Tag Archive for: Future

Today, we hear a lot about the advent of automation in our business operations, especially with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and other new technology. I find it interesting that Warren Bennis, professor of business at U.S.C., offered the following thought back in the early 1980’s:

“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”

This sounds like a fully automated system. Are we approaching this point with the introduction of more and more automation & technological advances? Quite possibly.

My first Client to automate a major task was through using a robotic machine to push up feed throughout the day. I believe at the time it cost about $40,000. However, it replaced one full-time employee, paying for itself in less than one year. More significantly, it enabled them to complete a task that was not being completed consistently. As a result, the Client’s milk production per cow has climbed by ten pounds per cow per day, offering an even bigger payback.

Comparing the Labor costs on dairies with robotic milkers vs. conventional milking setups is eye-opening. Our experience is that it is 1/3 of the cost of the conventional setup. Additionally, there is little cost for the robot’s time, there is no overtime pay and they don’t require Worker’s Comp or Benefits coverage. I estimate that the payback on these units is easily within 5-6 years, to say nothing of the improved production, herd health and other benefits.

The point is this. Automation is becoming more and more available. Fortunately, it is surfacing where I hear the most common complaints from Clients – in the challenges of Labor.

My advice? Take positive action today and check out the payback on these automation options. Warren Bennis alluded to their benefits 40 years ago, and now we are there.

Are you prepared for this challenge? Do you have a plan for overcoming its obstacles?

I’d love to visit with you more about my work with other Clients on these areas and how you, too, can achieve an improved outcome. Please let me know if you would like some assistance at john@success-strategies.com.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

I recently reread Tim Ferriss’ first book entitled The 4-Hour Workweek and noted a special recommendation that he made. It was based upon an old Chinese Proverb, which advised us to always know what we are getting involved in ahead of time and went something like this:

  • Always know the Rules of the Game.
  • Know the Prize for which you are competing.
  • Know when the Game Ends.

As I read those words, I started thinking about how they also apply to business dealings.

For example, before you enter any loan agreement with your bank or another institution, it’s critical that you know what the “Rules of the Game” are. What is expected of you in maintaining a satisfactory loan relationship? What are the loan covenants? What can happen if you don’t fulfill all of the covenants? Is there a reasonable remedy that you can provide if this occurs? I would expect that after last year’s challenging financial results, there will undoubtedly be some covenant violations…

Knowing what the prize is at the end of the “game” can be helpful, especially if you are being faced with profitability and covenant challenges. Sometimes, borrowers can let their pride get ahead of the potential prize at the end of the game. Often, this can lead to getting over-extended on loans in terms of Debt Service Coverage. Hence, the need for accurate Cash Flow projections & ongoing measurement (https://success-strategies.com/).

Finally, know when the game ends. When has your objective been reached? Perhaps, more importantly, know when enough is enough… Obviously, the game ends when you pay the loan off in full, but what happens if you run into problems before the loan is paid in full? Will your banker work with you to resolve the challenge you are facing? This is always good to know ahead of time, because, as some borrowers are facing today, their bank’s workout group has become more of a “kick-out group.” While it is admirable to get refinanced elsewhere, the current lender does not need to make it a painful process or one lacking support.

On the contrary, let’s put strategies in place to assist the borrower to make the necessary changes, possibly sell some assets and get themselves back on track financially. This is never an easy process and as George Bernad Shaw suggests below, it may not even seem reasonable, but it is definitely worth pursuing:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Recently, I was talking with a friend of mine about the possibilities of growing our respective businesses ten times. Many people would say’ “No way! That will only increase my stress levels…”

On the contrary, business coach Dan Sullivan, co-founder of The Strategic Coach organization, offers the following:

“The most stressful thing any entrepreneur can do in the 21st century is to try to stay where they are and hold onto what they already have. Stop where you are, and things will only get more confusing, isolating, and frustrating.”

I imagine that many of us have experienced that feeling, as we have faced the combined challenges of industry stagnation, inflationary cost increases and higher interest rates. However, Dan, who has been my business coach since 2003, suggests that there is a way to break out of this. Adopt a 10X mindset, allowing you to become the cause of change in the world, not the target of it.

Before you write this concept off as being ridiculous, stating that you don’t want to grow your business to 10X its current size, please consider the following idea. What if you grew it by 5 times with half of your current labor or other inputs? I have done that during the past 10 years.

Would you like to know how? I hope you do! Technology has been the answer for me. We have automated so many tasks that we can get more work done in less time than we had previously completed. What technologies should you consider using to boost your efficiencies?

Author and speaker Grant Cardone is adamant about one point on 10X growth. He stated that there are likely numerous ways to double the size of your business, but there are only one or two ways to grow 10X. The good news is that you won’t waste time studying items that don’t really produce big results! Instead, you can focus on the few concepts that really do produce greater success, yielding much faster progress!

To conclude, here are three questions from Dan Sullivan to consider:

  • “What 10X improvement will simplify everything else in your company the most? How and why?” Is it automation, robotics, or other possibilities?
  • “What new 10X capability will free you most from being commoditized? How and why?” In other words, what could differentiate your company?
  • “What’s the one 10X breakthrough you can achieve that no one else in your industry would ever think about? Why?” Think about this concept, and I’ll see you at the finish line.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

There is a process that I like to complete each year with my Clients, usually in the early months of the year. I call it the “Goals & Disaster Agenda” process.

The Goal setting part of the process is fairly self-explanatory. Most of us are familiar with that process. If not, please look back at my prior blog. As entrepreneur and author Grant Cardone stated in his book The 10X Rule, “I suggest that you become obsessed about the things you want; otherwise, you are going to spend a lifetime being obsessed with making up excuses as to why you didn’t get the life you wanted.”  His statement is quite clear.

However, the development of a “Disaster Agenda” is perhaps a new concept for you. In this, we list the three worst things that could happen to our business in the next 12 months. Just in case you think this is overly zealous, consider some possibilities: Your bank gets acquired and the new management team doesn’t want to finance you any longer. You lose a key employee to a competitor. Inflation increases and, hence, interest rates go higher. These are all genuine possibilities.

The key is not to “dwell” on these concerns, but rather to consider what may occur. More significantly, give some thought to what you would do in response. The best reason for doing this is, of course, if it actually happens, you will be better prepared. Likewise, if something similar takes place, you have already given consideration to your potential action steps.

As a result, you will definitely be better prepared and less likely to get caught off guard. In the infamous words of Yoda in the movie Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back:

“Named must your fear be before banish you can.”

I hope you find this process helpful, as you plan for greater success this year!

Please check out the Success Strategies Advantage™ software today at www.success-strategies.com today.

Let’s take your business to the Next Level!

Wow! It’s the start of a new year, and we all get to start with a blank slate. Effectively, the score is 0-0. Regardless of what last year brought, the most important question is “What will you do this year?”

Some people call this Goal Setting. I prefer to call it “Future Setting.” My reasoning behind this is that your entire future can be built upon the foundational steps that you take now!

At the risk of sounding redundant, there are some crucial steps to follow:

First, decide what you want to accomplish. While this may seem obvious to you, many people are unable to clearly define what they do want. Oh, they can tell you what they don’t want out of life. However, stating exactly what they do want can be more challenging.

So, step #1 is to define your objective and define it clearly in your mind & on paper.

Next, it is only natural that our minds will present all the obstacles to this goal. That’s okay for two reasons. To begin, you must consider whether or not this task is actually achievable. This is a good “check point” for us to consider.

Beyond that, however, it leads us to consider what steps we need to take in order to overcome these challenges. Can we complete these tasks? Just as significantly, who will lead the process and by when will the various tasks be done?

This is crucial, because we can otherwise end up like the four characters named Everybody, Anybody, Somebody and Nobody. After their committee meeting, Everybody thought the task should be completed, Anybody could have done it, Somebody certainly should have, but in the end, Nobody really followed through.

To avoid this challenge, define the task clearly, consider the challenges you may face, and what steps you need to take. Then, take action, measure your results and fine tune your plan as you move forward.

Remember, getting results requires making a plan, outlining the necessary steps and then taking action. However, as St. Jean Baptiste stated:

“On this path, it is only the first step that counts.”

What’s your first step?

Let’s consider the possibilities. If you are a dairy producer or almond grower (and they are not the only ones facing greater financial pressures…), you have been faced with lower prices this year. At the same time, your costs of operation have grown substantially, particularly in the areas of Labor, Fuel, Fertilizer, Feed and most other operating expenses.

Did I mention the higher cost of interest? In its efforts to stave off inflation, most of which was created by political geniuses spending money like a drunken sailor these past several years, the Federal Reserve Board has raised interest rates 5.50%, creating a lot of pressure on producers with any debt. What can we do?

One option is to worry, but I’ve never seen a case where that really helped. Mark Twain described worry as “paying interest on a debt you never owed…”

Another potential approach is to just complain, but no one really wants to hear that. As former President Teddy Roosevelt suggested, “Complaining about a problem without providing a solution is called whining.” What else is available to us?

Why not “Take Action?” Be cognizant of the previously mentioned challenges and then take steps to offset them.

Decide which variable you want to tackle first. Define the outcome you want as clearly as possible. Set a date for its achievement.

Recognize that there will, indeed, be obstacles for you to overcome. Yes, there are always plenty of them. Next, based upon what you currently know (and we never have complete information), decide what steps you can take. Discuss it with your Team and determine who will lead the project & its required steps. Finally, set your Action Plan, based upon the outcome you want and move forward.

Here’s a recent case I experienced with a client. He needed additional funds to buy more cows & fill a new free stall barn. Even though his Loan to Value % (LTV), after borrowing for the new cows, would only be 60% or less, his bank did not want to provide the necessary funds. Our solution? He offered an additional 20-acre parcel as collateral, and they provided him with a 20-year Real Estate Loan. Now, the LTV % on the cows was around 40% (which provided us with future borrowing capacity, if needed). The bank was happy because of the lower LTV % on the herd loan, and they had more collateral. The Client was pleased because he could add the needed cows, and his Cash Flow was improved due to the extra milk sales & a 20-year amortization on the RE loan vs. 7 years on a cow loan. Problem solved.

If you run a dairy of any size, I have recently introduced a system to allow you to measure your dairy operation’s cash flow results. I call it the Success Strategies AdvantageTM, and it is designed to create a budget for your dairy operation, using numbers for your region of the country, measure your actual results against this, and provide you with crucial Break-Even numbers. Check it out at www.success-strategies.com today.

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!

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!