YOUR STRENGTHS > YOUR FEARS

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WHO WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT YOUR FEARS?

Your Strengths > Your Fears

Me: What is your greatest strength?

Client: My honesty.

Later in the conversation…

Client: I often don’t confront issues because I don’t want to hurt others’ feelings and I don’t like the drama.

Me: So, are you being honest then? How do the people in your life get to benefit from your Strength of Honesty if you are unwilling to offer it?

It is these kinds of conversations I frequently have with my clients. And they are why I do what I do.

If my “honest” client shields the people in her life from her genuine thoughts, are they able to experience the BEST of her, or is she shortchanging them? What would her relationships be like if she showed up as her authentic self? How much richer would her life, and the lives of those she loves, be if she were confident in her Strengths?

How often do you hold back your strengths out of perceived deference? How many times have you said to yourself something like this:

  • They don’t really want to hear what I have to say
  • She doesn’t want to know what I think
  • He won’t like my answer
  • If I take charge they won’t like me
  • If I do it “my way” she’ll reject me
  • Every time I’m “myself” I lose friends

You know what we are VERY good at doing? Becoming what we THINK “they” want us to be. When we come to terms with who we genuinely are, we find that no one knows us…not even ourselves. We think we are an honest person, but then we see the truth that we tell lies all the time. Oh no, not the bold-faced ones; but we tell “white” lies or “fib” consistently in an attempt to be accepted. And what are other people accepting? Not who we really are! No, they accept the illusion we have crafted.

What fear is causing you to deny your authentic self? The fear of rejection? The fear of failure? The fear of discomfort?

What conversations would you have? What experiences would you pursue? What would you create? Who would you ask out? What business would you start?

 WHO WOULD YOU BE?

 

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TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS = TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE

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The most important asset of your business is the PEOPLE.

I know it’s cliché, but the reality is that most of the business world still doesn’t get it!

Here’s what’s interesting about this subject: 90% of small business owners, executives, and managers would say that they agree with the above statements. However, if we look closely at our organizations, little, if ANY, time or money is invested directly into our PEOPLE. Yes, we probably have some picnics or some holiday parties, maybe even beer Friday’s or taco Tuesday’s, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Those things can be TEAM-building but they are not PEOPLE-building.

So what IS people-building? I’m so glad you asked! People-building is a process by which an organization takes an active, constant, and authentic stake in developing each individual toward their own success. This is personal development, not group development.

Here’s the thing; great teams are made up of great players. Coaches only orchestrate and develop the talents of individuals who are already GREAT! As business owners and managers, we need to understand that if we don’t invest in the INDIVIDUALS to make them strong, happy, fulfilled, and engaged, the PLAYERS on our team are underequipped.

Let’s look at an orchestra. Let’s say an orchestra conductor takes a group of musicians with strong natural talent and tries to conduct them BEFORE they fully develop the individual skills associated with their talent. Not only would that conductor produce poor musical results, but they would be in for quite a bit of drama as they attempt to bring together two very different processes: one being the process of building a great musician; the other being the process of orchestrating those musicians into glorious symphony.

So here’s the bottom line: Every individual has a unique offering to the world around them; a “talent”, if you will. Organizations who recognize this fact, and help the individuals on their team learn about themselves and develop in their unique strengths, WILL build great teams. They’re effectively developing the raw “talent” of each individual, finding the best fit for that individual on the team, and continuing to nurture that relationship over time.

Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? No worries. Start by reading this short article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2013/08/27/four-essentials-of-strength-based-leadership/

And remember, Vision Consulting Group is people-centric. We are always ready to help you learn about, develop, and engage your team! http://www.yourfutureaccelerated.com 

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WHY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE UNSUCCESSFUL ONES.

 

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 Business survival / mortality rate; what does it mean for currently successful business owners?

For the first time in more than 35 years, business creation TRAILS business closings. (USA Today) This means that we are witnessing a trend that, if not reversed, will kill entrepreneurship and small business.

Of course, I realize that I’m speaking to many established business owners whose businesses are not closing, and who may, in fact, be doing very well. But here’s the part that should concern all of us: The primary reason that small businesses are struggling is down to one mean and nasty word: regulation.

Now, let me be VERY clear about the fact that this blog will NEVER be a political platform. So the side of the aisle each of us falls on matters not. What matters is that, for the first time in 35 years, fewer businesses are being created than are closing. As business owners, THIS is what must occupy the forefront of our thinking!

With that in mind, I think we are all smart enough to understand that changing the regulatory structure is not a fast process. At the moment, there’s not much stated political pressure on changing it at all. What this means is that as small business owners it’s unlikely that there’s any regulatory “cavalry” coming to rescue us. No, if we are to beat this trend of business failure, we’ll have to do it with our own cunning. But, hey, that’s nothing particularly new for us. We’ve beat the odds before, we can keep doing it.

What is critical for us, though, is understanding that we MUST focus on innovating our business in ways that we may not have needed to innovate in the past several decades. Why do I say this? Well, let’s look at the past two decades:

The decade (2005-2015) is earmarked by the worst recession since the Great Depression. During this period, most small businesses had no time nor money to “innovate”. The key was to have more staying power than our competitors, which came down to savvy financial management. (Basically it was a “Rocky Balboa” strategy: Just go the distance.) Some made it; many did not.

The decade before that (1995-2005) saw UNBELIEVABLE growth in most sectors, with small businesses in much of the country reaping the benefits of loose lending and an extremely hot real estate market. The key during this time was to “grab all you could” and try NOT to scale for the blitz in such a way as to be unable to easily scale BACK. Obviously, the businesses who did not cling to this strategy during this time-frame had a much more difficult time surviving the next decade.

The point is, that for the past 20+ years, we, as small business owners, have not NEEDED to find innovative, cunning ways to survive in the same way we will be required to do so going forward.

During the last 20+ years regulations have been a good bit lighter than they are today. That we cannot change (at least today). What we can change is how engaged our team is and how we use data to drive decision making. These are fine points of business management which have been applied in large organizations for many years. They have not been “required” in small business but “…the times--they are a changin’”. The time is coming when every business will need to understand their market, their employees, and their products / services in a way they’ve not had to before…because our survival will depend on it!

I always try to end a blog on a positive note, so here’s today’s inspiration: In every crisis there are three parties--those who warn, those who heed the warning, and those who don’t heed the warning. Storms aren’t nearly as scary when you know they’re coming and you’re prepared to weather them. Heed the warning and begin TODAY to look at your business very closely. Don’t assume ANYTHING. Don’t assume you can’t fail, don’t assume that the current blast of business you are enjoying will be here for years (or even months). No, look at the equation very pragmatically. Of course there are dozens of questions you could ask yourself but start with some like these:

1.) Could my business weather another 10% increase in regulatory costs per employee?

2.) How can I connect with my team in a way that inspires them? (Remember that inspiration and motivation are not synonymous in this context.)

3.) Does my product / service communicate with laser-like clarity, and are we marketing assertively (if not aggressively) to our market with the same laser-focus?

Be honest with yourself. Take the tough answers from your team and begin to make evolutionary changes. If we, as small business owners, change the way we’re leveraging the assets around us, we will not only survive this pressure, but we will thrive!

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AN OPEN LETTER TO BUSINESS OWNERS EVERYWHERE.

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Some thoughts on good form from one business owner to another.

Dear Business Owner,

Let’s begin by being totally frank about one thing: Business owners are independent people. If we weren’t independent, we would be working for someone else, building their dreams instead of grinding out our own, day in and day out.

Since we’re independent, here’s where it gets a little challenging for us: We need to be able to be honest with ourselves, and admit that even though we know a LOT, and we are independent and strong, we don’t know everything. If we can admit that one thing, we can keep ourselves open to learning, improving, and developing. The output of which is a better version of ourselves and a better running, more profitable business!

So, how about it? Are you ready to jump in and see how your business stacks up? Do a basic good old SWOT analysis:

Answer these 4 questions, What are my...

- Strengths

- Weaknesses

- Opportunities

- Threats

Technically, there are no wrong answers, but fudging doesn’t help anyone. If you see a weak spot, dig in and go to work on it. Of course we’re here for you should you need us along the way. Finally, remember this: You are among the very few business owners who are willing to continue to learn and improve, even after 10, 20, 30, or more years of business success.

To your success,

-David

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Sometimes the “new tricks" just can't outgun the “proven”.

If it were easy

 

The lessons of a start-up consultancy. Sometimes the new tricks ultimately circle back around to the old ones!

So over the past several months we’ve been busy “pivoting and tweaking” our firm’s business model. The process reminds me of learning to ride a bike. You can’t really learn without being in motion but the motion exponentially increases the risk.

I’m not gonna lie, the process has been a little uncomfortable. The output of the process, however, is that we have closed in on a MUCH more direct connection between our business DNA and our public face. That, my friends, is what it’s all about. Unfortunately, like it or not, we can’t get there without risk.

Now, since we’ve gotten ourselves more tightly defined, it’s time for the blog to properly reflect our conclusions.

Interestingly enough, “blogs” started life as “weblogs” and they were actually just random musings about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Then, as time wore on, these musings became valuable, and then…BOOM! Blogging became a business. Thanks to this evolution, when we began blogging, we viewed the whole mechanism as a kind of platform. A platform for me (us) to project information which we felt would be valuable or helpful to our target audience – business owners.

Well, I’ve made a big counter-cultural decision here. (I know, right? David Kraft going counter-cultural?!) I’ve decided to take this blog old-school. I’m going to post organic musings which are topically relevant to business owners, but everything else is going to be loosely formatted. I’ll have no target length, no specific agenda and I’m not attempting to shape everything into a “how-to”. Heck, I may not even put up an image! (Please don’t email me about how bad this is for search and engagement; I’m aware. J) The point is: Those who connect, will connect.

Meanwhile, just in case you aren’t familiar with our firm, Vision Consulting Group, Inc., I need you to understand a little bit about our DNA. We are serial entrepreneurs and multi-industry business owners who launched a consultancy to serve other business owners. We’re people-centric and almost annoyingly authentic. For more on us click here: www.yourfutureaccelerated.com.

So, on to today’s random musing. It’s sponsored by the phrase “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

People who don’t own a business, really don’t get what I mean when I say that business owners and entrepreneurs eat, sleep, and breathe their business; but we do. Just remember today that no matter what new law has you worried, no matter what weird employee confrontation looms, no matter what other dark cloud may be on the horizon, you’re not alone and “If it were easy, everyone would do it!”

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HIRING IS AN ART AND A SCIENCE! 3 TIPS TO HELP YOU GET THE PEOPLE YOU NEED.

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Better Hiring Saves TIME & MONEY!

At some point or another, every business owner or manager has made a bad hiring decision. Though hiring can be a very complex process, there are some very simple, tried and true techniques which can SIGNIFICANTLY improve the odds of making a truly good hire. 

Here are three basic tips that should be part of any hiring manager or owner's hiring plan:

1.) Prove basic things early.

Since you know that you want to hire someone who is willing to follow basic instructions, consider including unusual requests EARLY in your application process. For example, your advertisement could conclude with something like this: "For consideration, send your resume, including salary history, along with your favorite food, to ..."

Applicants who fail to follow those simple instructions (or supply an explanation for why they did not) are immediately disqualified. As a small business owner or manager, do you really have time to follow that person around and see if they follow through on every assignment? Of course not. So find out early!

2.) Search for clues on how the applicant's THINK, not just what they KNOW.

Consider using simple, open-ended questions in the interview process. Try something like this: "Tell me about your most recent position. What did you love about your job? What did you hate about it? What kinds of things would you have done differently if you had been the boss?" The answers to questions like these will yield very valuable insights into an applicant’s philosophy and their perspective on a variety of work-related issues. ALL KINDS of flags, good AND bad will fly if you pay close attention to these answers. (Hint: Always try to use strong adjectives like "love" and "hate". These words evoke strong feelings and that's part of the value in the exercise.)

3.) Have a balanced hiring system. 

Understand that skills and expertise represent only one side of an individual's overall work balance and value. The other side of the scale is attitudes (IE, the way they APPLY their expertise and skills in a given environment or the way they DO their work). This less tangible side of the scale is often overlooked. That's why in a recent study of more than 20,000 new hires "attitudinal" misfit was responsible for 89% of hires that didn't work out. Again, the skills and expertise are rarely the problem...attitude is. (There are easy to use, proven tools available to help you identify attitude fit or misfit.) - Dan Schawbel, Forbes, Hire For Attitude

"I don't have time to worry about a "hiring plan". I need to hire help--NOW!"   

We've certainly heard that, and we've even said it ourselves! It's tricky; as Main Street business owners and managers, we typically don't hire until there's a clear need. This is wise. The tricky part is making certain that we don't jump at an applicant out of our own need, ignoring the flags that might be warning us of hazards ahead. Unfortunately, bad hires because of time pressure are all too common. Sometimes we just have to "slow down to speed up". The answer: Have a good solid hiring plan and work the plan!

Regardless of what shape your plan is in, put these three tips into practice! They WORK. Meanwhile, if you don't have all of the tools you need, drop us a line or give us a call; we can fill in the gaps and have you nailing your hiring goals in no time. Remember, our initial consultations are always FREE but bad hires are NEVER free. They cost you time AND they cost you money!

See what people are saying about Vision Consulting Group HERE!

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Fear of Failure - why none of the old platitudes apply to me (…or you for that matter)!

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If only the fear of failure could be overcome by the old cliché’s!

I don't know if you've ever attended a meeting held by a mainstream addiction coping program or not. I've attended in support of a few close friends of mine over the years and I always find the introductions segment right at the beginning of these sessions to be the most powerful part. Typically, each attendee begins by giving their name and then identifying with the addiction which is the focus of their involvement in the program. So, it goes something like this "Hi, I'm Bill, and I'm an alcoholic and an addict." To which the group responds "Hi Bill!" Many times, Bill will then say a few words about his journey which may include things he's loved and lost, feelings he's dealt with or is working through, and oft times a word or two about things happening right now. And so it goes at group sessions around the world. People facing down big hairy addiction monsters, together, openly.

So, why am I talking about addictions in my business blog? Well, I'm so glad you asked! Here goes: In my best "12 Step Program" intro voice - "Hi, my name is David. I'm an entrepreneur and I fear failure." That's right, you heard me. I fear failure. No platitudes like "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” - Franklin D. Roosevelt or "Fear is just feedback and feedback is the breakfast of champions.” - Ken Blanchard, Simon T. Bailey. Nope, not getting off that easy. You wanna know why? Because fear is an addiction.

That's right folks; I'm asserting that we are addicted to our fears. To be abundantly clear, our fears give us crutches, comfy reasons for our mediocrity, and ultimately, excuses for inaction. You've likely heard that fear paralyzes. Well, this is HOW fear paralyzes. It makes us comfortable where we are and builds a seemingly impenetrable wall between us and our goals.

Many times I attempt to deal with my fears by applying the old “just do it” approach. The thing is, sometimes this works for forcing action but it rarely works for actually systemically repairing the underlying problem. The underlying problem is that the fear of failure is a warm blanket on a cold day, even if we don’t typically see it that way. It’s a friend, not a foe. It helps us explain away things; to ourselves. What may help us deal with the problem at a systemic level is understanding that our fears are like an addiction and that we must “cope” in a way more consistent with coping with addiction. Most all of the effective programs dealing with addition have two powerful components in common: 1.) They incorporate BOTH group and individual accountability and support. 2.) They maintain a constant reminder that the addiction is ever-present whether in “remission” or not. This “ever-presence” tends to foster a vigilance which allows the individual to see the addiction as a separate entity to both respect and divert using the support resources available beyond their own will.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we need to understand that despite the feeling that we’re an “island”, success is not likely to be complete in that framework. We need to add other people into the equation to allow us to expand our ability to engage fear of failure and WIN. Not sure where or how to get the accountability? Vision Consulting Group can help! Want Proof? CLICK HERE!

 

 

 

 

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WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER HIRE A CONSULTANT (LIKE ME).

Vision Blog Hire A ConsultantSince I've vowed to be honest in this blog, I'm gonna jump right in: There are two primary reasons people hire a consultant. (Or a personal trainer, or a financial advisor, or a nutritionist, or an executive coach, etc)

One, they recognize that an outside perspective is likely required, in order to truly do EVERYTHING possible to produce the highest level result - and they desire THE HIGHEST LEVEL RESULT. Two, they seek validation that they have already done (or are doing) EVERYTHING humanly possible to produce the highest level result.

Now, to me, only the former of these makes sense. However, every year, small business owners spend millions of dollars paying consultants to do the latter. Even as a firm which stands to benefit from this behavior, this is disappointing.

Understanding that most business owners and execs don't have a lot of "free time", typically they favor direct, honesty in the form of practical business principles, delivered quickly and cleanly. 

Well...here's today's practical, quick, clean truth: Whether you aim to develop yourself as a leader through books, classes, or the advice of a consultant, YOU have to DO THE STUFF. It's like when you hire a personal trainer to transform your body from a Homer Simpson physique, to a Mark Wahlberg physique. You gotta DO THE STUFF. If you don't, you will remain the likeness of Homer.

So bottom line: All of the BEST business theory in the world cannot help you if you are unwilling to implement the principles laid forth, and experiment with how they impact your organization. This is why if you're "not gonna do the stuff" you should never hire a consultant (like me). If you're only interested in validating your current actions, save the money and use it elsewhere in your business or life. Because, let's be realistic; if I do my job well, I'm not going to pat you on the back and say "Keep up the great work!". I'm going to challenge you to see more, be more, and do more! 

 

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WHY IS EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT SO IMPORTANT?

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Well, let’s look at what some experts and studies have to say on the subject.

“These latest findings indicate that 70% of American workers are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ and are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive.”

Seventy percent is a BIG number. That’s a lot of disengaged people. I know what you’re thinking though: “I’m a good business owner. I have a great Team, we’re like a family. My employees are plenty engaged!” Well, at the risk of raining on that parade, our consultants have interviewed team after team and NOT ONE team has been 100% engaged. Sad, but true.

“Gallup estimates that these actively disengaged employees cost U.S.(businesses) between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity. They are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.”

Disengaged employees range in intensity. The actively disengaged employee is a powerful virus which can have a VERY large impact on a small business. Even mildly disengaged employees in a small organization can have a LARGE impact. Think about this: If your company has 20 employees and 4 are disengaged and 1 is actively disengaged, then 25% of your entire organization is likely to be exhibiting behavior which is costing you money. The more these team members control the “customer facing” component of your business, the higher the impact on your bottom line.

“High employee engagement is actually critical to a company’s performance and, according to Gallup, it impacts nine key performance outcomes in these ways:”

* 37% lower absenteeism
* 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
* 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
* 28% less shrinkage
* 48% fewer safety incidents
* 41% fewer patient safety incidents
* 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
* 10% higher customer metrics
* 21% higher productivity
* 22% higher profitability

The above list shows VERY clearly the measured positive impact of strong employee engagement. Just run those percentages, one by one, on YOUR mental profit and loss report. Disengaged employees cost money, but engaged employees are a HUGE and valuable asset.

” …it is surprising that 75% of organizations have no engagement plan or strategy, although 90% say engagement impacts business success.”

This statistic should scare you. What it’s telling us is that only 1 in 4 organizations have any engagement plan or strategy. This despite 9 of 10 organizations reporting that they know there’s a relationship between engagement and success.
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