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What is the #1 Career Opportunity Today

What is the #1 Career Opportunity Today

There are huge career opportunities opening up in today’s world economy.  And…the good news is these opportunities are yours for the taking.



“What’s the catch?” you ask.  There always has to be a catch, right?

The catch is you have to be prepared to grab one of these opportunities.  Plus, you have to do the preparation work on your own.  Our education system isn’t teaching any courses on how to qualify for these jobs.

Just what is this wonderful, can’t miss opportunity?



Huh?  Chaos?  Are you kidding me?

No, I’m not.   Remember, where there is chaos, there is always opportunity.  Now is no different than any time in the past.

Here’s what’s happening.  The World Economic forum estimates losses of 7.1 million jobs due to automation and technology  between 2015 and 2020.    Two-thirds of these job losses will be concentrated in office and administrative roles. Many more will be in manufacturing and production.

Further, many of the jobs that remain will need skill sets that current workers don’t have. This means many of the displaced workers will be forced into lower paying jobs.

This doesn’t sound like an opportunity to me

It is, but you have to ready to seize it.  And you have to start now.

In his great book, The End of Jobs, author Taylor Pearson notes the following:

  1. Somewhere around the year 2000, we began to transition out of the knowledge economy.
  2. There is a shift underway from knowledge to Entrepreneurship. Why? Because entrepreneurs are better equipped to deal with complex and chaotic situations
  3. The dominant institution is shifting away from corporations and towards individuals.
  4. The dominant player is no longer the corporate CEO, but moving toward the  Entrepreneur.
  5. The winners in these shifts are those who invest early in the trend.

(If you would like to buy a copy of this terrific book click on the link below)

This shift is already underway.  Forbes estimates that by 2020, 50 percent of the labor force will be Freelancers.


How do I get in on this?

Start now.  Today.  Here are the top 10 skills listed by the World Economic Forum Freelancers and Entrepreneurs will need by 2020:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others.
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

Rate yourself on these skills.  I can hear you now, “Crap, I’m no good at any of that stuff.”  Yes, you are!  You just don’t realize it.  And…what you don’t know, you can learn.

Like it or not, if you want to succeed in the coming years, you have to embark on a course of lifelong learning. Get good at these 10 skills and you’ll be ready for jobs that haven’t been invented yet.

I’ll be exploring this topic over the next few weeks.  I’ll be taking each of the skills shown above and exploring how you can become more proficient at them.  Just like the old David Letterman “Top Countdowns”, I’ll be starting with #10 and counting down to #1.  So, stay tuned.


Click here to buy Taylor Pearson’s The End of Jobs.  (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)

Why Your College Degree is Only the Beginning.

Why Your College Degree is Only the Beginning.

You have a 4-year college degree.  You’ve got a good job working for a company.  You are ascending the corporate ladder.  You think your future looks bright.

Think again.

Here is an inconvenient truth.  Your college degree is only the beginning. If you are to be successful in this new and changing economy, you must continue learning new things for the rest of your life.  And…you’re on your own.

Our modern Colleges and Universities are busy educating students to work at a job for some type of organization.  What happens to you if those jobs are no longer there.

There are two trends under way right now that pose huge challenges to almost every worker in the U. S. Economy.


Number 1: The Rise of Robots and Technology


The current political mantra peddled in the media today is that globalization and foreign trade are causing huge losses in the U. S. Job market.

It isn’t true.

Yes, the U. S. Economy lost manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010.  But, studies reveal that 87% of those job losses were due to improvements in productivity generated by technology.  ( )

It gets worse.  According to Futurist, Thomas Frey, (  ), there are 2 billion (yes, that’s Billion) jobs disappearing by the year 2030. That represents 50% of all the jobs on the planet.  To be done by robots and new software technology.


Number 2: The Rise of Freelancers


According to Forbes Magazine (  ) there are 53,000,000 freelancers in the U. S. Labor force today.  By 2020, 50% of the labor force will be freelancers.  50%!

Even big companies like IBM and NASA are starting to do this today.(


Does this mean we’ll all be unemployed?


No!  And this is not meant to be a doomsday report.  But, it is intended to be a wake-up call.  Almost every job holder in America is going to be affected by these trends. Knowing what’s coming gives you an opportunity to be prepared. Fore warned is fore armed.


Here is the good news.


First, Robots will not replace everyone.  There will still be plenty of jobs for humans, but they are going to change.

According to a report published by the Pew Research Center ( ), there is an argument that, “many jobs require uniquely human characteristics such as empathy, creativity, judgment, or critical thinking—and that jobs of this nature will never succumb to widespread automation.”

This is where the new jobs will come from.  Those jobs don’t exist today. And…the chances are they will be taken by Freelancers.  I believe Freelancing is the career of the future.


How do I do That?


Yes, I know the idea of becoming a Freelancer can be frightening.  The first time I went out on my own it was 1983. I was totally unprepared emotionally.  I panicked when I realized I was no longer getting a paycheck.  The project didn’t go well at all. I eventually went back to working for a big company.

Today it’s different.  If you educate yourself and prepare emotionally, you should be fine. Our economy is rapidly becoming a “gig” economy.  That means you will be working from one gig to the next.

You should start by educating yourself.


The Advantages of Lifelong Learning.


Let’s start with what you are doing now.  I am going to assume you like the job and industry you are in.  You have spent years learning about it and you are good at what you do.

What are the aspects of your job or industry segment that could be automated? Think about all the repetitive grunt work that could be done by a robot or a computer software program. Think hard about the people that could be replaced. Get wild with it.

Now, what are the aspects of your job that need human contact? What about judgment?  Listening to customers, clients, or other departments?  Deciding how to improve the computer programs?  What about creativity?  Thinking up new ways for the software programs to accomplish new things? Consulting with companies on picking the latest technology to use?

How many people could be displaced?

Make a list.

Start reading!

Go to the Library. Use databases at the library to find research papers.

Go to Amazon. Get books.

Google trade magazines, white papers, and case studies.

Find MOOCs (Massive, Open, On-line, Courses) in your field and take them.

You have to become the expert in how companies in your industry are going to employ the latest technology.  Because when the changes start to come, it won’t be just the company you are working for now.  It will be every company in your industry.  If you are a Freelancer, you can hire out to lots of them.  At a very good price.

And…you can’t stop.  Freelancers have to be involved in lifelong learning.  You have to stay ahead of the curve.  You have to keep reading, keep thinking, keep interacting with other Freelancers in your field.

It is estimated now that the entire body of human knowledge is doubling every 13 months ( ).  IBM estimates that in the near future, this doubling will occur every 12 minutes.


It’s All up to you


Here is your challenge.  It’s up to you. You have to do this on your own.

You must start today.  If you wait, you’ll be one of those out on the street wondering what the hell happened.

You can’t go to school for this. Our education system is woefully behind on these issues.  They don’t have classes for jobs that don’t exist today. Creating those classes could be your one of your jobs.

There are huge opportunities here.  If you start now, think now, read books and papers now, develop ideas now, you’ll be the one getting the well-paid gigs.

It’s a race.  And to the victor belongs the spoils.


Social Styles 4-Learning About the Analytical

Social Styles 4-Learning About the Analytical

Why are Social styles important?


This is the 4th post in the series on Social Styles.  In my previous posts,  we discussed how essential understanding these styles is to building trust with prospects, customers, clients, employees, and partners.  Your success depends on these relationships.

Today I want to discuss the Analytical Social Style.


What is the Analytical Social Style?


The Analytical Social style is the most easily described and may be the most misunderstood of all the styles.  Think of a scientist, an engineer, or an accountant.


Analyticals are totally task focused and will ask a lot of questions.  They are fact gatherers and number crunchers.  They want to make sure they have all the information before they make a decision.  This tendency sometimes makes them seem indecisive because there is always more to know.


They are reserved. Their speech is proper, formal and deliberate.  They make few gestures.  They are good listeners.


They take the time to develop personal relationships.


They are excellent planners and organizers.


Analytical tend to move slowly and with precision. They tend to think the process of reaching a decision is as important as the decision itself.


Their goals are making the right decision in the right way. They want to enhance their reputation as a technical expert.


If you try to move them too quickly, it will make them very uncomfortable and may damage the relationship.


Analyticals have much in common with Drivers and Amiables. As you can see from the grid, they are diametrically opposed to Expressives.


What is dialogue with an  Analytical like?


Analyticals love slow, orderly, fact-filled presentations.  Here’s what you can expect:

  1. They expect you to be prepared
  2. Ask detailed fact-oriented questions
  3. Stay focused on the topic
  4. They want flexibility. Give them time to consider alternatives to what you present.
  5. Give them facts supported by data.
  6. Listen carefully and take notes. Give them time to finish and ask follow up questions.
  7. Offer confirmation of what you bring to the relationship.


How do you approach an Analytical?


Approaching an Analytical may seem difficult as they often appear remote.  But,  doing a little homework will smooth the way.

  1. Do some research before you go. Find out as much about their situation as you can.
  2. Don’t engage in a lot of small talk in the beginning.
  3. Adopt a predictable, slow, task oriented approach
  4. When you make a proposal, try to make sure it aligns with their current belief
  5. Support your proposals with a lot of facts and figures.  The more data the better.
  6. Try to state your opinions in the form of a question, “What are your thoughts about X?”


In Conclusion


As business owners, you will be dealing with all these Social Styles.  Understanding the ways to engage them will deliver amazing results in the form of profits on your bottom line.


Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)



The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles are important because?

In my two previous posts ( ) (  we have discussed the importance of understanding social styles.  If you are engaged in business learning to successfully communicate with your employees, prospects, customers and clients is the key to your success.   Knowing your social style and the attributes of the other social styles is vital in building solid relationships.

Today, I want to discuss the Expressive style.

What is the Expressive Style?


Expressives are…expressive.  They are open, energetic, excited.  They love to share visions and ideas.  They love to talk about themselves. They like an audience and applause.  They love to tell people what to do.  They are people oriented rather than task.


They are risk-takers, competitive, creative and enthusiastic.  They love to get results through people. Relationships are very important to them. They love the exchange of ideas and want to get to know you personally.


Their primary motivation is recognition.  They want to stand out from the crowd


Expressives want to know the big picture. They want a good grasp of the situation before getting down to the details.  They want to know the essential details, but don’t care about getting too deep into them. They want to collaborate with you on things that support them.


Expressives have much in common with Drivers and Amiables. They are diametrically opposed to Analyticals.

What is dialogue with an Expressive like?


Here’s what you can expect when engaging with an Expressive.

  1. You should find out about their visions and how they expect you to help.
  2. Find out what other people need to be involved in accomplishing their vision.
  3. Expressives are usually very open about sharing information they think you need.
  4. They like a fast paced, focused discussion.
  5. They are casual about their use of time.
  6. Watch for openings in the conversation where you can slide in questions.
  7. Figure out a way to show support for their ideas and decisions.


What is the most effective approach to an Expressive?


When approaching Expressives, you need to quickly establish who you are, what you offer, and what they have to gain by working with you.


Other things to include are:

  1. Stories about people you both know.
  2. Share “exclusive” information
  3. Reinforce their vision and enthusiasm
  4. Take time to develop a personal relationship
  5. Leave time for socializing
  6. Talk about their goals and ideas they find stimulating.



In Conclusion


Learning how to effectively communicate with other social styles is a simple, yet amazing way to build trusting, solid relationships with your clients. Try it.  You’ll be stunned at the results.


Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)


The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Social Styles 2-Learning About the Director

Social Styles 2-Learning About the Director

Why are Social Styles important?


In my previous post ( ), I discussed the 4 social styles people use to communicate with each other.  We all fall into one of these styles. People in some of these styles communicate easily with one another, yet others can’t seem to communicate at all.


Why is it important to know these approaches?


Want to build meaningful relationships with your prospects, clients, and customers? Then you need to understand these styles.  More important, you need to be flexible in the way you approach people of different styles.

One thing I want to emphasize here. This is not about being manipulative in any way.  It is about learning how others engage the world.  Remember Dr. Stephen Covey’s famous dictum, “First seek to understand and then be understood.”

Today I want to discuss the social style known as the “Director”


What is the Directors style?


Directors are take charge people.  They are very task oriented and laser-focused on results. They also tend to tell people what to do and not ask a lot of questions.

Drivers have strong opinions, they are direct and to the point.  They love challenges.  They are very likely to correct, challenge, modify or add to others ideas.

Drivers tend to be impatient.  They want results quickly or at least have a well defined time line.

Relationships are secondary to Drivers.  They want to see the task defined and the plan to achieve it first.

Details are important to Drivers, but they are not much interested in every little nuance.  They do want to make sure every possibility has been covered.

Directors have much in common with Analyticals and Expressives, but are diametrically opposed to Amiables.


What is dialogue with a Driver like?


First conversations with a person are known as the dialogue stage.  This is where you will discover a person’s Social Style.  Here is what you can expect when first engaging with a Driver:

  1. They expect you to be task oriented.
  2. They want to make efficient use of their time. Keep up the pace.
  3. Ask fact-finding questions that will help you understand their priorities.
  4. They want to learn about you and how you might fit into their business. Don’t wander off into personal discussions.
  5. They want to know how your ideas can support their agenda. Remember, they want to be in control.
  6. They will let you know they want to make the final decision. They want to know the odds of success.
  7. Follow up immediately with any requests or additional information you agreed to supply.


How should you approach the director?


Approaching the Director requires a bit of a balancing act.  You need to be direct.  Don’t wander.  Yet, you need to take time to build trust as this is very important to a Director.

Other areas to include are:

  1. Be sure include a purpose statement at the beginning. Let them know why you are meeting.
  2. Focus on the Director’s ideas, goals, and interests
  3. Present facts that apply directly to them. Focus on benefits.
  4. Be prepared to provide lots of information.
  5. Don’t engage in small talk.
  6. Include a payoff statement. Let them know what you intend to accomplish in your meeting.


In Conclusion


As a small business owner, one of your greatest challenges is building relationships with your prospects, clients, and customers.  Understanding your social style and theirs will help you accomplish this with amazing ease.  I urge you to find out as much as you can about this subject by reading Larry Wilson’s great book “The Social Styles Handbook”. 

Just click on the following link (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate):

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback

Note: This blog was developed from information presented in  “The Social Styles Handbook”.


Social Styles…The Magic Key to Your Success!

Social Styles…The Magic Key to Your Success!

Did you ever have a prospect or client you just couldn’t connect with?  We all have.  It’s not because you didn’t like each other, but you didn’t seem to be on the same page.  Guess what?  The reason might lie in your different social styles.

What Are Social Styles?

Social styles are the way we communicate with other people. We all have a social style.  Actually, we have one of 4 social styles.

Larry Wilson of Wilson Learning Corporation has written a marvelous book “The Social Styles Handbook”,  I strongly recommend you read (see the link below).

In the book, Larry describes 4 social styles.  His research shows we as a population are equally divided into the following styles:

Each of these styles has specific ways in which they relate to other people.

Why is this important?

Remember Stephen Covey’s famous dictum, “First seek to understand, then be understood?”

Failing to understand how your prospect, client, employee, partner, spouse, child, or in-laws are communicating with the rest of the world can be disastrous.  It’s almost as if they are speaking a foreign language.  You won’t understand them, and they sure won’t understand you.

How do I Fix It?

The first thing you need to do is to figure out what social style you are.

Here’s a quick run down:

  1. Analyticals are: Fact gatherers, logical, want all the facts before making a decision,  won’t decide until the payoff is very clear.
  2. Drivers are: Focused on outcomes, will take charge of a situation, enjoy challenges, tend to make quick decisions.
  3. Amiables are: Cooperative, want to build agreement and consensus, supportive, communicate trust.
  4. Expressives are: Talkers, idea sharers, like to motivate, like to create enthusiasm.

Which one are you?  There’s no right or wrong here.  We all fall into one of these categories.  I am a classic Driver.  Love a challenge.  Totally focused on results.  Get me there ASAP.  Never mind about the details.   When I first discovered this about myself, it was eye-opening to say the least. I was in sales at the time. I suddenly understood how irritating I was to other people. And, I understood why I was failing to close so many sales.

                                 Two Other Critical Factors

There are two other critical factors coming in play here.

  1. Assertiveness.  This is how we influence other people.  It is best described as ask versus tell.  Drivers and Expressives tend to be tell driven.  This means they tend to tell others what to do.  Analyticals and Amiables are ask driven.  This means they tend to ask others how they want things to be.
  2. Responsiveness.  This is how we express feelings related to people and tasks.  Analyticals and Drivers are task oriented.  Their focus is on getting things done.  Amiables and Expressives are people oriented. They are more concerned with how people feel.

You Are Giving Me a Headache

I understand.  I had one too when I got this far.  Let’s take a look at the diagram again.



I am a Driver.  Look at where I am in the diagram.  On my borders are Analyticals and Expressives.  This means I share certain social attributes with them.

Notice how I am diametrically opposed to Amiables.  I share no social attributes with them. We simply do not speak the same language. When I found this out, I understood at last why a couple of my team members were driving me nuts.  They were Amiables.  For us to get along, I needed to learn how to speak to them in their language.

Here’s another example.  Many Realtors are Expressives.  Their greatest fear is taking on a client that is an Engineer or Accountant.  Most Engineers and Accountants are Analyticals.  If you look at the diagram you will see Expressives and Analyticals are diametrically opposed.  They share no social attributes. Once again, they aren’t speaking the same language and have a hard time understanding each other.

What’s the Answer?

The answer is pretty simple.  Figure out what your own social style is.  Then figure out what style the person you’re trying to communicate with is.  It’s not hard.  Five minutes of conversation will give you plenty of clues.

Find out what they do for a living.  Managers and executives tend to be Drivers.  Sales people and people in creative professions (writers, artists, etc.) tend to be Expressives.  Scientists and Engineers tend to be Analyticals.  Amiables , such as coaches and counselors, are very people and ask directed .  They make great staff and team members and will work hard for the group.

Once you know what social style they are, you can approach them in a way they will understand and appreciate.  As Stephen Covey said, “First seek to understand, then be understood.”

We will explore the individual Social Styles in greater depth in future blog posts.

Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book   (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate.)


The Stunningly Simple Secret Part 2

The Stunningly Simple Secret Part 2

Busy or effective.  Which one are you?  Did you know it’s possible to do away with almost 80% of your to do list?

Here is a myth about being self-employed.  You start a business.  You work 80 hours a week to build it up.  In 5 years or so, you are a roaring success.

In my last post ( we discussed how you can choose the hours you want to work, and then use the 80/20 rule to accomplish the 20% of important activities to produce 80% of your results.


But what about the rest of the pile?

In this post, I’ll discuss ways you can take the other 80% of your To-Do pile and dump it, delegate it, or delay it.

What Can I Dump?

The first thing to do is to look at your pile and pick out the problem areas wasting a lot of your time.

Remember the 80/20 rule works in all kinds of ways.

Who are the 20% of customers, clients, or prospects causing 80% of your headaches?  How much do they contribute to your bottom line?  My experience is the ones who constantly complain about stuff many times are just trying to shift the blame for their own flaws.  Fire them.  You are better off without them.

You don’t have to be nasty about it.  I have said to clients, “I’m sorry.  I think I’ve done all I know how to do for you.  You’ll be much better off finding someone else who can (fill in the blank)”

If it’s a prospect, you can say, “I’m sorry.  I just don’t think I’m the right person for you.”

I think one of the most wonderful things about being self-employed is the ability to choose the people you want to work with.  Helping others to solve their problems or achieve their goals should be a joyful experience.  If it’s not.  Move on.

What are the time wasters?

  • Email- Probably the #1 time killer.  I’d be willing to bet you 95% of the mail in your inbox is crap.  Get rid of it.  If an email does not relate to getting you business somehow, delete it.  If you get irrelevant emails from the same sender more than once, assign the sender to your junk or spam file.Only look at email twice a day.  Pick the times.  I review once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Outside of those times, I turn the email completely off. Those emails that are business related should be answered within 24 hours. Keep your emails focused.  Stick to one subject if possible.  Answer it and move on.

There is one caveat here.  If you are emailing a customer, client or prospect about a specific subject and you find you are trading 3, 4, or 5 emails to no result, pick up the phone and call.

  • Phone calls. Turn off your phone during the day.  No…your business will not suffer.  Put a voicemail greeting on your phone that says, “Sorry I am not available to take your call.  Please leave a message.”   If someone won’t leave a message, they are not interested in doing business with you.  That said, here is the caveat.  I call it the “Sunset Rule.”  All calls received before 4 PM should be returned by sunset the same day.  Even if you don’t have an answer for the caller you are telling them you received their call, they are important to you, and you will contact them again when you have an answer for them.  If you are getting more calls than you can handle on an issue, you may want to consider delegating.
  • Meetings. There are two kinds of meetings. One on one meetings with a prospect or client to discuss projects or work in progress.  These are OK.  You should build an agenda for the meeting.  Publish it ahead of time.  Stay focused.  Try to hold the meeting to an hour.  The other kind of meeting is a committee meeting, general discussion, exploration, presentations, pitch sessions, etc.  Avoid these like the plague.  Nothing is ever accomplished here.  One of my favorite quotes is from the humorist Dave Barry, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’”


If you are a one-person shop, the way I am, this gets a little more challenging.  You have decided how many hours a week you want to work.  You have chosen the most important things to focus on. You have dumped everything you can.  There’s still stuff left. Now what?

One thing you can do is hire a virtual assistant.  Sources for virtual assistants can be found online.  Be very careful here.  The tendency is to hire a virtual assistant and then simply dump on them everything you don’t want to do.  This is a recipe for disaster.  You would be wise to eliminate the activity completely before you delegate it.

A virtual assistant should be treated as any other employee.  Interview them for compatibility.  Pick a specific function you want them to do. Train them how to do it.  Then turn them loose.

Let’s take the example from the previous paragraph.  You are getting a ton of phone calls on a specific subject. Imagine you are a consultant.  You have offered a free half-hour of your time to discuss a certain issue.  People are calling to book an appointment.

Train your virtual assistant on how to answer questions about the half-hour session. Give them the hours and dates you are available.  Have a separate phone number for booking the appointments. Google Voice is great for this. Turn them loose.  Inspect the results daily at first, then weekly.

You can also delegate out to contract workers and/or freelancers.  Again, you must be careful to confine this to specific functions with clearly defined procedures and goals.


Finally, there is delay.  This is really a default tactic.  There is stuff in your pile that isn’t part of the 20% getting you 80% of your results.  You can’t (or won’t) dump it.  Now what?

Delay it.  Actually, what I mean by this is ignore it.  Most of the time, this junk will just melt away on its own.  If there’s something in there that must be done, it will rise to assume crisis proportions.

In Conclusion

The idea here is to use your work time to be effective.  Focus on only those things that produce results.  Let the rest go.  This isn’t always easy.  Those things outside of the 20% of effort producing 80% of the results will sap your energy and distract you from the important. The inconvenient truth is you’ll never get it all done.  There’s always one more thing getting added to the list.  Focus on the 20%, Dump, Delegate, or Delay the rest.  You’ll be surprised how much you get done and how good you feel.

Stunning Simple Secret Improves Your Productivity!

Stunning Simple Secret Improves Your Productivity!

Getting it all done when you’re the only one there can be frightening. How can you improve your productivity?  Using Pareto’s simple 80/20 rule can cut your work week in half

You wanted freedom.  You wanted to do something you loved. And…you wanted to get paid for it.  So you went into business for yourself.

Now you have this huge list of stuff that needs to be accomplished to get your business off the ground.  How are you going to do it?

Is one of the reasons you went into business for yourself is you were tired of 50 to 60+ hour weeks working for someone else?  Are you now worried all you’ve done is buy yourself another job?

The ugly truth is unless you take control, you’ll never get it all done.

What is The 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rule was originally proposed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896.  It simply states 20% of the causes generate 80% of the effects.

I’m sure you’ve heard this in one form or another.  For instance, “80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers.”

What this means to you is 20% of your effort will generate 80% of your results.  Now you have to figure out which tasks constitute the 20%

Pretty straightforward, right?

But Wait…There’s More

It turns out there’s one additional thing you need to know.  It’s called the law of diminishing returns.  Here’s what it means.

If 20% of your actions deliver 80% of your results, you are getting a 4 to 1 return on your effort.

If you increase your effort (more tasks) to 23% you should drive your result to 92%, right?Chances are it won’t.

The law of diminishing returns states for every added effort, you will receive an ever decreasing result.

So, increasing your effort by 3% might only yield a 5% increase in results.  Another 3% on top of that might yield another 3%.  Keep on that path and you will get to the point where no matter what you add in effort, you won’t get any better results. And…you may never get to 100%

A Radical New Concept

Here’s a radical new concept for you.  Choose how many hours a week you want to work.

Yup, you heard me.  Instead of attacking the entire pile of stuff you think you have to do and whacking away until it’s done, choose how many hours a week you want to work.

Got it?

Here’s your new goal.  Look at your huge pile of stuff to be done.  Remember 20% of the stuff in that pile will generate 80% of results.  Look at each task in the pile and ask if it is part of the 20%. Estimate how long it will take to complete it.  Put it on the list for this week.   

Keep this up, until your weekly hours are filled.

Then resort the tasks in order of importance and put them on your calendar.  Be aware, you don’t want more than 2 mission critical items on the calendar in any one day.

Now focus on each task in order.  Work on it and it alone until it is done or your progress is halted by some outside event.

What Happens to All the Rest?

Everything else in your gigantic to do pile can either be Delayed, Delegated, or Dumped.

This will be the subject of the next blog in the series.

In Conclusion

You will be amazed at how productive you become.  You have to be brutal in your application of the sorting process. Knowing you have only so much time to complete mission critical items forces you to work on those items most important to your success.  Plus you will have the added benefit of creating more free time to do stuff you enjoy.

PS.  This concept and many others are more fully discussed in Tim Ferris’ wonderful book “The 4 Hour Work Week”  I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is running a small business.  You can order a copy of this book by clicking on the link below.  (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

Read this before you hire your first employee!

Read this before you hire your first employee!

When your small business grows, you will come to the point where it’s time to hire your first employee.  But… what are the things you need to consider to ensure you hire someone who is just the right “fit” for your company?

Prior Planning

The first thing you should do is to plan exactly what functions the new employee will fill.  For the purposes of this article, I am assuming you are a one person shop.  Up until now, you have done it all, but you have reached the point where you must have help.  So, sit down and make a list of all the functions in the company. Now rank them by putting the ones you love to do and are really good at on top. 

For instance your list could look like this:

  1. Marketing design
  2. Direct sales
  3. Customer service
  4. Customer research and email campaigns.
  5. Accounting
  6. Website maintenance

Now let’s say you pick the top 3.  These are the things you love doing above all else.  The bottom 3?  You can do them, but in truth, you’d be glad to unload them.

Bingo!  You’ve just created the job description for your new employee.

The next thing you should decide is how long it will take for the new employee to pay for themselves.  It’s always been my theory that hiring a new employee is not an expense, it’s a revenue producer.  Yes there is some upfront expense, but ultimately, employees should produce enough revenue to more than cover their salary, benefits, etc.   

Looking at our list above, it seems the revenue producing functions are located in the first 3 functions on the list:  Marketing design, direct sales, and customer service.  The second 3 functions, are mainly administrative, non-revenue producing functions.

So how is the new person going to produce enough revenue to pay for themselves?  By shifting those administrative functions away from you. This gives you more time to work directly with customers resulting in increased sales.   Increased sales means more revenue.

How long will this take?  Three months, six months, a year?  Here’s a tip.  Whatever time frame you decide upon, make that the probationary period. Why?  Because, if the new position doesn’t generate the revenue to pay for itself, you’re going to want out.  Pick a target and stick to it.  When the probationary period is up, was the goal reached?  The only answers are yes or no.

Here is the hard part.  Too often, in my opinion, when business owners hire their first employee, they develop a list of skills required for the job.  When they find someone appearing to possess those skills, they hire them.  Many times little or no consideration is given to the personality characteristics of the prospective employee.

If you are currently a one person show, personality considerations in hiring your first employee are critical.  It’s almost like getting married.  There’s going to be just you and this other person trapped in your place of work.  If you can’t get along, it’s going to be a living hell.

If your only measure of “the right fit” is whether or not you like the prospective employee, you could be making a big mistake.  Why?  Because we tend to like people who are just like ourselves.  Hiring another you is probably not what you need.  Remember you’re hiring someone to do stuff you dislike.

Social Styles

When I was in mortgage banking, I became fascinated as to why some mortgage loan officers were able to develop great relationships with Realtors and builders and some were not.  That’s when I discovered social styles.

Wilson Learning Corporation is a company that has interviewed over 2 million people world wide on this issue.  They discovered social behavior falls into the following  4 broad catagories:

1. Analytical

2. Driver

3. Amiable

4. Expressive

Approximately 25% of the population falls into each category.

Why is this important?  Because, each of these categories has certain behavioral styles and they don’t always get along with each other.

In hiring an employee, it’s very important to know these things:

  • What type of behavior pattern you fall into, and
  • What type of behavior pattern is best suited to the functions you want the employee to perform, and
  • How that pattern interacts with your own.

Think about it!  Understanding these behaviors not only applies to your employees but to your customers as well.  When my loan officers learned to understand these behavior types, their production went way up and so did their customer satisfaction scores.

This is so important that I urge you to read the book “The Social Styles Handbook” for yourself.  You can order it here.

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Larry Wilson and Learning Library WilsonTrade Paperback

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s Affiliate)

The 4 Behavior Styles

Here is a brief synopsis of the 4 Styles:

Analytical:  Think engineers, accountants, research scientist.  They are fact and detail driven. Task oriented.  They want to gather all the information before they make a decision. They only act when the outcome appears clear.   They interact well with Amiables and Drivers, but have nothing in common with Expressives.

Driver:  Think military types, business leaders, supervisors.  They like to take charge of a situation. They make quick decisions.  They love a challenge. Totally focused on results.  Very task oriented. They get along well with Analyticals and Expressives, but not Amiables.

(This is me.  I’m a classic Driver with some Analytic overtones. I had to learn how to get along with Amiables.)

Amiable:  Amiables are more people oriented. They are consensus builders.  They  want to make sure others are with them before they make a decision. They communicate trust.  They try hard to get along with everyone. They get along well with Analyticals and Expressives, but have nothing in common with Drivers.

Expressive:  Expressives are people oriented.  They are talkative and like an audience.  They are intuitive.  They are risk takers and competetive.  They inspire and motivate.  They get along with Amiables and Drivers, but not Analyticals.

Understanding these social styles will not only teach you about yourself, but you will also learn how best to approach and get along with others.  Stephen Covey said it best, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Covey, Stephen R. (2013-11-15). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (p. 247). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.)  Want to be an effective leader? You must first learn how to approach your employees in ways they understand best.

Let’s get back to our challenge.  If I use myself as an example I am a driver.  I like interacting with customers, but I want to hire someone to do the back office work.  From my perspective, my best choice is to find an Analytical.  They are detail oriented, tend to like the stuff I want them to do, and our social styles interact well.

Other Considerations

Here are some other things to think about:

  • How big do you want to grow?  In 5 years, do you see yourself with 3 employees or 100?
  • Do you want someone who will grow with you taking on more and more responsibility, or someone to fill the functions you outlined and that’s it?
  • Do you want someone who will tell you what you need to know, or only what you want to hear?
  • Do you want someone who does things on their own, or waits to be told?

The Interviews

The next task is to take all the information you’ve gathered about the position you’ve outlined.  Then design a series of questions you can ask a prospect to discover if they have the skills and desire to do the job.   

Do your best to find out what the prospective employee wants as well.  Is this just a job to them, or is it something more?  Where do they see themselves in five years?  If it’s not with you, that may be OK. Your own plans for growth may see this function changing or disappearing in that time.   Remember, it’s important they feel you have their interests at heart.

How many interviews does it take?  In my opinion at least two.

The first one should be about discovery.  You should discover all you can about them, and they should discover all they can about you. Now take a couple of days to think about your prospects.  Imagine how working with them would be over the next year.  How do you feel about the situation.  This is important.  Your gut should be saying yes! here.

The second interview is about numbers.  Lay out your plan. See how they react to it.  Are they excited, or do they get that “deer in the headlights” look on their face?  Talk about behavior styles.  Let them know about your style, and discuss your impression of theirs.  Discuss how the styles interact.  Get their buy in.  Be clear about the terms of the probationary period. Are there incentives you are willing to add on at the end such as a raise in pay?

The Hire

One thing I would like to mention is always have at least two candidates to compare.  Again take some time after the second interview.  Think about the candidates and how you feel about them.  Once you’ve settled on the best candidate, make the offer.

Here are the things you need to discuss:

  • Lay out clear expectations. Use numbers. The goal is to increase revenue by X in Y amount of time.
  • Get the new hire to buy in to the goals, or better yet set their own goal.  Include time frames. Remember the probationary period should be the same as the goal deadline.
  • Figure out a way to report results on a regular basis such as weekly or monthly.  Make the reporting period frequent enough to be meaningful.   Inspect what you expect.  It’s important to share results so they can see their progress and yours.
  • If they don’t make it, or it’s not working, be prepared to say goodbye.  The quicker the better.  Don’t hide this.  If they aren’t hitting the milestones, being let go should not come as a surprise.
  • If they don’t make it, find out why.  Was it your fault?  Were your expectations unreasonable?  Was the design of the plan wrong from the beginning?  Or, were they just not up to the task?  If the fault is yours, you should now have enough information to design the position better the next time around.

In Conclusion

When your business is small, getting employees who fit well in the organization is critical.  We’ve all been in situations where an employee  is misplaced in a position.  The results at best are an unhappy staff and at worst a hostile work environment.   

Finding someone who fits your organization’s mission and goals will make going to work a lot of fun.  Every day.

There’s an old saying (courtesy of my Mother), “Marry in haste, repent in leisure.”  This is true in hiring new staff as well. So, take your time, be thorough, and hire the best fit.

Here’s 5 Great Reasons Why Your Business Should be on the Internet

Here’s 5 Great Reasons Why Your Business Should be on the Internet

Here is the simple truth.  People have changed the way they shop.  If you’re a small business owner, you need a website.  Here’s a great post that explains why.

Five Reasons Your Small Business Needs The Internet

By knovack1/12/2015 12:27:00 PMViews (270)0 CommentsReturn

Five Reasons Your Small Business Needs The Internet

Research shows that, even in 2014, small businesses still miss the boat when it comes to their online presence. Building an online presence requires more than just creating a website with your business address, phone number, and a list of products that you sell. Think of it as a virtual version of your business. A 24-hour digital showroom. What kind of impression is your digital doppelganger creating?

There are many reasons why having a strong internet presence is important for small businesses, but let’s just take it slow and focus on the top 5 factors.

1. The Internet has Changed the Way that People Shop:

·   97% of consumers search for businesses online. You read that right. 97%.

·   81% of consumers research online before making a purchase.

·   55% of purchase-related conversions occur within one hour of an initial mobile search.

If you’re a business owner, these numbers should be enough to convince you. Bottom line: your customers are online, and you should be too.

2. You Want Your Customers to Find You: Let’s face it. When you’re going to buy something, anything, do you ever pick up the phone book and call around? Do you get in your car and drive from store to store? I didn’t think so. The first thing many shoppers do is look online to see who has the product they need. If you don’t have a website, or you don’t show up in their search results, you better believe you won’t be getting their sales. We’re not going to get into SEO, PPC, or any other acronyms associated with optimization in this article, but once you have your website, you should also look into these practices to get your site found online.

3. The Internet Provides Opportunities for Brand Building: Your website and social media presence should contribute to your overall branding effort. There should be a consistent look and feel to all of your marketing materials and, believe it or not, your website is one of them. Today, just about everything on your website can be custom designed to reflect your brand. You have the opportunity to create an impression every time someone visits your website or social media page. Don’t make the mistake of settling for a generic internet appearance, or you’ll get lost in cyberspace.

4. Social Media is Not Just for Personal Use: Social media has opened a new door for marketers in terms of needs discovery. You can gain some very useful insight into what your customers think, feel, and need, and who they really are. You can ask questions, conduct polls, and communicate directly with them. You also have the ability to see what they’re interested in and can ask them to refer their friends to your business.

At the same time, you have the opportunity to show your customers a more personal side of your business. Social media posts should create a personal touch but still reflect your business; content should be relevant to your industry and meaningful for your customers. The key to social media for business purposes is value creation. Repeat after me, value creation. You have to give them a reason to keep coming back. Do you consider yourself an expert in your industry? Try providing daily tips and advice, or holding a Q&A session.

5. The Internet Is a Powerful Relationship Building Tool: The internet provides a unique opportunity to build lasting relationships with your customers and potential customers. Think about it. How many internet users are on social media? Something like 1.5 billion between Facebook and Twitter alone. What are they looking for? They’re looking for a personal connection –BUT- just because you’re a business doesn’t mean that they can’t have a personal connection with you. They can, and they should. Creating personal connections with customers online can strengthen their sense of brand loyalty and increase customer retention.

For many small business owners, managing an online marketing strategy can be very overwhelming. Building an online presence requires not only the knowledge and skills to maintain a website, but the time and dedication required to perform regular updates, maintain social channels, and produce quality content. Just remember, when it comes to your company’s image, your web presence dominates. You get back what you put in, but if you follow these guidelines, you’ll see a much higher ROI.


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