Mindset and Strategy

What Does “Pay Yourself First” Mean?

Bills, bills, mortgage payment, another bill, maybe some coupons for things you never buy, and of course, more bills.

Snail Mail

Pay Yourself First

There seems to be an endless stream of envelopes from companies all demanding payment for their products and services. It feels like you have a choice of what you want to do with your money ONLY after all the bills have been paid – if there’s anything left over, that is.

More times than not it might seem like there’s more ‘month’ than ‘dollar.’
Not to rub salt in the wound, but may I ask how much you’re saving each month? $100? $50? Nothing? You may have made a plan and come up with a rock-solid budget in the past, but let’s get real. One month’s expenditures can be very different than another’s. Birthdays, holidays, last-minute things the kids need for school, a spontaneous weekend getaway, replacing that 12-year-old dishwasher that doesn’t sound exactly right, etc., can make saving a fixed amount each month a challenge. Some months you may actually be able to save something, and some months you can’t. The result is that setting funds aside each month becomes an uncertainty.

Although this situation might appear at first benign (i.e. it’s just the way things are), the impact of this uncertainty can have far-reaching negative consequences.

Here’s why: If you don’t know how much you can save each month, then you don’t know how much you can save each year. If you don’t know how much you can save each year, then you don’t know how much you’ll have put away 2, 5, 10, or 20 years from now. Will you have enough saved for retirement?

If you have a goal in mind like buying a home in 10 years or retiring at 65, then you also need a realistic plan that will help you get there. Truth is, most of us don’t have a wealthy relative who might unexpectedly leave us an inheritance we never knew existed!

But you might be surprised by much you can save if you put your mind to it. And you might want to do that… but how do you do that?

The secret is to “pay yourself first.” The first “bill” you pay each month is to yourself. Shifting your focus each month to a “pay yourself first” mentality is subtle, but it can potentially be life changing. Let’s say for example you make $3,000 per month after taxes. You would put aside $300 (10%) right off the bat, leaving you $2,700 for the rest of your bills. This tactic makes saving $300 per month a certainty. The answer to how much you would be saving each month would always be: “At least $300.” If you stash this in an interest-bearing account, imagine how high this can grow over time if you continue to contribute that $300.

That’s exciting! But at this point you might be thinking, “I can’t afford to save 10% of my income every month because the leftovers aren’t enough for me to live my lifestyle.” If that’s the case, rather than reducing the amount you save, it might be worthwhile to consider if it’s the lifestyle you can’t afford.

Ultimately, paying yourself first means you’re making your future financial goals a priority, and that’s a bill worth paying.

How To Manage Contracts Using AI: Without Losing Sleep At Night

Business Tools That Allow You To Scale

As small businesses grow and systematize they begin to ink  increasingly more complex multi-year deals.  The question then becomes how do you effectively manage increasing  customer relationships and their related contractual obligations?

What do you do with with all the drafts, overflow paperwork and the finalized documents?  The truth is, once the deal is inked that is when the work begins.  That is when the parties are required to perform, to implement obligations, deliver product and manage their customers’ expectations.

The question then becomes how to index and securely store significant amounts of data, while having quick easy access to content, including expiration dates and critical obligations?  How do you sleep at night without concern for what you may have overlooked or forgotten in waking hours?

If you have questions on contract management, the use of smart contracts that analyze, store, and manage  information, or questions on how to efficiently analyze contract life cycles in high volumes, en mass,  know that tools are available that allow you to identify, tag, delegate and automate party obligations,  contract risk, or any other requirement that matters, by leveraging best practices in conjunction with artificial intelligence.

Here is an invitation for you to review ContractWorks, a business tool that securely routes, analyzes and manages contracts and other data so that you can conveniently and securely  access data sources with  information 24/7,   that is, when it matters.  You can review and Demo ContractWorks for free HereContractWorks is a business tool you can get used to, because it simplifies data management and timely routes information to authorized users in the nick of time.

WANNA MOVE THE NEEDLE? Here’s How To Leverage Effective Business Tech Tools

One of my biggest pet peeves in the digital marketing space is the term “all-in-one solution”.

Ya see, I think it’s a misnomer.

Or, actually, I think it’s misleading.

Any tool is an all-in-one solution if it’s the only tool you need, but the reality behind small business is that it’s infinitely complex – and therefore the landscape of tools to support your business is infinitely diverse (and ever expanding).

I have my own robust techstack, and Infusionsoft by Keap, and AccesAlly are at the core of it. I’ve written more about the specific tools that have earned my trust – if that interests you reach out to me and I will be happy to share.

But the reality is that the tools that support each business will be somewhat personal – they’ll likely need to match up with your business needs, priorities, and goals.

So, in this diverse, technical, and tricky landscape, when you could literally spend weeks researching options – how does a business owner choose what tools to depend on?

The answer is ROI.

Like anything in business, the tools you choose are an investment – and it only makes sense to continue investing in those tools if they’re earning an ROI for you.

Now, the typical way people think about “return on investment” is in a financial way, and your tools could certainly work to create new revenue – but they could also pay a return in other ways, like by saving you money, effort, or time.

I highlight that because I think focusing solely on a monetary concern will not only limit the tools you have at your disposal, but it can also be shortsighted in terms of crushing your longer term goals.

The next piece of advice I have for selecting the tools in your techstack is to focus on the role they will play.

You almost want to think of the tools you use as actual employees you’re casting into a role.

This’ll help in a few ways – first, it’ll help you get clear on the expectations you have for that tool.

And second, it’ll serve as a reminder of why that tool is valuable – because there will come a time when you question it, or when there’s a bug of some sort; and it’s important to be able to go back to it and recognize that this tool works around the clock and doesn’t take days off.

And finally, I’ll leave you with what I think is the most important lesson – small business is about crafting journeys.

(What’s a journey?)

The experience you create for your customers is what sets your business apart from others.

So if we recognize that, then the tools we use should be designing and supporting the journey we create for our customers.

And to zoom out one level further – that means that we, as small businesses, or as entrepreneurs need to spend time getting clear on the existing journey our customers are already having.

Then, ask yourself what it should look like. Try and visualize what your perfect customer journey would entail – if you only had one customer, and you could give them all your attention, what would that feel like?

That’s the blueprint.

(Here’s a case study) of how a tech stack can support an end-to-end customer journey.)

Once you have both of those it’s time to go to work narrowing that gap.

The tools you choose are how you build the customer experience blueprint.
———–
Greg Jenkins is the founder of Monkeypod Marketing, where he focuses on empowering entrepreneurs through virtual courses and educational resources.

In addition to small business and marketing automation, Greg is a semi-professional dogsitter; he loves hiking, traveling, watching basketball, and binging netflix. And dogs, did we mention dogs?

Are You an Effective Leader?

 

In today’s flat world so closely interconnected by social media and 24 hour news cycles, leaders are always visible and they come in many shapes and sizes.  Further, because there are so many areas of expertise, even more splintered by demographics and communities it is good to reflect on the values and traits of good leaders as we historically understand or understood them.

Bear in mind that some people lead from behind, while others lead from in front.  Additionally, many people lead very effectively from the middle because they can understand the plight of others and empathize with the experience of  their tribe.  The fact is leaders find solutions, and can be found everywhere!  How do you lead?

Lets evaluate if  or how leadership has changed or been affected by speed to market and a need to quickly close transactions while sustaining a viable business:

  1. Do you make others feel important?
  2. Do you promote and enthusiastically share a vision of business goals and objectives so that others understand and can contribute to them?
  3. Do you set reasonable or unreasonable expectations for team members? Do you make adequate provisions for alternative scenarios?
  4. Do you follow the golden rule, treating others the way you want to be treated?
  5. Do you admit and correct mistakes, even when it is not comfortable to do so?  Can you work with dissension while fostering an environment that allows the truth, or the best resolution to surface organically?
  6. Do you praise others publicly, but are you also willing to communicate criticism or a different perspective when needed?
  7. Do you criticize privately so that you do not embarrass, or lose the opportunity to foster a team member’s chance for personal growth?
  8. Can you resist the temptation to gossip or diminish those who may be wired differently than you?
  9. Are you open and visible to other people and their talents so that they  learn from you and you from them?
  10. Are you curious about nuanced distinctions and opportunities that not only make things work, but could make them perform more effectively and even to competitive business advantage?
  11. Can you collaborate with others while making a game of competition?
  12. Can you set clear team goals, yet be flexible enough to make adjustments, recognizing and rewarding  excellence  when peers exceed preset standards, that is without undermining them?
  13. Do you avoid the temptation to diminish others or put them down because they may excel, or be better at a particular task than you are?
  14. Can you genuinely give and receive a compliment without resentment or sarcasm?

In your view have these values changed or do they still matter?  Let us know what you think.

*** Updated, previously published 2/11/19

Sculpted Turtles Marching In Unison In a Wonderful Way

Sculpted Bronze Turtles Marching in Unison

#Turtle way. Beautifully designed entrance ways and harmonious  environments will inspire and engage co-workers and premium producers into stable, high performance by sending subtle messages about collaboration, steady progress, and collective goals, even when roles and positions contribute differently. This beautifully sculpted entryway of bronze turtles marching in unison does the job in a really Wonderful way.

Is Collaboration A Shield or Sword?

We have heard it said that collaboration is the new competition, but what does that really mean?  Is it no longer survival of the fittest?  Are single silo’d organizations and people outdated?

Maybe the reason is that with data and information exponentially growing, seemingly faster than any one person can process or implement it, there is a compelling need to expand bandwidth (both technology and people), to efficiently and effectively get things done.

So the next question is how do we do this?

There are several technology tools that help us to communicate and collaborate across geographical boundaries and platforms effectively.  But how do we master the people skills to plug and play well within a collaborative system, if for  decades there has been insufficient information to build commonality or create trust?  When at times it may have seemed that distrust is a strategic advantage.

The real question is how do you build warm productive teams in environments competing for excellence?

How do we build team when people are more connected to devices than to each other?

How do you build team when racing against the clock?

How can we prioritize people in all our complexity, so that effective nuanced communications perform and produce a sustainable environment and product that people want and desire.  Products that people want more than cold efficient delivery systems.  Each and every day technology is better at producing cold efficient systems faster than any human can.

The real question is do humans want, or are we willing to pay for a better or different product than cold efficiency?  Is collaboration a better mousetrap?

Reacting to Overwhelm & How To Quickly Regain Control

We all get that anxious rush when things are going downhill or differently than expected.
When deadlines are blown, finances behind and there are too many demands to sit tidily our Inbox. its a horrible feeling!  Overwhelm undermines your true identity and steals your energy.  You are more likely to underperform when overwhelmed, so try to neutralize it and you will recover more quickly.

Here are a additional suggestions that just might help get you back on your dime and breathing normally 😐

* Make Quiet Time. Take a couple minutes, or hours even, to physically walk away. Breathe in some clean air.

* Get a good nights sleep.

* Rethink your strategy. You may have set unreasonable expectations, or taken on too many tasks in relation to your present
resources.

* Learn to say No, nicely. Its one of the hardest things to do.

* Communicate with your peers, supervisors, direct reports, and explain where you are and why you are behind.

* Reformulate priorities and try to reset deadlines with doable objectives and expectations.

* Try to get consensus from your team on what is doable and the order in which things are effectively completed.

* Bring in additional resources to get the job done on time if necessary.

* Re-calendar and Block time to complete priority tasks.

* Set boundaries and limits on additional, or new responsibilities. Limit taking on new tasks until priorities are completed.

* Limit all outside distractions, including News feeds.

* Limit multitasking since statistics prove that multitasking dilutes your focus and is inefficient.

* Listen to your thoughts and your random musings.

* Commit to documenting your thoughts and feelings so you know which ones you really believe and you can identify when overwhelm lifts.

* Get your physical space as organized as you can so that you can easily locate tools and recognize a system of order, or disorder.

* Learn how to know and recognize a true emergency.

* Set milestones so you know when goals have been accomplished and what tasks remain outstanding.

* Remember to celebrate when you have made it through to the other side. You will!

How Your Productivity is Affected By Sleep Apnea (“OSA”)

Suzette Panton MD.

Suzette Panton MD

In recent years, we have become increasingly aware of the vital role sleep plays in daily life and our general feeling of well-being. There are so many factors that influence whether or not we get a good night’s sleep.

Insufficient Sleep?

Hw much sleep is enough for you? Insufficient sleep is common in today’s modern society. Busy lifestyles and technology exposure can negatively impact our sleep patterns and habits resulting in inadequate nightly sleep hours.

Our sleep can also become fragmented for a number of other reasons.

Sleep fragmentation results in overall decreased quantity and quality of sleep. This in turn will impact how we perform on the job, at home and during our waking hours.

One condition that can cause fragmented sleep is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (“OSA”).

OSA is a chronic medical condition characterized by recurrent episodes of shallow or sometimes complete cessation of breathing during sleep. This is caused by the upper airway in the body becoming obstructed.

Obstruction of the upper airway results in the blockage of airflow and oxygen, these are vital to life. This in turn causes recurrent periods of awakening (body arousal) throughout the night, resulting in sleep fragmentation and tiredness upon awakening. We may not even be aware of these periods of awakening during our sleeping hours!

OSA Symptoms

– Low blood oxygen saturation levels, that is low oxygen levels during sleep time.
– Loud snoring;
– Irregular breathing patterns during sleep;
– Daytime fatigue and tiredness upon awakening;
– A morning headache;
– Daytime sleepiness and unintended periods of drowsiness;
– Difficulty completing tasks;
– Poor concentration;
– Decreased memory and retention;
– Irritability, and
– Depression.

These symptoms can negatively impact performance and individual function capacity.

Additionally, some individuals with untreated OSA become at risk for accidents both on the job and on the road.

Unfortunately untreated OSA also puts us at risk for medical conditions such as:
stroke, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, irregular heart rhythms and congestive heart failure.

Inadequate control of these underlying medical conditions will affect your health, quality of life and professional performance.

Risk Factors For OSA

Risk factors for OSA include post-menopausal women and women older than forty (40) years;
Overweight adults with an OSA family history;
People with certain physiological features such as facial/upper airway indicators for example large tonsils, a large neck, or large tongue, a deviated nasal septum or a small jaw.

Further, women are at increased risk of developing OSA during specific periods of life. Post menopausal women have an increased prevalence of OSA. This may be a secondary factor to decreasing progesterone levels.

There is also an increased risk of OSA during pregnancy. Factors contributing to OSA during pregnancy include hormonal changes, increased neck circumference due to weight gain, swelling within the pharyngeal region, and elevation of the diaphragm due to an enlarged uterus.

It is therefore really important to seek help from your medical provider if you, or your partner become concerned by any of the described symptoms. If you are overweight, significant weight reduction can sometimes helps to minimize the condition.

Finally, OSA when diagnosed is treatable. Treatment from your medical provider is important for long term success and an improved quality of life.

This article was contributed to GirlsLovePowerTools by Suzette Panton MD. Dr. Panton is Board Certified in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. She is mom to 3 outstanding sons, ages 21, 19, and 12.  Dr. P is a high performance professional. Click here to get your free Blueprint that will help you Build Your Business for Enterprise.

Anchoring Agility While Staying Committed to Outcomes

How to Stay On Track … Even When Stuff You Could Not Imagine Upends You

It feels that in business as life, the only predictable is the unpredictable!

Dynamic markets, the internet, information products, bill boards, news cycles, natural disasters, the media influences your every waking moment: it has become near impossible to focus on goals.

There are just too many distractions competing for your time and money. A lot of sameness!

So how can you get stuff done?

How can you respond, instead of react, adapt and adjust without giving in? How can you avoid being derailed?

The answer seems to lie somewhere in between the following:

1. Training for short sprints while having the marathon in sight.
2. Setting and rewarding the achievement of short term implemented goals, without beating yourself up over a delayed long term vision.
3. A willingness to become agile or flexible as the marketplace stutters, starts, shoots then withdraws.
4. Having patience with yourself, your vision and most of all with others. I know its easier said than done!

A search for market congruency with your goals may reveal that timing to move forward on a project is not yet right, but that does not mean you should abandon it. A lack of congruency may be a hint that even a delay will become beneficial. It may suggest that more input from market influencers is needed to get your outcome just right!

Insight and commitment from team members, stakeholders and other outside groups may shape the ideal or unique path you should trek for goal fulfillment. Their influence will also provide insight on the feasibility and the timing of your results.

Your access to financial and other resources will determine how quickly you can implement and leverage any short windows of opportunity that exist. Some opportunities may be fleeting at best, but without an agile strategy you will not be able to leverage them to advantage.

So your basic strategy should be: to be always “in training” becoming action ready for passing opportunities that can leap your outcomes forward while anchoring your intent. Tell us what you think. Click Here to get your Blueprint on Enterprise

Tracking Your Progress

 

Track progress

Tracking and Measuring Progress

It is easy to become disoriented in a dynamic, fast paced world where humans are distracted, yet expected to move at the speed of light, digesting and reacting to moving news cycles and events beyond our immediate control.

Nonetheless, it’s the beginning of a new year so let’s orient as we find our own place and prepare for what’s ahead. For sure there are more unknowns than knowns so its hard to discern if what we see is as it appears, or is even factual.

Even if cursorily accurate context and time may change meaning. The dynamic nature of current events affect the way we ingest and react to information including the decisions we make in our business. It also impacts our environment and therefore our results. Nevertheless, lets do our best to ensure that next year we can look back knowing we gave 2019 our best.

As we impatiently try to determine what is ahead, plan to confidently leverage each opportunity as you move ahead.

We often forget that Rome was not built in a day. Neither was it destroyed in a day. Ideas germinate, develop slowly, then branch and expand before they bloom. Change happens in phases.

On the other hand, when things begin to unravel it is initially barely noticeable. Much later something dramatic happens and we take notice. That’s when we recognize that had we been tracking it would have been visible earlier.

It’s the same in your business, you have to notice, pay attention observe and document changes. Learn to manage transitions then observe your progress as you take corrective action. Success will depend on teamwork and having reliable support systems who share your vision and help you to strategically execute it.

Develop habits that help you to create your structured systems. Ones that document and help you to track. There are automated solutions that measure and evaluate your progress over periods of time helping you to tack and take corrective action. Reach out, identify and get direction and advice from your mentors. Let us know if we can help. Tell us what you think. Click here to get our Blueprint on Enterprise.