CEO Bucket List

Following is an exercise you would really benefit from spending time on. This can be a real game changer. It’s called TASK STORMING and it leads to creating your best role.  The most successful entrepreneurs do a great job of determining what they do around their greatest talents and don’t try to fix weaknesses.  Many less successful people suffer from “Do everything’itis “


Your CEO bucket list shouldn’t’ be what you want to do before you die.  It should be what you need to do before you kill yourself in your business.


Step One: List all of the tasks you do over the course of a day, week, month, and year.

Get the mail, selling, bookkeeping, checking voice mail, rewriting the business plan, taxes, paying bills, website and social media, proposals, working with clients.  You get the point.  Just make sure you list everything.  No task is too small for your list.


Step Two:  Now evaluate each task on your list and put it into ether a “ME” bucket or a “NOT ME” bucket.

Ask yourself, as President, CEO, Owner “Should I be doing this task or is it something a $10 per hour or so person could be doing?”

Judge by the following criteria:

-Is this something a CEO should be doing?

-Is this a strength of mine?   (Profiles will help you objectively determine)

If it fails either one of these, it goes in the “NOT ME” bucket.


Step Three: Isolate what shouldn’t be in the “ME” bucket and figure out how to get rid of them.

Outsourcing, delegating,  or talent bartering might be a good option for those tasks as well as what is in the ‘NOT ME” bucket.


Here is the take away: “The more time you spend on things that don’t directly generate revenue, the less revenue you will make.” Jay Niblick

You don’t want to be spending time on any things that are:

-non revenue generating tasks

-time sucks

-things you suck at




Use Critical Success Factors For Planning

theCritical Success Factors for Business Planning

Focus on areas which are CRITICAL to achieving your organization’s objectives

Planning doesn’t need to be complicated.  Therefore, don’t make it so.  Use critical success factors to accomplish more of what you want.

To clarify, the following strategy model is comprehensive, yet not complicated.

  1. Establish your Vision.  This is what “DONE” looks like for your business.
  2. Determine your Values.  They provide a framework for behaviors and decision making.  Values ultimately become your culture.
  3. Be clear on what you want to accomplish in the next 12-18 months.  These are your objectives or targets.

Your strategic thinking is done once these steps are complete.  Next, you need to translate the strategic into the tactical.

Your Critical Success Factors (or Critical Goal Categories) help build that bridge.  They provide convenient “buckets” or broad categories to set goals in.  This increases the chances that day to day activities support achieving your objectives.

Working On The Tactical

Depending on your objectives for the year, Critical Success Factors can include:

  • Customer focus
  • Cash flow
  • Workforce
  • Growth
  • Organizational Development and/or
  • Continuous Improvement

It’s a best practice to have between four and seven Critical Success Factors.  In general, more than seven can lead to having too many priorities, rather than just a critical few.  Fewer than four may not be sufficient to accomplish all that you want.

All in all, the goal categories must be both sufficient and necessary in order to achieve the yearly objectives.  Remember, don’t complicate things.  Focus on the following questions “Is this category necessary?”  And “All together, will the categories be sufficient or is something missing?

Then, set goals in each after the Critical Success Factors are decided on.

For example:

Critical Success Factor- Customer Focus

Goal- We will increase customer satisfaction rating to 95%.

Critical Success Factor- Cash Flow

Goal- We will decrease accounts receivable days to 15.

Each goal category can have multiple goals.  Prioritize your goals once they are set.  Then, make sure the action steps get onto your calendar. If delegated, they need to be on that person’s calendar.

Ultimately, you will accomplish more than you may have previously thought possible.



Marketing Strategy Equals Strategy

Marketing strategy howard litwak

Perhaps the most important part of small business strategy is marketing.  After all, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

Marketing strategy is what gets you in front of prospects.  Then sales strategy takes over.  Because the funnel needs to be full in order to thrive.  Period.

Hence, if you want to increase your volume, marketing strategy is the key.

The Strategic and the Tactical

Marketing strategy has two parts: strategic and tactical.

The strategic hones in on your market and your messaging.  It clarifies who your ideal client(s) are and where they are. (Demographics)  Also why they buy. (Psychographics)   Effective messaging can be created only after these are defined.  Messaging is what makes you attractive to your prospects.

For this reason, you’ve got to get your demographics and psychographics right in order to have an effective message.

A deep understanding of your market allows you to tailor your marketing to the needs and wants of those specific segments.  With this in mind, it positions you to compete effectively.  And to work towards dominating your space.

Jumpstart your strategic marketing thinking Continue reading

Values Are Integral To Strategic Planning

Business Values

Your Values Need to be “On Purpose.”

Every business has Values. They just might not be clearly defined. Or “On Purpose.” They can play a critical role in creating and maintaining the culture that you want.  So long as you make an effort to do so.

I’ve heard it said that managing a business is similar to parenting.  In both you need to:

  • Have a few non-negotiable rules.
  • Repeat those rules often.
  • Make sure you follow the rules yourself.

Core Values provide those rules.  They define the rules and boundaries of the company’s culture and personality.   Values are simply basic principles.  Principles which guide actions and drive desired behaviors.  With this in mind, choose well as they define what you intend for your culture to be.

Values make it make it clear to customers and vendors how they can expect to be treated.

They provide a final “Should/Shouldn’t” test for all behaviors and decisions by everyone in the organization.  Values serve as important guidelines for everyday behaviors and decisions.

They represent your philosophy for achieving success.

Core values define beliefs, standards, and acceptable behaviors.  Consequently, when communicated throughout the organization, they guide and govern the decisions and actions of everyone.

Do you need any more reasons to be “on purpose” with your values?


Not sure where to start your Values statement?

Here are some powerful Values every organization should consider living:

  • Positive Attitude.  We always look for ways it CAN be done.  Not how it can’t.
  • Customer First.  Everything we do is to best serve our customer.
  • Continuous Learning.  We are always looking to learn and improve.
  • Continuous Improvement.  We are always looking for ways to do what we do better.
  • Employees.  They are our greatest asset.  Therefore, they are always treated with dignity and respect.
  • Teamwork.  Everyone is a team player.

It’s been my experience that few companies even think about identifying Values which govern behavior.  Even fewer have brought them to life within their organization.  By doing so, you can’t help but create a higher level of profitability, sustainability, and success.

Establish your Values and bring them to life. This will provide the foundation for building a culture where your employees will grow and thrive.  To be sure, the organization will thrive when the employees do.  As such, Values are an integral part of your strategic planning.

Before You Jump Into 2017, Close 2016 First


In order to really hit the ground running in 2017, you need to close out 2016.  Not just close out the year but also feel good about it.  Indeed, if you follow the method below, you are more likely to achieve the results  you want this year.

To explain, you have where you started the year.  Specifically, all of your goals together with your hopes and dreams.

Then, you have what was actually accomplished.  In particular, how close your results match with your goals.

Here is what is most important: Don’t look at the gap between what you wanted to accomplish and what you set out to accomplish.  Look at what you actually did accomplish.  Overall, the progress you made during the year.

All things considered, you may have more successes than you thought!

Following are 23 different areas to look for accomplishments.  Invest some time here.  I am confident you will find it will be well spent in terms of the personal satisfaction gained!

Evaluate yourself on the following:

Continue reading

Some Tips For ‘Testing’ Your Strategic Plan

Strategic planning


The strategic planning process is a critical resource for managing the growth and development of your business. It defines the company’s future direction and provides a focus for everyone’s efforts. At the very least, planning should include goals, objectives, and action steps to achieve goals.

Here are the elements of an effective plan. And some tips for testing whether you have got each element right:


Do you have an emotional attachment to your vision? It should represent what you really want. Or is it primarily a collection of nice words for others to read? Does it inspire and energize you to get up every day and work at your business?
Continue reading

Death Wish Coffee- Planning Can Lead to REAL Business Results

Strategic Thinking Helps Death Wish Coffee Continue to SucceedDeath Wish Coffee is a global coffee brand that bills itself as “the world’s strongest coffee” but knew early on they didn’t have the world’s strongest processes.

Death Wish started in 2012 in Round Lake, New York.  They employed six people at the beginning of 2015. Death Wish was an emerging new global brand with amazing products.  They were growing significantly despite some common internal business challenges. The CEO was beginning to notice some growing challenges with his staff, communication, and efficiency.  He recognized that the company was outgrowing his management style.  That it was in need of a more professional management style, among other things. The solution, he thought, was to bring in a full-time manager.

That wasn’t the answer. He realized that by hiring a business coach there were more effective options.




Continue reading

Independence Day and Lessons in Achievement Entrepreneurs Today Can Use

achievementOur country widely celebrates the achievement of it’s independence.   On examination of the events leading to our revolution, it’s not hard to find significant lessons for entrepreneurs.  Applying these lessons to your business can lead to achievement on the same scale of our founding fathers!

This article  is a great refresher of the events which led to the founding of the United States.  It highlights the success principles mastered and implemented by our founding fathers.

On July 4th, 1776  Thomas Jefferson stood before the newly formed assembly.  He fearlessly read the most momentous decision ever placed on paper:

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of natures God entitle them…”

Analyze the events which led to the Declaration of Independence.  You will see there are principles that must be used by every individual and organization to really succeed.  They are listed below. In these principles is the power which gave this nation it’s freedom. Note also (with great personal benefit) that these principles and the power are available to everyone. And yet I find many people don’t take full advantage of them.  How many do you faithfully practice?

Continue reading

How to Motivate Your Workforce


Motivation is: the art of engaging with members of your team in such a way that they give their very best performance.

Therefore, the answer to the question of ‘What do people really want from their jobs?” is the root of motivating your workforce.

Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg addresses this in his article “One more time: How do you motivate employees.”   His conclusions form the basis of sound, practical, motivational theory.  To be sure,  just about anyone can implement this theory.  As long as they are paying attention.

In fact, his research showed that certain characteristics of a job are constantly associated with job satisfaction while different factors are related to job dissatisfaction.  These are: Continue reading