Simple Success

Today we wrap up our month-long look at simplicity.  I’ve enjoyed breaking things down for you, as well as really getting clear about some things in my own life.  Sometimes it’s necessary to really break things down and get to the heart of the matter.  Today, we’re going to talk about the 3 things it takes to be successful.  They’re really quite simple, yet can challenge us so much that we can get stuck in our tracks.

1-Have a goal.   If you don’t have a destination, a goal, a target outcome, it will be very challenging, and unlikely, that you’ll get to success.  You may discover that your success is achieved in different ways than you expected, but most people can’t get to success without some image of success in mind.

2-Have a plan.  Without a plan it’s like you’re trying to navigate a boat from NYC to England without a compass, directional technology or engine.  It’s almost impossible.  Your success is a lot like your marketing: if you don’t have a plan it’s not likely that anyone will connect with you and buy from you.  If they do it will be accidental.  Come up with a plan, with at least some details, for how you’re going to get to the goal you’ve got.

3-Take action.  This is key to making your goal a reality.  If you don’t take action, no matter how good your plans are you won’t get to your goals.  Take consistent action, take big steps and little steps, be bold and be confident, be courageous, be adventurous, be patient, but most of all get out there and get dirty.

I hope this inspires you to get out there and dream big dreams that bring you to big success.  What are your dreams?

Simply Prioritizing

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”  Lin Yutang

We’ve talked before about the things in life that are priorities or should be priorities to each of us; kids and family being two of them.   They may not be priorities for you in this season of your life, but they will be at some point in time, or you will regret it.  We’re simply not meant to live alone and without any kind of companionship.

The difference between each of us primarily can be found in whether or not we have the ability to choose between the things we think are priorities, the things we’re choosing to make priorities and the things that actually are (or should be) priorities.    It can be hard to share our time between personal, professional and family demands, yet the sooner we do it, the sooner we’ll start getting more out of life.

Yes, you will have to give some stuff up, but you’ll gain so much more by adequately making time for the things in life that really matter.  You’ll have less problems at home and work, you’ll feel better, and be less stressed.  When you make time to do the things that matter in life, like spending time with your family, choosing the jobs at work that bring in money, and making time to eat well, you’ll notice and feel a difference.  The things that you’ve stopped doing or are doing less won’t be as missed as you think they will be now.

This weekend I encourage you to get things done.  Do the things you’ve been avoiding, spend time with people you’ve been avoiding to make sure you’re right to avoid them, and make a plan for your future that is as courageous and hope-filled as you are.

Simple Change

We do a good job as business owners and people in making things complicated.  Sometimes complicated is good, but often it’s more trouble (and work) than it’s worth.  We are especially good at resisting change.  I know change can be scary and I know change can be hard, but I hope to help ease your mind on why change is essential in business (and why you’re losing business by not changing).

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: yes, sometimes change is the wrong thing.  Sometimes the worst thing you can do is change things.  In my experience however, that’s not usually the case.  Usually change is so far overdue we’re in bigger trouble than we had to be.  But since we’re stubborn people and have to learn our lessons, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Why do we need change, especially if not all change is an improvement?  There’s something about the basic essence of who we are, that as much as we love the status quo and feeling safe, most of us have a bigger drive to discover, explore, learn and grow.  And once we’ve succumbed to that drive we can never undiscover or unlearn it, it’s part of who we are no matter how much we deny it.   For our businesses, without change, we’d have overflowing garbage cans, would still do all marketing by word of mouth (or the pony express), and wouldn’t dream of impacting the whole world.   So, if we’re accepting change as necessary, what can you do as a business to make change a more normal, healthy occurrence in your business?

1-get into the habit of updating things regularly, preferably on a weekly or monthly basis, some businesses may even require change on a daily basis.  By making change a normal and expected thing you’ll be more used to little changes and be better able to roll with big changes that happen or need to happen.

2-make room for change.  Don’t back yourself or your employees into a corner.  While some structure and rules are important, not giving yourself or your employees any room to help irate customers or meet special requests is a mistake.

3-have a mission or vision that helps you decide what changes are appropriate for the business.  When changes do come along it’s important to have some help in deciding whether to accept or skip the change, and a mission or vision for the company does that.

How do you deal with change in your business?

Simple Parenting

Being a parent isn’t technically simple in this day and age, but there are a few simple things that make a big difference in the lives of your kids and your confidence in your parenting.

1-love them.  Kids know when you don’t love them.  They usually strike out at you, rebel or hang all over you.  Yes, some of that is natural, but all the time is not, especially while they’re young (teens are a different story).  Even if you are a single parent working 2 jobs just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, there are little ways, little moments that you can take to show and tell your kids exactly how much you do love them (and not in a guilt-building way).

2-spend time with them.  As with your love, kids need to spend time with their parents.  When you don’t spend time with them, whether it’s one afternoon a week or every evening at bed time, they think you don’t like them, don’t love them and don’t want them.

3-teach them.  As a parent it’s your responsibility to make sure they get a good education.  Encourage them to read lots of books.  Encourage them to dream and pretend to be super heroes.  Don’t discourage their interest in topics like dolls or fast cars, let them learn about what excites them.

4-instill good values in them.   Maybe you haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen an increasing number of people of all ages who lack good manners, who don’t know how to behave in public and who don’t treat others with respect.  The first place they’ll pick up these habits is from you.  Say please and thank you, open the doors for others, and show respect for the other human and animal lives on this planet.

5-be social.  Let your kids make friends, encourage them to spend time with others, set up play dates and hang out with other families.  It does take a village to raise a child, and your children will be better off for being exposed to the different types of amazing people that are out there.

6-get them involved in doing good for the community.  While they may groan and moan about it now, they’ll thank you for showing them different sides of the world some day.  I may not have enjoyed all the community activities my parents dragged me to, but they have instilled in me a desire to make sure my kids know that the world is a better place when we all work together.

What is the essence of parenting to you?

Simple Business

In continuing our look at the simple side of business this week we’re talking about some of the overarching topics when it comes to business.

The Customer is Your First Priority: if you want your business to be successful you have to have customers.  Without customers you can’t make money and will not succeed.  This means that what you offer has to be something potential customers want, and you have to do your very best to make your customers happy.  If you don’t have a product someone wants, there’s no way you can provide it to them but you can make your best alternative suggestions for what you do offer and at the absolute worst recommend another company or individual that could provide them with what they’re seeking.

Your staff must be professional and helpful: this includes you!  If neither you nor any staff  you may have is anything but grumpy, greedy, rude, inconsiderate or unhelpful you won’t be in business long.  You and your team need to have the information about the products and services offered to be able to answer most questions immediately, and all questions within a reasonable amount of time (depending on the service).  Unprofessionalism will not get you repeat business, and if negative word spreads you won’t even get first time business.

Offer something that actually has value:  it’s my personal opinion that most “online systems” offer very little value to anyone.  I believe that it’s possible for everyone to offer a service or product that actually has guaranteed value to the customer.  You’ll feel better about offering something of quality, and so will your customers.

Be able to grow: if you only plan to be in business for a year or so this point won’t matter to you.  But if you plan to actually make a career out of your business, or transfer ownership to someone else at some point in time, this matters.  You need to have a plan for how your business will grow, such as adding more products or services or franchising without breaking the branding and nature of your business.  If there’s no room for growth, there’s almost no chance of long-term success.

What do you see as the foundation of business?

Simply Seeing Good

“The best things in life are nearest…” Robert Louis Stevenson

This month we’re talking about the simple things of life.  Many of us don’t take the time to appreciate what we have, which includes the people in our lives, especially our family.  It’s super easy to pass them off as unimportant or not recognize how awesome they are because they’re so common and regular in our lives.  Yes, because we spend so much time with them it’s very easy to just focus on their less-than-endearing qualities, but what you need to first understand is why you focus on those qualities.  If you don’t approach life and your relationships acknowledging that first and foremost no one is perfect, second that people change, and third that it’s important to look for and encourage the best in someone, you’ll be pretty miserable in many, if not all, of your relationships.

I haven’t met too many people that I couldn’t find potential in.  Maybe they’ve chosen to be miserable or run their lives into the ground, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see what they could be doing with their lives, or the person they could be.  Everyone has bad days, it’s part of the human journey.  But if you’re actively choosing to live every moment as miserably as possible, either by choosing not to move on or choosing things that you know aren’t right for you, nothing anyone could do or say will matter.

What you get from life and your relationships is up to your perspective.  If you choose to look for the good you will find it.  That doesn’t mean you won’t be smacked by the bad stuff occasionally, but it means that more often than not you’ll be actively trying to make healthy, positive, empowering relationships that are good for you and the other people involved.

It’s well documented that the people a kid is exposed to growing up will greatly impact who they will be when they grow up, as well as the choices they make in life.  They may not have a choice about you being in their lives, but you do have a choice about the person you are in their lives.

I encourage you to look for the good in those closest to you.  If you can’t find anything, ask a friend or a relationship/life coach.  If they can’t show you the good in those closest to you, it’s time for new people in your life.  But chances are good, you’re just too close to these people to recognize just how amazing they are anymore.

Simple Marketing

Today, our “simple” topic is marketing.  Of course, there are lots of complexities to marketing, and everyone has a little different perspective on what it is and what’s important, and what is important may vary from company to company.  But there are a few things that are universal across the board for us to recognize in our marketing.

1-you’re marketing to people.  So many marketers and business owners forget that first and foremost they’re dealing with people.  I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it thousands more times, no matter what you sell, you’re selling to a person.  Don’t create ads that dogs would appreciate, don’t show your ads to fish, don’t plan for robots to buy your stuff.  You’ll waste your marketing dollars and time.

2-you must respect your audience.  Yes, there are some dumb people out there, I’ve met a bunch, and I’ve had the occasional dumb moment.  Regardless of how unintellectual you believe your audience is, treating them like they’re two won’t get you any sales, nor will ignoring them, screaming curses at them or bashing them over the head repeatedly with your offers. Be courteous and professional, and most of your customers will do the same.

3-if you don’t ask them, they won’t buy.  As silly as this seems, if you don’t tell your people what you’re marketing, how will they know to buy?  Also, there has to be an active request for a sale for people to do more than just click “like” or laugh at your TV ad.

4-most people need to be reminded of you.  Let’s face it: we’re all busier today in 2013 than we ever have been before.  There are more and more things each day competing for our attention.  As a result it’s important to establish ways to repeatedly connect with customers so they can be reminded of you, like through social media, a blog or a newsletter.

What other simple tips do you have about marketing?  Click the “comment” button below to share your tips.

Simple Homes

This month, as I mentioned on Wednesday, we’re talking about simplicity.   I know many of our lives are complicated and likely to remain so, but with a few simple shifts we can enjoy our homes and home lives more.  So today I’m sharing some home organizing tips that will help you make some things simpler at home.

1-paperwork: this is a big challenge for many people.  Just the words paperwork or bills can make someone break out in cold shivers.  Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case.  First, try to organize your bills into 1-2 pay dates each month, or set up automatic billing.  You may pay some of your bills early, but at least you won’t have to pay bills every week.  Second, file your paperwork on a regular basis.  At the very least file and shred papers monthly.   Third, keep track of your finances with a program like Excel, Quickbooks, or Mint.com.

2-closets: closets are one of the most underutilized spaces in a house.  Most people have lots of closet space, they’re just not using it right or well.  Invest in a proper cabinet system, or at least good shelving that can help you get started, and from there get boxes that can help you sort and keep things neat and put away.

3-make it easy for just about anyone to clean up: by having under-bed storage and easy-to-reach shelves with boxes for the kids, as well as practical storage in the kitchen, you’re on your way to empowering and enabling the other members to take up some of the responsibility of  keeping the house clean.

If you do these three things in your home, you’ll have a neater home in no time!  It will also feel and be healthier and a more inviting environment to live in!  What part of your house challenges you the most when it comes to organization?

Simple Leadership

This month we’re talking about simplicity and the different ways it can be incorporated into our businesses and families.  Today I though I would share 10 ways you can be a better leader.  While these things may seem simple, maybe even insignificant, they’re very important to your success as a leader.  Also, while they may seem simple, they’re not always simple to implement and make effective.

1-leaders make other leaders, not just followers.  All leaders need people who follow them, otherwise they can’t be a leader.  But leaders who aren’t just leading to lead, but are leading with an eye to the future, are intentionally creating leaders and those who can pick up the task after them.

2-leaders give credit when it’s due, and support when it’s needed.  Leaders know that they can’t, and shouldn’t, try to accomplish stuff by themselves.  When you work with others it’s important to not only recognize the good work that people do, but also provide them with the tools and encouragement to keep doing a good job.

3-leaders have big visions and take steps to accomplish them.  Leaders aren’t like those of us who sit around dreaming about big things and going places.  Leaders take those dreams and put them into action.  They make step-by-step plans for how they can accomplish their dreams.

4-leaders build a diverse team, not just people like themselves.  In order to be truly successful, you can’t have all of the same teammates.  Think about a football team with all kickers or quarterbacks.  Or a relay Triathlon team with only swimmers.  Likewise, you can’t accomplish the same results with all accountants, or all pastors.  You’ve got to have a bunch of different people with different talents to succeed well.

5-leaders are willing to get down and dirt with their team and followers.  While you may not see all good leaders in the trenches on a regular basis, you can be assured that they were there in the beginning, or would be willing to get down and dirty if it were needed.

6-leaders never stop learning or growing.  If you want to be a healthy and continuously successful leader, you have to keep learning.  The world doesn’t stop changing, so how could you stop learning?

7-leaders adapt.  As I just mentioned, the world keeps changing.  While your plans may be to become President of the USA, as you work in your campaign, you may discover that you’re better suited, or have more passion, for a different position.  Likewise, if you find that a product or service you’re offering isn’t selling as well as it could, be open to tweaking what you’re offering.

8-leaders communicate.  A huge part of being a good leader is knowing how to effectively communicate with people, both through what you say and being open to listening.   If you don’t tell others what the next step is and what the big goal is, they won’t feel excited and want to get on board.  Also, if you don’t listen to people, you could train-wreck your whole organization when a little listening could have averted disaster.

9-leaders put others first.  Even though you’re the leader and directing the charge, that doesn’t mean that you run roughshod over people or ignore the people following you.  Very few selfish leadership plans succeed, whereas those that are based on a greater good and a win-win-win situation gain lots of support and motion.    You won’t win without your team.

10-leaders celebrate.  This is the best part!  It’s important to recognize the good work everyone does, and celebrate the work that has been done.  It’s also good to sometimes just celebrate being alive!  Everyone needs to celebrate throughout the journey to keep spirits up and the task moving.

What are your thoughts on the simple things of leadership that really make a difference?