Should I Scale my Business?

This is a question that I get very often. This question comes from small business owners, solopreneurs, and even owners of medium sized enterprises. At first glance it may seem like an easy question to answer, YES. Why wouldn’t someone want to grow their company, hire more employees, and create more revenue for the company.

This topic is mildly more complicated than the initial knee jerk reaction. It basically comes down to two influences; what are your motives/goals as an owner for the business? And the question of economies of scale.

Let’s first talk about motives and goals. A lot of people start a business to escape the rat race and develop some financial freedom. Often times business owners never expect to be in a place where they need to decide if they want to scale the business, typically they just expect to hopefully replace their income and live a bit happier. Unexpected success is quite common for this type of person as it takes a specific personality to quit their job and take the big leap. If you are in this position, you have to take a moment and set some goals, sit down with a piece of paper and identify why you started this business and what the ultimate goal is. Without identifying these facts you will be unhappy or chasing something that you do not even want. Identify if you simply want to make a certain income every year and remain in your current state. Satisfaction and having enough is something that not a lot of people are capable of accomplishing, there is certainly piece in being able to make this realization. On the flip side, if your business is doing well and has grown as much as it can with you, then it may be time to hire some more employees, reevaluate your plan, increase marketing, and scale the business.

Until you understand what your motives are and where you are going you are going to constantly feel in limbo with your current life even if you are making $10,000,000 per year. Every task, job, business, etc. needs to begin with the end in mind, “why are you doing this?”

The second thing you need to evaluate when deciding whether or not to scale the business is economies of scale. This basically means that as you grow profits may diminish. If you are profiting $100k per year and you hire another employee at $30k per year now your profit diminishes to $70k. What you have to consider is what sort of return will that employee bring you? Do they allow you to focus more on new business? Are they a sales representative that will add revenue to the bottom line?

With new infrastructure (employees, office space, building, computers, desks, etc) profits decrease. These capital expenditures need to be discussed by looking at your books or speaking with your accountant.

Bottom line is scaling a business is not for everybody and it may ultimately mean some short term losses in order to get to your finish line. Before you even consider scaling be sure to understand what your motives are and be sure to understanding the financial implications (good or bad).

There is always room for growth within an organization and it starts with evaluating every process.

Sales and Mediocrity

I had a conversation with a client recently about his sales department and his comment to me was “I’m not sure I have ever really managed my sales department effectively – I’m not really sure how to”.

Considering that the sales department or simply sales in general is the heart and soul of ALL companies this comment struck me as surprising. There are two main components in all companies. Producing and providing. Sales produces the need and purchase and the rest of the company provides. If the first part of that process is mediocre or passive then the rest of the company suffers.

It’s so very important that a company has a robust sales force complete with highly capable sales know how and a strong grasp of what they are selling. But just as important is the sales mechanisms that have in place. Goals, targets, volume, training, proper compensation, interaction and recognition. If you are leaving your sales to their own process then you have a mediocre sales force.

This is really something to think about and focus on. In today’s business climate it’s important to not only compensate correctly but also to challenge and recognize. Re-vamping a sales department is a huge undertaking but certainly one that pays dividends many times over.

Think about it…….

5 Ways to Limit Smartphone Use during the Work Day

Smartphones are one of the most exciting modern-day inventions, but they can also become a major source of distraction during the work day. Before COVID, studies found that the average American spent around 5.4 hours a day on their mobile phone. Just 6 months after the COVID-induced lockdown, a December 2020 study found that mobile phone usage was up 25% to 7 hours a day. This increased mobile phone usage could contribute to decreases in productivity and motivation, as more mobile phone usage is correlated with increased anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance. Even knowing all of this, it can be difficult to limit screen time because these devices are insanely addictive. Here are 5 ways to help you limit smartphone use during the day so that you can hopefully be happier, healthier, and more productive:

  1. Set time limits on certain apps

Most phones have settings that allow you to limit the time spent on specific apps each day—this feature is called ‘screen time’ on iPhone and ‘digital wellbeing’ on android. This allows you to actively limit the time spent on particularly addicting apps, such as social media applications (e.g. twitter, reddit, instagram, youtube). This feature is a great way of preventing you from mindlessly scrolling for longer than you intend.

  1. Leave your phone in a separate room

If you find yourself unable to stop habitually checking your phone or scrolling through social media, one option is to just leave your phone in a different room than your work office. If you are working at home, then you could leave your phone in the kitchen or bedroom, far away from your desk or office. This way, you will have to intentionally walk across your living space in order to check your phone. This adds both a mental and physical barrier to checking your phone, which can be extremely helpful.

  1. Turn off email and text notifications

Email and text notifications can be very distracting during the work day. You could be working hard to solve a problem and then a random email or text can totally take your out of your flow and halt your momentum. When you turn off or mute notifications, this distraction is completely removed. Then you can check your emails or texts every few hours, in a proactive and intentional way. Research has shown that batching notifications in this way can improve wellbeing and productivity.

  1. Delete distracting apps from your phone

If you find that you are manually overriding the time limits or walking across the room to check reddit, one idea is just to delete these apps from your phone entirely. This adds another degree of friction between you and distracting phone applications, as manually re-downloading apps and signing in (i.e. having to remember your password) is quite tedious. This may your best option if you find that just having the app on your phone makes it difficult to have a balanced relationship with your mobile device.

  1. Turn your phone into greyscale mode

One thing that makes our smartphones so dazzling is that they are full of rich colors and exciting videos/images. One way to make looking at your phone less appealing/stimulating is to turn on greyscale mode, which essentially turns everything into black and white. This makes looking at your phone much less absorbing and therefore easier for you to put your phone down after you are done using it for your intended purchases. Here are instructions for this setting on iPhone and Android.

Final thoughts: Hopefully these tools help you curb your smartphone usage so that you can be happier and more productive during the work week. That said, all of these settings can be manually overridden and turned off. The ultimate truth is that you are in control: you have to make the choice to limit your phone usage, and the best tool for doing so is self-discipline. Perhaps find a different activity to take breaks during work, such as meditation, walking outside, or exercise. Have a great week everyone!

Keep on Keeping on

This past year has been hard for all of us, and Pew Research reports that 42% of US adults under the age of 50 reported difficulties in finding the motivation to work since the beginning of the pandemic. So how do we get through this seemingly never-ending struggle?

Discipline. That probably is not the answer you wanted to hear, as it points to the fact that working hard is the real way to overcome dips in motivation. Motivation comes and goes. We have great days at work that inspire us and remind us why we do what we do, but we may also go weeks without any form of gratification. The key is to stay disciplined throughout the ups and downs. We have to keep in mind that all of this is temporary—someday we will work in offices again and see our friends and family. But for the time being, if we are fortunate enough to have jobs, we have to keep on going. The struggle we are working through now is building strength we cannot even appreciate or comprehend at the current moment. This is a training ground for your mental discipline, your ability to keep on keeping on even when things get tough. This skill, also known as Grit, is actually more important for long-term success than raw intelligence.

So although the current times are hard and we may not feel motivated, just remember that the work you are doing right now (both professionally and mentally) is building your strength and mental disciple, and that you will reap these benefits for years to come. Discipline will carry you much further in life than pure excitement or passion. One day you will look back on how you worked through this difficult time and feel proud and thankful for your own hard work. Keep on keeping on. We are all in this together.

5 Ways Science Can Help Your Business

Science can be a great tool to improve your business, as it allows you to get objective, quantifiable evidence that you can use to make evidence-based business decisions. Here are 5 ways you can use science to help your business:

  1. Survey your employees

A great way to get feedback from your employees is to just ask them. Surveys can be a great way for you to select the questions you are interested in, and then survey employees across your company to get both quantitative (i.e. ratings of agreement) and qualitative data (i.e. open-ended responses). This can help bring to light issues within your company you may not be aware of, which could differ by department—maybe the sales employees face a different set of issues than the human resources team. You can also make your surveys anonymous to get more honest feedback than you might from a face-to-face conversation. Overall, this technique can really give you a better idea of what is going on within your company.

  1. Survey your customers

If you are designing a new product, a great way to get feedback from your target audience is to survey existing customers. This can allow you to see what they might be interested in and what might determine whether they purchased your new product. In addition, you can conduct a product test with a focus group to get their opinions on different prototypes. Getting to know your audience through their ratings of likelihood to buy as well as candid feedback can be really helpful before launching your product into the public market. Qualtrics is a great tool to survey both employees and customers and easily analyze your data.

  1. Use psychometric tests when hiring

Job applications and interviews often don’t provide enough information about candidates to decide whether you want to hire them or not. The employees you bring into your work place directly contribute to your company’s culture and overall success, so having more information when hiring is extremely helpful. Using psychometric testing can be a great way to learn more about a candidate’s personality, work ethic, and potentially their long term success at your company. There are many different tests you can use, and it depends on what you are looking for in new hires, but one great resource is the Predictive Index, which is “an untimed, free-choice, stimulus-response tool that measures a person’s motivating drives and needs” that can be used to “hire candidates who are hardwired to be a great fit, to design teams that perform like magic, and to manage employees in a way that pushes them to perform at the top of their game.” Do keep in mind that no scale is perfect and it can never truly encapsulate a person—for this reason, interviews and ‘gut feelings’ are still very important.

  1. Run an experiment

Not sure what option will work best for a particular problem in your business? The best way to find out is to run an experiment, where you can compare multiple options and see the different results. You can then use basic analysis techniques to see if there are significant differences in outcomes between the two options, products, etc. For example, you could have sales associates use two different scripts at random for 100 times each and then compare the success rate for the different scripts.

  1. Research the psychology behind your industry

Every business is run by humans. Psychology allows us to better understand the human mind, what motivates us, and why people do the things they do. One way to improve your business is to research the psychology behind your particular industry. The sales process is very psychological, and different findings from the scientific literature can be leveraged to improve your business practices and increase success. Learning about the science of psychology can really help to improve your communication skills and the way you interact with your human customers. We are all people and we are all motivated by similar things.

Bonus tip: If any of these ideas sound appealing to you, but you aren’t sure how to properly implement them in your business, hire a scientific consultant to help you accomplish these goals and provide evidence-based solutions for your business. We at The Chalifour Consulting Group offer scientific consulting services, so feel free to reach out at info@consultingandsuccess.com.

Hiring – Ability vs. Personality

Managers have a lot to consider when hiring employees. Two of the most important aspects to consider are the candidates ability and personality skills. Employees have both soft skills (conscientiousness) and hard skills (general mental ability) in the workplace. Understanding the important skills that someone should have can be a crucial indicator in determining whether or not you believe they will have a high performance level. When looking to hire someone new, a manager should be looking for employees who can do the basics first, and then keep a smile on their face when things go wrong . Both traits are important to have, however, one may be more beneficial than the other.

First, you want to make sure the potential employee fits the mission of your company. Personality is so important whether the candidate has the skills to go along with it. You can teach someone technical skills but you can’t teach someone how to put a smile on their face. Friendly employees keep customers happy and satisfied and will most likely keep them a loyal customer. Kathrine Palju said, “it’s not about electronic or internet skills, it’s not about mechanics. It’s all about interpersonal relationships”. Being able to keep a conversation going and understanding what the customer wants can go a long way.

It is also important that managers and business owners are aware of what type of skills and personality traits their employees possess. In the future this could help managers with their weekly schedules so that they can have a balance of employees with general mental ability and conscientiousness. When managers are able to understand which employees have one or both traits, it can help decide where to place each employee and may help in a better execution of service.

All in all, it is preferred that an employee has both GMA and conscientiousness but it is understandable that this is often not the case. Being able to understand what stages these skills are important and how to find them in a person can really have an impact on the overall performance of a business.

Mondays Don’t Have to Be Miserable

The feeling of waking up on a Monday is so iconic. Tired, still holding onto the bliss of the weekend, not quite ready to work, slightly anxious about what is to come for the week. And yet we face these same feelings nearly every Monday. After so many times of experiencing this, we can learn to notice these thoughts and patterns and accept them, so that we can rise above and not react to these thoughts or let our entire energy be dictated by them. The best way to promote this awareness and create our own energy & perspective for the day is to start off our morning with meditation. This helps to clear the anxiety, the tension, all the bubbling thoughts. The mind is like a cup of sediment-filled water. At first, it is murky and dirt is floating everywhere. But as the cup sits, slowly and surely, all of the sediment starts to sink to the bottom, and the rest of the water becomes clear. This is what happens to our mind during meditation. Especially at the beginning of a week, we tend to have lots of chaotic and frantic thinking, as well as general feelings of avoidance and resistance. Meditation helps us let all of that sink to the bottom so we can see clearly once again. What do I have to do today? Okay, I will do it. It’s that simple, but we make it so complicated with all of our likes and dislikes, our beliefs and opinions about the work we do and what we would rather do instead. Start a daily practice of just 5 minutes each morning and see how it helps your life and work productivity

Even after reading this, you may still have the same feelings arise next Monday. The difference is how you react to those feelings—instead of getting sucked into them and believing them, just note that they are there and then let them go. I am not as successful every Monday, but I’ve noticed that taking this mindful approach really helps work get off to a good start each week. Another really important thing is to try and keep the same sleep schedule on the weekend as you have during the week. When we don’t do this, and we stay up late and sleep in on the weekend, waking up early on Monday morning is an even bigger shock to our system. It is much harder to be mindful, productive, and motivated when we are exhausted. So make sure to take care of both your body and your mind in order to set yourself up for success this week. And just know, hey, it’s a Monday, it’s never going to be that amazing. When we accept this, it takes a huge amount of pressure off how our Monday goes. We shift our view from anticipation to acceptance, and embrace whatever comes. This change of mindset has been incredibly helpful for me in enhancing my enjoyment of work and my overall productivity, and I hope it can help you too.

9 Habits of the Most Successful People in the World

After a little research, here are 9 habits that the most successful people in the world incorporate into their lives daily:

  1. Wake up early

Having a set routine and following it every single day can create positive outcomes. 95% of the most successful people in the world wake up early in the morning. To name a few, Jack Dorsey who started Twitter wakes up every morning around 5:00 am, meditates, and goes on a run. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple wakes up at 4:30 am and is at the gym by 5:30 am, and finally Steve Jobs wakes up no later than 6:00 am and also works out. Out of these three successful men, they wake up on average around 5:00 am and not later than 6:00 am. For those of you thinking that this won’t work because you’re a night owl, you could do a little extra research and see what you can incorporate at night to help yourself fall asleep and stay asleep earlier.

  1. Write down your goals

Research shows that writing down your goals on a physical piece of paper will help you pursue and accomplish them. There was a study done by Harvard in 1970 for the graduating class. These 100 students were asked what their goals were upon graduating. Out of the 100 students, only three of them had written down their goals on a piece of paper. 10 years later, Harvard followed up with this graduating class to see if they had accomplished their goals. When they followed up that 3% of the class with written goals were two times more successful than the 90% combined. This proves the importance of valuing your goals and taking the time to write them down.

  1. Work ethic

People are not born with a strong work ethic, rather it’s something that you build upon each day. Finding something you’re passionate about and working hard in it every single day can create a valuable work ethic. Over time you will continue to develop it and continue to work harder.

  1. Exercise

Our bodies are incredible temples that help and support us every day. Research shows that the more exercise you give your body the more energy it will give you. The first time you go to the gym you may be tired. But your body realizes this and gives you more and more energy to get through the workout. Eventually, your body will adjust and it will get stronger. This energy doesn’t leave when you exit the gym. It gives your body energy throughout the whole day which allows you to work even harder than you would have otherwise.

  1. Read

The average person reads 1-2 books a year and the average CEO reads 60 books a year. That is a huge difference. You may be telling yourself that you don’t have time to read 60 books a year and that’s okay. CEOs are some of the busiest people in the world and they find time to incorporate reading into their life. However, if this is too much, try starting small and reading one book every month. Not only is reading important but the type of reading you do is crucial. Many CEOs aren’t reading murder mysteries or romance books. They are reading books proven to better themselves such as mindset and psychological books

  1. Plan your week

Most people go in every week hoping that it goes the way they want to. Instead, try going into the new week with a detailed plan that you are ready to execute. Every Sunday try to sit down and have a personal meeting with yourself. Look back at the past week and use the start, stop, and continue the method. The start is the new things you want to bring into the week, stop are the things that didn’t go well and you’re not going to do this week, and continue are the things that went well that you want to continue doing. Writing these things down will give you some sort of list you can follow throughout the week.

  1. Positive, Self Talk, Gratitude

Starting every day off with positive thoughts will help you continue to have them throughout the day. What you focus on magnifies so thinking positively will only be beneficial.

  1. Mentors

On average, successful people have about 7 different mentors that they look up to. This could be a business partner, a fit person, or even someone you admire that is a great father. These mentors are in your life because you seek them out. They don’t have to be someone that you see every day and that is always around you, but someone that you know will always be there for you.

  1. Proper Nutrition

Giving your body the proper nutrients will help fuel you through the day and accomplish your task at hand. Certain types of food will give you energy and some foods that will take away your energy such as cheese, greasy food and red meat. If you feel like you can’t eliminate these foods or that you don’t want to, try eating them for dinner instead. Listening to your body and what it needs is extremely important.

The One Minute Salesperson

Sales is an interesting career as it is one that is commonly learned not taught. Every salesperson needs to find their own approach rather than utilizing a cooker cutter method of selling. I recently read The One Minute Salesperson, authored by Spencer Johnson and Larry Wilson who give a perspective that far too many salespeople forgot. Their lessons are told through a parable about a young salesperson who took on the traditional way of selling, but, over time he found out this was not working and it was becoming stressful. He received several helpful tips from a well-known salesperson who focussed less energy but closed more sales. Below are my three main take aways from the reading.

1. Focus on helping people

It’s important to take a minute to make sure you’re helping your customers get what they want rather than selling them something you want. Johnson and Wilson added, “I just invest a minute when I am selling to ask myself: Am I more concerned with trying to get what I want? Or am I really helping other people get what they want” (p. 29). Sometimes it’s easy to forget what you are selling to your customer. Taking a minute to make sure you’re helping out the customer for the right reasons will only benefit both parties.

2. Have the right intentions

The successful salesperson told the younger man that once you stop caring so much at trying to get what you want and start helping the customer get what they want, it is a more enjoyable experience for all involved. Sometimes people try so hard to get something they want, such as a sale, that they create more of a hassle for themselves. Salespeople can get too caught up in making a sale that they forget their sole purpose; selling the customer a product or service that they want. Success comes when you help people get what they want and most likely you will get what you want in return.

3. Remember that you’re selling to a person so you need to be respectful

In treating people with respect can help build a level of trust between the customer and the salesperson and may even help sell the product better. Johnson and Wilson stated, “The other person, the one so many people call a customer or a prospect-is in fact, a person. If you treat him or her as a commodity, or as anything but a person, you reduce yourself to a peddler” (p. 18). People can tell when they are not being respected or are seen as anything but a price tag and they are likely to walk away.

Throughout our whole lives we try to sell people ideas such as trying to get a colleague to go to happy hour with us or asking our parents if we can have a sleepover. Whether it has to deal with money or not, we are trying to make a deal with someone. Being a successful salesperson doesn’t exactly mean that you were born one but rather that you used all of the people skills that you learned throughout your life and applied them to sell your product or service. Johnson and Wilson explained, “When I want to remember how to sell, I simply recall how I – and other people – like to buy” (p. 44). By doing this, you are using skills that you already have such as knowing how you would react if someone was selling something to you. This can then be replicated when you try to sell something to someone else. “People don’t buy services, products, or ideas. They buy how they imagine using them will make them feel” (Johnson & Wilson, 1984, p. 49). If you were selling somebody a car, you don’t need to come up with a well thought-out robotic pitch, however, you should find out what the person is looking for in the car. After that you can find how the car you are selling can provide that. By simply using skills that we were born with, anybody can be a great salesperson. It is about getting to know the customer and what they truly want rather than learning pitches and following a script.

How will COVID-19 Affect Travel in the Consulting Industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped travel in many professional industries, especially in the field of consulting. A report from Mckinsey & Company noted that US airline capacity declined by 70% in 2020, compared to the previous year. Currently most business travel is completely on hold, but what will happen to travel in the consulting industry once the COVID era ends and things “go back to normal?”

In terms of the corporate world at large, The Wall Street Journal projected that “between 19-36% of all business trips could be eliminated” post-COVID. In large part, this is due to the rapid adaption of the corporate world into a remote, work-from-home-based infrastructure. Bill Gates recently stated that he believed 50% of corporate travel will disappear. The same CNBC report states that “many CFOs who control company budgets don’t see business travel ever returning to the pre-pandemic level.”

But what about the consulting industry in particular? At large MBB firms, consultants usually travel to the client site Monday-Thursday every week. Will that continue to be the case once COVID is over? Or will firms start off with remote work and slowly ramp up to travel every other week, or once a month? At this point in time it is very difficult to tell, as we simply don’t have enough data yet. None of the major consulting firms have released public statements on this issue, and their approaches will likely depend on the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic situation. Most importantly, their approach will depend on the needs of the client—how will clients feel about travel after COVID? All of this could have a significant impact on world of MBB consulting, which could trickle down the entire consulting industry. Another question is whether consultants will work from home more frequently after COVID, and whether any of these changes will impact their work-life balance? Again, it all depends on the client and what they want—will they be able to justify million dollar contracts for a series of zoom calls? We shall find out, sometime in these next few years.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments for some discussion.