Tuesday, December 22, 2015

3 Ways to Avoid Decision Fatigue

by Geraud Staton

Decision fatigue has been something of a fascination of mine for a few years now. This fascination was reinforced with President Obama told Vanity Fair, "You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits...I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make."

Decision fatigue makes us order ridiculous items from late-night television, allows us to eat that bag of cookies when we're on our diet, or worse, lets us ignore danger signals that would normally shine bright to our normally sane minds. As John Tierney explains it, "It's different from ordinary physical fatigue - you're not consciously aware of being tired - but you're low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it will look for shortcuts."

Those shortcuts tend to follow two choices. We either act erratically, such as snapping at friends or family members, or spending money that we know we shouldn't. Or we do nothing at all, which is the ultimate energy-saving strategy. We don't exercise, or we don't cook dinner, or we don't make that important business call.

Call the client now, call later, or just watch Netflix?

Researchers have proven the effects of decision fatigue time and time again. In fact, if you're interested in how it works, you should read Tierney's article. As for how to manage it, we can give you three pieces of advice.

1. Make decisions early in the day
If you have some important decisions to make, or a large number of decisions, do it as early as you can. I do most of my writing in the morning, as well as getting the bulk of my work done first thing (I like to start at 6am). My afternoons are when I hold most of my meetings and the like.

2. Get plenty of rest
Sleep makes a huge difference in decision fatigue. If you're already tired, you're starting with a lower gas tank anyway. Avoid that with a good night's sleep. And if you have to make decisions later in the day, consider a nap.

3. Set up rules that are etched in stone
When you have to decide what to wear, it takes a toll. I've watched my wife change clothes three time before work. Already, she's starting a few steps down in her day. If you have the same breakfast every day, you don't have to decide what to eat. And you don't have to decide what to purchase when you do your grocery shopping. I eat the same breakfast and lunch every day. I wake up at the same time on weekdays and weekends alike. Many professionals, like the President, have adopted a uniform to alleviate decision-making.

By eliminated the decisions you have to make, especially when you have to make the same ones over and over again, you can give yourself more bandwidth. You can leave the simple things and deal with the larger ones, rather than the other way around.

Want to learn more? Check out John Tierney's article at 

And be sure to tell us how you avoid decision exhaustion!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Three Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Board of Directors

James O'Brien, PhD, believes that you should have a Board of Directors, no matter what size your company is. Here at Helius, we agree 100%.

First off, it would help to know what a Board of Directors really is. A Board of Directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization (Wikipedia). They go by many names, including Board of Regents, Board of Visitors, Board of Managers, Board of Trustees, etc. Part of a typical Board's job is to establish broad policies, ensure financial resources, approve annual budgets, and set salaries.

To many Executive Directors of both nonprofit and for-profit businesses, particularly those that started their companies on their own, it may seem like giving away a great deal of power. Dr. O'Brien tells you why that may not be the case.

1) Boardrooms augment your core competencies
You're working in a small business, probably in an area that you are passionate in. But that doesn't mean you can do it all. You need to be able to manage staff, handle finances, manage recruiting, organize distribution, and perhaps even policy and lobbying. Board members can help with all of those things by setting regulations that help you stay on track.

2) Experienced Board Members help you avoid mistakes
Just as no one can do it all, no one is perfect. But, when you have experienced eyes looking over your organization you can often avoid costly mistakes that may come up.

3) Your Board is a simplification tool
I'm sure i'm not only speaking about myself when I say that sometimes Executive Directors can get very emotionally involved with what they are doing. We want to do it all. And we want to do it the best it's ever been done. Sometimes, however, we need someone to tell us to slow down. this is where your Board comes in. They can often see the forest while you're stuck in the trees.

And, with the power of the internet, you don't even need to have a Board that sits together once a week. You can reach out whenever and however you need. And, better yet nearly at anytime, day or night.

To read the entire article, go to https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/why-your-small-business-needs-an-advisory-board/.

And let us know in the comments how you built your small business Board of Directors.

Monday, December 14, 2015

How to Make Partnerships Work For You

A partnership of any kind should be about mutual support and gain. It should be the very definition of a Win/Win Scenario. Sometimes this isn't as easy as it would seem. In business, cultivating a win/win partnership can be even more tricky.

Fran Tarkenton has some advice that just might help. And he's more than qualified to offer it. Though many of you may know him from his stint with either the Minnesota Vikings or New York Giants, Fran is also the founder of Tarkenton Companies, a suite of small business software and financial planning ventures based in Atlanta, GA.

He offers a few great tips when you're looking for potential partners to help your small business grow.

For one, don't be afraid of "selling out" to larger corporate partners. Honest Tea was bought by Coca-Cola back in 2011. However, Honest Tea is an autonomous partner, meaning they operate with minimal oversight from Coca-Cola. They get access to a massive distribution chain while Coca-Cola gets to improve it's image as a sustainable brand.

As Fran points out, other partnerships aren't as smooth. A second piece of advice is to be wary of the line between mutual self-interest and selfishness. In the case of Citibank and Motivate. Their partnership, Citi Bike, is faltering. Motivate is having financial troubles. But Citibank has no real reason to bail them out. That was never a part of their partnership, and even as Motivate falters, Citibank is able to cash in on the brand equity provided by Motivate and the Citi Bike program.

When it comes right down to it, the key is to remember that a partnership is a relationship between people. As Fran says, "I've sat down with prominent executives who pledged to help grow my business through a partnership. They had plenty of prestige and resources. Despite that, there were time when I heard them out and walked away, because our underlying values and mission in business simply didn't align."

To read the full article check out https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/small-business-advice-how-to-strike-and-sustain-a-successful-business-partnership/2015/02/03/c72cafb0-abd8-11e4-9c91-e9d2f9fde644_story.html