I thought it was a stupid question. However, it did come directly from a finance professional who was a serious worrier, and with him, “the sky was always falling.”

My response was that my confidence came from completing 150-200 Cash Flow Analyses per year for the last 20+ years. In other words, this “wasn’t my first rodeo.” One item that added to my confidence was this Client’s long-term history and their solid Cash Flow performance.

If you complete this type of analysis regularly, it will undoubtedly build your confidence. Whether your Cash Flow results look positive or negative, you will gain a much better grasp of your numbers. The largest benefit of this entire process is that if you measure the Cash Flow of your operation, you will understand it better. If you understand it, you can start to gain control over your Revenue & Expenses. If you can control these items better, guess what? You can improve them, and that is the ultimate benefit of completing this process.

Ray Kroc of the McDonald’s Corporation said, “I didn’t invent the hamburger. I just took it more seriously than anyone else.” Similarly, I didn’t invent the process of Cash Flow Analysis, but I have definitely taken it more seriously than most people! In fact, now I’ve created a system for you to complete your own Cash Flow Analysis. I call it the Success Strategies AdvantageTM . With the input of about 20 numbers related to your loans and feed inventory, it will create a budget, using numbers for your region of the country. Then, after you input about two dozen “Actual” numbers from your QuickBooks or other accounting system, it will provide you with the following items:

  • A Year-to-Date (YTD) Cash Flow Comparison of your operation compared to a budget that is based upon typical numbers for your region of the country.
  • It will show you where you may be over or under budget.
  • It will provide you with Break-Even Levels for Milk Price/cwt, Feed Expense & Production per cow per day, all useful information for reaching higher levels of profitability, as well as setting your price level coverage through the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) and Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) programs.
  • It will also equip you to better understand where you might be over budget and help you to talk with your Team (e.g., Nutritionist, Veterinarian, Financial Consultant & Others) about how to refine your numbers
  • Finally, it will give you solid information to share with your banker, showing how you are currently doing and guiding you about future changes or investments that will help you streamline operations.

I recommend you look at it by visiting www.success-strategies.com to see if it will assist you to be more profitable.

Are we facing some challenging times? Yes, of course. Are they impossible? No. I recently listened to a short video done by Kara Lawson, the Duke University Women’s Basketball Coach, during which she talked about handling the challenges of life. It’s entitled “Handle Hard Better” and does a great job of outlining what we must do to overcome the hurdles of life & business.

I believed she played for the late Pat Summit at the University of Tennessee during their long period of outstanding runs at the National Championship level. She understands the challenges of being a success. One approach she pointed out was that when obstacles arise, we can wait for things to just get easier. The problem is that they never get easier.

Often people will say, “If I can just get through this problem, everything will get easier.” However, as she explains, it doesn’t typically get easier, so a better approach will be for us to “handle hard better.”

In business, I hear people claim that after this economic downturn, this price adjustment or this bout of high inflation, life will get easier. No. What happens is that you learn to handle hard better through experience, training and hard work!

In her presentation, Lawson points out that we must complete several tasks:

  • We must make a “Mental Shift” and get past hard challenges. They are simply part of the game. Welcome to life!
  • As far as preparing for the future, she stated, “Any meaningful pursuit in life goes to people who handle hard well.”
  • A lot of people who want things to be less challenging can be seen waiting at the “Bus Stop for the Easy Bus to come.” The problem, as she points out, is that the “Easy Bus never comes!”
  • Finally, she encourages us to not get discouraged. Instead, accept the challenge of life success and “Handle Hard Better.” Great advice for all of us today & for the long term.

I hope you find this helpful and encouraging. If you want to listen to Kara Lawson’s three minute video, you can find it at:  

Handle Hard Better: https://now.strategiccoach.com/e/126981/channel-DukeWomen27sBasketball/4v2x1b/899141121?h=i4AavUmtpa2W_d0WuGZ9JiLJFCDGyZ_Zlxzsb7Xn_IY

I think you’ll be glad you did. Also, be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Often, Clients will ask “Why does this improvement process take so much time?” I often respond with a thought from my business coach Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach organization who said, “Reaching your goals doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s not reaching your goals that takes a lot of time.”

What does he mean?

First, goals can be elusive and sometimes difficult to achieve. However, they should provide you with a source of motivation, not frustration.

How, you ask. They can provide you with motivation, because if, for example, you set a goal to boost your revenue by 20% next year, what exactly must happen? You have to start thinking of ways to make this occur. Are you going to expand? Can you simply become more efficient? Can you raise revenue levels while possibly streamlining your cost structure? Do you need to make some personnel changes? The point is that setting new objectives will lead you to take steps to achieve it, because we all know that goals will not just naturally happen on their own…

The key here is to pursue constant and never-ending improvement. Don’t allow this to become a source of frustration. As Dan Sullivan stated, what takes so much time is not reaching your goals. Why? The reason is that you can become frustrated when you are not achieving your goals. Unfortunately, you can even get to the point of ignoring them, simply because you are disappointed and no longer want to think about them…

It is far better to set new, challenging goals, because it is the only way you will likely achieve them. It is possible to reach some levels of achievement without establishing specific goals, but if you don’t set some objectives, how will you even know when you have reached them? I suggest that you clearly define your goals, outline specific steps for hitting them and then focus on attaining them. If you do, your odds of seeing success will jump dramatically!

Be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

This has been a challenging year for many people. I understand that our economy has been tough in some respects. Most costs are going through the roof, and you are likely having problems hiring the workers you need to grow your business. Some banks are being difficult to deal with, especially as they have their loan portfolios more closely scrutinized by their auditors.

One thing that we need to remember on these issues is that they are primarily items that we cannot completely control. With that in mind, I suggest that we shift our focus to items that we can control. Here are a few examples:

  • Business Productivity – Is your business running at peak efficiency? I have seen some business people operate their business in a total “cost cutting” mode, hoping that “when things get better, I’ll throttle my way back to full force.” Unfortunately, most businesses cannot turn up the production & efficiency activities overnight. On the contrary, they usually take some time to hit their peak results. Here is a better approach: Keep things running at their peak levels all the time! If you do, you won’t need to spend time playing “catch-up.” When prices go up, costs decrease or labor becomes more available, you will already be poised to seek new levels in your business.
  • Cost Controls – While you cannot possibly maintain 100% control over all your costs, you certainly can strive to keep them in line to a great extent. How? As I have stated many times, if you measure something, you can understand it. If you understand it, you can control it, and if you can control an item, you can certainly improve it. The same is true for your costs. The solution? Monitor them regularly, compare them with industry standards and make improvements where you can.
  • Measurements – Sometimes, I feel like people compare their businesses with neighbors far too often. The problem with this is that you and I really don’t know the specifics of their operation, its finances, or the amount of debt they might be carrying. A better comparison would be: How are you doing compared to last year, or even better yet, in comparison to your last three years? Are you moving forward or not? If not, what do you need to change?
  • Share your results & your future business plans with your banker. Scary thought? It shouldn’t be. I can think of two good reasons to regularly meet with your lender. You will definitely want to be prepared with good information, and it will also lead you to measure your results more often. These are both good things!

In any event, if you stay on your “A game,” you will be better prepared for two scenarios. First, you will likely be ready to play the survival game in a downturn. Additionally, as I mentioned above, in the event of a positive upturn in the economy, you will be poised for a quicker rebound and attain improved results without the need to suddenly “crank things up.”

Either way, be prepared to run your operation at 110%. I think you will be glad you did! Be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I understand that these are tough times in our economy currently. This is characterized by high inflation, high interest rates, ridiculous costs of repairs and, in fact, almost all of your inputs.

People are stressed. Someone recently asked me if I worry. Overall, I am optimistic, but today I am cautiously optimistic. Even my confidence has been shaken by stupid moves by the federal government & the Fed.

However, I’m doing my best to “bring the joy.” I would add that author Tim Ferriss offered a Chinese proverb that says, “If you must play, decide on three things at the start; the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.”

Sounds like good advice, but let’s look at an application for using these guidelines in your business.

First, the rules of the game: Make certain you understand your finances, as well as what the parameters are for your banking relationships. In challenging times, this becomes paramount to your success.

Next, know what the stakes are in the game. In Taekwondo, when you perform a board break, it is crucial that you set your target to go through the board. I can attest that falling short of that can be painful.

Finally, know when the game ends. I have had very few Clients leave their businesses over the past 25 years, except for those who wanted to retire. So, the thought you need to entertain is whether you want to continue, as most of my Clients are, or build a plan to exit at the most optimal time.

Studying these three steps can pay huge dividends, especially in tough economic times, so be sure to know the rules of the game and watch for opportunities to, as former Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers said, “Head for daylight!” Stay focused and you’ll be fine, for these times, too, shall pass.

Be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who made numerous contributions to economics, particularly in the area of income distribution and people’s choices. He is best known, though, for his observation that 20% of the population owned 80% of the property in Italy, which, of course, was later generalized into the Pareto Principle and eventually into what we now know as the Pareto Distribution.

Given the current turmoil in our economy, this is a great time to identify the 20% of your activities that drive 80% of your results, and, yes, some of these may seem like small, trivial tasks, but they can drive big results!

“But, John, I just don’t seem to be able to find the time for these high priority items…” This is a line that I hear often. Take a deep breath and realize that you may find the time if you do less of the other 80% of your tasks…

One suggestion for you is to make sure that you are not “micro-managing” your Team, because it takes so much time. Instead, help your employees grow in their roles. Most people don’t come to work with the intent of doing a bad job. Rather, they want to help you succeed. Give them the opportunity to do just that.

One of the best and, frankly, most effective bosses I have ever had did three things. He explained the goal or end objective, made a few suggestions, and then simply oversaw our process. However, he did not micro-manage us. Your employees may occasionally fall short, but that is exactly how they grow, and as long as it is not catastrophic, you will be fine.

So, what are the areas where 80% of your results can come from 20% of your efforts? Take some time today to think this through, and please don’t get discouraged if your results don’t exactly match up at 80/20. You may achieve 70/30 or even 60/40 on some items. That’s okay. You’ll still be better off than getting only 20% of your results from 80% of your efforts!

It’s not necessarily a perfect science, so enjoy the process. And remember, this is not a one-time task. It can pay huge dividends if you complete the process on a regular basis. As new technologies and ideas surface, your 80/20’s may start to come into greater focus. When they do, you’ll be able to start enjoying the process.

That, my friends, is why we call them the “Top 20%.” Be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

In a recent article by Joshua Becker entitled “Controlling Your Attention: The Most Important Skill of the 21st Century and How to Do It,” he points out that we are all constantly being distracted by both big and small items.

However, he explains that our attention is “the driving force that shapes our lives. It is what creates wisdom from our past experiences and helps us to make the most out of the skills we’ve developed, the education we’ve experienced, and the talents we’ve accumulated. It is our attention that puts these assets to work, allowing us to make the most of our potential.”

Controlling our attention sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not really. Many of us, myself included, are thinking about work tasks when we are with our family and then worrying about family matters when we are busy at work. Here is what Joshua Becker suggests:

First, “Simplify Your Environment.” Remove the clutter around you, and I’d suggest – focus only on the Top Three Tasks you want to achieve each day. You may also complete some smaller added tasks, but make those Top 3 your primary focus.

Second, he suggests “Practice Mindfulness.” Clear out the distractions. As martial arts expert Bruce Lee said, “Bring the mind into sharp focus and make it alert so that it can immediately intuit truth, which is everywhere. The mind must be emancipated from old habits, prejudices, restrictive thought processes and even ordinary thought itself.”

Next, “Notice When Distractions Are Getting Your Attention.” If this happens, it is crucial that we refocus and get back on track.

Fourth, “Understand Both Big and Small Distractions.” Both can impact our focus. Small ones might be online distractions such as Facebook or unimportant emails. Bigger ones might be constantly worrying about items that most likely won’t even happen. Mark Twain described this as “Paying interest on a debt you never owed.”

Fifth, “Prioritize Time.” In other words, determine or set your intention for the day. If you don’t do this every day, you can potentially be trapped in someone else’s agenda…

“Set Clear Goals.” He points out that “Clear goals channel our attention.” And, I might add, they help us to fulfill our real destiny in business and in life.

Finally, “Take Regular Breaks.” It’s not a competition, and as the author explains, “Rest is different than distraction – especially when we are intentional about it. Rest is not the enemy of productivity. It is a requirement for it.”

He goes on to say, “Controlling your attention may be the greatest skill of the 21st Century. And that’s good news. Because anyone can do it.”

I contend that Focus is the key to all Success & Fulfillment! Be on the watch for our upcoming Next Level Thinking™ workshops.  

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

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!