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CEO Tips

A Lesson in Doing What I’m Told (even when I don’t like it)

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Systems & How-Tos | 6 Comments

rulesI was in a workshop this past weekend learning a new business model (retail commerce) and my experience got me to thinking about something.

There is a lot of talk lately about NOT following someone else’s “7 steps to success formula” and to just do it your way. It’s almost become a rallying cry these days and I think it’s a potentially dangerous one (and yes – I am one of those who has been rallying that cry at times!)

I get it. We have all bought into programs with big expectations that didn’t work for us. Or that didn’t work the way we expected. And that sucks… especially when it feels like it keeps happening.

So it is tempting to say “screw the blueprint! – I’m going to just do it my way.” Especially if you have a bit of a rebellious streak like I do. (I know I’m not alone here… 😉

Ultimately you have a choice in how you want to build your business. You can blaze your own trail and work from trial and error. Or you can follow a formula that someone else has already proven works. Either one can get you there – it’s just a matter of choosing the type of journey you want to have.

BUT following an existing formula will only work if you are purposeful upfront in a few key areas… there is actually a simple formula to being able to successfully follow a formula (ha!)

1) Figure out first what you REALLY want to create. If you don’t know what type of business you want and are really suited for – then don’t buy into any formula to build a business yet! You need to first do some deeper work (i.e with a coach) to figure this out. I’ve seen many people waste time, money and energy trying to build something that they were never meant to do…

2) Find someone who has PROVEN the business model that you want to build. This is a surprisingly hard step as it requires some digging and potentially some patience. I’m always looking for the person who lives what they teach. Who has been doing it for years. And often these are NOT the people with the flashiest marketing because they are more focused on running their business! Great marketers are not always great business owners…

3) DO THE WORK. For the love of all things holy – do what they tell you to do! This is the hard part because yes – there is work to be done and yes – you won’t want to do all of it. But you need to do the work if you want to create success. Don’t complain that it didn’t work if you stopped after step 2. Or if you skipped steps 4 & 5 and went to step 6 because it was more fun.

Does this mean success is guaranteed? Hell no – this is business baby and unfortunately success is never guaranteed even with the best ‘formula’. But you will be more likely to succeed if you do the work. Start there. And if it doesn’t work dig deeper (again – a coach can be helpful here.)

As for me? I followed EVERY step I was told to do in my workshop this past weekend. And I will admit – there were times where I thought “I don’t want to do it that way” or “maybe I’ll try this instead”. There were even moments of “I’ve been in business for a long time already so I can do what I want”… But I gave myself a mental slap on the wrist and just did what I was told. I followed the steps that they had already PROVEN to work. And I left that workshop after 3 days with a live, running store. (Which I’ll share more about in the future… for now I’m keeping it under wraps as I play.)

If I had gone rogue and tried to do it my way I wouldn’t have a live store right now.

The bottom line is this:

If someone is building the same type of business you want to build then the easier path is to. Follow. Their. Steps. Until you have proven the business model for yourself (aka – made consistent money) THEN go ahead and start doing it your way.

You may still get there if you skip the first part and jump right into doing it your way – but usually at the cost of spending WAY more time in trial and error. Which can erode your confidence and passion over time, not to mention empty your wallet!

Know yourself. Know what you need. And choose accordingly.

The BEST article on pricing that I’ve ever read

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Success Mindset | 12 Comments

It seems like everyone and their dog these days is touting the wonders of charging ‘premium rates’ for ‘high-end packages’.

Ugh. I’m tired of it… and here’s why.

First of all – it implies that if we aren’t charging ‘as much as we can!!’ then we are missing out. That the only goal of business is to squeeze every last dime out of the work we do.

Second – I’ve seen this set people up for failure. Either they struggle to sell at their new ‘premium’ rate (because deep down they don’t believe it’s worth it) or they sell at this premium rate but fail to deliver what the client was expecting (and find themselves in a bit of a pickle).

If the goal isn’t to charge as much as we can – then what do we aim for?

How do we know what the ‘right’ price is?

My friend Carolyn Herfurth shared this article with me recently and I daresay it’s the best article on pricing that I’ve ever read – including a really simple strategy to find your right price without going overboard.

Click here to read the article –> Your ‘Happy Price’ vs. Your ‘Sad Price’: How To Charge An Amount That Motivates You

And share below to let me know what you think? I’m curious to see if – and how – this might change the way you set your prices.

It certainly got my wheels turning…

Leadership is not a title

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

leadership is not a title

Not everyone is a leader by title, but we can all be leaders by choice.

A choice in who you show up as everyday.

A choice in what you focus on (common goals vs personal interests.)

A choice to speak up and share your wisdom & expertise (even when you aren’t specifically asked to do so.)

A choice to have the tough conversations and deal with challenges head on.

A choice to take radical responsibility in your work and do whatever it takes to honor commitment.

A choice to treat people with respect and trust that they are bringing their best to the table.

A choice to continually improve your leadership ability (there is no finish line.)

I don’t care if you are the CEO or the assistant – the face of the company or behind the scenes. How are you choosing to show up as a leader today?

Don’t expect to hire motivated people and not be challenged.

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

Simon Sinek2Don’t expect to hire motivated people and not be challenged.

Motivated people are leaders – they aren’t ‘yes’ people.

They are going to challenge your ideas. They are going to ask why you want to do something (to ensure that it makes sense and they understand where it fits in the big picture.)

They are going to challenge your timelines – to ensure that they can do great work in a reasonable time frame (vs. scrambling to do everything last minute, dropping balls and ending up with a half-ass result.)

They are going to challenge how you think things should be done if  – based on their expertise – they know there is a better way to accomplish the goal. They aren’t just always going to default to ‘the way it’s always been done.’

They are going to get frustrated if you try to micromanage them – If you hold on too tight or hang over their shoulders watching their every move.

They will get bored and leave if you can’t make up your mind – if they are left waiting for you to decide what you want next.

They will get annoyed and leave if you keep changing your mind – there is nothing more frustrating to a motivated person than having to start over ‘yet again.’

Motivated people ask for your trust and clarity so that they can do what they do best.

Here’s to the motivated people in our lives and on our teams – together we can do it all (and more!)

4 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Are Too Busy

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Systems & How-Tos, Team & Outsourcing | 3 Comments

“Help me Tina! I’m too busy and something needs to change…”

Young overworked business woman sleeping on floorYou are right – it does. Being too busy isn’t sustainable and doesn’t serve you or your clients. The good news? It’s fixable, so grab your to-do list and ask yourself the following questions.

Question 1: Does this really need to be done? (If yes, now or later?)

We often have things on our to-do lists that either:

  1. don’t need to be done at all – they are ideas, maybes or “wouldn’t it be nice ifs”. They are things we are thinking about, but that we haven’t actually made a firm decision on yet. Ideas are not to-dos – create a separate idea list and get those things off your to-do list!
  2. don’t need to be done now – if you aren’t strategic about planning ahead, then as a default everything on your to-do list feels like it needs to be done NOW. Work through each item and ask yourself – when does this really need to be done? Could it be put off until next week? Maybe even next month? Take your list and put realistic due dates beside each item.

You should be left with a list of things that are actually do in the next week or so – and a list of things that aren’t due yet (or are ideas and are no longer on the list!)

Question 2: Do I need to be the one to do this?

If you are anything like I was for years, as a default you feel like you must do everything. You are good at what you do. You are used to being the one to get it all done, but now things are starting to fall behind and slip through the cracks.

Run through your list again and ask yourself – could someone else do this for me? Be aware of the following when you answer:

  • “Well yes, someone else could do this for me but it’s only me so I have to” If you don’t have anyone working with you right now this could be true, and you also have the power to change. Growth dictates that you will need to hire help at some point – when you do it is up to you.
  • “But no one can do it as well as me – so I have to be the one to do it” This is a dangerous spot to get stuck in, because as long as you believe it to be true, it is… and it could be the thing sucks the life right out of you. Yes, you may be the best at doing something but that doesn’t mean you can’t train another person to be as good as you (or at least close enough 😉 or find someone who does it already and bring them on board.

The goal here is simple – identify the things that others could do for you. It doesn’t mean you have to hire a bunch of people tomorrow, but at the very least you can look to give more to the people you have already and plan ahead for getting more support (which becomes a light at the end of the busy tunnel!)

This second question can be a doozy as it brings up all kinds of stuff for many of us – it can have our inner control freak kicking and screaming! I highly recommend getting the support of a coach or OBM to help you here if you go through your list and still have your name beside every task. An outside eye can often see what you can’t.

Question 3: How can I create more space?

At this point you should have a realistic list of what needs to be done in the next week or so. Now you want to ensure you have the space and time to get it done. Here are two of my favorite tips:

  • Plan ahead –book the time in your schedule to get stuff done. You might book in specific tasks, or you might book in time for types of tasks (ie: writing time, client time).
  • Set boundaries – distraction is the death of productivity. Be it team, clients, family or social media – every time you get distracted it takes you off track, and for many people it happens all day long! Close your door. Turn off your phone and email. Let people know when you aren’t available and when you are. And get really good at saying no (because they will test your boundaries!)

Question 4: Do I need to renegotiate any deadlines?

If you are truly in over your head and can’t get everything done, then you need to revise your deadlines. I get that this sucks and you may hate having to do it, but it’s better for you to own up to something ahead of time vs. having people get upset with you because they are waiting/asking. To simply say to someone “Hey, I got in over my head here and that’s on me. I won’t be able to get X to you until next Monday and wanted to let you know.” Yes, you might need to make concessions for being late if this affects their timelines.

Even if they are frustrated, people will respect you for stepping up and being real with what is going on – and quite often they are OK with adjusted timelines if they know ahead of time.

The beauty of these 4 questions is that you can use them over and again. Every time you find yourself too busy work through this process, and ideally overtime you won’t need to anymore.

Let me know how it goes k?

The Top 3 Reasons Why You Are Too Busy

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

Many of my clients come to me because they are too busy.

They are working too many hours.
They spend most of their time putting out fires and trying to keep up with everything.
They are having to say no to opportunities because there literally isn’t anymore time to do more work.
Their family members are mad at them for working too much.
They are tired, frustrated and demotivated because they can’t see a way to change it.

Before you can make a change it’s important to first recognize this simple truth.

Being too busy is the result of our choices, it’s not the cause of our problems.

It’s easy to think that being too busy is the problem, but it’s actually the symptom of the underlying causes that need to change. The good news? It’s fixable! The bad news? We are the only ones who can fix it. 😉

The first step to fixing it is understanding the top 3 reasons why business owners are too busy.

1) Saying yes more than you say no

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 20% of our efforts lead to 80% of our results. This also means that 80% of our efforts contribute to only 20% of our results.

In other words, we may be spending up to 80% of our time on things that don’t really matter. Ouch!

essentialismThis happens when we default to saying yes to everything that comes our way. Yes to every new project. Every new client. Every new idea.

Every time we say yes to something there is less of us to go around. We end up making small progress in many areas, vs. measurable  progress where it matters the most.

Greg McKeown summarizes this beautifully in his book Essentialism.

“Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone [and everything], you can make your highest contirbution towards the things that really matter.”

2) Still seeing yourself as doer vs. leader

For the first 10 years of my business it was just me. I was a soloprenuer working 1-1 with my clients was able to handle all the work on my own. 2009 was the year that I shifted to a leveraged business model and began to focus on growth. It was the year my business officially became bigger than me and I quickly started to feel the pressure of getting it all done.

The simple truth was that there was more work to do, and I could no longer handle it all on my own. Something had to change, and it started with redefining my role.

All activities in business can be categorized into doing, managing or leading. The more time & energy you spend in doing, the less time you have for managing and leading.

Doing is a habit. If you are anything like I was, you are simply used to being the doer because you’ve done it for so long. You may take pride in the fact that you are a doer and can ‘get it all done’! If you continue to identify as the ‘doer’ you will always be too busy, for the simple fact that you won’t be willing to let it go.

3) Not building a strong foundation of team & systems

You’ve embraced your role as leader and are ready to let go of the doing – great! Next step is to bring in the right people to do the work and build a strong foundation of systems for everyone to work from.

It’s not rocket science to say that you need to hire a team – I’m sure you’ve heard it before! And yet many people struggle here when they don’t know who they need, where to find them and how to lead them to success.

Most of us aren’t naturals – finding, hiring and leading a team is a learned skill. If you are committed to getting out of the ‘too busy’ cycle you need to be willing to invest in your own leadership skills & development. You need to be willing to invest in hiring great people who can help you take your business to where you want to be.

If you are too busy I invite you to explore these 3 areas and let me know which of them you are going to work on next. I assure you that even small changes in any of these 3 areas can make a measurable difference.

Here’s to your freedom!

Are you a starter, finisher or maintainer?

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Team & Outsourcing | 6 Comments

Originally posted on Feb. 25th 2016.

When I used to do corporate recruiting back in the day, one of the questions we always asked people was:

“Are you a starter, finisher or maintainer?”

I love this question and have continued to use it in my business – with team & clients. It’s important to understand this distinction for ourselves, as well as for the people we work with.

A starter likes to get the ball rolling – you are a visionary. You see the world through a lens of opportunity and how things can be changed for the better. You are passionate and driven by your ideas – nothing gives you more pleasure than a great (new) idea and the possibility it creates.

A finisher likes to get stuff done – you love to plug into someone else’s ideas and help bring them to life. You naturally see what it will take to accomplish a goal – the steps, resources and timeline – and don’t feel satisfied until measurable progress is being made.

A maintainer likes to keep the engine running – you are driven by stability – chaos, messes and surprises drive you crazy! You have an eye for detail and a heart of service, knowing that a strong foundation is what keeps the vision (ideas) alive. You are satisfied when everything is running as it should, on a daily basis, with excellence.

Which one do you identify with the most?

Could be more than one – I’m both a starter & a finisher, but I am NOT a maintainer.

I am great at coming up with big ideas – solving big problems – and I love to bring them to life. (My business is built on programs we’ve created to solve big problems – Certified Online Business Manager and CEO Business School to name our biggies)

Once the programs are created and serving where they are meant to serve, then I start to disengage. Once the creation is live my natural inclination is to move onto the next thing.

This is who I am but I fought this for YEARS! I thought that I should want to keep focused on the same thing – I created it, this is my baby, how could I possibly be ready to move on? (Or dare I say, bored!) I beat myself up because I thought something was wrong with me.

It’s only in recent years I’ve come to accept that I’m not a maintainer, and because of this I need strong maintainers on my team. Because of this I have structured my business to allow my starter/finisher nature to play while building on the success of past creations <– this took me a LONG time to figure out.

How can your team compliment your nature? If you are a starter you need strong finishers around you (our OBMs are GREAT at this). If you are a finisher you need to connect with powerful starters. If you are a maintainer you are needed to keep the success engine running!

Know yourself. Honor yourself. Let go of what isn’t true for you. That is where real success is found.

How to not lose your mind while running both a business and a household

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Success Mindset | 4 Comments

I was joking today with my Program Manager Ashley that there are days I’m lucky that I haven’t lost my mind.

Because let’s be real – my life is pretty nutty. I’m a single mom of 2 young girls (8 & 10) and am running a business that is the sole provider for our family. It’s a busy life, to say the least.

Here’s what I find helpful when it comes to juggling everything and keeping myself sane:

Delegate at Home Too!

Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week. Why? It’s the day my cleaning lady Patty comes over, and there is a brief window of about an hour where my house is gloriously clean (then my kids get home from school…) As business owners we talk a lot about the importance of delegation, but what about our lives?

I’d like to challenge you at home with the same question I would in your business – What are the things that you can do, but that others can do just as well as you? Could be cleaning. Cooking. Laundry. Yard Work. Shoveling. And what would it look like to get help in those areas?

Put Your Self Care First

Last year was a tough year for me. There were a lot of challenges I was dealing with and I found myself feeling surprisingly blah on a very regular basis. After reading Dan Harris’s book 10% Happier (which I highly recommend!) I decided to give meditation a try. Just 15 minutes in the morning – sitting quietly and being mindful, nothing fancy. In a matter of days my energy and mood changed dramatically, and to be honest I was surprised that such a simple thing made such a difference! And on the days I don’t do it I can feel myself slipping back into the blahs.

Self care comes in many forms. What are you doing to put yourself first on a DAILY basis?

Rely on the Power of 3

I have a little mind-trick that I like to use whenever I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that needs to get done both on the home-front and in the business. I call it ‘the next 3 things’. Whenever I feel that ARGHH moment of too much on my plate, I pause and ask myself:

What are the next 3 things I need to do?

Then I focus on doing only those 3 things and forget the rest. For example, last night I could feel one of those ARG moments coming on so I paused, asked myself that question and decided that all I had to do was 1) Make the kids lunch for tomorrow, 2) Clean the litter boxes and 3) Pack Lexi’s bag for gymnastics. I did those things, felt accomplished and avoided a potentially grumpy night for me and the girls (You know what they say… if momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy!)

Unplug baby!

My friend Tara has been my bestie now for 39 years. When I need an evening of ‘whine &  wine’ she’s my gal. We have a lifetime of inside jokes in our arsenal, so that all it takes is a quick comment or sideways glance to get us laughing. And laughing. And laughing. (From the outside looking in I’m sure people think we are crazy. 😉

Unplugging is necessary for our sanity. I need to unplug from being mom every once in a while, as much as I need to unplug from being CEO. Go out for dinner. Get to the gym. See a movie. Give yourself permission to unplug from the responsibilities of your life at least once a week, so that you can bring the best of who you are the rest of the time!

How about you? I’m curious what keeps you sane in the craziness of running a business and running your life – post your tips in the comments.

3 Ways to Make Planning Palatable (Maybe Even Enjoyable?)

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Leadership, Success Mindset | No Comments

MANY business owners I know hate planning. They find it annoying. They don’t know how to do it. They start a plan only to find themselves mired in the details of ‘who needs to do what’ and give up out of frustration.

Or they just simply prefer to go with the flow and see what life brings.

I get it – there are times I wish I didn’t have to plan either! But I know the benefit it brings to me and my biz so I’m willing to do it even when I  don’t feel like it. 😉

Here are a few things to consider to make planning palatable (maybe even enjoyable?)

If you’re thinking “I need your help, Tina, to create a solid plan!” then check out my upcoming 3 hour virtual “Planning Made Simple” workshop

Planning Made Simple Workshop1) Planning is about committing to your DESIRES

The heart of planning is simply about saying ‘here’s what I want in the next year’ and then getting clear on what it will take to get there. It is  saying to the world that you are ready, willing and able to do what it takes to create what you want.

This of course means you need to know what it is you really want. Sometimes a reluctance to plan can be masking a deeper fear or resistance  to what it is you really want to create. Embrace the truth of what you want and allow yourself the freedom to lay a path to creating it.

2) Planning means LESS WORK for you every day

Each day will start one of two ways – you are either waking up clear on what you need to do that day. Or you are flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go.

The first option allows you to get the right stuff done first, so that you have the rest of your day open to spend as you please. The second  option requires that you waste valuable time and energy trying to decide what to do, when and how… often leaving you feeling like you’ve been busy all day but never actually accomplished anything.

It’s time to get that plan in place so you can stop working so hard!  Say to another few weeks/months/years of exhaustion and overwhelm. Build in the 3 x 3 Planning Habits I share in the “Planning Made Simple” workshop into your business and you (and everyone around you) will know EXACTLY what to do each and every day (no more doing it all yourself).

3) Planning allows others to SUPPORT you

Be it an assistant or a team of 20, if you don’t plan ahead I guarantee that you will always struggle getting the support you need. The most  successful teams are the ones where each person is clear on what they need to do, when it is due and is empowered to do great work. Last minute requests and constant changes will suck the life out of a team faster than anything else – and leave you feeling frustrated.

If you are unwilling to plan you will never find the support you crave.

The bottom line is this – you don’t have to love planning. You just need to love what it allows you to create. In the same way you don’t have to love flossing your teeth, but you do it because you know it keeps you healthy.

I created my Planning Made Simple workshop with this in mind – to give you a simple and, I daresay, fun process to laying a path towards getting what you want next year.

You are invited to join me LIVE on December 15th.  Here’s where to find out more:  www.tinaforsyth.com/planning

You may not like it (wink) but I assure you that – if you do the work – you will feel clear and empowered as we head into the
new year.

I know you’re tired.  If you think about this for too long, you may just end up having another like this last year.  Join me December 15th and put a solid plan together in just a few hours www.tinaforsyth.com/planning. 

 

The 3 Dangers of Playing Big

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Leadership | 4 Comments

Reach for the starsIn the entrepreneurial world we are constantly bombarded with the message to ‘play a bigger game’. Or variations on that message, such as ‘shoot for the stars!’ or ‘if you aren’t growing you are dying!’ And I can’t help but wonder…

What if, instead of trying to play a ‘bigger game’, we aimed to play a ‘right sized game’ instead?

Striving to ‘play bigger’ has taken me off course many times in my 17 year journey as a business owner. When I look back on the times where I struggled the most and lost the most – it was when I was trying to play bigger and chase the elusive promise of ‘more will fix everything’.

There are 3 dangers to blindly following the ‘play bigger’ path that business owners need to be aware of.

Danger #1 – What works for them may not work for you

There are no end to programs and coaches who will promise you that ‘if you follow this simple formula you too can achieve the same success that I have enjoyed.’ If I’ve learned anything in my experience as a business owner it is this:

There is NO one size fits all solution to success.

The business model that works best for me may not work for you. The marketing strategy that works best for you may not work for the next person. I know I’m not alone in having spent thousands of dollars and countless hours of time following a formula that simply wasn’t a fit for me.

Our job is to know ourselves – to know our greatest gifts so that we can choose a business aligned with our strengths (and stop trying to be something we aren’t!). To know what we really want so we can set goals that match our true desires (and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses). And to learn from the right people who are simply ahead of us on a similar path to success (and won’t try to talk us into something that isn’t a fit.)

Danger #2 – Playing bigger generally brings bigger costs

“It costs money to make money”. I’m sure you’ve heard this before and for the most part it is true. But where business owners get themselves in trouble is spending ALL of their current money for the promise of FUTURE money.

They invest everything they have in the moment for the potential return of something in the future – which may or may not happen. And if it does happen they do it all over again, spending more and more money but never actually getting to keep much (or any!) of it. I spent years in this cycle and it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

The goal is not to make more money – it’s to keep more money. And this can happen regardless of how much money you are making right now. Get clear on your financial goals and commit to how much you want to keep The key is to balance spending with saving, so that every dollar you make contributes to your long term financial freedom.

Danger #3 – Striving to play bigger can trump your why

There is nothing worse than working your buns off to reach a goal, only to find it hollow and meaningless. I’ve seen many business owners reach amazing financial goals, only to find themselves burnout, tired and disillusioned. And in some cases they’ve lost their health and relationships in the constant pursuit of more.

There is no faster path to burnout than to keep doing work that isn’t aligned with your why. To blindly follow what you see others doing thinking that you should be doing the same thing. To make decisions from a place of ‘well everyone else is doing it so I may as well too’.

Your why is the fuel that will sustain you on your journey to success. If you lose track of your why you may lost yourself in the process.

The bottom line is this – more for more’s sake will never be enough. It is a game that you will never win because ‘more’ doesn’t have a finish line.

You need to want more for the right reasons. The reasons that are aligned with who you are and what you (really) want – not what other people want for you or from you. You need to be specific on the exact amount that fits your financial & freedom goals, and that allows you to do the right work to get there. You need to know how much time and effort you are willing to put in so as to allow you to enjoy the life you have right now (not the life you may have in the future.)

I want to acknowledge that this is tough. It is hard to step outside of the pressure to ‘play a bigger game’. It’s hard to resist the siren’s call of ‘more makes it all better’. To simply say no to the people who say ‘but you could be doing so much more!’

It takes courage to claim your space and say – this is who I am, this is what I want and it is enough.

I applaud your courage to play the right game, and I’m right here with you.

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