The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped travel in many professional industries, especially in the field of consulting. A report from Mckinsey & Company noted that US airline capacity declined by 70% in 2020, compared to the previous year. Currently most business travel is completely on hold, but what will happen to travel in the consulting industry once the COVID era ends and things “go back to normal?”
In terms of the corporate world at large, The Wall Street Journal projected that “between 19-36% of all business trips could be eliminated” post-COVID. In large part, this is due to the rapid adaption of the corporate world into a remote, work-from-home-based infrastructure. Bill Gates recently stated that he believed 50% of corporate travel will disappear. The same CNBC report states that “many CFOs who control company budgets don’t see business travel ever returning to the pre-pandemic level.”
But what about the consulting industry in particular? At large MBB firms, consultants usually travel to the client site Monday-Thursday every week. Will that continue to be the case once COVID is over? Or will firms start off with remote work and slowly ramp up to travel every other week, or once a month? At this point in time it is very difficult to tell, as we simply don’t have enough data yet. None of the major consulting firms have released public statements on this issue, and their approaches will likely depend on the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic situation. Most importantly, their approach will depend on the needs of the client—how will clients feel about travel after COVID? All of this could have a significant impact on world of MBB consulting, which could trickle down the entire consulting industry. Another question is whether consultants will work from home more frequently after COVID, and whether any of these changes will impact their work-life balance? Again, it all depends on the client and what they want—will they be able to justify million dollar contracts for a series of zoom calls? We shall find out, sometime in these next few years.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments for some discussion.
This past year, small business owners were especially impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many had to make the hard decision to shut their doors to keep themselves, their families, their employees, and the community safe. In doing this, owners were struggling with how they will pay rent, wages, and even their expenses.
Nevertheless, small business owners got creative and found ways to stay afloat when the odds were against them.
Small business owner of the City Room Cafe in Nashua, NH, Terry Wade, was just one of many affected by the pandemic. Last May, Terry closed her cafe doors to keep her employees and the community safe during a trying time. While she was closed, Terry made the most of her time thinking of new ways to adjust her business to the “new normal”. She decided this was the ideal time to renovate her cafe. She painted the walls, bought new tables and chairs, as well as new equipment for her kitchen. Not only did she renovate her cafe she also redesigned her menu and created a social media platform where she could stay connected with her customers during a difficult time. Terry was constantly updating the community on the renovation and when she was expecting to open her cafe again. Her customers were eager to be back and see the new changes. Terry was once again able to open her cafe doors in July and people were lining up to eat at their favorite breakfast spot!
Many small businesses like the City Room Cafe chose to get creative during a tough time. According to Kathy Gurchiek from SHRM, “43% of small businesses have started rethinking the way they do business since the coronavirus pandemic began, 32% have found a new way of delivering existing services, and 22% have asked employees to learn new skills to support changes in the business”. Below are a couple of ways for businesses to get creative:
Social media. Many businesses are using social media to further promote their products and services. However, it’s not enough to simply create a social media presence. You need to create content that people care about. Think about the mission and values of your company and why people keep coming back. Then think of how you can use that to create content that people want to see.
During a time when many people are working from home, social media has become ever so popular. Businesses can take advantage of this and create a platform where they can stay connected to their customers as well as new ones. A social media platform can regularly update customers and keep them hooked to the product or service they once enjoyed.
Communication. During an uncertain time, staying connected with customers is extremely important. It’s so easy to think a business isn’t open during this time if they are not constantly letting their customers and the community know the hours and days they are open. Posting this once a week to a social media platform can increase the amount of customers you are getting.
Digital platforms. For the businesses currently closed, digital platforms are a way to promote your product or service from home. For example, a yoga studio could provide live stream videos of their workouts for customers to join in on. The customer could pay for a monthly subscription and the business is still able to make money remotely. Another example would be a coffee shop that may not be getting as much business because of people working from home. Creating a digital platform where customers can buy your coffee beans, syrups, or teas would provide revenue for the business and the customers will benefit from it.
Thinking of creative ways to make money during this difficult time can be hard. However, many people in the community want to support their local businesses, so offering them a way too can be beneficial to both the customer and the business.
Work has been challenging and different for nearly all of us this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A report from Stanford University estimated that, “42 percent of the U.S. labor force now working from home full-time. About another 33 percent are not working – a testament to the savage impact of the lockdown recession. And the remaining 26 percent – mostly essential service workers – are working on their business premises. So, by sheer numbers, the U.S. is a working-from-home economy. Almost twice as many employees are working from home as at work.” Given all of these unexpected changes to how we work, many Americans are facing increased stress and anxiety. Reports indicate that, “up to 72% of American employees experience daily stress and anxiety that interfere with their day-to-day lives.”
Mindfulness is a great tool that can be used to help handle work-related stress. Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining awareness of our thoughts and feelings, and is often paired with meditation to help calm down and re-center. Extensive scientific research has demonstrated that mindfulness can effectively reduce anxiety and stress. Below are 5 tips to promote mindfulness while you work:
Meditate before work every day. This is very helpful in establishing a calm state of mind before you begin work, and it also helps you let go of anxious or avoidant thoughts about the tasks you have to complete each day at work. A recent study found that “meditation practice may positively influence job performance, including job satisfaction, subjective job performance, and work engagement.”
Take short breaks at the top of each hour. This is really important, because as we work we start to use our thinking minds, and that can create a lot of chaos and pressure inside of us. Take a 1 to 5 minute break at each hour to re-center and clear your mind. Research has shown that taking breaks can improve mental well-being, motivation for work, increase productivity and creativity, and improve learning.
When you notice yourself getting stressed, come back to your breath and slow things down. Try not to rush through the tasks you have to do to get them over with. Instead take things slowly and do them with 100% of your effort. Not only will you do a better job, you will feel calmer and better about the work you’ve done.
Go outside. Many studies have shown that going outside improves mood and concentrations. For me personally, it blows my mind how stuffy and tense things can get when I stay inside working for too long. Then when I finally walk outside, especially in nature, feeling the fresh fair clears everything away, and I realize all that tension I’ve been building was unnecessary.
Exercise after work. This can be really helpful to relieve the tension you build during a normal work day, and it can provide a nice break between work and the rest of your night (dinner, hobbies, etc.). Extensive research has shown that exercise improves anxiety, stress, depression, as well as psychological, physiological, and immunological functions.
So try these tips and let us know if they improved your mindfulness at work, and how this impacted your mood and stress at work. Wishing you all the best during these challenging times.
My business partner always says that for the most part a person does not quit their job, they quit their boss. If you are in a leadership position of any kind, this statement should immediately grab you and cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand at attention. If it does not then you should not be in a position of leadership – period.
Retention is a direct result of the leadership. It’s as simple as that. Leadership is not about telling people what to do, we should know that by now as leaders. It’s about listening, guiding, teaching and doing the right thing. Everything has changed from the days of the baby boomer’s 30 years and a gold watch.
Medium.com writes in a recent blog post that according to a 2018 study by Mercer, a whopping third of all employees plan on quitting their job in the next 12 months. That number is astronomically high compared to when our our parents and grandparents were our age. This growing amount of turnover is getting more and more expensive for companies. In fact, one study revealed that replacing a high-talented employee will cost a company 200% of the employees annual salary.
Leadership is culture. That’s right, the culture developed by leadership is one of the most critical components of retention. How a team member feels they are perceived by the leadership will dictate the commitment and diligence put forth by the team member. Long gone are the days where a simple transaction takes place everyday – a wage is paid to perform a job. The days where an employee shows up in the morning with their lunchbox in hand, punches a clock and leaves at the end of the day with another clock punch.
Today, the working culture is more committed to the overall function of the day. There is more skin in the game and they wanted to be treated accordingly, do you blame them?
Take a look at these stats compiled by Marvin Russell on Medium.com:
In a survey of 2,000 employees, almost half (43%) said they are looking for a new job, and corporate culture was the main reason.
When surveyed, 82% of employees said they’d be more loyal, and less likely if they had more flexible jobs.
92% of employees said that would be more likely to stay with their job, if their bosses would show more empathy.
Engaged employees are 59% less likely to seek out a new job or career in the next 12 months.
37% of employees would quit and take a new job that allowed them to work remotely part of the time.
A strong learning culture led to 30–50% high retention rates in companies.
Source Robert Half
70% of 2,000 millennials surveyed said they would quit a job if lacked high performing and fast technology.
Source: Jive Communications
62% of millennials are willing to quit their job in the next two years and work in the gig economy.
71% of employees would accept a pay cut, just to get a better job.
Money is not the problem. In fact, only 12% of employees actually leave their job because they want more money.
89% of bosses wrongly believe their employees quit because they want more money.
Source: Source; Leigh Branham, author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave
Generation X, employees born between 1961 and 1981, reported the highest levels of stress in the workplace, and thus have the highest risk of leaving your company.
Employees who feel they get to use the best strengths and abilities and work are 15% less likely to quit their job.
When surveyed, 76% of employees who don’t feel valued at work are seeking other job opportunities.
Over 70% of “high-retention-risk” employees want to leave because they see no future advancement in the current job.
Source: Willis Towers Watson
20-50% of the reason people quit is burnout, according to almost half of all HR professionals surveyed.
In a global study, 60% of millennials have worked at 2 to 4 different companies, and 43% of them feel like their company only cares about profits.
Source: O.C. Tanner
42% of millennials, who have worked at 2 to 4 different companies, said their job creates a huge amount of stress, and 36% feel their job has a negative impact on their health.
Source: O.C. Tanner
30% of employees would consider quitting if they were unhappy at work, and 79% of employees said their bosses didn’t care about their happiness level.
Organizations with poor on-boarding programs have double the chances of experiencing employee turnover.
Clearly the paycheck is not the major issue here. It’s important that as leaders we recognize and value the team members in a way that brings them into the fold as pseudo partners and contributing assets. If we are not able to do that the simple truth is that they will move on and look for that with another company.
Are we listening and recognizing talents? Are we taking the time to talk with the team? Are we spending time in the trenches with them to see what it’s like from their perspective? How does a person manage when they have no idea what goes on in the various departments that they have charge over. Have you given your team members a voice? Do they feel like part of the solution and therefore part of the success of the company?
These are questions that really need answers and those answers will dictate your leadership style and also the changes that need to take place.
If you’re unsure about what the culture is in your workplace, let us help. We can get these answers for you and customize a workplace mindset and new culture, just give us a call.
It’s very important that companies understand the difference between the two plans. I tend to use the river and pond comparison. A pond is, for the most part, static. That is, it remains what it is and there is an entire eco system involved with the pond. A river, in contrast, is always moving and changing direction. A tree falls across the river and the water will find a way around. It’s always adapting to its environment and those unforeseen things that impede it’s progress.
The business plan is the pond. It is an independent eco system that provides a means in which a business is created and developed. It is the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to create a business. A business plan does not indicate strategies or marketing. What it does include, in addition to a multitude of things, is the development of a marketing plan, the river.
The marketing plan is a wholly separate document developed for growth of your company. It is a necessary adjunct to the business plan. It determines marketing channels, demographics, competition and so much more. The marketing plan is something very fluid, remember the river comparison? A marketing plan changes and adapts to the market. The current pandemic is a great example to the fluid nature of a marketing plan. If you own a screen printing company and your marketing plan dictates that you continuously search for an emerging market and the pandemic hits. You immediately identify the need that your customer base would have and you order face coverings and offer to screen print their logo on the covering. That would be an example of something that probably was not in your existing marketing plan but you simply add face coverings to the existing need of t-shirts, etc. You already have a marketing plan in place that is designed to reach new and existing customers, add the face covering to that plan, rinse and repeat.
As a business consulting firm, we work with companies that are starting out and need a business plan developed. That business plan is designed as an instruction manual to move forward and the marketing plan is one of those steps. Often times we are contracted by existing companies that have been in business for some time and need help modifying their existing plan based on emerging market trends or industry shifts and they become lost because they only know what they know. Learning something new is a difficult task to overcome for an established company as many times the company is steering the ship and not the management. They react to fires and internal issue and forget to focus on growth and new technology.
Other times we are asked to develop a new marketing plan simply because the company never developed one to begin with. Take for example a manufacturing company that started producing a specific widget because there was an intense need to be filled and they filled it. No marketing plan or business plan just a startup with a great product – A quick business is formed and grown on the merits on a small market and a need Now, because of new technology, competition, obsolescence or lack of demand the company is sliding. The need for a marketing plan emerges.
Becoming organized with a business structure, process development and strategic goals is becoming more and more critical to the success of any and all businesses. Competition is fierce and speed is a huge factor. To quote Clint Eastwood in the movie Heartbreak Ridge “You must improvise, adapt and overcome”
As always, we are at your service and eager to help.
Life is short and often times we are just working to get to the weekend. In addition, we find ourselves saying “there just is not enough time in a day.” That is just not true, it is all about how we use the time that we have and by measuring your results rather than your time.
Time management is the number one factor in successful people. They know how to work hard and often how to play hard. Time is the one resource that we can not waste. It all begins with a solid plan that includes short term plans and long term goals. These two points play in together as all your short term plans/lists should coincide with your long term goals. I have said before that when I work with businesses my number one objective is to increase a companies valuation making it more attractive for purchase. In a personal career or life, the long term goal should be retirement which is essentially the same thing for the sale of a business.
Goal setting is the first priority in working smarter. Set your end goal, say it is to retire by 40 years old with 2,000,000 in the bank. Then, as I have said before work backward from that end goal. Start with the end in mind. Then you know what you have to do to get to the goal, if you fall short one day, week, or even year, then you know exactly what you have to do to make up for the loss.
With all that said here are the top 3 ways to become more productive and to achieve your longterm goals.
Plan your days and weeks in advance
Each day I set forth making a to do list. This to do list encapsulates everything that I would like to get done on a given day. Often times, it is a mix of both personal and professional activities. If you have a cloudy mind in your personal life your professional will suffer, so be sure to stay active and up-to-date with your personal priorities. The list starts with the most important tasks that I absolutely have to complete by days end. The list ends with tasks that are “less important” but do have to get done at some point.
As I go through my day I complete my tasks and typically start my to do list for the following day. Anything that I will not have time to get to, I move to the top of the list for the following day. Additionally, as your day progresses you get new projects that have later dates and thus you are able to start to do lists for the following days. Often times I have a to do list scheduled out for the week. I spend much time scheduling and compiling lists as it keeps me on track and organized. It is important not to take too much time that it becomes a distraction but you do have to make it a priority. Having a road map for your success is critically important to staying on track.
Measure your results not your time
This is a tough benchmark to wrap your head around and typically requires a complete shift in mindset. This productivity tip is why it is so important to know where you are going and what your ultimate goals are. If I close or complete a large job at 10am or 11am I may call it a day or even take the next day off. I am measuring my results not the time I have into it because the week before I probably worked 80 hours. I know how much money I want to and need to make so when I hit that benchmark it is my decision if I want to keep working for the day or week. However, I am measuring my results not my time. You may not have to work 40 or 50 hours to make the amount of money that you want to make. Even with a normal 9-5 job you still have the power to measure results not time.
Measuring your results is a great way to mind your headspace. As Americans, we get very wrapped up in work, putting in 40+ hour weeks fully encompassed by our profession and often let the results fall behind. Time card punchers should never be the goal, have pride in the work you do.
Distractions are the root of all evil. Distractions are, where the phrase, “there is not enough time in a day” stems from. Hate to break it to you but everybody has enough time in a day to accomplish what they need to the issue is with distractions. Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in a technological world where just about everything is available at the tip of our fingers. Our two most productive tools, phones and computers, are also our two biggest distractions. It is important to silence or delete apps that cause distractions while you are trying to be productive at work. Not only does it take away precious time but it also affects your results. Distractions affect both time and results.
Bottom line is there is plenty of time in a day to achieve the results we desire. We simply have to be well organized by compiling lists and scheduling your tasks, we need to measure results not time, and strive to minimize daily distractions. When beginning this life altering shift, start with the end in mind by setting goals. If you have questions on setting goals check on our blog on “Don’t dream, set goals.”
Passive Income is a term that is thrown around constantly and is often misunderstood by many. Passive Income is defined by Investopedia as “Earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership, or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved”.
Generally speaking I think it is understood to be money that a person makes while being uninvolved. Many people will say something like “I have this great stream of passive income where I am making money right now.” Meanwhile the individual is on the beach, on vacation, or involved in some activity that is more fun than working! Now that sounds pretty good if you ask me, making boat loads of money while sipping a corona on the beach, sign me up! But here is where the misunderstanding takes place.
To develop a solid stream of passive income takes an incredible amount of work, time, and often money. It falls under the same misbelief of get rich quick schemes or get rich over night seminars. But solid passive income is very possible and is enjoyed by millions of people every minute of the day so why not you? Whether you are a current business owner, employee, or dreamer it is possible to achieve the American dream which has become far more than simply a nice house with a white picket fence in the suburbs. Nowadays the American dream has become more about achieving wealth and becoming an every day millionaire.
Millionaire, you might be thinking “Craig, that is a big statement I don’t think I can ever become a millionaire like the people I see on TV.” Well fortunately those are not the millionaires that I am talking about, I am talking about the millionaires that are your neighbor and you do not even know they are millionaires. Millionaire is defined as having a net worth of one million dollars or greater. This dream is very attainable by just about everybody.
Many people, 32% of Americans, contribute to a 401K with every paycheck. And this number should be a lot higher considering 59% of Americans have access to a 401K. Well guess what I consider a 401K, passive income. While investing in the stock market you are making 7-10% on your investment every year, this means that you are making money even as you are sleeping. This is by far the simplest way to create passive income.
The more complex ways are to start a self sufficient business, buy real estate (Even owner occupied real estate is passive, as real estate appreciates at 3-5% on average), or some other enterprise. So no matter where you are in life you have an opportunity to create some stream of passive income even if you are not realizing that wealth today. However, in this blog post I want to specifically speak to business owners or prospective business owners.
My number one objective when working with new clients is business valuation. Business valuation is not exactly our specialty but I am talking about the term generally not about actually valuing your business. The entire point of starting a company, owning a company, operating a company is obviously to make money but more importantly to generate wealth. Your business should be the largest item on your balance sheet within your financial statement. Even if a business owner has no desire to sell you should be looking to make it worth more each an every day and thus more desirable to purchase.
Growing your businesses worth can be done through a multitude of ways; increasing sales or revenue, cutting costs, or increasing capacity by hiring more people. Although those aspects are incredibly important, the most important thing about a business valuation is how easy is it for someone to buy you and take over.
How easy is it for someone to buy you and take over, this is an ambiguous statement and what I mean is what systems do you have in place, what processes run your company, are these systems and processes commonly known, is one person largely responsible for more than 20% of your revenue, can the owner be removed from the business and it will run swimmingly?
These are the questions that you need to ask yourself as a business owner or as a prospective business owner looking to develop a business plan. The age old example of this is McDonalds, which we have talked about in our blog before. Every McDonalds has the same procedures, protocols, and manuals. This makes the business very desirable, as just about anybody can own and operate a McDonalds franchise. Your business needs to be more like McDonalds and thus making it more similar to passive income versus active income.
This means every position needs an employee manual, you need a proper succession strategy for every management member, proper CRM (To track past, present, and future clients), solid marketing plan, business plan, goals and plans for minimum 5 years out, and a process for all business operations.
This is why we stress the importance of processes because this allows for a higher valuation for the business, increases wealth on a daily basis, and creates a stream of passive income so that you can go start another business that follows that same model. Starting a business is hard work but the reward should not be working 80 hours a week making a million dollars a year but rather to create a business process that allows you to make a lot of money in a more passive nature while increasing valuation and personal wealth.
If you are a business owner or prospective business owner and you do not have this mindset it is time to change your frame. Begin to remove yourself from the business by creating processes. If you are knee deep in your business and find yourself putting our fires everyday, this process is going to take time but be patient as it will be worth it. As always if you have any questions or need help creating this structure give us a call.
It’s no surprise that today’s business office looks very different. The proverbial water cooler is now your phone, the conference room is your bedroom, living room, bathroom or whatever room you can have a quiet conversation in. Break time is ubiquitous and chances are you are no longer worrying about someone taking your lunch from the fridge in the break room.
The question that employers and employees alike need to ask themselves is; Am I more productive, less productive or equally as productive as I was Pre-COVID? Is the work getting done? Are the customers happy? Is production on schedule? Many times most companies will find that they are in fact as productive, if not more productive and they employees are far happier that they were when they had to deal with office politics, traffic and a general sense of stress or dislike. Today, people are continuing to do what they like to do, what they were hired to do and without any of the outside influences that commonly attach themselves to the office environment.
It is, however, very important that the company has some sort of accountability policy or efficiency statement. There needs to be a system in place that creates a sense of responsibility and accountibility. People still need to answer to management and sometimes that’s not an easy thing to do when we are working from home. Creating some sort of “check-in” or workflow process statement is critical and must be done now before there is too much latitude generated to pull things back in.
Creating a method for process development will help in determining where the potential holes are and where the improvements need to be made. A manager can walk through a department and get a sense for the productivity in the room and be able to ask questions on the fly and make changes or modifications almost instantly. With a remote workforce, this is virtually impossible.
Make sure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a means for instant correction and also oversight. Creating a solidarity from a remote standpoint doers not have to be daunting but is absolutely must be done.
These days it seems like people jump from job to job (called spring boarding) all in the hopes for more money, benefits, prestige or a myriad of reasons. Long gone are the days when you would begin and end your professional career with the same company.
I am also not too naive to recognize and appreciate the fact that those companies that people would give 20-30 years of their life to are few and far between. Companies that truly value the employee and recognize that growth may not have happened without them.
Those companies do exist and when you find one, you can rest in the fact that if you are contributing to the growth and success of the company, you will be rewarded with some sort of compensation. That compensation could be a pay raise, promotion, additional benefits or even recognition. That fact of the matter would be simply this; You are very happy where you are working and the company you are working for values you and your contributions. You both work hard to move toward the future and it is evident. This would be contentment, you are happy. Plain and simple, no need to move on to another company and even no desire to see what’s out there.
There is an explanation why people like to hold the remote control when watching TV. Basically it has nothing to do with the current show they are watching. The reason they want the remote is so they can see what else is on TV. They may be happy with the current show but they always want to know if there is something better to watch and there is the lack of contentment and they want more or better.
Don’t confuse complacent with contentment. If you cannot stand going to work every day, the people are terrible and there is discord, do something about it or simply become complacent and do nothing. If that’s you and you are frustrated then move on to see what else is out there or figure out a way to be content where you are. Nobody wants to do something they don’t want to do. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you are content or complacent.
Many people hear and say “good luck”! You may be going to an appointment or visiting a cantankerous relative and in either case you hear good luck as you walk out the door. What is luck? Is it some sort of cosmic power source that someone is tapping for you or is it a spiritual plea to God? No, luck is really not a thing. Certainly some people may have the Midas touch and all they touch turns to gold but you can’t seriously think that there is some sort of luck god that is bestowing good fortune upon you, can you?
Here’s the truth: Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity. Seriously, do you think Richard Branson is lucky? Jeff Bezos? Elon Musk? No, they are not lucky they are prepared and when an opportunity presents itself, they take action. We all hear so many success stories about many of these highly successful people but what we don’t hear is their failures.
Success and failure go hand in hand. If you can be prepared and able to recognize an opportunity, you will be able to act on that opportunity and the odds of probability will dictate that your success will be as the foundation of their success they can add layers of preparedness to enhance success.
Take a sales person for example, They are trained and seasoned in sales and closing. They know about assumptive closes and can recognize buying signs and signals. They know not to speak as much as they listen and are able to stop talking when closing questions are asked. This is trained and seasoned and acts as the foundation. Examples of the layers they can add would be researching their prospect, what are their big projects, who are their main customers and what is their competition doing. Another layer would be to research the person, look at their social media and find out some of their interests to determine if you can develop common ground. When you walk away from the meeting with a contract then I would submit that you are far more prepared than lucky.
I will agree that a broken clock has the right time twice a day and that a blind squirrel will get luck y every now and then with an acorn but for the most part, when you are prepared for what you are doing and have the proper training, you will encounter success not luck.