New Math for Business

September 15, 2021

How good are you at math? If you’re like many creative business owners, you might have to admit it’s never been your strong suit.

If your eyes glaze over when you look at a spreadsheet, you’re not alone.

And if, like many of our clients, you’re wondering how all the time and energy you are devoting to your business is not significantly boosting your bottom line or giving you the freedom you envisioned when you left the corporate world, maybe it’s because you’re doing the wrong kind of math.

Perhaps you’re adding when you should be subtracting.

If this sounds crazy, let me explain.

In our business culture, we’re accustomed to thinking that more is always better. If we’re not getting what we want, we automatically think of adding something…a new product or service, a new employee, a new target market, more time and attention.

We think if we’re spinning faster, being busier, trying harder, doing more…the money will start flowing more freely.

What if exactly the opposite were true? If you could have more of what you want by subtracting, rather than adding?

Here are five ways that subtracting can give you more of what you want.,,in both your business and your life.

Work only in your zone of expertise – If you find yourself feeling weighed down by tasks that don’t fall into your genius zone, take those things off your “to-do” list. Delegate to someone on your team who can do those things faster, more easily (and maybe better) than you can.

Eliminate programs or services that aren’t “pulling their weight” – Do you know which of your goods or services bring the greatest return at the lowest cost to you? Concentrate on those things. Invest your time and energy where it will have the highest return to your bottom line.

Focus on factors that are critical for your success – There are a thousand things you could be doing for your business. Not all of them deserve your time and attention. If you try to do too many things, it’s inevitable that not everything will be done well. We suggest to our clients that they set one major goal for the quarter and then identify 4-5 (no more!) things that MUST be done to reach that goal. Spend your time and energy on those Critical Success Factors and eliminate the things that are nice, but not necessary.

Don’t put off making critical decisions – Is there an employee who needs to go? A change that needs to be made, even if it will be unpopular? A business relationship that has outlived its benefit?  All of these postponed decisions and actions are taking up emotional bandwidth and worry time that could be better spent devoted to things that move your business forward. You may be spending precious time cleaning up the missteps or messes that result from keeping those tough decisions in the “pending” column. Make that decision and act on it now.

Take time for yourself – When you fail to take good care of yourself, you fail to take good care of your business. You won’t be doing your best work if you are stressed, exhausted, and frustrated. A planned vacation will take less time away from your business than a health crisis brought on by overwork. When you come to work cheerful and rested you’ll make better decisions, work better with your team, and have more capacity to respond to those unexpected crises without creating more chaos.

If you want to grow your bottom line, think first about what you need to subtract, rather than adding something else to the mix.

This new math might just end up adding profits to your business and pleasure to your life.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris


Shiny Nonsense

September 8, 2021

Bright, shiny nonsense washes over your world on a daily basis.

Every day we wade through a blinding glare of misinformation, nutty ideas, lazy delusions and irrelevant data.

It’s like we’ve put on a pair of those fun house glasses – the ones that distort the shape and size of everything — to keep us from seeing what really is.

The few meager morsels of focus-driving insights and ideas that are actually useful, stimulating and success-oriented get pretty hard to see in that out-of-focus picture.

What moves you forward versus what simply keeps you busy?

The root of the problem is simple: we don’t know where we are going.  We haven’t identified what the end point looks like.

And you know the wise, old Chinese proverb…

If you don’t know where you are going, it’s hard to know how to get there.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get in a car to drive to… say… Powell River, British Columbia without mapping out your route.  And I bet your GPS would be on or the map would be by your side to make sure you are tracking on the route you chose.

Yet, we see this lack of planned direction everyday with small businesses in every industry.

That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news.  You can change this today, and it’s not hard.

When you have the will to decide your destination, and then develop the enhanced ability to ferret out the very few nuggets of insight critical to reaching that destination—only the things that are mandatory, that must happen to reach that goal—the clouds part, the bright, shiny nonsense dulls, the fun house glasses come off.  Your path to the destination becomes very clear.

Two very simple actions will bring you this clearer-than-clear clarity, and in less than 45 minutes.

First, decide and write down your ONE, big, MEASURABLE goal for the rest of this year.  Note the words in CAPS.  There’s only one goal, not several.  You can’t drive your car to two places at the same time.  And the goal must be measurable.  If you can’t measure it, how do you know when you’ve arrived, or how far you must still go or if you’re off course?

I was working with someone the other day and she was super-clear on her goal: a certain number of appointments every month.  I asked her where she was against this month’s appointment goal.  She said, “We don’t check until the end of the month.”

Say what?

You can’t address fix this month’s shortfall at the end of the month.  When you know your measurable goal, check it against your present location all the time.  Just like driving to Powell River.

The second thing to do during this 45-minute assignment is to identify the very few things (no more than four or five) that are critical to reaching your goal.  Critical.  Mandatory.  Must happen.  Not nice to do or the thing that arrives next through email.  Those few things are so critical they will be markers for you all year.

Two very simple, fast assignments that will stop the glare of nonsense that sucks up your valuable, limited time.

Take off the funny glasses.  You’ll love what you see when you finally see it.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Fire Up the Grill

September 1, 2021


It’s summer’s last hurrah. Time to fire up the grill and pull together your favorite picnic meal. And time for most of us to enjoy the luxury of a three-day weekend.

Happy Labor Day!

What are you celebrating on Labor Day this year?

We’ve come a long way since this observance began. In September 1882, thousands of workers marched in the streets of New York City to demand changes to the conditions in most industries of the time.

Improvements in health and safety, reduced working hours and fair wages were on the list of desired changes. The organizing of workers focused on political action resulted in new standards for industrial work that reduced work hours, improved pay and working conditions, and eliminated child labor.

As a business owner, you take responsibility for creating a workplace that meets the standards established for American workers in the past 139 years. You don’t just do it because it’s the law, you do it because it’s the right thing to do.

This Labor Day, we want to honor you…our clients and colleagues.

Thank you for the important work you do in the world. For improving lives of the people you serve in so many ways. No matter what the industry, what you do makes a difference.

Eighteen months into the pandemic that few of us could foresee, we are especially celebrating the work of frontline medical personnel. Those who thought they were seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, only to find themselves facing the freight train of the Delta variant.

We celebrate the laboratory workers who spent countless hours to develop the vaccines that bring a measure of protection against the worst that COVID has to offer.

Let’s honor the essential workers who never skipped a beat, continuing to keep stores open, groceries delivered, and public transportation running.

The teachers who returned to classrooms full of students with or without vaccines or masks, bringing some semblance of order and normalcy to the chaos that our children had faced over the past year and a half.

We celebrate the many businesses (including yours) that pivoted during the early days of lockdown, survived mandated closures, reduced revenues, and remote working. Those who kept workers employed when there was no work to be done and those that reluctantly let workers go when the last lifeline was exhausted.

It’s Labor Day weekend. Fire up the grill and celebrate the American workforce, including the people who work in your business. Then, take a moment (or two) to celebrate yourself.

Happy Labor Day!

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris