Strategies for Effective Delegation

Entrepreneurs are detail-oriented people. They know what they want, when they want it, and exactly which steps they need to take to achieve their business goals. This dual focus on big-picture goals and tiny details is invaluable for those working to get their startups or small businesses off the ground. It can, however, sometimes get in the way for entrepreneurs who have made their business dreams a reality and are trying to maintain that iron grip over the venture’s day-to-day happenings. At some point, even the most control-oriented entrepreneur needs to trust that the employees she delegates to can handle the work – maybe even better than she herself can! Here, I outline a few tips I’ve found useful as a delegating entrepreneur.

Prepare

Don’t just throw a task on an employee’s desk and expect it to be done the way you imagine. Before you even reach out to the employee, you should outline the specifics of the task you plan to delegate. Put yourself in your subordinate’s shoes: what would you ask a manager if they dropped this assignment in your inbox? Have a few answers prepared and ready at hand. Remember, you yourself need to have a clear understanding of the task at hand – otherwise, how could you possibly convey it properly?

Communicate Clearly

A worker needs to know what you expect to be done, how you expect it to be done, and when you need it to be done by. By setting clear expectations upfront, you pave the way to a smooth project execution and delivery later on. That said, managers must keep in mind that how information is conveyed matters just as much as the information itself. Check your tone and attitude! Do employees feel willing to ask questions? If not, you may find yourself needing to rectify miscommunications and mishandled projects down the line.

Confirm Understanding and Commitment

Never assume that an employee understands a project without confirming with them first. Misunderstandings can lead workers to complete tasks incorrectly and ultimately waste their time – and yours! Before you formally hand off a project, ask the employee questions about the task at hand to ensure that they fully understand their responsibilities, deliverables, and deadlines.

Follow Up

Effective communication is a two-way street. Periodically check in with your subordinates to make sure that their projects are on-track and that they themselves are comfortable and engaged in their work. Ideally, they should feel comfortable reaching out to you when they encounter a problem or need clarification on project details. Regular communication between manager and employee builds accountability, and accountability prevents last-minute mistakes.

Don’t Hover

Relinquishing control can be difficult for detail-driven entrepreneurs, but it is an absolute necessity for long-term business success. One individual can’t handle every aspect of a business! Don’t try to hover or micromanage projects, but trust that the people you hired can handle what you give them. If an employee seems to be veering off-course, try coaching them through the problem rather than stealing the task back. Remember, taking projects you’ve delegated back only overloads your own plate, undermines the employee’s confidence, and produces a lesser-quality product.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.com

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Keeping Cool: Strategies for Crisis Management

Philip Ward Washington suggests a few crisis management strategies.

 

Crisis is inevitable, especially for rising businesses. Eventually, some communication mix-ups will occur; important projects will fall apart, colleagues will clash, details will be missed, and company missteps will blare across social media platforms. In situations like these, it’s easy for CEOs and team leaders to fall into a panic and begin rushing about attempting to solve the issue – only to find that their mad attempts to patch problems has made them significantly worse.

Needless to say, crisis management can make or tank a business. Successful entrepreneurs must fight the urge to panic and keep a cool head in order to guide their company through troubling times. A few strategies for handling unforeseen company meltdowns are listed below.

Stay Calm

Employees take their behavioral cues from their leaders. Think, would you be able to rationally tackle a problem if you saw your boss storming about, raging online and snapping at employees? Keep calm and set an example for your employees by staying positive. Try to steer clear of stressful hypotheticals. Odds are, the disaster you envision befalling your company won’t occur unless you panic and grossly mishandle the situation. Stay focused and take steps to solve the issue at hand rationally!

Communicate Effectively

Communication is key, both internally and in the media. Make sure to circulate a memo or set a meeting to lay out the facts about an incident before going to the press; the last thing you need in a crisis is to see a disgruntled employee tearing the company apart online after taking office gossip as fact. Then, make a plan. Decide who will talk to the press and what they will say when they do so. Our instinctual response to accusations of wrongdoing is to defend ourselves – however, an impulsive answer can land even a well-meaning representative in hot water if their words are ill-spoken or misconstrued by the media.

Implement Preventative Measures

When faced with work-related stress, most people search for someone to blame. However, starting a witch hunt and offering up a scapegoat for the company’s problems won’t solve the core issue at hand. Take a day or so to find out the root cause of the problem. If a person or persons caused said issue, consider why and how they were able to throw the company into a problematic situation. Times of crisis are stressful and unwanted, but they also serve as learning experiences. What might your company learn about it weaknesses in a crisis? Consider the question carefully, and implement changes that will strengthen your company’s structure and systems for the future.

*Originally published on PhilipWardWashington.Strikingly.com

Tips and Tricks for Training a Restaurant Employee

You walk into your restaurant one morning to find the place slightly…off. Nothing is out of place or mishandled, but you have the gnawing sense that something has been mishandled somehow. So, you get down to it. By the time your staff meanders in for the opening shift, you’ve noticed over ten points of disorganization, messily handled equipment, and more than a few service complaints in the feedback box you keep on the counter. Concerned, you hold an impromptu staff meeting, only to find that a number of your employees have been mishandling or outright ignoring restaurant policies. When you ask them why, they shrug and reply, “I thought we didn’t need to do it that way.”

 

Training is everything in a restaurant given that a food establishment dines or dies by its customer service. Consider these stats: according to HelpScout, a full  78% of consumers will opt out of a product they had intended to buy after a poor customer service experience. Moreover, 94% of dissatisfied customers don’t report their unhappiness – meaning that your establishment’s poor service could be driving away customers, and you would only know when your regular stream of consumers dried to mere trickle. To quote restaurant consultant and blogger Ryan Gromfin, “Bad restaurant onboarding is like throwing money into your oven and watching it burn.”

Needless to say, a proper training program is integral to a restaurant’s survival. Consider the following tips when preparing to onboard a new employee!

 

Set Expectations Early

Your new employee should understand your restaurant’s goals and expectations before they ever don a uniform. Sit down with them for a few hours on their first day to review the role. Outline in specific terms how a successful employee behaves and what they achieve on any given day. The more guidance your trainee receives early on, the less likely they are to perform poorly or lazily later on.

 

Make an Orientation Program

“Go do it” is not a workable training program. Take the time to sit down and write a full-blown, structured plan for employee training. Schedule formal training and recap sessions into their workday so that they have the opportunity to learn and put that learning into action.

 

Designate a Trainer

If you don’t have the time to onboard a new staff member yourself, choose an experienced employee to do so in your stead. Make certain that the person you select is up to speed on all aspects of training; it might even be worth taking the time to assess their performance before asking them to train others. The last thing you want is for one employee to unintentionally pass misinformation onto your trainee!

 

Check In Periodically

Continued training is a must, even for long-time employees. Periodically check in with each employee individually to assess their work performance and happiness. These one-on-one meetings serve as wonderful opportunities for applauding any recent successes or sharing positive customer service reviews. If you demonstrate care for your business and customers, your staff will follow your example!

 

*Originally posted on PhilipWardWashington.net

Not Everyone Likes the Food: How to Define and Appeal to a Target Consumer Base

For hopeful entrepreneurs who invested months – if not years – of their lives in building what they hoped would be a successful restaurant, this defeat can be crushing. However, this dismissal is easily avoidable if a savvy restaurateur markets their food effectively to their defined target audience.

The hard truth is that not everyone will like your food. Sure, you can sweat over your recipes for months, wondering whether this dish needs a little more spice, or that one a little less – but in the end, you will still encounter hungry people who barely spare your hopeful new restaurant a passing glance. For those restaurateurs battling through their first few years losing even a handful of patrons can be nerve-wracking; after all, according to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell, as many as 59% of restaurants shutter their storefronts within their first three years of business.

For hopeful entrepreneurs who invested months – if not years – of their lives in building what they hoped would be a successful restaurant, this defeat can be crushing. However, this dismissal is easily avoidable if a savvy restaurateur markets their food effectively to their defined target audience.

Think of it this way. Odds are, you won’t find an high-end French restaurant offering meals starting at $100 a plate on a block dominated by working-class, fixed-income retirees. The reason seems obvious; the demographic that would realistically buy the food doesn’t match up with demographic near the food. Any aspiring entrepreneur worth their wooden spoon needs to consider the age, economic bracket, culture, and location of their customer base.

Before opening – or even purchasing – a location, aspiring restaurants need to ask themselves the following questions:

 

What is the demographic of my target audience?

Are your prospective customers teenagers? Families? Upper-middle-class businessmen and women out for a fancy dinner? You will need to narrow your target customer base to determine your menu, pricing, and marketing strategy.

 

Does my location suit my target customer base?

It’s worth noting that the client base that the entrepreneur wants isn’t always the same as the one the entrepreneur gets. For example, if a cafe targeting business professionals is geographically closer to the local high school than to any corporate buildings, its owners may find themselves needing to shift their menu offerings from paninis and lattes to milkshakes and burgers to stay in business. Save yourself the scramble by setting up shop in an area with a dense population of your target consumers.

 

Will my prices and promotions appeal to my target customer base?

If you intend to sell burgers to teenagers, you shouldn’t charge $30 a plate. Think about the financials of your target demographic; what can they afford? A buy-5-get-1-free punch card is appropriate for a coffee house, but a steakhouse might be better rewarded offering a free appetizer to customers who spend over $50. Consider what your consumer base will be able to pay within the context of your establishment, and work within what you would expect their budgets to be!

 

Even the best restaurants can’t please everyone. For many, success is dependent on a restaurateur’s ability to define and market to a specific customer base. If you plan to open a restaurant, make sure that the food and services you intend to offer will appeal to those in the area!

*Originally posted on PhilipWardWashington.net

Quotes from Successful Innovators on Why We Shouldn’t Fear Setbacks

Philip Ward presents a series of quotes from successful innovators who believe that entrepreneurs shouldn’t fear failure.

Failure is scary. No hardworking, determined entrepreneur wants to admit defeat, or give up on a venture they’ve poured months – if not years – into developing. But sometimes, undertakings do fall flat, and entrepreneurs find themselves in the unenviable situation where they either have to pull the plug on a project or risk going under.

The fact is, businesses fail. In-business ventures fail. Sometimes, ideas simply don’t work out, and entrepreneurs are left in the dust to wonder how they can possibly move on from their dustup with defeat.

But success isn’t a one-shot game – it may seem counterintuitive, but failure is a necessary part of the business process. Without setbacks, entrepreneurs are unable to learn which approaches work, and which are better left unpracticed.

Even the most notable innovators admit to facing losses before big wins. These are a few notable quotes from successful people on their philosophy towards failure.

 

Lance Armstrong:

World Champion cyclist

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”

 

Neal Shusterman:

Award-winning novelist

“I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”

 

Thomas Edison:

Renowned inventor

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

 

Bill Gates:

Co-founder of Microsoft

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

 

Mark Twain:

Internationally-renowned writer and humorist

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

 

Denis Waitley:

Noted author and motivational speaker

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing”

 

Vince Lombardi:

Noted American football coach

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

 

Chris Hardwick:

American comedian

“No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.”

 

Christopher Morley:

Noted Poet

“There is only one success- to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

 

Albert Schweitzer:

Nobel Prize winner

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

 

Adam Osborne:

Noted entrepreneur and author

“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake- you can’t learn anything from being perfect.”

 

Winston Churchill:

Former UK Prime Minister

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

 

John Green:

American novelist

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”

*Originally published on PhilipWardWashington.com

So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur? (These Are Your First Steps)

From afar, an entrepreneur’s job seems like the dream. Those who start their own businesses don’t need to wake up early for the nine-to-five grind,  answer to a demanding boss, or take on unwanted tasks. Instead, they have the chance to follow their own schedule, set their own assignments, and bask in their own success. Entrepreneurship is the dream – so why aren’t more people breaking free of the corporate mold and starting off on their own paths?

Firstly, because starting a business is much, much harder than it appears from the outside. According to statistics from Business Insider, over 543,000 businesses are launched each month in the United States by hopeful entrepreneurs. However, findings from the Small Business Administration reveal that only half of those small businesses will survive beyond their initial five years.

There’s no getting around the numbers: launching a startup is risky business. Moreover, committing to the task means agreeing to hard work, long hours, and absolutely no guarantees. However, if you have a passion that keeps you up at night – one that drives you, and makes you want to risk everything in its pursuit – entrepreneurship might be the path for you. Here are the first steps you should take when embarking on the entrepreneurial journey.

 

Lay out your ideas.

You can’t quit your job and decide to start a business just because you want to work your own hours. You need a passion, and a rock-solid business idea. Take the time to sit down and write out your thoughts on what the foundation for your business will be. If all goes well, you’ll be spending years of your life on this venture – you want your root idea to be strong!

 

Do your research

Small businesses fill a need in your community. Do your research – does your idea suit gaps in the local market? Will there be a consumer base for your service or product? Find out quickly – the last thing you want to do is watch the business you’ve poured time, effort, and money into flop because the community has no need for it.

If you have no experience with starting a business, you should additionally consider researching the process to find out what you need to do from an organizational and legal standpoint. Visit the small business associations comprehensive resource page for helpful guides on a wide swath of relevant topics.

 

Build a support system.

Let your friends and family in on your plans. Even in the best scenario, you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time and energy on your entrepreneurial efforts, and need the understanding support of those closest to you. Give them an honest outline of what you expect to be doing, and explain that you may have less available time as you commit to launching your business. When you inevitably face business setbacks, you will need a sympathetic support system to help you bounce back and tackle the problem.

 

Commit to the process.

Building a business takes time. You’ll work long nights, face difficult tasks, and wonder when you’ll see returns on the time you’ve invested. On the hardest days, you might even worry that you should have kept to the security of your previous job.

But after successfully starting several of my own businesses, I can honestly say that passion wins out over entrepreneurial difficulties every time. I love developing and maintaining my own businesses – and it isn’t simply because I work my own hours, and set my own tasks. Rather, it’s because I know that I’m following my passion, and putting in the work to make my dreams come true.

 

Despite the risks, I wouldn’t trade being an entrepreneur for all the job security in the world – and if you have spirit enough to build your own business, neither should you.

 

*This post was originally published on philipwardwashington.com