Considering the rising costs of so many inputs today, are you concerned about your bottom line results this year? If so, I think you are on the right track for meeting with greater levels of success. Congratulations for thinking ahead!

As I have stated so many times previously, if you measure something, you can understand it. If you understand it, you can control it, and if you can control an item, it is far easier to improve it. Yet, to truly measure our bottom-line results, we must have a system to accomplish this process. That is where an Annual Budget becomes crucial. It’s very difficult to make Actual to Budget comparisons when you don’t have your expected results budgeted.

As we consider the current rise in other operating expenses, a person can start to feel overwhelmed. I understand.
 
Ultimately, however, we each need to rise above the pressures & move forward. No one ever said that life would be easy. I love the following quote from management guru Peter Drucker in his book entitled The Age of Discontinuity:
 
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
 
What does he mean? I believe he is saying that we need to do all we can to create the future we want to have. Wherever we are in life, we made an appointment to be there. Our positions today have been determined by choices we made in the past. Future results will be influenced by what we do today.
 
1.)  The volatility of all agricultural markets has risen during the past 20 years. That’s a fact. However, the tools to deal with this change have been in place for quite some time. You can use put options to protect against severe downturns in milk prices without giving up the upside potential of higher prices. I know that they cost money & may go unused, but not using them just because they may not be exercised makes about as much sense as scolding your insurance agent because he sold you house insurance and your home did not burn down!
2.)  You can contract some costs as much as you are comfortable with. Many of my Clients have been doing this for years. Unfortunately, during the last 10 years, I have observed that many feel the need to lock in every item at the absolute minimum cost. This is probably unrealistic for anyone. Do the best you can, but don’t hesitate to make the decisions you need to in a timely manner.
3.)  All of your other expenses can be projected and should be monitored on a monthly basis. Regular review of your expenses can be critical to catching those cost items that are getting out of line earlier. Start by developing a reasonable budget to make your comparisons with, and if you need assistance, please contact me.
4.)  Finally, even with a solid plan in place, you can occasionally get off track. The key is to recognize the problem early & get back on course.

Are you positioned for success? If the consideration of these four points can boost your financial results, why not give them a try? I have seen this process work for my clients. If I can assist you on this process or in seeking increased efficiencies, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

They say that “curiosity killed the cat.” That may be true, but perhaps that’s why they supposedly come equipped with nine lives…

One of the most curious and successful people ever was the late co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs. Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ives explained in the Wall Street Journal that Jobs “was without doubt the most inquisitive human I have ever met. His insatiable curiosity was not limited or distracted by his knowledge or expertise, nor was it casual or passive.  It was ferocious, energetic and restless.  His curiosity was practiced with intention and rigor.”

How curious are you in your business?  Ives goes on to explain that “our curiosity begs that we learn. And for Steve, wanting to learn was far more important than wanting to be right.” We can utilize curiosity to challenge others’ limiting views of the world.  Entrepreneurs and other leaders often create real value by questioning current belief systems. Entrepreneurial business coach Dan Sullivan states “Opportunities for entrepreneurial innovation and profit are increasingly found in the failure of bureaucracy.” 

Inc. magazine states that curious workers are good for business.  One prime example of this is with 3M Corporation, whose employees are instructed to spend 15% of their time experimenting with the development of new products. How much time are you spending developing new ideas and systems within your business? This is not a time to “play scared!” All of our businesses will be facing additional challenges as we move forward, and I think the cost of this experimentation is vastly outweighed by the benefits of being curious. It is noteworthy that employees who are curious will positively impact their coworkers. If that is true, then imagine the positive impact of adapting this new approach.

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 or in seeking increased efficiencies, contact me today.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Are you facing some productivity hurdles in your business? A recent article in Inc magazine by Marcel Schwantes entitled “Research Says Employees Need 3 Things to Drive Their Happiness at Work” stated that “happy workers are, quite simply, better and more productive workers.”

Now, before you tune out this message as “stupid happy talk,” please consider the potential impact of these three factors. The first is having a “meaningful and compelling vision.” In other words, do your employees see a vision of the future for your business and truly understand how & where they fit in? Schwantes points out that this can foster greater loyalty than money and perks alone can provide. In summary, do your employees see this future vision, and do they understand their role in it? Without these key ingredients, productivity levels will suffer.

The second key ingredient is “connecting their purpose to work.” If people feel that their work matters, their productivity will usually increase. Make a point of discussing how even the most mundane and repetitive tasks contribute to your Team’s overall mission and success. This can be a great motivator for your employees.

Finally, it will support and be beneficial to “fostering healthy relationships.” Trusting and supportive relationships lead to greater levels of collaboration and a more positive work experience. Schwantes explained that “when those relationships are present in the workplace, employees report a much more positive employee experience than when that support is absent (77% vs. 35%).”

Are you positioned for success? If the consideration of these three points can boost your productivity, why not give it a try? I have seen this process work for my clients. If I can assist you on this process or in seeking increased efficiencies, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Are you thriving in your business or simply surviving? This is a crucial question to answer, especially as we move through years that are financially challenging. As I mentioned in a prior blog, the rising costs of doing business will always make it more difficult to reach your Break-Even Levels.

Add to this the increase in interest rates and a few additional regulatory items, and suddenly you are facing some genuine barriers to your success. In my last blog, I stated if you measure your costs, you can understand them. If you understand them, you will be better able to control them, and, of course, if you can control them, you can improve them.

Reaching your Break-Even Levels can then become more attainable, but there is even more to this success process than what may be initially obvious. What else can we do to improve your profitability?

  • Boost your efficiencies. If you can make improvements in your operation by streamlining tasks or even automating them, results can improve. I have several dairy clients who have automated the processes of pushing feed up in front of their cows, using a robot. It’s an important job that just, frankly, wasn’t being completed often enough. The robot completes this simple process 10-12 times per day, boosting milk production per cow, and never takes a vacation, calls in sick or has a Workers’ Comp claim…
  • Look at potentially cutting unnecessary costs. Are there certain tasks where you find yourself defending the old way of doing things? It is crucial that we look at ways that we may be able to reduce or even eliminate steps without impairing our results. Can some processes even be combined in your operation?
  • Are there tasks, once again, that can be automated? As we look at the rising costs of labor, or perhaps more significantly, the challenges of even finding enough employees, this is worth looking into. I have another Dairy Client who has automated the process of milking his cows. Installing these robots helped him reduce his labor costs by a substantial amount and will pay for themselves in a relatively short time frame, and that was before the minimum wage & overtime rules were updated for next year. As the minimum wages rises, the pay scale of these skilled workers will increase, too, making the payback of the robots even quicker.

Are you positioned to succeed? Being on your “A Game” requires fine tuning your efficiencies, as discussed above, and then developing a Budget that can help you navigate tough times, any slowdown in the economy and rising interest rates. Measure your Actual Results vs. this Budget, and make the changes necessary. I have seen this process work for my clients for the past 24 years. If I can assist you on this process or in seeking increased efficiencies, please contact me.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

If you are like most business people, you have probably been feeling your profit margins tighten as we have gone through this year. If not, you are truly living a “charmed life…” Frankly, I believe most of us have been feeling this effect, given the ridiculous prices of fuel, fertilizer, and general repairs, both at home & in our businesses.

What’s driving this? I believe it’s a combination of foolish policies and terribly poor planning on the part of those in charge of setting our country’s direction. What is the answer?

It’s rather “Spartan,” but I suggest you “prepare for battle.” Not literally, of course, but rather from the perspective that you must be on guard in terms of costs. For example, I’ve been hearing that our costs of doing business will likely be rising in 2023. Really? I guess the same folks doing these measurements have not noticed that the cost of flights has already doubled and fuel is up at least 50%…

Most importantly, do you know what your costs of production truly are? Recall that I have shared many times that if you measure your costs, you can understand them. If you understand them, you will be better able to control them, and, of course, if you can control them, you can improve them.

This is crucial, because it forms the very basis of Break-Even Analysis. This is true for any operation, regardless of its size. Break-Even Analysis takes your Revenue & Expenses and then tells you what items you need to change, with all other items remaining the same, to reach your Break-Even Level, the point at which you will not lose money.

It is far better to be on the leading edge of this than to be playing “catch-up.” Why wait? If I can assist you with this process, please contact me at your earliest convenience. As industrial magnate Charles M. Schwab stated: “Keeping a little ahead of conditions is one of the secrets of business…”

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I received an interesting email about my last blog about how courage can be contagious. With that in mind, I wanted to provide you with some thoughts that motivational coach Brendon Burchard shared recently.

He pointed out that people who are facing self-doubt typically do one of two things. They either “stop dead in their tracks” or use this event as a “trigger to kick it in!”

As Brendon explained, “the first phase is when a Crisis Happens.” This is normally when people start seeking safety and security. They may even do crazy things, like ‘hoarding toilet paper,’ as some people did at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Remember?

“The second phase is when people start to cope with the crisis. If you are in the Stress Management Mode, you may begin feeling self-doubt, become overwhelmed and start asking the question – ‘Why am I going through this?’” A better approach would be to use this challenge as an opportunity to get prepared!

“The third phase is to start realizing that you need to overcome this challenge and build positive progress.” In other words, as I stated in my last blog, commit to a plan. Outline the necessary steps, recognize the hurdles you may face & how you’ll overcome them, determine who will implement the necessary action steps, and put a deadline on these tasks. Otherwise, they will simply remain a “dream,” not something you’ll actually bring to fruition.

This will take some time but, once again, you will probably find new solutions, refine your processes and make additional, positive improvements. And, please remember what my Business Coach Dan Sullivan said about this: “The are no unreasonable goals; just unreasonable deadlines.

I’ll look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Is courage actually contagious? Can you literally catch it? In the book “Courage is Calling” by Ryan Holiday he states that “… courage, like fear, is contagious. One person who knows what they are doing, who isn’t afraid, who has a plan is enough to reinforce an outnumbered army, to buck up a broken system, to calm chaos where it has taken root.” Sometimes, all it takes is one person with courage. Someone who isn’t afraid to face defying odds.

It reminds me of several of the financial turnarounds I’ve been directly involved with over the past 24 years. I’ve been faced with some fairly difficult situations with Clients where we faced off with multiple bankers and attorneys, attempting to persuade them that the financial projections I had developed could work, as planned.

I’ve discovered that you can truly make a difference when you exhibit courage. The reason behind this is that when you exhibit courage, you also make others brave in the process. You literally instill courage in them, too. Calmness can then spread, and that, in turn, leads to higher levels of confidence.

From the same book, I’ll share the story of “Texas Ranger Bill McDonald, called in by the authorities in Dallas in the early 1900’s to break up an illegal prizefight. When he arrived, the mayor was aghast. ‘They only sent one ranger?!’ he asked. ‘You only got one riot, don’t you?’ McDonald asked.” In essence, one person with courage can make a majority.

With this mind, what steps are required?

  1. Determine your ultimate objective.
  2. Recognize that there will, undoubtedly, be some challenges you will face.
  3. Determine the “Steps” you need to take.
  4. Set some deadlines for the various “Action Steps.”
  5. Decide who will initiate the various actions. If we don’t establish deadlines and decide who will do these tasks, then the objective simply becomes a dream, one that never gets completed.

What can you do if you follow these steps? Anything you set your mind to completing!

As I’ve said before, you will likely find new solutions, refine your processes and make additional, positive improvements. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I recently listened to an excellent podcast from motivational speaker Brendon Burchard about how to deal with “tough times.” Life in America has historically been good, but I know many people are concerned about things like inflation, rising interest rates, government decisions and, of course, the rising stress levels associated with all of these challenges.

Here some solid suggestions from Brendon on how to deal with these challenges, especially since we don’t always know when they might arise:

  1. Raise Your Ambition Level – This is a key element of being on your “A” game, essentially “showing up!” I believe that when we actually raise our ambition level, we become more focused and benefit from additional clarity. While your competitors or those providing you with this “challenge” are still developing their game plan, you can be one or two steps ahead of them, already having considered numerous “What If?” scenarios. Many challenges come from bureaucrats, and I have found that they hate nothing more than someone who is “prepared for them…”
  2. Reframe Doubt – Brendon emphasizes that we need to overcome pessimism. As he states, “Doubt is calling you to rise, not stopping you!” Everyone has doubts. This is normal, so take a closer look at the situation and consider how you might handle it differently than just having doubts. For example, if you were having success in this situation, what would have to have happened? Trust me. The more you practice this process, the more it will become natural for you and the more you will meet with greater success levels.
  3. Reset Your Habits – Challenges like we are facing today require us to boost our Daily Focus. Just as I wrote in my prior blog, better habits and increased discipline will take you a long way toward achieving your objectives. Again, the best way to overcome bureaucratic obstacles is to succeed in spite of them. That, my friends, will take you to the Next Level!

What challenges are you facing today? Here are my recommendations:

  1. Rest up, if necessary, and then Show Up! Face the challenges head on. You can overcome them!
  2. Doubts are normal. What to do? Think your game plan through and move forward. That’s what progress is all about.
  3. Focus – As Mr. Miyagi said in “The Karate Kid” movies, “Focus, Daniel son, Focus!” This is always good advice and something we should strive to implement.

You will likely find new solutions, refine your processes and make additional, positive improvements. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I recently read an excellent article by Julia Ubbenga about “Decision Fatigue” and how it’s impacting a lot of people in their lives. I suspect you know what I am referring to. With all the negative news that surrounds us, it is probably difficult not to be somewhat fatigued… If you are running a business, or even if you are not, you are being bombarded with challenges created by inflation, rising interest rates and sometimes oppressive rules being created by government appointees who have no level of accountability.

If you are getting fatigued with the many decisions and challenges being faced, this article provides us with some insight about what we can potentially do to overcome this. Here is a summary of the author’s thoughts about how to decrease decision fatigue:

  1. Simplify your wardrobe – I know this probably sounds silly, but if you look at some of the most accomplished people in society, they don’t appear to spend a great deal of time choosing what they wear every day. Steve Jobs of Apple and many other successful leaders maintain a simple wardrobe and don’t waste time making clothing decisions every day. If you can’t do this, at least select your outfit the night before.
  2. Practice a morning routine – Ubbenga states, “Implementing routines and rhythms into your day is key to reducing decision fatigue.” My morning routine includes a workout, meditation, Bible study and usually a walk or run. If I don’t get to complete these tasks, usually due to catching an early morning flight, my day can start out less smoothly. For this reason, I am quite adamant about maintaining this morning routine. I feel that it gets my mind on a more positive track!
  3. Reduce clutter in your environment – I know a lot of us have a challenge with this one. I do, too, occasionally. However, the reason I know this is crucial is simply that every time I get my desk organized, I not only feel better, but also tend to be more productive.
  4. Apply the Rule of 3 to your “to do” list – Experts in productivity agree that the magic number of priority items on a daily “to do” list is three. You can list 10 items that you want to complete as you end each day, but I believe it is imperative that you then start your day be selecting the three most important ones to complete. For me, part of the answer is learning to say “No.” As my business coach Dan Sullivan states, “Learning to say Yes is what got you out Egypt, but learning to say NO will get you to the Promised Land.” Ask yourself – of these 10 items what three, if they were all I completed today, are most crucial?
  5. Slow down your schedule – This is a big one for me. I used to get annoyed when my schedule had to change, normally for reasons beyond my control… However, I have learned to use these changes to my advantage. Maybe I can use them to catch up on a task that I hadn’t completed yesterday or even get a jump on an item that I had planned to do later in the week such as follow up calls. Often, this creates new, positive opportunities for me.
  6. Simplify your meal routine – “Studies show that the average American spends 40 minutes per day thinking about food. That’s more than 240 hours (10 days) a year.” Are you kidding me? I find my day is more productive, especially when I’m traveling, if I simplify the process. Give this simplification process a try, and just eat healthy.
  7. Ask yourself what decision would be best for your brain – Ubbenga states that “Prioritizing and optimizing brain health will help reduce decision fatigue.” Try asking yourself, when you are facing a decision, “What’s best for my brain right now?” I often ask myself – Is this the best thing/approach for me right now? The more I do this, the better, and less stressful, my decisions seem to become. As the late Wayne Dyer said “Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.”

All of these seven points can assist us to reduce “decision fatigue.” While the stress relief of this process is, in itself, beneficial, I think the greatest benefit comes from developing an ability to make better decisions, and that will assist you in getting to “Next Level Thinking!”

The real question is – Why Wait? Start this now, and as I suggested previously, what will happen? Many good things!

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I recently listened to a well known politician while I was in an airport, making promises about how if only we raised taxes further, we could do X, Y, and Z… I thought, this is crazy. A gentleman standing next to me said the politician was lying. I asked how he knew that, and he quickly replied, “…because his lips were moving!”

Ben Franklin had some thoughts on this, which I will share later.

So often, we get caught up in the “spin” and just can’t separate fact from fiction. While it is always great to be right in every one of our decisions, often we overlook the cost of unnecessary delays. Even if we don’t get everything 100% right, we will likely learn something from the process. If we delay every decision until we have “all the facts,” we will likely take most of the profit out of the situation.

Additionally, we run the risk of being like the gentleman who was looking for the prefect wife. He searched & searched for years and finally found her. She was perfect in every way, he thought. There was just one problem. She wasn’t looking for him…

Given the speed at which items change today, can we afford to spend excessive time over-analyzing every decision? On the contrary, build your plan on what you want to achieve, establish the steps you need to take to get there, set dates for their completion and TAKE ACTION!

If you follow this procedure closely, I believe that most of the time, you will reach your objectives. Simply take responsibility for these steps and move forward. You will likely experience the following:

“Well Done is Better than Well Said.”

Ben Franklin

Set some new, positive goals for the rest of this year, project their outcomes, and then measure the results as well. Do it now, and as I suggested previously, what will happen?

You will likely find new solutions, refine your processes and make additional, positive improvements. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!