Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia

Recent Posts

Business Growth Strategist Weathers the Storm

Economic uncertainty can feel like navigating a ship in a storm. Mixed signals, especially prevalent in an election year, contribute to a sea of confusion for small business owners and entrepreneurs. How do you set sail and plot a course for success in such choppy waters? The answer: strategic thinking, planning, and execution in partnership with a seasoned business growth strategist. During the economic downturn of 2008, entrepreneurs faced the harsh winds of change. Businesses hunkered down as a storm of recession-battered the marketplace. And yet, amidst this tempestuous backdrop, a few resilient businesses not only survived but thrived. What set them apart?

Business Growth Strategist Weathers the Storm

The Bellwether of Business Resilience

My Dad, weathered by The Great Depression, often remarked, “We need to tighten our belts.” That era demanded frugality and foresight, virtues that proved vital during the 2008 recession as well. Even as we tightened our financial belts, some businesses couldn’t keep pace with the surge. However, those that could sustain a growth rate of 20% or more? They did more than stay afloat—they navigated the storm. Fast-forward to 2013, and the murmurs of a looming economic decline began to surface. These prophecies foretold a global downtrend touching down in the United States by 2020. What wasn’t predicted was the maelstrom of COVID-19—a disruption that capsized a staggering 22% of small businesses by April 2020. Yet, a year later, a beacon of optimism shone through. An astonishing 89% of small business entrepreneurs firmly believed in their businesses’ survival. In other words, we’ve been through this before.

Navigating Business Growth Rates

During my time roaming the halls of UCLA Anderson School of Business, Professors Yvonne Randle and Eric Flamholtz shared how they navigated many through the growing pains of entrepreneurship. Here’s a glimpse of the five rates of growth they charted:

  1. Less than 15% Annually—Growth: Steady as she goes! This rate, while not meteoric, ensures you can double your business in five years without capsizing.
  2. 15–25% Annually—Rapid Growth: The winds pick up. Are you prepared for the increased effort, investment, and the challenge of thinning margins? This is the stretch where strategy makes all the difference
  3. 25–50% Annually—Very Rapid Growth: Now you’re catching gale-force winds. The demand to expand and innovate is palpable, and so are the rewards for those who can withstand the pace.
  4. 50—100% Annually—Hypergrowth: At this exhilarating speed, it’s crucial to keep a keen eye on the horizon to steer clear of any obstacles.
  5. Greater than 100% Annually—Light-speed Growth: This is not just growth; it’s a transformation. Here, agility and foresight will determine whether you soar or crash.

In this tumultuous economic ocean, which rate is yours for the taking?

Why You Need a Business Growth Strategist

You might wonder, “Is it truly possible to achieve such growth in today’s uncertain economy?” Here’s the secret: the courageous captains who weathered the roughest seas had a “strategist” by their side, ensuring they weren’t just reacting to the waves but riding them with intent. A Business Growth Strategist isn’t just a coach or consultant; they are your partner—bringing you clarity, sharpening your focus, strengthening your resilience, challenging your premises, assisting with setting strategy, and guiding you towards the desired horizons. They provide the compass, and the map, to discover profitable routes you might have missed.

 Your Call to Action

It’s time to raise the anchor and unfurl the sails. With strategic thinking, execution planning, a compass point for every decision, and a clear map of growth rates, you’re equipped to sail even the most uncertain of economic seas. Are you prepared to be the optimist who, in the face of adversity, not only survives but prospers? If your answer is a resounding “Yes,” then it’s time to join forces with a Strategist who can steer your course to safe harbor and beyond.

Take the helm. Be the beacon. Grow boldly, grow strategically. Grow sustainably.


Don’t weather this storm alone. Contact us today and discover how, together, we’ll chart a course for success that keeps your business thriving, no matter the economic forecast.

Business Growth Strategy Fatigue

As an entrepreneur, have you ever felt the creeping sense of overload inching its way into your mind and body? You’re not alone. Entrepreneur Fatigue is the silent killer of productivity and business growth. But how do you battle this unseen adversary and reclaim the vigor needed to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams?

The High Stakes of Ignoring Fatigue

Imagine steering a ship through a storm with bleary eyes — that’s what managing a business exhausted feels like. Think about it; when was the last time running on fumes led you to your finest hour? The answer, I wager, would be never.

The crushing weight of fatigue doesn’t just dent your well-being; it cascades down to every facet of your business and personal life. Can you identify the telltale signs?

  • The irritability that snaps at a team member’s innocent question.
  • That mental fog when focus is imperative.
  • The clutter drowning your workspace… and your thoughts.
  • A simple distraction pulls you off course.
  • The lapse in memory when every detail counts.

Sound familiar?

These symptoms aren’t just inconvenient; they can be dire to your business growth. Missing a crucial deadline or alienating a valuable client can have serious repercussions. After all, in the fast-paced business world, one misstep can mean the difference between closing a deal and closing your doors.

Business Growth Strategy Fatigue

The True Cost of ‘Business as Usual’

With fatigue, ‘business as usual’ is anything but profitable. It’s that insidious force that gives rise to stalled business growth and rash decisions. And while the hustle culture applauds those who burn the candle at both ends, we must ask ourselves: At what cost?

Breaking the Cycle 

So, how do we dismantle this vicious cycle? How do we restore the balance not only in our businesses but in ourselves?

The simple prescription is this: Rest. Recharge. Refocus. Let’s explore these three R’s that can revolutionize your approach to entrepreneurial vitality:

Rest: The Foundation of Performance

It’s not about how many hours you put in but about the quality of those hours. Working smarter isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a survival tactic. Could a short nap be the power-up you need to tackle the next challenge? It’s time to ditch the stigma around a midday pause.

Recharge: Cultivate Sustainable Energy

Consider it: when did you last take a day for yourself? Shift gears and take that vacation without a smidgen of guilt. Your business is shaped by the creativity and clarity that only come from a well-rested mind, not just hard work.

Refocus: Prioritize with Precision

Are you tackling tasks that align with your ultimate goals? Every action should be a stepping stone toward success. By eliminating the excess, by honing in on what truly matters, you not only mitigate fatigue but accelerate growth.

A Call to Action for the Weary Entrepreneur

This isn’t just a plea; it’s a rallying cry for sustainability in our business and personal lives. It’s time to forge a new path where well-being and success go hand in hand.

So ask yourself — are you ready to defeat Entrepreneurial Fatigue and step into a future where your health and your business thrive together?

The next time you’re too tired to pole-vault over a chalk mark, take two of these — Sneak in a nap. Grab a day off.  Seize a long walk. Carve out a break — and call us in the morning

grow your business with precision

As an entrepreneur with an annual revenue of $350,000–$500,000, you are in a great position to grow your business more quickly. Numerous opportunities await you. However, growth at this level requires precision and priority. The challenge is often about selecting the best opportunity to leverage for growth, which requires clarity, focus, and strategies to generate the most impact on your business. 

During the early days of your startup, it might have been easier, albeit chaotic and stressful, to venture down multiple paths. However, as your enterprise expands, it becomes more complex and uncertain. This marks the point where the real work of growing your business truly begins.

A change in mindset is beneficial to reduce the overwhelming chaos and stress and experience continuous growth with ease and grace. The actions that brought you to your current position are not necessarily the same ones that will continue to propel you forward. 

grow your business with precision

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

Strategize With the End in Mind

Since you’re moving forward, why not have some clarity about the destination you intend to reach? It makes choosing the correct route much more apparent. 

Consider your personal objectives since your business is often a tool for achieving them. Business, by itself, is not the complete end game.  End game options may look like selling the business for $X, retiring at the age of 45 with an annual income of $X, working fewer hours, traveling the world while you still can, owning an ocean and a mountain home, or being more available for those little people in your orbit. Whatever you choose is yours to hold and shape your business direction and decisions. 

What happens if you’re not clear on the end game? Fret not. Go as far as you can see, and when you get there, you’ll be able to see further. 

Plus, don’t waste time on detailed long-term planning. For now, you want a framework for your end game. With the rapid pace of change in business, keep more detailed planning to one year with a moderate amount of framework for years 1–5. 

Know Your Numbers 

Gut intuition and hunches are powerful tools, although most strategists would pooh-pooh the idea (Me? I’m not like most strategists.) Even so, it’s beneficial to have the best of our gut feelings backed up by solid data. 

Data guides our decision-making. It doesn’t lie. It always speaks truth to power even when you don’t like what it’s telling you. And, when you base your decisions on data rather than what you read on Linkedin as a solution, you’ll never go wrong.  

When I was in sales, I optimistically shared my goals with a trusted friend, which she immediately pooh-poohed. She wasn’t wrong. The notion of what I intended to accomplish was a bit “pie in the sky”—until I began to look at the numbers. I used data to guide my decisions. Within nine months of that honest interchange, I achieved what I intended. Numbers matter. 

What data does one collect? That’s an excellent question. With technological advancements, one can drown in data, so selecting the critical numbers is essential. These metrics could include revenue, profit margin, realization rate, customer acquisition costs, social media impressions, website visitors, or something entirely different. 

Again, your business and its destination are unique to you. The data or metrics you track should be as well. 

Hire Top Talent

Oh, this is a big one. Often, as small business entrepreneurs, our budgets are limited. Consequently, we look for the best talent we can hire for our budget. That makes complete sense unless you want to grow your business more quickly and with greater precision. Hiring top talent is a priority. 

One of my clients recently learned that valuable lesson when hiring a “junior” technician due to budget concerns. After months and months of training, the employee was still struggling to keep up. This was followed by more training and further coaching, adding extra costs. 

All of this additional time and the subsequent cost to “train up” a lesser qualified or experienced individual really adds up—especially when it’s your time as the owner. 

This wasn’t the end of the story, however. The employee ultimately made critical mistakes, resulting in client loss. It happens, right? Even though the disciplinary action didn’t result in termination, the employee stopped showing up for work. Egads! 

It was an incredible learning experience. Although the idea of training up talent is enticing, it adds unexpected costs and isn’t so budget-friendly after all. Plus, it slows down business growth. There’s a huge and hidden cost involved in hiring lesser talent. 

My advice (and that of many of my clients in the Messy Middle) is to stretch yourself and hire the best you can. 

Focus on High-Impact, High-Value Tasks

One of the most common missteps we often fall victim to is the tendency to take on every task ourselves. With the myriad responsibilities of running a business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. As the CEO, it becomes crucial to hone in on the tasks that can significantly impact your business growth and success.

When it comes to prioritizing tasks, focus on those that have the potential to generate substantial revenue, minimize costs, or enhance overall efficiency. By identifying and prioritizing these high-impact tasks, you can allocate your precious time and energy in ways that create tangible value for your business.

Additionally, it’s essential to recognize that not every task needs to be managed by you. Delegation and outsourcing can be crucial in streamlining your workload and optimizing productivity. Handing off assignments to others allows you to free up your valuable time and attention for those critical, high-impact duties that truly demand your expertise. And, when you’ve hired top talent (see above), you will spend less time managing their work. 

Achieving business growth demands a disciplined and systematic approach and an unwavering focus on priority tasks and strategies. You can confidently drive business growth by beginning with the end in mind, prioritizing high-impact tasks, investing in top talent, and implementing precise metrics. 

Sustained growth takes time and consistent, purposeful actions to deliver remarkable results.

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Growing your business is not about doing more; it’s about doing it smarter. That’s where precision and priority—and Synnovatia—come into play. Schedule your first free consultation today.

entrepreneurs, balance

 Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. OMG! I love that famously-recognized Mazda commercial circa 2000. Little did we know at the time that the little ditty would personify our lives. 

In 2009, Graeme Wood, Australian digital entrepreneur and philanthropist, wrote: “Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again.

Hold onto your hats! 

There are moments (many of them) when growing our business feels like careening down a steep hill with failing brakes. 

An accelerated pace of change ushers in an entire slew of complications. Who knew that a mere five years ago, we could say, for certain, our business model was set in stone? When conflicting headlines and confusing economic indicators​ are added, the future feels tentative.

What are entrepreneurs to do? 

Put on the brakes? Play it safe? Hunker down until certainty returns? Anyone who survived the 2008 economic downturn or COVID knows first-hand the impact of uncertainty. 

Admittedly, I can sometimes feel a little bit like Chicken Little running around clucking on how “the sky is falling.” Yet, I worry. (I’m German, so it’s in my DNA.) I worry especially for the small business owner who dedicates blood, sweat, and tears to growing their passion. 

entrepreneurs, balance
Photo by Laura Goodsell

The Big Exam

Complexity tests our skills to balance it all out. Do we have what it takes to adapt and transform our organizations? The real challenge is keeping pace. Staying relevant. Being competitive.

It is important to find the right balance between uncertainty and complexity, as this balance will determine our business success. 

The time is NOW—not tomorrow—to take massive action to protect, optimize, and grow into the future. 

The Entrepreneur’s Balancing Act

As you might guess, here are a few of my recommendations to get you started: 

  1. Purpose is essential. Today’s consumers want to do business with businesses of like values and purpose. Know your “why” to build trust and strengthen those relationships with your clients. Develop transparency of your core values to protect and promote your brand.
  2. Clarify your business. If someone asks what business you are in, can you quickly—and clearly—say? Business lucidity is a must. It’s a real head-scratcher to answer the question, “What business am I in?” — particularly for professional service firms. However, it’s a journey in distinctiveness that is worth the ride. 
  3. Future vision. Knowing where you’re going beyond “a building lease for three years,” guides your direction and turns you into a wise, strategic decision-maker. Since you’re the curator of your dream, be sure it’s compelling to you.
  4. Optimize business operations. Combining (wo)man and machine with integrating digital solutions increases productivity by more than 30%. This frees you and your people to focus on the most important priority—your clients. 
  5. Be bold. Be brave. You’ve got this! You’re smart and intuitive. Trust yourself—and your data—to help you take significant, courageous steps into a better tomorrow. 
  6. Invest in technology. Improve efficiencies and productivity. Leverage technology to drive consistency between what you say and what you deliver. A gap of any kind is detrimental to the future of your business. 
  7. Develop an adaptive mindset. Rather than perfect today, understand the complexity of your market to identify opportunities in your industry. Balance market trends with timely decision-making. A flexible mindset allows you to respond quickly to change so you can thrive—not merely survive. 
  8. Master strategic decision-making. It’s required in a complex ecosystem. Sharpen the “why, what, and how” of your decisions to accelerate growth.
  9. Get connected. The more we connect, the quicker we learn. Get up to speed with technologies and methodologies to meet complex challenges and form new paths to growth. Tap into your community to help monitor changing environments. Maybe join our Mastermind for the Messy Middle! A supportive environment that promotes risk-taking. 
  10. Ask questions. The better the question. The better the answer. The better your business works.
  11. Stay healthy. Building a business means working long, grueling hours and staying healthy—mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

Navigating Turbulent Terrain

I love what the Entrepreneur of the Year award winner had to say: “There’s no point in doing anything other than to look for the opportunity in the crisis.

Apparently, 67% of entrepreneurs agree! Pursuing new market opportunities during economic uncertainty is a winning strategy.  

Navigating the balance of uncertainty and complexity as entrepreneurs is one of our greatest challenges and critical to our success. And yet, an open mind to learning, a healthy lifestyle, and focus and clarity are our best wayfinders.

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Don’t let uncertainty stand in the way of achieving your dreams. Contact us today, and together we’ll create an actionable plan to ensure your business thrives!

accountability for entrepreneurs

Have you heard of the Messy Middle? Few entrepreneurs don’t realize it’s their everyday experience until they read the description.  Suddenly it clicks — “That’s me!” These savvy individuals can discern symptoms, identify pain points, and empathize with other businesses experiencing the same predicament. Arriving at this moment of clarity for oneself is a game-changer. It shifts the focus from chaos to clarity, empowering entrepreneurs to take action toward a more progressive outcome. 

The Messy Middle vortex, or stage two of business growth and development, is the natural progression following establishing your start-up foundation. You’ve proven your business model. Your marketing and sales funnels are functioning beautifully and creating a consistent stream of clients for your business. You are growing your team in numbers and skill.  Essentially, you have successfully ironed out many of the kinks associated with your start-up and have created some sustainability and resilience in your systems. 

Even so, revenue can be sluggish, anywhere between $350,000 and $1 million annually, depending on your industry and service. Despite the expansion of your team, the talent pool looks cloudy. Cash flow is shrinking. And the worst part is being swamped with day-to-day operations when all you really want to do is focus on growing or scaling your business.

Extended work hours, once believed to be temporary, are now permanent and no longer sustainable. There is no time to think—let alone the time needed to think strategically. (A different thinking skill, BTW, requiring some white space.) The inadequacies of one’s growth system become increasingly conspicuous.

The chaos of the Messy Middle often forces businesses to abandon their successful tactics, including accountability, needed to grow. Business life becomes all about extinguishing fires.

So, let’s talk about accountability—what it is and why it’s crucial for an entrepreneur, especially at this stage of business growth, and the common misconceptions about accountability. 

accountability for entrepreneurs
This is NOT accountability! 

Entrepreneurs and Accountability to Success Tactics

Webster defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” It refers to the responsibility and answerability of individuals or organizations for their actions, decisions, and outcomes.

For entrepreneurs, accountability is a slippery slope. Often strongly-driven entrepreneurs resist personal accountability. They often see it as a sign of weakness or failure. Or accountability can often be associated with micromanagement and excessive control, which stifles creativity and freedom. 

And yet, in business, owner accountability is a crucial aspect of the growth process. It builds trust and credibility, promotes team engagement, enhances the business’s overall performance, and, most importantly, fosters a more disciplined approach to our decision-making. Holding ourselves accountable encourages critical thinking and helps us avoid impulsive decisions. 

accountability for entrepreneurs
THIS is accountability!

Navigating the Messy Middle: How Accountability Helps Tackle Challenges

I’ve touched briefly upon entrepreneurs’ challenges during the Messy Middle stage, where things can become chaotic. Clarity and focus provided by accountability, whether to oneself, a mastermind group, an accountability coach, or a system, are paramount for rising above the noise. And its effectiveness is multifaceted. 

  • Improved performance. Accountability promotes establishing clear goals and encourages entrepreneurs to strive for excellence, take consistent action, and achieve better results.
  • Strategic decision-making. Rather than making ad-hoc or impulsive decisions, entrepreneurs committed to accountability gather the relevant information and weigh the risks and benefits to ensure their choices are intelligent and thoughtful.
  • Enhanced trust and credibility. Stakeholders are more confident doing business with you knowing your word is your bond. 
  • Engaged employees. Someone said, “The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.” Members of your team will often mimic your behavior. So, credibility builds when you do what you say you’ll do. 
  • Accelerated learning. Accountability encourages business owners to proactively address problems and challenges, which fosters accelerated learning and subsequent growth. 
  • Sustainable growth. Entrepreneurial accountability ultimately builds a culture of responsibility, transparency, and ethical behavior that ensures the business operates in alignment with its values, which leads to greater resilience and long-term success. 

Accountability: The Final Word

Accountability, in some form, is essential for business success. Identify the method of accountability that best supports you and your business. Then, take the time to review your accountability measures regularly and adjust as necessary for maximum effectiveness. 

You’ll be glad you did, as it will keep you on track and moving forward. 

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If you’re looking for accountability in your business, check out our Mastermind for the Messy Middle or contact us to discuss how to create a system of sustainable accountability for you and your business. 

entrepreneurs delegate

As ambitious boot-strapping entrepreneurs, you’re no stranger to hard work. You’ve turned over every rock to identify valuable work and avoid unnecessary tasks that keep you from bringing on employees. But despite your best efforts, you’ve hit a wall. Your personal capacity has reached its limit, and you know that to take your business to the next level, you need to expand your team.

Knowing that hiring is the next best step, why does the thought of it fill you with dread? It’s simple: you’ve built a brand based on exceptionalism that you, personally, have commandeered. The idea of trusting someone else to do the job as well as you creates a deep sense of anxiety. Even so, bringing on help is necessary for your business to grow. It’s quite the dilemma — hire, trust, and grow or keep to a small scale.

The fear of entrusting some of your work to others can hold you back. But, by continuing to work beyond what is humanly possible, you are only bottlenecking your growth and limiting your success. 

The truth is, bringing on help doesn’t have to be scary. With the right skills in place, your team is equipped to handle tasks with the same level of excellence you require.

entrepreneurs delegate Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash

Task Assignment for Entrepreneurs: Deciding or Delegating

When it comes to managing your team and getting the right tasks done, there are two fundamental approaches: deciding and delegating. The problem is — most entrepreneurs think they’re “delegating” when they’re really “deciding.” It’s no wonder they’re frustrated 

Deciding is when we take charge of a task and make all the decisions on how to complete it. This approach makes sense when a project requires only the entrepreneur’s specific skill set or knowledge. In such situations, you want control to ensure the task is completed correctly. 

On the other hand, delegating involves assigning tasks to team members with the necessary skills and experience to complete them. Delegating, done right, frees up your time so you can focus on more critical tasks. It also allows your team members to take ownership of their work and develop their skills. It makes them an integral part of your organization. And it’s the primary reason most entrepreneurs want to expand their teams. 

Mastering Delegation: A Step-by-Step Guide

Delegation is an impactful skill that involves assigning tasks and responsibilities to others. Done right, it free’s up your time, expands your team’s skills, and boosts overall productivity. 

To avoid the “decision trap” when you really intend to “delegate,” here is a step-by-step process:

  1. Identify the task. The first step is to identify the task that needs to be assigned. Sounds simple enough, right? Except, identification is not enough. It’s equally important to be clear about what needs to be done and why it is essential. This increases the likelihood that you reach your intended outcome. 
  2. Choose the right person. The next step is to choose the right person for the task. Consider the individual’s skills, experience, and workload before assigning the task. And, if you don’t have the right skill on your team? That’s a dilemma immediately. However, it can serve as a powerful reminder to understand and hire the skills needed to move work off your plate. 
  3. Define the task. Once the right person has been selected, communicating the details of the task clearly is essential. Explain the task’s goals, timeline, and expectations. Finally, be sure to ask if they have any questions or concerns. 
  4. Provide support. Make sure your team member has the necessary resources, tools, and support to execute the task successfully.  
  5. Set deadlines. Inform your team member of the date by which the task needs to be completed. Honestly, I love providing a timeline that is 48 hours before the actual deadline to allow enough time for anything that may go wrong. 
  6. Monitor progress. Without micromanaging (no one likes a “helicopter boss”), check in with the team member periodically to monitor progress and ensure that everything is on track.
  7. Provide feedback. When the task is completed, provide feedback on their performance and coach them through their experience. 

Finally, when delegating tasks to others, it’s essential to reward your team members’ ownership of the task. Your goal, after all,  is to shift your responsibility for decision-making to them. If a team member is being punished or made to feel they failed for wrong decisions, you merely train them to come back to you for decisions.

Keys to Fruitful Delegation: Trust & Communication

Trust and communication are essential for business success. It’s no different with delegation.  

As entrepreneurs, we must trust our team members to handle the assigned tasks and make the right decisions successfully. This trust doesn’t happen overnight. It’s built over time through clear communication, collaboration, and beneficial feedback. If we’re struggling to delegate, it may signal that we lack trust in our team members, which leads to micromanagement, reduced productivity, and demotivation.

Another crucial skill required for productive delegation to occur is communication. We must communicate our expectations clearly, which means that we need to be clear about our own expectations. We also want to provide guidance and support whenever needed, answering any questions or addressing any concerns without hovering.  Good communication fosters a culture of collaboration, essential for effective delegation and growth. 

In essence, deciding and delegating are two distinctive approaches to task assignment, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Deciding can be appropriate for short-term or high-pressure situations requiring quick decisions. Delegating, on the other hand, is essential for long-term success, as it allows team members to develop their skills and take on more significant responsibilities. Effective delegation requires trust, communication, collaboration, and feedback. Being skilled in both and knowing when to use each approach to achieve the best outcomes for their team and organization is key. 

planning

As an entrepreneur, you likely have a long list of goals and objectives you want to achieve for your business. However, turning those goals into actionable and achievable plans can be challenging. Establishing goals and developing the corresponding tasks is one of the most essential components of planning for overall business growth — and probably the most daunting. Without it, however, measuring success, setting deadlines, prioritizing objectives, or even starting a project is challenging.

At Synnovatia, we see first-hand the importance of effective goal-setting is critical to achieving success.

planning
Key Difference: Smart Goals Vs. Tasks

When it comes to goal-setting, using SMART goals and tasks are two common approaches most entrepreneurs use to stay focused. Both are effective methods of planning and executing your objectives but have different purposes and structures. Knowing when to use which tool can make the difference in getting the results you want faster.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. They help you identify your priorities and create a detailed plan to achieve them. SMART goals typically define long-term objectives, such as business growth, revenue increase, or percentage of market share. For example, if your goal is to increase sales by 20% this year, having a detailed implementation plan supports its achievement.

A pivotal point to remember when establishing SMART goals is to stay within achievability. You and your team will remain motivated and committed to completing them successfully. In fact, some of Synnovatia’s clients will often set three tiers of target goals. A red target indicates achievements are less than the previous measuring period. A yellow target goal meets the achievements of the previous measuring period. And, a green target goal exceeds the achievements of the previous period. Most have found this method advantageous following the post-COVID boom era when their industry still finds its legs for normality.

On the other hand, tasks are minor, specific, and detailed activities created to support the achievement of your SMART goals. Think of them as building blocks for your more extensive goal-setting process. Tasks are usually shorter and completed in hours or days. The greater the detail, the easier it is to find the clarity and focus that makes tasks effortless (almost) to implement. For instance, if your SMART goal is to increase sales by 20%, then weekly tasks may include designing new marketing materials or scheduling outbound emails.

Detailed tasks usually don’t stop there, although most of us get-er-done entrepreneurs do. The lack of detail often derails the best of intentions. To illustrate, designing new marketing materials likely requires 4-5 finer tasks before checking it off our list as complete.  Additional tasks such as contacting the marketing department, outlining the desired outcome, or determining the budget may be required, along with an estimated completion time.

When broken down into smaller tangible steps with clear deadlines, it’s much easier to manage your tasks proactively rather than reactively to ensure progress.

Plan Smarter: Weekly, Monthly, and Quarterly Planning Tips

Weekly, monthly, and quarterly planning are critical to effective goal achievement. It’s not enough to be good at goal setting…you and your team must become masters of implementation as well.

Weekly planning allows you to set tasks and goals for the upcoming week, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives. Communication of objectives, desired outcomes, and timelines is essential.

Monthly planning allows you to assess progress towards larger goals and adjust tasks accordingly. And, here’s the good news — if you and your team gain full command of the weekly planning process, the degree to which adjustments in monthly planning are required is significantly reduced.

Quarterly planning helps you evaluate progress toward longer-term goals and identify areas where adjustments may be necessary. Additionally, it’s the ideal time to reflect on accomplishments for the quarter and learning that can be carried forward into the next quarter.

Tracking progress along the continuum of weekly, monthly, and quarterly planning progress is vital to identify areas where intervention may be needed quickly. Corrective measures taken sooner rather than later save precious resources! Regularly reviewing and adjusting tasks based on progress keeps everyone on track and ensures that progress is steady toward achieving your ultimate objective.

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If you’re struggling to set smart goals and tasks for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance. We’ll partner with you to share our expertise and knowledge specific to your planning needs. We’ll help you identify areas for improvement, set realistic goals, and stay on track to achieve them. Don’t let hurdles to planning hold you back from reaching your goals. 

planning

Planning is key to growing any business. It helps organizations set clear goals, identify the resources needed to achieve them, measure progress, and adapt quickly to unexpected challenges or opportunities in the marketplace.

But when a small business owner launches their enterprise, planning is often ad-hoc and focused primarily on surviving day-to-day. This is especially true for those bootstrapping as opposed to those with funding.

However, ad hoc planning only takes an organization so far before it collapses into chaos. Once an organization reaches “the messy middle,” planning requirements change. At this point, the entrepreneur needs to consider several types of planning that allow the business to stay one step ahead of the industry.

planning

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Let’s dive into the different types of planning:

Strategic planning is the highest-level planning that occurs within an enterprise. It’s the process that involves analyzing the internal and external environments, identifying the critical areas of focus, determining long-term goals and objectives, and the strategies, resources, and actions required to achieve them. Strategic planning — and the accompanying skill of strategic thinking — is beneficial in identifying opportunities and threats in your external environment and aligning your internal resources and capabilities to exploit them. A well-planned and executed strategic plan helps build a sustainable competitive advantage and achieve long-term growth.

Business planning is a process that helps organizations define their short and medium-term goals and identify the resources required to achieve them. Unlike strategic planning, a high-level process, business planning focuses on specific operational areas such as marketing, sales, operations, and finance. It typically covers a one-to-three-year period and involves setting clear targets and milestones to measure progress. The duration of short and medium-term goals can be relative to the organization’s needs, including how rapidly the business is growing and the industry is changing or the impact of outside forces (think COVID or economic uncertainty).

Operational planning focuses on the day-to-day activities of your business. It involves defining specific actions required to achieve business objectives and allocating resources to execute them. Operational planning typically covers a shorter time frame than strategic or business planning, such as a month or a quarter. To develop your operational plan, identify the specific actions required to achieve your goals. You’ll also want to identify the resources needed to execute these actions, such as personnel, equipment, and technology. Next, allocate resources and set specific timelines and milestones to measure progress. And remember, automation can be your best friend in setting up repeatable processes to reduce workload and improve operational efficiency.

Financial planning is a critical process that helps you effectively manage your business’s financial resources. It involves forecasting future revenue and expenses, developing a budget, and monitoring actual performance against planned targets. Financial planning helps to manage cash flow, identify potential financial risks, and make informed decisions about resource investment and financing. To develop your financial plan, start by forecasting future revenue and expenses. Next, create a budget that allocates resources to different business areas, such as marketing, operations, and personnel. Also, develop a cash flow analysis that predicts future cash inflows and outflows. Finally, monitor actual performance against planned targets and adjust their financial plan as needed.

Contingency planning is a process that helps your business prepare for whatever unexpectedly is thrown your way. It includes identifying potential risks and developing plans to mitigate them. Events such as natural disasters, economic downturns, or supply chain disruptions can create a major upheaval in your business, often threatening closure. A contingency plan helps you reduce the impact of unforeseen events. Also, consider including a communication plan to ensure that employees, customers, and suppliers are informed of any disruptions and how the business plans to mitigate them.

Last but not least, succession planning ensures your business has a clear continuity plan and can maintain operations during periods of leadership change. Identify key leadership positions and provide mentorship, coaching, and shadowing opportunities as part of your succession plan. This will ensure a smooth transition when the time comes for a change in leadership.

Additionally, consider developing a contingency plan for unexpected leadership changes, such as sudden illness or death. This ensures your business can continue to operate without interruption in an emergency.

In conclusion, planning is crucial for the success of any business. It helps organizations set clear goals, identify the resources needed to achieve them, measure progress, and adapt quickly to unforeseen challenges or opportunities. By mastering different types of planning, you can set your business up for long-term success and secure your legacy for the future.

strategic thinking

When entrepreneurs think of “self-care,” we often think of indulging in a long walk, a vigorous run along some trails, a massage, an afternoon nap, a fictional read, or a long weekend. We would not add “carving out time for strategic thinking” to that list.

Strategic thinking, a cognitive process of clarifying your business objectives, goals, and plans, is often viewed as a task worthy of our undivided, focused attention. It’s time to concentrate intensely on planning and problem-solving using every brain cell available. Self-care? Hardly!

The Self-Care Myth

strategic thinking

Most of us conflate “self-care” with “work-life balance.”  We often place our attention and effort in the work-life balance bucket in search of a drumbeat of work and rest that keeps us sharp, focused, and innovative — only to stumble repeatedly.

And it’s not just me. The entrepreneurs with whom I strategize share the same angst.

Attempts to achieve self-care through a balanced life feel a bit like a mirage. There are continual roles to juggle, projects to implement, and deadlines to meet. That’s how business functions in today’s fast-paced competitive marketplace. Being overwhelmed by all the responsibilities of growing a business almost feels natural.

Unfortunately, self-care is usually the last item to be addressed — unless we’re “forced” to slow down, take a break, and take it easy.  But never fear! There is a way to make self-care more of a priority without losing your sanity.

It turns out that strategic thinking is the ideal form of self-care for overwhelmed entrepreneurs.

Who knew?

21st Century Self-Care is Powerful

Honestly, self-care has gotten a bit of a bad reputation.

Yet, a continual diet of stress and overwhelm that often accompanies business growth forces our bodies into overdrive. We produce high levels of cortisol. Adrenaline increases our heart rate, elevates our blood pressure, and uses more energy than normal because of the perceived or real threat. The result? Even greater levels of stress and overwhelm — only this time, our bodies are less equipped to fight back. Eventually, burnout sets in.

But you already knew that, right?

Rather than succumb to the unseemly impact of persistent pressure, why not reignite possibilities by taking time to think strategically about the future of your business?

Open Your Mind and Say, “Ahhh”

You may think you’re too distracted or stressed to take the time to think strategically — especially if you’re caught in the Messy Middle. Yet, the gains of doing so far outweigh the many perceived disadvantages.

Strategic thinkers, often characterized as having high levels of creativity, adaptability, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities — all important traits for any successful entrepreneur — require time to see things differently. It’s mandatory for success.

When the frantic speed begins to slow, our minds open to creative possibilities. We create space to listen to ourselves — an often-ignored quality. Strategic thinking pulls us out of the vortex of crisis thinking and encourages objectivity.

It emboldens us to look at problems from different angles and to come up with imaginative solutions not previously considered to address stubborn problems.

But it goes beyond finding solutions to problems; strategic thinking helps identify opportunities and create strategies that lead to growth. You make better decisions about where to invest your time and money to achieve the best possible outcome for your business. It empowers you to avoid costly mistakes, maximize profits, and stay ahead of your competitors in an ever-changing market.

Finally, as a strategic thinker, you are better equipped to ensure that everyone involved in a project understands the vision and objectives for each task or project. It fosters collaboration and allows your team to work together towards common goals more effectively.

In addition to gaining clarity, strategic thinking enhances well-being and quality of life. Energy levels increase since you’re not expending unnecessary vitality in catastrophizing. It improves your ability to do quality work and boosts your willingness to persist when business gets tough.

Think Smarter, Not Harder

The first step in utilizing strategic thinking as self-care is to figure out what “strategic thinking” means — and looks like — for you.

Strategic thinking involves understanding the bigger picture of your life and work and figuring out how to move forward with those goals. It focuses your energy on the most important tasks, or as one of my clients calls them, “high-impact, high-value tasks,” while minimizing distractions from less important ones. It allows you to prioritize your goals so you can focus on the ones that will influence your business growth the most.

More importantly, it recharges your soul.

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We would love to help you think and grow more strategically. We’ll even share our “famous” planning process with you. Click here to schedule a time to explore the possibilities.

business growth via systems thinking

As an entrepreneur in stage 2 of business growth—the messy middle—you likely need more time to grow your business. Yet sustained, scalable growth can be elusive. There are many moving parts to a successful business, and it can be difficult to see how they all fit together. Plus, wasteful tasks bog you down and don’t add any value to your bottom line.

That’s where systems thinking comes in. Systems allow you to grow and scale your business.  Without systems, your business will quickly reach a ceiling and be unable to expand. 

And, as more and more enterprises seek ways to create sustained, scalable business growth, this type of thinking is gaining momentum. Why? Because systems thinking is the key to unlocking sustained, scalable business growth. 

business growth via systems thinking

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

What Is Systems Thinking?

Systems thinking is a way of looking at your business that sees interconnectedness and interdependence rather than independent and isolated parts. 

In a traditional linear system, each part is separate and independent from the others. It’s a siloed approach that creates inefficiencies and stagnation. Additionally, linear thinking and its subsequent siloed approach lead to departments or divisions competing with each other rather than collaborating. 

On the other hand, systems thinking is a way of looking at problems that consider the relationships between different parts of a system. It’s a holistic approach that considers how each element of a system affects the other elements. And when you employ systems thinking to solve problems, you can see the big picture and more easily identify potential areas of improvement. 

When done correctly, this leads to increased efficiency, opens capacity, and spurs growth. 

Why Use Systems Thinking for Business Growth? 

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, it’s more important than ever to adapt quickly to new challenges. Systems thinking provides a framework for doing just that. By understanding how different parts of your business are interconnected, you can make changes that have a ripple effect throughout the organization. This allows you to be nimble and responsive to the ever-changing needs of the marketplace. 

There are many benefits to using systems thinking in your business. When this type of thinking is operating, you’ll be able to: 

  • See the big picture. When systems thinking is employed, you can see how all the different parts of your business fit together. With the big picture in mind, your decision-making improves.
  • Find inefficiencies. When systems thinking is used, you uncover inefficiencies in your business and correct them, which opens the capacity for more growth.
  • Create sustainable growth. With systems thinking, you can create sustained, scalable growth for your business, which is impossible with a traditional linear approach. 

How To Use Systems Thinking 

In its simplest form, there are four steps to using systems thinking in your business. First, define the problem you’re trying to solve. Second, identify the different parts of the system involved in the issue. Third, analyze how each part of the system affects the other parts. Finally, develop solutions that address the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. 

Using these steps, you’ll be able to see problems from multiple angles and develop creative solutions that will help your business grow sustainably. 

Systems thinking is about creating and using processes and procedures to automate your business operations. It eliminates the need for manual tasks, which are often time-consuming and inefficient. It also helps streamline your business processes, ensuring everyone is on the same page, services are delivered quickly and efficiently, and unnecessary duplication of work is eliminated. 

If you want your business to grow, start thinking like a systems thinker. Use data to understand cause and effect, look for feedback loops, anticipate what will happen next, create experiments, and be prepared to correct course when necessary. Encourage a culture of learning, keep an eye on the big picture, build resilience into your system, and be open to new ideas to embrace change as an opportunity for growth.

Systems thinking is a powerful tool that can unlock sustained, scalable business growth. It creates a ripple effect throughout the entire company and makes your business nimble and responsive in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. 

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Testimonial

Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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