• Dennis Kelley

    David Kelley

    Dennis Kelley is a seasoned professional with over 30 years experience leading teams and coaching people to success. Dennis is in high demand as a speaker, consultant, trainer and an author... Read More

    David Kelley

  • Inspirational Quote

    “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -- Michalangelo
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn. Click here to view my profile and join my network. A strong, wide network is one of the keys to success. View Dennis Kelley's profile on LinkedIn
  • March 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Oct    
  • Advertisements

The Movable Mountain

I just finished reading a chapter in the book ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko. I have found this book to be fascinating and highly recommend it. Michael has packed this book with a ton of creative ways to look at business problems and attack them to find solutions.

One thing that struck me today was a summary he gave for a chapter on a Tug-of-War strategy to problem solving. He summed it up with the following;

“Once there was a man who died and found himself in Hell, with the road to Heaven blocked by a huge mountain. Although indignant that he was in Hell, the man assumed he could do nothing to change his situation and settled down to an eternity of suffering. He never discovered that the mountain was on wheels – to reach Heaven he needed to only push the mountain aside.”

He went on to say, “Once you identify the forces operating in your challenge, they become as negotiable as a mountain on wheels. You can either learn to live with the negatives by limiting your options and compromising your goals, or you can change their position and neutralize their impact.”

Wow! How many people accept their current situation and settle down for a life of mediocrity or, even worse, misery? What are the forces operating against your goals? Have you created options to get them out of your way? Don’t compromise — create a plan for your life; determine what is in your way and find creative solutions to remove them. Once you move the mountain out of the way, there’s nothing to stop you but you!

To Your Success,

ps. if you need to get out of your own way to achieve your goals then pick up a copy of my book, Achieving Unlimited Success, and get started building the business / life you always wanted!


What if It Cost You Money to Buy Time

Lost time = lost money!

Lost time = lost money!

If you are a solo-preneur, a sole-proprietor or a small business owner, then one of the biggest double edged swords in your business is that you don’t pay “cash” for the inventory of time you sell. One edge of the sword is the amount of money you can make selling your time. The other edge of the sword is the self-defeating tendency to give away your time for free since there’s no hard cost associated with it.

Your time is one of the most valuable assets you have. Giving it away for free just doesn’t add up. Think about it like this. Imagine that every day you show up at work and before you can begin work you have to pay $800 to purchase a bucket with eight gallons of liquid time in it. You have to sell those eight gallons during the day. If you don’t then you won’t have the cash you need to buy your liquid time tomorrow. Of course, your goal is to sell those eight gallons for more than $800 so you can make a profit. 

Also, the bucket has a small hole in and will leak liquid time and there isn’t anything you can do about it. This hole represents the amount of time wasted from interruptions, distractions and delusions during the day. In order to not lose too much of your valuable time, you need to stay focused on selling it quickly. The more time you waste the more time runs out of the bucket and won’t be available to sell.

Regardless of the type of business you are in, you have to ask yourself if you are being honest with yourself. Are you frustrated every day because you know that you are wasting your time on insignificant things that you really shouldn’t be focused on? It happens all the time where business owners become so bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae and don’t sell their time for the maximum value.

Becoming or staying profitable is all about doing less insignificant activity! Remember, you can buy a bucket full of time for a personal assistant or virtual assistant for a lot less than what you can sell your time for. You can outsource your bookkeeping. You can delegate less valuable task to subordinates, or simply cut out those things that aren’t necessary. 

The real key is having the discipline and accountability to minimize “procrastination” or “avoidance” behaviors yourself. If you take a hard look at your day you’ll know what I mean. Staring at your emails while they download, surfing the web, doing non-productive tasks and the list goes on and on while your bucket continues to leak your time away!

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is letting the fear of paying for an assistant hold them back. They see the cash expenditure required and tell themselves that someday they will be able to afford it. Meanwhile, they will continue to perform administrative duties they could pay someone $8 – $9 an hour to do while they could be selling their time (products, services, advice, etc.) for 5, 10 or even 20 times that amount. 

Ask yourself, how much an hour of your time really is worth. If you were out doing the things necessary to build your business, sell your products or services how fast could your business grow? How much would you need to sell in order to cover the cost of a part-time or even full-time assistant? Way too many businesses are held back from reaching their full potential because the owner isn’t applying their skills and talents to the most important part of the business. 

Your bucket continues to leak all over the floor while you are doing the minor work that best fits someone else’s skills. Make the decision to invest your time in those things that will bring the highest return for your business. If you want to someday become successful enough to step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, then you need to begin right now. Be honest with yourself and evaluate how much of your time is leaking out of the bucket each day and then fix it.

A Champion Does it Again

I just finished watching the Jack Nicklaus Memorial Golf Tournament and once again, Tiger Woods made a big comeback to win the tournament. I have a special affinity to the Memorial Tournament because I grew up in Columbus where the Memorial is played (actually it is Dublin which is a suburb of Columbus).

For the last several years that I lived there I was able to attend the tournament. It is a beautiful course and I was able to watch the greatest golfers in the game play golf the way I only wish I could play.

Watching Tiger play is always fun. He really looked like the pre-knee surgery Tiger this week. There is so much you can learn from him.  He is a true champion who never gives up. He started the final round four strokes behind the leader and ended up winning my two strokes.

The rest of the pack knows when Tiger is in the hunt and you can see it in their play. His intensity is amazing and you will never see defeat in his face. When he doesn’t win, you don’t hear excuses from him. Even before his knee surgery, he never used it as an excuse. You won’t hear him blame the course setup, the weather, his health or anything else. He takes responsibility for his play and is continually improving.

All of us, me included, can learn a lot from Tiger. We need to never give up; take responsibility for our successes and our failures; and continually learn, grow and change. If we take this attitude and approach to our work or our business – every day – then we are sure to be a success. Go ahead – be a Tiger.

To Your Success,

Is Our Connectedness Causing Us to Disconnect?

7-7-08-text-messagingThere is no doubt that we are more connected today than at any time in our history. It is possible today to be connected to hundreds and even thousands of people at a time and to constantly keep everyone in our network up to date on our activities. Today’s technology makes it possible to never be out of touch. Yet, it seems the more technology enabled we become the more disconnected we are.

Years ago if you wanted to keep in touch with someone you needed to make a telephone call or write to them one at a time. In order to make that call you needed to be somewhere that you could use a land line and if you didn’t reach them you may be able to leave a message if they were fortunate enough to have an answering machine. Your other choice was to actually write a letter and put it in the mail. This was true whether you were contacting a family member, friend or wanted to communicate something to someone at work.

Then, along came the cell phone and all the sudden we could now talk to anyone, anytime from anywhere (except those pesky dead zones.) It was now possible to talk to your sales agent while they are in the field, or reach the boss while they are out of the office to ask that critical question that just couldn’t wait until they got back to the office. We could also now stay connected to the office from our car or in the evening or weekend and while on vacation with the family. All the sudden we became connected to the office with the cell phone as our umbilical cord. Now there was no need to go anywhere without having someone on the phone. I know people who pull out of their driveway dialing the phone while backing out of the garage.

Pretty soon text messaging and instant messaging offered the chance to say something without needing to actually have a conversation. We could control the conversation and reach more people at a time and say things we may not be willing to say if we had to hear the persons voice or actually see their face. Today, we all laugh about our kids who text each other while they are in the same room. Is it really funny though? Suddenly making a phone call and having a conversation with a live human being became uncool and uncomfortable.

Now we can add to this our addiction to social networking. Twitter is the new rage. Nobody seems to know exactly how many Twitter users there are, but estimates are there are more than one million active users who Tweet more than three million messages a day. Now you can say something pithy in 140 characters or less to anyone who is willing to read it. It suddenly is possible to tell all our ‘friends’ what we had for lunch, what meeting we are heading to or how we feel at the moment. No need to engage in discussion – you can share your feeling, thoughts, emotions, benign activities anytime of the day or night and ‘communicate’ anything you want.

In addition to Twitter, there are over 200 million Facebook users, 191 million MySpace users and more than 29 million Friendster users in the world. Add to that the millions of users on LinkedIn, Plaxo, Classmates.com and all the other social networking sites and it seems everyone is technology crazy these days. It is also predicted that more than half the world will have a cell phone by the end of 2009. It seems that with so much connectedness going on it should be making our lives easier and allow for great communication in our society.

So why is it that there seems to be so much discourse and miscommunication happening on a regular basis? Have we become a society that uses technology to avoid having meaningful discussions that allow for relationship building, sharing of ideas and reasonable debate that helps solve problems instead of creating them?

Technology clearly has a place in our life these days and can be utilized in many ways to keep people informed and up to date. Businesses can find many effective and efficient ways to use technology to keep team members, customers, vendors and others up to date more timely and effectively than always making a phone call or mailing a letter. The question is whether we can develop or maintain a relationship or manage conflict and crises through Tweets, Wall Posts, and texting.

Every day I talk to and hear from people who seem to use technology as a way to avoid personal contact. I know people who wait until they know someone will not be home or are away from the office to call so they can leave a message and not have to talk to them. By making the call, they can now check off their mental list that they have kept in touch. People respond to a voicemail with an email or text message. The Tweet or Facebook Wall post keeps everyone up to date so the guilt of feeling like they should call or visit someone and talk to them is removed.

Technology makes it easy to tell people what you have been up to, but don’t let it replace personal contact to build and maintain relationships. We are at great risk with our youth in losing the ability to do business and create lasting relationships other than through technology. Many more problems are solved, ideas created and relationships strengthened through personal contact than through the cold, impersonal, mass-distributed contact of technology.

Go ahead and send that Tweet, or make your Wall post or send that text message, but also make some time to call someone you want to keep in touch with, care about or have an interest in maintaining a strong relationship with. Set up a time for a cup of coffee together or to ‘do lunch’ or just spend five minutes letting them know that you care. Businesses are built on strong relationships; if you want to differentiate yourself in today’s high tech world, pick up the phone or hand write a personal note. Don’t let your connectedness cause you to disconnect.

To Your Success,

Build a Successful Business Through the Art of Budgeting

Budget Your Way to Success

Budget Your Way to Success

Statistics show that only 43% of small businesses that have employees prepare a budget that projects revenues, expenses and profit. If you include sole proprietor type businesses then that number is closer to 80%. There are many reasons for this staggering statistic. Many owners simply believe their business is too small to need to budget. Others feel they don’t have enough money to worry about budgeting. Probably the biggest reason small business owners don’t manage their business with a budget is that they don’t like to do it and they don’t know how to do it. 

What is a budget? A budget is a plan that establishes goals for how you will manage the financial resources and expenditures for your business. It is a simple equation of revenues (sales) minus expenses (costs) to determine profit. An annual budget, commonly referred to as an operating plan, broken down into monthly projections allows you to capture infrequent expenditures as well as see trends and the seasonality of your business. 

A budget creates the plan that allows you to determine if you are making progress toward your goals. It gives you the information you need to make informed, intelligent decisions about how to run your business successfully. Budgeting is important because it helps you determine if you have enough money to fund operations, expand the business and create profit and long-term wealth for the owner. Every small business owner should budget, no matter the size of the business. 

In 84% of small businesses, the owner or a partner prepares the budget. This can be done in conjunction with your accountant or CPA. There is nothing difficult about this task, however, most small business owners are not familiar with the process and therefore avoid it. 

Business budgets do not need to be a monster. You can create simple and effective business forecasts using a simple set of guidelines. If you are still unsure of how to approach it, ask your CPA or a trusted business peer. There are also many great resources from books to on-line programs to seminars on the subject. Accept the fact that there will be a learning curve in both how to create a budget as well as how to use it to manage the business decisions. 

Here are some guidelines to follow in creating an operating plan and using it to build a strong company that provides a great return for you. 

Review Your Financial History or Industry Standards

If you have been in business for a few years, pull out your records from the past 2 or 3 years and build a spreadsheet of the revenues and expenses. Break the expenses into fixed costs and variable costs and by easily identifiable categories. If your business is new, research industry standards to determine your starting point. Not all businesses are alike, but there are similarities. You can also check the IRS Website to get an idea of what percentage of revenue goes to various cost groupings. Once you have this information, you will be ready to build your forecast. 

Build a Spreadsheet with Your Expected Results

Construct a spreadsheet to estimate the dollar amount to budget for each revenue category and expense category. Review your history and / or research to determine how much to budget for each category. As your revenues increase, your expenditure for materials and other variable costs will also increase. Be sure to consider this as you create your spreadsheet. Factor in any seasonality to your estimates. Don’t just decide what your annual expense is and divide it by twelve unless your business has not seasonality or you are not expecting growth. Don’t forget to budget for marketing and promotion to build your business. 

Look for Ways to Reduce Costs

Now that you have your revenues and expenses plugged into the spreadsheet, take a look at the difference between the two. This is your profit. Is it as large as you want it to be? Fine-tune your numbers by looking for ways to cut cost. Where can you get a better deal from suppliers or make adjustments that will add to your bottom line? Or you can reallocate to give you more money for marketing that will improve results. Every penny saved in expenses will boost the bottom line. Small changes can add up quickly. 

Err on the Side of Conservative

Watching expenses and cutting wherever possible is important however, you still need to be conservative in your estimates. Be realistic in your revenue expectations and build in some cushion for expenses, as there will always be surprises along the way. 

Review Your Results Against the Plan Regularly

After each month, compare your actual result to your budget. Look for any variances and make sure you can explain them. By understanding why you missed the budget you will be able to better manage the results. If costs increased then maybe you need to review pricing or service providers. Are lower revenues a result of ineffective marketing, pricing or some other factor? If necessary, make some minor adjustments to the plan to improve your forecast for upcoming periods. By actively reviewing your results, you will quickly get a clear picture of your business and be in a position to manage it effectively. 

Use Your Budget as a Form of Restraint

The budget is not intended to constrain your business but to help you restrain from making poor decisions. Sticking to a solid plan is the most effective teacher of fiscal restraint and teaches discipline. However, don’t let the plan keep you from busting the budget on occasion should something exceptional occur. As an example, if you have discovered a marketing program that drives exceptional results, invest more in it even if it exceeds the budget. Take advantage of opportunities that arise to grow your business and adjust your plan accordingly. 

Budgeting is an easy but essential process that all business owners should use to forecast results. The goal is to provide enough fiscal discipline to keep your business running smoothly and growing to ensure success. In addition to the operating budget, it is critical to develop a cash flow budget to monitor cash levels. This is a separate but critical budget for business owners. Learning to apply the fiscal discipline of budgeting to your business will keep the business healthy. 

To your success,

Do You Have What it Takes to Start Your Own Business?

profit graphEach week the media reports hundreds of thousands more people losing their jobs. Since the recession started, over 5 million people have been laid off. For many of these workers the idea of going back into a corporate role gives them the chills. There is a disillusionment from those who have been effected by a lay off that makes them want to avoid getting back into it.

 The same is true for students graduating from college and finding it difficult to get a good job. The idea of going to work for someone else in a large company that seems to have very little loyalty to workers isn’t appealing.

 For many of these people the lure of being your own boss and setting your own agenda will cause them to start a business. Being a business owner is not for everyone and it is important to really think through what it means to own a business before making the leap. There are some critical things to consider to improve your chance of success. Here are five things you should consider carefully when evaluating your fit as a business owner. 

  1. Be sure to start a business, not just create a job. There is a difference between creating a job for you to go to every day and starting a business.  Don’t just transfer a skill you have to a job. This will cause you to be tied to the work everyday. This puts you right back in the position of trading your time for a paycheck you will need to create. As a business owner your goal is to create value, wealth and a better life. Be sure to create a business plan that allows you to grow your business into much more than a job where you do all the work. The expandability of your idea is important to creating wealth and freeing you from the day-to-day hands-on work of the business.
  2. Find something you can enjoy doing. You will need to devote significant time and effort to the business. You will also need to sell your product or service to others. This is very hard to do if you are not excited about what you do. If you are going to commit to building a business, it is important for you to also believe in it and enjoy doing it.
  3. Are you good at running a business or are you just a good technician? Don’t make the mistake that thinking that because you are good at creating web sites that you are also ready to run a web design business. Your former jobs and skills are great experience to help you create a great product for your customers, but it may not have given you the skills you need to run a business. You will need to understand leadership, sales, marketing, financial management, hiring, training, and much more. If you don’t have these skills, get them. Learn them or hire a coach. Make sure you have a good attorney, accountant and mentor to help you make the transition.
  4. Buy into a growing industry and market or make sure you have an idea for a new one. Many businesses have started in industries that are saturated and are commodity businesses. This forces you to compete on price and can make it very difficult to maintain a healthy profit margin and achieve strong growth. Make sure you are in a growth industry or have identified a niche you can compete in effectively or have a new idea with a strong demand.
  5. Honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses before making the leap. Understand what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Be honest because you will be required to do things you have not done before to succeed. This is not just about identifying your knowledge gaps. It is about understanding your personality and what you are comfortable with and willing to do. By knowing what you don’t like to do you are much better prepared to get help before it is too late. For example, if you have never had to do selling or marketing before and get nervous just thinking about it, then you need to create a plan about how to overcome this issue. Don’t wait until the business is suffering to be honest with yourself about what you can and will do. The more honest assessment you do before you start the better position you will be in to succeed.
  6. Make sure you have the financial resources. You will need to be prepared to support your personal life with funds outside the business for some time period. Don’t anticipate the business will begin to provide you a paycheck right from the start. This allows you to use the income from the business to re-invest in the business for growth.

You may wonder why there are six items when I told you there would only be five. That’s because a good business will always deliver what it promises but a great business will deliver more than it promises. If you are going to become your own boss be sure to take the attitude into it that you will always give more than they expect and it will serve you well.

 Recessions have always been a breeding ground for new businesses. Many successful businesses have come from the ranks of the unexpectedly unemployed. Now can be a great time to get started; just make sure you do it after some thoughtful analysis and a clear mind. Your chances of success will be greatly enhanced.

To your success,

More Great Learning Tools Available

0f5a1v1dI’ve talked before about a great product that I recommend and use for my own business called iLearningGlobal.com.  The worldwide launch of the program occured at the end of March and the program is in an amazing growth pattern right now. Thousands of people around the world are seeing the value in this continuous learning program and taking advantage of it. These are the people looking to build their wealth, success and personal growth. 

The team at iLearningGlobal are introducting new products all the time. One of the new programs is called The E.D.G.E Business Training Program.  It is an incredible 52-week training and development package designed to specifically give personal, small & medium size businesses the EDGE to succeed, even in today’s economy. The unique format to this system ensures you will have up-to-the-minute, cutting-edge information and strategies along with action plans, implementation systems, accountability and support.

Some of the topics covered include; business strategy, tax strategy, asset protection, hiring, team development, sales, leadership and much more.

Vist www.ilearningglobal.biz/dkelley57 to learn more about this program and all the rest of the great content available through this great program.

To your success…