Freedom = Doing things for the last time

Yield per hour.

Why don’t we get off the treadmill? Because we’re asking the wrong question.

When we do things, we are usually asking the obvious – “How do I do this?” It seems like a perfectly logical thing to ask. It’s the wrong question, but we’re too busy “doing things” to ask the right one.

Instead of asking “How do I do this?”, we should always be asking ourselves “How do I do this for the last time?”

My fancy term for it is “Distributive Management” – as the work comes at me, I find ways to deflect it to others who are more capable and will enjoy it more.

Think of holding a small mirror and having someone shine a laser pointer at you. Your job is to deflect or “distribute” the beam to someone else. You should walk through every day in your business with a mental mirror, distributing everything that doesn’t belong on your plate.

I use a simple tool called “Process Mapping” that we created quite a few years ago that is very effective at helping people do things for the last time and as a result, getting them off the treadmill.

We map the processes the business owner does, then assign dollar values to each step, showing them that (usually) 90%+ of what they are doing is well below their pay grade – I mean monumentally below. Most of us are doing $14-$25/hr work when we should be doing $100-$400/hr work.

The next step is to come up with a priority list for getting each thing off your plate that is below your pay grade. Don’t worry about paying for it. Just replace the $20/hr work with $200/hr work, and you’ll pay for that work and increase your profits by $180/hr. That brings us to the second question you should be asking every time:

Is this the highest and best use of my time? If not, figure out how to do it for the last time and go do what will make you more money.

Successful business owners figure out how to do this. Unsuccessful ones create a list of 15 reasons why it can’t be done. Here’s part of that list:

1) I can’t afford it (you’re losing $180/hr doing the $20/hr work and you can’t afford it? You can’t afford not to!)
2) Nobody can do it as good as me. (Get over yourself – there are thousands of people who are better than you at EVERYTHING you do. Find one.)
3) My customers only want to talk to me. (Really? Who taught them that rule? Stop saying “Me” to them, and start saying “We” – We will help you, not me.)
4) It takes too long to train them. (If it takes ten times as long the first time, you start making extra money and time on the 11th occurrence.)
5) I’ve tried employees and they suck eggs. (You don’t want them and you’re sabotaging the process by making sure you either get the wrong people or sabotaging the good ones. – You haven’t gotten over #2 yet).
6) I hate managing people. (Then hire someone else to manage them who would love it.)
7-15) I have nine other excuses… I mean reasons. (If you want to figure it out, you will. If you don’t, you will keep adding to this list.)

Virtual Assistant’s can be had for 2-4 hours a week to get started. The risk simply isn’t there, only the excuses.

I call this a trapeze moment – the only way to get to the next trapeze is to let go of the one you have a death grip on. There are many trapeze moments in business, but figuring out how to do something for the last time is a big one. And if it involves hiring someone else, even a temp or a Virtual Assistant, I find that to be the biggest trapeze moment in most business owner’s lives.

Those who figure out how to do things for the last time and adopt an ongoing commitment to the highest and best use of their time receive both time and money back from their business. Those who find themselves using excuses on the list above will at best receive money back, but will be on the treadmill the rest of their lives.

No biggy – it’s just your freedom and your life that are at stake.

Shameless plug (which I’ve never done before on my blog, but you need to get off the treadmill) – If you want to buy the Process Mapping tool I created and use myself, and that is used by thousands of other business owners, see my book site, Making Money Is Killing Your Business . Scroll down near the bottom for the Business Owner’s Success Toolkit. This gives you the simple presentation tool we use for Process Mapping, along with instructions. You’ll also receive the Strategic Plan and Lifetime Goals as part of the Toolkit.

How & Why to Find a Locally-Owned Bank

The velocity of the dollar.

Macro capitalism has given micro-capitalism a bad name. The purpose of capitalism is to create the velocity of the dollar locally – everyone prospers. Big biz takes that dollar away to “headquarters”. Here’s one way to keep your dollar in your town.

Hudson Bay Co. started in 1670 and was the largest landowner in the world for centuries – they are still in business. For thousands of years big businesses like that were always the exception, and our economies did not revolve around worshiping at the altar of Giant Corporation, Inc.

In the late 1800’s for the first time in history, giant corporations began to regularly spring up, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that the term “big business” became common place in the English lexicon.

Big business is a very new idea that many believe will have the same run that the railroads had. In 1903 the railroads had 97% of all inter-city traffic. Yet with the advent of the internal combustion engine, they were already dead and didn’t know it. In 2011, railroads provide 0.03% of inter-city traffic.

Giant corporations like Hudson Bay will always be around, just like railroads, but with the advent of the internet, nano technology and ease of travel, we are moving back locally. And that’s a good thing.

Capitalism always had the unintended good of “the velocity of the dollar”. I spend a dollar at the bakery, who spends it at the tailor shop, who spends it to buy some shrubs, who spends it at the local restaurant, etc. Everybody prospers. Giant Corporation, Inc. interrupts that process. I spend a dollar at Giant Corporation, Inc.’s local big-box and a good-sized chunk of that dollar is taken out of the local economy back to headquarters.

Here’s a great and easy place for us to start to bring the dollars back into local communities. Bank locally.

You can read why we’re leaving our giant bank and why we didn’t do it sooner here. We’re now beginning the process to look at which local bank we want to work with.

Here’s three easy steps you can take to do the same thing:

1) Find a financially healthy (4-5 star) local bank anywhere in America at this great website hosted by Bauer Financial – select your state and you will see only the banks that are headquartered in that state.

Within 15 minutes of doing this, I identified 5-6 local banks that we will be interviewing.

2) Before you decide which ones to interview, visit this site hosted by Pro Publica to see all the banks in the U.S. that took a bailout. In just a minute or two you can see if any of your local banks did. I dropped one of my potential choices after visiting this site.

3) Check out your finalist’s sites, interview them to see which one best fits your needs, and keep your dollar speeding around your own town, city and state.

The move to “shop locally” isn’t a fad. We’re just going back to where we lived for thousands of years. Check out and while you’re at it.

Happy banking!

Don’t take advice from T-Rex.

Run, Gazelle, run!

The overwhelming majority of small business advice is from people showing us how Giant Corporation, Inc. managed to free themselves from the drudgery of being small to finally become “great”. It’s time these patronizing forces understood that small business and big business are two entirely different animals.

The assumption is that a small business is just a big business that hasn’t grown up yet. We’re the adult, you’re the infant. We know what it takes to grow up and we’ll be glad to share those secrets with you young ’uns.

But the problem is that we aren’t a big business that hasn’t grown up. These are two different animals. It’s like saying when a Gazelle grows up it will become a Tyrannosaurus Rex, so all we need to do is show it what T-Rexs do and eventually it can become a T-Rex, too. There are 28 million “small” businesses in America and only 17,000 with over 500 employees. These modern day monsters are telling the rest of us how to do something none of us want to do – become them.

Small business is uniquely different than big business in just about every way: how we market, advertise, sell, build relationships, live locally, adjust fast, move with agility, find vendors, do accounting, love employees, relate to customers, etc. They are two entirely different animals.

But there is an incessant parade of articles, books, papers, and research of giant businesses with the intent of showing us small business people what we can look like if we grow up and become T-Rex. I’m really over reading “How Giant Corporation, Inc.” finally freed themselves of the burden of being small, and grew up.

Most of us don’t want to be a T-Rex and for way too many, the parade of big business advice to their supposedly infant T-Rex brothers simply confuses the small business Gazelles who are trying to apply it.

We need to stop teaching small business owners to stomp through forests and eat everything in its path. Small business advice and examples of what to do should come from small business Gazelles, not from lumbering T-Rexs. They are two different animals with entirely different sets of requirements, processes, paths, motivations, and outcomes.

Be careful where you get your advice on how to build your business, and especially don’t take it from the “Bigs”. You could end up with a T-Rex telling you how to be a Gazelle.