Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Administrivia; A Small Business Owner Surival Guide

Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

adminworkYesterday, a business owner and I were talking about how one single employee in her company had vastly improved the quality of life for her and her fellow business owners. In fact, each owner worked only 2 ½ days per week – all thanks to a key employee, their business manager.

These business owners understood the value of employees performing jobs that fit their skills and personality. We’ve often  joked about “administrivia” – the minute daily details that often drive business owners crazy. In this case, the business manager took care of those tasks, saving the sanity of the business owners. The best part? The business manager loves that work! My guess is she’s the sort who creates a daily to-do list and consistently checks them off with satisfaction. This frees the owners to use their talents in ways that provide the most value to the company.

Potential chores never end for a business owner – from managing, implementing and maintaining technology to marketing, bookkeeping and physical facility issues. Just because you can do these tasks is not reason for you to do them. Think of it this way; would an employer pay you your professional hourly rate to produce invoices? To post items on your website? If Corporate America wouldn’t pay you that rate, why are you forfeiting earning your hourly value through your unique talents and instead choosing to spend your time in other areas?

Fear often keeps us doing administrivia. We tell ourselves that we are just too busy and we don’t have time to offer our unique talents; that keeps us “safe”.  If we’re so busy organizing our files, we don’t have time to speak, to meet, to present.

I also hear this: “But I can’t afford it.” Make a list of the tasks you least like to do; for someone whose work was to focus on just those tasks, what investment would it take?  Conversely, set a dollar amount that you are willing to invest to have those tasks off your desk.

I also hear, “it would take me longer to explain what I need done than to just do it myself.” Not buying that one, either. If you find the right person, they can do the tasks faster than you with one hand tied behind their back.

You can find people out there who love, and are very good at, every aspect of your business; hire them to do what they do best so you can do what you do best. Letting go of tasks better meant for someone else is a vote of confidence in your abilities. Choose confidence.


 – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

‘Tis The Season!

Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

This season,

  • Mend a quarrel.
  • Seek out a forgotten friend.
  • Dismiss suspicion, and replace it with trust.
  • Write a love letter.
  • Share some treasure.
  • Give a soft answer.
  • Encourage youth.
  • Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.
  • Keep a promise.
  • Find the time.
  • Forgo a grudge.
  • Forgive an enemy.
  • Listen.
  • Apologize if you were wrong.
  • Try to understand.
  • Flout envy.
  • Examine your demands on others.
  • Think first of someone else.
  • Appreciate.
  • Be kind, be gentle.
  • Laugh a little. Laugh a little more.
  • Deserve confidence.
  • Take up arms against malice.
  • Decry complacency.
  • Express your gratitude.
  • Say a prayer.
  • Welcome a stranger.
  • Gladden the heart of a child.
  • Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
  • Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it still once again.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holidays! – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Thank You

Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

As my mind circles around all those people and things for which I am most thankful, I wanted to share with you the newest book on my Kindle: The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk (BusinessWeek included him on their list of the Top 20 People Every Entrepreneur Should Follow). Easy to read, it’s a book that combines our grandparents’ corner store values with social media. 
For all of you, whether I see you each week or only know you through the internet, let me share my gratitude for you being in my life.
Merci. Toda. Gracias. Arigato. Thank you!
– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Reputation Management

Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

Reputation ManagementBetween Penn State and Herman Cain, the news has had its share of scandals recently. Besides the actual alleged behavior, what bothers me is the focus of the media; I hear mostly about how the parties involved can salvage their reputation and the consequences to them rather than a focus on the alleged victims.

I recently heard about the online reputation management company; my first thought was “what happened to each person being responsible for managing their reputation by managing their behavior?” Sure, there can be some undeserved negative press out there about your business; a client recently got slammed on Facebook by a customer who misunderstood a situation. In my client’s situation, he mostly ignored the Facebook comments and chose to take the high road. He reflected on whether he had done everything in his power and ability to rectify the misunderstanding. Once he felt confident that he had done everything he could in the most professional manner possible he had to let the rest go. He could control his own behavior and words; he could not control anything else.

As business owners (and as human beings), we should be concerned about our reputation. But manage it through an online service? Na-ah.  By and large we get what we reap. Keep your customers in mind when making decisions; ask yourself how you would want to be treated if there is a misunderstanding; and just plain “be nice” will do more for your preserving your reputation than any on-line service or press conference can do. Just like in life, doing the right thing is not always easy; in business, though, the bonus payment shows up in your bottom line.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Mind Readers Don’t Work Here; Use Clear Communication

Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

Use Clear CommunicationClear communication is critical in almost all situations but especially in employer-employee relationships or businesses with two or more active partners. In these situations, not only can people get angry or feelings get hurt but the lack of clear communication can impact the business including profitability, employment, and energy spent by those involved. Yet all too often I hear phrases such as “I just assumed she would do it” or “Why can’t they see what there is to do and just take care of it?” They key word is “assumption” and has been the cause of many a disagreement.

Imagine playing a board game with your family that you have played many times. One day, you decide to change the rules a bit but don’t tell anyone. How would the game play out? Certainly not smoothly in my house! When you make assumptions in the workplace you are essentially changing the rules of the game…and not telling anyone that the rules have changed! For example, you may have tasks in your mind that employees could do during down time. You wonder why they don’t see the straightening up they could do or making some headway on a new project. If you expect them to complete those tasks but are not clear about that expectation, you are essentially playing a game without sharing the ground rules with anyone else; you must use clear communication.

Good employees want to do well, they want to meet and go beyond your expectations. They don’t have a fair chance unless you share what you want and expect. Be clear; tell them which factors are most important in a task: is it time sensitive? Is accuracy most critical? Share your expectations and then let them be professionals and complete it.

Remember, mind readers don’t work at your business. Play fair; share the rules of the game.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.