As we look around our society today and review our economy, with its rising interest rates and higher inflation, a lot of people are caught in a trap – one known as FEAR. Actually, it is an acronym for – False Expectations Appearing Real!

I’m sure you can relate, whether it’s the potential threat of your business partner wanting to be bought out during these challenging economic times, your vendors putting extra pressure on you to stay current or your banker commenting that his or her auditors are really scrutinizing their bank advance rates on lines of credit…

We probably all tend to overreact to these types of thoughts or comments, but I believe Author Marilyn Ferguson summed it up best when she stated:

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.”

So, what can we do when we run into fear? Realize, as my Business Coach Dan Sullivan, co-founder of the Strategic Coach organization, stated, “Obstacles are the raw material for your success.” Instead of running from these items that you fear, do the following:

First, Set Your Objective. Then, define your Why, the reason you absolutely must achieve this goal. Once you know your Why, as I’ve said previously, your How becomes much easier to identify. You can then list all the obstacles and determine ways to overcome them. This process will keep you moving forward toward your ultimate objective.

Please allow me to provide you with my own business start-up as an example. I didn’t make this change just for more money. That was simply one of the rewards for doing a good job with Clients.

I started by asking myself the question, “How can I do this?” Asking that question made the process more difficult. However, when I started focusing on my Why, positive things started to happen. I started by asking Why, and then realized that I wanted to run my own business. I was fatigued with the demands of Corporate America, and realized that if I didn’t start to set my own course, I’d be stranded on someone else’s agenda. I wanted the freedom to travel with my Family.

When I actually identified my Why, positive things started to happen. I landed Clients, found plenty of long, enjoyable work hours (which never hurt anyone), and discovered plenty of new opportunities to consult, speak and write about. Did I have any fears at the beginning? Of course, I did, but overcoming them by realizing that those fears, while possible, didn’t necessarily have to happen.

By identifying my Why, those fears got lost in the “rear view mirror,” and you can do the same exact thing with your fears, too!

Can I assist you with this process? Be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops in the Fall.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

My Business Coach Dan Sullivan, Co-Founder of the Strategic Coach organization stated, “Your eyes only see, and your ears only hear what your brain is looking for.”

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? I have a client who regularly reminds me that, just like Johnny Cash, “He is a worried man…” He is usually joking when he says this, but what are the implications of this type of thinking?

If all our thinking is negative, focusing on the potential pitfalls of our every move, guess what? Your brain will definitely find them. Why subject yourself to this junk? It will be much better to recognize the challenges at hand, look for potential solutions to those problems, and then focus on the implementation of them.

If you focus on the positive outcomes that are possible, you can begin to set some challenging, yet attainable, goals. As I have said previously, identify why you want to achieve your goal, along with what that goal clearly is. Then, the steps needed for how you can reach the goal become so much clearer. Knowing your why will help your mind to clearly focus on the steps necessary to your success.

Should we just ignore the potential negatives, the challenges you may face along the way? No, because they always seem to challenge you during the process. With my clients, I suggest that they develop what I call a “Disaster Agenda.” Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? However, after setting their objectives, I ask them to think about the worst three things that could happen and, more importantly, what their potential response might be to such events. I do not like to dwell on these negative challenges, but I feel the benefits of recognizing them are twofold.

First, if one of them does occur, you will be better prepared for it with a solid response. Second, if something even remotely similar happens, you will be better prepared to overcome that hurdle, too.

One word of caution for you. We should not ignore these negatives, but make your primary focus on the objectives you want to achieve. Let your thoughts dwell on these, and I will see you at the finish line!

As author Leonard I. Sweet stated, “The future is not something we enter, it’s something we create.”

Can I assist you with this same process? If so, be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

These are tough times. Our economy is scary in some sectors and best characterized as shaky for a lot of people. However, please let me share some good news with you. The key is to focus on Success, not Failure!

The primary reason for this is that if we spend all our time focusing on failure, we can become fearful. Fear is like a weed. It grows without any help and can pop up unannounced, often catching us off guard. However, faith in a better outcome must be sown. How do you do that?

I’m glad you asked. Faith can be sown by focusing on your goal. I call it a “six-inch challenge.” That is because 6 inches is the approximate distance from our left ear to our right ear. Our mind is in that same 6 inches. In other words, whatever you fill your mind with, that will be where your focus remains. The real problem with this approach is that it can get you “down,” and then you never get to the steps necessary to break free from your current challenges.

My suggestion is, despite the current economic challenges, decide What you want to achieve (i.e., “The Goal”) and then be specific about Why you want it. At this point, do not worry How you will achieve the objective. The reason for this is that if your Why is strong enough, the How becomes much easier.

Once we’ve identified Why you want to reach a goal, we can outline the How as follows:

  • Decide what you want & why you want to attain that goal, i.e., what level can be achieved?
  • Define it clearly in your mind, e.g., $300,000 Net Income.
  • Clearly outline Why you want to hit this target. Remember, your Why is far more important than your How.
  • Next, we start laying out the How. What steps do you need to take to reach your objective? What do you need to change? Let’s also identify the potential hurdles you will have to overcome.
  • Start laying out the steps you must pursue to overcome these challenges.
  • Start implementing these steps, realizing that some factors will change as you proceed forward. This can create new obstacles or, on a more positive note, it may eliminate some other ones.
  • As I’ve said many times before, track your results because if you measure something, you can understand it. If you understand it, you can control it. And if you can control something, you can most definitely improve it. That, my friends, is what success is all about!

As Napoleon Hill stated, “The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.”

Can I assist you with this process? If so, please let me know and be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops to help you with this process.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

During the past six months, I have noticed a new trend in the way people try to overcome the challenges they are facing in their businesses. They cancel previously scheduled meetings with their Nutritionist, CPA, Attorney or other Advisors. I think it can best be described as “ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away.” If you ever observe this scenario with a neighbor or your brother-in-law (assuming it never happens at your operation), here are a couple suggestions about how to overcome it.

Suggestion #1 – The challenges you face are not likely to go away if you ignore them. In fact, they could compound and become even more challenging.

Suggestion #2 – Cancelling one of these sessions, especially at the last minute, can throw your professional’s schedule off. My biggest concern is that if you urgently need them later, will they be in a position to step in, particularly on short notice? Will they even be motivated to do so?

As I suggested in my last blog, let’s focus instead on the Solutions, not just the problems. Along that same line, we should always remain open to meet, to learn, to develop new objectives and adjust our course as needed, because no one is immune to items changing.

This is all part of what I call “Working on the Business, Not Just in the Business!” It will lead us to complete the following tasks:

  • Answer the question of “What will your business look like in 10 years?”
  • Will you personally be fulfilling the same role or doing different tasks?
  • Who will your competitors be in the future? Sound silly? Consider the impact that products such as Almond Milk or Oat Milk may be having on dairy supplies. Will it become even greater in its future impact?
  • What obstacles do you see in the short term or over longer time periods? What’s the impact of higher inflation, rising interest rates, or increased industry regulations?
  • Keeping these factors in mind, have you begun developing a roadmap for overcoming these hurdles?
  • Are you pursuing your objectives or those of your banker, your industry or someone else? These are all key points to consider.

Can I assist you with this same process? If so, be on the watch for some upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Sound like a silly question, especially in light of our current challenges with higher inflation, rising interest rates, and many hurdles you are facing in your business today? I don’t believe so. Despite these items that are impacting us all, this could, in fact, be the best time to stop, take a deep breath and consider everything that is happening. Most important, what course of action should we take to counter these current challenges?

In a recent Inc. magazine article by Marcel Schwantes, Steve Jobs was quoted as stating that “Living Your Best Life Really Comes Down to 3 Words.” And, what are they? “Follow. Your. Heart.” Sounds like great advice, but let’s consider why. The best reason is that if you don’t follow your heart, you will be placed on someone else’s agenda.

As Jobs pointed out, we all have limited time on earth. He added, “Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Most people seem to know what they don’t want in life, but it’s far more important that we identify what you do want. If I asked you this question, could you clearly define it for me? This is significant, because if we delineate what you do want, then we can define the potential obstacles to achieving this, start to identify potential solutions, and lay out a definite game plan for moving closer to your goal!

Former President Donald J. Trump stated, “Brilliant business operators take problems and turn them into gold.” How do they accomplish this? By overcoming obstacles and then providing solutions. President Teddy Roosevelt added that, “Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining!”

With that in mind, let’s face our challenges by taking several steps: 1.) Decide what you want to see. 2.) Define it clearly in your mind. 3.) List all the potential obstacles to your success. 4.) Outline the possible solutions to these challenges.

Can I assist you with this same process? If so, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

During a recent meeting with a business prospect, he shared his frustration with the rising costs of most inputs, especially the commodities he has been purchasing for his dairy operation. He was quite adamant about it, too, stating, “What’s the use? I’m about to give up…” He has historically been very profitable, as illustrated by his strong equity position.

In response, I shared with him the following quote from the movie “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein: The main character Denny is advised by his driving coach that “There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.”

The same is true for us today. Challenges will arise, but we must stay in the game. As I have stated numerous times, if you measure something, you can understand it. If you understand it, you can control that item, and if you can control it, you will be better positioned to improve it. This is true for both Revenue and Expense items in your business.

I complete monthly financial analysis for each of my Clients and I believe it has allowed us to accomplish several tasks. First, on the cost front, it has allowed us to catch expense items that are rising more quickly, providing us with an opportunity to make adjustments to their cost structure before these items get out of control.

Additionally, it has led us to start identifying new Revenue sources. While this may sound impossible to some people, I have Clients in the dairy industry who also sell Almonds, Walnuts, Grapes, Methane captured & converted into various energy products, Breeding Stock, Beef, Dried Manure for bedding and Feed Crops for other livestock operations. Are some of these possible for your operation? It is likely worth your consideration.

One final benefit that Clients have attained by having our financial analysis regularly. They know what their Break-Even levels are for Selling Prices, for their Costs/unit and for their various Production Levels. Just knowing these measurements equips them to fully understand what items need “fine tuning” and to what degree, assuming other variables stay the same. It provides them the information they need to take action and move toward greater profitability.

Can I assist you with this same process? If so, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

It seems that there is a great deal of uncertainty on the part of business people today. There are numerous reasons for this, including the impact of higher inflation, its rising costs, higher taxes and maybe even more regulation. The following excerpt was written by a lady named Jacqueline G. back in February to the Editors of the Stansberry Research newsletter, and while you may or may not agree with her thoughts, I believe there is a positive message here for us.

Many of your readers writing in seem to have the mindset that life needs to come to a complete standstill until interest rates subside. Yeah, 3% was nice. I locked in a refi at slightly more than that.

But I entered college when Reagan was Prez. When he took office, the Prime Lending Rate was something like 22%. My guaranteed student loan rate was 13%! And that was supposed to be a better rate than the bank would have given me. 13%, folks! There was no Amazon yet, and I got gouged like crazy for my college textbooks. A few years later, when hubby and I bought our first house, interest rates were down. That little starter home only cost us 9.5%.

Life didn’t stop back then, and it won’t stop now. People need to work and shop and go to school and buy houses and cars and get married and have babies and start businesses and go to the doctor and on and on. If the media would shut up for five minutes, people might actually go live their lives instead of whining about interest rates. Does the government’s own debt load and the interest on that make a difference now? Of course it does, and you can thank your elected representatives…

Meanwhile, I have a life to live. And I have better things to do than complain about interest rates, which is about as useful as complaining all the time about the weather.

As I said earlier, you may or may not agree with Jacqueline, but her comments are worth reviewing. What is the message?

First, life moves on, and we all have a choice. Will you move forward or digress? I think it’s also important to remember that in these challenging times, it’s not just about cutting costs. Maybe it’s about boosting efficiencies. I recently had a Client, whose labor costs are off the charts, apologizing for his operation’s labor inefficiencies. If it truly is not his employees’ fault that their labor costs are so high, then it’s his responsibility to work closely with his employees to squeeze more productivity out of the business, either by updating and streamlining activities or possibly automating some tasks.

The point is that we can never wait for these items to fix themselves. While this may, indeed, be a challenging time for our economy, we cannot wait for things to be “just right” to make changes. Go forward and create a game plan for improvement!

Can I assist you with your Success Plan? If so, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

If you are like a lot of business people, my Clients included, you have to be feeling pressured with the impact of inflation on so many costs. These include fuel prices, which, frankly, could be improved with clearer thinking and less political drama. However, it also includes items such as labor, insurance and just about any type of supplies or building materials.

If you aren’t feeling the impact of these rising costs and the painful rise in interest rates, as a result of the Federal Reserve Board’s efforts to control inflation, you are truly “living a charmed life…” It appears, as I write this, that the Fed is gaining better control over inflation, but, unfortunately, it is still at the highest level we have seen since 1980. Yet, the unfortunate thing is that once we incur these price increases, they will likely stay with us for a long time.

Thus, it becomes imperative to budget for these higher costs and then manage them as much as possible. Where do we begin? My Business Coach Dan Sullivan, co-founder of the Strategic Coach organization, said, “All progress begins with telling the truth.”

What is he saying? Specifically, he is stating that we need to clearly identify where you currently are in terms of costs and the offsetting revenues you are producing in your business.

Please recall that in prior writings, I’ve suggested that if you measure something, you can understand it. If you understand it, you can control that item, and if you can control it, you will be better positioned to improve it.

The specifics of these revenues and expenses, mentioned above, represent the Measurement part of this success formula. Once you have measured them, you can obtain a better Understanding of them, providing you with the ammunition you need to positively Control them. It will give you the detailed information you need to analyze your cost structure, in comparison to your available revenues, and make changes that can Improve your business’ bottom line results.

Will it be perfect? Probably not, given the variables I listed at the beginning of this article. However, it will position you to complete regular monthly comparisons of your Budget vs. Actual results and then make changes, as necessary. Additionally, if you set out some written goals, create action commitments related to them, and share these with your business partners, banker and employees, you will have created an “Accountability Team” that will help keep you on track. The benefits of this process can be enormous!

What I find especially appealing is that when you implement this process, you will be the greatest beneficiary of these steps. While it may sometimes appear that your banker, for example, is consistently hitting you with MUSTS, an acronym for “Making Up Stuff To Scare” themselves, they really do have your best interest in mind. Your Banker, your Vendors, your Family and your Employees all want you to succeed! And, I do, too.

Can I assist you to be more successful? If I can help you on this, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

That is an excellent question and, likely, one that we often attempt to avoid answering. However, putting a more positive spin on the same question, what can we put into place to minimize the chances of us meeting with failure.

Famous business consultant W. Edwards Deming, who developed the foundation for the large success of the Japanese automotive industry stated that “94% of all failure is due to the system!”

Now, without knowing the specifics of your business operation, I cannot in all honesty tell you what systems you need to put in place to succeed. Frankly, none of us has all the answers. For example, why does sour cream have an expiration date? It’s already sour, isn’t it?

All joking aside, if you want to maximize your chances for success, Apple CEO Tim Cook suggests that you, “Do what you love and put your whole heart into it.” In other words, do everything you can to optimize your results.

With that in mind, do you have business systems in place for your operation? One approach is to think through all the tasks that need to be completed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Then, outline the steps, actions & requirements for completing those tasks.

As you outline those items, consider how they should be completed, in the event that you were not there to supervise their completion. I’m not wishing anything bad for any of you, but true systems allow people to function in an optimal manner, regardless of who is doing the activities. That is precisely why you need these tasks to all be written down. Then, if you have a health issue or are gone on a vacation, even a new employee can complete the necessary steps.

Remember, Systems are key! One other point for consideration. Get your employees involved in developing & outlining these systems, because when you are gone on that vacation I mentioned, they will be the ones successfully implementing the system. In fact, they will be more likely to take “ownership” in it if you have included your Team as you outline your business protocol and solve challenges!

Are you positioned to succeed? If you don’t determine a plan for your business and life, guess what?  Someone else will! It may be your banker, your landlord or some government bureaucrat. If I can assist you on this process of developing better systems, contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

In a recent Inc. magazine article I read, its author Marcel Schwantes talked about the value of being vulnerable. Sound scary? I thought so, initially, but what the author talked about was the benefits of being vulnerable with your Team, for example.

What are the primary benefits? First, Dr. Rene Brown calls vulnerability “the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” She explained that this is necessary for leaders to connect with & inspire others, e.g., employees.

We often think of vulnerability as a sign of weakness. However, Brown states that vulnerability is one of the most accurate measures of courage: “I cannot find a single incident of courage that is not completely underpinned by vulnerability… Think about the last time you saw someone do something that was brave, and I guarantee you vulnerability will be there.”

It is also about building trust, for example with your key employees. In other words, it is okay to let them know that you do not have all the answers. In fact, it’s very healthy, and will likely lead them to step up and assist you. It also lets them know that you are only human…

I hope you find this discussion helpful. Being vulnerable can often be sign of maturity and a solid leadership skill!

Are you positioned to succeed? Remember, if you don’t determine a plan for your business and life, guess what?  Someone else will! If I can assist you on this process, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!