Why Create Systems and Processes?

A lot more of us understand the benefits of delegation than are fully committed to it. I hear a lot of reasons for that, including the ones we’ve all heard: “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” or “Nobody can do it as well as I can,” or “It takes time to train these guys, and I don’t have time.”

There is some truth to all of those excuses, but the main reason we don’t delegate is that we don’t know how to get started writing good systems and processes.

Read More
Martin HollandComment
Four Words that Will Change Your Life

My client was on the phone with his inbound marketing advisor. 

“We need a sponsor,” the advisor said. “Who could we get to distribute our content that is well known in your target market?”

My client quickly named the most influential trade association in his industry.

“It would be great to get those guys. Everybody knows them, and everyone belongs to the association or at least attends their trade shows.”

Then came the four words: “Well, let’s call ‘em.”

Read More
Martin HollandComment
When it's Right to do the Wrong Thing

It takes courage to raise prices, and many of us are understandably reluctant to do it. I’ve heard many anecdotal stories about the dangers of price increases and lots of reasons to explain the reluctance to raise prices.

Both the stories and the rationale all boil down to one thing: We are scared we will lose sales if we raise our prices.

We don’t have to remain at the mercy of our competitors’ pricing strategies. Instead of relying on anecdotes and our assumptions about customers, we can test our pricing to find the upper limits. That’s the only way to know, yet I don’t recall ever meeting an owner who had systematically tested higher prices and measured the results.

Read More
Martin HollandComment
Using Numbers to Make Decisions - Key Performance Indicators

Edward Deming, one of the great thinkers in business management, is quoted as saying: “If you do not measure it, you cannot manage it.”* The corollary to that statement is: If we don’t manage it, everything that happens to us - good or bad - is an accident.

Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are the measurements Deming spoke of, and they are expressed in numbers, often in the form of ratios as “something per something.”  Some of us don’t like numbers, but stick with me because KPIs are critical to business success.   

Read More
Why You Shouldn't Talk to Your Customers

“So what’s the problem with getting the bids out?’ I asked.

“My customers! My team can handle all their issues, but customers always want to talk to me. In fact, since we’ve been talking, I got a message to call a guy back. Elizabeth said I was on the phone and tried to re-route the call, but he declined and wants me to call him back.

“I can’t afford to be rude and act like I’m blowing customers off, but it never stops. I can’t get anything done.”

Read More
Martin HollandComment
Why You Need a Business Coach in 2018

Change is inevitable, and it either happens to us or we influence events toward the change we want. Maybe we want relief from the tedious monotony, or the general angst, or the cash-flow or complaining customer, people issues, night-sweat worries of the status quo. On the other hand, maybe we’re doing okay, but we want to do better or to have the time and freedom to enjoy life.

Whatever our motives, as Thomas Jefferson said: “If we want something we have never had, we have to do something we have never done.”

Read More
Martin HollandComment
How to Use the DISC Personality Tests

Most of us have taken, or are at least have heard of, the DISC personality assessment. The results show a combination of personality traits that indicate our behavioral tendencies in different situations. 

Most of us who have taken the assessment find the results interesting if, for no other reason, than we enjoy learning about ourselves, but if we use it properly, we will find it to be much more than just entertainment.

Read More
Delegation Versus Abdication

The unwillingness - or inability - to delegate is a principle reason that fewer than 5% of the 28.8 million businesses in the United States ever reach $1 million in sales and fewer than 20% of them have even a single paid employee.

However, we can’t delegate by simply handing off authority and responsibility and instructing our teams to “figure it out.” Doing it right is a process.

Read More
How to Manage Client Expectations

We all know that the way to delight clients is to underpromise and overdeliver. But we also want the sale and are susceptible to overpromising in order to get it.

Overpromising doesn’t mean promising something we don’t intend to do - that’s lying. More often than not, overpromising is a sin of omission. We just don’t mention the bad stuff, and let stand the expectations they have conjured up in their imaginations. That’s true even when we don’t know exactly what those expectations are.

Read More
How to Hire the Right People in 2018

Jonathan: “You’d think he’d see the trash in the parking lot and pick it up.”

Me: “Why in the world would you think that? You hired him because he was the first guy through the door who would work for $11 an hour.”

If you're like most of us small business owners, you hate hiring new employees. Distractions and inconveniences make the hiring process itself annoying, but the real reason we hate it is that most new hires don't work out. It won't be long before, yet again, you'll know that they need to go. 

Read More
How to Evaluate an Income Producing Real Estate Investment

Virtually every business coaching client I’ve had is interested in outside investments. That’s no coincidence, because if they aren’t already interested, I encourage it.

The idea is to use the business to generate income, to use part of the income to build value in the business and part to build wealth outside the business. This is a great strategy for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it provides a hedge against the ups and downs of the business itself.

Read More
Easy Money: Merchant Loans and 2/10 Net Thirty Payment Terms

I suspect that most of us could use an extra $100,000 in cash.  It would sure be nice to have cash to pay down the line of credit, get current with suppliers, or catch up on payroll taxes. Access to easy cash makes so-named merchant loans pretty attractive.

You know the loans, they’re the ones where they make a few cursory checks of your credit score and bank statements then wire money directly into your account. Presto, cash problems resolved (for the time being anyway).

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? It is.

Read More
Martin HollandComment
A Warning for Black Friday 2017

As I type this, Black Friday is rapidly approaching with its stampeding hordes of bargain hunters kicking off the holiday shopping season by staying up all night to be first in line when doors open at 12:01 A.M. It’s exhausting, or at least that’s my impression. I can’t speak from experience because I don’t participate.

Read More
Break Even Analysis: What is it and Why it Matters

Break even sales is the point at which we’ve sold just enough to pay all of our expenses, with nothing left over for profit. In other words, it’s the point at which profit and loss equal exactly zero. It turns out that breakeven is among the most powerful tools we have for making management decisions.

I understand that a lot of us don’t like numbers, but these are just too important to ignore. If you plan on succeeding in business, suck it up. Sacrifice the few minutes it takes to understand.


Read More
Raising Cash for Growth

All of us in business owners are concerned with cash.

We are under constant pressure to balance a limited supply of cash with the seemingly unlimited demand from cash-consuming sinkholes such as operating expenses, accounts receivable and inventory - and that’s just normal operations.

Read More
Martin HollandComment
The Four Fundamentals of a Successful Business

All of us want to build a successful business, either to reach our potential or to reduce our suffering, or both. We all want to improve our companies, but few of us devote meaningful time or attention to doing it. 

First, we are so busy working in our businesses that we push it off to a “tomorrow’ that never comes, and second, we don’t really know how to go about it. 

Read More
Why Businesses Fail

You want to know why businesses fail? This is why. If this had happened last year when we were restructuring, it would have been the end of us.”


I was talking to a friend who owns an agency in Dallas. He had just dodged a potentially fatal bullet in the form of a sales tax audit, and he did it by writing a $32,000 check.

Read More
The Hidden Danger in Scaling Your Business

Me: “DO NOT BUY TRUCK.” It was my text to a client who was trying to scale his business. (He knew I was serious because I used all capital letters.)

Client: “Good price - need dependable truck for new hire.”

Me: “You have one - he can drive Ford you used to drive.”

Client, several hours later: “I bought truck.”

Me: ”I guess you’ll learn the hard way.”

Read More
Martin HollandComment