Find and Fix the Gaps in Your Business
Do you have gaps in your business? Places you’re losing revenue? Cogs in your business processes that aren’t turning? Of course you do! Every business has them. But how do you identify those gaps so that you can fix them?
In today’s episode, we are going to look at how a business strategy and a little deep thinking can uncover where your business is getting tripped up and where it’s leaking profit.
As well, having a clear strategy for your business is a psychological and competitive advantage! Find out why.
Then, to get you started on your own business strategy, I’ve got a few questions you can journal on to figure out ‘where you’re at’ and ‘where you want to get to’ in your business. Because investing in a solid strategy for your business is a lot like taking the time to visit the eye doctor to get the right prescription eyeglasses – it allows you to see exactly where you’re going and it helps you avoid tripping over the gaps in the road.
What’s In This Episode
- Why having a solid business strategy is a psychological edge
- Where to look to find the gaps in your business
- What is a systems gap and why can it be deadly?
- Questions to ask yourself to determine ‘where you’re starting from’
- Tips on how to set big business goals that are meaningful to you
What To Do Next
- Subscribe to receive this podcast and regular weekly strategies to grow and shape your business. You’ll also be the first to know about upcoming courses, programs and exclusive LIVE training.
- Connect on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn and share your insights from the show.
- Join Thought Readers and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs in this popular book club for business owners.
Resources & Links From the Show
TALK the TALK & WALK the WALK:
- Download the free Strategy Starting Point & Destination Journaling Questions pdf.
- Carve out 5-10 minutes every day this week to journal about 3 of the Starting Point Questions. This deep thinking about ‘where you’re starting from’ and ‘where you want to get to’ in your business will start to shape and clarify your own business strategy and create psychological tension (like the stretched rubber band) to get you moving in the direction of your goals. Hint: Write freely. There is nothing set in stone here. Your business is evolving and so are you.
Books Mentioned in This Episode
- The Path of Least Resistance for Managers by Robert Fritz
- Who Not How by Dan Sullivan
- The Road Less Stupid by Keith Cunningham
CLICK HERE TO OPEN THE FULL TRANSCRIPT
Lisa Larter (00:01):
Welcome to, She Talks Business. If you’re an entrepreneur, business owner or aspiring mogul, chances are you want to learn more about marketing and mastering and monetizing your business. She Talks Business is where you’ll learn all of that and more. My name is Lisa Larter and I’m an entrepreneur, high school dropout, wiener dog enthusiast and your host. Let’s get started.
Lisa Larter (00:25):
Welcome to episode two. Before we get into episode two, a couple of things. One, I’d like to give a shout out to Steve Dotto from Dotto Tech, and Grey Matters and all around Canadian, good guy, friend of mine, who will be on the show, for recommending the… I don’t even know what it’s called. It’s called the arm for your… It’s a road arm for your podcasting mic.
Lisa Larter (00:55):
I interviewed Steve a couple of weeks ago and one of the things that he said to me is that he could not sound better than me on my show. And promptly took to teaching me how to use my mic and where to place my mic and told me what technology I needed to buy to make everything work better. So that’s what friends are for, right? You help each other with little things that just make everything better all around. So shout out to my friend, Steve. Thank you for being awesome always.
Lisa Larter (01:27):
So episode two, how strategy can expose the gap between where you are, where you want to be and a little bit of psychology around why that matters. Why does having a strategy give you a psychological edge? So I want to take you back to a book that I read many, many, many, many, many years ago called The Path of Least Resistance for Managers. When I was in my corporate life, I used to read this book regularly. And Robert Fritz, who wrote the book, talks about a thing called structural tension. The best way that I can describe structural tension is if you were to take an elastic, hold it in your hand, and stretch it between both hands as tight as you can. With one end of the elastic being pulled down, the top of the elastic being pulled up. The tension that you feel between the top of the elastic and the bottom of the elastic is what you would call structural tension.
Lisa Larter (02:35):
It is the tension between where you want to go, which is at the very top. Versus where you are, which is at the bottom. There are only two ways that you can remove that structural tension. One is you can move the bottom closer to the top. Or two, you can move your vision down closer to your current reality, which nobody really wants to do. So when you have a solid business strategy, you know where you’re going. It allows you to see where you’re starting from. It allows you to see where you’re headed. It allows you to anticipate that there is going to be resistance in terms of moving in the right direction. And it allows you to know whether or not you are moving in the right direction. Tony Robins says, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
Lisa Larter (03:43):
If you don’t know what it is you’re trying to do, it is impossible to get there. Another way to look at this is I want you to imagine for a moment you need glasses. When you do not have good eyesight, you cannot see what’s important. You cannot see where you’re headed. So you go to the optometrist and you find out exactly what prescription you need in order to have the sight that you need to go where you want to go. But what happens if you put somebody else’s glasses on? If you put somebody else’s glasses on, often that makes your vision worse, that makes your vision blurry. And all of a sudden, you can’t really see your own vision now because your eyes are trying to adjust to someone else’s. When you have a solid business strategy, it is essentially giving you the glasses you need to see where you are going so that you can also identify the right tactics that you need to get there.
Lisa Larter (05:00):
You have to be able to see where you’re going in order to get there. That clarity of vision, or Napoleon Hill will call it definiteness of purpose, is a competitive advantage. Another way to think about it is a tree that sways in the wind. All right. A tree that bends with everybody else’s wind isn’t a tree that stands firm and knows where it is going. When you are someone who is rooted or grounded in your strategy or in your plan, it’s really hard for you to be blown all over the place, because you’ve got that definiteness of vision. And when you have that definiteness of vision, you really do have a competitive edge psychologically because you are not easily influenced by other people’s ideas. The other thing that comes along with that solid business strategy, which I think is a competitive, psychological edge, is it helps you to avoid overwhelm. Because you are really able to prioritize what is most important and what isn’t. You’re able to look at the direction you’re going and say, “Does this help me or does this not?”
Lisa Larter (06:22):
You know whether you are moving your elastic closer to the top or whether what you’re about to do is moving it down. And so you become a lot more conscious in your ability to make decisions around your strategy. And when you are really clear on where you’re at and where you’re going, you’re also really clear on the gap between where you are and where you want to go. So I want to talk a little bit about how strategy can help you to expose the gaps in your business. There are a bunch of different ways that I think strategy helps you to expose the gaps in your business. The first way is really, really measurable. It helps you to look at assets, revenue and time. These three things in your business, when they don’t add up the right way you need to adjust things.
Lisa Larter (07:27):
So when I’m talking about assets, I’m talking about the products or the services that you offer that help you reach your revenue goal. If you don’t know what assets you have in your business that are going to help you reach your revenue goal the fastest, chances are you can be spending time on low hanging fruit that really isn’t giving you leverage. If you didn’t listen to episode one, go back and listen to what I said about leverage and how when you have the right leverage, all of a sudden it’s easy to get the lift that you’re looking for. The second thing is revenue goals. If you don’t know… You need to figure out what your revenue goals are, and then you need to figure out how do your assets help you reach your weekly, daily, monthly revenue goals so that you can reach your year end goal.
Lisa Larter (08:25):
It’s an important measurement for your success, as well as time. You have to be able to map out your time and understand your own factory capacity model. That means you know how much time it takes to do what you have to do to generate income or revenue. And you actually have enough time to do it. If you look at somebody’s calendar and you see how they spend their time, you learn a lot about them. Often, what people do is they over promise and under deliver. And they do that through time. I see people who have coaching businesses that say yes to everything, and they end up with more customers than they physically have time to serve. So what I do is I look at my calendar and I say to myself, okay, I really only want to work three days a week. And I want to not work so hard on those three days that I’m exhausted.
Lisa Larter (09:31):
So Mondays are essentially my planning day. And Fridays are essentially my catch all day. Meaning, that I don’t have to work Monday or Friday if I don’t want to. If I get everything done, I can take a four day weekend. Those days are set aside for me to use as I deem necessary. Now, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I need to work in the business on revenue generating activities. And I have to work on the business, doing things that are going to lead to revenue generating activities. Now, I know myself well, and I know that when I have more than four hours of client calls, Tuesday through Thursday, I start to get a little bit cranky, because I don’t have enough time and space to work in and on. And so then I start to resent the business for cramping my time needs.
Lisa Larter (10:30):
So if I look at my business and I take my trusty little calculator. If there are 13 weeks in a quarter, all right, stay with me for a second. And I only want to work 12 hours of revenue generating time during that time. That’s 156 hours. If I divide that by three, that is 52 hours a month. 52 hours a month of a revenue generating activity. Well, let’s just say hypothetically that my goal is to do $50,000 a month in sales. If I take 52 times 100, that’s only $5,200. Which means I would need a lot more than 52 hours to reach my goal, or I would need to take a look at my asset and change the pricing structure. Now, do you understand what I just did there? I took my revenue goal. I took my asset, which is essentially my dollars for my time, which is only one part of generating revenue in my business.
Lisa Larter (11:38):
And then I looked at my time and I looked at what is reasonable. If I know that really, I only want to work 12 hours a week in my business, but I want to generate X amount of money. I need to ensure that the assets that I’m working on during those 12 hours allow me to generate the revenue that I want. Otherwise, if any one of those three things, assets, revenue, or time are not in alignment, that is a gap that needs to be closed in your strategy. The second thing is a systems gap. Now, when I think about systems in your business, it’s how you do things. And when you’re not efficient at how you do things, then you can cost yourself a lot of money. I want you to think of a systems gap as almost like a hole in your bucket.
Lisa Larter (12:33):
Your bucket, when you fill your bucket, you’re filling your bucket with revenue in your business. That’s what your business exists to do. Obviously, it exists to make a difference for other people, but you’re filling this bucket with revenue. You have holes in your bucket when your systems are not set up well, which essentially allows revenue to leak out of your business because you’re not doing a good job. Now, you could have a systems gap related to sales. You could have a systems gap related to follow up. You could have a systems gap related to fulfillment. I can’t tell you how many times I have reached out to people because I’m interested in hiring them for something and they never follow up. They never follow through. And so they’re literally leaving money on the table because they’re disorganized. They do not have a system in terms of how they communicate with people who are interested in doing business with them.
Lisa Larter (13:33):
Which takes me back to the first point. Your time. When I look at my calendar, remember how I said, I only want to work 12 hours a week? And you might be thinking, Lisa, you’re such a prima-donna. You only want to work 12 hours a week. No, it’s not that I don’t want to work eight hours a day for three days during the week. It’s not that I won’t do things outside of that time, but I need time to follow up on inbound leads. I need time to respond to emails. I need time to respond to things on social media, where people are asking me questions. And if I don’t put a system in place in my calendar to do these things, then essentially I am letting revenue spill away that I could be collecting in my business because I’m not being effective and efficient at how I operate.
Lisa Larter (14:25):
The same thing is true when you have a team. If you have a team and you don’t know how long it takes to do something, time is always the ultimate excuse, right? We need more time, Lisa. It takes longer than that. I’ve heard that a million times. If you are throwing money at resources without really diagnosing your time issue, chances are you have another… You have a bigger issue, which is a systems issue. And you need to figure out what wrong with the system. What is wrong with the process in terms of how your people are doing things that is contributing to the time problem you have. The third thing. So the first one is asset, revenue and time. The second is system. The third is a marketing gap. Now, a marketing gap is when you are not doing enough marketing to attract enough leads to generate the amount of revenue in your business that you want.
Lisa Larter (15:18):
So assuming your assets are priced appropriately, assuming you’ve figured out the time equation. If you want to hit your revenue, you need to do enough marketing to attract leads. So you have to look at and ask yourself, where can you place yourself, either literally or metaphorically, I don’t even know if that’s the right word, so that people see you? Whether it’s social media, whether it’s podcasting, whether it’s emailing, blogging, attending events. You need to look at your marketing as a whole. I always say to people, marketing is like driving a car. You need to keep your foot on the gas. You don’t accelerate to get on the highway and then take your foot off the gas. Because if you did that, you’d cause an accident. Well, marketing is the same thing. If you want to reach your destination, you’ve got to keep your foot on the gas.
Lisa Larter (16:11):
The minute you take your foot off the gas and you stop thinking about your marketing and everything that it does to attract leads to your business, you have a problem. And that is another gap that needs to be exposed and it needs to be fixed. And you need to create a system around your marketing so that that doesn’t happen. The next gap, this is one that’s hard. Okay. It’s called the team gap. Jim Collins, Good to Great. Get the right people on the bus. When you have the right people on the bus, they don’t care where the bus is going. They just want to be on the bus. Who is in the wrong seat on your bus? Or who needs to leave the bus? Who needs to join the bus? What do you need to do to make your team stellar? Do you have a gap?
Lisa Larter (16:55):
Do you have a learning gap? Do you have a willingness gap? I always look at, are my team members willing and able? If they’re not willing, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re not going to fix it. If they’re not able, you could only provide so much training before you have to make a decision as to whether or not they’re the right person if they don’t have the capacity to learn. You have to assess and analyze your team on a regular basis. You’ve got to be thinking about who are the people that maybe need to go away, who are the people that need a bit of extra love and attention because you do not want to lose them. And then you also need to think about hiring for where you’re headed, not for where you’re at. I’ve had a lot of conversations with business owners this year, that have really lofty goals.
Lisa Larter (17:47):
They’ve got really clear strategies in terms of where they want to go. But the reality is they cannot fulfill their sales commitment with the size of the team they have today. So I always say, you have to hire for where you’re growing too. If you don’t hire for where you’re going, and you try to do all of the work with the team you currently have, and you don’t measure your factory capacity, you will burn your team out. You will start to degrade the quality of work that you do and you will start to lose team members. Any good team member will step up and they will be all in when it’s crunch time. But crunch time should be the exception. It shouldn’t be the norm. So there are times where you are going to need to invest in over hiring on your team in order to reach your next big goal.
Lisa Larter (18:43):
The last gap is the personal development gap. Joyce Meyer says, “New level, new devil.” And I agree with that. And Tonya Dalton says, “You can’t outsource personal development.” And I agree with that too. So as your business continues to grow, your leadership can become a gap. Your leadership can actually cause problems in your strategy, because if you don’t know how to get things done, if you try to abdicate responsibility, instead of really owning your role as the leader of your company, you’re going to run into all kinds of problems. Your skills and your strengths need to continuously be cultivated and they need to grow and they need to improve as your business grows. Otherwise, you’re going to run into problems. I referenced, I think I referenced Who Not How, Dan Sullivan’s book earlier. And it’s a fantastic book for really hiring the right who’s to help you.
Lisa Larter (19:49):
But you can’t hire a who, if you don’t know what you want that who to do. And you can’t stop growing and learning yourself, as a leader, because it’s not just about hiring a who for you. You have to be a who for other people as well. So those are some of the gaps that you really need to think about as you are planning your strategy and building your business and moving forward. They matter. The next thing you want to do is you want to determine where you’re starting from. You want to look at where you are at and really figure out what is the size of your business right now? What isn’t working the way you want it to? Keith Cunningham, who wrote the book, The Road Less Stupid, says, “A business is not a bathrobe. There is no one size fits all.”
Lisa Larter (20:47):
He also said, “You don’t want to grow a tumor.” Which means that if something isn’t working the way you want it to be working in your business right now, you want to fix that problem before you scale it. Otherwise, you’re just going to have a bigger problem. If you can’t get your gaps closed and in order when you’re at the six figure mark, it’s going to be a whole lot messier and a whole lot more expensive at the seven figure mark. So you have to be able to analyze and assess where you’re at now, what isn’t working, and what are some of the things that you’re doing that maybe you shouldn’t be doing that someone else should be doing. Are you creating bottlenecks in your business? Are you delaying the growth of your business because you’re too much of a control freak? You really need to look at, take an honest look at where you are at, and figure out how do you need to change in order for your business to grow.
Lisa Larter (21:43):
Now, if you go to my website in the show notes, I’m going to reference all these books that I… I have to tell you, I run a business book club. It’s called Thought Readers. I read a lot of books. Amazon probably delivers three to four books a week to my house. So I reference books because I am that avid learner. But if you go to my website, and you go to lisalarter.com/E2, because this is episode two, there’s a PDF download there where you can get some of these questions, if you want to spend some time really thinking about your business. The questions that I’m going to ask you are this, what is the size of your business now? Where do you want it to go? What isn’t working the way you want it to? What are the problems that keep coming up over and over and over again?
Lisa Larter (22:30):
What are you doing in your business right now that you really don’t enjoy? Where are you running into the same challenge or the same type of conflict over and over again? And is there anything that you’re doing that is creating this for you to learn? What systems are currently broken? What gaps need to be closed? What do you want to quit doing or fix? What are you doing that you need to stop doing? What is draining your energy? Who is causing problems for you? Tim Ferris said on one of his blogs years ago, “Who are the 20% of people and/or things that are causing 80% of your stress and problems?” You need to know the answer to that. The scary thing is, what comes to mind, what you just thought of right now when you asked yourself that question is the answer. And now you’re going to resist the answer because you don’t want to believe that’s the answer. But the truth is that’s the answer.
Lisa Larter (23:33):
And the real personal development work that you need to do is fix that. You need to have the courage and the confidence to fix the problems, the 20% of people and things that are creating 80% of your stress, angst and anxiety. The next thing you want to do is really determine where do you want to get? And this is in the PDF as well, all these questions. What does success look like two to five years from now? And why does it matter to you? And then how do you quantify success? I was on LinkedIn this morning and I read a post that Colin Cox wrote and it’s featured on his LinkedIn profile. So if you go to my LinkedIn profile and you look for Colin, you probably would be able to find it. But I’m just looking it up right now as I talk to you. Colin Cox. All right.
Lisa Larter (24:30):
He wrote an article called “The Never Ending Pursuit of Success”. And in that article, he says, “There’s a massive problem with success. One successful business owner summarized it by saying the following to me on their multimillion dollar boat. I feel dead inside. Unfortunately, the situation is more common than you might think.” People are chasing money instead of really looking at what they’re trying to create in terms of creating a life of fulfillment. So don’t just look at what success looks like from a monetary standpoint, look at what is fulfilling for you. How do you quantify success? What does it look like on your terms? Who are you becoming on this journey? How are you currently perceived and how do you want to be perceived differently? What are the sales goals that you’ve attained? How much money do you have in the bank? What does your team look like?
Lisa Larter (25:30):
How do you operate your business every day? Do you manage your time or does your time manage you? What does your marketing look like? Are you proud of it or are you still struggling to keep up? How many clients do you have? Do you love the clients you work with? Do you know what it’s like to really love those clients? How do you feel in your business right now? These questions are all in the PDF document that you can download at lisalarter.com/E2. And these questions will help you really expose the gap and get clarity. When I ask people what they most want in business, they often tell me, “I just really want clarity. I want clarity on where I’m going and what I need to do in order to create a business that I love.” Well, if you want clarity, you’ve got to put your own glasses on and you got to look at things through the prescription for your eyes based on where you want to go.
Lisa Larter (26:23):
And one of the ways that you do that is you take time to think. And we don’t take enough time to think. We don’t take enough time to sit quietly and ask ourselves meaningful questions about our business and journal or think about the answers. It is a really important skill, critical thinking. Being able to make decisions in your business is so important as a leader. When you practice thinking regularly, it helps you build confidence in your ability to think through problems and come up with solutions. Too often, entrepreneurs try to abdicate responsibility for thinking to someone else, and then they never ever, ever develop the ability or the confidence to think for themselves. It’s easy to blame somebody else when you ask them for a solution, instead of looking inside and asking yourself what the right solution is for you. So if you take anything away from this podcast, it’s spend some time thinking about what you really want.
Lisa Larter (27:30):
Spend some time getting clear on the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Do the work, spend the time thinking upfront, instead of jumping into it, without really having clarity on your destination. It’s kind of like planning your meals for the week and knowing exactly what food to buy at the grocery store, versus rifling through the pantry and rummaging through the fridge trying to figure out what you can put together to make a meal. Don’t be like that. Instead, take the time to plan. I know it’s cliche. What is that saying? Failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s true. But often we are uncomfortable with quiet time by ourselves just thinking about where we want to go. And often time, we get the, who do you think you are voice in our head that challenges us because our dreams are so big.
Lisa Larter (28:30):
I grew up really poor, I quit high school halfway through my last year, and I never dreamed that I’d have the life that I have. But what happened along the way is I saw other people doing remarkable things. And I thought to myself, I want that too. I remember seeing someone who was mortgage-free by 40. And I was like, “Oh my God, people do that? I want that.” And then I saw somebody quit a multiple six figure job to start a business. And I was like, I want that. I have modeled steps in my life after things that I’ve seen other people do that have made me think I want that too.
Lisa Larter (29:12):
And that requires believing that if somebody else can do it, you can do it. So don’t sacrifice your dreams. Get really clear on where you’re going and what you want to accomplish, and spend the time thinking about how to get there and what it’s going to feel like and who you need to help you on that journey so that you can live a life that you’re really happy that you lived, instead of looking back at life and wishing that you had done things differently.
Lisa Larter (29:44):
All right, that’s what I got for you today. I hope you have enjoyed episode two. I got to tell you, recording these podcasts is fun. And it’s a little bit intimidating, because like I told you, I think in the trailer, I don’t read what I say to you. I have a list of bullet points and I just kind of riff and talk and go off in a direction. And sometimes when I’m trying to get to my next bullet point, my computer screen freezes. I just want to share things that are helpful, but I also can get trapped. I can also get tripped up in my own need for perfectionism. And so what I’m learning as I record these podcasts for you is done is better than perfect. It really is. And the only way you get good at something is by trying. And the same is true in your business.
Lisa Larter (30:33):
The only way you’re going to get good at strategy is by trying. The only way you’re going to get clear on what you want is by trying. It’s by spending the time thinking about the things you want. If you enjoyed this episode, let me know. I’m not hard to find. I’d love to hear what you think. I’d love to hear what your challenges are when it comes to the gap. I’d love, love, love to hear what psychological hacks you have for really building confidence so that you can take on your strategy boldly and confidently. And if you think this episode can help somebody else, please share it. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
Lisa Larter (31:17):
Thank you for joining me for this episode of She Talks Business. If you enjoyed the show, you know the drill, leave us a review, tell someone about it and join the conversation on social media. Thanks for listening and until next time remember, done is always better than perfect.