Category Archives: Professional

Taking The Pain Out Of Doing Reports

Preparing reports is not the favorite activity of nonprofits and other organizations.  As a matter of fact it is often the least favorite part.  Leaders and program staffs of organizations want to spend their time delivering their services – helping people.  The accounting staff wants to do accounting.  Fund raisers want to raise funds.   Grants staff wants to spend their time on identifying and writing grants.  But reports must be written or the funding dries up.

There are some things that can be done to greatly reduce the pain and frustration of preparing reports.

 

Before the Report

Before you begin preparing the report there are some actions that will not only make the report preparation easier, they will also improve the quality of your reports.  You may be reluctant to spend time on some of these suggestions, but it is really a matter of “pay me now, or pay me more later”.  The time you spend on these groundwork things will save you time and agony when you actually prepare the report.

  • First be certain that you understand the reporting requirements of the one who will receive the report. Recipients can be funders, partners, board members, donors and, sometimes, licensing/certification entities.  Your understand should include:

>  Process

>  Form

>  Timelines

>  Methods

>  Don’t assume anything.  If the requirements and guidelines are not clear — ASK

  • Be very careful that you do not use familiarity as an opportunity to scrimp on the details. When a funder has been giving you money for a long time or a donor has been supporting your efforts for years, you may feel that they are a sure bet.  They know the wonderful things you do and there is no reason that they will stop helping you.  But what if something changes – guidelines, contact person, number of competitors for their money?  Any report you provide should be done as if the recipient knows nothing about you.  Because you never know when that might suddenly be the case.
  • Make a timeline for all facets of the reporting process.

>  Set dates for everything – collection, tallying, analyzing, writing, proofing, etc.

>  Put actions on your calendar and the one for the organization.  Be sure everyone knows the dates.  This makes it a commitment and it needs to be a commitment to actually happen

  • Have someone from outside your organization look at your plan, including outcomes and measurements, to be certain everything is clear and rational. You can trade with another organization (they read yours, you read theirs).  You can hire an outside consultant or maybe use faculty or students at a college or university.
  • Develop a tracking plan that gathers the data as you go. No “catching up” (translation: recreating at the end of the month or when the report is written.)  This practice causes inaccuracies, stress and likely makes something else suffer.  Include dates, remember there is not a commitment unless there are dates associated with an action.  To be sure you are on target to meet your commitments and produce the expected outcomes.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting to the date you are supposed to write the report and find that you are missing things.   It’s better to spend a few minutes at pre-determined intervals to be sure you are on target than to get into a OMG situation where you are running around like a crazy person trying to find and recreate the information for the report.

 

Preparing the Report

When it is time to prepare the report it is crucial that you set aside the proper amount of time to do the work.  Report preparation does not turn out well when it is one task of a multi-tasking session.  Interruptions will actually cause you to spend more time on the report preparation.  Be very careful that you do not use other tasks and people to avoid doing the report.  Here are some tips that will help you do quality reporting and lessen frustration.

  • Do it in the manner required and/or agreed upon. Changing the manner could result in you not having the information needed because you gathered data for the original manner.  It could also mean the report will not meet the requirements of the report recipient.
  • Be on time. If you have done the proper work before the report and you set aside time to do it, this should not be a problem.
  • Do quality reporting.
  • Don’t make excuses. Even if funders are tolerant of excuses, you do yourself no favors for future funding.
  • Have someone outside your organization look at reports to ensure they are clear, concise and impressive. You can use the same organization or person you had review your plan for reporting.
  • Recognize when you need professional help and get it. Your specialty is not preparing reports; the quality and benefits may be higher from getting professional help.  Also, it may be less costly to outsource some or all of the report preparation so that you and your staff have time to do the business of your organization.  Some options for outsourcing:  Consultant, Higher Education, Intern, Board Member or even another organization.

 

Fallout from Inadequate Reporting

There are definitive consequences from reporting that is inadequate or late.  The most serious fallout is loss of funding either immediate or future.  If your funding is reimbursement based, you could not only lose funding, you would also have spent money that you will never recover.  Poor reporting is likely to ruin your chances for future funding from the report recipient and from potential funders, because funders talk.  Inadequate reporting will likely result in the need to supplement the original report; this takes more time than doing it properly the first time.  Supplemental reporting, loss of funding and worrying that the report might not be adequate cause stress.  Something you probably have more than enough of.

 

Benefits of Good and Exceptional Reporting

On the flip side of the consequences of inadequate reporting, there are many benefits of good reporting, even more from exceptional reporting.

  • Meeting the requirements and being on-time shows that you are cooperative and compliant and have respect for the needs and specifications of funders and other report recipients.
  • Using appropriate statistics and examples shows how well you are delivering on your commitments and proves that you are producing the promised outcomes.
  • An exceptional report gives you an opportunity to brag, which in this case is not only satisfying; it also proves your value. If you see reporting as an opportunity to brag instead of an annoyance, your reports will be less aggravating to do and present a positive impression.
  • A report that delivers also provides a foundation on which you can build future proposals, requests and other things. In my experience as a consultant helping organizations with reports I have seen many uses for parts of the report, including:

>  Other grants

>  Funding justifications

>  Development of programs

>  Projections

>  Planning – strategic and tactical

>  Feasibility testing

>  Press releases

>  Annual report

  • A complete report provides an assessment of progress and identification of obstacles to help your staff and board understand the situation and positions you to make adjustments.
  • An exceptional report helps you build consensus and market your organization.

>  It helps you maintain belief and support among your followers

>  It aids you in development of advocates – partners, donors, fans

> It assists you in promoting your organization and programs to potential                   partners, funders and participants

  • A well-done report provides you and your staff with a sense of accomplishment. Seeing in print (or on a monitor) your progress and successes makes them more real and just plain feels good.
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A Report Can Be Your Friend (Yes, Really!)

If you are not using reporting as a way to promote your organization and its mission and services, you are missing a remarkable opportunity.  Reports to your board, funders, donors and partners often have to be done, so it makes a lot of sense to make them work to your advantage.  If reports are not required, doing them anyway gives you the same opportunity to promote your work and serves as an anticipatory move that will give you an advantage the next time you make a request for funds or action.

 

Here are some ways that you can use reporting to your benefit:

  • Show, when done to the recipient’s requirements, that you are cooperative and compliant and have respect for their needs and specifications. All things that funders, boards and partners love.
  • Allow you to provide statistics and examples on how well you are delivering on the projected and desired outcomes. If you see this as an opportunity to brag instead of an annoyance, your reports will be less aggravating to do and present a positive impression.
  • Provide information that will be a foundation on which you will build future proposals and requests. You write the reports, so you can decide how they are written and what is included (beyond the required elements).  Use the opportunity to present the message you want them to receive.
  • Supply a document that can be used for other purposes such as a press release, a separate grant, another report, historical reference or the book you plan to write.
  • Offer an assessment of progress and obstacles to help your staff understand the situation and position you to inform board members, partners, stake holders, clients and even funders about things they can do to help or enhance and expand.
  • Provide you and your staff with a sense of accomplishment. Seeing in print (or on a monitor) your progress and successes makes them more real and just plain feels good.

But That’s Not What I Meant

Words can persuade.  Words can hurt.  Words can calm.  Words matter.

Whether it’s convincing, providing services/care, managing a project or anything else in operating an agency or organization – words matter.  Here are 3 ways to use words to your advantage.

Know your client’s/donor’s language

Words do not always mean the same thing to everyone.  Take the word superficial as an example.  To someone in the medical profession a superficial wound means something not very serious, a surface injury.  Outside of the medical community, if we describe a person as superficial we think they are shallow.  If we think a situation is superficial we consider it insignificant.  So to an ER doctor a wound that is superficial is good; to a client whose need is called superficial by your program manager, it is an insult.  If you do not understand the lingo of your clients/donors you run the risk of insulting them or being misunderstood.  It does take research and listening to know the language of others, but the effort can set you apart from funding competitors and help you accomplish your mission.

Use language your partners understand

If you believe the premise in the previous paragraph then you probably think that your partners should make the effort to know your language and you would be right.  However, if they don’t you will suffer.  Here is an illustration:  You are on the road and almost get hit by another car.  You think, if we wreck it will be the other person’s fault.  You may be right, but you will still be in a wreck.  If you are the lead on a project/program and your partners do not understand your need, time-frame or whatever you could suffer if you do not adjust.  A good truth to remember is that just because someone should does not mean they will.

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Or as my Grandmother used to say, sugar catches more flies than vinegar.  If you start out using kind words you are likely to get cooperation.  If you do not get cooperation then you can resort to stiffer language.  If you start out with vinegary words you may get cooperation or at least action.  But if you do not get what you need, you are at a disadvantage.  Do you use tougher language or do you try to drop back and use nice language?  The typical tactic is to get tougher.  Then even if you get what you want, you usually don’t feel like a winner.  And what happens next time, because if you started out with vinegary words there will likely not be a next time.

In closing let me give you an extreme example to help you remember that words matter.  In South Carolina, my home state, and in some other Southern states the word “Shag” is a dance done to beach music.  In England the word “shag” is a slang expression for sex.  I’ll let you think of ways this word could cause embarrassment, confusion, insult or amusement.  But you get the point — if you don’t understand the other person’s language the outcome will not likely be what you want it to be.

Timing Is Everything

“The difference in a good life and a great life is timing.”  That’s what my former business partner used to say.

Timing is the difference between success and failure, agony and defeat, yes and no.   Whether it is in your personal or professional life, timing can make a huge difference in an outcome.

Here are some examples that illustrate just how important timing can be.

When my daughters were children they knew not to press me for a decision.  They still remember me saying, “If you want an answer right now, it is No.  If you give time to think about it, it might be yes.”   I have often seen that practice in the professional world.  If you press someone to make a decision before they are ready, you might not get the answer you want.  If you push for a commitment on funds before a donor is ready, the result may be negative and you may have used your one chance.

A few years ago my nephew, JT, had some tough instruction on timing.  For years he had been planning to hike the Appalachian Trail when he graduated from college.  On May 29 JT and his father flew from Atlanta to Maine to start the trip.  They had plane delays and missed flights and got to Maine a day later than they planned and because the flight they could get landed them in a different city than they planned, they had to drive 3 hours after landing.  The Appalachian Trail actually begins at the top of a mountain and that part of the trial is closed when weather is bad.  Well, since the weather was stormy my nephew and brother-in-law had to hike the second leg first and the first leg second.  (Nothing like not starting at the beginning to get you disoriented).   When they did hike the first leg, JT hurt the tendon in one of ankles.  Of course he hiked on.  A few days later he was attacked by the dog of another hiker while in a camping site.  The dog tried to take a piece of his leg, but my nephew fended him off.  However, the dog was persistent and finally clamped down on his arm.  JT left the camp site and got to a lodging area where the owners helped him clean and bandage his wound.  The next day he went to the emergency room and had both the ankle and dog bite checked out.  The wound wasn’t bad and the doctor gave him antibiotic ointment.   They x-rayed his ankle and found that it wasn’t broken, but was sprained; the doctor said he needed to rest it.  So, JT rested for a couple of days, not the way he wanted to start his 2,180 mile journey.   After a few days, he got back on the Trail, but compensating for his injury made his other leg sore and caused blisters on his feet.  When he got to the next “stop” on his trek he found that the food he and his dad had sent to be held for him was not there.  (When someone is hiking the Appalachian Trail they make arrangements for food to be held for them at “stops” along the trail.  There are very few places to purchase supplies along the trail and most hikers do not want to or have the means to get off the trail and visit a grocery store.)  JT was about to enter one of the wilderness sections of the trail and had to have the food.   At this point he finally decided that his timing might be off.  He decided to go back home and fully recuperate from his injuries.  But he learned a lesson about the wisdom of timing.  He also learned that when there are signs that the timing is not right, you must heed them or suffer consequences.

Sometimes you have a good idea for a new program or service.   But if the timing is wrong your good idea may look like a bad idea.  If the timing is off, you just cannot make up for it with determination, passion and eloquence.   You have to do your research before starting something new – research is preparation.  You also have to be prepared to take another path if the first one is blocked or maybe even delay starting at all when you see the signs that the timing is not right.

One last illustration about timing.  In 2001 I attended a meeting.  I felt compelled to later contact the speaker and ask to meet him.  He agreed and we met a week or so later.  Soon after, he put me in touch with the head of economic development of a county in a neighboring state.  That man ended up hiring me and my then business partner for a project.  I met people involved in that project who hired me for two other projects.  Since that time I have done about 20 other projects and taught 5 workshops in that area.  I just completed the latest one in January 2017.  All of these projects and workshops would never have happened if I hadn’t gone to that meeting and hadn’t acted.   There is luck, but luck does not drop clients, donors, grants or effective board members in your lap.  Luck comes when you act.  It is very difficult to be in the right place at the right time, if you are not some place.  It is also difficult to get an opportunity if you do not take action.

Timing can be friend or foe.  Pay attention to it so you can reap the benefits.

Guard Your Professional Reputation

As Social Media continues to grow in reach and scope it is very important to represent your organization/agency and yourself as professional.  It is important to keep your professional interactions separate from personal ones on Social Media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.  Much has been said said about how the wrong postings on can hurt chances for employment.  The same advice applies to your organization or agency.  Any posting you, or anyone who represents your organization puts online reflects on your organization.  The easiest way is to keep them separate — have a page/presence for your organization and one for yourself.  You may also want to make the personal one available only to friends, while the organization one can be open to the public so that you can use it more effectively to promote your programs and services.

Keeping your reputation and image positive is important everywhere.  Here is one of the Actions in my book 101 Winning Marketing Actions for Small Businesses. Just replace the business references with ones that are applicable to your organization.

Action #93  Keep your reputation positive.

If you do not live up to the promises and claims you make, you will lose existing Customers/Clients or never really have a chance with a new Prospect.  Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the moment and say yes when you should not.  Be sure that you do not sign the contract unless you know you can do everything promised and required in the manner it must be done according to the specified schedule.  Remember that word-of-mouth is the best or worst friend of a Small Business; if you do fall victim to over promising or committing, people will know.  Also, many government agencies and businesses can, and may, exclude you from future bidding and consideration if you fail to meet your commitments.

Remember that it is better to be known well by a few than to be known widely for the wrong reasons.

Secret Tactic for Getting A Response

If I had a dollar for every time I could not move forward because I could not get a response from someone, I could go on a luxury trip.

If I had a dollar for every time one of my clients was on hold because they could not get an answer from someone, I could retire now.

How about you?  Have you ever been held up because a co-worker, client, partner or friend would not respond?

It seems that it would be easier to get a response from someone, anyone, with all the means of communication we have today.  When most people have their cell phone (smart or otherwise) with them all the time, it should be easy to call, text or email a response.  And since we are all becoming more comfortable with shorthand communication (lol, BFF and other abbreviations and emoticons) it only takes seconds to respond.  So, why is it so hard to get an answer, an RSVP or at least an acknowledgment?

My theory is that usually there is not enough stimulus to make someone take action.  Here are some examples:

  • There is no consequence or the consequence is not clear.
  • Other things are taking the person’s attention and your question is not “loud” enough (i.e. squeaky wheel gets the grease).
  • The person is rude or lazy and needs a prod.
  • The person has a short attention span and forgets your request as soon as they see or hear it.
  • The message did not make it to their mailbox or voice mail.
  • Some people just can’t make decisions.

So, is there anything you can do to get that response you need?  Yes!

Here is a tactic I have used effectively many times.  When you make the request, state that if you do not hear from them by a specific date or time, that you will assume _____________  (fill in the blank with whatever is appropriate) and you will proceed with ______________.  If it is the first time you have asked a person for some kind of information or decision, you may want to ask them once without a deadline; then after a reasonable length of time (that doesn’t put you in a bind) send a second request with the deadline.  No, this is not rude.  As a matter of fact it is kind.  By providing the deadline, you will let the person know how important their response is and help them prioritize it among all the other things in their mind.  You may also relieve them of having to make a decision if you make it for them with your assumption.  Another thing to consider is all the other people that are affected if you cannot move forward;  is it fair to make them wait because one person cannot or does not respond?

Here are some examples of this assumption tactic:

  • If I do not hear from you by Friday at 4:00 pm, I will assume you cannot participate and move on to our next choice.
  • If I do not hear from you by next Wednesday, August 12, 2012,  (always provide date to avoid confusion) I will assume you are not interested in this project.
  • If I do not hear from you by close of business today I will assume you will be at the meeting tomorrow and will let the committee know.
  • If we do not receive a response from you by April 2, 2012, we will assume you will not be partnering on this project.

There are a few risks of using this tactic.  You must way the risks and consequences of using it versus the ones of not getting a response:

  • You may irritate the person you are trying to get a response from.
  • You may get the reputation of being impatient or pushy.
  • If you are female you may get called some unflattering names.
  • Your deadline message may not make it to the intended recipient.  You may want to follow up the message with an alternate method (i.e. If you send an email, follow it up with a text or phone call/voice mail).
  • You could even lose a partner, client, friend, committee member, etc.  But if someone reacts this strongly to a deadline the relationship/partnership was probably doomed anyway.
  • Be prepared to be the recipient of a deadline when you are asked for a response.  Because some people will retaliate and some people will adopt the tactic.

If you decide to try this tactic, let me know how it works for you.

Your Christmas Decorations Are STILL Up?

Do your Christmas decoration habits reflect your Publicity & Reporting habits?

It’s true, in the US we now have 5 seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Christmas or the Holiday Season.   Christmas decorations are now put up in stores while pumpkins and skeletons are still in evidence.  Santa shows up at malls the weekend after Halloween.

When do you put up your holiday decorations?  And when do you take them down?  I think that your Christmas decoration habits can give you insight into your personality and how it relates to your promotion and reporting habits.  Bear with me.

If you put your decorations up before Thanksgiving you may tend toward “showy” publicity and reporting.  You likely prefer events to one-on-one meetings.  You might use a power point presentation for a 10 minute talk and use long paragraphs in your reports.  You may be partial to promotional items and not so partial to statistics and outcomes.   None of this is bad – or good.  What is important is that you take into account your personality when you plan and execute your publicity plans and reporting.

If you always put your decorations up at the same time every year you probably like structure.  As far as publicity you either don’t want to do it because it seems so ambiguous and not easily measured or you have a real plan and you work that plan and you are not happy when something gets you off that plan.  Structure is a good thing and having a plan is essential to promotion but that plan should have room for occasional adjustments.  Structure can be a real asset in reporting as long you focus on measurements and outcomes.

If you leave your decorations up longer than twelve days after Christmas then you are either lazy or you have a hard time letting go.  Either one will get you in trouble if you treat publicity and reporting in the same way.   If you are lazy about promotion or reporting it will hurt your organization.  If you hold onto a promotion activity or plan when it no longer serves a purpose or it has become non-effective, you may as well not be doing publicity and promotion and save your money and effort.  If you are still doing reporting the way you did it ten years ago, you may not be meeting the expectation of your board, funders and partners.  Now if you say your decorations are still up because you are too busy to take them down – well that’s another problem.  If you feel the same way about publicity and reporting then you are cheating your organization out of possible clients and jeopardizing funding.

Now for those of you who say, “I don’t even bother with decorations!”  Not only are you a scrooge, you probably have stubbornly not seen the purpose of publicity and think it is fluff, just like decorations.  Even more risky, you may be jeopardizing current or future funding if you do not do a good job with reporting.

If you put your decorations up just a day or two before the holiday and then leave them up for weeks after the holiday you may be a procrastinator, not a believer in planning or just have bad timing.  If last minute is a way of life for you, you need to be sure you truly know and understand the needs of your partners and funders; otherwise you could lose them.  If you try to make up for being late by going overboard (providing lots of flowery information, profuse apologies or lengthy explanations) you may want to rethink that “I don’t need no stinking plan” attitude.

What are my decoration habits?  My husband and I put ours up about two weeks before Christmas and then take them down the day after Christmas.  Do I think this is the way everyone should do it?  No, but this is the way that works for my husband and I – it suits our personalities.   We are kind of “everything in its own time” people.   And by the way, I put up a few decorations for Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving, ‘cause that suits my personality, too.

Before You Ask For The Grant, Be Sure You Can Fulfill The Requirements

Would you leave home naked to go to work, the grocery store or a movie?

Would you set off on a trip to a place you have never been with no GPS, directions  or map?

Would you attempt to eat a whole turkey with all the trimmings by yourself?

Not likely.

But organizations often seek funding before they know if they can fulfill all of the requirements.  They often seek funding for projects they hope they can fit their current programs or services into.  The lure of funding sometimes overrides good sense.

Organization and agency directors are always under pressure to see that they have adequate funding.  Urgency sometimes means they may not have set up the processes necessary to ensure that meet the requirements and expectations of a funder.  They may cause their organization to sacrifice something important by committing to requirements that take them away from their core programs and services.

Often it takes partnerships for organizations to operate or take on big projects.  This might mean a temporary partnership is necessary.   Not working out all the details of that partnership can cause many problems when it’s time for the partnership to operate.

I have worked with many organizations and agencies who were not prepared when they got the grant.   All of them suffered in some way from the lack of preparation.  No matter how big the pot of funding or how tempting it is to apply for it, it must be a fit or it can cause more harm than help.  I have seen evidence that an organization that knows it is prepared does a much better job at convincing someone to fund them.  They are confident in their abilities and that confidence comes across to funders and donors.

Remember that not being prepared leads to failure and failure can ruin your reputation.

THIS IS MY HOUSE! Using Entrepreneur Characteristics to Improve Your Life (Part 2)

Part 2 of the entrepreneurial characteristics that can help improve your life at work, home or any where.

Convincing – One of the primary philosophical characteristics of Entrepreneurs is belief – in yourself, your ideas, your organization, your abilities, etc.  The belief is the first step to convincing.  Understanding your audience or target is the second step, because understanding means you can identify the benefits for them of participating, supporting, donating, using, attending, etc.  If you do the first two steps, then convincing will come easy.  But convincing is enormously important to reaching a desired outcome.

Asks – A successful Entrepreneur asks.  He/She may be afraid of the answer, but realizes that is necessary to ask for the sale, promotion, assignment, donation, information or opportunity.  This is one of those places where “no risk, no reward” applies.  The response may be negative, but it is usually necessary to know that, if you are to complete something or move on to the next step.  Not asking is equivalent to giving up or giving control to someone else.  Remember from the original description that an Entrepreneur “accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”

Delegates & Partners – Even though the definition of Entrepreneur is “one who takes responsibility for the outcome,” it would be ridiculous to think that one person can do everything.  That can be a difficult acknowledgement for directors.  Learning when, where and how to delegate or partner is crucial to being successful.   But the knowledge is only half the story, doing is the other half.  Delegating and partnering  provides success on many levels.  Triumphantly completing a task, project, event, etc. is one level.  Another is sharing the revenue, experience, praise or recognition with someone else.  And contributing to the development of an employee, collaborator, funder, donor or organization is another.  More successes likely to be realized by partnering and delegating are increasing your opportunities, productivity and efficiency. And last, but certainly not least, delegating and partnering helps you use your time, energy, money and brain power wisely and prudently.  Entrepreneurs know when to lead and when to follow.

Researches – Knowledge is power.  Background provides understanding.  Other peoples’ triumphs and mistakes teach lessons.  But you cannot benefit from any of these if you do not do research.  Research avoids cultural faux pas, minimizes costly mistakes, provides competitive ammunition, enhances your assets, strengthens your position and reduces wasted time.  How many times have you made a purchase only to find out a few days later that you could have gotten it for less at a different store or website?  Have you ever been embarrassed because you made an assumption instead or doing a little reading?  Ever felt under or over dressed?  A true Entrepreneur prepares to be successful by doing the appropriate research.

Finishes – Making it to the end and recognizing the end are important principles for entrepreneurial living.  Our definition stated that an Entrepreneur “accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”  Normally, outcome is perceived as the end.  If you do not reach the end the outcome is likely not what you really wanted.  And if you have not clearly identified the outcome you may go past it, thus wasting time, energy, money and maybe reputation.  Although this is an important trait, not all people classified as Entrepreneurs are good at finishing.  Most of those who rarely finish were placed in the Entrepreneur category by default.   These are the individuals who keep starting something new because they have short attention spans, did not think things through before they started or do not deal well with obstacles.  They did not function well when working for others, so they became “Entrepreneurs” and started businesses or organizations.  Chronically not finishing things is extremely unsatisfying, which may explain their wanderlust and, also, may be the reason for the failure of many businesses and organizations.

Persistent – Sometimes organization directors are not comfortable with persistence because they are afraid they will be called pushy or other uncomplimentary terms.  But persistence, and often consistency, is necessary.  Everyone has their own agenda; we all have demands on our time, energy and money.  So if you are to accomplish your agenda and respond to the demands on you, you must persistently ask, remind, propose, cajole, beg, follow-up and insist.  Take this lesson to heart:  Just because someone should, doesn’t mean they will.  The entrepreneurial way is to take responsibility for the outcome and the responsibility likely includes persistent action.

So look inside and draw out your Entrepreneur characteristics.  Nurture and develop them.  Apply them to the things you do – big or small.  And enjoy the improvement in all the areas of your life.

THIS IS MY HOUSE! Using Entrepreneur Characteristics to Improve Your Life (Part 1)

Entrepreneurs are not just business owners.  They are everywhere – managing departments, directing organizations, running households, overseeing projects, handling customer bases, leading fund raisers and raising children.

According to Wikepedia an Entrepreneur is a:  “Type of personality who is willing to take upon himself/herself a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”  The word comes from an Old French word entreprendre meaning “to undertake.”

Organization and agency directors seldom think this term applies to them because the term is normally capitalized – Entrepreneur – as if it is a title.

As an organization/agency director, getting comfortable with the Entrepreneur inside of you will help you improve all aspects of your life.  Honing the Entrepreneur skills you already possess will make you more successful in anything you undertake.

Here are some of the key Entrepreneur characteristics that can enhance the various parts of your life:

Ownership – Whether it is your organization, a project, a daily task or a campaign, understand that it belongs to you.  Treat it the way you treat anything that you own.  Accept the risks, nurture it, protect it, make it look good, enjoy the positives and overcome the negatives.  Ownership means you are invested in something and if you are invested you will work for success.  If you do not feel that you own it, the outcome will be totally dependent on someone else.

Organized – Organization is in the eyes of the beholder.  So use the methods and tools that work best for you and don’t worry if someone else tries to get you to do it their way.   But it is vital that you are organized in a manner that helps you accomplish the desired end result and retain your sanity.   Being organized usually involves having a plan, having appropriate information and/or tools and having a process that makes sense.   For instance: if you are in charge of a silent auction, a process will maximize proceeds and minimize frustration; if you are hoping for a donation a plan will make you proactive, which increases your chances.

Clearly Defined View of Success – Success is not the same for every person or every organization in every situation.  An Entrepreneur goes into a venture with a clear definition of what success will be.  If you can clearly describe what will be a successful project, day, event, assignment, negotiation, etc. you are more likely to attain that success and a sense of fulfillment.  If you do not have a defined view of success you will not know it if hits you in the face.

Flexible & Creative – Although you have already been encouraged to be organized, be careful not to be obsessive.  No matter how well you have planned and prepared, something outside your control will likely happen that will throw you off course or slow you down.  Do not stubbornly stay with your plan or process if it stops working.  We are often told to make lemonade when given lemons or to see obstacles as opportunities.  That is not always easy.  But if you incorporate flexibility and creativity into everyday life you can adapt any plan, process or situation to the current circumstances.  Again, less frustration – more success.

Self Disciplined – An Entrepreneurial organization director has no one else to blame, often no one to make decisions, and certainly no one to save the day.  If a director has no self-discipline, he/she soon has no organization.  Self-discipline is equally important in anything you may undertake.  If you are baking goodies for a bake sale you must exercise enough control not to sample too much or you will eat the profits and the evidence will show up on your thighs.  When you are working on a project that has a deadline you must be disciplined enough to not wait until the last minute to complete tasks, because something unforeseen will happen.

Be sure to read the second part of this blog.

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