90 minutes a day that will change your life

This week’s challenge: The 90-Minute Plan

When you are the leader of a company, you have a lot of people pulling you in different directions. Everyone always needs something from you and as the leader, it’s important to be accessible right? The more success you have, more opportunities become availabe and the harder it seems you have to work. You find yourself going a million miles an hour in all kinds of exciting directions. In fact you could work 24/7 if you could get by without sleep – and I know you’ve tried.

Well this week’s challenge is to spend at least 90 minutes a day, preferrably the first 90 minutes of your day, completely focused on one thing.

Here’s how you do it:
Choose – Determine the night before what work you want to give your complete attention to. It should be what you consider most important – that is, what will add the most enduring value if you get it done. Important but not urgent.
Start – Start at a very specific time and hold yourself to that time. Don’t let yourself answer that one email or make that one phone call. Finding an excuse to avoid hard work isn’t hard to do. Turn off your email, close all the windows on your computer, let the phone go to voicemail. Then focus, uninterrupted on the task at hand.
Stop – Set your timer for 90 minutes and stop no matter what point you are at. You will train yourself after a couple sessions to get what you need to get done during that time period.

Choose, Start, Stop. Build this practice into your daily ritual and you will achieve staggering results. You will get more done in less time. Train your team to do it too.

Implement your strategy by focusing on 1 thing 90 minutes at a time. Do more by doing less. Take it on.

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers. Register Now and Reserve Your Spot.

Here is a Preview of Upcoming Business Challenge of the Week Topics:
Week of 10/3 – Company Culture Challenge – Do you have culture of trust?
Week of 10/17 -Team Building Challenge – Hiring “A” Players
Week of 10/24 – Leadership Challenge – Seeing Yourself as Others See You
Week of 10/31 – Growth Challenge – Organic growth may be your biggest opportunity
Week of 11/07 – Sales Challenge – How to get more out of your sales team

Forecasting Your Business Plan

“There are only two things you need to know to achieve a goal:  1. Where are you going? and 2.  Where are You At?”

Last week we spoke about identifying three major goals or targets for execution in the near term.  The follow-up challenge this week is to take your strategic plan and either attach financial numbers to it – if it doesn’t have any – or update your projections for the balance of this year as well as the next three years.

The intent is to look at management’s intentions over the time period under consideration, and refresh or create financial projections for that time period.  That means you must take into consideration not only the particulars of the business plan such as when created, but any changes in the interim in the usual areas of the business, such as:

  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Operations
  4. Finance
  5. Infrastructure changes
  6. Expansion plans

There may be additional areas that you need to focus on.  By going through this exercise management should be able to get a good idea for what revenues and expenses should be for the remainder of the year as well as begin to look forward at the next few years, and have a sense for if the company’s growth plans are realistic and on track.

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers. Register Now and Reserve Your Spot.

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Is Your Website Helping Or Hurting You? Business Challenge of the Week

It’s well understood that a robust website is a critical channel to reach prospective customers and clients. Is your website up to date? Is it communicating your company’s value proposition in a clear, comprehensible fashion? You might think that it does – but let’s test that supposition:

This week’s Business Challenge is the Website Challenge:
Send an email to five random members of your team and ask them to review your website and determine if it clearly communicates why someone should do business with you.

Send five additional emails to friends or business acquaintances and ask them the same thing: Does the website communicate what problem you solve for your target audience? Does it convey trust about your business in a quickly understandable fashion? Does it contain a call to action that results in a conversion? (FYI: A conversion is any action that a visitor takes that builds a relationship with you. Examples include ability to sign up for something, watch a video, download an ebook or the best conversion – buy whatever you are selling)

Have those that respond provide you with a written summary, then schedule a meeting with your team to review results and create an action item list to act on some of the suggestions. These days your website is often your lifeblood – don’t sit still on this one!

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers about your website. register here.

Mid-Year Checkup – Business Challenge for Week of July 5, 2011

Success is not an accident, and hope is not a strategy.

It is officially the second half of 2011. Are you where you want to be? Are you on track to have a successful year? Are you measuring your progress against your plan? Are you achieving impressive results?

If you are not making the progress that you would like to make and are capable of making, it could be because your goals are not clearly defined. This week’s Business Challenge is to perform a Mid-Year Check up. Think how quickly we got to the mid-year point? Well, the second half of the year will go by just as quickly. Don’t miss the opportunity to have a successful year no matter where you are right now.

Read on for some additional insight and tools on how to get on track:

I often hear CEOs wringing their hands, complaining about how tough things are these days. Sales are down, profitability is off, or whatever. It’s certainly true that the economy is struggling, but you can’t control that. However, you CAN control how you respond to your current circumstances. So let’s focus on that: if you want to drive your company to the next level, even in troubled times, you are going to have to make a decision to take charge of your future. Random accidents of nature and hoping for better days will not drive your company to the next level. Achieving that is going to involve setting some goals, and holding people – including yourself – accountable. So, let’s get started taking concrete steps to make som e things happen by laying out a simple strategic planning process.

Let’s look at three simple steps to put a plan in place. This is a simple way to develop an effective strategic plan, and drive it down into effective tactical actions.

What are these three steps? They are:
1.1. Understand where you are.
1.2. Envision your (year) end-game.
1.3. Connect the dots.

Let’s talk about this in more detail:

1) Understand where you are.
To begin, management should ask some basic questions about the business today. Some examples:
What drives your revenue? Is it internet marketing, specific sales channel, particular advertising, or through ongoing business relationships? And which levers in each of those drive revenues?

What’s your average unit price? How sensitive is your market to pricing? Can you position your service or product to more positively reflect the value added? Does your pricing reflect the value offered? Does it contemplate every cost involved – even things like overhead or other sales, or administrative costs. If your average price seems appropriate, how can you drive unit volumes?

Have you defined, and are you monitoring your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)?

2) Envision Your (Year) End-Game
Where do you want to be at the end of this year? Set stretch goals for:

1. Revenue
2. Number of Customers (You want more granularity to reduce risk)
3. Cash flow
4. Other relevant metrics or KPI’s

The intent of management to clearly define very specific goals to be achieved within a clearly defined timeframe.

3) Connect the dots to deliver
If you know where you are now, and where you want to be, how do you bridge the gap between the two? The answer is to set intermediate goals with accountabilities. For example, if you’ve identified your revenue drivers, and you have now set a revenue growth goal for the year, you can define the intermediate steps management needs to take to achieve the growth goal. For example, such steps might be:

1) Putting in place a goal of a minimum number of outbound calls per salesperson.
2) Hiring of new sales personnel to support revenue growth, with specific sales goals for these new hires.
3) Developing a specific number new contacts within local business community.

Your intermediate goals will obviously be specific to your situation.

To finish connecting the dots you will need to put together all of the intermediate goals that get the company where it needs to be. I would suggest that you set these goals by quarter. Finally, you will need to put in place accountabilities: which tasks must be completed to achieve these goals, who will do them, and by when. I would suggest at monthly follow-up meetings (or more often, if desired). With this in place management will be well on on its way to achieving the goals of the company.

Remember, accidents and hope will not bring the results that you want to see. You must carefully define where you are, where you want to be, and then take careful, disciplined steps – with accountability – that will get you there. No company has ever succeeded without its leadership initiating a process like this. And, like I said in the first few sentences, it all begins with you making a decision.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact me by email brector@therectorgroup.com or phone: 954.356.0439

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Stop Multi-Tasking And Start Producing -Business Challenge of the Week for 6/6/11

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes being a leader means feeling overworked and overwhelmed. How often do you find yourself driving while talking on the phone? Sitting in a meeting while your mind is mulling over another issue? Checking your emails while on a phone call?

If this is sounds like your daily experience – just “part of the game” for you – then this week’s challenge may be the toughest one to date. However, I guarantee that if you take it on 100% you will get dramatic results, both personally and professionally.

The Challenge: Focus on being present at whatever you are doing this week; whether it’s listening to a presentation, participating in a conference call, reviewing monthly reports, reading a book, driving or talking to your spouse or kids – do it with 100% intention and awareness.

The Results You Can Expect:
• Increased enjoyment at whatever you are doing
• Less stress
• Better relationships
• Get more done
The Bonus: When you practice being present you begin to experience flow – that magical zone where you are completely absorbed in what you’re doing. It’s a powerful and productive zone which, incidentally, makes you happier. However, it can’t happen if you’re switching between tasks or thinking about the past or the future. It happens when you are in the present.

Practice being present each moment throughout the week and notice the difference you begin to experience.

“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.” – Albert Einstein

Send me an email (brector@therectorgroup.com) and let me know how it goes. If you find this helpful, please share it with someone who you think would benefit. Thanks in advance. – Bruce, 954-356-0439

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Entrepreneur Empower Breakfast – Taking Care of Business – Learn More.

Are You Ready For Venture Investors?

I recently presented at the Gold Coast Venture Capital Conference. It was a great event attended by a lot of entrepreneurs. For those of you who missed the event here is a copy of my presentation: (If you would like to receive a pdf version, email me and I’ll send it to you)

Finish What You Start – Business Challenge for Week of May 31, 2011

Welcome to June!
This week’s business challenge is about completion – finishing what you start.
As business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s easy to come up with great ideas and new projects but success is driven by what you can actually implement. Your challenge this week is to take some time to review what projects or ideas you and your organization have started but haven’t finished. What’s holding you back? Now is the time to either create new timelines to “put the top on the box” and finish or abandon them altogether. The second part of the challenge is to make sure you have finished each of the previous Business Challenges over the past three weeks. Each challenge represents topics that are vital to a company’s success so if you haven’t done them it’s time to step up to the plate. If you are stuck or confused, call or email me and let’s get you unstuck and clear. Finishing what you start is an important leadership muscle to consistently exercise, and a key differentiator of successful companies.

Here is a recap of the past 3 weeks with a link to all the details:
Week 1: The Strategy Challenge
Week 2: Working Your Strategic Plan Challenge
Week 3: KPI Challenge

Finish strong!

If you have any questions on this or any other topic, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Bruce Rector

KPI Challenge – Your Business Challenge for the Week of May 23rd, 2011

I was at a new client’s office recently and was walking around meeting some of the management team. I stopped to talk to the VP of Operations, a busy guy bustling around answering questions and giving lots of direction to his team who also looked very busy in their maze of cubicles. I asked him how things were going and his answer shocked me because of its honesty. He said, “I really don’t know. I know we are really busy and everyone works long hours but I don’t know if things are going good or not because I’m not clear on what we are working toward.”

We talked further about his remarks which revealed a simple, yet all too common, issue for many businesses. The company had never identified it’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) so the management team didn’t know how they were doing. To them, busy = good.

For those of you not familiar with KPIs, they are quantifiable measurements that determine if you are progressing toward your goals or not. Many businesses get caught up in getting the work out and never evaluate whether “the work” is supporting the overall goals of the company. The last few weeks, your Leadership Challenges have been about Strategy and Plans. If you missed either one of those, refer back to the Strategy Challenge (http://therectorgroup.com/leadership-challenge-for-week-of-may-9-2011) or Working Your Strategic Plan Challenge (http://therectorgroup.com/leadership-challenge-for-week-of-may-9-2011) before you move on.

This week’s Business Challenge is the KPI Challenge. Are you ready? Take a minute to think about and answer these questions:

1. Do you know what your company’s Key Performance Indicators are? ___Yes ____No
a. If yes list them.
b. If not, give some thought to what your overall goals are and how you will measure your progress, or lack thereof, toward that goal? List them here:

2. Do you have a system in place to measure and manage your KPI’s routinely?__Yes __No
a. If yes – describe your system. (who, what, when, why and how)
b. If no, develop one. Spend time with your team determining how each KPI you listed in #1 will be measured and managed routinely. Create it!

3. Are you regularly meeting with your management team to discuss KPI’s ? __Yes __No
a. If yes, describe how often you meet? Is it consistent? Are you using the time to discuss, learn and grow form the results?
b. If no, create a schedule and communicate with your team your expectations.

If you answered yes to each question, congratulations! Keep up the good work. If you answered no to 1 or more questions, use the above excercises to create a system to manage and measure the KPI’s for your organization. Good luck!

For additional information on KPI’s view my video: Key Things That Should Be On Every CEO’s To-do List

If you have any questions on this or any other topic, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!


Bruce Rector, President
The Rector Group
Tel: 954-356-0439

3 Things To Remember For Your Business Plan

Recently I participated as a judge at a business plan competition. After reading a number of plans from the different competing startups, and watching 10-minute pitches from the management teams of these startups, I thought it might be helpful to provide a little perspective from the other side of the table, as it were. So, for those of you contemplating going into equity-capital raising mode, here are three major things to keep in mind as you march down that path:

1. Remember your goal.
Your goal is to garner the attention of prospective investors, and to engage them in a focused conversation about the opportunity that your company represents. Given that, it’s important that you frame your story as what it is: a sales story around a company.

2. Remember your audience.
It’s quite probable that your audience will not be intimately familiar with the details of your industry or company. Long verbose descriptions of the unique attributes of this investment opportunity will lose people. A picture is worth 1,000 words, and often a thoughtfully created graphic can get the point across with far more impact if you are addressing an audience without deep knowledge of the opportunity, or a lot of time to spare making an initial assessment.

3. Remember your story.
Investor’s are NOT looking for the coolest technology or an interesting gadget. Fundamentally they are looking for opportunities to address large, rapidly growing markets – coupled with a credible management team. Your story must succinctly address those issues – preferable with compelling graphics that make the story easy to understand.

Business Challenge for Week of May 16th

Your challenge for May 16, 2011 is Working Your Strategic Plan. Companies spend a lot of resources creating a strategic plan that ends up never getting looked at until next year and worse yet, never implemented. Why? It is challenging to take ideas and put them into action day in and day out. And while a strategic plan is essential to the success of any business, how it gets implemented determines how successful the business becomes. This week’s challenge involves determining whether or not you have the type of organization that can create and implement your strategic plan.

Take the Challenge: Working Your Strategic Plan
1. Schedule an hour to get your key management team together (in person or via phone call) to review the 2011 strategic plan. If you don’t have a plan see last week’s challenge.
2. Grade yourself on your progress of implementing your strategic plan keeping in mind we are in Week 20 of the year.
3. Determine if you have a clear action plan or implementation plan for each goal and idea in your strategy.
4. If not, create one. Define the specific tasks, who is responsible for completing each of them and when each is to be completed.
5. Create a reporting mechanism moving forward for each person or team to report progress. Determine who will drive the implementation.
6. Schedule your next review session. I’m a big believer in weekly review sessions that the CEO or President runs. It may be painful at first but if you want results, you must manage the process and monitor the results.
Developing a Strategic Plan that you put in into effect is vital for business success. Do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. Tie individual employee’s objectives to the corporate objectives by being clear about what must be done, by whom, and what the payoffs will be. Make sure to provide ongoing feedback and progress reports.

One of the primary functions of a successful leader is to establish, develop, articulate, and reinforce the organization’s mission, values, and goals. For a strategic plan to be effective – and not dismissed as worthless by the work force – leaders have to live, model, and continually reinforce the vision and the planning process.

Good luck with this week’s challenge! I look forward to hearing your feedback.

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