Make Time Management Work for You

Clock“I don’t have enough time.”

No matter whom I am with or whatever group I am participating in, these words are a constant in the comments that people are making.

No one has enough time and it seems like our lives just keep getting busier. So how can we manage?

There are lots of self-help books, articles, podcasts, and webinars on the subject. Some are good in my view and some aren’t. The most helpful tips come I find come from real people discussing their own situation.

In a recent conversation, I mentioned this common cry for time management help. An author friend, Claudette Hegel, was kind enough to share a chapter on time management from her book, Down-to-Earth Writer’s Manual. These tips are from her experiences. What I appreciate about the chapter is that she realizes the broader life people have than just their work. She has simple tricks to help you stay on task.

I encourage you to read this short chapter. Then develop tricks and eventually habits to help you get out from the time crunch so many of us feel.

Innovation

For small businesses to succeed, they need to be innovative. But what is it?

It might be said that we know innovation when we see it, but don’t ask us to define innovation or tell you what it is.

As this short video outlines, it is dots, known and those unknown.

Businesses that continue to operate discover the unknown dots. Yes, they may be new but they also may be dots we have forgotten.

Take a couple of minutes to watch the video. Then go discover the dots that will help you move forward and remain competitive. https://vimeo.com/77911159 

 

 

The Small Businesses Role in Communities

Small businesses are key to successful communities.

Many of us understand, certainly, the role of the small business in terms of the economic health of a rural community. And this remains true in larger communities as well.

However, less recognized is the role that small businesses hold in supporting a variety of charitable and community events. They also provide a great deal of human resources in terms of volunteers and leaders in local government and other organizations.

These contributions form a core support of strong, resilient communities. It is not uncommon for a community and its members to overlook such resources when looking to grow a community.

This webinar explains further some of what small businesses can offer to a community.

Use of Online Marketing for Ag Enterprises

Online marketing tools and techniques are rapidly growing in use.

Yet the use of such tools among rural business owners and small agricultural business owners has not kept up with the national trends. These businesses tend to continue their use of more traditional marketing tools.

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement at Kansas State University has taken a look at this issue among the green industry businesses including garden centers, nurseries, and landscape operations. In this webinar, they discuss their findings and offer ideas on how rural small-business owners can make the best use of online marketing. 

Business Disasters: It’s not If, but When

Not business as usualWhile disasters come in all shapes and sizes, they all have one thing in common – They impact your business revenue. 

Not only does a disaster slow down your income stream, but it adds expenses.

Recovery from a disaster is hard. And what makes it even harder for many small-business owners is the need to create the response on the fly plus the gathering of records and important documents, if that is even possible.

Most owners have a good intention of doing a disaster plan but somehow that day never comes. Or they get it done but fail to keep it updated. They are lulled into a false sense of security.

North Dakota State University Extension has developed a disaster app for both Android and iPhone applications. It allows the small-business owner to input basic crucial data along with pictures so that the business can get up and running more quickly.

More information about the app is available at: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/newsreleases/2016/aug-22-2016/new-disaster-app-helps-small-businesses-prepare-for-the-worst/view 

Available for tablets and smart phones, the app provides a place to build your basic disaster plan. Not only do you build it, but, since you carry it with you, it will be stored typically in an off-site location. And you can take a couple minutes of otherwise wasted time that often appear in your day.

Get the app. Fill it in. Take some pictures. You have your plan.

We hope your business never experiences a disaster, small or big, but now you can be ready.

Farms (And Small Businesses) Need Succession Planning

generations

Photo (CC) by Ray Dumas, on Flickr

Leaving one’s business or farm to the next generation is a desire of many business owners.

Yet, those same owners will often admit that they have done little in terms of actually planning to make this desire a reality.

The University of Wyoming Extension, like many other Extension programs, is there to help start the discussion and planning process for farmers, ranchers, and small business owners.

In their February 2016 newsletter, John Hewlett, Ranch/Farm Management Specialist, discusses how such transitioning begins with the children by sparking their interest and including them in the planning discussions. Often the only message heard is when times are tough. Little is said when it is a rewarding year.

Modeling values is another important task as is getting them actively involved with chores and special projects.

Finally, the youth must see that there is a lifestyle balance, not only in words but in action.

The early involvement of the children is the first of many steps necessary to pass along the legacy. The Wyoming Extension program has a downloadable program that covers many of the aspects that need to be addressed. You can find this program at: http://aglegacy.org/ . Also, check with the Extension Service in your state for materials they may have as well.

The Family Business: From Main Street to Wall Street

family business owners

Photo (CC) by Dana, on Flickr

Chances are you do business with with one, and probably many more, family businesses.

Family businesses surround us. Family businesses form an integral part of our economy. We find them in all shapes and sizes, from WalMart and Ford to your main street stores and even some operating out of the garage or off the dining room table.

Family businesses represent a unique intersection of the business system with the family system. Family businesses have additional opportunities and resources because of the family system of which they are a part. Intermingling of time and resources has been found to be used in the business just as such resources, at times, find their way over to the family system from the business.

Yet with such potential benefits, family businesses are also navigating family dynamics and relationships that a traditional business owner never encounters.

Understanding the family business with its merger of the both the family and business systems, along with a two-way relationship with the community, has been the the mission of the Family Business Research team and its National Family Business Survey. The team is now collecting data providing 20 years of information from its national panel of businesses.

From the development of the Sustainable Family Business Theory in 1999, the team has focused on understanding the factors of success along with how communities and family businesses work together. Resource exchange, disaster preparedness and response, and family tensions have all been examined.

How such family businesses give back to the community has been highlighted earlier. Recently a highlights newsletter has been distributed and a complete bibliography for the group can be found here.

Family businesses are key economic contributors. They not only feed the family that runs them but expands and enhances the local economy. Get to know your family business owners. See how your community and these businesses can work more closely together. 

Effective Employee Feedback

Good job sign

Photo (CC 2.0) by Steven Depolo, on Flickr

We all know that some guidance will help us to do our job more effectively and efficiently and in line with the needs of the company.

Yet most of us also know how nervous we get when its time for the annual appraisal. We are afraid of what we will hear and so we enter the conference room with our shields and rebuttals already in place and formulated.

And the person doing the evaluation may have had little support in providing effective feedback and also may find these conferences scary and perhaps of little value.

With this background, should we be surprised that the results are less than what we would hope for. A recent article confirms the idea that annual appraisals offer little in terms of results.

The University of Wyoming Extension’s, Enterprising Rural Families, looks at the issue of effective feedback in their July newsletter. Juliet Daniels, the author of the article, outlines the need to give feedback often, quickly and in private. She discusses the need to focus on observable behaviors, something that can be seen and something that can be changed. She gives the example of a “bad attitude.” This comment isn’t specific and may be something that the employer and employee see quite differently.

As you think about your employee development program or you work with small-business owners who are involved in such an activity, this newsletter offers some practical advice and a great background of effective feedback.

The goal is behavior change. Effective feedback can help make that happen.

Find the full article at: http://eruralfamilies.uwagec.org/Newsreleases/2016_07_NEWSLETTER.pdf 

Be a Destination

destination sign

Photo (CC) 2.0) by Mai Le, on Flickr

You probably have heard small-business owners talk about being a destination.  And you might have said to yourself that while it works for them, the type of store you have would never lend itself to that. But why let traditional thinking stand in your way?  This owner didn’t http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/convenience-store-owner/494756/

Support and Mentoring for Small-business Success: A Missouri Example

Success sogm

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

There is one truth about the small business segment. They rarely have all of the resources they need.

For them the practice of bootstrapping is an every day occurrence. And one way that many small-business owners use is finding mentors and technical assistance through networking.

In Missouri, one such resource is the University of Missouri Extension and their business development program. In addition to one-on-one assistance they have a monthly newsletter filled with news and alerts for the businesses they support. It also provides a calendar of upcoming events and funding opportunities.

Learning from other business owners is part of their effort as well. They support this by having two success stories in each addition. As you look through the stories, you will come away with tips and ideas used by other business owners; information that you might find helpful in your own business.

These same stories have a dual purpose in that they form a regular posting on the success of their work.

Keeping up with people who have come through their system takes time but the stories help other business owners as well as provide a story for the University of Missouri Extension.

So business owners, tune in and see what people like yourself are doing. And for Extension colleagues, get ideas on what you might try to help grow your small-business community.