Each one of us was impressed and will return again…the highest rating a business can get indeed. Not only that, here I am telling everyone what a great time we had. It was so good I had to personally thank the Chef and owner before we left for the evening.

Now, take your business, whatever it is, and think like a customer. Would you give your business a “great” rating? Why or why not? Of course, we like to think everyone would be impressed with our business and its offerings but are you getting those kind of ‘thank you’ comments from clients?

If not, why not?

Surely, there are always improvements to be made, but once you have the right formula for success in your particular business then the business should be flowing and growing. If not then look close at what is going on. Ask your clients for their feedback and take it seriously.

Even with impeccable service and/or products businesses do fail. So looking at the bigger picture is paramount for all owners. Timing, market placement, a unique selling proposition, and clever marketing are also very important aspects of the business. Also, as we have gone into previously, cash flow is king.

The Five Mile House owner had to endure the past 5 year of bust to get to what looks like a profitable place in the crowded food service industry here in the Gold Country. But endure he has and now his hard work is paying off. The growth may be slow but slow steady will when the day in most cases.

Keep on keeping on…

Business Principles…some suggestions

Greetings from the Mt Shasta. I’m reviewing some issues for upcoming blogs. Does your company (do you?) have a list of principles by which you stand for in the running of your business?

Try these on for size and or create your own is you don’t already have some.

Business Principles 

1 We operate our business with integrity and that being of service will be profitable.

2. We accumulate cash reserves; we pay ourselves and our workers and vendors on time.

3. We take responsibility for our business commitments and obligations and remember that we are in charge of the professionals that work for us.

4. We maintain clear and orderly financial records.

5. We have clear knowledge of our overhead, operating expenses, pricing and profit, accounts receivable, accounts payable and all of our assets and liabilities.

6. We have a business plan, and goals and visions for ourselves and our business.

7. We place all agreements in writing.

8. We budget our time realistically and focus our work time on generating revenues.

9.  We value our goods and services and price them accordingly.

10. We are willing and able to ask for help when we need it. And we are at peace with ourselves and allow our business to grow and expand harmoniously.

Money and You

Cash flow is king

It’s said that money is the blood of a business. But it takes blood, sweat, and tears to start up, run and succeed. If you are the one who started the business then you are the one ultimately responsible for making sure that cash is flowing. Of course, we mean flowing in and out and in again. That whatever you call your business it must become a money making machine. That means you have planned how when you will get to a positive cash flow. However, what often happens is most entrepreneurs woefully underestimate the amount of funds needed to get to the profit side of the equation.

Whether you say you are ‘shoe stringing’ it or getting backing from a bank you will wind up short because you just can’t plan for everything…as in, you don’t know what you don’t know. So now you wind up not paying yourself, maybe you have to tell your investors you need more cash or worse tell your life partner you’re out of money. I’ve done all three over the years and pushing the limits of your relationships with your partner and family is by far the toughest situation which I hope you wont have to go through.

Spending money to make money is for most businesses the way it works. Some exceptions exist in the service business world but even then if you are to build your service business you will need to spend money for infrastructure and help at some point. So you must plan to make enough capital to include set backs and growth.

Here’s the deal, planning to make money works out better than hoping to make money. Does this mean business plans are a must? Not in every case however, having a business plan will help keep you focused in those rough times that will happen. Plans do and should change when they need to. Being flexible is important; knowing when and how much flexibility is called for however, is more of an art.

I recommend you plan to earn 2 to 3 times more than your overhead. Do you know what your true overhead costs are and will be in the near future? What kind of business you are in will make a huge difference in what your net should be. But as a rule, you need to be aggressive and reasonable at the same time.  Remember this, it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep.

Keep on Keeping on…

The Trouble with Money

The Trouble with money

What are you worth?

What will people pay?

The Trouble with money

My Dad said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Most parents have ways of saying no to the requests of children by giving them one a liner that may in some way make sense but are more a like Zen koan to the inquisitive young mind.

Of course money doesn’t grow on trees, so far, but the Fed makes it like as if it does. But you and I have to earn it in some way. So either you work for someone else or you work for yourself.

The trouble with money is that we as a society have become more than attached to it. But I’m not going to preach on that subject today but rather take it at face value…we need money to live in this world. On a higher level money is a symbol of energy being exchanged for something else: a service or product. Money is only valuable because we as a society have declared it so.

So if you are not producing enough income/money then perhaps what you are offering is not considered valuable or valuable enough by others, OR you have not figured out how to price your product or services, AND/OR you are not selling to the correct market OR you are being screwed by a system that is taking advantage of you.

What are you worth?

Could be all those options are true to some extent but let’s take the higher road. You have talent or a great idea, or a new or better product to offer the world and you need to figure out what its worth. So go ask people what they would pay and see what you learn. This is basic but essential market research. Most people starting out in business skip this for one reason or another and find out too late that there was never a “there there”.

Your time is worth more than anyone can afford if you consider this life is short and the time you have to make money is short. So take time to be realistic about how you will spend your precious time doing something that will produce income and hopefully even make a difference.

What will people pay?

Unless you have a truly unique product or service you may already have a good idea what the buying public is paying by researching your competitors.  Maybe you can do it cheaper than the next person but that tends to be problematic if you are a small business person. It’s a much better plan to find the right niche or clientele who can afford and will pay for your time or product. But it is generally true that everyone loves a bargain so there is a balance you need to consider. Perception is often considered reality. What we perceive to be “true” is what we think is true. Of course, this is not the actual truth we are talking about but rather what we feel is true in the moment. Advertising has trained us to perceive value and benefits in such a way to completely side step what is in fact true. But the point here is you must help your potential customers perceive your value and convince them that the benefits are both real and worth their hard earned money. This is a universal business ‘truth’ which you cannot ignore.

Researching the value of something will help you know if or how you will succeed in your specific business. Take this point seriously and your chances of success will rise accordingly.

Keep on keeping on…

Being successful continued…

Staying on course.

  1. Mindfulness in business
  2. Being true to higher values
  3. No way around Practicing

Mindfulness in business

So we have been leaning about breathing and how it will help you be effective/real in your relationships. We previously talked about leaning to be still. This leads to the much written about concept of “mindfulness”.

Mindfulness in business occurs when you are paying close attention to what is going on within you and around you. This is also expressed as being fully present. It is said that just ‘showing up’ consistently is half the battle of being successful. I say it’s only about one quarter of the battle. One of my teachers, Angeles Arrien, teaches a cross cultural shamanic path based on her research of indigenous people. She calls it the Fourfold way.

  1. Show up (and be present)
  2. Pay attention to what has heart and meaning
  3. Tell the truth without blame or judgment
  4. Let go of outcome

For an in depth look at these concepts check out her book; “The Four-Fold Way”.

Show up, be present and be mindful. The breathing exercise in the previous blog will help you accomplish this task. Doing this will increase your chances of being real with yourself and others.

Being true to higher values

Knowing what your values are and then acting and making choices based on those values is an important part of your life’s work. So it goes in business as well. People have values and a business should have values as well. The Mission statement should touch deeply on those values. Most small businesses don’t have a mission statement but they have an owner and the owner’s values then become at least part of the business values.

Dr. Arrien’s statement, “Pay attention to what has heart and meaning” is one way to get at the values conversation. But the saying is more instructive in that it is itself sort of a values statement. If I practice what that statement says then I will become an active engaged participant in the business and in life. To stay true to what has heart and meaning takes another important step when we commit to telling the truth…without blame or judgment. To do this, to speak and think in this way is no small task and in doing so you will become a most valuable player in any business and in life.

Perhaps the hardest of the four directives is the last, “to let go of outcome”. In business we are all about outcome. As in life each one of us has dreams and aspirations and goals and wants to succeed in one thing or another. How can we ‘let go’ of all that?

This is one of those conundrums we face. To have goals is not just a good idea but recommended. But how you hold them in your mind and heart are integral to the process of achieving them. Letting go is more like ‘surrendering’ to the outcome. There’s a saying in some spiritual circles that goes, “let go and let God”. This saying can move one in the right direction. The letting go is a way of acknowledging that we don’t really have control of very much. And yet, we are responsible for so much. I know this all sounds a bit like “the sound of one hand clapping”, but if you will be still and ponder these ideas you will find peace and they will move your closer and closer to reaching your goals. More importantly, they may also help you be the kind of person you always wanted to be.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

Each day is the proverbial new day. You can be the same old you or the new old you.

The new you (old or not) is the one that takes life lightly and seriously at the same time.

Take yourself more lightly and the way of being in the world more seriously. Time has taught us humans that we must practice being the best at whatever we choose to be.

So start practicing now because NOW is all you’ve got.

Being “REAL” in Business

  1. Where does ‘real’ come from?
  2. Tune up your ‘BS’ meter.
  3. Being ‘still’ is a start—here’s how.

Are you for Real?

We all like to think we are being real…as if that’s the only way to be. The reason we may not always be real has to do with our personal history, our upbringing, the traumas that may have befallen us in our youth, and the way our brains have locked on to those traumas.

To own your own business or to aspire to be successful in business will force most of us to say and do things we never thought we would say or do. Sometimes that can be a good thing but more often it means we fall back into saying or acting in ways that are not what we wished we would have said or done. What if you could have that moment of insight that helps you to use the opportunities you have to change any outcome for the better.

So this brings up a challenge. How do you know when you or anyone else is being real?

Some people are really good at fooling others and sometimes we are really good at trying to fool ourselves. I know I have noticed that little feeling in the pit of my stomach that after the fact reminds me that I really didn’t mean to say something. But I’m not just talking about guilt either.

There is this idea of a “BS” meter in each of us. The “BS” meter is like an internal lie detector. The wiring for this mysterious machine resides both in our brains and our guts.

If it has not been used in a while the connections may be rusty but they can be polished up by reuse.

How to test this device? If you watch any Television, and or listen to news, especially news and commentary carefully your BS meter should be going off frequently. This does not mean people are necessarily lying to you, for they may in fact believe deeply in what they are saying, but there is a place in you that can show you that just saying something does not make it real or true. I’m not saying forget logic…logic is in short supply in most arguments and commercials. The BS meter resides more in the gut…as in something doesn’t feel right.

So what’s this have to do with being real in business? One thing about being human is that we will make mistakes but to be real means we will learn from them and act accordingly. One goal you may want to seriously consider is to learn how to be real in your own skin.

Life is complicated, breathing is simple! The fact that most of us no longer breathe correctly is well researched. But there is even more you can do with breath.

Just follow the instructions.

Sit still or stand or lie down or even take a walk. Choosing a quiet place and time may be more helpful at first. Breathe deeply, following your breath as it passes in and out of your nose or mouth. Follow each breath all the way in and out of your body. Focus only on each breath then the next. If some thought enters your mind then refocus your mind on your breath. Doing this a little each day (start with a minute then increase the time a little each day) will move you in the direction of knowing what is real in you and once you find that ‘real’ you will be moving towards being real with others. I’m not trying to trick you into becoming a meditator (that’s ok of course) but rather have you experience stillness inside so you can achieve a realness that you and others will notice. This practice leads to being more present which will lead to other successful skills.  Make this a daily routine and increase the time allotted slowly…you will see/feel different…in a good way.

Keep up the good work!


The Art of Being Real

Last week I was pointing out that being real with yourself, your employees, your customers and your vendors would move you toward success. Some have asked “what is ‘being real’”?

That could be a trick question. Since I’m not the arbiter of what is Reality for you it would be tough to say how to accomplish being real for each and every one of us.
However, I believe that each of you does know what is real by feeling it when it’s present in our own relationships. Who do you know right now that you would say is and has been ‘real’ with you? Real in the moment can be a jumble of feelings but here I’m speaking of those times when the presence of another person attention on you has got your full attention and you want to pay attention to what that person is saying or doing.

To be real is to be genuine, to be authentic, to be open and available to be fully present with another. Some of us may have a hard time with this concept but let me say that if you follow the previous blog instructions you will be on your way to achieving ‘realness’ in terms of being real with another.

Put in business parlance, that means you welcome the opportunity to do business with another person. If you can imagine ‘cherishing’ someone for the business then do so.
We all like feeling cherished, being noticed (in a good way) and being recognized. Think actively about this then act accordingly based on your specific job at the time of an encounter.

Sometimes I go into a business establishment just to experience what kind of greeting or contact is going to happen. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. Sure, not everyone wants to be greeted at the door or even helped but everyone does want respect.

Think of ways to ‘respect’ your clients, your co-workers, your employees, your vendors.
Your business will be rewarded, and so will you.


What drives you?

What ‘drives’ you?
What are your motives?
Do you know who you can trust?
Do you think you know the answers to these questions?

Something (or someone) is always ‘driving’ us, pushing and pulling us. Getting in touch with what that is, and where ‘it’ comes from can and will make the difference in creating a happy healthy successful life in business.

If you find yourself searching, seeking for some kind of assistance, some boost or pat on the back and recognition, I invite you to sign up here.

Success can be had on many levels. A well balanced life will be one with few if any regrets. Meeting life’s challenges, most of which we create ourselves are for one primary purpose: to learn, and from that learning, prospering and experiencing joy and comfort.

I recommend that a ‘sober’ evaluation of one’s choices and motivations for those choices be done. Whether you are just starting out in business or moving past that important 5th year milestone an annual ‘taking stock’ of oneself is always a good idea.

Taking stock is an older phrase originally used in business…as in accounting for one’s inventory. The word ‘stock’ also could mean shares of a business, or reaching back in time could also mean a device for holding one in place: “stock and chains”.

What are your talents, what are your shortcomings, what is missing from the business plan, where is the plan out of balance? Are you taking home at least a living wage? Does the business turn a reasonable profit? Maybe your business is a hobby? These may be easy questions to answer yes or no to. However, often it’s what is beneath the “yes” or “no” answer that will lead one to the truth in a given situation.

If you have chosen to be a business person, and more so, if you chose to be an owner of a business then you have chosen (consciously or not) to have those kinds of challenges that will help you become the skillful person you truly want to be. To go down the path of facing challenges and learning how you create them is not an easy task or one you should do alone. Get outside help! Friends can be a great help but they may not have the skill set to really help coach you through certain business challenges.

My intension is that through this blog and our interactions much will be gained by all who participate. Reading and responding to the blog will be helpful for all who are reading along. We can learn from each other and save time and money in doing so.

That said some issues are too complicated to be fully served via this one blog. The smallbusinessinaction.com website connected to this blog is also available as well as reaching me directly via the contact form.

I offer this blog to be a sober place to take stock of your business self, your actions, and thoughts. You will not find judgements or useless negative criticisms but rather an open forum of ideas and possible solutions.