Category Archives: Jeff Bush

This Year I Hope to [Insert Answer Here]

By Jeff Bush

Imagine closing your eyes, throwing a dart at the Wall Street Journal to pick a stock you had to invest your entire savings in. You can’t look at the price until the last day of the year; nervous? But yet, this is how most businesses plan. They choose one time a year, develop a plan, put it in the drawer only to review it at the same time the following year and hope they achieved their goal. This approach is not a good investment strategy, nor is it a good business planning process.

Everyone has heard the saying, “hope is not a plan”. That’s because it rings true. But equally true is that your life is only limited by the work you don’t do. You work to achieve. Achievement is the manifestation of executing more consistently and methodically. Are you ready to achieve your goals? Are you prepared to get your business back on track? Try this strategy.

A more fluid approach to business planning is more realistic in the “real world” vs. the one-and -done way you’ve always done planning. Business planning should be a living, breathing process that follows a cycle of brainstorming, winnowing, executing and measuring which naturally leads to the next planning opportunity. This process can be as short as weeks or as long as years. Each part of a business follows different timelines and the planning process for each, should match.

Just like New Year’s resolutions fall away quickly because of a lack of an execution strategy, business plans succumb to the same fate; destined to collect dust on a shelf or occupying the ignored bottom position in your inbox. Why? Because these methods lack a quantifiable execution and measurement strategy, which is a pivotal portion of the planning process—the part of the process where most fall short.

Whether you’re well on your way to achieving your business goals and you are ready to shoot for something bigger, or you’ve fallen short of expectations and you are looking to get back on track, a measurable execution strategy must be deployed and continuously redeployed through the process.

The first step in any execution strategy is to define the issue in sufficient detail such that anyone in your organization will intuitively understand the incremental activities necessary to achieve the goal. If you cannot break the goal down into actionable steps, you need to continue refining your goal. A goal is only actionable when it is evident to everyone in your business what those actionable steps are.

The most straightforward example is a sales goal. Most business plans will state a specific numeric goal, “50,000,000 dollars in product sales”. But if your organization doesn’t understand the connection of that goal to their unique job duties it will likely never happen.Your life is only limited by the work you don’t do Click To Tweet

Instead, restate the goal to something more actionable, “Maintain 100 percent client retention of profitable $1mm clients while sourcing, vetting and closing one new client that will average $5mm in sales each week.” If the goal is restated in such a way to that every department of your company understands their role in achieving that goal it is much more likely to happen. A sales goal is not going to get a person in accounts receivable to change their behavior. Arguably, an overly zealous receivables person could be detrimental to your goal by collecting in such a way that drives clients out the door. By changing the focus of the goal to an action statement, it changes the way your organization views their role in executing their part in the process. It focuses a goal into a philosophical change with obvious incremental steps. Now list the steps, as few or as many as it takes, but it must be actionable and measurable.

  • Identify five leads weekly
  • Qualify three prospects per-week from the leads
  • Close one client per-week with a potential average $5mm in annual sales per month (keep in mind, if you onboard a new client late in the year, they likely will not do $5mm in sales this year.)
  • Reduce new client onboarding time to three business days
  • Prioritize our customer service model, so we are spending 80 percent of our time with those clients making up 80% of our sales. (Once again, the old 80/20 rule)
  • 100 percent on-time shipping every day.
  • Reduce accounts receivable to forty-five days.

Secondly, you have to do the work. While this seems obvious, the majority of goals find their way to the scrap heap for the most basic of reasons. The work was done intermittently, but honestly, the work was not done.

Someone first said, “What gets measured gets done.” And they were right. So measure your action steps. Use technology to help keep track of your progress. Reminders on your phone work, but some prefer something more visual. Use a spreadsheet program to come up with a customized action tracking sheet.

A suggestion would be, at the end of the measuring period, color code the boxes to highlight successes and challenges. Distribute the finished sheet each period to all stakeholders.” What gets measured gets done”.

And finally, you need to have a consistent and honest accountability system. Accountability to do the small, necessary steps to accomplish your goal, both in quantity and quality. The fallacy of the spreadsheet of reminders is we can lie to ourselves. As human beings, we have a horrible ability to lie to ourselves and, worse yet, believe our lies.

So how do you manage this fault? Have an accountability partner. Find that person who cares enough about your success that they won’t tell you what you want to hear or make you feel better about only half-hearted work. Share with them your spreadsheet each week and go over every single event. Mutual accountability works well. Find a fellow salesperson, manager, significant other or business owner that is working on their own goals and be accountable to one another.

It has been said, “If success were easy, everyone would be successful.” While it is not easy, you have more control over your success than you think; and sometimes it is just about having a definable goal and doing the work consistently and being honest with the quantity and quality of your efforts.

Jeff Bush, Wall Street’s Washington insider, is a dynamic and insightful speaker on tax and fiscal topics, and the author of American Cornerstones: History’s Insights on Today’s Issues. A 28-year veteran of the financial industry, Jeff works with executive teams, business owners, and high income individuals to proactively prepare their organizations to succeed in an ever evolving-market place. For more information on Jeff Bush, please visit www.JeffBush.net.

Maintaining Business Stability Amid Political Turbulence

By Jeff Bush

Have there been times during your career where you felt like you lost focus in your business? Outside influences may have affected the course you had set, tossing your business plan into a turbulent storm of chaos. Perhaps these powers emanating from Washington D.C. left you scratching your head as to directional control of your business. You may have been elated during a recent election, or perhaps dismayed.

Tax reform, healthcare, immigration, and trade are all major issues as the new administration tries to find its governing legs. These pending shifts in policy can cause headaches for business owners.

Many employees, customers, and suppliers look to their manager as that grey-haired, seasoned hand at the controls, steady as she goes leader to guide them safely through the unsettled air. What happens when all you see around you are ominous clouds of change with no clear path to predictability? Uncertainty is where many leaders have been flying at one point or another. Optimistic they are heading towards a destination, but not seeing the safest route to follow.

Envision yourself as a pilot, navigating your plane through some particularly rough weather. You’re at 10,000 feet, making moment-to-moment decisions. You’re maintaining all of the proper protocols, minding all of the necessary instrumentation—when suddenly your panel lights up like a Christmas tree and gauges start fluttering wildly. Alerts begin to chirp throughout the cabin. There’s a problem—and it’s up to you to rectify it, or mitigate the issue as best you can to ensure a safe landing. It is your preparation, experience, and trust in your training that will see you through. Click To Tweet

After some clear-headed evaluation under pressure—and following what you’ve been taught—you identify the source of the problem and make the educated decision to continue your flight until its final destination. You land safely, a bit shaken but relieved that proper training allowed you to make the right decisions to ensure the safety of those aboard.

Leading a business through a turbulent political climate can feel a bit like a pilot making snap decisions when the norms go awry. It’s important to know that there will be confusion and challenges, and it is your preparation, experience, and trust in your training that will see you through. These four action steps can keep your company flying high and stable when the political winds begin to shift.

1. In your businesses, you have to do the most important things first and keep doing them while dealing with problems that will inevitably arise. So what are your business’s core elements for success? Can your employees list them? Many business owners or leaders would report that “customer service” is one of their core elements. But what are the three most impactful drivers of excellent customer service unique to your business? Ask yourself, and your team, to excel at those three things. If you don’t know what your essential elements of success are, you better figure them out quickly. The turbulent times start when clients go looking.

2. Not unlike identifying where you are going to execute an off-airport landing, you need to have an honest discussion with yourself about the situation and your capabilities. In the context of business, you need to be honest with yourself about what you’re struggling with and find a better way of getting the job done. Perhaps in your business, it means outsourcing HR to an employment agency, switching suppliers or firing a problem client. But be honest with yourself about the weaknesses in your operation and commit to addressing them.

3. Are you communicating with everyone vital in your business success, from customers to suppliers, vendors, and financial advisors? Do you have a communication plan for each of these critical constituents and who owns that plan? To whom is the plan owner accountable?

Sit down with a blank piece of paper. Draw a circle in the middle and, inside the circle, write the name of your business. Take ten minutes of uninterrupted time to write down all the key connections/relationships you need to maintain your business’s success. Next, write down who in your organization should own that relationship. Meet with those persons and be clear as to the importance of that responsibility.

4. Finally: work the problems. How many times have you seen people work hard without ever really taking on the core issue? You are the pilot of your business. It is up to you to take control and keep your team focused. Many companies have vast institutional knowledge within the organization. Trust that experience to solve the problems. If they know what’s core to your business success, they will likely solve the problem with little input needed from you.

Good times are just that, easy. It’s the challenging times where you need to expand your confidence and wisdom. Confidence and wisdom that you will need as we receive additional details on the political issues that impact every business, such as tax reform, healthcare options, or any changes in US trade policy. The business climate may be turbulent, but if you follow your training, trust your experience and decision-making ability, your steady hand at the helm can guide your team through the most adverse landscapes.

 Jeff Bush, Wall’s Street Washington Insider, is a dynamic and insightful speaker on tax and fiscal topics, and the author of American Cornerstones: History’s Insights on Today’s Issues. A 28-year veteran of the financial industry, Jeff works with executive teams, business owners, and high income individuals to proactively prepare their organizations to succeed in an ever evolving-market place. For more information on Jeff Bush, please visit www.JeffBush.net.