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Maurice Sardison, Director of Sardison Capital Shares 5 Business Tips To Help Small Businesses


Maurice Sardison, Director of Sardison Capital Shares 5 Business Tips To Help Small Businesses

#1 Family Businesses Have to Define What Success Looks Like


Privately held family businesses have a lot of freedom to define success. Yet many founders and owners aren’t clear about exactly what they want their company to achieve, which leads to conflicting priorities and unclear decision making. Ask yourself whether you are most interested in growth (maximizing the financial value of the business), liquidity (generating cash flow for use outside of the business), or control (retaining decision-making authority). Achieving all three goals is difficult, if not impossible, so you’re better off focusing on one or two. Think carefully about why you started the company and which of the three goals are most aligned with your objectives. And don’t forget to revisit your choices as things change, whether they’re external factors like the economy or internal factors like a shift in senior management. What worked well in one environment can be a disaster in another. This tip is adapted from “Every Business Owner Should Define What Success Looks Like,” by Josh Baron and Vlad Barbieri


#2 There are 4 Ways for Coaches and Consultants to Price Their Services


There are many ways for coaches and consultants to price their services. The simplest is to bill hourly, which is useful when you don’t know how long a project will take. But there are drawbacks, such as the record keeping and level of scrutiny it invites. (“Why did this take eight hours instead of five?”) Once you’ve built trust with a client, a better method is to use a monthly retainer: a flat fee for access to you. The risk is that clients may feel they own you and try to monopolize your time. If you offer set services — say, half-day strategy sessions or six-month coaching engagements — another option is to charge a flat fee for each of them. That way clients know exactly what they’re getting and what it will cost. You could also try a pay-for-results model, in which you make nothing unless your client improves. Yes, it’s risky, but if you’re confident in your process, you can usually charge a premium. This tip is adapted from “A Short Guide to Pricing Your Services as a Consultant or Coach,” by Dorie Clark et al.


#3 Is It OK to Use Filler Words Like “Um” and “Ah”? (You Know, Sometimes)


Most of us think filler words such as “um,” “so,” and “like” diminish our credibility (and just sound bad). So we try to avoid them in our speech. But there are times when they can be helpful — if you use them strategically. First, they’re useful when you need to be diplomatic. If you want to soften your message, perhaps to give someone delicate feedback, a hedge word like “just” or a phrase like “We may want to consider” can be an effective cushion. Second, filler words can help you hold the floor. If you’re in a meeting where people interrupt you, a well-placed “so” can ward off interruptions while you transition to your next thought. And lastly, a “well” or “actually” can help you break into a conversation. Just make sure you aren’t cutting someone off mid-sentence. This tip is adapted from “Why Filler Words Like ‘Um’ and ‘Ah’ Are Actually Useful,” by Allison Shapira


#4 Help People Understand Your Data by Making It Relatable


People can’t use data to make decisions if they don’t understand what the numbers mean. To help colleagues wrap their heads around a data point — how big or tiny it is, how important it should seem — compare it with something concrete and relatable. When you’re talking about lengths of time, frame your data in terms of flights between cities, TV episodes, or how long it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn — whatever your audience will know. When you’re talking about size, use places and things that are familiar to listeners. For instance, if you were trying to show a San Francisco audience what 1 million users really looks like, you might mention the San Francisco Giants baseball field, which has 41,915 seats: “Our users would fill the stadium almost 24 times.” Articulating figures this way can keep the narrative from getting lost in the numbers. This tip is adapted from “3 Ways to Help People Understand What Your Data Means,” by Nancy Duarte


#5 If Your Project Doesn’t Have a Deadline, Make One Up


It’s easy to prioritize projects that have deadlines — you know exactly when they’re due. But how do you motivate yourself when a project doesn’t have a deadline? Try making one up. Pick a date that you want the work done by, or set aside a certain amount of time for it each day or week. You can also create accountability by enlisting positive peer pressure. Tell a colleague what your deadline is (even if you picked it), and send them updates regularly. For additional motivation, incentivize yourself. For example, you might decide that after spending a morning on the project, you’ll treat yourself to lunch. Or you could let yourself work from your favourite coffee shop — as long as you finish the project’s next step. If those incentives aren’t powerful enough, try penalties. Decide that if you don’t complete the task as planned, you won’t be able to listen to your favourite podcast or watch your favourite TV show tonight. This tip is adapted from “How to Motivate Yourself When You Don’t Have a Deadline,” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders




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