4. Run the Business via Day-to-Day Operations by Jim Clark

4. Run the Business via Day-to-Day Operations

This course is about doing. You will learn how to manage your business in ways that produce net revenue and improve customer relations.

Learning Outcomes

  1. You will become much more skilled and confident at running your Sideline, and develop measurement devices that help you determine how and how much to make adjustments in your operations. 
  2. You will gain savvy at avoiding fixed expenses, and crafting income estimates. 
  3. You will learn effective ways of having crucial conversations.  
  4. You will hone your listening skills to a new level of expertise.  
  5. You will become more skilled at giving feedback to others, and avoiding psychological contracts that do not benefit you.
  6. You will sharpen your ability to make sound income estimates. 

What's included?

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4.1 Documenting unit measures will help direct your use of resources
1. Unit measures indicate how much value or benefit accrues to customers.
2. Calculating unit measures can include financial and non-financial components.
3. Unit measure analysis helps you decide whether to stick with an approach or replace it.
4. Unit measures can be a function of combined variables that are calculated together.
4.2 Avoiding fixed expenses which can quickly drain your cash reserves
1. Consider all expenses which cannot be eliminated.
2. Try to eliminate, replace, or renegotiate all fixed costs up front.
3. Recognize that rent or leases can be based on level of revenue, especially seasonally.
4. Consider a range of supplier and delivery options before committing.
4.3 Drafting best-/worst-case income estimates will bring realism to your idea
1. Consider best- and worst-case scenarios, using rough estimates for first try.
2. Identify all profit centers (sources of revenue) your Sideline might generate.
3. Compare those numbers to an online generic listing of costs and revenue for your industry.
4. Recalculate best- and worst-case scenario costs and revenue.
4.4 Using helpers to determine “how to” best perform work tasks
1. In defining tasks to be delegated, specify in detail exactly WHAT you want done.
2. Conversely, when providing a task list for a helper, minimize emphasis on HOW to do it.
3. When walking through task requirements with a new helper, emphasize end goals.
4. If helpers are not performing to expectations, provide corrective action/consequences for nonperformance.
4.5 Communicating ineffectively via the “dirty dozen” will damage Sideline relationships
1. Beware: Acknowledge the “dirty dozen” that you are inclined to use in conflicts.
2. Review results when using dirty responses in helper or supplier disputes.
3. In future disputes, try to anticipate your tendencies by focusing on what you want.
4. Many disputes can be defused by asking the person what they want you to do differently.
4.6 Exchanging “info” rather than “ammo” minimizes Sideline disputes
1. When a customer, helper, or supplier says things that trigger your “hot button,” calm down.
2. If you can’t easily shut off your hot button, consciously try to avoid an interrogation session.
3. Ask questions that provide information for further clarification and possible agreement.
4. Avoid and deflect questions that generate ammo for additional disputes.
4.7 Avoiding conflicts is like leaving garbage under the sink when going on vacation
1. Ongoing differences with others won’t go away without some intervention.
2. Try to address each side’s concerns, to maximize the likelihood that there is no further problem.
3. A conflict is on the way to being fixed if you reach one or more important agreements.
4. Recognize that how you manage conflicts may not be the way others manage issues.
4.8 Owning responsibility for your Sideline successes and failures
1. When hitting a roadblock with your Sideline, focus on factors you can control.
2. Avoid attributing your setbacks to bad luck, lack of effort, or task difficulty.
3. It is easier to fix setbacks when you accept some responsibility for the outcome.
4. You will perform better if you attribute performance improvement to ability rather than effort.
4.9 Knowing when to speak — or listen
1. When a customer or helper appears more upset, try to carefully listen to their concern.
2. If you are more upset in a conversation, speak up rather than withhold your concern.
3. In a crucial conversation, ask questions that draw out important information.
4. Avoid asking questions that escalate your differences.
4.10 Listening carefully to others’ needs will save you time and money
1. Suspend your judgment until hearing the other person’s concern.
2. When the speaker is unclear, politely and briefly interrupt to help move the conversation.
3. Avoid “premature problem-solving” for the speaker by giving assurance they are heard.
4. Identify the emotion the speaker is trying to present, to better understand their needs.
4.11 Settling arguments with customers is easier if you separate problem ownership
1. It is important to recognize problems that are yours to fix.
2. Refuse to own problems that other people are responsible for managing.
3. Avoid the three corners of life that distort problem-solving: victim, persecutor, rescuer.
4. Let people solve their own problems in their own way.
4.12 Using the broken-record technique will help you defend your position when necessary
1. Hold your ground with by being assertiveness but not aggressive.
2. The broken-record technique is a powerful tool for defending against aggressive behavior.
3. Creative broken-record attempts involve listening, identifying emotions, and stating what you want.
4. This technique works great if you are not trying to take things from others.
4.13 Recognizing communication problems that aren’t
1. Interaction problems can be falsely attributed to communication issues.
2. People have four kinds of territorial needs: privacy, space, influence, and action.
3. If people’s need for territory is nurtured, communication problems often dissipate.
4. Thoroughly understand the four types of everyday territorial needs.
4.14 Avoiding psychological contracts will prevent you from agreeing to unwanted ideas
1. Getting lured into psychological contracts makes for difficult conversations.
2. When you sense a psychological contract in the making, opt out of it gracefully and quickly.
3. Psychological contracts are often honored because they are difficult to break.
4. Some people routinely use psychological contracts without being aware of it.
4.15 Giving hearable feedback to helpers or suppliers may preserve your relationships
1. Adopt Weed’s feedback technique, which addresses situations/emotions/consequences.
2. It helps to distinguish situations where you “must” versus “can” give feedback.
3. Focus on fixable behaviors when giving feedback.
4. Understand that encouragement provides more useful feedback than constructive criticism.
4.16 Asking customers what they want is a shortcut to effective business planning
1. Continually explore what customers want by unobtrusively observing what they choose.
2. Find ways to ask customers what they want, but do not necessarily say what you have to offer.
3. As you learn what different customer groups want, retool your business plan.
4. Periodically conduct exploratory missions to learn how businesses discover customer wants.