TJ Talks

Ouch! Business Pinch Points- How to Find and Fix Them

What’s your pinch point?  What one thing is currently holding your business back from success? Every business has at least one.  Some people call it a constraint or a hurdle. In manufacturing we use the term bottleneck to describe something in our process that holds us back from reaching our goal. So what’s your pinch point? High turnover? Low Margins? Mediocre Cash Flow? All of those are evidences of your pinch point, but they aren’t the real problem. Like the ice berg analogy, there’s what we see on the surface and then there’s what really exists beneath the surface. If I were to ask 100 business owners what their pinch point is today, my experiential guess is that 85 of them would say it’s money.  And at least 84.9 of them would be wrong. -Money isn’t your pinch point, but your financials can point to the root cause. -Turnover isn’t your problem, but it may be the red flag of bad management or a toxic culture. -Poor margins aren’t the cause, but rather a symptom of poor processes. How do you find your pinch point? Look and your numbers and then dive deeper.  Numbers, when accurate, don’t lie.  They tell the story of what’s really going on in your business. Your job, and mine, is to listen to what the numbers are telling us.  Our numbers direct us to the effects of our business pinch points, which can lead us to the source.  Then we can get underneath them with dynamite in hand and blow open the narrow passage that is holding your business back. Stop wasting your time looking on... read more

Numbers Scare Me! 3 Financial Pitfalls you CAN Fix

“Oh, numbers scare me.” That’s the usual response I get from people when they first meet me and find out what I do. I smile because I’ve heard it a thousand times. “But numbers are your friend”, I say, “they tell a story.  The story of your business and your life.” Numbers reveal what we aren’t prepared to admit.  Numbers tell the story of success and failure.  Numbers tell true stories, because numbers (when accurate) don’t lie. Why are people so afraid of “numbers”?  Because we fear what we don’t understand. Here are three factors that contribute to the fear of numbers and how to correct them so you can run your business instead of it running you. 1. Pride Most business owners I work with fear numbers too, only they won’t admit it.  Usually because they are too prideful to admit that they don’t understand them.  They’re confused and don’t want to seem ignorant or ill-equipped to run their business. Let me clue you in on a secret, you don’t know it all.  You have a certain set of skills that help you run your business, and maybe numbers are not one of those skills.  That’s ok.  You’re not alone, and that’s what I’m here for.  I help business owners understand their numbers, but I can’t help you (no one can) if you don’t admit what you don’t know. You wouldn’t drive your car with your eyes closed? No! So why try to run and grow a successful business without understanding your numbers?  Get over your fear, open your eyes and get ready to see your business in... read more

Trust your Employees or Fire Them

Trust is the bedrock of any relationship, business or personal. Building trust takes time and yet you can lose it in a moment, never to fully regain it again. Without trust between you and your employees, your company is on shaky ground. Do you trust your employees? Think hard before you answer that, because your actions speak louder than your words. You can say you trust your employees.  You can infer trust by the position and responsibilities you give them.  But if you don’t truly trust them, you will be working against yourself and your business. If you have an employee that you don’t truly trust, you need to do both of you a favor and fire them.  That may sound drastic, and you may end up running your business by yourself, but without trust in your staff, your organization is is teetering on collapse and you’ll be buried in the rubble.  Why?  Because: Lack of trust stifles growth and innovation Lack of trust creates a toxic company culture Lack of trust encourages untrustworthy behavior Lack of trust inhibits productivity If you don’t trust your employees, why?  Is it them, or is it you? I worked with a business owner who was skeptical and mistrusting of every employee who worked for them.  They questioned every action, every word, every report, every decision.  They were certain that every employee was out to cheat them and deceive them.  They doubted their abilities, hovered over their shoulder in micromanagement mania, and made their employees miserable. [Maybe they had been burnt by employees in the past, maybe they had issues of mistrust from their personal relationships that... read more

Go Deep or Go Home-Character Counts

“The essential thing is not knowledge, but character.” -Joseph LeConte “Character is what you think in the dark” -D.L. Moody Character is the most underrated and undersold commodity in the world today.  Why? Because it has no flash, no bang, no visual appeal.  And yet, when we step back and look at the truly great business leaders of our day and of our past we will find that they possess deep and developed character.  Their influence upon us is based on who they are more than what they do. Depth of character trumps title and knowledge.  I would rather you go deep, or go home.  And so would most people.  So how do you go deep in your work?  Here are a few tips that may help: Operate from your values As you may know, I recently went through a branding process.  I had to lay out in marketing form who I am and what I do.  It wasn’t an easy process, but it was valuable in cementing what I have spent a life building.  I have people question me about why I combined my work and my faith together into my brand.  I even had a friend of mine advise against doing so as I may offend, or “turn off” potential clients. The truth is: everyone operates from a set of values, whether those values are good or bad.  I just happen to believe in being transparent in what I value so that you know what you are getting from the start.  No facade, no mask, no pretense. My values come from my faith and allow me to serve... read more

3 Things He Learned from Owning a Business

I recently sat down with a man who spent the majority of his life running his own business. He has since sold his business and retired decades ago. I asked him what three things he learned in all of those years as a business owner.  Before social media, KPI’s, Six Sigma. When business was all about rolling up your sleeves and making happen by the sweat of your brow.  No seminars, no books on leadership, no business consultants (gasp!).   I expected to hear some deep insights from a lifetime spent on his labor of love.  Something that would change my business, and give me wisdom to help other’s change theirs.  Here’s what I got instead: 1. It all comes down to the people. If you take care of your customers and your employees, you will always have a good business.  If you don’t have people, you don’t have a business, plain and simple.  If you make your business about anything except for people, you’ll be miserable and so will your business. 2. The government makes it difficult to do business. If the government didn’t stick their nose in every business. If they made things easier for the honest and kept it hard for the crooks, the business world would be a better place.  Business owners who work hard and want to do the right thing are punished because of those who do the wrong thing, and that ain’t right.  They change their mind every four years about how and what they want businesses to do.  The hoops you have to jump through keep getting smaller and they’re always moving. 3.... read more

Are you All-In? How Leaders Drive Company Culture

With all of the talk out there about company culture these day, one would think they are giving out Nobel prizes to best in the world. I personally think that people write about how great the culture is in other companies because they want to work at the “cool company” instead of where they are working.  (This isn’t one of those articles-in case you were wondering). On the contrary, while I praise companies who seek to create great cultures and feel that they are necessary for the survival of a business (employee retention and attraction being important), I get the sense that everyone is missing the mark on what really creates good company culture. Yes, your in-house gym, on-site daycare, remote working and free trips are great, but they aren’t your culture.  Perks? Yes.  But without the right culture they become ploys to lure people to come work for you, traps to make them stay, and guilt trips to make them produce the work of 5 people while getting paid for the work of one. Do any of those things actually create or drive the company culture?  No. What really drives company culture? You do.  The leader of the company. You can sign off on incentives and programs, but that doesn’t drive your culture. You do. The leader of the company. If we want engaged, energized and excited work cultures, it starts with us. If we aren’t all in, our employees won’t be either. If we aren’t all in, our employees won’t be either. Click To Tweet I help clients with culture.  So, when I hear a business owner complain... read more

I have Bad News and Bad News, and that’s Good Business for You

By the time I get the call from most (not all) clients, they are feeling a little desperate.  Maybe desperate is too strong of a word.  At the very least they are nearing they have seen the sign that says, “Wit’s end ahead.”.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t need my help. Have you been there? Frustrated with the direction of your business Lack of the right kind of growth A financial mess Market uncertainty Dissatisfied customers Disengaged employees If you have owned a business for any length of time, you aren’t being honest (with me or yourself) if you answer “no” to any of the above experiences.  Even the big boys have been there, done that and continue on the path of continuous improvement in all of those areas. Usually my initial consultations surround the financial aspect of the business, no matter what type of help they are seeking.  Why?  Because the numbers (when they are good numbers) never lie. Your business financials tell me what is really going on in your business.  They speak loudly to me the good, the bad and the ugly.  For the past (almost) decade, I have been analyzing the financials of small businesses.  I use numbers as a springboard for strategic growth.  If a business owner can understand what their numbers are saying, they can be in control of their business. There have been times when the news wasn’t good. I have had to tell prospective clients that they are in a tailspin from which they may not recover.  I have had to tell prospective buyers that the business they want to own is out... read more

The Making of a Brand-3 tips for Personal Branding

Apparently Personal Branding is the next big thing in marketing. According to a recent Forbes article even the big companies are training employees in personal branding as part of their leadership training programs. More and more people are jumping on the personal branding bandwagon. I guess I am no exception to that. My desire for a personal brand wasn’t born out of adoption of the trend; a company initiative; or narcissistic tendencies, but rather out of necessity. I was preparing a book proposal for my nonprofit organization. I came to the part where I have to tell the publisher about my platform and realized that I didn’t have one. I had experience and people, but no cohesive place for who I am and what I do. I stopped writing the proposal and started researching platforms and began my personal branding journey. If you are reading this, then you have seen the result of that process. If you are thinking of branding yourself there are a few things you should know before you begin. Things I learned along the way that I wish I would’ve known before I started. Know who you are, and who you aren’t If you are thinking of personal branding, get comfy with who you are, because you are going to be spending a lot of time with yourself. I’m not lacking in confidence, but I also believe in the value of humility. I had no idea how hard it would be to talk about myself so much; have numerous pictures taken of myself; and develop a whole website around…me. How did I deal with this? I... read more

Is Your Business Poor?

Henry Ford was one of those amazing innovators that we all wish we could be. He understood machines and how to make them better; he knew how to attract the best people; cast visions for a future that no one else dared to dream; and actually make it all happen. And he had some really good one-liners of wisdom that we continue to see in placed in gifs next to his portrait like this one: There is one Henry Ford quote that has stuck with me and I quote it often, because it is so true: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” It is a truth I see played out in businesses all the time while consulting. We know that the goal of a business is to make money, Eliyahu M. Goldratt taught us that in The Goal. A business has to make money in order to survive, thrive and grow. If your business doesn’t make money, then you don’t run a business, you run a charity. Money is important, hear me on that. But money isn’t the only thing a business makes. Money isn’t the only thing a business makes. Click To Tweet A successful business makes products and services that change and improve lives. A business makes livelihoods for its employees; it makes the engine of economies hum. And yet, most business owners only focus on the money and the result is a poor business. Poor monetarily Poor in quality That is what Henry was talking about. Poor Monetarily: Yes, some businesses are poor monetarily, not because they don’t have money, but becasue... read more

Why Are Farmers the Bad Guys?

I was sitting in a local cafe one evening, typing away with work, when a family of six came in the door. Dad, Mom, and four kids all under the age of 10. When their food came and they all started eating, I overheard the Dad begin to educate his kids on the horrible state of our global climate. He then proceeded to blame it all on farmers. What?! It’s bad enough to have to sit and work while listening to a father try to educate his kids over dinner. It’s even worse to hear one attempt to indoctrinate his children to believe that farmers are the enemy and primary cause of global climate change, and that if they don’t change their evil ways, they will destroy the world for all future generations. Three of the children looked wide-eyed at their dad as crumbs of bread fell in their laps and lettuce hung from their half-opened mouths. The other one continued to shove food from his chubby, young hands past his drooling lips. Mom was off in her own little world, glad to be able to take a bite or two without interruption. No, the irony was not lost on me: eating food while vilifying its source. Yes, I bit my tongue. The entertainment value alone was worth hearing him out. But it got me thinking, “Why do so many people see farmers as the bad guys?”  What is it that causes people to come to such extreme, and erroneous conclusions about farmers? It’s not that they are entirely ignorant. They seem to relatively articulate people that have been... read more


Taking the Career Leap of Faith Seminar

September 17th,2016 9-11 am @ Living Word Christian Center

Contact TJ to schedule a seminar for your organization.


Quote for the Day

“You can’t deliver value unless you anchor yourself in values.” —Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo