How to Manage Change in Your Organization

Revisiting the basics that small business owners often overlook will bring about the need to change your organization.

Change can be daunting. But, it doesn’t have to be daunting if done as part of a disciplined process. In this post we look at how to manage change in four steps. It is a process that will sharpen your focus and give you a repeatable methodology for continuing to fine tune your business efforts.

 

 

 

 

The four steps are:

Empowering Others to Act on the Vision

  • Getting rid of obstacles to change
  • Changing systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision.
  • Encouraging risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities and actions.

 

Planning for and Creating Short Term Wins

  • Planning for visible performance improvements
  • Creating those improvements
  • Recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements.

 

Consolidating Improvements and Producing Still More Change

  • Changing systems, structures and policies that don’t fit the Vision
  • Hiring, promoting and developing employees who can implement the Vision.
  • Recharging the process with new projects and themes.

 

Institutionalizing New Approaches

  • Articulating the connections between the new behaviors and new successes
  • Creating the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

 

These four steps, if properly executed will allow you, as an owner, to change your organization not only in an orderly and non-disruptive way but in a way that willingly involves those most affected by change – the people who work for you. However there are some assumptions we need to visit before tackling these four steps:

  • Assumption 1:  You have established a sense of urgency regarding your small business vision and the need to change your organization.
  • Assumption 2: In forming your guiding group you have included participants from all levels of your organization . . . not just managers and executives but line staff too . . . to gain credibility throughout the organization.
  • Assumption 3: You have created that vision AND the strategies to be used to achieve it.
  • Assumption 4: You have widely communicated the Vision and the strategies to be used to ALL stakeholders both internal and external, such as business consultants, and have gained their buy-in.

 

Now, to add some clarity, let’s go back and look at some specific guidance on how to manage change, following the four-step process:

Empowering Others

  • Getting rid of obstacles- Unfortunately almost every organization has a “Bill” . . . someone who has been there forever, is resistant to change and often starts his objections with, “But we’ve always done it this way ….” If you have a “Bill” in your organization it may be time to retire him or re-assign him as difficult as it may be.
  • Encouraging risk taking and non-traditional ideas etc.- If the only “authority” any given employee has is the ability to say “No” (not yes) you be absolutely certain that employee will use it often and most likely with the folks you don’t want to alienate. . .you customers. Broaden your employees’ authority and encourage them to seek creative ways to solve problems. Then trust them to do it.

 

Planning for Short Term Wins

  • Planning for visible performance improvements- identify those areas that need qualitative and quantitative improvements then plan for empowering employees to create the solutions.
  • Recognize and reward employees involved in creating and implementing qualitative and quantitative improvements.

 

Consolidating Improvements and Producing Still More Changes

  • Use the increased credibility gained with the staff to change systems, structures and policies that don’t fit the Vision and the called for strategies and tactics.
  • Hire, promote and develop only those employees that can willingly help to implement the Vision
  • Keep the process ongoing by initiating new projects and themes, all of which are continually measured against the Vision.

 

Institutionalizing New Approaches

  • Point out the connection between the new behaviors and new successes then reward those responsible.
  • Appoint someone to be the plan “sponsor and guardian” whose responsibility it will be to keep the process circular and repeatable as well as monitoring the measurements of success.

 

This last point may be the key to how to manage change successfully. Creating a Vision, sharing it and implementing a single series of changes then putting the plan on the shelf never to be visited again, will guarantee that your company will fall back on previous habits and lose their enthusiasm for fine tuning processes and making your business more competitive and more successful.

Why You Need a Small Business Vision Plan

Having a vision plan is one of the basics of owning a small business, but it’s sometimes unintentionally neglected. A small business vision plan is important because it articulates the owner’s strategy and goals to all stakeholders.

Many successful small businesses are often led by a charismatic and driven entrepreneur who is not only seeking to be successful but also wants to build a business of lasting value that can be passed on to heirs and successors. Usually this type of leader has a very clear business vision plan and roadmap for getting there. The biggest problem is that the plan and the roadmap are, more often than not, in his or her head and are not clear to others in the organization.

More than one manager employed in a small business has complained, “I know my performance is somehow being measured by ownership against some standard or plan but, for the life of me, I don’t know exactly what that is. ” Asking your employees to perform against some vision they can’t see is like asking someone to put together a jigsaw puzzle but not allowing them to see the picture on the box. If they don’t have a clear vision of what the puzzle should look like, they have no idea of how to link the pieces.

It works the same way in your business. Market planning, sales planning, product planning, goal setting and financial forecasting could all be rendered useless if your staff doesn’t have the big picture –a strategic small business vision — of what your organization wants to look like five, 10 or even 20 years from now. In other words, without a business vision plan, how will you know if your strategy is valid — and even more importantly, how will you know when you’ve gotten “there?”

The process of creating a well-organized, facilitated small business vision plan will help you assess and articulate some concepts you may intuitively know but may not have formalized, such as:

  • your organization’s core values;
  • your organization’s core purpose; and
  • a well-defined map to your goals.

 

A formal small business vision plan can help you achieve much-needed ancillary results, such as:

  • creating short term wins for your organization;
  • buy-in from employees; and
  • buy-in from other stakeholders, both internal and external.

 

But even more importantly, that small business vision, once formally articulated and widely shared, becomes the yardstick against which all other planning is assessed and measured. This applies to financial, market, sales and product plans.

Notice the comment about the business vision plan being widely shared. You will probably want to form a relatively small but empowered group to help put your vision into something that can be clearly seen by others.

Once done, the impulse is to share it only with management or those people to whom you have given certain authorities. But that would not be getting the greatest use from your planning efforts. Once complete, the business vision plan should be widely shared with all employees. Why? Well, the obvious answer is that you want their buy-in and you want them to embrace the plan. But an even bigger reason is that if they know what you know, 90% of the time they will make the same decisions you would make.

In addition to your employees, you will want to share the plan with suppliers and key clients, plus your banker, CPA, attorney and estate planner. Doing so will help every one of your external stakeholders –people who have no financial ownership in your business but have a stake in your success — deliver better and more targeted services to your organization, often at a savings in costs and logistics.

Another outcome from engaging in a small business vision planning process is that it will bring about change in your organization, and change can be a very scary word. In the next post, we’ll look at how to deal with change in your organization in such a way that it is not only manageable but welcomed.

Do You Have a Product-Driven or Market-Driven Business?

The first step in identifying your company's driving force is to determine whether you have a product-driven or market-driven business.

In the previous blog post we told you that in the next few weeks we’d be focusing on some of the basics of owning and managing your own small business. In that first post we defined a market and suggested you might want to revisit the definition of your particular market and use that definition to aid you in how you produce your product or service and for whom. This week’s post assumes you have done that whether formally or informally. And if so, then you are now ready to take a look at another of the basics: driving force.

All businesses — both small and large — on the basis of their successful experience operating in the marketplace, develop certain mindsets, usually based on the owners’ and managers’ perceptions of their competitive edge or the uniqueness of their product or service. These mindsets become the driving force behind the strategic and tactical decisions made by owners and managers. In their epic treatise, authors Tregoe, Zimmerman, Smith and Tobias identified eight such driving forces. They are:

  • Products offered (think General Motors or tobacco companies)
  • Markets served (think Proctor and Gamble)
  • Technology (think Apple)
  • Production capability (think agriculture)
  • Operations capability (think hospitals and airlines)
  • Methods of distribution and sales (think Amazon and Wal-Mart)
  • Natural resources (think oil companies)
  • Profit/return (think General Electric)

 

Realizing your particular driving force is another basic that will help you focus your sales and marketing efforts and get more bang for the dollars spent in promoting your product-driven or market-driven business. It will also help you in making strategic and tactical decisions about how to grow your business. For the purposes of this blog we’ll deal with only the three driving forces most small businesses need to consider. That’s why the first step you may want to take is to decide whether you have a product-driven or market-driven business. The difference is actually quite simple.

A product-driven business has a finite set of products, usually unique or without a lot of competition in the marketplace. Tobacco companies are the classic example. A fairly well-defined and finite set of products — cigarettes, cigars, chew and their variants — is their hallmark. Thus, in order to grow, they must continually look for new markets (groups of people) who will find their products attractive and who have the ability to buy them. Conversely, a market-driven business — perhaps like yours — has a well-defined market and pays attention to their wants and needs and continually adjusts their product lines to meet those needs. These companies constantly seek information from their market about what it is they want and what they are willing to buy. (Go back and look at the example of the small sportswear manufacturer in the previous blog post.)

I can hear some of you now: "But my driving force will always be profit/return!" Be careful there. Obviously every business, both large and small, seeks to be profitable; otherwise they won’t be in business for long. But businesses driven solely by the need to meet a predetermined amount of profit or a targeted rate of return often make huge mistakes in decisions to expand their product lines or offered services or where and how to produce those products and services. In particular, they make the wrong “buy, build or partner” decisions. Companies like GE have the luxury of periodically selling off product lines or divisions that do not meet the company’s profit/return standards. Most small businesses do not have that luxury.

Sticking with the product-driven or market-driven business approach is probably the best bet for most small companies. However, if you think your business may be driven by any of the other forces, contact Murphy Business for additional help.

Who is Your Business’ Audience?

Identifying your business’ audience is one of the first — and most important steps — you should take as an owner to set yourself up for success.

We know that running a small business takes a lot of an owner’s time, efforts and focus. There are customers to satisfy, new sales to be made and payroll to be met among a myriad of other issues, all of which taken collectively can sometimes cause owners to take their eye off the ball and lose sight of the blocking and tackling — the basics every business, regardless of size and purpose, must master in order to be successful. The first of these basics we will cover is your business’ audience.

When asked the question, “Can you describe your market to me?” the answer most often heard by business intermediaries is something like, “All of Washington County, the eastern half of Hillsborough County and the northern third of Pasco County including everything on Highway 27.” Now, we all know that such an answer is a description of a territory, not a market. So the question is often re-asked as, “Who is your business’ audience?” The most common response is something like, “All men and women between the ages of 25 and 50.” But such a response is too broad and may not serve your purpose. So what is a market?

Philip Kotler, the longtime professor of marketing at Northwestern University in Chicago, set forth the classic definition when he wrote: “A market is a group of people with similar traits and characteristics; wants, needs, desires, demands and the ability to buy.” What separated Kotler from just about all of his contemporaries and made him the guru for almost every successful marketer since the publication of those words is his insistence that a market is always about people — not geography — and, radically enough, his inclusion of the phrase “ability to buy”.

I know of one small manufacturer of sportswear (excluding shoes) for runners, who offered a broad line of products because he defined his business’ audience too loosely: anyone interested in running and who likes quality goods. For a while, he did well, based on the quality of his goods. As time passed, he added more products he thought runners would like. After two more years, he realized that even though sales had increased, the added products had driven up his manufacturing costs without a corresponding increase to the bottom line. He compounded the problem by looking for ways to cut his manufacturing costs and moved part of it offshore. That worked briefly — until his loyal customers complained about the decline of quality in the merchandise they purchased from him.

One day over coffee he confided to an intermediary he knew (a Murphy Business broker) that he was at a loss as to how to correct the downward trend in his once-thriving business. The agent said, “Tell me about your business’ audience.” The owner gave him the loose definition you read above. It didn’t take long for the agent to figure out the problem. So the two of them set about to find out — using Kotler’s definition as a template — more about who runners are. What kind of people are they? And, into what categories can they be sorted?

What they discovered is that there are people who run for routine exercise, people who run because of some needed health benefit and people who run to compete. When they did more studies, they discovered that of all the types of runners, marathoners were the group who best fit Kotler’s guidelines. Marathoners are a group of people who are competitive, dedicated, extremely fit, and require high-quality, durable goods. They also discovered that of the 18 million Americans who participate in marathons each year, 80% of them are college educated. But more importantly, they found out that marathoners have a median household income of $112,000, whereas runners as a whole had a median household income well below that. In other words, marathoners were “people with similar traits and characteristics; wants, needs, desires, demands and the ability to buy.”

Well, as you can guess, the owner moved his manufacturing back on shore, limited his product line to the needs and demands of marathoners, raised his prices and started focusing his sales efforts to his newly defined business audience. He is still doing quite well because that market continues to grow and he continues to meet their needs.

The point here is that such an exercise and self-audit can be done for any business. Whether you are producing a product or providing a service you must know who your business’ audience is — not what or where. It’s always about people.

Know the Difference Between Marketing and Sales

There are many explanations of the difference between marketing and sales, some quite long. But as is often the case, the best definitions are the simplest and shortest. Marketing is about the needs of the customer. Sales are about the company’s need to make the cash register ring.

One of the most often voiced comments intermediaries hear is something to the effect of, “my marketing efforts just don’t seem to be getting the results I want.” The astute intermediary –such as your Murphy Business broker — usually responds, “Do you mean your marketing efforts or do you mean your sales efforts?” The expected reply: “Same difference, right?” No! Marketing and sales are not interchangeable terms.

The definition of a market is “a group of people with similar traits and characteristics; wants, needs, desires, demands and the ability to buy,” according to Dr. Philip Kotler. So it is easy to accept the fact that a marketing department or a marketing person should be focused on defining who your market is, their common traits and characteristics, their wants and needs and their ability to buy. Then the ongoing task becomes discovering when and how there are changes in those wants, needs, demands and willingness to buy. Marketing data, in its purest form, becomes a huge part of the strategic decisions you need to make about what you will sell and the tactical decisions you need to make about how you will sell it. (Like the difference between marketing and sales, the difference between strategic and tactical decisions is often confused.)

So, now that we know marketing and sales are not interchangeable and very successful small businesses often engage in both, the question becomes: how? What tools and tactics do I use? How do I apply them?

As we said, the very first step is to carefully define your market using Kotler’s definition as your template. Given that you have done that well, and that you have determined whether you are market driven or product driven, then gathering market data — what do the people want and what will the people buy — is not particularly daunting. Among the tools you can use are:

  • email surveys
  • telemarketing
  • focus groups
  • direct mail with pre-paid response cards
  • census and other public databases for data mining

 

Marketing data, if properly collected, will almost always tell you what your customers will buy and often just how much they are willing to pay for it — all of which is strategic in nature.

Once you’ve made the strategic decisions (what we are going to do), then the tactical decisions (how are we going to do it?) are up next. Among the tactical tools readily and inexpensively available to small businesses for sales tactics are:

  • e-tailing
  • coupons
  • BOGOs, two-fers, rebates and other offers
  • tele-sales
  • direct sales
  • phone apps
  • value adds
  • referral rewards
  • frequent buyer programs
  • product or service guarantees

 

All of these are designed to make the cash register ring – a key difference between marketing and sales. 

Offense or Defense? Small Business Owners Play Both!

As we approach the end of the regular college football season, most Americans are ready to cheer on their favorite teams during December’s conference championship games and the bowl games beginning later in the month and continuing into early 2014.

Professional football fans are right in the middle of the regular season, which will culminate on February 2 at Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

Amateur and professional football players generally have one specific position to manage and focus almost entirely on playing offense or defense. Small business owners, however, do not have the luxury of devoting all their time and energy on one specific task.

Entrepreneurs wear many different hats and often change them throughout the day, if not more frequently.

Entrepreneurs must be ready to tackle any situation or challenge that each day (or hour) brings.

A small business owner plays offense and defense. Often he’s the head coach, leading the team and making crucial decisions. Sometimes, she’s part of a special team, bringing unique skills and unconventional thinking to a project. Other days, he might be the quarterback, making a lightning-fast decision and finding the best team player to take the next step.

Companies must carefully weigh their environment and decide when an offensive strategy will work best and when a defensive position might be more helpful.

Launching a new product or service should involve a marketing strategy that is bold (an offensive posture); at other times, it might be best to bring in your public relations crisis management team. Although the latter may start as a defensive move, having the right message broadcast at the right time can quickly move you back to a more comfortable place (ownership of the ball).

An entrepreneur who can easily adapt from one position to a completely different one without changing stride is likely to be an exceptional and proactive manager of his resources. Employees tend to gravitate toward these types of leaders and want to be part of this style of team management.

No matter what the size of your business, it’s a tough field in today’s economic climate. Technology changes, which is good but can also produce additional expenses. Competition may increase as new companies enter the field and charge far less than the average, just to “get going.” Customers become fickle. And so on.

View your business and each day as a head coach. Strategize in advance, be aware of unexpected challenges and send your strongest players out to keep the offense up and the momentum moving!

Small Businesses and the Law

Did you know that your small business is subject to the same regulations as a giant commercial entity? If you find this startling news, you’re not alone; most entrepreneurs in the United States assume that laws apply only to much larger corporations.

All companies – small, medium, large and mammoth – must adhere to the applicable local, regional and national laws and regulations.

Hopefully, you’ve been aware of these since the day you opened for business, but if not, we encourage you to take the time now to become compliant. You may wish to engage legal counsel to explore these areas more thoroughly and ensure you have adequately covered yourself and your company.

Let’s begin with your great idea: have you protected your intellectual property? You may wish to investigate filing for a trademark, patent or copyright. A related issue is having non-disclosure contracts in place to prohibit employees or others closely involved with your company sharing your proprietary information.

Spreading the message about your great products or services? Your clients and customers are protected by numerous advertising and marketing laws. The Federal Trade Commission is the agency mainly responsible for enforcement of these laws and regulations. At a minimum, advertising must be truthful and not deceptive, and advertisers must have evidence they can produce that reinforces any and all claims.

Other laws abound in specific industries and for certain products, so investigate all regulations pertaining to your particular industry and products or services.

In addition to the Federal Trade Commission, state and local regulatory agencies also govern advertising. Many resources and publications are easily available on the Internet to help navigate through the complex rules for advertising. The Consumer Action Handbook (http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/index.shtml) is a great place to start.

Protection is provided for investors and others related to areas of finance through securities, bankruptcy and antitrust laws.
Privacy laws ensure your customers know how their personal information will be used, shared and protected.

Your business may also be impacted by environmental regulations or by the Uniform Commercial Code, should you transact business outside your state.
Last – but certainly not least – are the numerous federal and state labor and employment laws. It is wise to be aware of the many regulations in place that protect employees. This extensive area includes child labor, wages, employee eligibility, workplace safety and health and workers’ compensation.

We will go into more depth on labor and employment laws and some of the others mentioned above in future blogs.

In Case of Emergency, is Your Small Business Prepared?

Natural disasters may hit at any time of the year, but the recent wildfires in Colorado and derecho (line of violent thunderstorms) that cut a path across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic have made Americans aware that the atmosphere is often very unstable during the summer months.

Have you given any thought to a disaster plan of action for your small business? Having a continuity strategy in place prior to an emergency situation can go a long way toward helping your company return to normal business operations sooner.

An obvious place to begin is reviewing and possibly updating your insurance coverage. Store hard copies of important insurance and other paperwork in a safe place. A remote location is ideal, provided you are able to easily retrieve these documents after a disaster.

As you plan how your business would function day-to-day, think about how you would communicate with your employees. Are there two or three key managers who could be assigned with specific tasks prior to an approaching storm? Are employees able to work remotely during emergency situations?
If your company is a retail operation, what circumstances would dictate a change in business hours? How would altered hours be shared with your existing customers and the general public?

Is the physical location of your company in a low-lying area, subject to flooding? How do you protect your inventory and FF&E? How would travel to your location and parking at your facility be affected? It may be wise to stock up in advance on extra office and related supplies. Power outages and other utility disruptions almost always occur when a disaster hits. Often, days or even weeks may pass before electricity is restored. Would having a backup generator be worth the initial investment in order to keep your company running immediately after an emergency?

What about important electronic data? Some careful consideration should be given to the method and frequency chosen for saving pertinent data. Are back-up files stored remotely and safely?

If you have experienced physical or economic damages after a disaster, there may be relief in sight. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers assistance to eligible companies in declared disaster areas. Any size company may provide an application for a low-interest loan to help repair or replace damaged property and items. There are also working capital loans available to help relieve economic injury caused by a declared disaster.
The loans are available at reasonable terms and can typically also cover uninsured losses.

For additional information, please contact the SBA directly at 1-800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

And start planning your recovery strategy in advance of the next natural disaster or other emergency.

Labor and Employment Laws

In a previous post, we noted that small businesses are not exempt from following federal and state laws and regulations. Being unaware of these many laws does not mean you can ignore them. Failure to comply might result in hefty fines or civil penalties. In some instances, criminal charges could be a factor.

Some of the most numerous and complicated laws concern labor and employment. There are many regulations in place that protect employees, covering everything from child labor to safety in the workplace.

Approximately 125 million workers are protected by the 180+ laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Its web site (www.dol.gov) offers information on how to comply with these federal laws. The DOL has several agencies that administer various regulations.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The division’s mission is “to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation’s workforce.” The FLSA covers minimum wages and overtime. The Act restricts the hours children under the age of 16 may work. Garnishments of employee’s wages, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are also administered by the WHD. The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees and mandates eligible employees receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for births, adoptions and serious illness of employees and their immediate family members. The FMLA ensures the employee will be able to return to his previous job after the leave of absence.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) manages safety and health issues in the workplace through the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

If your company offers pension or welfare benefit plans, you are responsible for following the reporting requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA supersedes state laws and penalties for failing to file the required reports can be substantial.

The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) protects those serving in the reserves, National Guard or armed forces. Some affected have the right to be reemployed by their employer at the time they entered service, in addition to other special rights.

Certain industries have specific regulations (transportation, construction and agriculture, among others), so be certain you are familiar with laws relating to your particular company. Businesses that receive grants, financial aid or contracts from the government are subject to another particular set of regulations.

The laws are numerous, but a little attention now to ensure compliance is a lot easier and less expensive than taking corrective action later.

The Value of Organization and Time Management

How often do you find yourself looking for that important – yet somehow misplaced – piece of paper? Do you promise yourself that you’re going to become better organized, but find the days, weeks and months slipping by with too much work to do and not enough time to start that new filing system or categorize your overflowing email messages?

Everyone can benefit from good time management skills, but these practices are particularly valuable for entrepreneurs, who typically wear many hats on any given day and don’t ever seem to have a second to spare.

Here are some tips that successful small business owners and time management experts have shared with us:

The best and the worst of times -To better assess what changes might be most helpful for you, it is crucial to understand how you spend your time each day. Where are you not making the best use of your time? Another way to approach this is to note what you are doing differently on the days you find yourself most productive.

Are you diligent at daybreak or mentally best at midnight? Do you need solitude and a deadline to focus, or do your best ideas seem to be found after social interaction or when you’ve taken the time to simply let your mind wander?

But it’s Leap Year, so I got an extra day – Every day has 24 hours, and there’s nothing you or I can do to modify that. It is up to each of us to manage our behavior: it’s the only way to better cope with the finiteness of time.

Eliminate those distractions that are not helping you become productive. Find a system that works to help get – and keep – you on track (there are many available, so choose something you feel comfortable with and will use). Set realistic goals toward better time management. Streamline your inbox and organize physical and electronic files of information.

Routine tasks need handling, but perhaps they need time limits. A perfect example of this is reading and responding to email. If you keep an eye on incoming email messages all day long and then stop to respond immediately, there might be room for improvement by simply limiting the times you read and reply. Many small business owners put email at the top of their list as an area that truly needs better organization and time management.

What’s really important – Make that decision and prioritize each day accordingly. Many small business owners feel they accomplish more if they begin with the most difficult challenge. Usually this is the very task one wants to avoid but by facing it first, with fresh energy and a clear mind, you might find it wasn’t so bad after all. When using this approach, deadlines are often met ahead of schedule.

Let someone else do it – Determine which jobs could or should be outsourced, and then allow someone else to do the work. Tedious or simple tasks could be contracted out to free up your time for something more precious, and those areas that fall outside your comfort level and areas of expertise should definitely be left to the professionals.

Just say “no” – Only you can decide where your time should be spent. In addition to running your company, you want to ensure you enjoy quality time with family and friends. Most entrepreneurs are also involved in their communities, which is a wonderful way to serve others while networking to help grow their companies.

But, how much time do you really have? Many self-motivated business owners find it difficult to turn down requests to serve on boards or volunteer in other capacities. By thinking about your time restraints in advance, and realizing how much energy will be required for various community activities, you might find yourself making different choices going forward.

This pie is always being cut in different proportions: one year may be a great one for volunteering, as your youngest child heads off to college; another year might be too busy with helping your parents move, hiring new employees and wanting to spend more time with your spouse.
Be true to yourself as you give of your time and talents.

What I need most – Don’t neglect spending time just on you. Understand your physical and mental limitations and respect those times you need to take a break. When you find your schedule slowing, embrace it (that might be a great time to review your progress and switch priorities).

One final note is that some flexibility must be considered with anyone’s schedule, but by spending a few moments each day organizing and staying on track, you are creating habits and routines that will enable you to stay calm and focused as you manage your small business (and your life!) now and in the future.