After List

We have talked about the importance of using “TO DO” lists to be more productive.  It also helps to write down the five most important things you have to do tomorrow before you turn in for the night. Both of these are good tools to use to improve your productivity.

Here is another version that can really get you started on the road to success.  This works in the office, at home, and with any other activities.  Throughout the day write down everything you do.  Include all projects; big and small.  Your list may include something as simple sounding as “got up on time” to something more complicated like “made a presentation”.

You will be amazed, especially if you think you have been running in circles, at how much you really get done in a day.  Take a few minutes at the end of the day to study your list and pat yourself on the back for all your small victories.  It has been said that it is easy to move a mountain if you do it “one spoonful at a time.”

This exercise, sweat not included, has several benefits.  You will see just how much you can accomplish, you may find yourself wanting to tackle a few more projects, or you will find that you are not running in circles after all.  It will also help you keep focused and moving ahead.

Finally, make notes in your journal about how wonderful you are.

Move Over

Are you getting in your own way?  This often the most misdiagnosed challenge for a small business.  You have a vision of where you want to be, but you are using rusty tools to get there.

The business world has changed drastically in the last fifty years. Many of us are still sticking like glue to old wisdom or systems.   The internet is probably the culprit.  Ideas and lessons can now spread so quickly that it is difficult to stay ahead of the curve.

We often live in our comfortable bubbles and not taking advantage of changes.  This is not surprising since most people don’t like change very readily. Change can be a very good thing and a powerful tool for advancing your business if you embrace it. If you must question change; ask yourself “what is the worst possible outcome if I take this action?  Can I live with the consequences?”  You will be surprised how much smaller your problems will seem when you take the steam out of them.

Stand in front of your mirror and take an honest, objective look at yourself.  Do you see the same things that your clients do, or are you living in a different reality?  If you can’t see the differences yourself, get a coach or neutral friend (rare) to help you see reality.

It is important to review your goals, mission and vision and change them if necessary on a regular basis.  Participate in continuing education opportunities within your field.  Carefully look at the leaders and competition to see what they are doing better, what they are doing worse, and how you can do better.

Business today is run more on brain power than brawn.  Use yours to help you grow your business.

Trade Schools Save Money

It’s time to go back to school.  Not to study, although that would be a good thing, but for services.  I have just had the best experience at the dental school at University of the Pacific.  The residents do the work and are supervised by dentists; and they excel because they are being graded.

Many schools have internship programs that hone student’s skill while serving the public.  Consider having your hair cut at the local beauty school or your car fixed at the auto repair academy.  You will usually get better than average work and service at a very attractive price. The students are reliable and well supervised with the newest trends and technology.

Trade schools are a great way to get high-quality services while balancing your family’s budget.

No Man is an Island

John Donne, a late 14th, early 15th century metaphysical poet, is credited with the familiar saying “no man is an island.”  We often forget just how important this message is, especially to our businesses. Even if you are a one person business you have to rely on vendors and customers for your livelihood.  You are never truly alone, but dependent on others.

Among the tools in your toolbox should be the groups and associations that you belong to or visit often.  These meetings are often called mixers, but that is not their only purpose. Their real purpose is to give you the opportunity to renew friendships and meet new people who can help you make your business grow. These new relationships may be potential customers, vendors, resources or just inspirational .

Within your business planning should be a category for the groups that will be the most beneficial.  These may be the local chambers of commerce, a fraternal organization, or a business group that meets to share leads and information about the community. Each is going to introduce you to wonderful people who you can help and can help you. Take time to explore the possibilities.  Attending meetings that don’t relate are a waste of time.

Don’t forget that you also have groups in social media; if you don’t join some immediately.  Search through Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or other platforms to find groups that you can really relate to, or look at professional associations. Post or comment on a regular basis to stay engaged and build your relationships.  Take advantage of the fact that many of the people who join groups are ready and willing to share tips and tricks of their industry and you are in a position to share with them.

Man cannot thrive when isolated, think solitary confinement. Your groups and associations are a significant part of your success; they help keep you grounded while helping your soar. They are living things that resides in your toolbox and are always ready to help. They can make a real difference in your success.

Some Banks Save Time and Money

All is not lost.  There are banks that still pay interest on your checking and savings accounts.  There are several banks, like Voya and Ally, that are online only; they don’t have any “brick and mortar” locations.  Since their operating costs are lower than traditional banks they are able to pass the savings on to their customers. Besides paying interest on your accounts, they often pass on other savings for you; no fees or ATM charges

There are lots of pluses to these companies.  They are available 24/7 and specialize in exceptional customer service.  Yes, traditional banks are available 24/7 too, but they are not as efficient.  Because these banks are driven by space age computer networks they are able to provide your information in real time.

Online banks have become known for their innovation.  If there is a new system in banking, or changes to your accounts you will probably find it first at your online bank. Check them out for convenience, savings and great customer service.


Park Your Ego at the Door

Park Your Ego

Are you working your tail off, 60 to 80 hours per week, at your business and not getting the results you think you should?   Maybe you have unrealistic expectations.  Or maybe you are sabotaging yourself. Maybe it is time for a reality check.

If you keep a work log for a week, no cheating, you will have a picture of where your efforts are making a difference, and where you are spinning your wheels.  Having this map to refer to you will now be able to see where your plans are working, or how you have to adjust them to make them work.

In order to accomplish your goals (you have listed them, haven’t you?) it important that you work smarter not harder.  Planning and realistic goals are the keys to being effective. You may notice that reality plays a big part in making your plans work for you. Park your ego at the door.

Among the biggest mistakes you can make is to have unrealistic expectations.  You try to fly before you can crawl and get upset if life doesn’t work out that way you will handicap yourself.

To really succeed it is important for you to park your ego at the door and become flexible. Being stubborn about how things “should” be done will bring you down, fast.

There are multiple ways to attack any challenge. Check the internet, read a book, or use a consultant to become familiar with your choices. Putting your head in the sand and ignoring other possibilities will have a huge negative impact on your success. A “my way or the highway” attitude is fatal.

When you relax a little, consider your choices, work smarter, not harder, and park your ego at the door your chances of success will be greatly enhanced.

Are You Frustrated ?

There is a new central agency that you can contact if you are having challenges with your mortgage, credit cards, or other financial product.  You can reach the Agency at  or toll free at (855) 411-2372.

The Agency has been created by the Consumer Protection Bureau to help those of you who are completely frustrated by your attempts to fix the problem yourself.  Banks may seem bigger than you and more powerful, but the US Government is even bigger and more powerful.  They are able to direct your complaint to the right people to get it settled.  This can be a very powerful tool on your behalf.

If you have a complaint about consumer goods or labor conflicts contact the Better Business Bureau,  They can help you settle disagreements with vendors, stores, or other companies.

Don’t try to fix it without help.  You are too likely to have problems or settle for less than you deserve.