Good Follow Through Is Critical for Business

Follow Through

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Good Follow Through Is Critical for BusinessIn 1994 I was in St. Louis wrestling in the AAU national wrestling tournament. I had done well and made it to the quarter finals. However, I lost that match by two points – the only points scored in the match. I had shot in on his legs for the take down, but somehow, he countered and ended up taking me down. 


I rarely did this, but I was so baffled by it that I found him afterward and asked what happened. “You hesitated after the shot. It was just enough for me to counter.” I hadn’t followed through with the take down and lost the match.


In business, poor follow through is one of the most common mistakes businesses make.


Some say this is a question of integrity. I think it moves beyond that. It is a question of systems and habit. We have every intention of following up after the service, calling that lead one more time, or getting back to someone. Often when a ball gets dropped, we have a tendency to just leave it and hope no one notices. Eventually they do. We judge ourselves by our intentions, but the world judges us by our actions.


As a business, balls get dropped by the team because we have not put together the processes and not created good accountability. Creating a habit for our team and a culture that enforces those items are the key to creating a business that exceeds expectations.


So what now? How do you follow through better?


Take a look at your habits, systems and accountability. Pick one, work at it until it improves. Then, move on to the next.


Shake It Up

By | Leadership, Motivation, Operations, Strategic Planning, Systems | No Comments

stirthepot“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”


Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
3rd president of the United States

Lately, I have been reading (or rather listening to) the book “Work The System”. Something the author says repeatedly is to look at your internal systems from “a slightly elevated and slightly removed point of view.” By looking at your business from the outside looking in, you can better work on your businesses instead of in.


Many of my clients often find themselves jumping from one appointment to the next, taking care of whatever is next on the to-do list, or looking for an excuse to work on trivial, easy things.


It takes a kind of courage to step back and look at your business from the outside looking in. It requires you to not just admit your faults, but to look them in the face and commit to change. A better process. An improved system. A better business. Owning a business, not owning your job. A better lifestyle to do what you wish with more money and a lot more time.


It might be time to “shake it up,” look from the outside in, and improve your system. You will never truly own a business until you do.



By | Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | One Comment

2013-Ferrari-1“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”


—Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)
American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to make money for breathing? (The Academy Awards are a good reminder of that. . . ) It isn’t because they are smarter or necessarily given more advantages. Some of the biggest successes and fortunes in my lifetime have started from a garage.


So what is the defining factor? What sets these individuals apart?


The longer I study business and the difference between successful businesses and flops, I have come to realize the difference comes down to one phrase: perceived value.


This is probably why Andy Warhol said it was a true art. As with any art, value is determined by the end user. Many incredible artists starve because of three basic reasons:

  • They fail to identify the values of their audience and then deliver that value.
  • They fail to communicate the value to the right audience in the right way.
  • It costs more to create it than what people are willing to pay.

Unfortunately, most perceived value is what your audience learns from your marketing message. Ferrari can sell a vehicle for drastically more than what Toyota can sell a vehicle. The essential function of both vehicles is the same, but a person that buys a Toyota is looking for economic and pragmatic solutions. A person buying a Ferrari is more interested in power, speed, and social standing. What they value and their ability to buy that value.


As a side note – there are only 39 Ferrari dealerships in the Continental United States. Compare that to the 1,234 Toyota dealerships in the same area. It boils down to perceived value and how you communicate that value.


What are you worth and are you communicating that worth?

onehundred bill

Wealthiest Man In Town

By | Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | No Comments

onehundred bill“The difference between a one-dollar bill and a one hundred-dollar bill is the message on the paper.”


Joe Polish


Last summer, my family took a trip to see the Ape Caves near Mt. St. Helens. It was a lot of fun become amateur spelunkers as we explored this long lava tube. The kids had a great time and it wore us out completely.


Since we had planned to stay for an extended weekend, I had planned for us to visit the Ceder Creek Grist Mill the next day. This is an old grain mill that had been restored and demonstrated how they turned large amounts of grain into flour. One thing the mill operator told us during his demonstration surprised me:


The Mill owner was often the wealthiest man in the county.



It didn’t surprise me when I found out why . . . .


Farmers would bring their grain and pay the mill owner to grind it in preparation for selling to the area merchants. The interesting thing is that the farmers would bring the raw grain in large barrels or sacks and then refill the same containers with the flower that was milled.


However, when grain is ground, it actually creates up to 50% more volume than the grain itself. So if I  mill one bushel of wheat, I will end up with 1.5 bushels of flower.


The miller would keep the extra half bushel and also sell that to the merchants. This was a standard practice and the farmers had no issue with the arrangement.


What are you creating that you are not getting credit for? Even if you don’t feel you should charge for the extra service – do your customers recognize the extra value they get?


I once suggested to a client that if they provide a courtesy service, they should still create an invoice and then discount it. This does two things:


  1. Helps you track and measure any inventory and how much you discount.
  2. Provides tangible proof to your customer the value they receive. Chances are they are going to see the receipt a couple of times before it gets thrown away – extra reminders that you are looking out for their best interest.

Don’t just create value – make it count.

I want my business to

system failure

By | Cost Controls, Leadership, Operations, Strategic Planning, Systems | No Comments

gears“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. ”


—Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) from the movie The Departed

Many of you know about my two years in Southern Mexico as a missionary. In one area I served I cam across two families that stand out in my mind as stark contrasts.


The first I met in a cab ride from the bus station to the apartment in my first hour in this area. He drove the cab and I later found out that he was a science teacher for one of the local prep schools. His wife was due to have their second baby in a couple of months. He worked hard and was just starting out as a husband and father. He did not have to drive cab, but he did want to improve his situation. 


The other family I met was completely opposite. His wife worked hard selling in the market to earn enough to buy the necessities of life. I once approached their house to see him laying in a hammock with a “caguama” (a beer of about 32 oz). All he could say was, “No hay trabajo” – there is no work. 


One system created opportunity (the first eventually bought a home and became a community leader) the other created stagnation. We can shake our head at the second, but his “system” was to have his wife work while he drank in the shade bemoaning the economy. Guess who made a bigger impact in the world?


The economy, taxes, politicians, the system, big business, and the boogie man. The next time you want to blame some out-side source, figure out what is happening with your own systems that did not prepare for the influence of these outside influences.


Are you positioned to take advantage of circumstances whether they are good or bad? The difference is the systems you have in place and the quality of execution.





Death & Taxes

By | Accounting, Finance, Follow-through, Systems | No Comments

Taxes“It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.”


Dave Barry



It’s that time of year again. Ain’t it fun?!?


Don’t get  me wrong. I don’t mind paying my share for our military, roads, law enforcement and other systems we need in place to keep our society stable. There are just three things that bother me about paying taxes:

  1. The complexity
  2. The waste
  3. All of us become liars – some in order to pay less in taxes and some accidentally because of reason #1.

So what does that mean for your business?


Know what you are getting into. Find resources that help you make your business grow in spite of your tax burden. Use a group of professionals that can help you steer through it.


Make sure your professional is the right one. I just sat with a client this week that is very worried about how much he will owe in taxes. He has switched CPAs because he felt he had outgrown his previous CPA. Now it looks like he may have more tax liability than he planned because of poor advise and because he failed to do the next hint:


Prepare ahead of time. Make sure you are have a sales tax account if you are collecting sales tax. Make accommodations for your employee’s employment taxes and your own self-employment taxes. This is sacred cash and should never be disturbed until you have paid all taxes. It’s better to have a little too much in the account at the end that you can re-invest than to be stuck with a bill your business can’t bear.


Create a system and be organized. Unfortunately many of us have trouble keeping a mileage log, filing receipts, balancing our books regularly and keeping up with our tax commitments throughout the year: quarterly state taxes, estimated self-employment taxes, sales tax reports, unemployment and workers compensation. If you create a system to make them happen, it makes it easier to stay out of hot water.


Finally, get involved. Let your local, state and federal officials know how you feel. Become part of groups that influence how taxing decisions are made: professional organizations, business lobbyist organizations, and chambers of commerce allow you to amplify your voice.


At the end of it all: the only sure things in life are death and taxes. Be prepared for both.




Marketing Follow-Through

(January 30, 11:30 -1:00 – Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce)

Co-sponsored by the Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce, this is a FREE Lunch and Learn series.

Most of the time our marketing becomes a flash in the pan because we fail to follow through. Get some Ideas on how to close the gap and keep leads, customers and clients from falling through the cracks.

Eventbrite - Marketing Follow-Through


Call 360.779.4848


Get Surrounded

By | Accountability, Accounting, Leadership, Marketing, Operations, Systems, Uncategorized | No Comments

support“Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”


Colin Powell

Retired four-star general and former Secretary of State (2001-2005)


In the last few weeks, I have repeatedly come in contact with businesses that have achieved a level of success and want to take the next step, but can’t get through it. Often their biggest obstacle is getting the right people on the team.


This was emphasized in the Kitsap Business Forum on Tuesday. It seemed we kept coming back to the same point:


You shouldn’t do it all yourself.

This does not mean you have to hire and replace yourself in your business – at least not right away.


It means finding the core team you need to make your business a success. Here is my list of professionals you need to be successful. There are many others, I suggest every business owner have the following.


  • Accountant
  • Bookkeeper
  • Attorney
  • Insurance Agent
  • Banker
  • Marketing Expert (actually a team of experts here)
  • Cooperative/Complimentary Business owners
  • Accountability Source (Master Mind, Coach)


Surround yourself with great people and great minds. If you are surrounded by people or businesses that you do not wish to emulate – it’s time to get find a new group.


Don’t do it alone! Entrepreneurship is lonely enough already.




By | life style, Systems, Time Management | One Comment

unicycle_forces“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life.”


Zig Ziglar

Balance in life is like riding a unicycle. If you do find a perfect balance, it only last a second. Whether it is a breeze, a slight tremble in the rider or the imperceptible shift of the earth, you become “off balance” and must again make adjustments. 


If you want to stay still – you must constantly be making adjustments to maintain your position. However, if you want to move forward, you must take yourself out of balance and gently lean into it.


Progress and balance are nearly impossible to maintain simultaneously.


We inherently know that starting something new or significantly changing course in any endeavor in life requires more energy, concentration and devotion than keeping the “status quo”


So which are you after – do you want to stay where you are or do you want to move forward? The trick, of course is not keeping perfect balance.


The trick is knowing when to throw yourself off-balance, in what direction and by how much. If you lean into it too much you end up on your face. If you don’t lean into it enough, you stay where you are or even have to move backwards to recover.


A few things that to help keep you off balance enough without falling on your face:


  • Your “Don’t Do” list is probably more important than you “To Do” list
  • Know how much your family is willing to sacrifice for your dream.
  • Make sure you reward your family, friends, associates, partners, etc for their sacrifice. This can be as simple as sharing profits, small gifts, or a 4-day weekend away.
  • Look for leverage.



Discriminating Between Opportunities

By | Marketing, Systems | No Comments

Cullinan 1 – one of the largest diamonds in the world

“The entrepreneur in us is more concerned with discriminating between opportunities than he or she is with failing to see the opportunities.”


Michael Gerber
Author of The E-Myth Revisited

One of things I present in many of my seminars and presentations is that many business owners tend to chase “the shiny new penny”. They get into the mindset that the reason they are not succeeding is because there is some opportunity they are missing, some key strategy they are not using, or some person they don’t know yet. 

I have heard several versions of the farmer or rancher who sold his property to seek his riches elsewhere – only to discover that the man who bought the property found a large amount of diamonds or gold (depending on the version) already on the property. While I don’t believe every patch of earth has large amounts of diamonds in it, I do believe what the parable is teaching.

For most of us, the gold mine we keep searching for is not always in a new breakthrough.


It’s about reaping more from opportunities that surround us. Instead of worrying about missing an opportunity, why not take full advantage at some of the opportunities right under our nose?

This sounds like a repeat from Friday’s “Pat on the Back”. It’s something I am coming to understand more all the time.

Look closely at what you are doing. Stop chasing the end of the rainbow. Make the most of all the opportunity around you!


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