The Business Edge Blog

December 20, 2012

The 4 Presents I Would Put Under Your Tree This Christmas

Christmas Presents

If you own or manage a business there are 4 presents that I would put under your Christmas tree this year. Successful business owners would agree that if I could box these up and put them under your tree you would be well on your way to growth and prosperity.

Present  #1: Clarity

Clarity of your Vision, Mission and Values.  A clear vision of who you are, what you are and what you stand for is at the core of every successful business.    Of the four packages under your tree, this present would be the largest one.   It is the foundation upon which everything else in your business is built.   Before you open any other gifts, open this one.   Until you establish clarity for your business it is hard to move forward with a purpose.

Present  #2: Focus

Focus on what matters most. As a business owner you probably feel like you are being pulled in 10 different directions at times.  Once you have clarity you can begin to focus on what is really important and what path you need to be on to reach your goals.  Stopping to analyze if what you are doing is the most important thing for you to be doing at that moment will help you to prioritize and decide which of those directions you are being pulled is the right one to focus on.  Decide what your goals are, then write down the action steps you need to take to get there.  Set achievable goals in terms that you can measure progress along the way.  Define dates for reaching the goal and identify who will be responsible for monitoring progress in a fun way.  Think of the charity’s Christmas stocking thermometer billboard with a clearly defined goal and updating along the way to clearly show what has been achieved and how much more work needs to be done.  Find something that works for your goals.

Present  #3: Momentum

Momentum to achieve your goals. Avalanches start from one small section of snow breaking away from a slope.   Something causes the first section of snow to break away. Focus can be the start of the tremendous growing force in your business.  The focused momentum that you start ignites excitement in your employees and customers and is contagious.

Present  #4: Accountability

Accountability for success. Your fourth present is the one that can sit in the back of the pile and get overlooked.  If you don’t open it and implement it with the other 3 presents, all the presents may as well be packed up with the Christmas ornaments and not be looked at again until next year.  Without accountability, all the gifts and all your work can lose their luster and end up collecting dust on a shelf somewhere as a partially implemented project.  You have great intentions for the year, but without accountability the year flies by and before you know it the Christmas tree is up again and the year is almost over.  This may be where you are right now as 2012 is ending.  Don’t let it happen again in 2013.


As you open the gifts under your tree this year, remember that you can give the biggest gift of all to those that are most important to you – a thriving growing business that fulfills your dreams and theirs and makes a positive impact on the world.

Let me know how I can best help you achieve your dreams for your business in the comments below.


October 16, 2012

7 Keys to Success for Business Owners – Part 7 – Presenting

How do you know what to focus on day-to-day?   Presenting may help.

Sometimes business owners come to me when things aren’t clear to them about what they should be doing next.  I ask them to present their company by answering questions about each of the six points already covered in this series.

Often the light bulb quickly goes on when they realize which of the areas they are not doing much or anything at all in.  “Maybe that’s the answer,” some have blurted out.  I may have known it was the answer, but it’s always best to have someone discover it themselves. Presenting brings it all together because you have to truly understand something to present it.

What do you think? How do you present your organization to your employees, the bank, vendors, investors, or the general public? You’re probably better than you think, because if you weren’t doing some version of these 7 Keys to Success well, you would have been out of business a long time ago.  Perhaps you could use some fine tuning in a few areas or maybe a complete makeover.  I’ve been through just about any scenario you could imagine with my clients.

Your homework assignment is to revisit your Vision, Profit Plan, Marketing Plan, Organizational Plan, Leadership and Cash Flow Forecast.  If you have someone to present these to, do so.  Give them permission to ask you questions about what is not clear.  In the presenting it may become very clear what you should be doing next.

If you’d like to present your business to me, email me to schedule a conversation at


I look forward to hearing from you.  You can join in the discussion and post your thoughts below.

Until next time – Remember to mind your business!

June 26, 2012

7 Keys to Success for Business Owners – Part 1

7 Keys to Success –  Many small businesses are stuck in a state of how.  If you are working hard at the right things, your odds of getting unstuck increase dramatically.  But how do you know what to focus on?  There are seven things that all successful business owners focus on to run their companies

I will introduce you to the 7 Keys to Success and highlight one of the topics in each of the next few blogs.  The 7 Keys to Success are:

Profit Plan
Marketing Plan
Organization Plan
Cash Flow Forecast

Vision:  He had been in business a few years when he asked me, “How do I open my second location?  I see 12-15 locations when I’m done, but I don’t know how to open that second one.”  I knew he had the hard part down already.  He knew where he wanted to go!

Where will you and your company be in 3, 5, 10 years?  Can you see it and paint a picture for me in a couple of minutes?  Or are you at a total loss for where you and your business are going, but you work hard week after week and each feels like a repeat of the week before?

Why does it seem so easy for other owners?  What are they doing that you are not?  How do they do it all?  They don’t work any harder than you do.  The answer to these questions starts with knowing where you want to go, your Vision.

Take out a notepad and begin to write your thoughts and draw the diagrams to formulate what your overall vision is for the business.  Get a fairly clear picture so that you could describe it to someone.

Leap forward 3 years from today’s date.  Grab a journal and write that date on the top of a clean page.  Describe where your business is on this future date – 3 years from today – using the present tense, not future tense.  Answer these questions:

What are your offerings?
What does the organization look like?
What is your role in the organization?
What rewards are you enjoying?
Who are you working with?

Keep your journal handy as we work our way through business topics that will be presented in this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Until next time – Remember to mind your business!                       Holly Hanosn, Licensed Professional Business Coach

December 13, 2011

Goal Setting for Success in 2012

Step #1 Defining Success –

One of the key things that I find helps determine success for my clients as they head into the new year is a clear plan.  Don’t get scared off – I am not going to ask you to create a formal business plan – I’ll save that for a later post.

First I’ll ask you to fast forward in your mind to December 31st 2012.  If we were sitting together on that day, what would you say that would convince me that 2012 was a success for your business?  Is it the number of new clients?  Is it the end of year income statement?  Is it being able to take time off while the business keeps running?

Step #2 Focus on Success –

Once there is a definition of what “success” for 2012 will look like, we have a place to focus throughout 2012.  How can the goal be broken down into milestones throughout the year?  Let’s say the goal is to gain 52 new clients.  Using simple math, that would mean adding 13 new clients a quarter.  Now we have a yardstick to know if we’re on target or not.  Every quarter, take a count.  Is what we’re doing working, or do we need to try new tactics to reach the 52 mark by December 31st 2012?

If we need 13 new clients every quarter to get to 52, and there are 52 weeks in a year, we can work on gaining 1 new client a week.  How many people do we have to reach to create 1 new client?  If the closure rate is 1:1 or 100%, then we only need to talk to 1 new person a week.  If the closure rate is 25%, then we need to make sure systems are in place to connect with 4 people a week to lead to signing on 1 as a new client.  What strategies are in place to get you in front of those 4 new people every week?  Are you doing public speaking, presenting educational nuggets in person?  Are you blogging?  Are you faithfully networking in places where your ideal clients will be found so that you can increase the closure rate?  On December 31st 2012 it will be the things you put in place now and throughout the year that will make the success measureable with those 52 new clients!

Or….if your goal is to be able to step away from the business every once in a while without affecting the success, try it in small bites.  If you’re gone for an afternoon what comes up?  Can you develop systems to address that issue and issues like it so that they don’t require your personal involvement?  Get the systems in place and try being gone again.  Keep increasing the time away and quickly create systems to deal with the issues that come up.  By December 31st you may be on a beach with your business successfully running back home!

Share with us your vision of success on December 31st, 2012.  I look forward to seeing your business grow!

September 27, 2011

Open Letter to Millions of Small Business Owners

Is Your Mindset Growing As Quickly As Your Business?

Dear Business Owners –

Congratulations on your business success!  You’re doing things right.  Maybe it hasn’t been as easy as you thought it would be when you were just dreaming of owning your own business, but you’ve overcome the obstacles to get to where you are.

Has your mindset grown as quickly as your business, or is your entrepreneur mindset one of the obstacles that you still need to overcome?  My clients benefit from changing their outlook.  Let me explain –

>  When you first began your business you were probably personally involved in every aspect of the business, every decision that was made, and every dollar that was spent.  As your business has grown, are there areas of the business that you are still reluctant to delegate to anyone else?  Make a list of these.

>  You probably have line items in your financial systems that help identify what you are spending.  Do you have budgets set for those line items or are you just keeping track throughout the year?  Can you describe guidelines for expenditures in some of these areas?

>  Look at your personal physical location in your business.  Is your area positioned so that you are always working “in” your business when you are there, or have you moved away from the center of the activity to a location where you have the ability to work “on” the business as well?

I challenge my clients to try on a new mindset – the mindset that a corporate Chief Executive Officer (CEO) would have. In a corporate setting the CEO has delegated work to others, provided guidelines and budgets so that others can be responsible and held accountable for making good decisions in their areas of expertise.  The corporate CEO keeps a pulse on the business but works in an environment where they can work on strategic planning and growth plans to take the business to the next level.

Try on the CEO mindset today.  Look at your business as a corporate CEO would.  What would you change?  If you can’t make the changes today, define the steps that you can begin to take to get to where you need to be.

I promise the time you spend will be well worth it.



P.S.  The next time you print business cards, think about whether you have become the CEO of your organization!

Blog readers – what do you think?  Where has your mindset held you back?  I look forward to hearing from you!

September 6, 2011

The #1 Business Lesson from Not Having A Barbie

Business and Barbie

When I was growing up my Mom decided that she did not want me to have a Barbie.  She felt it set unrealistic expectations of what I would grow up to be and the life I would desire.  She probably was right.

Some business owners (regardless of Barbie ownership) don’t understand that it takes hard work and a good plan to get to the point that there is a red convertible in the drive, closets full of clothes, a house with many rooms, an RV and endless other toys for time off.  Sometimes they get frustrated and quit because they are not reaching the expectations they had for their business success fast enough.

Do you have a business plan?  Seriously – even if you have been in business for a decade or more – do you have a sense of where your business is compared to where you planned it to be at this point in time?  What expectations do you have for the future?  How will you get from where you are to where it is you plan to be?  Some business owners “make it” and it looks easy, like Barbie’s life.  The rest of us need to know where our customers will come from, how to reach them, how to serve them well, and how to set up systems and procedures as we grow so that we are not the limiting factor in the business.

It’s starting to feel like the end of the year with the fall weather.  Reflect on where your business is relative to where you had planned for it to be this year.  If you are not where you hoped to be, there is still time to make a difference.  In planning for next year, set aside time to develop a business plan.  It does not need to be as formal as a banker would like to see, but something that helps outline action steps you need to take and that you can refer to throughout the year and make adjustments as you go along.  Need help?  Let me know.  This is where a Business Coach can help!

August 30, 2011

#1 Measurement of Success for a Business Coach

It’s all about the client reaching success!

That’s what a business coach does – we measure our success by the ability to help our clients reach their goals.  I know that I’ve been successful when a client comes to me with an issue or concern and after we brainstorm strategies and solutions they are able to solve the problem and move forward.  It’s great when we meet again and I check in with them on the issue and they tell me that they have solved it and we move on to another topic.  Wahoo!

Sometimes the solution is to make a great connection for a client.  I’m making a connection today.  One of my clients is an expert in his field and has the dream of creating a board game to expand the range of people he can reach with his expertise.  I met with a gentlemen last week who develops strategy board games as a hobby!  What are the chances of that!  So today they meet.  The connections the board game developer has in his circle of board game friends is just the piece of the puzzle that my client needs.

I’m working with a very successful business owner to move from running the business like a solopreneur – being involved in all the decsion making – to running the business with budgets and expense categories so that he does not need to be involved in every decision, even when he’s on vacation!  His success will be measured by his ability to enjoy his time away without being interrupted to make decisions that others can make based on the budgets defined.

How do you measure success?  Can a business coach help you get there faster, with less stress?  Share your definition of success below.

July 5, 2011

What Freedom Means To A Business Owner

What does freedom mean to a business owner?  As a Business Coach I’ve found that it means something a little different for each business owner, but there are common themes:

>  Being my own boss

>  Better Work Life Balance

>  Time away to recharge

>  Someone I can trust to delegate work to

>  Financial freedom

>  The ability to try new things

>  Choosing the work I want to do

>  Working with people I like working with

As a business owner, what does Freedom mean to you?  What are you doing to achieve it?  Share your thoughts with us below.

May 24, 2011

Business Tip #8 – Am I Fishing in the Right Ponds?

Are you catching fish?

Beleive it or not, we are past the mid-point of the year!  Time for a review of many things, but let’s start with the results of where you’re spending your networking time.

So, please take out your calendar or time management system for the past few months….wherever you can find the networking events you attended.  On my calendar I find breakfast networking groups, lunch networking groups and after work networking events.  Some of the groups keep track of leads and referrals, others do not so it’s your job to keep track.

What I’d like you to do is reflect on the outcome of the networking you did in each of the places you spent substantial time.  If you’re a new attendee you can’t expect great results until people in the group get to know, like and trust you.  But, if you have been spending time within a group for the past 6 months you should be able to identify results of networking within that group.

So, listing those groups where you have spent considerable time, what results can you identify?  Direct business with attendees?  Referrals from attendees that led to closed business?  Or, are the results blank for the time you spent?

Next is a decision.  If the results for the past 6 months are blank, are you going to continue to “invest” time in that group hoping to reap rewards?  Do you need to change your networking strategy for that group?  Are you speaking to their needs?

Here is where the fishing analogy comes in.  Ask a fisherman what he does if he is not getting results.  He may change his location in the same waters, change his bait, his lure, his strategy, try another time of day, or make the decision to try another fishing spot all together.

So if your results are not sterling for the time you are investing in networking within a given group, decide what you’ll change.  Think like a fisherman.  Change something.  Monitor the results.  Don’t wait for another 6 months to go by with the same results you got the past 6 months.

Enter your comments below or click here to email me your plans and check in later with the results!  Happy networking!

January 4, 2011

Sleepless Nights of Entrepreneurs – 8 Causes


“My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing, filled with lists
of things to do and things I’ve done
Another sleepless night’s begun”.

Who Needs Sleep – The Bare Naked Ladies


Are You Sleeping Like a Baby?

It’s tough to be a business owner.  It can lead to stress and sleepless nights.  Whether your business is new or several years old, dealing with difficult clients, employees, competitors…there are a lot of things that can cause you to feel like you’ve been run over by a truck and keep you from getting the sleep that you need.

The good news is that you can address your sleeplessness once you know what might be causing it.  The business related causes may be:

1. Over Promising (and under delivering)

 There may come a time when you need to close a sale, or maybe you naturally promise too much to your customers.  Either way the quickest way to cause stress, disappoint your clients and get them talking about you (in a negative way) is to set their expectations too high and then fail to meet them.

Better approach: Sell them on things you know you can provide…and then ‘wow’ them!  Have you ever been to a restaurant or hired a service that was better than you expected?  You probably told several people what a great experience it was.  Great word of mouth advertising comes from clients who had their expectations exceeded and were ‘wowed’ along the way!

2.  Not truly delegating

Whether you’re a ‘control freak’ or you don’t have the time to train someone or you just know that no one could do it as well as you, not giving up responsibility is a sure path to working too long, limiting your opportunities and having sleepless nights.

Better Approach: Put the right people in the right positions, make sure everyone is clear on roles and responsibilities, and then let them do their job.  This may be tough at first, and there will be some challenges, but if you bear with it, you will substantially increase your capabilities (and get better sleep).

3. Constantly fighting fires (living in Quadrant I)

If you are consistently spending your time fighting fires, answering emails, voicemails, letters, bills, etc., then you are flying blind (and you probably feel stressed and overwhelmed since you have little control or visibility over where you’re going).  You’re trying to be a hero in your business, and that’s not your role.

Better Approach: It’s counter-intuitive.  When you feel that you don’t have enough time to get things done, that’s exactly when you need to take some time out of your schedule and work on planning and mapping out where you want to go.  Start consciously spending much of your time in what Stephen Covey refers to as Quadrant II activities.  These are the Important but Not Urgent tasks.


4. Being Afraid

The myth: the entrepreneur is fearless.  The reality:  most small business owners are everyday people, often without much of a lifeline or reserve should things go wrong.  It’s natural to be afraid, but if that fear causes indecision, paralysis by analysis, or just drives you to be overly cautious, you’re going to have problems (and it’s likely you will not get a good night’s sleep).

Better Approach: Recognize the risks that are causing the fear and develop contingency plans just in case things do go badly.  You can’t control everything, but you can plan for the worst and hope for the best.  Talk to peers, friends, a coach, or a mentor if you find yourself getting really bogged down.  The worst thing you can do is let paralysis set in.

5. Lack of Consistency

One of the biggest issues that business owners face is the dreaded rollercoaster effect – ramp up sales and marketing, land some work, take your focus off marketing, and when work slows down again, ramp up marketing and sales and hope there’s not a long dry spell in between.  If you’ve ever been a passenger in a car with a driver who graduated from the “gas on/gass off” school of driving you know how seasick you can get using this method. 

Better Approach: Implement a marketing system and make sure that you are doing some marketing and sales activities all the time.  In order for marketing to be effective over the long run, it needs to be done consistently.  Find a handful of marketing tactics that you enjoy (or at least don’t mind) and put them on your 2011 calendar as regular scheduled activities.

6. Chasing Shiny Objects (losing focus)

As a business owner it’s your nature and in your job description to look for new opportunities – different, better ways to make money.  The problem is when you start chasing all the shiny objects, you take your eye off the ball on your core business and all of a sudden you’ve got nothing tangible going on (and you’re exhausted).  You’re off the map and drifting.

Better Approach: Be very clear (with yourself and your team) about what’s most important for business success.  Know where you’re going.  If something new and shiny comes along that’s not part of that equation, take note of it, but keep your focus.  If it really is too good to pass up, then determine what you’re going to STOP doing when you start going after the new opportunity.  Realize you can’t do everything (and if you try you’ll fail).

7. Going it alone

You probably became a business owner because you see yourself as someone who doesn’t need a lot of direction or a lot of help.  You’re independent and proud of it!  The reality is that big success happens when you find other people that you can lean on, learn from and collaborate with.

Better Approach: Find someone to talk to about your business.  That could be a formal board of directors, a mastermind group, a coach, or a business or two that you can form a strategic alliance with.  Find a way to tie into a network of people who can help you see your blind spots, encourage you or hold you accountable to do the things you need to do…whatever’s needed!  Every successful business out there has someone they got help from – you can’t do it by yourself and hope to succeed in the long run.

8. Not Sleeping or taking care of yourself

Maybe it’s obvious, but the lack of sleep or just generally not taking care of yourself will lead to stress, poor decisions and poor performance, which lead to additional nights of poor sleep.  It doesn’t take long to dig a pretty deep hole.

Better Approach: Set serious guidelines and barriers for when you’re working and when you’re not working and stick to them.  Put time in your schedule for exercise (even just taking a walk).  Make sure you’re eating right.  Find time to hang out with friends and family.  You might think you don’t have time for any of this, but how long can your business run without you if you’re out sick?

2011 – the year to get some sleep!

Now is a great time to start identifying those things in your business that are causing you stress and sleepless nights and find a way to make them better.  It won’t be easy, but climbing the hill will give you the perspective you need to grow your business (and free yourself up) in a healthy way.  If you’d like help identifying what’s going on with your business or what you could do about it, contact me for a complimentary first session.

What keeps you up at night?  Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear them

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