Marla Tabaka https://marlatabaka.com/ Business Coach Thu, 26 Jan 2023 16:23:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 https://marlatabaka.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/cropped-M-Favicon-32x32.png Marla Tabaka https://marlatabaka.com/ 32 32 You Don’t Need a Business Coach – Bullshift! https://marlatabaka.com/2023/01/26/you-dont-need-a-business-coach-bullshift/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=you-dont-need-a-business-coach-bullshift https://marlatabaka.com/2023/01/26/you-dont-need-a-business-coach-bullshift/#respond Thu, 26 Jan 2023 16:23:22 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61568 Final post in a 5-Part Series on Small Business Growing Pains from a Business Coach Perspective: Top 5 Leadership Growing Pains Seen by This Business Coach  You Don't Need a Business Coach – Bullshift! Oh, if I could count the times a thriving client has told me how hard it is to talk a fellow […]

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Final post in a 5-Part Series on Small Business Growing Pains from a Business Coach Perspective:
Top 5 Leadership Growing Pains Seen by This Business Coach 

You Don't Need a Business Coach – Bullshift!

Oh, if I could count the times a thriving client has told me how hard it is to talk a fellow business owner into contacting another business coach or me. Even after hearing that my client grew her business from low six figures to a multi-million-dollar business while engaged in coaching. It makes me sad because many more entrepreneurs would succeed if only they had a good coach or mentor at their side. Entrepreneurship is lonely!

After leaving the stage at a speaking event a few years ago, an audience member came up to me and said, “Y-D-K-W-Y-D-K, brilliant!”

Huh?

“Those six words will change my life,” she said.

I still needed to figure out what she was talking about. Finally, she said I had used the term, “You don't know what you don't know,” and that it had never dawned on her. There is so much she doesn't know, and she is critical of herself because of it. But of course, she doesn't even know what she doesn't know, but it's natural, and it's ok–there is an answer! So, she created the acronym as a reminder.

You can only get the answers if you know the questions to ask. How could this entrepreneur learn to become a leader and grow sales if she's never done it before? How could she learn to balance her life as an entrepreneur, mom, wife, friend, and daughter if she's never run a multiple six or seven-figure business before? How could she get out of her own way to realize there's another way to find the answers? She didn't have to know it all; how could she?

You don't know what you don't know–but your coach can teach you.

If you're like this audience member, who by the way became a successful client, and you've never scaled a company to this level before, there are countless things you don't know and wouldn't ever give a second thought to unless someone brought them into your purview. The in-depth, ongoing process of building a full-blown, thriving culture might be a good example. In coaching, you'll learn about things you've never even known to consider, and you'll have the support to step into a whole new world.

Growing entrepreneurs are challenged by things like:entrepreneur's challenges

  • Clarity and creating a long-term vision, goals, and plans.
  • How to manage an overwhelming workload and stress.
  • Moving from the self-employed space to the leadership role.
  • Understanding the difference between culture and brand identity and how to develop both.
  • Hiring for culture fit, not only skill.
  • Finding the financial means to hire staff.
  • How to handle difficult conversations.
  • The nuts and bolts behind converting your team from 1099 status to full-time employees.
  • When to hire an accountant, a lawyer, or other outside professional.
  • How to balance their life and personal needs with the demands of a growing business.
  • How to remove themselves from everyday operations.
  • Creating fee structures and policies, both internal and customer-facing.
  • How to manage guilt, low self-confidence, fear, and other common emotions.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg; every business owner is different in terms of personality, business experience, vision, and baggage from past experiences. There is magic in a good coach/client relationship. The simple act of externalizing your problems and ideas with someone who's experienced, who gets it, and who is a good listener makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.

Still not convinced? Take a moment to read one of my past articles, Should I Hire a Business Coach? 3 Signs That You're Ready. And remember this: A coach with integrity will not accept a client they don't believe they can help, including recouping the cost of coaching (in most cases). A conversation usually costs nothing, so it can't hurt. I'd love to hear from you, but mostly I would love for you to explore the idea—with me and/or other coaches. You deserve it!

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Culture Changes Might Mean Saying Goodbye to Original Employees https://marlatabaka.com/2023/01/05/culture-changes-might-mean-saying-goodbye-to-original-employees/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=culture-changes-might-mean-saying-goodbye-to-original-employees https://marlatabaka.com/2023/01/05/culture-changes-might-mean-saying-goodbye-to-original-employees/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2023 19:24:56 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61548 Part 4 of a 5-Part Series from a Business Coach Perspective: Top 5 Leadership Growing Pains Seen by This Business Coach  When original employees don’t adjust well to culture change, tough decisions lie ahead! You hired Sally 5 years ago, and she's been your righthand person, confidant, and friend. You are Sally were the company […]

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Part 4 of a 5-Part Series from a Business Coach Perspective:
Top 5 Leadership Growing Pains Seen by This Business Coach 

When original employees don’t adjust well to culture change, tough decisions lie ahead!

You hired Sally 5 years ago, and she's been your righthand person, confidant, and friend. You are Sally were the company culture. As you grow, you'll introduce automation and new team members and identify and document the processes and procedures for a stable growth strategy. Suddenly, you're not sitting elbow to elbow with Sally anymore. Other team members may be more experienced and qualified to contribute in ways that Sally only wishes she could. She may feel threatened and displaced, even angry.

I've seen business owners hold on to original team members to the point of the employee becoming a detriment to the company. Even though you've provided additional training and have had multiple reassuring discussions, some employees can't tolerate that they are no longer your one and only. Sadly, they may need to move on. Still, the thought of this difficult conversation leaves entrepreneurs with a great deal of guilt and worry about this now underperforming employee's future outside the company.

How to determine if a long-time employee is no longer a culture fit.

You'll usually see developing resistance and something resembling a temper tantrum or the cold shoulder treatment. I've seen original team members employ emotional manipulation to sabotage a growing culture and the newcomers contributing to it. This behavior comes from a place of fear and insecurity, which frankly might be warranted. Sally may have been your right-hand person, but now there's a good chance the company's needs have outgrown her skillset. Some may consider her ways “old school” at this point.

In my experience, most business owners do an excellent job of redefining this person's role, but the employee may need more than that. They no longer feel as important, capable, and significant to your success. Soon, you and your devoted employee are miserable, which takes a toll on you and your newer employees.

Unhappy employees are often unwilling to adapt their style or grow their skillset.

The employee stuck in the old way of thinking is performing tasks using outdated technology. When asked to upgrade their skills to adapt to new technology, they may rebel, saying their way has always worked just fine, so why fix it if it isn't broken?

Employees who feel left out and threatened may treat the newcomers rudely and attempt to sabotage their success. This behavior comes from a desire to prove their worth; to you, but also themselves.

You may feel that this employee has become suddenly needy. The truth is they miss being your confidant and spending hours a day with you. They may feel like a lackey as their duties are siphoned off and given to someone more qualified to meet your growing needs.

Is it time to say goodbye?New culture may mean letting go of longtime employees

In my experience as a business coach, it takes time for long-time employees who are stuck in their old-school ways to adapt to the changes brought about by company growth. It also takes a lot of patience and commitment from the founder.

Before you dismiss a once loyal employee who was critical to your success–and probably your sanity–make every attempt to include them in your developing culture and growth plan. Think about their qualities, what they love doing, and the areas where they thrive. Is there a place in the company where his or her skills, personality, and positive traits would be valued?

Could you allow this employee to be a part of the big-picture discussions? While you may now consider their skills outdated, the fact that they know you well and understand your idiosyncrasies (yes, we all have them) is valuable. Get creative, avoid typecasting, and discuss exciting options with your employee. Mostly though, give them time.

Then, if all else fails, the final ultimatum is presented: Find a home in this company or find what you deserve; a workplace that makes you happy.

There is one thing I can say for sure: If an original employee becomes miserable due to your growth strategy, they are as distraught about it as you are. If they are unbending, the healthiest, happiest opportunity for both of you is kindly letting them go their own way. I witness this frequently, and most of the time, both parties end up happy.

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How (and Why) to Build an Intentional Company Culture https://marlatabaka.com/2022/12/09/how-and-why-to-build-an-intentional-company-culture/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-and-why-to-build-an-intentional-company-culture https://marlatabaka.com/2022/12/09/how-and-why-to-build-an-intentional-company-culture/#respond Fri, 09 Dec 2022 17:08:38 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61541 Earlier this week, I shared my 51 Rules of Leadership Excellence. I put them in random order because they are equally critical to success, but Rule 11 begs further discussion: Consciously build a powerful company culture. Otherwise, it will build itself…and you will not like the results. One sign that you have allowed your company culture […]

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Earlier this week, I shared my 51 Rules of Leadership Excellence. I put them in random order because they are equally critical to success, but Rule 11 begs further discussion:

Consciously build a powerful company culture. Otherwise, it will build itself…and you will not like the results.

One sign that you have allowed your company culture to fall through the cracks is when you find yourself surrounded by customers and employees who aren’t on the same page as you are. This unhealthy environment creates stress and wreaks havoc on your business and well-being. If your stress is through the roof, it’s doubtful that an intentional and positive culture is intact.

What does it really mean to build a strong culture? For some entrepreneurs, the very word conjures up images of employees dancing on desks, playing pool in the break room, and napping away in comfy, soundproof enclosures. While fun may be one component of a thriving company culture, there's so much more to it.

If you want to stand out from your competition, keep your rock star talent from jumping onto another stage, and glean nothing but the best from employees at all levels, always remember Rule 11. Build a company culture based on your own values, but don't forget these 8 musts.

1. If you want to be trusted, you must trust.

A culture of mutual trust is imperative. If you behave like a helicopter parent, overseeing, or worse, taking over every project, it will directly conflict with building trust. What if they make a mistake? I think any successful entrepreneur will tell you that there is no mistake from which you cannot recover. Give your employees clear guidelines and let them spread their wings.

Also, always do what you say you will unless there’s a good reason not to. If an employee is due for a raise, give it to them on time. If you say you will have weekly team meetings, be there. If you promise the addition of a team member to lighten the load, make it happen.

2. Determine your purpose.

Everyone needs a purpose in their lives; this is just as true in businesses. The purpose is the “why” you are doing what you are doing. If your company's purpose is only about making money, employees won't stand behind it for long. If the purpose is compelling and gives them a great reason to work at your company, it will attract passionate employees who want to fulfill your company's purpose.

If you create a purpose that benefits humankind, not just your company, you will attract employees and retain them as well, which will produce the same effect on your customers.

3. Create a compelling vision.

If you don’t have a vision, you can’t get there. A compelling vision is short, clear, and achievable—albeit out of reach in the current moment.

For example, ex-Dunkin' Donuts CEO (and son of the company founder) Robert Rosenberg created this vision for Dunkin's future: “To become the dominant doughnut and coffee provider in each and every market” in which it competed.

Clear, concise, and probably achievable, but how? Metrics, KPI’s, and consistency.

The key is to sift through all the possible metrics and KPIs to determine the goals that most define success. Dunkin’s early objectives were:

  • To have earnings per share grow at 15-to-20 percent per year.
  • To have store-level economics achieve at least a 15-percent return on investment on average.
  • To have debt never total more than three times EBITDA.

The company measured plenty of other things, obviously. But those objectives mattered most. This meant other goals had to support those objectives, otherwise, they weren't important.

Do your best to make your vision short, memorable, and repeatable. Long or confusing paragraphs cannot guide employees' thoughts, decisions, or actions, mostly because they can't remember or repeat it.

4. Clarify the values within your company culture.

Values let your team and the outside world know what you are all about. To come up with your company's values first explore your own personal values and use those to create values to guide your company toward success. Avoid double-standards.

For instance, most entrepreneurs value freedom, both personal and financial. Yet, many don’t extend that value to their team. If you wish to be financially independent and have flexibility in your schedule, wouldn’t it make sense to extend the same opportunities to your team, within reason, of course. If financial freedom is important to you, pay your team well and you’re more likely to achieve the goal. They will be committed, hard-working, and focused. If your employees feel safe financially, it gives them one less thing to worry about so they can concentrate on their job.

You can have any number of values; it's up to you, but keep in mind that your values will direct the way you do things in the future, so choose wisely.

5. Create unique/WOW factors.

Unique/WOW factors for your company may be the single most important thing in business today. Why should anyone want to work with or buy from your company? What is unique or WOW about it? Does what you sell or deliver stand out from the rest?

Having a unique/WOW factor should not only be for what you sell, but how you deliver it. This is especially true for a commodity or a service, as in those cases what you sell may not be that unique in the first place. Be different! If everyone is building fences, dig a tunnel!

6. No jerks allowed.

I can't say this often enough: Hiring for skill alone will doom you to misery. Hire people who fit in with the intentional design of your culture. Hire people who have a proven work ethic and are team players. Hire for creativity and personality. Sure, experience and skill are important, but not nearly enough to take you to the top of your industry.

Create an interview process with questions that will compel your candidate to discuss their values, vision, skills, and professional and life experience. Don't rush through the search and hire process to get a warm body onboard; know your new hires.

7. Your company culture should encourage growth and ownership.

A strong company culture isn't just about teamwork and camaraderie; it's about encouraging your employees to see their job as more than just a job–to own their job and their ideas. Once you've built this collaborative, trusting environment, your employees will bring ideas to the table. If it's their idea, put them in charge of it! If an employee wants to learn something new, provide the support for them to do it. Today, innovative companies don't hire employees to remain in one job for an eternity; they hire innovators who will contribute to the future of the company in a powerful way.

8. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Poor communication issues are at the root of many failures and where I see entrepreneurs fail most often. You have a recipe for disaster when one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. But communication about processes and workflow aren't enough. Drill your values into your employees with ideas like those above and demonstrate them in your own behavior. Be authentic and, at times, vulnerable. If an employee isn't performing up to par, don't let your frustration and disappointment grow; engage in thoughtful conversations about it and create a plan for improvement. If an employee has a win, celebrate!

Building an outstanding culture is not an overnight event, and it's not always easy. You'll hit some bumps in the road; remember Rule number 6: Never forget that your team, not your product, not your bank account, is your number-one asset.

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51 Rules for Leadership Excellence https://marlatabaka.com/2022/12/06/51-rules-for-leadership-excellence/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=51-rules-for-leadership-excellence https://marlatabaka.com/2022/12/06/51-rules-for-leadership-excellence/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2022 22:14:03 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61532 Achieve the rank of a genuine leader when you live and lead by the leadership rules on this no-fail list. If you're familiar with the “head slap” made famous by NCIS character Leroy Jethro Gibbs, you know that this non-injurious action is usually meant as a reminder when a team member violates one of the Gibbs rules. Gibbs's rules […]

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Achieve the rank of a genuine leader when you live and lead by the leadership rules on this no-fail list.

If you're familiar with the “head slap” made famous by NCIS character Leroy Jethro Gibbs, you know that this non-injurious action is usually meant as a reminder when a team member violates one of the Gibbs rules. Gibbs's rules originated from his first wife, Shannon Gibbs when she told him at their first meeting that “Everyone needs a code they can live by.”

I have my own rules as well. I call them the Tabaka No-Fail Rules for Leadership Excellence. The Rules are born out of my personal and professional growth experiences and that of my clients. So much of the angst (and failure) that leaders experience is due to poor choices and a lack of clarity around values and vision. Much of their loss and regret could be prevented if business owners would carve out the time to identify their values, vision, and company culture.

So here, my friends, are my Rules. Live and lead by them, and the successful, influential trailblazer in you will take you far in life and business.

  1. Take responsibility; never, ever place blame elsewhere.
  2. If you want to control your future, let go of the control.
  3. Learn to be a strong communicator. No, this does not mean sending a lot of text messages.
  4. Listen, don't judge.
  5. Don't make excuses; when it comes to being a respectable leader, there are none.
  6. Never forget that your team, not your product, not your bank account, is your number-one asset.
  7. Give your team the tools and freedom to be extraordinary. There is no better investment.
  8. If you promise to do something, do it–and do it well.
  9. Let your ego know that it's really smart to surround yourself with people who know more than you do.
  10. To work with a coach or mentor is a sign of a successful mindset, not a weakness.
  11. Consciously build an intentional culture and powerful company culture. Otherwise, it will build itself…and you will not like the results!
  12. If you consistently work through the night, you're doing something wrong.
  13. Employee meetings are not a disruption, waste of time, or inconvenience. If you feel that way, it only means you don’t know how to run them.
  14. Never enter into a 50-50 partnership.
  15. Do not launch a product without doing market research that goes well beyond family and friends.
  16. Before you even think about stepping into a leadership role, define and understand your values. Otherwise, you have no road map to lead yourself or others to success.
  17. You are only as successful as you believe you are. Mindset is everything.
  18. Don't think your idea is excellent because you believe in it and have worked hard for it. It's only great if your customers believe in it too.
  19. Honesty is a code to live by; choose your words carefully.
  20. If you think it's time to quit, it probably is.
  21. Make friends with your numbers, even if you don't like them very much.
  22. Don't jump into a partnership because you're excited. Partner because you have a great idea, the combined skills to make it happen, and a viable plan in place. Then see a business lawyer.
  23. Always stay in check on social media. Yes, even on your personal accounts.
  24. Don't take advice from people who haven't been there, done it, and succeeded.
  25. Only borrow money from friends and family who are willing to lose every penny of it and not hold it against you.
  26. Build your personal brand even if you think you don't matter to your customers–because you do.
  27. Don't wear your overwhelming schedule as a badge of honor. Be proud when you can get everything done and have plenty of time to enjoy life.
  28. It's only a failure if you beat yourself up for it instead of learning from it.
  29. You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will.
  30. It's alright to have self-doubt. It's not alright to let it consume you.
  31. Experiencing fear is natural and normal. Allowing it to keep you from your dreams is just sad.
  32. Don't make the mistake of believing you can be a full-time parent and achieve your business success on the timeline of a single person.
  33. Stop saying there's never enough time; there is if you stop doing the things that a real entrepreneur doesn't do.
  34. Know your strengths, and don't dwell on your weaknesses. Just hire someone to fill in the gaps.
  35. If you believe you can't afford to do something to the betterment of your business, then you can't—and never will.
  36. When stress is getting the best of you, focus on helping someone else.
  37. The customer may always be right, but they are not your ideal customer if they cost you more than they pay you.
  38. There is nothing in the world worth missing your kid's birthday for.
  39. Only make friends with your employees if you can put on the boss hat and not feel guilty or uncomfortable in it.
  40. If you can't trust your employees, it's for one of two reasons: You are too controlling or don't know how to hire right.
  41. Ask interview questions that will tell you if your candidate is a good culture fit. Most skills can be taught. Personality, not so much.
  42. Take care of you first and you'll have the energy and clear-headedness to take good care of your company.
  43. Meditation isn't just for hippies anymore.
  44. Never forget the healing power of laughter.
  45. If you hold on to poor performers, you are the one who needs improvement.
  46. Don't exhaust yourself grabbing at nickels and dimes. Know where the real profit comes from.
  47. Always give back.
  48. If you're in it just for the money, you'll never know true success.
  49. Without a vision, you can't get there. But remember, your vision matures as you do.
  50. Angel investors aren't really angels.
  51. Don't shut off your emotions. They aren't in the way; they are there to help pave the way.

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8 Signs You’re a Perfectionist (and Why It’s Toxic to Your Mental Health) https://marlatabaka.com/2022/11/29/8-signs-youre-a-perfectionist-and-why-its-toxic-to-your-mental-health/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=8-signs-youre-a-perfectionist-and-why-its-toxic-to-your-mental-health https://marlatabaka.com/2022/11/29/8-signs-youre-a-perfectionist-and-why-its-toxic-to-your-mental-health/#respond Tue, 29 Nov 2022 18:18:59 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61528 Studies say that true perfectionists aren't trying to be perfect. They are avoiding not being good enough. People often confuse high-achieving behavior with perfectionistic behavior. High achievers are dedicated, determined individuals with a strong desire to accomplish something important to them. Their achievements are not about what others will think of them or a fear […]

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Studies say that true perfectionists aren't trying to be perfect. They are avoiding not being good enough.

People often confuse high-achieving behavior with perfectionistic behavior. High achievers are dedicated, determined individuals with a strong desire to accomplish something important to them. Their achievements are not about what others will think of them or a fear of failure; it's to gain personal gratification from their success. On the other hand, people who deem themselves perfectionists are not driven by the pursuit of perfection; the avoidance of failure drives them.rue perfectionists aren't trying to be perfect; they are avoiding not being good enough. This avoidance dictates much of their behavior, and it's linked to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and even suicide. Paul Hewitt, Ph.D., and psychologist Gordon Flett are two of the most respected researchers of perfectionistic behavior. They say that those who feel social pressure to achieve perfection tend to think that the better they do, the better they are expected to do. And so, the search for absolute perfection never ends.

Are you a high achiever or a perfectionist? Here are seven signs that your pursuit of perfection may put you at risk of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and, in extreme cases, suicidal thinking.

1. Despite your search for perfection, you never feel perfect.

Dr. Hewitt uses this example of a college student who is also one of his patients and how the student viewed his success. The student was convinced he needed an A+ in a particular course, so he studied hard and aced the class. However, the student became even more depressed and suicidal than he was prior to the end of the semester. “He told me that the A+ was just a demonstration of how much of a failure he was,” says Hewitt. The student argued that if he were perfect, he wouldn't have had to work so hard to get an A+.

2. As a perfectionist, you cannot accept and celebrate your success.

It's never good enough, so you get sucked so far into the details that you become frustrated–even angry. Even when your goal is complete and results in success, you believe you could and should have done it better.

Perfectionists don't acknowledge their wins to the extent of feeling the joy and satisfaction of a job well done. Instead, they find flaws in how they (or others) executed the project. There is always something wrong, even though the outcome is exactly what they wanted.

3. You don't allow yourself any mistakes.

While an individual with a healthy mindset allows for mistakes, an extreme perfectionist doesn't forgive their mistakes. Instead of viewing them as a learning opportunity, you criticize and put pressure on yourself for not predicting a less-than-perfect outcome. You feel inadequate, even stupid, and these feelings preoccupy your mind, often to the point of losing all productivity.

4. You put up a front, insisting everything is perfect.

Perfectionists are intensely afraid of being judged by others. They often want the outside world to view them as being perfect and making perfection easy. Even when your world is a disaster zone, you put up a front to lead others to think it's all just perfect.

5. You avoid taking on challenges that may cause you to fail.

Perfectionists like to stick with what they know. If you're presented with an opportunity that means you'll have to develop more skills or move outside of your comfort zone, you're likely to turn it down. You're afraid you're not smart enough to tackle a new learning curve and will be seen as a failure or let down someone.

6. You believe that your likeability is linked to being perfect.

Personality and positive qualities like honesty, compassion, humor, etc., aren't what perfectionists believe people will like about them. It's not enough to be a wonderful person; you must be perfectly wonderful. You don't allow others to see your flaws, and you most likely talk about your achievements but never your failures.

7. Your life doesn't satisfy you.

Perfectionists cope well in a low-stress environment–so as long as nothing challenges you, you're fine. When was the last time you weren't challenged by life? Right, because nothing is perfect. When life seems unsettled to you, it presents a problem. Anxiety often increases, which offers the illusion that nothing is going well, thereby decreasing life satisfaction.

8. You need help with getting things done on time.

Since perfection is an illusion, the pursuit of perfection is never complete, and neither are your projects. You may get things done, but you constantly battle the decisions and motivation to complete certain things. The “what ifs” and expectation of a negative consequence or result preoccupies you, and the pressure can be overwhelming.

Can you overcome the seemingly never-ending pursuit of perfection?

There's nothing we can't overcome if we put our minds to it. Pay attention to these situations if you occasionally insist on perfection, but it causes excessive stress. I suggest journaling about them to find the shared link. The awareness alone will help you get to the core and figure out what it's all about. Observe how others accept themselves, flaws and all, and assign yourself a few virtual mentors to follow. Learning how successful people built upon their failures instead of hiding from them will help get things into perspective.

Hewitt and Flett say that perfectionism is a risk factor for psychological disorders–not a disorder itself. If it leads to depression, anxiety, or other exhausting mental states, therapy can help. Yes, you can develop a healthy mindset and make life much easier and more rewarding for yourself.

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How Solid Are Your Leadership Skills? Review Your Leadership Mindset https://marlatabaka.com/2022/11/29/how-solid-are-your-leadership-skills-review-your-leadership-mindset/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-solid-are-your-leadership-skills-review-your-leadership-mindset https://marlatabaka.com/2022/11/29/how-solid-are-your-leadership-skills-review-your-leadership-mindset/#respond Tue, 29 Nov 2022 14:18:50 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61519 Part 2 of a 5-part Leadership series. (If you missed Part 1, see it here.) You launched your company, how long ago now? And you've spent much of that time doing whatever it takes to grow the customer list, sell, and deliver. But lately, you've realized you're not getting beyond the point of making just […]

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Part 2 of a 5-part Leadership series. (If you missed Part 1, see it here.)

You launched your company, how long ago now? And you've spent much of that time doing whatever it takes to grow the customer list, sell, and deliver. But lately, you've realized you're not getting beyond the point of making just enough money to survive if you're lucky. The good news is that if you're making just enough, there's probably a market for what you do. The bad news is that if you continue to mop the floors, you won't grow much—as a leader or a company.

This realization is one reason that drives many business owners to seek me out as a life and business coach. Odds are, you're a natural-born leader, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot to learn. It's one thing to operate your company and quite another to take it to the next level with solid leadership skills. Let's look at some of the common stumbling blocks I encounter with the founders who are ready for a change but aren't making it happen.

Business owners who are stuck believe they can't afford to hire.

I always say, “If you believe it, it's true!” I have yet to coach someone who couldn't afford a new hire. That's because, together in coaching, we quickly identify creative ways to secure the ongoing funds for a new hire.

You create a game plan when you work with a business coach. You'll have a growth strategy, and when you bite the bullet and hire someone to do the work that takes up much of your time, you'll be free to bring in new business. However, if you transfer your time from one mundane task to another, you'll fail. You must have a plan to increase the company's profits before outsourcing or making a hiring decision. Sometimes the answer lies as close to your existing client list, a company or individual willing to increase their spending. Don't hesitate to go after this low-hanging fruit; all they can do is say yes or no.

Get an employee training process in place.

Before you delegate anything, have a training process in place. If the work that keeps you from growing your business is computer-related, record your screen as you go through each step of every process. Find a way to easily document the work you do and use this documentation in your training. Your new employee can do the work to make it pretty, so don't worry about how it looks.

Be courageous about delegation.

Your new people are more likely to do things differently than you and less likely to do it all wrong, which is what most entrepreneurs fear. Different isn't bad if it gets the same or better results. If they make mistakes, correct them. Yes, it is that easy. Time-consuming? Sometimes, but in the long run, not so much. This mental adjustment is one of the most challenging for entrepreneurs. I hear it all the time, “By the time I teach someone else to do this, I could have done it myself.” Oh sure, that's true, but how often do you want to repeat tasks that don't grow your business? Bite the bullet, do some excellent training, and let these jobs go.

Leadership means building a team you can trust.

Whether you hire one or multiple people to help you grow, they must be the right people. It's one thing to outsource small tasks or hire a bookkeeping service, but you must select your team members carefully.

The biggest problem with new business coaching clients who already have people on board is that the founder hasn't developed a desirable culture before onboarding. We'll get into some of the nuts and bolts of this in the culture development article two weeks down the road, but for now, suffice it to say that you need to hire people whose values coincide with your own. company culture

If, for instance, you want an organization where people feel fulfillment in their work, but you hire someone who wants to punch the clock for the paycheck, neither of you will be happy. Work with your business coach to identify the core values to introduce into your company culture and create an interviewing process that explores the values of your applicants. When your people possess values that identify closely with your own, you will build mutual trust and respect.

Great leaders mentor their employees.

Some entrepreneurs have strong opinions in opposition to mentoring employees, to the point where they call it babysitting, which they claim they don't have time for. I assure you that mentoring your employees will substantially increase retention and job satisfaction. Solid mentorship opportunities will attract high-potential job candidates eager to learn and advance. As you lead and mentor your employees, you will notice that sales growth and other goals are achieved faster. And lastly, things will be done right, which brings us full circle to why you probably don't want to delegate in the first place—a fear of things not being done correctly. Teaching and guiding your employees is the only way to guarantee your desired results.

Set mutually agreed-upon goals for your employee(s), and don't let those targets linger in the ether. Do brief weekly and longer monthly meetings with your team members to review and guide them. This time will come back to you tenfold.

Hire slow, fire fast.

Hire slow. Have a process that will help you locate, interview, and onboard individuals who will contribute talent, skill, and positivity to your culture. If hiring for a critical position, take your top candidates to dinner or another activity. Invite their significant other, even their kids. Talk about hobbies and interests outside of work. Make sure your values are aligned.

Fire fast. Again, do what it takes to train, support properly, and mentor your employees. When they make mistakes, review them honestly and restate your expectations. If costly mistakes continue, it's time to let go.

One bad apple can spoil the whole team. It's not easy to let go of an underperformer or someone with a negative attitude, but these characteristics are toxic and contagious. Whether it's due to attitude or poor performance, don't be afraid to fire someone. I've seen entrepreneurs hold on to a poor fit out of fear, which never bodes well for the company.

Are you afraid that you'll get stuck doing the work? That you won't be able to find a replacement? Perhaps it's simply conflict avoidance on your part. If that's the case, know this: If you have an employee who is a poor culture fit and an underperformer, it inevitably means they too are unhappy. Everyone will find happiness on the other side of their walking papers.

Practice what you preach.

As you grow your culture (more on this later in this series), you will identify values that the company and your team live by. Let's say you have a value such as flexibility, which might mean your team can work with some flexibility and your company is flexible in resolving your clients' issues. Now let's say that you are inflexible and narrow-minded; your team and clients will become frustrated and eventually leave.

A little bit of tough love here. If you experience resistance, poor attitude, and unsatisfactory performance in a team member you've carefully selected, look in the mirror first. Most often, the leader fails, not the employee who was once the perfect fit for the job. Have you been embodying your own company culture? Have you been living up to your standards, keeping your promises, and demonstrating positive values to your team and customers?

Be a decision-maker and take inspired action.

Creative and driven employees and expectant customers want to see your products and services evolve. Too many entrepreneurs have let great plans and ideas stagnate and die. I suggest a quarterly off-site, whether it's with employees, your coach, or just you, to review growth goals and any changes that will lead to better efficiencies and an improved work environment.

There are times when circumstances prevent business owners from achieving specific goals, but most often, procrastination and fear-related issues stop us in our tracks. If you are indecisive or don't have your priorities in order, your behavior will be reflected in your team's performance.

Leaders have an appreciation for learning. Build time into your schedule to read, listen to podcasts, work with a coach, and travel to conferences. Primarily, be open to feedback and embrace change. I've never worked with an entrepreneur who does these things and still fails.

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Top 5 Leadership Growing Pains Seen by This Business Coach https://marlatabaka.com/2022/11/15/top-5-leadership-growing-pains-seen-by-this-business-coach/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=top-5-leadership-growing-pains-seen-by-this-business-coach https://marlatabaka.com/2022/11/15/top-5-leadership-growing-pains-seen-by-this-business-coach/#respond Tue, 15 Nov 2022 14:49:37 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61498 PART 1 of a 5-Part Series from a Business Coach Perspective Is there such a thing as a natural-born leader? Can leadership be taught? The answer is yes to both of those questions, but even a natural-born leader has much to learn. Your business coach is an excellent place to turn. As a life and […]

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PART 1 of a 5-Part Series from a Business Coach Perspective

Is there such a thing as a natural-born leader? Can leadership be taught? The answer is yes to both of those questions, but even a natural-born leader has much to learn. Your business coach is an excellent place to turn.

As a life and business coach, I work primarily (but not exclusively) with entrepreneurs positioned to grow their companies from six to seven-figure businesses, but it’s just not happening. I find my work to be gratifying and sometimes quite exciting! When a small business owner suffers and struggles, they aren’t living the life they deserve and crave. When the entrepreneur enters a successful business coaching relationship, that life reveals itself; it’s fascinating to witness how things change as their world evolves.

What many candidates for business coaching aren't prepared for is the personal and leadership growth that comes with business growth. Many of the beliefs and practices that worked well when it was just you and perhaps a couple of part-time employees won’t contribute to the future growth of your company.

There are new challenges at every bend in the leadership journey, which most often lead to enriching growth experiences. Below are some initial growing pains I commonly see in entrepreneurs seeking to build their companies into the beautiful vision that was once a dream.

Over the next few weeks, I will explore each of these issues at a deeper level. I’ll offer you my best business coach advice to equip and inspire you to grow your business to the next level. For now, here’s an overview.

1. The founder struggles to grow from employee to leader.

It’s all on you. You’ve rolled up your sleeves and done everything from answering the phones to delivering your product and services. But how can you expand your marketing, attend conferences, develop new products or services, and implement growth strategies if you’re busy doing things that are, frankly, not the job of a CEO?

It’s time to build a team and one that you can learn to trust. As you may know, trust can be a big issue for entrepreneurs, and understandably so. You’ve nurtured your “baby” all on your own, and now you’re dissecting it to share the responsibilities with others who may do things differently. They may even screw it up totally! This stage is where you’ll benefit from knowing that, at the employee level, there are very few mistakes from which your company won’t recover. Delegate and train accordingly. Only then will you have the freedom to step into the shoes of a true leader.

In the upcoming series, I’ll touch on the growing pains involved in becoming a leader to new employees and employees who “knew you when.”

2. New leaders need help to determine when and where to invest.

Money is still tight at this stage, so a misstep can be devastating. Do you hire employees, get a larger space, invest in software and equipment, or spend real money on marketing? There is a delicate balance among the choices since you must have the revenue stream to support ongoing expenditures (like payroll or rent), and there is no guarantee of that happening. This decision process involves careful planning, projections, and a leap of faith.

Entrepreneurs at this stage often believe they don’t have the money to scale. If you believe that, well then, it’s true! It’s not difficult to “find” the money to hire a contractor or two, or even an employee when the time is right. Without this support, you’ll most likely remain precisely where you are. A support team is typically the first place you’ll spend your dollars. We’ll look at that closely when I expand on this thought.

3. New leaders usually botch their company culture.

I always say,

“If you don’t build an intentional culture, it will build itself–and you will not like the results!”

company culture

One sign that you have allowed your culture to fall through the cracks is when you find yourself surrounded by customers and employees who aren’t on the same page as you are. This unhealthy environment creates stress and wreaks havoc on your business and well-being. If your stress is through the roof, it’s doubtful that an intentional culture is intact.

Honestly, most clients who begin working with me don’t even understand what culture is all about. This is one of the most exciting pieces to helping entrepreneurs achieve their long-term goals. We get to uncover your most treasured values and create the foundation upon which each building block of your business will sit. My clients learn things about themselves they’ve never realized, and the company grows to reflect its founder in the most meaningful ways.

I’ve got some great culture-building strategies and insights for you – coming soon!

4. Employees don’t always adjust well to change – tough decisions lie ahead!

This one ties into the whole culture topic for companies that already have employees onboard when they begin working with their business coach. One of the growing pains we often encounter in the coaching process is the realization that long-time employees are resistant to change and may no longer be a good fit for the organization. Ouch! You know their families—they may even be people you consider friends. In some cases, they are family!

Employees who “knew you when” often don’t adapt well when you become less hands-on. They may be more accustomed to having a say or being a part of your decision-making process. It’s not that your employees become less critical; it’s that your inner entrepreneur will surface as you grow your business (especially with a good coach at your side), and you’ll make decisions that your team doesn’t agree with or understand. Roles and responsibilities change, and we all know how difficult change is for some people. Sometimes, these facts drive a wedge that is difficult to maneuver around between the founder and the employee.

And yes, sometimes all of this means the employee leaves or is let go from the company, but here’s the good news: everyone is happier in the end. I see these past employees thrive as they enter a new stage of their professional growth. And the entrepreneurs, no longer hindered by the challenges of having a nay-sayer on board, also thrive.

5. You don’t know what you don’t know–but your business coach can teach you.

This is a big one. You’ve never done this before; how can you possibly know what to do as a leader? I believe true leaders have an innate ability to lead, but still, there’s so much to learn! And budding leaders often need “permission” to make the choices because sometimes these choices contradict everything you’ve been doing up to this point. You’ve been working non-stop, and now you’re thinking about taking a week off to go to a leadership conference in another state? Unheard of! But yes, leaders need education, inspiration, encouragement, and camaraderie.

You’ve never scaled a company to this level before, so there are countless things that you don’t know and wouldn’t ever give a second thought to unless someone brought them into your purview. The in-depth, ongoing process of building a full-blown, thriving culture might be a good example. In coaching, you’ll learn about things you’ve never even known to consider, and you’ll have the support to step into a whole new world. We’ll talk about some of those things toward the end of this series.

I hope you’ll stay with me over the next few weeks as we explore these topics at a deeper level. Questions? Is there something you’d like me to address in this series? Please feel free to contact me here or send them to me at marla@marlatabaka.com.

I look forward to supporting you during this very exciting time of growth!

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4 Reasons Your Partner Isn’t Fully Supportive of Your Dreams (and What to Do About It) https://marlatabaka.com/2022/10/21/4-reasons-your-partner-isnt-fully-supportive-of-your-dreams-and-what-to-do-about-it/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=4-reasons-your-partner-isnt-fully-supportive-of-your-dreams-and-what-to-do-about-it https://marlatabaka.com/2022/10/21/4-reasons-your-partner-isnt-fully-supportive-of-your-dreams-and-what-to-do-about-it/#respond Fri, 21 Oct 2022 14:20:02 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61476 Since your passion is core to who you are, it's hurtful when someone you love isn't fully supportive of your dreams and endeavors. It's more common than you may believe; spouses, partners, friends, and relatives can be brutal when it comes to supporting entrepreneurs in their dreams. Keep the faith, it's not impossible to meet in […]

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Since your passion is core to who you are, it's hurtful when someone you love isn't fully supportive of your dreams and endeavors. It's more common than you may believe; spouses, partners, friends, and relatives can be brutal when it comes to supporting entrepreneurs in their dreams. Keep the faith, it's not impossible to meet in the middle–or to win them over entirely.

Here's what may be going on, and how you can make it better.

1. Others don't understand the entrepreneurial mindset.

Let's face it, entrepreneurs are a breed unto themselves. You are willing to take emotional and financial risks to attain the dream. You strive for freedom but often work sixty-plus hour weeks. The passion runs so deep that others can't possibly know how it feels.

Entrepreneurs frequently tell me how much they love their partner and friends, but people who don't relate to an entrepreneurial mindset may not be able to support you as you like and need.  You may be looking in the wrong place for the camaraderie and encouragement you seek from those in your personal life.

Solution: Find like-minded supporters

Spend time with other entrepreneurs. There are groups out there for almost any interest. Sharing stories, brainstorming, and lending your expertise will give you a dose of the mental and emotional stimulation you crave. The assistance of a great coach or mentor is strongly advised to aid you in creating this balance.

2. They feel robbed of your attention.

The important people in your life may feel deprived of your attention. It's tough to admit this, so they may cite something else as the problem, become argumentative, or go into avoidance mode. This creates confusion because you can't possibly find a solution to a problem that you haven't properly identified.  Oftentimes, loved ones will say they support you, but their actions don't match their words. This is particularly true if your attention is lopsided, in favor of your business. Sometimes things get so bad at home that the entrepreneur hides behind the business to avoid facing the issues at home or in their friendships.

Solution: Create balance and avoid making promises you may not be able to keep.

Broken promises are a brutal blow to our loved ones and will cause their feelings to deepen with disappointment. Have you told your significant other that the business won't disrupt your household or relationship? You know that's not true. Do you break your plans or constantly run late? That gets old after a while so your partner is bound to feel let down and annoyed.

If you find yourself begging forgiveness for broken promises, then something must change.  Be honest, realistic, and forthright rather than avoiding the truth in fear of backlash or disappointing them. It's only fair that they know what they're dealing with. Learn to work on your business instead of in your business and create processes to expedite and organize things so you can spend more time with your loved ones. You might find they become more supportive when they don’t feel second to your business.

3. They are more risk-averse than you are.

When entrepreneurs sink time and money into a business it changes the financial landscape of the household. Savings decrease, debt increases, and lifestyle luxuries go by the wayside. Your partner may be focused on dollars in the bank today, while you're focused on a larger fortune down the road.  Spouses sometimes feel resentful, especially if they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your dream may require them to work harder to make ends meet, placing the burden of financial survival on their shoulders while you “squander away the money.”

Solution: Have a solid financial plan and share it with them.

Many entrepreneurs begin their businesses as a sole proprietor. As things grow and problems arise (because they will), it's difficult to slow down enough to create a plan. A business without a plan leads to a lack of clarity and direction. I'm not a fan of full-blown business plans unless an investor is involved, but a basic financial forecast and growth strategy is a must. These plans will help those who love you feel more secure about your investment.

4. They are afraid for you.

No one who loves you wants to see you hurt. While they may not understand your vision and commitment, they do understand how much it means to you. They probably hear about your concerns, but do you communicate your positive development and wins? You may feel like you've got this, but they cannot be inside your head, so they don't feel as confident as you do. This doesn't mean they don't believe in you; they just don't see the big picture as you do.

Solution: Be conscious of how you communicate.

Sometimes it feels good to vent–to express your fears and unburden yourself when things aren't going well. So, you dump on your loved one and leave them feeling your pain. It's good to vent but make sure it's balanced by expressing a positive outlook or something that will help to resolve their concern. Of course, they will worry for and about you. Many entrepreneurs have come to me after years of using their spouse as a sounding board, only to realize it's ineffective and stressful for both parties. Again, a coach or someone else who can fill this role is a good way to go. Not to exclude others, but to balance the load.

One more important note: Never make assumptions about the meaning behind your loved one's seemingly negative actions. Reading messages into another's behavior is a fine way to create unnecessary trouble for the relationship. The key to success and feeling supported is to communicate clearly and to remember that support is a two-way street

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How About 365 Vacations This Year? Here’s How–and Why https://marlatabaka.com/2022/10/14/how-about-365-vacations-this-year-heres-how-and-why/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-about-365-vacations-this-year-heres-how-and-why https://marlatabaka.com/2022/10/14/how-about-365-vacations-this-year-heres-how-and-why/#respond Fri, 14 Oct 2022 14:46:06 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61462 When your time belongs to something else—work, parenting, caregiving, your business—it can seem as though you’re trapped inside of someone else’s agenda. Entrepreneurs easily fall into this cycle, sacrificing themselves and their time to long-term goals and the needs of others. If you’re not careful, the daily stress of giving yourself away begins to diminish […]

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When your time belongs to something else—work, parenting, caregiving, your business—it can seem as though you’re trapped inside of someone else’s agenda. Entrepreneurs easily fall into this cycle, sacrificing themselves and their time to long-term goals and the needs of others. If you’re not careful, the daily stress of giving yourself away begins to diminish any sense of self and well-being.

I recall my twenty-plus years of working in corporate: a fifteen-minute drive to the train followed by a forty-minute train ride into the city, then a brisk twenty-minute walk from Chicago’s Union Station to work. The commute was filled with paperwork and scheduling so I could lessen the load before a hectic 8 to 10 hours in the world of local news. At last, I followed the routine of my reverse commute home to my kids for the few short hours we had together.

I loved my job, and being a mom, but what I didn’t love was the feeling of being lost inside the mechanics of every task-filled day. I rarely stilled my mind to capture the most important moments in life, or to create a space that felt like mine, because I belonged to everyone else. I never stopped to realize that I was lost, that there was something inside of me that felt unsatisfied—until one early morning when I missed my train, which left me with a rare twenty minutes to do nothing.

I felt nearly giddy with the anticipation of a precious few silent moments to myself. I randomly strolled across to a little coffee house where patrons cheerfully bantered with the fun-loving proprietors while in line for their lattes and mochas. “Oh my! A cinnamon scone,” I thought. “Dare I? Oh sure, it was a special day.”

A special day? Why? It hit me then that treating myself to a few laughs with strangers, a fresh cup of coffee, and a cinnamon scone filled me with giddy anticipation of the next moment, and the next. I took my warm coffee and scone to a park bench and savored them, along with the joy that filled my heart as I noticed, for the first time, the beautiful fall colors that had begun to tinge the leaves of the old oaks. “I feel like I’m on vacation,” I thought blissfully. I went to work that day with more emotional and physical energy than I’d had in a while, with a bit more spirit in my step.

That evening I journaled about my mini-vacation experience, and I found it so meaningful that it was decided, then and there, that I would “put a little vacation in every day.”

Put a little vacation in every day.Vacation for Entrepreneurs

So, what does that really mean? Missing your train, or a meeting, so you can sit idly in a park warming your hands on a cup of joe? What if it wasn’t that random? What if, without sacrifice, you could escape the everyday demands to capture time for yourself? To connect with yourself and your surroundings in a way that eludes you on a typical day? To stop and smell the roses, as they say.

It sounds like too little to mean a lot.

Too good to be true? You may ask, how can 5 or ten minutes make a difference in the way I feel? What might this do for your well-being, health, and spirit?

  1. Let’s look at the more practical side of this concept first. Research tells us that taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5–60 minutes) to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus. This is especially true during periods of intense concentration, like study and work projects. Short breaks will give you more time to do other things because they will make you more efficient and accurate.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the more meaningful side of taking your little vacation breaks.

  1. Purposeful mini-breaks can change the way you think. This is what I call, Bullshift™.

Bullshift™ – verb [bool-shift] – To shift your brain away from negative thoughts and beliefs (i.e., bullsh!t) to supportive, joyful, productive, thoughts.

When we don’t have time to ourselves to just “be,” much of life’s more meaningful content gets swept under the rug. We neglect to find gratitude and appreciation for the good stuff and tend to focus on the more stressful aspects of our day-to-day life. Your mind is like your body, it becomes what you feed it. We must nourish our brains with positive thoughts, intent, and beliefs to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.

When you take yourself away from the hustle for a few minutes spend that time finding the good: breathe deeply, look for something beautiful in your surroundings, notice the feel and scent of the air, savor the taste of something delicious, or observe an exchange between happy individuals. These simple actions will reinforce new neural pathways in your brain that eventually become automatic. Translation: You are teaching your brain to default to a positive attitude!

A little vacation in every day has become second nature to me, and I hope it does for you as well. Negativity is exhausting! When we can teach our brains to find the positive, even during difficult times, life is more fulfilling and hopeful. Rather than allowing daily demands to deplete you, capture something special in your day to make it yours, because you deserve it!

January is right around the corner and that means new beginnings, new goals, new hopes, and dreams. Join my Group Coaching Program, BullShift! to make it all happen!

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5 Growth-Stunting Habits You Must Stop Doing Now https://marlatabaka.com/2022/07/14/5-things-entrepreneurs-must-stop-doing-now/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-things-entrepreneurs-must-stop-doing-now https://marlatabaka.com/2022/07/14/5-things-entrepreneurs-must-stop-doing-now/#respond Thu, 14 Jul 2022 16:38:18 +0000 https://marlatabaka.com/?p=61398 I’ve invested twenty years of my life delving into the mindset of entrepreneurs around the world. I’ve learned an incredible amount about founders and myself as well. Whether my client lives in Paris, Sydney, or New York City, they aren’t exempt from the most common mistakes, limiting beliefs, or unhelpful habits that keep entrepreneurs from […]

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I’ve invested twenty years of my life delving into the mindset of entrepreneurs around the world. I’ve learned an incredible amount about founders and myself as well. Whether my client lives in Paris, Sydney, or New York City, they aren’t exempt from the most common mistakes, limiting beliefs, or unhelpful habits that keep entrepreneurs from reaching their goals.

Here are the issues I see most often; however, I could list many more! If you recognize any of these tendencies in yourself, you should first know that you’re not alone! The second thing to know is that your business can and will grow if you conquer the inclinations that hold you back.

1. STOP ignoring your numbers.

Numbers are the one thing in life that tell an accurate, consistent story. If your business is struggling, it is certainly easier to ignore the financial facts, but number anxiety and avoidance only create a deeper abyss between you and your success. I’ve had clients who can’t even tell me what it costs to run their business or how much money they have in the bank. There is no shame in this; I get it, but unawareness of these facts is damaging, and the pain of not knowing is usually more profound than the truth behind your numbers.

Bite the bullet. Hire a bookkeeper or accountant and get your books in order. Organizing and understanding your numbers will give you a roadmap for your next steps and help you understand where to put your focus.

2. STOP doubting yourself.

Confidence is at the core of success; self-doubt is your greatest saboteur. It’s natural for confidence to ebb and flow, but if you get stuck in a loop of negative thinking and a lack of confidence, it will undoubtedly hold you back. So what if you fail at something? That’s how we learn and gain wisdom. Have the courage to fail and put the lion’s share of your focus on your many positive achievements.

3. STOP holding on to employees who don’t perform.

You believe it’s easier to have a warm body than to take the time to locate, hire and train a new employee, right? That belief is so, so wrong! I’ve worked with many business owners who’ve made this mistake. When they finally agree to take the leap and let go of an underperforming employee, they berate themselves for not doing it sooner. If the employee is well-meaning, it is even more difficult because now the entrepreneur feels terrible about letting them go. Most people don’t know that if a team member can’t keep up for any reason, they are as unhappy as you are. Release them, free yourself from a damaging situation, and you will both be much happier.

4. STOP accepting clients who are not on brand.

An essential part of your brand is knowing your ideal client. If you’re not clear on that, it would be wise to make it your next priority. Market only to that niche, and don’t step outside of it because you need the money because fear-driven decisions will always backfire. These clients will cause problems, you may not be able to meet their expectations, you won’t enjoy the work, and it will consume more time, keeping you from your ideal clients.

5. STOP avoiding growth strategies.

If you’re putting out fires, working on non-revenue producing tasks, and engaging in what we call, productive procrastination, you will notachieve revenue-generating growth. Such procrastination is usually a consequence of confusion, uncertainty, and fear, not a condition. Your first step is to separate revenue-generating action steps from tasks that are not the work of an entrepreneur. If you must do these other tasks (that’s a whole separate issue), schedule two hours of uninterrupted time to dedicate to them as often as needed throughout your week. Spend the remainder of your day, once again uninterrupted, being an entrepreneur. No excuses, no procrastination.

What’s next?

How can you gain clarity and find solutions to the issues that stand between you and your dreams of further success? It’s unlikely that you’ll do it alone. The good news is you can absolutely make it happen.

Most people believe it’s about buckling down, determination, and struggle. It doesn’t have to be this way. Hire a great coach. Work on yourself first, then your business, not the other way around. It’s your mindset that’s holding you and millions of other entrepreneurs back from the ultimate dream of freedom and happiness. And that, my friend, can be resolved.

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