The Blue Collar Back Office Podcast
By Dan Murch
The Blue Collar Back Office PodcastOct 31, 2022
BCBO Podcast Procrastination is the Enemy
Procrastination is the Enemy of Success
As small business owners, we all need to get things done. Lots of things. We know that we set the example for our employees, and how we carry ourselves affects the entire culture of the company. But despite this, procrastination still affects all of us!
You may think that procrastinating is just time wasting, but the short and long term consequences of it can go way beyond this. It doesn’t just waste your time. Procrastination affects the performance of your business. It is one of the nastiest bad habits that every one of us has to fight against on a daily basis.
Disappointing Customer Experience
- As small business owners, we often need to fulfill many roles. One that will always be of paramount importance is the satisfaction of our customers. After all, without customers, we have no business. Sometimes, if we put off certain tasks, the knock-on effect is that other tasks get delayed – sometimes for a long time if they rely on the previous tasks being done! Additionally, we often procrastinate over ‘boring’ tasks, but these tasks can also often be the nuts and bolts of our systems. And these tasks can be those that allow us to keep up to date with client communications and experience. And procrastinating over any tasks that relate to, or could impact on other client relationship or satisfaction tasks is a big no-no.
- Procrastination can and does have a huge effect on confidence. It can also encourage feelings of Imposter Syndrome. When we procrastinate and put things off, it can often lead to a louder internal chatter. Chatter that talks us out of things or tells us we are not good enough. But to run a small business well, you need confidence. Without it, we just can’t put ourselves out there. It’s too painful. So keep an eye on your internal chatter and make sure your procrastination isn’t responsible for your deteriorating or faltering confidence. On the flip side, getting on and doing things builds our confidence!
Procrastination also creates a vicious cycle of stress. Deadlines eventually arrive, and next thing you know you are feeling the pressure to deliver and complete 8 hours of work in 30 minutes because earlier in the week you spent 8 hours doing 30 minutes of work! This takes control away from you and your day. Instead being able to be proactive and focus on the important tasks that will help your business succeed, you are constantly putting out fires. Fires you created! When the fire is put out you are so worn out mentally (and/or physically) that you decide you need a “break” for a while. That break turns into more procrastination which eventually turns into more fires to be put out and the cycle continues.
Your employees also see this behavior. No one enjoys working for a “Do as I say, not as I do” type person. The example you set for your team inevitably affects their performance, confidence, and enthusiasm. When the team sees that the owner is constantly putting off the important tasks that shows what is expected of them. If you reprimand employees for the same behaviors you are exhibiting that will eventually lead to resentment and disappointing results.
Procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder. There are some really amusing quotes about procrastination that will make you smile and laugh, but I promise you a successful business will make you even happier. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Be proactive. Take the first step. Reap the rewards.
BCBO Podcast Online Bill Payments
Maintaining a healthy cash flow is crucial for any business, regardless of size. Still, small and medium-sized businesses are particularly vulnerable to cash flow issues, especially in today’s volatile market. The good news is that embracing digital payments can help.
A healthy cash flow means you have enough money to pay your vendors, suppliers, utility bills, rent, and employees, and are still left with some extra cash for unexpected expenses or for growing your business. Cash flow health means your business is more resilient in uncertain times as it has some reserves it can lean into if push comes to shove.
Switching to digital payments is not just a matter of convenience (which is also a big deal for busy entrepreneurs like you). It helps businesses improve their cash flow management without requiring monetary investment, special equipment, or training. If you have an internet connection and can operate a computer or a mobile phone, you can start sending digital payments online.
Many digital payment tools allow you to schedule payments in advance. This saves time as you can handle all your payments in one sitting. It also improves your cash flow as it ensures you pay on time and never a minute too soon. So, you can hang on to cash longer without fear of forgetting a bill and incurring late fees and penalties.
By using digital payment tools you can get a clear picture of your finances at any given time. You can also see all of your scheduled payments in order to better plan ahead. Knowing exactly what’s coming in and out of your account and when will help you avoid payments accidentally depleting your cash flow. It will also allow you to know just how much cash you have to play around with at the moment.
Using digital payment tools can save you hours every week on writing and sending out checks. If you’re wasting less time on payments, you’re practically adding to your cash reserves by cutting staff hours and focusing on generating revenue instead of busy work. More cash means better cash flow. It’s that simple.
When it comes to cash flow, sometimes just having flexibility and choices can make all the difference. When you use QuickBooks Online Bill Payments (powered by Melio) for your payments, you can choose to pay with ACH to preserve cash by saving on fees (0% for ACH payments). If you’re currently low on cash and need a little extra float until some money comes in, you can easily pay your bills with a credit card, even if your vendors don’t accept cards. This way, for a 2.9% fee, your vendor gets paid immediately, whichever way they prefer—check or ACH—while you get to hang on to your cash until your next billing cycle, providing up to 60 days of additional float.
One of the newest features is combined payments. Say you need to pay ten different invoices, all from the same vendor. Sure, you can schedule ten individual payments, or, you can pay them all in one payment. Save time, money and make life simpler for you and your vendor. That’s what combined payments are all about! This feature lets you select the bills you want to pay to a single vendor and pay them all in one combined transaction. So, your vendor will see one ACH transfer or get one check for all the bills. And the same goes for you - all the combined bills will show and count as one transaction on your end as well.
Melio gives you the flexibility to pay vendors, suppliers and contractors exactly the way you want. Connecting Melio and QuickBooks Online syncs the two to save time and eliminate double data entry. Once connected, Melio pulls vendor information from QuickBooks, so you don't have to enter any vendor details, just select one from a list or start typing and have vendors auto-completed. Then, once you've completed a bill payment in Melio, your QuickBooks account is updated with the payment's details.
BCBO Podcast Start with Integretity
Blue Collar Back Office continues to grow! We are extremely grateful for the sustained growth we have seen over the last couple of years. We continue to add new clients and new services to meet their needs. Throughout this growth period our team has continued to grow to meet the demand. I am extremely proud of the team and culture that we have here at BCBO and without the amazing members of our team we could never achieve the results that we have seen.
Hiring and training is not an easy or “fun” task. It takes a lot time to search through potential candidates and then interview those you think will be the best fit. When we are looking to hire for BCBO I try and remember the fantastic advice given by Warren Buffett:
We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.
Especially in our industry, integrity is key. Our whole company is built on helping small businesses organize and grow their business, and the key function we provide is bookkeeping. With that, we have access to and see a plethora of information. While we take the necessary security measures to ensure that not a single person that works for our company (including myself) have access to our clients funds, we still see information that should not be shared. Hiring people with the highest level of integrity is the number one priority.
Intelligence and initiative are extremely important too. While we aren’t building rockets over here, bookkeeping and accounting is something that requires experience, training, and an extreme attention to detail. The majority of our team works remotely or at least semi-remotely. We are not Big Brother. We are not watching the keystrokes and micromanaging their day. We allow everyone on the team to take ownership of their day and their responsibilities. Every member our of team knows what is expected of them and has the initiative to take control of their day and deliver results for our clients.
It sometimes takes a lot of interviews to find the right person that checks all those boxes. This is not an area of your business to “settle” however. It is imperative that you surround yourself with great people that will represent your company well and provide outstanding service for your clients.
BCBO Podcast Show Up
Sometimes, you just need to show up
As many of you know by now, Blue Collar Back Office was born out of our construction company. We have been operating a successful construction company since 2008. Are we the biggest builders in NJ? Far from it. We run a successful business that turns a profit and has had steady growth year after year for almost 15 years now.
How do we do it? Mostly, we show up. We answer our phones. We reply to emails. We send out estimates that are clear and easy to understand and we do it in a timely manner. We communicate with our clients. We send out our invoices on time, and we keep detailed notes. None of it is rocket science. However, you might be surprised to hear just how hard it is to get someone to show up in our industry. And even if they do the chances of receiving an estimate is not nearly as high as you would expect.
That is today’s topic - showing up. It is such a simple concept. In today’s economy it is not as difficult as you think to set yourself apart from the competition and create a company that is stable and profitable. A lot of the competition is either unorganized or simply doesn’t have the discipline and drive to follow through on their commitments.
Want to really set yourself apart from the competition? Not only show up, but show up ON TIME. When you make an appointment, keep it. If you can’t, communicate it the people involved immediately. People understand when an emergency happens and you email or call to say you need to reschedule the appointment you had booked for Tuesday at 2pm. What they don’t understand, but will certainly remember is when it is 2:10 on Tuesday and when they contact you to find out why you aren’t there (or on the Zoom or haven’t called, etc.) and you provide some vague excuse.
Want to rise above the competition that does show up and shows up on time? Show up on time WITH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AND A PLAN. Come prepared and with knowledge that will help the client. Don’t act like you have someplace better to be and you are doing them a favor by showing up. Don’t immediately go into a sales pitch without finding out what the clients needs truly are.
You would be shocked to hear how many jobs we have done over the years simply because we followed those three simple steps. We have landed jobs where we know we were nowhere close to being the most cost effective or had the best scheduling availability. However, we showed up on with a positive attitude and a plan and was able to develop a trust with the client that not only would the job get done when we said it would get done, but it would be done correctly because we had demonstrated a commitment to our clients and our business through our responsible actions.
Once you have landed the work, it is time to implement all of those same strategies in to how you run the job. Send out estimates and invoices in a timely manner. The amount of lost income we have captured for clients over the years is staggering. If invoices don’t get sent out you don’t have a very good chance of getting paid. Schedule jobs realistically and communicate with your clients. It is much better to tell your client up front that you probably can’t get to their job for three weeks and then have the opportunity to call them after two weeks to see if they would be available to start sooner if something changed in your schedule then to tell them you will be there next week and then delay them.
These simple steps are sometimes all it takes to rise to top of your industry. Simply not sitting back and waiting for it to come to you but instead going out and getting it is all it takes. This is not a magic trick. This is about making a commitment and putting in the work. Show up and I promise you will see the positive results.
BCBO Podcast The Benefits of Budgets
Budgets: How they work for you
A high number of clients that we work with did not implement the use of budgets prior to our relationship. Those that did primarily only did it on an annual basis in regards to the overall company results. That is important, and we will discuss the benefits of that throughout this episode, but just as important, especially for companies in the contracting industry is the ability to create budgets in QBO by individual job or class
Without even realizing it or necessarily in a formal fashion, many businesses already carry out the majority of the activities associated with budgeting, such as thinking about growth areas, competitors, cashflow and profit. The process does not have to difficult or time-consuming. QuickBooks Online has a budgeting feature built into the program that makes the process simple. You even have the option to import data from previous periods to use as a template moving forward.
The most important thing is that plans are made, they are accurate and realistic to your business or the job, and that the information is clearly communicated to everyone involved.
A few examples of the overall benefits of creating a budget (from and overall and per job basis):
Manage your money and cash flow effectively
- When you are planning per job (or per month, quarter, year, etc.) it allows you be more effective when making cash flow projections and make more informed decisions regarding payments
Allocate appropriate resources to jobs
- Labor schedule
- Management schedule
- Sub-contractor schedule
- Budget vs Actual reports
- % of job invoiced compared to % of budgeted COGS sold is always a good indicator of where the job SHOULD be
- Are you behind on billing?
- Was there a miscalculation in the original budget that should be revised?
Meet your objectives
- In general, the use of detailed goal setting strategies has a profound impact on success
Increase staff motivation
- Clear, understood objectives and goals help drive motivation
- When there is no clear path and no clearly defined objective the ability to differentiate between success and failure becomes blurred which can lead to poor moral and motivation
New small business owners may run their businesses in a relaxed way and may not see the need to budget. However, if you are planning for your business' future, you will need to fund your plans. Budgeting is the most effective way to control your cashflow, allowing you to invest in new opportunities at the appropriate time.
BCBO Podcast Proactive vs Reactive
In both our professional and personal lives, we are at all times either being proactive or reactive. A proactive approach allows us to take more control and have more influence in outcomes.
The benefits of being proactive includes the following:
- With your clientsSeeking out ways to add value
Providing data / reports / etc. BEFORE they ask
- With your employeesRecognition
- How you manage and schedule your dayCalendar
Effective time blocking
Saying NO more often (every time you say yes you are saying no to something else)
- Your financesSavings and planning
- Personal timeLearning, reading, etc. or watching Netflix????
- Only time it is better to be reactive - Sports?? Maybe?Even they have a plan of attack and adjust accordingly
It is impossible to Proactive 100% of the time, but the higher percentage of time you spend in a proactive state, the better your results will be.
BCBO Podcast 4/4/22
As a culture we work hard. Like over the top extremely hard. Based on a recent study Americans work 137 more hours per year than the Japanese, 260 more than the British, and 499 more than the French. That equates to more than 20 full days per year! Mediterranean work cultures like Italy, Greece, and Spain are probably a category of their own. This episode isn't about all of sudden working less, but it is about giving yourself a break each week to give your body and mind the time it needs to reset. If I rest better, I work better.
The most common answer to the question “How are you?” is “Busy”.
90% of us check the phone first upon waking up.
37% of us take fewer than 7 days of vacation a year.
14% of us take more than 2 weeks a year.
20% of us stay in touch with the office while on vacation.
As we continue to work nonstop we actually put more stress on our minds and bodies and it impacts our ability to be creative and focused. Instead, based on a recent article, we should try to practice a weekly Sabbath. This has nothing to do with religion, but it is all about giving yourself a break from work every week for preferably 24 hours.
You may need a Sabbath practice if you…
- live a parallel life with your children
- feel uncomfortable being left alone with your thoughts
- laugh sarcastically at the term “passion project”
- have original ideas remain just that
- feel guilty when you do nothing
- wake up at night worrying about money
- haven’t had a date with your spouse in months
- have forgotten how wonder feels like
- have accepted anxiety as a constant
- sometimes feel like a slave while making a decent living
- desperately long for delight
When and how you celebrate is entirely up to you. Make sure spend it doing things that truly bring you joy.
BCBO Podcast 4/1/22
What keeps us healthy and happy as we go through life? If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and your energy? Unfortunately, many people think getting rich and/or famous is the answer. However, one of the key findings of an 84-year (and counting) study of human development at Harvard University called the Grant Study says differently. It is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.
Dr. Robert Waldinger is a Harvard psychiatrist who has been running the Grant Study or Harvard Study of Adult Development for almost 20 years (he’s the fourth person in charge in its history). It may be the longest study of adult life that's ever been done. For 84 years, they have tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.
About a dozen of the 268 men originally in the Harvard study are still alive. Most served in World War II, all were white. Some achieved great success; others failed to live up to their potential. Now, they’ve moved on to a second generation study. While there were many aspects of the men's lives that were striking, Waldinger says there are three key findings about relationships that predicted how happy and healthy the men were as they grew older.
Dr. Robert Waldinger said the following in his 2015 TED talk:
1. Loneliness kills. "People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they're lonely.”
2. Quality of relationships matters more than quantity. "It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective."
3. Good relationships protect the brain. "People who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people's memories stay sharper longer. And the people in relationships where they feel they really can't count on the other one, those are the people who experience earlier memory decline."
BCBO Podcast 3/30/22
Last week we discussed the anticipated surge in new businesses opening up this year. Starting a business can evoke emotions like excitement and hope, but can also lead to feelings of overwhelm regarding the process. Today we discuss how to register a business, the reasons to register, the benefits of registration, and the steps you need to take to help eliminate any sense of dread while going through this process.
First, choose a business structure. Your business structure is the foundation of your business, including how your taxes are filed, how personal assets are handled, and how day-to-day operations are controlled. It also impacts business registration, including how and who you register with. There are many types of business structures, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your organization's needs.
After choosing the structure, it’s time to settle on a location for your business. Even if your company operates mostly online, you still need to register a location for operations like receiving government documents, filing taxes, and more. Next, you’ll want to register your business name to prevent other businesses from using it now or in the future.
Next, register with the IRS. Registering your business with the Internal Revenue Service will give you a federal EIN, or Employer Identification Number. This is essentially a Social Security number for businesses (sometimes referred to as a federal tax ID). EINs are necessary for things like filing taxes, opening business bank accounts, and hiring employees.
You may need to register with state and local agencies such as: Department of Revenue, Secretary of State, Better Business Bureau, Franchise Tax Board. Each entity has its own requirements that must be followed, so it’s worth working with an attorney to get things done correctly and in a timely manner. Finally, specific licenses and permits are required to run different businesses, and they vary by industry and state. It’s a good idea to have any necessary licenses or permits before you start your business to avoid future problems. If you want to know what licenses and permits are needed for your business, you can contact your local branch of the Small Business Administration.
BCBO Podcast 3/28/22
The pandemic upended where, when and how we work. Over the last two years, employers have experimented with new, flexible ways of working, and many have made the move to permanent remote workplaces. When carried out correctly, remote work can bring many benefits to a company and its employees like reduced turnover, better work-life balance and increased performance. But even with the right skills and experiences, not every candidate is cut out to work from home. In an increasingly remote world of work, it's essential hiring managers know which interview questions to ask and how to identify whether or not an applicant is a right fit for a remote role.
Here are 8 of the best interview questions to spot great remote workers:
1. Have you ever worked remotely? If so, what were some of the challenges you faced? It's important to understand a person's motivation for seeking remote work, as some candidates don't understand the reality of working from home. If the answer is, "Never," follow up with, "Why do you want to work remotely?" They should know what the challenges of remote work are and have strategies in place for tackling them.
2. Where do you prefer to work? Not having a "home office" should not disqualify someone from the job, but understanding how and where an applicant works best can help you understand them as a potential employee. If they already work from home, ask about their home office setup. Do they have everything a remote worker needs to be productive? Is it someplace that is relatively free of distractions?
3. How do you plan on communicating with a remote team? Remote employees should be comfortable using a wide range of platforms. Ask how the candidate will communicate with the team and how comfortable they are using different communication platforms.
4. How do you stay focused on your tasks? By starting with the broad question, you'll be able to hone in on more remote-specific follow-ups. For example, if the candidate says, "I use noise-canceling headphones to block out noisy coworkers," you can ask, "Will you face that same distraction when you work remotely?"
5. What do you like and what do you dislike about working in an office? If a candidate says that they love the company's team-building opportunities, or their favorite activity is the 10 a.m. coffee cart, see why they're interested in remote work. It could mean they never thought about the lack of face-to-face socialization and may discover that remote work isn't right for them.
6. What's the most challenging project you ever designed and executed? Working remotely requires employees to be highly self-motivated. Without a manager nearby, it's easy for people to get distracted or lose their drive. The answer will speak to the candidate's motivation and ability to get the job done when there's nothing else motivating them--except themselves.
7. Tell me about a risk you took and failed. What did you learn? Asking for an example will give some insight into how the candidate operates. Do they only have one way of doing things? Do they learn and grow from their mistakes? Are they willing to admit they made a mistake? These answers will help you determine whether or not they are truly flexible and can mesh well with the existing team.
8. How do you switch off from work? Ask how applicants plan to manage their days, take appropriate breaks and stop working when it's quitting time. Understanding how they switch out of work mode will help you better understand how they will do it when they're on the job.
BCBO Podcast 3/25/22
It has been a fantastic week! We start off the episode with friendly reminders about laying that foundation for success and dedicating the time to working on the company finances. The work you put in today will pay off down the road. Take the time today to lay out your schedule for next week. Identify the items that are truly important and make them a priority for next week. You'll head into the weekend already set up to be successful come Monday morning. After that we have cover a fun list of 43 things to try to fall asleep faster.
Here are some of the highlights:
Try square breathing:
- Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.
- Pause and hold for 4 seconds. Repeat as needed.
Blow bubbles. Dr. Rachel E. Salas, MD of the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins: “When the brain sees the bubble go off and disappear or pop … You visually see something kind of released out of you."
Read a bit. A 2009 study showed that people who read before bed had by 68 percent less stress and fell asleep faster.
Set the temperature between 65F and 68F.
Stretch. Dutch researchers did a 2012 study in the Journal of Physiotherapy that found that people who didn’t stretch before bed were more likely to be awakened by cramps.
Practice mindfulness. A Harvard study showed people who studied mindfulness slept better than people who studied how to sleep better in general.
Try not to check email. A 2018 Virginia Tech study found that just thinking about checking email increased stress and made it harder to sleep.
Go to the gym. A 2018 study in the journal Sleep found that activity levels were directly correlated to sleep quality.
Take a shower to reduce your body's core temperature.
Get off your phone (and other electronics). A 2012 study in Applied Ergonomics found that backlit displays reduce melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep.
Practice gratitude. A 2015 study in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice found that it leads to better sleep and less daytime fatigue.
Tell yourself it might be better to stay awake anyway. This one is per Colin Espie, a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford: "If you can be comfortable with the idea of remaining awake, then the performance anxiety and frustration that are associated with trying to sleep have nowhere to go and your arousal level drops.”
BCBO Podcast 3/23/22
Ever dream of starting your own business? You are not alone! According to a new study done by QuickBooks they project as many as 17 million new small businesses could be set up in 2022. The prediction comes from a recent survey of 8,000 U.S. employees, commissioned by QuickBooks in November 2021. The survey reveals that almost three out of five (57%) want to start a business and of these, one in five (20%) will make the leap in 2022 — equivalent to around 17 million people.
An overwhelming 83% of people who want to start a business say COVID accelerated their plans. This is either because they spotted a new opportunity online during the pandemic or because it made them rethink their priorities. Other reasons people gave for wanting to become business owners include:
“To be my own boss.”
“To have more control over my future.”
“To earn more money than I could by working for someone else.”
BCBO Podcast 3/21/22
As a self-employed freelancer or small business owner, knowing how to send an invoice correctly is crucial. Timely payments keep cash flowing, and money in hand now is worth more than it will be in the future. To make sure your clients pay you properly, it helps to understand common payment terms and how to use them. Payment terms outline how, when, and by what method your customers or clients provide payment to your business.
Payment terms are typically associated with invoice payments. They are an agreement that sets your expectations for payment, including when the client needs to pay you and the penalties for missing a payment. Having transparent payment terms can help ensure you get paid and makes it easier for your customers to understand your billing process.
Components of invoicing payment terms typically include:
- An invoice date
- The total invoice amount due
- The payment date and period of time that your client has to pay the total amount owed
- Stipulations for an advance or deposit
- Payment plan details
- A list of accepted payment methods
Payment terms are important because knowing how much money is going to hit your account, and when, is essential to accurate cash flow projections. Accurate cash flow projections help you plan for taxes, keep your business running smoothly, and manage its growth. A clear, professional invoice can help you ensure that clients pay in a timely fashion. Clearly communicating terms of payment helps ensure you and your customers are on the same page before work begins.
Payment terms are essential when negotiating a contract. Payment terms should maximize how quickly your clients pay you and minimize inconvenience for your customer. A good set of payment terms should benefit both parties.
As you start to invoice customers, remember that your payment terms should match your business goals. Selecting appropriate payment terms is an important step toward building and maintaining a healthy business. Always include your payment terms on your invoices, but discuss them with your clients first.
BCBO Podcast 3/18/22
Success has a funny way of making you comfortable. Sometimes, too comfortable. If the thing you're doing appears to be working, your natural inclination is to do more of if. The problem is, when you're comfortable, you have no motivation to look around and think about what might need to change. Who wants to be less comfortable? Especially if you've worked hard to get to that point. The thing is, what if the reason you were successful was temporary? What if there are small defects in your system waiting to become bigger down the road? Your comfort zone can be your own worst enemy. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Peloton has had a rough few months. After having record sales throughout the pandemic they are not in a position of having more inventory than anyone wants. Supply is way higher than demand. Barry McCarthy took over as CEO and held an all-hands meeting. McCarthy wasted no time trying to motivate the employees. In an email, he detailed 10 values that employees will find "reflected in my day-to-day interactions."
Here's the entire list:
1) Be stubborn on vision, flexible on details
2) Fast is as slow as we go
3) Intuition drives testing. Data drives decision making
4) Your comfort zone is your own worst enemy
5) Talent density is foundational
6) Stress context not control, freedom and responsibility
7) Understand in order to be understood
8) Get real
9) Think from first principles
10) Put first things first
It's not a bad list. Those are all good "values," though they're more like leadership principles. Nothing on that list is particularly new, but that doesn't mean they aren't useful. For that matter, they're all relatively good guiding principles.
BCBO Podcast 3/16/22
In a business setting, being rejected hurts. Sometimes it hurts so bad you just want to quit. But ask yourself, Would a successful entrepreneur quit after a simple rejection? Today we cover the interesting (and sometimes hysterical) story of someone who did not quit, but instead put himself through rejection therapy. The basic idea was that for 30 days, you seek rejection. In doing so, you gradually desensitize yourself from the pain, building courage and resolve along the way. Overcoming your fears can lead to getting more of what you want out of life, and learning some valuable lessons along the way.
The story is about Jia Jang and how he felt after being rejected by a potential investor. After starting the rejection therapy game he made over a hundred crazy requests, video recording all of them and posting to YouTube. Over and over, he heard the answer that had become so familiar to him:
Can I slide down the fire pole at this fire station? No.
Can I have a "burger refill"? ("It's just like a drink refill, but with a burger.") No.
Can I speak over the intercom here at Costco? No.
Can I attend your Super Bowl party (even though I don't know you)? No.
Can I have a free room at this hotel? No.
But as time went on, and Jiang's "rejection quest" continued, something interesting happened.
Although many rejected him right away, to Jiang's surprise, others actually gave him exactly what he wanted. And with every yes, Jiang gained courage.
A stranger said yes to letting him play soccer in his backyard.
A pilot said yes to letting him make an announcement on a flight.
Survivor host Jeff Probst said yes to singing Jiang's son a lullaby on nationally syndicated television.
A pilot said yes to brining Jiang up and letting him fly his private plane.
A teacher said yes to allowing Jiang to give a lecture to his college students.
Jiang learned some important truths along his rejection journey. For one, he discovered that if he didn't run, he could sometimes turn a "no" into a "yes," using a single, one-word question:
Often, when Jiang asked why (sometimes repeatedly, respectfully, and in different ways), the rejector would rethink the request. Or, they would offer some type of compromise. Or, they would offer something else in return.
For example, after a stranger rejected Jiang's request to plant a flower in their backyard, Jiang asked why.
"Well, I have this dog that would dig up anything I put in the backyard," said the man. "I don't want to waste your flower. If you want to do this, go across the street and talk to Connie. She loves flowers."
Connie was more than happy to honor Jiang's request.
The rule of rejection is simply. It's made up of three parts:
A. You won't get anything if you don't ask for it, so don't reject yourself.
B. If the answer is "no," ask, "why?" This may lead to you getting what you wanted, or getting something else that's close.
C. Remember that rejection doesn't define you. It's the way you react to rejection that defines you.
So, if you want to overcome your fear of rejection and get more of what you want, don't run. Remember the rule of rejection.
When you do, you'll start turning "No" into "Yes." More importantly, you'll change the way you view rejection, forever.
BCBO Podcast 3/14/22
There is a lot going on right now that can cause you to be frustrated and overwhelmed. The economy and rising prices is one of them. However, since we always try to see the brighter side of things today we are going showcase some of the ways things are way better today than they were 50 years ago even if most economists don't agree. This episode won't offer any solutions for rising gas prices or what is happening in Ukraine, but maybe it can give you a little bit of a different perspective on how much we have to be grateful for.
According to recent coverage on the news for “the first time in history average Americans have less education and are less prosperous than their parents.” Pew Research, meanwhile, reminds us that: “For most workers, real wages have barely budged in 50 years.” It seems to intuitively make sense that a major reason we feel so stressed and under pressure is that the economy is struggling. According to Grant Ryan, the writer of Comparonomics, there are both technical and philosophical reasons that is not technically true.
Rather than pick through the boring technical reasons these analyses are wrong, Grant created a simple tool to help you figure out for yourself how you’re getting on. It’s designed to help you ask yourself what parts of the economy are important to you, and then think about whether they’ve gotten better or worse. Here are some of the segments and areas he describes:
Housing: Many homes built in the 1970s would be illegal to build now, as they were of such low quality by modern standards (insulation, fire, noise, lighting, etc). Homes now are typically 70% bigger, and full of modern appliances and gadgets that make life easier—like dishwashers, TVs, speakers, etc.
Entertainment/recreation: You used to have to save up for an album; the only movie option meant going to a theatre. Now, for a few dollars a week you can have pretty much unlimited entertainment.
Health/medicine: We now live about 10 years longer due to a large range of improvements. For example, dangerous open heart surgery, in many cases, has been replaced with an outpatient procedure to put in a stent.
Education/information: In the 70s, buying a set of encyclopedias was a real investment. Many folks relied on the library. Now we have something 10,000 times better, for pretty much free. It’s easy to learn so much via online videos and information.
Travel: Forty or 50 years ago, you were much more likely to die in a transport accident. Flying was an occasional luxury; now it’s a normal thing for many people. Cars are much more reliable, efficient, and comfortable.
Communications: No more dollar-a-minute calls to relatives. It’s so cheap it’s essentially free to talk to anyone in the world.
Food/beverage: So many food options that we take for granted now were not widely available then, let alone delivered to your door. The best cook you knew was probably your mum, as eating out was a lot less common.
BCBO Podcast 3/11/22
Ever finish lunch and wish you could go take a nap instead of going back to work? You are not alone! Thanks to our circadian rhythms most people are at their sleepiest not just from two to four in the morning but also from two to four in the afternoon. The most effective solutions like taking a nap or getting in some exercise are not always viable options. Today we cover some alternatives to help break through and regain some of that energy and focus.
As this is a problem that's hardwired into us, people have long ago come up with solutions like taking a short nap in the afternoon. Science shows even just 20-30 minutes of shuteye will have a dramatic effect on your mood and productivity. But despite a mountain of research into the benefits of napping, the rhythm of modern work often makes this sensible solution unworkable.
The next best option for a lot of folks is to pound down some coffee (or, alternatively, if you're a bit of a health nut, to try to sneak in some energy-boosting exercise during your lunch break). The healthy option suffers from the same practical challenges as the nap idea, however, and caffeine in the afternoon can mess with your nighttime sleep. Are there no other alternatives?
Take two deep breaths. Deep breathing is good for you all the time (and can also help you get to sleep at night), but according to the Cleveland Clinic, consciously engaging your diaphragm and slowing your breathing can also resettle and revive you when you're feeling listless after lunch.
Read a chapter of fiction. Again, reading fiction has been shown to have benefits whenever you do it, but there are specific reasons you might want to enjoy a chapter of that new page turner before getting back to your desk after lunch. "Disconnecting, focusing on something else, and then re-engaging can pry you out of that state of being stuck or demoralized in dealing with what you're dealing with," Stanford psychiatrist Dave Spiegel tells Self.
Take an organization break. Your space has an outsize impact on your mood. You can use that to your advantage. "Tidying or organizing the physical space around you might feel like a little thing, but it's a way to physically and proactively attend to yourself and care for your space," University of Minnesota psychiatrist Kaz Nelson explains. "Pausing and attending to your immediate space is really saying, 'My time and workspace are worth my attention.'"
BCBO Podcast 3/9/22
Sometimes we cover topics that can save your a couple minutes here and there, maybe even seconds. They are important because they all add up and create a nice space in your week to tackle the important items that sometimes get pushed to the back burner. Today we are going to discuss something that immediately adds significant time back into your week. How much time do you spend writing/printing checks, stuffing them in envelopes and then mailing them out? If you use QuickBooks Online and the answer is higher than zero then you need to listen to this episode.
Small businesses rely on QuickBooks to record bills, keep their books up to date, and manage the accounting for their business, so enabling fast and easy bill payments is the natural next step for any accounting software package. QuickBooks offers Bill Pay powered by Melio, a free, integrated payment solution that allows QuickBooks users to easily pay business bills in the office or on the go.
Time is a valuable commodity. Reducing the hours allocated to tedious bookkeeping tasks such as logging payments and sending invoices is pivotal if owners want to focus on the success of their business. Bill Pay powered by Melio can automatically capture bills and invoices to digitize the paper trail and save time. It delivers easy tracking of money sent, so business performance can be monitored from the office or via smartphone when on the go.
BCBO Podcast 3/7/22
If your schedule was a glass of water would it be half-full, filled to the brim, or is it completely overflowing all over the counter? That's unfortunately where most people are these days, and a filled to the brim schedule can be just as messy. Hidden in the metaphor is a new way to look at the half-full versus half-empty question. We also discuss the implementation of simple solutions when it comes to data management and work flow. Bells and whistles are great sometimes, but nothing beats beats simple and effective.
Some people look at an eight-ounce cup with four ounces of water as being half full. We call them optimists. They see four ounces of water as more than nothing and that's a good thing. On the other hand, some people see it as half empty. We usually call them pessimists. We call them that because we assume that a full cup is an ideal situation, and anyone who sees the cup as less than that must have a negative mindset. What if, instead, we think of a different way to measure? What if we think differently about a half-empty cup.
Here's why it matters: A lot of us are walking around trying to fit 10 ounces of life into our eight-ounce cups--metaphorically speaking--and we're mostly just making a mess. We end up spilling on those around us because we can't possibly fit everything in our cup. At some point, it isn't complicated, it's just physics.
Practically speaking, if your cup is completely full, you have zero margin and that's a bad thing. Margin is the difference between your capability and your responsibility. Or, said another way, it's the difference between the time and abilities, and the way you choose to spend them. If you have no margin, it means you have nothing left for anything else. That's what is so meaningful about the "cup-half-empty" rule. Having room in your cup means you have margin. Margin is breathing room. It gives you space to think and focus. It gives you the ability to be intentional about what you are doing. It even gives you a chance to do more--to do something new.
The goal, then, is pretty simple. If you want to eliminate stress and be more productive at the things that are really important, you need to create margin in your life. You need to have some room so that you can yes when something comes along that would add value to your life. That means you need to get rid of some of what's already in your cup. That sounds easy, but the reality is, everything that's already in the cup got there for a reason. It's not as simple as saying no to the thing, you're also saying no to the reason it was there in the first place. Even if it's not easy, however, it's still important.
BCBO Podcast 3/4/22
Whether you realize it or not, people buy your product or service based on feelings. It is the most important factor actually. There are plenty of companies out there that offer the same product or process we offer here, but our people is what makes the difference. The team here, specifically Gina and Lisa, make our clients FEEL valued and taken care of. Instead of focusing on how you can up-sell a client, focus on up-servicing them instead. The return on investment for how you make someone feel about your company is almost impossible to calculate.
BCBO Podcast 3/2/22
Very few things, if anything, are more stressful as a business owner than not having the money in the bank to cover payroll, pay bills, etc. More than 60% of small business owners say they’ve experienced cash flow challenges, according to recent research by QuickBooks. Today's episode is all about the habits and procedures you can put in place to help alleviate some of those cash flow challenges. At the top we talk about the importance of submitting deposit and progress invoices, and then discuss a new feature that QuickBooks has announced to help small businesses feeling the cash flow crunch.
In a perfect world, you would get paid upfront for every invoice and avoid stressful cash flow shortages. In the real world, you can request Get Paid Upfront—a new invoice financing tool available through QuickBooks®. Get Paid Upfront is an invoice financing tool that allows you to request earlier access to invoiced funds by receiving an advance on your unpaid invoices. Eligible QuickBooks Payments customers can request Get Paid Upfront for qualifying invoices. If approved, Get Paid Upfront provides you with early access to invoiced funds.
When your client pays their invoice with QuickBooks Payments, the money is applied to the outstanding balance of the financed invoice—no forms, no extra work, and no hassle. The invoice advance is interest-free for the first 30 days. If the invoice is paid within 30 days through QuickBooks Payments using ACH or credit card payment, you won’t be charged any payment processing fees. If the invoice advance isn’t repaid within 30 days, the outstanding balance will begin to accrue interest on day 31. You can repay the total financed invoice in 12 monthly installments at a fixed interest rate as outlined in your borrower agreement. You can prepay your loan in full or in part without being charged any prepayment penalties. No late fees are charged for Get Paid Upfront.
Once you’ve accepted an approved Get Paid Upfront offer, you’ll receive a deposit of 97% of the invoice amount into the business bank account provided in your application. The money should appear in your account within a few business days. You can access a total credit limit up to $30k in funds on one or more qualifying invoices. The maximum invoice amount for each qualifying invoice is $10k.
Get Paid Upfront is a fast solution for your immediate cash flow problems. Just pay a 3% loan fee per invoice financed, plus any interest that accrues after the first 30 days. As always, Get Paid Upfront is completely confidential to your customers, so you can keep running your business knowing QuickBooks is helping behind the scenes.
BCBO Podcast 2/28/22
Happy Monday! Today's episode is all about avoiding or at least identifying and addressing burnout. If you work too long, too hard, or if you genuinely don't like the work you do, you'll eventually be at risk of burning out. You can think of burnout as a kind of rock bottom for your disposition toward your job, and possibly your entire career. We also discuss how matching your skillset to your core values and your "why" can lead to a much happier set of circumstances.
People who are burned out find it extremely difficult to even show up to work-- let alone do their best at the job. Once you reach this point, you might start disappointing your team or suffer catastrophic losses in your business-- or you might be so fed up that you abandon your company entirely.
These are some of the most common warning signs of burnout:
Physical and mental exhaustion. One of the hallmark symptoms of burnout is physical and mental exhaustion. Even after a whole night of sleep, you feel tired in the morning. Your muscles may be sore or feel fatigued. You may find it harder to concentrate in meetings or pay attention to people when they're speaking to you, just because you don't have the energy.
Workplace dread. Most of us have some kind of love-hate relationship with our jobs. If you find yourself completely dreading the workplace and resenting the fact that you have to go into the office every morning, you might be on the path to burnout. You shouldn't dread your workplace, or your employees, or the work you do.
Hair loss. If you're so stressed that you're starting to lose your hair, there's no reason to continue in your current line of work with your current set of responsibilities.
Irritability. People at the highest risk of burnout tend to be extremely irritable. Their moods can change at the drop of a hat and they might blow up at somebody or even the smallest infraction.
Performance decline. With all the other effects, it shouldn't be a surprise to learn that burnout is also associated with a decline in your performance. You're not as productive or as competitive as you used to be.
Chronic anxiety. Do you feel excessive anxiety, even when you've left the workplace for the day? If so, you should be even more concerned about the potential for burnout.
So what should you do if you notice any of these warning signs? Here are some suggestions:
Don't be afraid to set stricter boundaries. If you don't want to be expected to respond to emails Saturday morning, say so. If your workload is excessive and it's causing you too much stress, delegate some of your tasks.
Take time away from your job. Doing so can help you relax and destress and come back to your position feeling refreshed. Depending on the severity of your burnout symptoms, that might mean taking a long weekend or taking a full vacation.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you take care of yourself. Don't take time off from work only to overwhelm yourself with personal responsibilities. Relax, spend time with family, and do things that you genuinely enjoy doing. You'll be better off for it.
BCBO Podcast 2/25/22
The costs associated with recruiting and training a new employee can be significant, especially for roles that require more experience. This even more true now because of the difficulty many employers are experiencing when trying to fill open positions. That's why retaining your employees is so important right now. Today we discuss some warning signs that an employee is about to leave—and what you can do about it. Big thank you to Gina for sharing today's topic!
The warning signs:
Decline in work quality and/or quantity. Your employee's track record has always been to show up early, stay late, and crank out stellar work. While there may have been small dips in their performance here and there, this is different. Now you're seeing that while their work isn't exactly subpar, it's not up to their usual standards. You're concerned because you've noticed their work effort has declined recently.
Lack of interest in high-profile work. Many top performers like to be part of high-profile projects and teams. If an employee shows a lack of interest, after wanting to get involved in projects in the past, it could be a sign that they don't see themselves working for you long-term.
Dip in engagement. At staff meetings, they may have less input than before, or perhaps their contributions have been more superficial lately. They may also seem less interested in going out to lunch with colleagues or attending company functions than in the past.
More friction. An employee who typically gets along with colleagues is suddenly becoming difficult to work with. The employee may be complaining a lot more than usual, perhaps about minor things that have always been a part of their job.
Be proactive. While a certain amount of turnover is inevitable, there are steps you can take to help improve retention before these warning signs appear. Administering employee surveys and conducting exit interviews with departing employees can help you assess employee satisfaction and engagement over your entire workforce. This will allow you to course-correct if needed. A growing number of employers are also conducting "stay interviews," During such interviews, you ask current employees questions that address both why they're loyal to the company (an indication of what you should keep doing) and why they may consider leaving (an indication of what changes may need to be made).
Don't make assumptions. If you notice any changes to an employee's work performance or attitude, don't assume you know the cause. While the above warning signs could reflect that the employee plans to leave, it could also mean there's something else going on.
Meet with the employee. Schedule a meeting with the employee in private. Start the meeting by expressing your appreciation for their contributions and be straightforward. Let them know that you've noticed changes in their performance and/or attitude and give examples. Ask if there's anything you can do to help and then give them an opportunity to speak.
Listen to the employee. If the employee reveals that they are in fact considering a job elsewhere or are otherwise planning to quit, ask them if there's anything you could do to keep them onboard.
Consider your options. Assess your options for addressing what the employee needs in order to stay with your company. Think about the whole picture, including the employee's value and potential cost to your company.
Follow up. Schedule a follow-up meeting with the employee and talk about options to help improve engagement.
BCBO Podcast 2/23/22
At the top of today's episode, Dan shares an app that can help anyone struggling with integrating journaling into their routine like he was. The practice of writing out your thoughts, gratitude, goals, etc. each day is something done by some of the most successful people in the world. It does not come easily for some people though. Next we take a quiz on critical thinking, which is about asking the right questions, challenging assumptions, seeing more angles and being aware of thinking biases. Some really clever questions in this one!
1. A mother reads a scientific study that 17-year-old boys in the U.S. have fewer automobile accidents per 1,000 trips than 16-year-old boys. This prompts her to wait a year before letting her just 16-year-old son drive, to make him safer. Is her reasoning correct?
We don't know if the driving improvement is due to 17-year-olds being more mature or due to them having on extra year of driving experience under their belts. If the latter, waiting a year won't help. Probably both effects operate, so waiting may be wise. Lesson: Always consider multiple hypotheses when explaining a fact.
2. You play a game of tennis against a slightly better opponent and decide to put some money on the match. You are both equally fit in terms of stamina and physical endurance. Are your chances of winning the match the same whether you play just one set or the best out of three?
The longer you play, the more the final result will conform to the law of averages. Since this favors the better tennis player, your chances decline if you play three sets. If you were to play Roger Federer, say, your best chance to beat him is to play just one point and hope he misses. Lesson: Lay your bets according to the underlying statistics; consider base rates. The race may not always go to strongest or fastest, but that is nonetheless the way to bet.
3. Several studies about the benefit of bicycle helmets have shown that fewer severe head injuries occur - for most kind of falls or spills - if you are wearing a helmet. Does it follow therefore that making helmet use mandatory will further reduce head injuries in cycling?
Over the decades, helmet use has increased in the U.S. but head injuries did not decline as much as expect. Possible explanations include: improved bikes make riders go faster; wearing a helmet creates a false sense of security and more risk-taking on the road riders wear their helmets incorrectly; the type of people riding bikes may have shifted; traffic and road conditions may have changed. Experts especially blame the false sense of security that helmets give to bikers and car drivers. Lesson: Look for unintended consequences that may undermine your initial goal.
4. During the early part of World War II, many English bombers were being shot down by the Germans. To reduce their high casualty rate, the Royal Air Force decided to reinforce its bombers with armor. But where? Their statistical analysis of the bullet holes in planes that returned revealed a very uneven pattern of locations where planes had been hit. Should the RAF reinforce its bombers where bullet holes were most numerous, evenly throughout the plane, or elsewhere?
The initial thinking was to reinforce the areas with the most bullet holes. But when statistician Abraham Wald examined the surviving bombers for damage patterns, he came to a different conclusion. He reasoned that the surviving planes had not been damaged fatally by the random bullets and thus suggested reinforcing in places showing the fewest bullet holes. These were the most vulnerable, he argued, since few bombers apparently survived those bullet shots. The RAF followed his counter-intuitive advice and improved the survival rate of its bombers and crews. Lesson 7: Ask what data you aren't seeing and why; there could be a selection bias, in this case known as a survivorship bias.
BCBO Podcast 2/21/22
Everyone doubts their abilities now and again. That's normal. However, if you start to change the way you behave or lead your company as a result of such thoughts then it is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. What you are describing is imposter syndrome, and it can have severely negative effects on your personal life and business. You need to believe in yourself and your capabilities in order to achieve your goals. It's not your luck, it's your talent.
Dictionary.com defines imposter syndrome as "anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one's competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one's accomplishments to luck or other external forces." This issue affects business owners at all stages of growth and can be debilitating. It affects all people, not just business owners. Here are some examples of behaviors that are in indication you may be suffering from imposter syndrome.
You Do Too Much
As a business owner, your time is valuable and as such, you should be learning how to delegate lower-level tasks to give you more time to focus on higher-level tasks that will bring value to your business. But if you suffer from imposter syndrome, you may struggle with handing off tasks because you don't feel like your time is valuable. You struggle to see the value in your work and don't see a reason to delegate those smaller tasks to someone else on your team. These feelings can slow the growth of your business, and make it more difficult to lead your team.
You Don't Celebrate Your Victories
Another tell sign that you may be suffering from imposter syndrome is how you celebrate your success and victories. A leader understands the importance of celebrating their success along the way and will encourage others in the team to do the same. If you have doubt about your own abilities as a leader in your position and feel like any success that you experience is simply luck or due to external forces, then celebrating those victories seems ill-placed.
You Need Validation
A good leader will try to create a foundation for their business that doesn't need their constant input. They will train their team to keep the business up and running without their day-to-day attention. If you struggle with imposter syndrome, you may shy away from this idea because the more that your business needs you, the more validation you receive on a day-to-day basis. This constant need helps validate your place in the company and helps you (albeit momentarily) dismiss the thoughts that you are an imposter in your position.
BCBO Podcast 2/18/22
Ever hear the saying "Nice guys finish last?" Apparently it is not entirely true. At least according to Andrew Whitworth of the Los Angeles Rams who credits their organizational cultural as a big reason why the team won. What Andrew describes is the rule of positive psychology, and it doesn't only work for NFL teams, it can work for yours too! Today we share some rules on how to cultivate it in your company.
During the Super Bowl LVI postgame interviews most players gave the usual typical responses like "I knew this was a special team," but Andrew Whitworth had a different take. He had this to say:
"I think this is a unique environment," Whitworth said in a postgame interview, speaking about the culture Rams coach Sean Mcvay and his staff have built. "We're relaxed. We have fun. It's energetic. We don't have coaches out there screaming at people. That's not allowed on our field. It's about having energy and positivity and belief that no matter what happens on one snap, the next snap's the next best one you can have. I think guys come in, they believe in it and they appreciate that opportunity to be in an environment where they're encouraged to just be themselves and go out and do what they do."
The rule of positive psychology is simple. It basically states:
When you build an environment focused on nurture, positive reinforcement, and highlighting strengths and potential, you help people to be the best version of themselves.
But how do you follow the rule of positive psychology in your organization?
It's easier said than done, but you can start by implementing a few more rules at your workplace. For example:
The help first rule: If you're in a difficult situation, and you notice someone else is too, try helping first.
The rule of recognition: Your default setting is to focus on what a person does right, and make a point to commend the person for those positive actions, sincerely and specifically.
The rule of turning critical into constructive: Transform your critical feedback by adding one word. Ask: "Can I share some constructive feedback with you?"
The rule of reappraisal: When you feel overwhelmed, don't focus on what you have ahead of you. Instead, look back on what you already accomplished, and use that to motivate you.
BCBO Podcast 2/17/22
Every have that feeling where a calm comes over you and you know exactly what you need to do and why you need to do it? That's clarity. Clarity is extremely important in both our personal lives and in our leadership roles. There is nothing quite like clarity to make a leader effective. Real clarity is born from a clear sense of purpose and acceptance of what is, not from wishful thinking or ego protection. It is honest, easy to understand, and calming; never arrogant, confusing, or mean-spirited. You won't be surprised to hear that starting with "why" is a great way to gain clarity.
Clarity in leadership builds self-confidence, wins trust, and strengthens teams. People know what's up and why. Direction and expectations are explicit and understood. Over time, clarity builds a momentum that uplifts and connects all involved. On the other hand, lack of clarity causes good leaders great suffering; spinning in circles, avoiding decisions, and never realizing the pleasure of full commitment. Though counterproductive and illusory, there are big payoffs that can sustain lack of clarity: 1) keeping options open, and 2) avoiding possible conflict.
Here are 7 techniques to help you gain greater clarity:
1. Find your courage. Think of times you had great clarity in the past. Think of what got you there. Think of who supported you. Surround yourself with those resources often.
2. Recognize what clarity feels like. It usually brings a sense of calm and peace - even when the clarity of a situation reveals something unpleasant.
3. Focus on why, not how. Getting into details can obscure clarity. For your topic, keep asking yourself "why" it matters and what good will be achieved, rather than allowing the myriad of "how" possibilities to confuse you. First things first.
4. Acknowledge what is clear. Assess if there are inconvenient or painful truths you or your people are clear about, that you wish were different so you pretend lack of clarity. Accept the truth and determine how to productively deal with the situation.
5. Say no for a bigger yes. Remember the sense of purpose that helped you get clear. Sustain that clarity by identifying small things to say no to, in order to say yes to something greater and aligned with that purpose.
6. Gain some altitude. Take a step back and look at the situation from a big picture. Notice what is working and what is not. Notice areas where you may be working against clarity.
7. Follow clarity with commitment. Clarity takes practice and accountability. Keep working on it. Keep asking yourself the important questions.
BCBO Podcast 2/15/22
Ever feel exhausted just thinking about all the things you have to do? It might be because you are thinking of too many things that need to be accomplished at once! Tony Robbins (ever hear of him?) eloquently said in a recent post "Where focus goes, energy flow." We are almost programmed at this point to try and accomplish multiple tasks at once. Instead, we should start by prioritizing, and then focusing on a single task in the moment. This method will not only lead to increased effectiveness, but an increase in energy because we are draining ourselves on multiple fronts. Also, we cover why it is ok to drop a curse word into your vocabulary every now and then.
In the world of constant juggling that is commonplace for a leader -- especially an entrepreneur with limited resources -- physical energy is expended on an unending list of tasks. The problem is, focus is seldom very clear. With the mind buzzing around all of these must-dos, work on any of them lacks complete energy. Why? Because the mind is divided. Hence, energy is divided. Here are a few steps that will help:
1: Do you find that you lack sufficient energy (physical and mental) to complete core tasks? That might well be because you're not focusing on a single task in the moment. You're thinking about what's next on your to-do list.
2: If you've identified a lack of energy, then take a look at how you frame your tasks. Is it just a sprawling list with no prioritization? That's ready-made for lack of focus -- your mind has a hard time picking out the task you should be focused on in any given moment. You need to clean things up.
3: When you start the day and come to your first task, focus solely on the work in front of you -- ideally by tying that work to something physical. If you're brainstorming, physically write your ideas down. If you're strategizing, map the strategy on a whiteboard.
BCBO Podcast 2/11/22
Every single one of us can get caught up in dealing with the day to day requests and problems that pop up. Sometimes it seems like that is all we do. As the leaders in our company, it is important to keep an eye out for 7 problems that may seem small at first, but can have big impacts on the overall health of the company and long term success. Some might seem pretty obvious, but others are sign of potentially much larger problems. We also cover 4 ways to make sure you are cultivating a culture in your company that is focused on quality improvement.
1. Your business image is slipping in the eyes of customers.
Customer feedback, online reviews and poor customer service is often rationalized as unreasonable expectations or one or two hard-to-please individuals. In fact, you need to carve out time every day for improving customer relationships. More happy customers are a major key to success.
2. You see more personal people conflicts in your team.
Healthy debates and differences of opinion are good and lead to needed change. But any time you see personal verbal attacks or lack of engagement, you need to drop all else and get to the bottom of the issue. Healthy team culture is another key driver for growth and winning.
3. Major vendor or partner relationships are suffering.
Businesses succeed or fail based on good people relationships, more than great processes. Your job as a business leader is to get the right people in place early and provide ongoing communication and oversight, rather than trying to run all the relationships yourself of a growing business.
4. You can't find the time for coaching and mentoring.
Even the busiest leaders find time for management by walking around, and actually listening to their people.
5. Meetings with your team seem to be non-productive.
If your team is not fully engaged, you need to take the lead in inciting participation, through positive motivation, better listening, or proactively asking for feedback. Positive team collaboration is a culture that you must foster to increase productivity and the ability to change with the market.
6. Top employees are leaving for better opportunities.
Employees sometimes leave if they are not satisfied with you, rather than a salary level or role definition. Your challenge is to proactively build a caring and positive relationship with key individuals, and show them that you are providing the career development they crave.
7. You see evidence of ethical compromises in the team.
Every business owner and entrepreneur has to be the role model for trust, a good moral compass, and ethics. You need to make sure you are sending the right signals, and you must communicate and act decisively to eliminate transgressions in this regard. Nothing can be a higher priority.
To help cultivate that winning culture that is focused on quality improvement, try these 4 steps:
1. Value developing solutions more than determining blame. People have an incredibly good sense of whether they are more likely to win in an organization by coming up with a great solution, or if they are more likely to lose by making a mistake.
2. Support others in finding their own solutions--but don't find solutions for them.
3. Stay curious about why mistakes happen and why other people decide differently than we do.
4. Don't celebrate heroes who save seemingly hopeless situations more loudly than those who achieve their goals without difficulties and escalations.
BCBO Podcast 2/8/22
Technical Tuesday is back! Today we do a refresher on reviewing transactions in the banking feed on QuickBooks Online and discuss a new feature that has been added to the feed to make your life easier! The banking feed is the core of QuickBooks Online. The health of your books and accuracy of your reports all stem from the actions taken here. We discuss the difference between proactive and reactive bookkeeping and how the new feature of categorization history can save you time and frustration.
Proactive bookkeeping is exactly what is sounds like. You enter the transaction in the system before it has cleared the bank and the transaction makes it way into your banking feed. When this happens, the system finds and suggest a match (or matches if multiple transactions for the same amount) making it very easy to navigate and clear the banking feed. Reactive bookkeeping is not entering into the system after you actually complete the transaction and waiting for it to come into the banking feed after it clears the bank. A great example of this would be using your credit card at the gas station and then not entering it as a credit card expense proactively.
The system is smart and based on past transactions will suggest a category for the transaction and if the bank detail of the vendor matches any vendor already in your system it will pre-populate that field. If you are unsure of what category the transaction should be applied to there is now a button labeled Categorization History. It brings up a box that shows all transactions associated with this vendor for the last 12 months and where those transactions have been categorized. From there you can assign the category or even create a rule to use moving forward. This small new addition to the system will save you a significant amount of time in the long run. Every few seconds you save today adds up!
BCBO Podcast 2/7/22
Great news! According to new data from the US Census Bureau, more than 5.4 million new businesses were formed in the United States last year. In 2020, the number was 4.4 million; the year before that, 3.5 million. It might also be a part of what explains the so called Great Resignation movement that is happening. Based a on a study performed in 2019 at least 20% of employees dreamed of opening their own business. However, with that dream came fears and today we dive into those.
The same study that suggested that 20% of employees wanted to open their own company also asked what was holding them back. The study suggested the five main fears that hold people back are:
- Fear of inconsistent income (35% said this holds them back);
- Fear of not having enough cash, or of incurring debt (28%);
- Fear of not having a fully formed business plan (27%);
- Fear of making less money than they did as an employee (27%); and
- Fear of not having health benefits (20%)
All of those fears are 100% legitimate. If you don't have a fully formed plan, or if you can't really afford to risk going without a paycheck (or making less money) for a bit, then going out on your own is riskier. Also understand that that in the first several months or potentially years you may have to take a pay cut, etc. This is where the all important "why" comes into play. If the why behind your reason for opening the company is strong enough, and you can realistically afford it then it makes the short term impact of a lower salary, etc. more manageable.
BCBO Podcast 2/4/22
Friendly reminder that we all fail from time to time. Every single one of us. Failing at something does not make you a failure. The important part of failing is to learn something from it, and realize the change it can make to you as a person. Today, Dan shares some details of a conversation that he had earlier this week, and a recent example of failing in his life. Because of these recent "failures" Dan and the team here at BCBO are better equipped for the future. It was a learning experience and it we are better for having gone through it. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Failing, learning, and growing and is a definition of success.
Secondly, sometime the word quit has an unfair negative reputation. Quitting before you even try or simply because something is "hard" is a negative thing. However, sometimes quitting is exactly what you should be doing. How can that be? We grow up hearing that quitters never win, and that quitting small things makes it easier to quit bigger things later in life. Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. But quitting in a vacuum is a morally neutral act; it's the thing one quits, among other factors, that lends its relevance.
Quitting a job that is a bad fit, ending a relationship that is toxic and/or abusive, or quitting on a business idea after all the signs and information prove that it is no longer a profitable or healthy pursuit is not a bad thing. Those are good things to quit. Don't throw good money after bad. Don't stay in a relationship or job that demeans or lessens you as a person. Quitting isn't necessarily signs of failure. Instead, they can mean new beginnings.
BCBO Podcast 2/2/22
One of the most important words in the English language is once again the topic of today's episode - Why. It is honestly one of the hardest questions for most people to answer. Why do you want that job? Why are you so interested in that reward? Why are you spending so much time each day working on specific tasks? We also cover the importance of taking a pause between stimulus and response, and discuss a better way to get honest answers from your employees.
Why is such an important and word and question. We can answer "why" to most things superficially, but that's not enough. The trick that emotionally intelligent people learn is to ask again and again, deeper and deeper. It is not always a comfortable experience. I want the job because I want to make money. (OK, but why?) Well, I need money because I have to maintain this lifestyle. (OK, but why?) If I don't maintain this lifestyle, I'll feel like a failure. (OK, but why?) The question is hard to answer because ultimately, there's often a hidden fact or emotion influencing the deepest answers. If you can't articulate a compelling, defensible "why," that's a big red flag. There's either something wrong with your ultimate goal, or there's something wrong with the specific activity you're doing to try to reach it.
We say honesty is the best policy; I think that's right. But, it's not just about just honesty toward other people; it's about being honest with yourself. Here's an exam