5 Tips To Become a Mission Critical Organization

The USS Benfold was the most technically advanced ship in the world, yet not coming close to its full potential.

Commander Mike Abrashoff turned things around by changing the culture of the organization. He interviewed each crew member to see what was working. He separated tasks into mission critical and “non-value added.”

This distinction, which nobody else had thought to do, proved to be enlightening.

Rust was not just an eyesore

For example, Abrashoff learned form the crew that all the ship’s hardware was ferrous metal, which rusts in salt water. When procurement didn’t have stainless steel bolts, the commander persisted. He had the crew buy up every single bolt they could find at home improvement stores, and hired a firm to finish the ship’s hardware with a rust-inhibiting process that made the paint job good for 30 years.

Why did the commander care so much about the paint job?

Abrashoff saw that his crew was spending entire days sanding and re-painting the ship, which was both a morale-killer and time waster. His talent was to figure out what was obstructing high performance, and to laser in on a solution, even if it meant bypassing conventional channels to get it done.

He attributed the crew’s high readiness to having more time to learn their jobs. The ship not only won a prestigious military award, but enjoyed a 100 percent retention rate for its sailors, vs. a 54 percent rate for other crews.

Pretty good for a ship that was deployed in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq war.

How does this apply to your business?

Think about your company’s mission. What is essential to the mission and what is not? Small problems may seem insignificant, but not if they interfere with the mission. In this case, painting the ship was not essential to the mission, so Abrashoff saw that it needed to be minimized, whatever it took.

In business, value-adding activities are the most important.

Five tips for staying mission critical:

  1. Divide tasks into A and B lists depending upon whether the task is related to the mission of the company—the source of your revenue.
  2. If it’s not mission critical: delegate, eliminate or automate.
  3. Train employees to perform mission-critical tasks.
  4. Set up systems to simplify non-mission critical tasks such as bookkeeping, payroll and benefits, collections.
  5. Do everything you can to maximize your cash flow, such as billing on time. Letting this go hurts your bottom line and your credibility.

Remember that today, it’s not enough to be cheaper and better, you must be cheaper, better and faster.

Are you unsure how to identify and separate mission critical tasks in your organization? Comment or contact us directly at CHB Associates to see if coaching can help you get back on course.

Systemize Your Business This Year

Could this be you?

You’re a star developer whose mission is to create a game-changing software platform. You start to grow by selling some apps you’ve developed, and you hire junior level developers. 

Your bookkeeping becomes more complicated with employees and a payroll. You’re a smart person and you know you can handle it. Your networking brings you more accounts.

So far so good.

Life Gets Complicated

Tax time is a nightmare because you have so much to learn. A tax law change consumes your time and you stop going to conferences for a few months, but you plan to have it under control soon. Your bookkeeping workload is exploding, because, thankfully, business keeps coming in. You promote your best employee to manage the projects and people you no longer have time for. Your spouse and children complain that you are never home.

When you get back to developing, you discover nothing has been done the way you had planned. You didn’t standardize the process, because you assumed everyone would understand what you wanted. To keep the staff busy, your senior developer has taken on a slew of small projects that aren’t even related to the core business.

Worst of all, progress on your big idea has stopped. Your best person is too busy managing the day-to-day and you don’t have time either. Tasks are being duplicated, and other things are not getting done at all because you have no systems set up.

Many organizations, large or small, wait too long to systemize their operations. This hurts the bottom line as well as morale.

A major corporation will often wait until it starts having serious problems before digging into the job of centralizing and standardizing its many departments, who are typically duplicating efforts across those departments, resulting in bottlenecks and slowdowns.

By the time management tackles this, it’s become painful and costly to change. But the price of not changing is even higher, so it must be done.

It also happens to startups with as few as one person. That overworked person, as in my example above, tends to wear too many hats and try to accomplish too many things that aren’t mission critical.

Money is tight, and it seems less expensive to do everything in-house. But it’s actually not.

Not Investing in Your Business Is An Expensive Short Term Strategy 

When the owner above looked at the first half of the year, he realized, to his horror, that he’d made 20 percent less during tax time. He had skipped conferences where he had previously made valuable contacts, nor was he following up with less recent contacts, who had moved on.

If you are the best person to be drumming up business, you should be out on the front lines, but not all the time. Not so much that the mission—in this case, developing software—is being run by employees who don’t have the knowledge or training to manage it. 

In this case, the owner needed to manage the team, or else train and delegate it carefully. Some of the lead generation could have been handled by a salesperson or marketing, leaving him to close the deals. And there’s no question he does not need to be handling payroll or taxes. 

The owner has made what I call the “critical mistakes” of business owners, which I warn audiences about because they are so common and they do so much damage:

  • Suffer from “it’s easier to do it myself” syndrome.
  • Don’t understand the importance of systemizing and what that really means.

Both of these can only be successful in the short-term, but eventually, you will burn out or be unable to expand because you are just doing too much. Heed my advice and invest in your business by hiring and delegating to specialists, and systemize your operations in any way you can.

The longer you wait, the harder it will be. You value your autonomy in the beginning, but full autonomy has a price. Being a lone wolf is inefficient. Remember the reason why you started the company in the first place.

A clear mission and vision will guide you.

Have you felt out of control of your own organization because you’re trying to do it all? Comment or contact us directly at CHB Associates to learn more about systemizing.

Do You Have Time? 10 Time Management Tips to Maximize your Effectiveness

Have you heard the following adage: “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”?

It is hard to improve if we do not establish performance metrics.

This is particularly true when speaking about time management improvement. Time seems to escape us and there is never enough time to do everything there is to do. Yet we have no less time than Einstein, Mother Teresa or Steve Job.

So, what is going on?

If you’re like many people, the answer to is…”I don’t know…!”

Could you prioritize and increase productivity? How much time do you spend marketing, selling, producing, servicing your customers? Are you using your time productively?

The ten following tips, if applied systematically, could add a week to your life every year:

  1. Log in all your activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where time is going. You will see how much of your time is actually spent productively and how much time is wasted.
  2. The 80/20 rule applies also to time management. You produce 80 percent of your results in 20 percent of your time. Once you have identified those most productive activities, focus on spending at least 50 percent of your time engaged in those activities.
  3. All activities that are important to your success must have a time assigned to them. If, for instance, you need to make so many sales calls per day, assign a time and write it down in your schedule. Schedule and write down the time to meet with your staff. And do not forget to set up an agenda… Every important activity must be set up as an appointment and even if they are appointments with yourself, have the discipline to keep these appointments.
  4. When something hits your in-box, decides on the spot if you need to do it, delegate it, defer it or drop it and act on it accordingly. Do not let things accumulate in your in-box.
  5. Take the first 10 minutes of every day to huddle (standing) with yourself and/or your staff to plan your day. This is the most important time of your day.
  6. Assess before every call and task what results you want to attain. Visualize success. Examine after each call and activity if your desired result was achieved. Every call and activity will result in being a success or a lesson.
  7. Close your door and put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done.
  8. Do not answer the phone just because it’s ringing or respond to e-mails just because they show up. Give your instant attention to people only if it is absolutely critical to your business (911 responder). Schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
  9. Social media has become a key marketing tool for many businesses. When using social media, schedule blocks of time and do not let distractions take you adrift. Set up clear goals and objectives and monitor that you are achieving them.
  10. Remember that it is impossible to get everything done. Work effectively, get the most important things done and be ok with it. “This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy,” says Kerry Gleeson.

So, ultimately, it is not about managing time: time manages itself. It is a matter of managing our actions and making the right choice about what to do at any point in time.

What Are Your Marketing Options?

Questions you should think about before starting a marketing program:

On a Limited Budget You Must Prioritize.

Marketing today offers entrepreneurs an amazing spectrum of attractive tools. But can they be all tested within limited resources?

Answer: Only pursue the ones that align most closely with your strategic marketing plan. If you don’t have a plan, you will blow a lot of valuable cash on awesome ideas that promise much and deliver little — not because they are bad ideas, but because they are bad ideas for your company.

These are three rules to evaluate your marketing options.

Build on Your Existing Base

You should aim your marketing first of all at your typical customer. If that sounds obvious to you, plenty of small businesses run aground seeking any customers they can find while never establishing a reputation with one loyal group. Targeting is the difference between marketing as expense and marketing as investment.

This strategy applies also when marketing to other businesses. For example, do you define decision makers versus order-takers within each target company? Both are useful to cultivate, but they require different approaches if you want to get the highest return on each marketing dollar.

Do Not Over-reach and Stick to What You Can Manage

It is not necessary to embrace all the latest marketing fads. While the internet offers powerful marketing tools, they are such only in the measure in which you use them properly.

Let’s take blogging, for example. Blogs are cheap to set up, but they take huge effort to update on a consistent basis. If you manage your blog poorly, you will disappoint your customers. If you are in the business of offering advice (say, on insurance, financial planning or accounting), a blog makes sense and could be your main marketing tool. 

Social networks are another increasingly popular tool. But these, too, require a fair amount of administration. Would those hours and dollars actually boost awareness and, ultimately, revenues? For many small companies, the answer is no.

In making these calculations, remember that you also have to allot enough resources to spruce up your outgoing electronic communication. All prospects expect to interact with sellers and advisers online these days.

Whatever Marketing Gurus are Selling, Buyers Beware

There are innumerable marketing agencies out there that make all kinds of claims. Ask to see case studies of what they have accomplished for other clients like you. Concentrate on what you need, not what they are selling.

A good plan must be action driven, with goals and strategies that will lead to specific outcomes in specific time frames. The strategies will dictate the solution i.e. the tactics you use.