Alexis Robin Master Life & Business Coach

Top 10 Business Tips for 2011
By Alexis Robin Master Life and Business Coach

I love the New Year because its a giant do over. I get to look back at what worked and what didnt and fix it all. Here are some things to help you get started. As with all my tips, take what works for you and leave the rest. Enjoy!

Get an intern and learn everything you can
In years past interns used to come to you to learn about savvy business techniques, operational excellence, and to gain the advice of a professional. Now the most successful business gurus are looking to the interns for lessons. Many recent college graduates have been exposed to a lot more technology than even a 30-year-old professional. Learning is a two way street, if you are just teaching the greenest member of your team, you are missing out on half of the benefits of having an intern.

Take turtle steps
Every year on January 1, you write down all of the things you will do better in your personal life this year only to chuck the list on January 15th. Leaders are no different. Youve thought up the most amazing new ideas for this year and then all at once in your “Executive Retreat” or “Team Meeting” you pitch every one of those ideas to the staff. They then look at you like a deer in headlights trying to remember what idea # two was, and wondering how theyll ever manage all of this and keep their day jobs. This year, pick your very favorite idea and set tiny goals to implement it. Save the rest for February, March or July. But only do this if you actually want employee buy in and want the goal to gain momentum.

Match skills with job duties
Understanding your strengths, and the strengths of your team or business partner can be your best competitive edge this year. When you can assess your team of 2 or 200 and place the detail people in the detail jobs and the social people in the customer service jobs your team will be exponentially more productive. If youre looking for a partner, find someone who has a different skill set vs. someone who is just like you; then divvy up the duties to the person who does it best.

Social Networking is not a dirty word
Fall in love with Facebook, it isnt going away and it can help you promote your business. There are great coaches, who will train you to tweet like a bird in spring or Link in, befriend and get a fan page. This type of marketing can be very inexpensive and effective across generations.

Ask for referrals
If you are in sales, asking for referrals can feel awkward if you have never practiced or developed a style that is comfortable for you. If youve got a happy client, chances are theyd be delighted to refer you. You must start by telling people whom you want to work with so they will know who refer to you.

Turn off your Blackberry
Setting boundaries between work and personal time will allow you to revive between workdays and stay productive. Those of you who check your Blackberry until 11pm generally wake up feeling diluted and sluggish as you start the workday. Tell me where Im wrong. To increase productivity and remain energized and efficient you must increase restfulness and play. If you embrace only one of these tips in 2010, make it this one. I promise youll see results immediately.

Take down the one-way signs
If 2009 has taught us anything, its that we are no longer doing “business as usual”. This year, take down the one-way signs and open up to new ways of doing things. If it seems crazy it might just work. Dont buy it? Enjoy the classic business book, Who Moved my Cheese, by Spencer Johnson MD.

Get to know your employees
Understanding your staffs dreams, goals and lifestyle will help you to manage them in a more effective way. What motivates your supervisors? What do your housekeepers dream about? Authentic understanding leads to employee loyalty, which results in less turnover, which means more money to your bottom line.

Experts dont make great managers
Have you ever promoted your star sales rep to director of sales only to be disappointed? How about the best engineer on the team to Chief Engineer? It makes sense to promote your top performers, but just make sure its the right job. Ensure that when you put someone into a management role its because they bring out the best in people, communicate openly, arent afraid to discipline or delegate and remain cool under pressure. Find yourself an expert leader not a leader whos an expert. You can find these things out by asking situational questions during the interview.

Understanding behavioral styles helps you sell more
You know how sometimes you sit down with a client and you immediately click and others are well, not so much more than a flat line? Its because we all have different behavioral styles. Are you a social butterfly? Do you cringe when you find a typo in an email? Do you loathe inefficiency? Do you have great ideas but never share them? Understanding your style and being able to pick up on your customers style will help you build a relationship and close the deal. DiSC is the tool that I use in my practice because its simple and easy to understand. There are many types of behavioral assessments, the key is to take one and start using what you find out to make a sale.

Make 2010 the year that your profits increase at the same rate as your powder days, mountain bike rides and your happiness.