Time to reflect: GROW lays out tips for new year for entrepreneurs

January, 2019 Posted in Business, Community

By Mary Owen

It’s a new year and another chance to grow your business.

“I was reminded a few years ago that January is named after the god, Janus, which is represented by a face looking in two directions,” said Allison McKenzie, executive director/entrepreneurial coach of GROW-EDC. “January is a great time to reflect about what worked well last year – and what didn’t – and use that information to plan for the year ahead.”

McKenzie’s advice for a fresh start is to take care of yourself first.

“Two-thirds of GROW clients are women, perhaps because we have a high percentage of chronically underemployed women in our area who feel motivated to start their own businesses to augment their current income,” she said. “Women entrepreneurs tend to put themselves at the end of the nurturing train and often start the year a little worn out by everything they had to accomplish over the holidays.”

McKenzie suggests taking time to think about what you want to do in the year ahead without “charging out of the gate. If you’re already starting the year with an energy deficit, give yourself a little time to get grounded and to think before you plan.”

Going full speed ahead when personal reserves are already low will lead to burnout and disappointment after a few weeks, she said.

“You can’t sustain a business if you have nothing in the bank to give,” McKenzie said. “It’s healthy for you and your business to take care of yourself, and give yourself some breathing room at the beginning of the new year.”

Second, don’t go it alone.

“Focus on what you do well and get help to fill in the gaps on activities that are not in your wheelhouse or that you just hate doing,” she said. “Focus your energy on amplifying your strengths rather than shoring up your weaknesses. If you don’t balance your personal checking account, why would you run your own money for your company? If you are shy and don’t enjoy talking with people, find someone who can help you with sales and marketing. GROW can help you find these folks.”

No one likes every aspect of their business equally and entrepreneurs get bogged down in trying to do everything, she said.

“Something doesn’t get done, gets short shrift, or takes longer than it should with less effectiveness,” McKenzie said. “Your life will be easier and your business more productive when you reach out to people who can help shore up the holes in your expertise. When you do this, you can spend more time on what you do well.”

If money is an issue, McKenzie said to “think again.” Look for experts in your circle of friends, family and business that can volunteer their expertise.

“Our most successful clients get the best help they can, whether they pay for the privilege or ask a trusted friend to help them,” she said. “Don’t spend your time trying to get good at something you hate doing. Find someone that loves to do the thing you hate so you can focus your attention on what you already do well. Amplify your strengths.”

Third, find a mentor, someone you trust and admire to ask for advice when advice is needed.

“GROW helps folks find the right people to support them as their business grows,” she said.

Fourth, celebrate your success. McKenzie advises to take a moment to savor what you have accomplished before diving into the next project or task.

“Whether it comes from our Puritan work ethic or parental influences that remind us to focus our attention on what is left undone, most of us do not celebrate our good work until a project is completely finished,” McKenzie said.

“In fact, most of us focus on what didn’t go well or that 2 percent of a project that could be a bit better. By celebrating your achievements step-by-step along the way, you are not only giving yourself credit for work in progress, you are building emotional momentum for the work ahead.”

Getting a quick read on where your business is right now takes less than 15 minutes, she said.

• Rate your product or service.

• Rate your sales and marketing function.

• Rate your financial management, including legal.

“Rate yourself on a scale of 0-100 percent in each category to tell where you are strong and where you might be coming up short,” she suggested. “Ask yourself: what would it take to get to 100 percent in each of these areas this year? What do you want to focus on? What needs attention that can be delegated to someone else? If you feel stuck and aren’t sure what to do next, focus on what you could do right now that would have the highest impact.”

Movement creates more movement, McKenzie said.

“Find one small thing you can do right now that takes only a few minutes and do that first,” she added. “You’ll notice an immediate uplift in how you feel, energizing you for your next business project.”

She also suggests replacing “should” with “could” when a task feels overwhelming.

“Could takes the heaviness and what can even feel like punishment out of the equation and empowers you to make a choice,” she explained. “Just changing your language can help you move forward with less stress.”

Finally, measure your success by your standards, not someone else’s.

“You don’t have to be a multi-million dollar business to be successful, nor do you have to spend every waking moment building your business,” she said. “In fact, that’s counterproductive to longevity and profitability. You can set your own pace and create a business life that works
for you.”

McKenzie said for a business to evolve over time is normal, with priorities changing year to year. The differences, she said, are “a good thing.”

According to McKenzie, clients who have followed GROW’s methodology have more balance businesses with easier profits and less stress.

“When they hit a pothole they have their management team in place to help them navigate around it or pop right out,” she said. “Any entrepreneur can have that, and GROW will help you set it up.”

GROW offers a free monthly planning class on the first Tuesday of the month that McKenzie called “fun, intuitive and productive.” The next Small Steps, Big Results class is 8-10 a.m. Tuesday,  Jan. 8 at Moxiberry Café. GROW’s Young Professionals group will meet Jan. 17, 8:30 – 10 a.m. at The Box at the corner of Third and High.

GROW will also provide a yearly planning class Jan. 25 and will team with Chemeketa Community College’s Small Business Development Center Jan. 31 to present  “Finding Access to Capital.” For details on these events call McKenzie, 503-871-5188 or email allison@growsantiam.org.

GROW offers free, confidential one-on-one consulting to anyone who wants it in North Santiam River Country (Aumsville/Scio to Marion Forks and Breitenbush). Over the past 10 years, GROW has worked with more than 600 entrepreneurs and organizations representing 17 industries.

“We help business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to research, launch, grow, improve, expand, diversify, buy, sell, and tweak their businesses or nonprofit organizations,” McKenzie said. “We welcome everyone, no matter what their idea is, and will help them put ‘legs’ under their concept to build a successful business.”

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