Best Business Tips

Late on Friday I sent out a message asking people to send me their best business tips. Here are just a few:

Lily Kreitinger

Many years ago I learned this method for responding to needs and implementing effective solutions in an organization. I found it very effective to redesign the faith formation curriculum at a private Catholic school. It’s based on the following actions “Observe, Analyze, Act, Evaluate, Celebrate”

These are the steps:

  • Listen to and observe the expressions of your customers and team members, such as, complaints, non-verbals like body language, tune in to “hallway radio”, and catch people’s conversations.
  • Identify the needs behind those expressions. Is it training, praise, resources, guidance, clear communication?
  • Design strategies to respond to legitimate needs and differentiate from wants.
  • Devise a plan to implement your actions, delegate tasks, and set deadlines.
  • Evaluate progress through the process.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments.

Jamie Meyers Morphew

There once was a very good lumberjack who could chop down a forest faster than any one. As time passed, his axe dulled and he had to work longer and harder to chop down a forest. A wise man asked him, “Why don’t you sharpen your axe?” To which the lumberjack replied, “I don’t have time!” As a business owner, you don’t have time to not sharpen your axe.

Luke Stokes

Luke’s is part of his blog that he sent me:

I believe you can live intentionally and on purpose if you’re willing to put in the work and make it happen. If you have a plan for your life and are taking the right steps to get there, every moment has purpose. Does that mean you can pick up your family and go travel the world for a couple months? I think it should… but most employers just aren’t there yet.

It doesn’t work for every profession, but when possible, I love the idea of working remotely, setting your own flexible hours, and still kicking butt to get stuff done.

Question: What are your best business tips?

More resources:

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Vision Casting

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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

111 thoughts on “Best Business Tips”

  1. Wow, I totally missed that request on Friday. I’d been out of town nearly all week for work, so I was hanging with the family. 🙂 which leads me to my business tip…balance. In order to give your best in the business/work area, you’ve gotta have balance. If your family is unhappy with the amount you are working, or you are constantly missing things with your family you will not be able to give your all at work (trust me). Don’t get me wrong, many jobs may have times where more time or effort is required, but if excessive time is required for long periods it will strain relationships and you and your family will begin to resent the job or business. Find a good balance or find stress and frustration.

    1.  @Skropp I have actually taken 3 days off for the Memorial Day holiday – and it has felt so good – long time since I took 3 straight days of down time – doing nothing!  You said it – BALANCE!  

  2. My tip is always to be learning. Read, read and then read some more but focus your reading on the areas that you know that either yourself or your business need to improve. For those short on time to find appropriate articles see search 1000+ selected business improvement articles by tags or keywords to find what you need.

  3. Chris, I can’t whittle it down to one. Here are a few from my Accountable Seedership Course:
    “Greg, you can work on an employee’s quality, quantity, safety and attendance; but YOU cannot instill honesty and integrity in an employee. They either have it or they don’t. You will not be good or lucky enough to catch a thief the first time he steals from you and until he changes his heart, he will steal from you again.” Jim McMains to new HR Area Manager Greg Gilbert in October 1989.
    “If I have to do your job, I don’t need you.” Bob’s Rule-1980 Bob to Greg Gilbert upon taking a new position. (One of my best bosses)
    “Never miss a good opportunity to shut up.” Greg Gilbert to Greg Gilbert while painting a bench with my 7 year old grandson. After correcting him three times on his painting, I shut up. He had a great time painting the bench, himself and me. We had a blast. It scares me to death that I may have kept on correcting him and he may have handed me the brush and said “here Papaw, you can paint it.” I would have missed looking at that bench many times each week for the last 7 years (he’s 14 now) and laughing to myself.
    If it’s not written, it didn’t happen. – Attorney to Greg Gilbert-1989
    If it’s not written, it’s not changing. – Greg Gilbert to everyone.-1990
    “What Are They Leaving With?” – Song I wrote and recorded about my kids and grandkids (available on iTunes) that has changed meaning to every opportunity I have to interact with others. Every time I have the opportunity to train or speak, I ask that question, what are they leaving with?
    If you don’t read it, listen to it, attend it, watch it or hang around it, you can’t get it. If you can’t get it, you can’t give it. – gg
    Enjoy your blog and podcasts.
    Greg Gilbert 

  4. Chris,
    Have a question. On the podcast last week with Patrick, you talked about being friends with your team members. Do you believe there are any limitations? Does it hinder your ability to correct problems or does it come back to the trust factor? Great podcast by the way. Listened to it on the treadmill and had to pause the recording multiple times to make voice notes.
    Thank you,

    1. @Greg Gilbert I would say the limitations depend on how good the culture is…bad culture=less friendship, or more limits ON the friendship. Good culture=more freedom to foster friendships.
      I also think the more clear the responsibilities and accountability is the more you can be friends. Because actions and results dictate how things are going…not so much the boss. I think the KRA’s Dave and Chris talk about speak to that.
      Also I think Chris will say that spending more time to hire the right person also affords you more freedom to foster friendships with fellow employees.
      Just my humble thoughts…

      1.  @Skropp  @Greg Great stuff!! I would add that I don’t think it’s a great idea to hire current friends if you haven’t had a previous leader – team member relationship. That one is hard because there is natural entitlement. (blek!) 
        But becoming friends with your team members is always ok. As long as they understand you are their leader first. I’ve watched many of my team’s children for them when they needed it. Didn’t make them think I was any less their leader. 

        1.  @ChrisLoCurto  @Skropp  @Greg On the flip side of that Chris, if you screw up as a leader then you put the livelihood of your team (and their children) at stake. So watching their children gave you better perspective, and hopefully led you to make better decisions.

        2.  @ChrisLoCurto  @Skropp  @Greg  So you babysit too? Sweet!   I love the part about natural entitlement. I’ll choose the friendship over the business relationship any day.  I worked with my best friend from college for two years.  We flunked royally due to being young and inexperienced and not seeking mentoring on how to lead our business.  We parted ways and our friendship was never the same.  I regret it deeply because she died a year later, and she was only 25.   I should’ve chosen to save the friendship earlier.

        3. @ChrisLoCurto @Greg That’s where I’m at now Chris….my boss was my friend first…and boy do I feel entitled!! Haha.
          No, you’re exactly right in most cases. In mine though I don’t WANT to feel entitled, so I don’t go to him enough probably. It’s to the point that my wife gets frustrate with me and says I should talk to the boss about a problem or concern and most times I won’t because I don’t want to abuse my friendship

        4.  @lilykreitinger  Wow, Lily, that is so sad. Sounds like you could share that story in your blog with lots of lessons for us all to learn.     

        5. @ChrisLoCurto @Greg Yes it does, because I don’t want to be…or be viewed as running to the boss just because we’re good friends…you’ve already got a barrier around you that all the other employees put up cuz somehow I must be the favorite employee…

        6. @ChrisLoCurto @Greg You know Chris, I just remembered, ironically, that two years before I started this job, I asked my, now, boss what advice he’d give me on starting/running a business. His one suggestion: be careful hiring friends and don’t be afraid to fire them if they aren’t working out….

        7.  @Skropp  @ChrisLoCurto  @Greg And don’t get me started on hiring family members…now that has big potential for MIRKY. It’s great when things are working…but when the ball starts dropping……ewww. Can you say ‘messsssaaaaayyyyy?’

        8.  @Aaron Nelson  @Skropp  @ChrisLoCurto  @Greg My dad had a small business and my mom helped out. It was tough because there was never any time off from work.  Then he hired my brother for a little while, and that didn’t last long.   They had a great relationship otherwise, but got on each other’s nerves at work.  Then they hired relatives and friends… lost the friendship and strained the relationship when they let them go… It IS a very messy deal!

        9.  @Aaron Nelson  Hiring family…. yeah, the scariest part is when the kids aren’t so much the problem, but the boss goes out of his/her way to encourage non-employee actions/responses/behavior from them. It’s one thing to go to the kids and guide them. It’s another to go to your boss…..and… what?? 
          BUT I’m sure everyone on this blog would handle their own kids in the work place appropriately 😉 

    2.  @Greg Gilbert @Skropp @ChrisLoCurto @Jonathan Henry @lilykreitinger @Laura Johnson @JoelFortner Loving this thread of the conversation. I don’t have many friends down here, and I’ve often wondered about developing friendships with those I work with. I did have a terrible burn experience where ‘entitlement’ brought things down – but that’s because we didn’t have tight KRA’s in place. (Didn’t even know those things existed!) But they guy totally thought he could do what he wanted because we were friends. Hardest fire I ever made. Broke my heart and had me near tears for a week. (And can you guess how many hours of sleep I had leading up to the dreaded meeting???) 
      But I still totally buy into the idea of developing relationships and even friendships with the people you work with. If you hire the right ones to start, it should be safe. It’s part of building unity, and learning how to give safe trust. You don’t just let someone in all the way. I think you need to earn friendship, just like you need to earn leadership. I bet they sort of go hand in hand. What a great conversation!

    1. @CabinetDoork That’s a great post! And so true. It’s when we think we have all the answers that we’re ready to fall. I’ll bet you could find that true of every company, country, and empire that USED to be.

        1.  @ChrisLoCurto  @Skropp  @CabinetDoork
          Thanks Chris… I feel welcomed now.  Been writing once a week as a way to serve our customers / co-workers / vendors and anyone else for that matter..  It’s been fun & I think I’ve been the benificiary more than anyone else.

  5. For me as an exceptionally observant introvert, the best advice I got was cheapened by some obscure Nike ad slogan… something about “It” and “Do,” though the details escape me just now.  However, I’ve learned that action is usually more memorable than observations. Doing things is often funner than watching things, so that is something to keep in mind in the world of business.

    1. @Jonathan Henry It seems like I vaguely remember that too, haha. And it’s very applicable. I had a friend that used to say “there’s nothing to it but to do it!” I repeat that to myself often when facing a difficult task.

  6. Don’t ask anything of your team that you would not do yourself.  It’s helpful to demonstrate this by demonstrating it frequently.  It makes all the difference between ’empathy’ and ‘condescension’. 

      1.  @Skropp  @skottydog So true! If you want your team members to lose respect for you, act like you’re above what you’re asking them to do. Good stuff guys!

        1. @ChrisLoCurto @Skropp @skottydog A shift manager I worked under in high school was a true leader in that sense… My brother also worked for him and one day went in to clean the bathrooms and found poop smeared all over the walls. My brother told the shift manager, asking how he should clean it. The shift manager told him not to worry about it–that my brother shouldn’t have to deal with that kind of stuff–rolled up his sleeves, and scrubbed the bathroom himself. One of the best guys I’ve ever worked for. I was willing to do whatever needed to be done for him!

        2.  @lilykreitinger  @ChrisLoCurto  @Laura Johnson  @Skropp  @skottydog I’d give him props, but the more creative solution would be to torch the restroom, then extinguish the fire so that it would be just another day of “putting out fires.”

        3.  @Laura Johnson @ChrisLoCurto For the next manager I hear that talks about putting out fires too often, I think I’ll give them some graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. If they aren’t cooked by the end of the day, I’ll tell ’em they obviously weren’t all along…

    1.  @skottydog  Great point! I think it’s all about being human as a leader. If the leader is not willing to be transparent, show that they make mistakes too and that they’re teachable and on an ongoing learning plan, people will dismiss any attempts of the leader to force them to do anything.   That quote attributed to St Francis of Assisi applies: Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.

  7. Preparing for a class tomorrow and ran across this one; I had worked for BH for only 2 months and it was time for my annual appraisal. BH took the results from my previous manager and the two months I had worked for him and gave me my review. It was a favorable review. At the end he closed his binder and said, “now, it’s your turn”. “How am I doing as a leader?” After only two months, I didn’t know how far to crawl out on that limb, but I did. I offered some advice and it was well received and appreciated. I began doing this with my team. There MUST be trust to do this and you MUST be willing to accept counsel. Note: try this with your spouse, your family. Note: This occurred 15 years ago. When I put my course together in 2007, I called BH and told him what that meant to me and that I was putting it in my course. He said he was still doing it but less than 50% offer anything. The rest just say he is great.

    1.  @Greg Gilbert AAAAAAMEN!!!! Ten years ago I set up a meeting for my team members to tell me what’s wrong with my leadership. The first meeting changed my leadership for ever! 😉

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto  @Greg Gilbert Sad thing is how many “bosses” would never be open to having such a meeting and especially to hearing the answer to that question!

    2.  @Greg Gilbert Great advice here! Made me think of the Collins podcasts where he suggests that great leaders need to increase their questions to statements ratios 2:1 — double your questions to statements!!! Sadly, I know few leaders who actually do this, and who actually want to know what their team thinks. 🙁 

    3.  @Greg Gilbert When I was in college one of my professors basically did the same thing. I went out on a limb. And as a college student who thought my opinion/view wasn’t worth listening to….at least by someone in that position…I was so surprised when I recognized him implementing my suggestions! 
      My current boss has not asked me that question directly. But the way he handles and talks about his business, it’s very clear he would be open to suggestions. Which is kind of cool. A person like that (like you, like your leader) is VERY rare! Keep at it!! 🙂

  8. Best tips for a self-employed artist (HEY SELF, PAY ATTENTION HERE!):
    1. Respond – return calls, reply to emails, make bids, show up on time, do the work ahead of schedule
    2. Always tell the truth – if a job is beyond my ability and there isn’t enough time to learn how to do it, pass it up or pass it on to someone else. 
    3. Assume everyone is worth getting to know – even when the person looks like a time-waster, I don’t know if they will refer someone else to me.
    4. When you don’t feel like working, work until you do feel like it.
    5. Get OFF the internet and into the studio!!

      1.  @Skropp  @cabinart The only unhappy customers I’ve ever had were the ones who wanted me to read their minds and draw something that only they could see. After 2 of those failures, I’ve learned to turn those jobs down. And those are always the most argumentative folks around – “I KNOW you can do this”! Really? You know my skills better than I do??

        1.  @LouiseThaxton  Just cat minds, not customers. Not too helpful a skill in trying to earn a living. 

      1.  @ChrisLoCurto Your studio might be the internet – ask your People (the ones you refer to as “team members”). Someone will know where you are supposed to be! 

    1.  @cabinart I just LOVE #3 – I totally think like that. (Most of the time.) You never know how you may be able to serve someone in the future, or how someone may be able to serve you.  LIKE!

    2.  @cabinart That’s awesome.
      “Respond – return calls, reply to emails, make bids, show up on time, do the work ahead of schedule”.
      I think that criteria is of paramount importance for succeeding in business.

      1.  @uma_maheswaran It seems so basic, but it shocks me how hard it is to get businesses to answer the phone, much less return calls. And when a contractor shows up to do a job at the specified time, I almost jump up and down with excitement. (kind of embarrassing, really.)

  9. One of my best business lessons: be willing to fire a problem client. This lesson scared me to death (well, not completely as you can see!) – but we’re a small small business. Every client feels like they are absolutely required for survival. That’s a recipe for disaster. 
    This client had a secret policy of not paying service providers till 90 days or more. (Neglected to tell us that.) 
    The first few months they paid every month. Then they started stringing us out. I let a year go by and accumulated a tonn in accounts payable. Nearly broke us. Nearly made my wife blow up on me. Best decision was pulling the plug. If you’re not willing to walk away from a deal or a client, you shouldn’t be doing it or working with them They own you – and that’ s a really bad place to be in. 

    1. @Aaron Nelson Fantastic point. And that would be a super hard lesson to learn when first starting out! But acquiring the mindset you now have on it probably makes a world of difference in all aspects of your business, huh?

    2.  @Aaron Nelson We had clients like that at my last job. I realized I was wasting my time on them when I could be focusing on a client who would actually pay! Clients who avoid paying us tend to not be on a successful path anyway…. just sayin’ 😉

  10. Chadrick Black

    There are 2 vital secrets to being successful in business:
    1) Don’t share everything you know. 

  11. Some more tips:
    — Understand the impact of globalization on the business and demonstrate the adaptability required to succeed in the global environment.
    — Build partnerships and create a network of relationships that help to get things done.
    — Effectively manage the issue of technology to increase productivity
    — Create an environment where people focus on the larger good.
    — identify priorities clearly

  12. One of my best tips is to always have a plan.  I have long term plans, short term plans – my favorite and most effective is the 52 day plan – and I do 7 of those each year (the year is divided into seven sections of 52 days).  And for every project or mission I have – I write a plan and then work to implement the plan.

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