Small Business Top Challenge Survey – 2017

What are the Small Business Owner’s Top Challenges Based on the Number of Employees in the  Business?


The graphs below represent the results of my Business Owner Top Challenge Survey conducted in March 2017.

The purpose of the survey is to understand the different challenges of business owners based on the size of their business. Size in this case is established by the number of employees in the business.

If we start from smallest to largest businesses in the survey, we see some interesting shifts in challenge priorities.  For the smallest business – the solopreneurs, their dominate challenge is time.  This makes sense because when owners don’t have support from employees, they wear all the hats in the business.  Usually scrambling, there’s not enough hours in the day.  To overcome they must learn how to organize and prioritize their daily tasks.  Once they do, they can begin moving to the next level with a clear focus on increasing sales.

Chart Solopreneur

As we move to the next level (1-3 employees) we see time is still one of the main challenges. But the business has grown to the level of having employees, and the owner must now sustain the business. Growing leads and sales, and well as managing the staff all become prominent and equal challenges.  The business priorities become operations process improvement, and sales/profit optimization.

Chart Emp 1-3  Chart Emp 4-10

As the business grows to 4+ employees the owner is still juggling a few different challenges.  However the challenges have shifted in complexity from time, leads and sales – to marketing, govt regulations – and staffing.  The answers for “other” were predominately “inventory management.”

Finally, by the time the business grows to 10+ employees, the business owner’s largest challenge is finding, hiring and retaining quality employees.  The owner has been adding more staff.  The additional staff are assuming more of the responsibility for operations, sales and marketing duties. This frees the business owner from these duties, and their primary challenge becomes ensuring there is sufficient quality staff.  Chart Emp 11plusI was curious about what part of staffing was the biggest challenge for the owners.  I re-surveyed the owners of the 4+ employees categories. They unanimously answered their main staffing challenge is locating and attracting new employees for their business (over the actual on-boarding and retaining employees).  These business owners need clear and effective staffing strategies in the current tight employment market.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line.


What Strategic Objectives are necessary to accomplish your Vision and Mission?

Strategic Objectives are broad, long-term (2-3 year) focus areas that define fulfillment of the mission.  They are objectives that an organization must achieve to succeed at its strategy.

One fast-start method to creating your strategic objectives is to start by defining broad categories:  Customer Service, Products, Sales and Marketing, Financial, Branding, etc.

Then narrow the category and clarify your objective using “infinite verbs.” Examples include:

  • Customer Service:  Deliver an outstanding customer experience.
  • Products and Services: Provide products and services that are so valued that our customers are compelled to use them exclusively.

For most organizations, these would be powerful objectives and a necessity to accomplishing a service-oriented vision and mission.  And note that they would be applicable over a couple years.

Next month we’ll continue down the Strategic Planning Model and cover Goals.  I’ll explain how to go to the next step of creating or formulating Goals for each of the Strategic Objectives defined above.

But if you can’t wait, or want to get a strong start on your business’s strategic plan – or even create your Plan 2015 Goals, click here to schedule a complementary goal setting strategy session.

2018 is here! Are you ready with plans and goals?

Have you taken some dedicated time to really think about 2018 yet? Or are you putting it off?

Have you documented plans for your Sales, Marketing and Customer goals?

Are you planning to do better next year, or only wishing and hoping?

You can control your destiny and increase your chances at greater success. And it’s as easy as writing down your goals and plans.

If you have questions about how to create your 2018 plans, please click here to schedule a complimentary Plan 2018 strategy session.  I will help you:

  1. Formulate a crystal clear template for your plans.
  2. Uncover hidden challenges that may be sabotaging you from taking action to address your annual plans and goals.
  3. Leave the session renewed, re-energized and inspired to take action.

If you find yourself putting-off making plans for 2018, it could be one of the 5 main reasons we procrastinate (i.e. feeling overwhelmed or the task is unpleasant). If so, definitely contact me about my popular and successful “Overcoming Procrastination” program.  I receive messages weekly from people marveling about how useful it is, and how it’s solved so many problems for them.  Click here to schedule an Overcoming Procrastination strategy session.

Next month we’ll continue down the Strategic Planning Model and explain Strategic Objectives.  They’re absolutely necessary to accomplish your Vision and Mission.

Company Values: Do your customers enjoy working with you? Do your employees enjoy working together?

What Guiding Principles and Values Help Your Team Successfully Work Together?

Who you are, what your values are, what you stand for…They are your anchor, your north star – Anne Mulcahy – Xerox.

Your guiding principles and values are general guidelines that set the foundation for how an organization will work together as employees and with customers.  They define your standard of behavior, your code of conduct, and the commitments regarding how people want to treat each other while working together.  They set the tone for how everyone will enjoy working together.  Finally, values and the behavior they foster, create your company culture.

Values: customer orientation, equal opportunity, friendly, honesty, integrity, loyalty, mutual respect, service, teamwork

Click here to see a brief video “Tom on the Job: Defining Company Values

There are many ways to formulate your value statements.  You can simply list your value words, you can format them using bullets, write full sentence descriptions, or tell a story through a paragraph.  The critical element is that they reflect who your company is, and that they inspire employees to practice and adhere to them. In my previous corporate life, they were part of the employee’s annually performance review.

If you have questions about how to formulate your Guiding Principles and Value Statement, or any other part of the Strategic Planning Model, please click here to schedule a complimentary strategy session.  I will help you:

  1. Formulate a set of crystal clear values for your business.
  2. Uncover hidden challenges that may be sabotaging your ability to successfully engage and enroll customers and employees in your values.
  3. Leave the session renewed, re-energized and inspired to take action.

Next month we’ll continue down the Strategic Planning Model and talk about planning for 2015. It’s already here!


November Webinars:

How to Make 2015 a Much More Profitable Year! – Optimizing your Sales and Profit Funnel for 2015.

It can be tough to keep growing profits year-over-year. And it’s easy to get stuck coming up with new ways to increase your sales and profits.  Are you optimizing your Sales and Profit Funnel?

In this webinar, you’ll:

  1. Determine YOUR Sales and Profit Funnel Model!
  2. Plan 25 ways to increase your own profits!
  3. Not only learn how to increase profits – but compound your profits (like the law of compound interest)!
  4. Learn the appropriate sequence to work your funnel (secret: It’s not sequential).

Attend the webinar, and take the steps to kick-off 2015 and make it your most profitable year ever!

Select one of two times (mid-day or evening) for this webinar in November.

What’s the Beacon of Vision Inspiring your Business?

What Big Goal will inspire you and your organization?  Is the vision for your business clear, powerful, and a beacon to lead you and your team for the next 3-5 years?

Where there is no vision, the people perish – King Solomon

A vision communicates what you want your business to become.  Among other things, it provides a clear and compelling picture of your ideal future, and a compass that points you and your team in the right direction.  That “beacon” I was alluding to.

The Vision Statement contains these primary elements:

  1. An inspiring picture of your position in your marketplace.
  2. The products or services you provide
  3. Your customers or markets
  4. The area or location of your market

Examples applying the elements include:

  • To dominate the global food-services industry – McDonald’s.
  • To be the world’s premier food company, offering nutritious superior tasting foods to people everywhere – Heinz

Notice how they successfully use the Vision Statement components. Also notice how it’s a clear picture to inspire their organization.  I encourage you to take just 15 minutes and articulate a Vision Statement draft for you business using the elements above.  In my Strategic Planning workshops, webinars, and engagements with clients, we go into much more detail to create and refine the Vision Statement.

If you have questions about how to formulate your Vision Statement, or any other part of the Strategic Planning Model, please click here to schedule a complimentary strategy session.  I will help you:

  1. Formulate a crystal clear vision for your business.
  2. Uncover hidden challenges that may be sabotaging your ability to successfully engage and enroll customers and employees in your vision.
  3. Leave the session renewed, re-energized and inspired to take action.

Next month we’ll continue down the Strategic Planning Model and cover Values/Guiding Principles.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and experiences on creating a business vision.

To Your Success!


How to Create an Inspiring Mission Statement!

Hello, and welcome back.

Do you and your employees have a clear and lock-step understanding of your products/services, who your customers are, and the clear benefit they receive from them?

 Last month’s newsletter provided an overview of the full strategic planning model for small businesses.  This month we start to look at each element of the model.  Although “Vision” is at the top of the strategic planning pyramid model, we are going to begin first with defining a compelling Mission Statement.  We’re starting with the mission because it’s more critical to have a clear understanding of what you do, who you do it for, and the benefits to them – before you start working on your Vision.  Those three elements are the definition of the Mission Statement.

You want a powerful and inspiring purpose statement for your organization to convey to your customers, employees and stakeholders exactly why you do what you do – and how it serves the greater good.  It motivates you staff by defining the motive and value you provide your customers. It’s a tool to stay focused on what’s most important —serving your customers.

To create your statement you start with answering the three mission questions: “what you do, for whom, and what is the benefit?”

Here are a couple examples of companies you’re familiar with:

  • Marriott Hotels – To make people who are away from home feel they are among friends and really wanted.
  • Walmart – Help people save money so they can live better.

In my Strategic Planning engagements and workshops we go into much more detail when creating a Mission Statement for the participants that create a unique contribution they make to their customers’ lives.   But here is a simple formula you can use right now to get started on your mission statement.  A mission statement can simply start with the words” Helping our customers…”  Think about the benefit your product/service provides your customers, and then simply fill in the blank.  As an example, a travel company may say:

Helping our customers experience the joy of travel and adventure.”

That’s it!   But if you want to make it more specific, you can even name a more specific customer or travel location niche.

Helping senior travelers experience the joy and adventure of Hawaii.

 To validate your mission statement is strong and compelling, check to see that you answered the three questions.  You may even want to validate that the statement distinguishes your organization’s mission from that of other organizations in the same industry.

Now that you have a recipe to create a strong mission statement for your organization, next month I will go back to the top of the pyramid model and explain the purpose and benefit of the Vision Statement.

If you have questions about how to formulate your Mission Statement, or any other part of the Strategic Planning Model, please click here to schedule a complimentary strategy session.  I can help you:

  1. Formulate a crystal clear mission for your business.
  2. Uncover hidden challenges that may be sabotaging your ability to successfully engage and enroll customers and employees in your mission.
  3. Leave the session renewed, re-energized and inspired to take action.

And if you would like to attend my very popular and valuable free webinar on September 16th at 6:30 pm (pacific time) on Business Visioning and Goal Setting: Projecting your Tomorrow and Heading for it Today! – click this link to register.  Space is limited, so hurry and register!

To Your Success!


Why the Business Strategic Plan is crucial to the success of your business

 Welcome!  In this very first edition of the Strategic Planning Newsletter, I want to explain the overall purpose why small business owners should create and maintain a business strategic plan.

One of the top five reasons why 80% of small businesses fail within their first year is they lack a clear vision, direction and goals – key elements of the strategic plan.

The small businesses that create and execute their plan double their chance of success.     Double it!

The strategic plan answers these 3 critical questions for your business:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to get to?
  • How will we do it?

Effective businesses create their own successful future through a robust plan.  The clearer and more exciting the future business destination you create for your organization, the greater likelihood you and your employees will be excited and committed to get there.

In subsequent monthly newsletters I’ll explain each section of the strategic plan one-at-a-time.  I’ll begin next month starting at the top with why your business needs a clear and compelling Vision Statement.

If you have comments about the value or importance of creating a strategic plan for your business, or tips you would like to share, please post your comments below

To learn more about the strategic planning process, upcoming complimentary webinars, or to receive a complimentary strategy session to discuss your situation, please schedule a session with me.


Finding and Keeping Top Talent is a major challenge for most small businesses.

Attracting and retaining the right qualified employees who will be a long-term asset to your organization is difficult for the small business owner.  Business leaders report the top employee challenges they face are finding employees with the necessary skills, providing competitive salaries, finding employees with a good work ethic, and providing competitive benefits.

As a business owner, you need a plan and system for attracting, hiring, and retaining the right employees.  Such a system reduces employee hiring, training, and turn-over costs. It takes the worry and stress out of the stability of your workforce.  And with a stable workforce, you have greater ability and flexibility to meet changing operations fluctuations and demanding customer requirements.  All of these improvements result in more sales, lower costs and higher profits.

We would like to hear from you.  Is this one of your top challenges?  If you have a successful system, would you share what’s worked for you?   And if it is a challenge, feel free to ask questions.

If you would like assistance developing a crystal clear vision and plan for a new employee talent program, please arrange a complimentary strategy session.

What Stops You from Reaching Your Goals? Post your thoughts here!

Welcome!  As a coach, I work with my clients to help them define their most important goals, and successfully reach them faster than they would on their own.  One of the keys to success is recognizing early when something begins to interrupt their success, and use effective tools to get them back on track and moving forward again.  I would like to hear from you. What stops you from reaching your goals?  What help would you find valuable? Let’s see what ends up on our list.


What’s your experience been with a Mastermind Group?

The concept of Mastermind teams has been around for centuries.  People join these groups to create a network of like-minded people to share skills, experiences and help them stay accountable to their planned actions and goals. Mastermind teams are referred to as “the mind power of many.”  1+1 = 2, but 1+1+1 begins to equal more power than the sum of the whole. Teams have been known to stay together for years.  If you’ve been a member of a Mastermind team, please share your experiences.   What is one thing you found beneficial?

If you would like more information about the benefits of joining available mastermind teams, please contact me for more information.