Janna's Blog Article

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Growing and running a successful small business sometimes means admitting that you need help from someone with more knowledge or experience, but many business owners hold back.
Don’t make this mistake. Here are five “thinking traps” that could be preventing you from getting the assistance you need—and why you need to avoid them.
  • Ego – “I can do it; I don’t need help.” Guess what? Everyone needs help. In fact, the most profitable, most well-run businesses are run by owners who constantly ask questions and seek help.
  • Shame – “I don’t want anyone to know the hole I have dug for myself and my family.” It will come out at some point, and as John Maxwell states in his book Failing Forward, “Success is measured by your perception of and response to failure. Every person fails. Every business owner fails at some point. It is only with failure that you can truly be a success. This may sound harsh, but get over it, figure out how big the hole is, what can be done about it, LEARN from it and move on.
  • Fear – “I don’t want to know what trouble I am really in.” A business was owned by a mother and daughter. They provided childcare to the community and accomplished their service in an extraordinary way. Unfortunately, the relationship between mother and daughter was often confrontational so the mother eventually ended up firing her daughter and running the business herself. While the business started to grow, the mother knew she was behind in paying bills so she stopped checking her voicemail. Her fear of what the messages would say was so great that she was unable to listen even to gather voicemails from new families seeking her services. The end result was a closed and bankrupt business, employees out of work, and another business not fulfilling its potential. Her fear was people calling for payment of late bills. The reality was that her voicemail included those very families that could have taken care of the creditors and kept the business afloat. What are your fears?
  • Didn’t Know – “I did not realize there were resources out there to help me.” If you are going to own your own business, you must read, be aware, listen and not stick your head in the sand. In this age of computers and the Internet, there are many resources to help you. Not knowing is not acceptable. The challenge is to ask better questions when you do seek out help so you get the answers you need, not the answers you want. There will always be things you don’t know, didn’t understand, didn’t consider. As a business owner, try to minimize the effects of not knowing by creating a plan for learning.
  • MBA Know-It-All -- This is my favorite: “I don’t need help; I have an MBA.” Sorry, but having an MBA doesn’t guarantee you won’t go out of business. It may prepare you for a job at a company that wants what is taught at business school, but it seldom prepares you for handling the real-world aspects of running a business, especially a small family business. I have encountered many family business owners who don’t believe they need help because they have an MBA and know how to do the business thing. I have also encountered just as many business owners who have been humbled by losing their business because they thought they learned it all while earning their MBA. This statement may not be popular with business schools, but I will stand behind it.
Don’t fall into these traps. Understand that the more you know, the more you have to learn, and you’ll probably need help learning it as quickly as possible.
This is an excerpt from The Family Business by Janna Hoiberg.
Screaming into the wind out in the wilderness is virtually useless. No one can hear you. However, a whistle provides a very different type of noise. When you are truly in the backcountry (and in some places even around town), a whistle provides protection against danger.
A whistle is a necessity in the woods, especially if you aren’t around people, in which case you might find yourself uncomfortably close to the wildlife. Have you ever seen a bear and tried to scream? It is the scream that no one hears because you open your mouth to scream but nothing comes out.
Even if a scream does escape, that gentle breeze that feels so good also muffles the sound of your scream, so no one hears you. But a whistle: that sound pierces through the wind to bring help running (either toward you or away from you). When the voice has been scared right out of you, a whistle will call for help.
When you’re kayaking in the backcountry, even going to the bathroom requires a whistle. You might not ever come face to face with a bear, but being face to face with your pants down puts whole new meaning to scaring the pants off you. You know the old story about being chased by a bear: You don’t have to be the fastest runner in the group; you just can’t be the slowest. Unfortunately, with your pants down, you probably aren’t going to run very fast should that bear come upon you. (Don’t you just love that image?)
What is your whistle in your family business and career? How do you call for help when needed? Who do you hope will come to your rescue? Or maybe you are the type to run around with your pants around your ankles screaming into the wind as the bear chases you. That is another decision you get to make. In our careers, there are lots of bears that threaten our livelihood: mergers, acquisitions, new technology, new bosses, competition, changing economic landscapes, lack of attention to detail, lack of personal and business growth. All of these factors might mean that you need to call for help.
Be willing to ask for help. Our society has too much of an attitude that portrays, “I can do it alone.” or “My way is best.” or “I don’t need you.” Needing and asking for help and another person’s perspectives is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of strength. It may be the only way you get yourself out of your current jam.
Help can come from mentors, coaches, advisors, or trusted friends. Make sure you have people targeted that can help in certain situations and have a plan for the right people to contact based on the circumstances.
Career advice should probably come from someone older who has hit some rough spots but still succeeded in their career. Parenting advice probably comes best from parents who are at least ten years further down the road than you are and have walked through the parenting steps you’re currently taking. And of course, legal advice is always best from a lawyer.
Whatever the reason, don’t be afraid to whistle for help when you need it. It’s better than facing down a bear.
Excerpted from The Backpacker's Guide To Business Success by Janna Hoiberg.
Anything can happen on a mountain. My son was hiking in New Hampshire, and one of his team stepped on a hidden wasp hive. They had a swarm of very upset wasps. Almost everyone was stung at least once and a couple of hikers were stung multiple times. Fortunately, no one had allergies to wasps, but they had the Benadryl to treat if there was a reaction.
Being prepared for unforeseen possibilities is essential. Having a first-aid kit and knowing what to do in case of an emergency go hand in hand. This can be a matter of life and death.
When it comes to your business, ask yourself if you can perform first aid in situations like these:
  • How do you handle that major customer who isn’t satisfied with the quality of work just delivered?
  • What happens if that major customer (or any customer) defaults? Do you have a way to stop the bleeding?
  • How do you handle the disgruntled customer or employee?
Knowing how to treat a broken leg can save a life on a mountain, and knowing how to handle challenges can save the life of your business.
When hiking or running a family business, you must also know how to take care of yourself throughout the journey. Exhaustion can overtake the business owner—and the employee as well—if they don’t take regular rests. Exhaustion also comes from work that is not interesting, energizing, or challenging.
It has been said that eighty percent of businesses fail in the first five years. In my belief, it isn’t from lack of revenue, customers, or plans. It is due to exhaustion. Business owners just don’t have the energy to keep going. They stop serving customers with quality. They stop caring about employees. They stop marketing, selling, and growing the business with the focus and determination they had when they started. Why? Because they haven’t taken care of themselves.
They haven’t taken a break (for example) to go backpacking, leaving all the stress, pressure, and frustration and focusing on something else. You don’t need to go backpacking; however, you do need to do something that doesn’t involve working, just sitting around the house, or doing daily chores.
Here is the bonus when you do get away: the ideas flow more quickly and easily, and your enthusiasm and energy return. The frustration is exchanged with clarity and usually an action plan. You return with that energy and clarity that got you started in the first place. I don’t care how much you love your job or your business: You need a break. So take one.
There’s an age-old statement, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” This often applies to small and family business owners as they’re starting out. They believe:
♦ They can serve the customer more effectively. However, this is much harder than they thought and they eventually start to understand their old company better. Customers can be (and often are) demanding. Their interpretation of quality is different from yours. You may see value in something that the customer doesn’t care about.

♦  They have superior ideas on implementation. Some of those ideas work and some don’t.

♦  Flexibility is fantastic—you can work any part of the 24 hours per day that you want. Yes, you do have flexibility to take your kids to school, pick them up, go to their activities, etc., but there is a cost, and that cost is often working evenings and weekends and other times that you didn’t have to work at your previous job.
It comes down to believing that we will have more control of things in a small business than we could ever have in a “real job.” Sadly, this is not usually true.
Control Is An Illusion
The more we want and think we have control, the less we have. There is always someone else who truly has more control. It might be customers, the government, laws, acts of God. It is that desire for control that if not managed well drains the business.
The inability to delegate is the result of the business owner’s desire to have control. They can do it better than anyone else. They serve the clients better, they know the product better, and therefore they don’t delegate. They truly want the control and the ego boost that comes with it.
Stop it now. Learn how to delegate.
Delegation Is The Key
Suzie had been a controlling person for years. She worked long hours and had a high standard for how things got done. After years of working like this, her energy level and her love of the business began to deteriorate. After getting advice from a family business specialist, she began to realize that others could probably do things as well as she could or, more importantly, better.
Slowly she began to document how to do tasks that she had always thought only she should do. She realized that one of her office team members could enter some of the bills and that she was actually faster than Suzie. That freed up some time to work on more strategic activities. The end result was business growth, increased profit and a happier office team since they were now more empowered and felt more valued.
After you have determined the above and decided who should complete the task, do the following:
  • Review the task to be delegated.
  • Make sure the employee knows and understands what needs to be done.
  • Let them own the task.
If you’re uncomfortable with delegation, you’re in good company. But learning this vital skill will reap amazing benefits in your family business because you’ll be able to focus on and be valued for the things that you truly do best.
What is a contrast? It is really a set of opposites, and it defined my life at the start of 2016.
On January 2nd I was at the top of a mountain skiing with family and friends. It was cold outside, yet a beautiful sunny day. One week later I was sitting on a beach in Barbados. Not a bad transition in my opinion.
On January 3rd my father-in-law passed away. He had turned 99 on January 1st and lived a good long life. One week later a close friend found out her daughter was expecting a first child. We celebrated the end of a life well-lived and the joy of a new life to come, both within a short time frame.
On January 4th we learned that my sister-in-law's family needed to allow their dog of 14 years to go peacefully to sleep. Always a hard decision. Three days later in Barbados we were playing with two Rottweiler puppies - one named Clinton and the other Trump. (Oh, I could have so much fun with that but not in this blog!)
So what do all these experiences have to do with business? Each business day can be (and generally is) filled with contrasts: the new customer, the lost customer; the new opportunity, the one that passes by; the new employee, the departing employee. The list can go on. The challenge and opportunity is how each of us faces the personal and business contrasts that come our way.
In life, does the loss of a father overshadow the celebration of the life that he lived? This does not mean we do not mourn, but mourning has its time and place. It is a time of reflection, a time to think about how we, too, would like to be remembered.
In our business lives, does the lost customer overshadow the new one? Do we fail to embrace the new employee because we're sad that the old employee has left? Have we missed a window for more business and income by focusing on what we let get away? How you react, adjust, and move forward can and does affect the future of your business.
What are your contrasts? How are you using them to challenge yourself and your team, and how are you helping those around you to learn, adapt, and grow?

By Janna Hoiberg--From my upcoming book:"The Backpacker's Guide To Business Success"

"It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it." - Dale Carnegie

We live in Colorado and hike at high elevations, where we have little oxygen compared with our previous sea-level home. Physical activity that might be fairly easy at lower elevations becomes, you might say, more "breath-taking" up here. When I first moved to Colorado I went for a walk at 8,500 feet. I kept thinking to myself, "I am in worse shape than I thought. I am so short of breath it's ridiculous." Then the light dawned: the problem wasn't me. It was the elevation. I needed time to adjust to high-altitude breathing.
At high altitudes, physical activity--like running up a mountain--is more difficult. If you are going from low elevation to high elevation for an athletic event, you need to allow yourself time to acclimate. If you are going very high--say you are going to climb a "fourteener"--you might even want to stop in the middle somewhere (perhaps Denver or Colorado Springs) and wait a day or two before you go higher. If you cannot allow time to acclimate completely, your pace must be adjusted. Another option is to work out so hard and get in such good shape at your low altitude hometown that your body can manage the change in elevation. For people who are particularly sensitive, all of these techniques taken together might be a good idea. Some people are not bothered at all; others can have significant effects due to altitude sickness.
The effect of altitude on athletic performance is one of the reasons that the United States Olympic Center (USOC) is located in Colorado Springs. Because there is relatively little oxygen at high altitudes, people who live there produce more red blood cells than people at lower altitudes. When athletes train at high altitudes then travel to lower altitudes for competitions, they are better conditioned than people from lower elevations. They have more endurance because their bodies receive more oxygen via more red blood cells. Compared to athletes who train at lower elevations, they are more prepared. This better conditioning lasts for ten to twenty days.
Our attitude affects our professional lives in the same way elevation (or altitude)
affects physical activity.
Even a simple activity at work can be quite difficult or stressful if approached with a negative attitude, and difficult situations (which come with stress built in) require outstanding positive attitudes to be met effectively. We need to prepare for work challenges and adapt our attitudes in much the same way that our bodies adjust to the challenge of high altitudes.
Backpackers prepare for physical challenges in much the same way professionals prepare for business and career challenges--in advance of the situation and consistently. When preparing for a backpacking trip, we know that anyone coming with us must be physically prepared to handle the rigors of the trail. Someone's first backpacking trip should not be a five-day journey with a 13,000-foot elevation gain. We start with a short weekend trip--to shake out what they know and what they can handle. This type of shake-out trip was always fun with Boy Scouts. There was almost always one scout who, with a target of feeding three people, would bring a cooler of food and a lot of cans (which are heavy)--enough food to feed the entire troop for a week! (Every person who has backpacked and is honest will admit to bringing things along in the early trips that they now scoff at as being unnecessary and showing inexperience.) They would trudge along, weighed down, and start complaining about 200 feet onto the trail. As leaders we would caution scouts, parents, and anyone who would listen not to over pack. But it never failed; at least one scout brought along everything including the kitchen sink. Such mishaps are what stories are made of and how people learn, but such a situation would be disastrous on a five-day trip. We take a short trip the first time so the lesson can be learned.
Preparation is not just about packing, of course; it also involves physical conditioning. Experienced backpackers know that going all winter without doing any physical workout, exercise, or activity and then just heading out on a trail results in sore legs, groaning, and general unpleasantness. So we work out all winter. That StairMaster is not my friend, but to my body it resembles the steps on a mountain. Those core-building classes at the gym are good for my health, although I usually question their value about forty minutes into the class.
The concept of choosing a goal and sticking with it is important. Then, after setting a goal, you must plan, prepare, and lay the appropriate foundation to achieve success. You also must understand the potential risks associated with your plan. If a mountaineer is going to invest in climbing a mountain but doesn't want to end up being the one who gets rescued because of lack of preparation, he or she must plan, develop the necessary skills, and perform critical thinking tasks in order to address the risks. The same is true in business and careers.
If you are going to invest all your savings on a single business venture, you'd better
understand the risks.
Have you ever had a perspective that you wouldn't release? Did it turn into a fear that became unfounded? Recently I realized that my own "view of things" blinded me to joy and potential, and left me in a state of fear.
My husband and I have owned a lake house in New Hampshire for over 25 years. There are many stories, memories, and experiences from that lake house, and it has always been our dream to spend summers there when we stop working full time. (Notice I didn't say retire.) In preparation for that time we will be remodeling the cabin over the next few years. The first step is building a garage so we can take a vehicle to New Hampshire and leave it there. Watch out Hertz, your profits will tumble when we stop renting cars!
Part of this process has required taking down some trees so we can fit this garage, and it was stressing me out.  When a tree is cut there is no going back. Was this the right thing to do? Were there other options? Would I like it once the trees were cut? Was the garage in the right place? (There wasn't any other choice, but that didn't change my fear.) What would the neighbors think? My mind kept going through all the bad stuff, all the fears, all the negatives.
The day they started cutting, I was 2000 miles away in Colorado and not able to see what was happening or what it looked like. My fear remained with me.
Two days after the trees were cut I needed our local handyman to stop by and check on something for me. In talking with Horace, he commented on how GREAT the place looked with the trees down. What? The place looked GREAT with the trees down? What a perspective.  What a new concept. It had never crossed my mind that the place would look even BETTER without the trees. I was almost in tears as he shared this freeing perspective. It was as if 1000 pounds was released from my shoulders.
How often are we carrying more than we need in our business environments and our personal lives? I was given a gift by Horace that day: a gift of removing my blinders and looking at things from a new perspective. Where are your blinders? Is someone offering you another perspective on your customers, your business environment, your fears?  Are you listening?
Taking off my blinders allowed me to start having fun with the garage project. I have since seen the result, and Horace was right. It does look good. How much nervous energy did I needlessly expend in wondering (and yes, I'll admit it, worrying) and driving those around me crazy?
Where are your blinders? What do you need to do to remove them and allow yourself a fresh perspective?

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, "The Backpacker's Guide to Business Success."

“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” – Henry Kissinger

My first backpacking trip was fun—especially when the pack was off! Only after multiple trips did I learn how the backpack could almost be part of me, to the point that I didn’t feel the weight or even think about this 35- or 40-pound thing on my back. We moved together. We were attached, and that was good. This change happened because I learned that the planning and preparation part of the trip was as important as the actual physical part of backpacking. Planning was required--my attitude needed to be in balance, the people that came along were critical, and having the right gear made a tremendous difference.
All the work that takes place before you actually step foot on the mountain determines how much fun you will have on the mountain. And the same is true in business: the quality of your planning determines whether or not you will succeed. Yet, statistics reveal that people spend more time planning for vacations than they do for their business or careers.
In the wilderness, lack of preparation and planning creates forest fires, millions of dollars spent on rescues, and loss of life. The same lack of preparation and planning in business creates failed projects, debt, and loss of productivity.
Plans can be changed and often should be changed. New opportunities, new ventures, road blocks, or changing interests will alter our plans. Yet the possibility of change is no reason not to have a plan. By the time I graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, with a degree in sociology and an emphasis in crime and delinquency, I had determined my true passion was in business. I look back on my career and wonder what I would be like if I had gone ahead and worked with delinquents, just because that was my “plan.”
From the outside, it certainly looks like my plan changed. But my fundamental goal—the foundation of my “plan”—has never changed. I always wanted to help people, impact lives, make a difference. I am just doing it in a very different way than I envisioned. The reality is my plan hasn’t changed. The execution of the plan and the path I took changed, but not the fundamental purpose. The same is true on the mountain. No matter how much I know about the path I'm walking, the journey is always a surprise beyond my imagination.
It is ok to change the plan, but there is a profound difference between intentional course correction and unintentional wandering. You know you are wandering if you wonder where you are going and when you will arrive—especially if you wouldn’t recognize arrival if it stood in front of you!
That is why life is often called a journey. I use the word journey intentionally. There will always be a mountain to climb and the opportunity to grow as long as I draw breath. About some of the journeys, I will have clarity; others, not so much. Some journeys will be more difficult, some easier. But the attitude in which we approach each of the different journeys can make the difference between the outcome of “I did it!” and the outcome of “Is that all there is?”
Let’s start with a story.
Two business owners are in the same market, offer essentially the same products, target mutual markets, and yet at year end, produce very different results. One business is doing well, the other is doing poorly. One business owner seems on top of their game, the other isn’t succeeding. One business is growing, the other business is barely scraping by and the owner is beginning to wonder whether it is time to sell, or maybe just shut the doors.
What is the difference between the two businesses? There can be any number of factors to consider. Perhaps the owners differ in the amount of knowledge and skills they have for running a business; there may be a difference in the systems which have been put into place--or maybe they are missing altogether. Consider the team that drives the business forward, how pricing is determined, how marketing is presented, and how sales are made. Many factors play into the success and growth of a business. Yet, there is one characteristic that creates the largest differentiator between the two business environments: the mindset of the owner and/or leadership. What is their perspective on every situation, every economic obstacle, every customer, and perhaps on life in general? The attitude of leadership sets the tone for the environment of the business.
Is there a pervasive attitude similar to Eeyore, the donkey friend of Winnie-the-Pooh? In this type of environment the we get below-the-line thinking which produces a string of blame, excuses, and denial manifested in “woe is me” attitudes such as life is hard, this is what happened, I don’t get the same opportunities as others, the economy is really hurting, etc. In below-the-line thinking we often hear people blaming someone else, producing excuses for why things didn’t get accomplished, and denying that their attitude is a main source of the issues at hand. Below-the-line thinking creates a reason for everything and generates a need to offer explanations.
On the other hand, the attitude that propels above-the-line thinking is more like Pooh’s friends Kanga or Owl. Above-the-line thinkers accept ownership, accountability, and responsibility for everything they do. They understand that what they cannot control (economy, taxes, etc.) is only 10% of life, but what they have great control over is 90% of their life. This is what Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, calls the 90/10 rule. How your day goes is totally up to you, as is how you react to the difficult situations and even the successes you achieve through disastrous times. Steve Jobs got fired from Apple which most likely was not what he called the best day of his life, yet without being fired from Apple he would not have created Pixar and NeXT which are part of the foundation of the Apple products we love today. Above-the-line thinking creates results, and results don’t require explanations. They speak for themselves.

(Without one you can die!)

The best way to fail at a business is not having a plan; the best way to wander through your career and get stuck in a rut is by not having a plan; and--you guessed it--the best way to get lost on a mountain is not having a plan.
There are tools that help us stay on-track in life. On the trail it is a compass, a map, and possibly even a GPS that, used in tandem, will generally keep you on course. For example, you can be in the woods with only a map and still get lost, but add in a compass and you'll probably find your way. Because the magnetized compass needle always indicates magnetic north, you'll consistently know how to find this direction even if you go in circles. So using a compass in conjunction with your map keeps you adapting to stay on the right track.
Your business and career plan, if you use it, accomplishes the same purpose. First, you step back from the day to day environment to create the plan of what you want to accomplish and how you'll do it. On a regular basis - at least monthly - you measure your actions against the detailed steps you of your plan. If you are straying off course, you step back again to review your plan, realign your focus, and redirect your steps.
How does this relate to business? Without a plan, you risk going off track. Are you heading into new sales situations, new markets, and new projects without doing your homework?  Are you resting on the knowledge you gained last year or five years ago on how to sell? Did your education process stop the day you graduated from high school or college? Are you finding the new employee that was just hired is getting the better projects, the better office, and the better promotions?
The process of learning, growing your skills, and adapting to new environments are critical tools to stay on track and reach your goals, whatever they are. 
One of my clients sells cars. This process is dramatically different today than it was even five years ago. Fifteen years ago, everyone cared about what was “under the hood.” What was the engine like; how did it run? What was the torque? (I learned from my advertising client that people used to care about torque. Yes, I had to look it up – so you can, too, if you're interested.) Today, anyone selling cars better know how to use a smart phone. They better know how to connect it to the car. They better be able to look up the competitor information on that phone and discuss it out on the lot. To close the deal, they better be able to talk accurately to the customer who has done the research and possibly knows more than them about the car.
When hiring a new sales person, the car dealership cares more about whether that person can understand and discuss the car's technology versus knowing how the engine runs. If you are an auto sales person who's selling the same way you did ten years ago, there is a good chance that your job might be in jeopardy. And it's not about age. My client has an 82-year-old sales person that is very successful. He owns a smartphone and knows how to use it. He created a plan and has learned how to adapt. Have YOU?
Critical ThinkingWhat is critical thinking? There are multiple definitions, some very complex, yet the simple definition is not just the possession of skills but the ability and habit to continually use them in new and different ways. Put another way, critical thinking means using the normal to create and then apply the new.
Over the last five years I have often challenged clients and workshop attendees on their critical thinking skills. These are bright, qualified, skilled and hardworking business owners and executives who have accomplished significant challenges in their careers and business. They have worked through significant challenges and look at the world in ways that many of us don’t comprehend.
Yet, when posed with out-of-the-box types of problems they find it challenging to come up with not simply a good answer, but with that “best” answer. I wonder if the day-to-day challenge of running their business environments has reduced their ability to be creative critical thinkers.
I had the opportunity to be the guest speaker for a high school leadership training class. There were about 30 students from about five high schools.  It was a fun time of encouraging them to consider their classroom and personal goals for the next school year. Don’t I wish I had that opportunity when I was 17! (But that is another topic.)
I presented them with two out-of-the-box scenarios and was looking for that elusive "best" answer. When presenting similar scenarios to business owners, they throw ideas at me for a couple of minutes – and then I give them the “best” answer. So it amazed me that within about 20 seconds a number of the students had thought of the “best” answer for my hypothetical situations.
I was surprised, yet it made me extremely hopeful. For all the criticism of today’s youth and millennials, maybe their critical thinking skills are a lot better than we think. Maybe their fresh way of looking at things is that advantage we need in our business.  We do need to stop, listen and allow them the time to say things – even things that we may not fully understand.
Did we somewhere along the way - in running businesses, fighting the daily fight of life - stop thinking critically? Have we stopped being creative in our thought processes and now default to what is easy or normal? We believe we are the harder working and wiser generation, but we seem to have stopped using any critical thinking skills that are outside our comfort zone.
My challenge to you: Change your thinking process--start thinking like an 18 year old. It might revolutionize your business, you just might have some fun, and you'll ultimately prepare your business for the growth that comes with a new generation of leaders.

Curiosity is critical in business. Accepting status quo, what others tell you is right and looking at the world the way everyone else does will and does get you in trouble.

Instead we need to step back and watch a 2 year old. What do they do?

• The explore everything, hold it upside down and look at it in every way possible.

• They challenge what others say and ask WHY? and keep asking WHY?

• “I can do it myself” is their mantra (well maybe we need to moderate that perspective.)

• There is nothing they can’t do in their mind.

• They are ready to take on the world.

Have you lost your natural desire to be curious, ask questions, challenge how others think you should act? If so then stop, slow down and watch a 2 year old. Start exploring your own world. There is so much at our fingertips that passes us by every day.

Curiosity may have killed the cat – but it will grow your business!

Control freak is often an apt description of business owners. We like the ability to control our destiny, make our own decisions and see the impact of what we accomplish. The challenge comes with:

• understanding how little control we actually have – just a perceived control,

• learning how to relinquish control i.e. delegate, for the business to grow and

• how to leverage our controlling nature into something successful.

An employee kept watching how the business was being run, the waste that was taking place within the business, how customers were being treated and the lack of profit being generated by the business. These frustrations led to his determination to start his own business. His premise was he would treat employees much better than his current employer, eliminate the waste taking place, treat his customers better and generate more profit. In essence, he wanted control over the areas his current employer struggled. He accomplished those goals. He learned a number of lessons in the process. These were his and others primary drivers for family business ownership (and possibly entrepreneurship in general). The business owner is tired of:

• Following someone else’s lead/orders

• Believes they can serve the customer better

• Has different ideas on how to implement the product or service

• Desires flexibility in their day to day lives and a stronger balance between work and home and

• Can make more money, i.e. profit

The lessons learned are:

• Their new boss (themselves) is not the wonderful bosses they thought they would be and they have a great deal to learn. Looking in the mirror at the new boss isn’t always a pretty sight. It is the age old statement of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

• They can serve the customer better, but it is much harder than they thought and they start to understand their old company better. Customers can and often are demanding. Their interpretation of quality is different than yours. You may see value in something that the customer doesn’t care about.

• They do have different ideas on implementation – some of those ideas work and some don’t

• Flexibility is fantastic – you can work any part of the 24 hours per day that you want. Yes, you do have flexibility to take kids to school, pick them up, go to games etc., but there is a cost and that cost is often working evenings and weekends and other times that you didn’t previously work.


What makes great entrepreneurs is the desire for control, but understanding less is more. To have the utmost control, we need to leverage our skills and have others in place to do the work – therefore we stop being the bottleneck to success.

The more we want and think we have control, the less we have. There is always someone else who truly has more control. It might be customers, government, laws, acts of God. It is that desire for control that if not managed well drains the business. Lack of an ability to delegate is the result of the business owners desire to have control. They can do it better than anyone else. We serve the clients better, they know the product better, therefore they don’t delegate. We truly want the control and the ego lift that comes with it. Stop it NOW. Learn to delegate and delegate wisely. 

Marketing without sales is a waste of time and money.  Yet, as a business coach, that is what I see continually in businesses I meet.  The marketing team (even if it is a team of 1) does the marketing activities: advertising, networking, strategic alliances etc.   Yet, when the phone rings does the sales team know how to close the sale?  Statistic indicate that almost 70% of sales are not closed due to the sales person never asking for the sale.  If you don’t ask for the sale, you probably won’t get it.  The sales team needs training.  I have joked that the sales team needs WEEKLY training, only to have sales people agree with me.  It isn’t a joke, train your sales team, train them well and train them often!

Who is your sales team?  My answer – every employee in the company?  Who needs sales training – every employee.  Who is the core sales team?  The team of people who regularly talk, meet with customers and prospects.  That includes receptionists, customer service, Presidents, management etc.  All it takes is one word to make the difference in a sale.

What do you train the sales team on?

  1. Conversion rate – The phone rings – a prospect – everyone is excited (or at least they should be).  How do you talk to them?  What questions do you ask PRIOR to your answering their question?  As prospects very few of us really know what we want to purchase.  We just think we know.  If you don’t help to educate us – we will then buy on price.
  2. Products – You know your products (or do you).  How do you describe them?  Do you create emotion as you share the value of your product to me?  Do you know how to create emotion for your product?  Does everyone really understand the value of the product?  For 98% of companies I believe the answers to the above questions are no.  Changing those answers will make a difference.
  3. Customer – Do you know what the customer wants?  Not what YOU think they want, but what they truly want?
  4. Competition – Who are your competitors and how are you different?  Why should they buy from you and not them?  If you are more expensive then why, if you are less expensive – then why.  Know your competition – they probably know you.
Category:Business Coaching Business Management Business Systems Executive Coaching Family Business Profitability Sales Success In Business 
Posted by: admin

Entrepreneurs and setting goals is a popular topic. Dan Sullivan had a perspective worth sharing in the May issue of Success Magazine. The concept is rather than trying to double or 2 times where you are– go for 10 times where you are. “WHAT?” I hear you all scream. “It is hard enough to achieve 2 times where I am, how on earth can I even consider a 10 X goal?” That is exactly the point.

A 2 X goal is really just pushing what you are already planning into the future (assuming you are planning). The ability to achieve the 2 X goal is a probable anyway. There really isn’t rocket science, you know the basics—hard work and you will achieve the 2X goal.

Now for the 10 X goal that starts pushing you out of your comfort zone. I can already feel the squirming. A 10X goal forces you to look at what is really going on in your business. It forces you to look at inefficiencies. It challenges you to think out of the box, to put systems in place to handle 10X, to understand your business, structure your business, and PLAN. You must now think differently, observe differently, plan differently and execute differently. Once you start thinking 10X you will notice opportunities, changes, and perspectives. Then you can start making the changes that are required.

Here are my perspectives and 4 ¾ downsides to this type of thinking:

1. Shooting for 10 X – you might not make it, you might only reach 5X.

2. 10 X thinking creates perspectives on your business and forces planning.

3. You don’t know how to think 10X? What better way to start looking at everything from a different perspective? Read, ask, get advice, reach out to others, be humble. Even if 10X is achieved, I guarantee your 3, 4 and 5X will be more profitable.

4. For 10X I need to look outside the box, and that creates FEAR. False Expectations Appearing Real – so what are your real fears? Figure them out, since they will probably keep you from achieving 2 X. There is no better time than the present.

4 ¾ Reality is I don’t see any downside to 10X type of thinking. The danger really lies in 2X thinking. Thinking too small limits your potential, who you can be, and can lead to my favorite quote: “Hell on earth is seeing the person I could have been!”

Category:Team Building Success In Business Management Leadership Family Business Entrepreneur Business Management Business Coaching General 
Posted by: actionjanna

Attitude is all about how you look at things.  I recently took a trip to New Orleans flying through Houston.  The Polar Vortex that has been hitting the US made for cancelled flights and a one day delay in actually making the trip.  Then upon my arrival in Houston my connecting flight was cancelled.  Rather than waiting around hoping to make it on another flight (the standby list was over 200), I chose to drive.  The situations on that drive will generate some good stories during my speaking event! 

That drive and the resulting situations (i.e., getting pulled over, having the road closed for 125 miles and getting detoured twice etc.) could have made for a very unhappy person who was grouchy, blaming the airlines, mad at the world and generally miserable.  What I chose was the pure joy of having 6 hours to myself in a part of the country I haven’t driven before and the peacefulness of my thoughts (when I wasn’t singing at the top of my lungs to a favorite song).

The event that happened was the cancelled flight, my response was – ok now what happens.  My actions created the outcome; “this is a journey and who knows where it will take me”.  My response could have been much different and the outcome could have ruined the whole conference for me.

My questions to you: 

  • How do you respond during challenges?
  • What are your first thoughts and resulting actions?
  • Do you take it out on others – therefore creating a bad awful day for them?

I have learned that one great joy is to take a bad situation and NOT take it out on others.  I love watching them respond when they expect you to yell and get mad.  I love putting joy into their day of not having an irate customer in front of them. Now this doesn’t mean I allow them to walk on me, or am a push over (those who know me probably haven’t even dreamed of that situation.)  You would be amazed at how often I then get told:  Thank you for being so understanding.  Thank you for your attitude.

How do YOU respond?  Do YOU need to change your response to life, business, and personal situations which not only change your world – but those around you?

Excerpt from "The Backpackers Guide to Business Success".

 When on the trail I am the one that looks ahead.  I am always watching for what is next - looking at the scenery, taking pictures of the flowers.  I love reaching the top.  As I look ahead I see a crowd of people stopping.  There is a flat spot and they are resting.  I get excited - is this the top? Are we really there already?  Now, if I have been checking my map, the compass and the GPS- I will know that we aren't there yet.  Although all the signs confirm that the top hasn't been reached, my heart wishes I was there.  I keep climbing until I reach the spot where everyone else has paused and I confirm again that, no, it isn't the top.  There might be a view; yet I haven't really arrived.

The letdown is brief; the break is short and I continue the climb.  When we are kids we start school at the bottom and, depending on the school, we reach the top at 5th grade only to start a new school. In 6thgrade we are at the bottom again; the process repeats in high school, then college, then your first job, then your second job.  At some point you keep looking out and wonder - is this truly the top and will I ever get there?  If I arrive, how long will I stay?

So what is the top for you?  Is it position, rank, salary, responsibility, leadership, respect, influence, impact?  Have you defined the top?  Have you determined how you define success?  Do you know the next mountain you will climb?

On the trail up a mountain there is a defined top, a marker or a spot where you can say you have arrived.  In our business the top isn't as well defined.  On the trail, I can have a brief moment of frustration - this isn't the top yet, but I know it is there and I know where I am going.  On our daily journey those false summits may not only be deceiving, they can be distracting from what is the real goal.  False Summits are also where people often turn back, they give up and they can't (or choose not to) go on.  They don't realize that usually they are 80% of the way to the top. 

False summits test our perseverance, desire to get ahead, and our endurance.  They are a natural part of the mountain and a natural part of your career.  The question is, what is your attitude when you reach them? Give up, turn around, or greet them with a smile and an attitude of let's get to the top?

False Expectations Appearing Real
Forget Everything and Run
Face Everything and Rise
Each of the above can be our reaction to FEAR.  Often it saves our lives or keeps us from harm.  When we are young (hopefully) we learned not to put our hand on a hot stove.  That fear keeps us from getting hurt.

Yet, sometimes our fears keep us from moving forward.  Fear of  failure, fear of being embarrassed, fear of public speaking, fear of upsetting an employee, fear of holding them accountable, fear of scarcity... the list is long.   Then there is the age old fear of spiders, unless you lived in my house growing up.  My mom didn't like spiders and would vacuum them up.  My dad and I would rescue them before she saw them and hide them in a plant (unless it was a black widow - those we killed).

How do you use your fears?  Do you use them as a motivator to overcome and move forward?  Do you use them as an excuse to stay in your comfort zone?  Do your fears hold others back?  You are afraid of heights so you won't allow other family members to stand close to the edge?  You are afraid of failure, so you won't allow your employees to take a risk?  Yes, you see the potential for high rewards, yet, there is a high potential for failure as well.  

Where we end up long term depends on how we challenge ourselves to face our every day fears.  When I started to write, The Family Business Book, my fear was having the first person (outside my own family) read it. Would they like it? Did it make sense?  Was it worth purchasing?  If I had allowed my fears to control my actions, it wouldn't be published.  The book wouldn't be helping family business owners look at their business in new ways and have new and different conversations with family members.

Now the idea for the second book has been born and is in the works.  Are the fears there?  Yes they are.  Will I move through them?  Absolutely. Will I breathe a sigh of relief after the first presentation on the topic (which is before the book is published) is done and I get feedback - absolutely.

Yet, even if I failed, I have learned a great deal on the journey.  So what are your fears and how will you face them - starting today?


All too often, I hear excuses for why something did not happen the way it should have. People always search for ways to absolve their guilt by blaming their issues on something else. I have found throughout my career that there are three major categories of excuses:

The “It’s good enough” excuse

This is one of the most common excuses. Someone will do a passable job, scraping by, but quit as soon as possible with the excuse that what they accomplished is good enough. They are not striving for an “A” or for real quality work.  Merely scraping by with a “C” or adequate work is good enough.   However, if you want to make your business truly exceptional, meaningful, a true world-changer, this is not acceptable. You will never get ahead with “good enough”.  Would you yourself do business with just “good enough”?

The “I’m new at this” excuse

Along this same line, people who are new at something feel that they have a right to give themselves a bit of slack. Although there is something to be said for the learning curve, all too often it becomes an excuse to slack off your first few months.  However, the opposite is true; you need to be ready from day one. Otherwise, you get trapped in a cycle where the “I’m new at this” excuse becomes a “good enough” habit.

 The “I didn’t plan for that” excuse

We all have moments that make us go “Oops!” If you have any doubts about that, I have a board game called Leverage to show you. Even though there are some unexpected developments, you cannot simply say “Oh well.” You need a plan B, as well as a Plan C, D, & E. Be prepared for any and all eventualities, because you never know what will happen in the future. An employee may walk out on you, or there may be a sudden shortage of your product. When that happens, what will you do? Seriously think about a variety of scenarios and create plans to put in place before you need them.

Ultimately, complaining about a situation does nothing productive for you or your business. What you need to do is isolate the problem and identify a solution. Don’t waste ages explaining your problems to your friends and colleagues, only to ignore their advice. Instead, get to the root of the problem, follow through with the corrective solution, and move on with your business. The art of self-correction is among one of the most important business lessons you will ever learn.

You started out with a great idea, one that seemed to be desirable by a number of clients, and it paid off.  You truly found what you loved to do and are able to get people to pay you for it!  Congratulations.  Now, how are you going to sustain your business?  You may be fantastic at developing widgets, but how are you at the actual business competencies that will sustain your business over the long run?  

 An October 2012 report on Sustainability and Leadership Competencies for Business Leaders identifies top competencies as follows:

  • External awareness and appreciation of trends
  • Visioning and strategy formulation
  • Risk awareness, assessment, and management
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Flexibility and adaptability to change
  • Ethics and integrity

 Business owners need to provide themselves with learning opportunities that will strengthen each of these core business competencies.  This education can be accomplished through reading, formal training, or most effective, by utilizing a business mentor or business coach that can hold business owner accountable for actually implementing stainable changes in their company, ones that are customized to meet their company’s specific needs.  However you choose to receive your small business advice and continue your education as a leader, make a plan and follow your plan to ensure you are a perpetual learning leader.

An old adage goes, “Rules are meant to be broken.” In many ways, this is absolutely correct. Simply following the rules, doing the same thing over and over, won’t get you anywhere. Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” Every truly great, major innovation in history has come about as a result of new thinking.

 So let’s say you’ve set up your business, and are doing fairly well. You have a steady stream of revenue, a good customer base, efficient systems in place, and everything is going great. What do you do next? Often, businesses will plateau. They will improve up to a certain point, but things won’t get better from there. Once a plateau is reached, new thinking is required if you want your business to grow-which you should. Now, you should not throw your old playbook out the window, however, change is needed, and in many cases this change is rather unconventional. You need something that sets you apart.

  • What could you be doing that none of your competitors are?
  • What markets are you not tapping into?

Find that niche, and utilize it. Do something new, something different, and blow everyone away with your creativity and innovation. 
(Picture credit:Freeditigalphoto.com)

The Law of Consistency is the difference between motivation and discipline.

  • Motivation is easy to generate.
  • Motivation gets you going.

However, what happens when the road gets rough, the rocks get bigger, and fatigue sets in?  That’s where discipline steps in. Without discipline, motivation is useless.

  • Consistency becomes a differentiator between winners and those who don’t reach their goal.
  • Discipline is the bridge that gets you over the hump to where you want to be.

The Law of the Environment is where your growth happens.

    • Growth happens best in conducive surroundings.
    • If your surroundings are holding you back, then change them.

It can be as simple as rearranging the furniture or as complex as moving your office. If you live in confusion and chaos then make the changes necessary.  If lack of organization keeps you from moving forward then get help to get organized.  Learn new skills to make the change.

Personal development cannot be in a small-minded environment.  You need to think big and dream big.  Our society creates more negative than positive messages on a daily basis.  The news, the economy, and often our friends and family, will tell us all the reasons we can’t succeed but not the reasons we can succeed.  It is up to you to find fresh thinking, find new things, and create your new environment.

The seventh law is the Law of Design.  To maximize personal growth you must intentionally develop strategies. Think -

  • I intend to grow and I intend to measure my growth.
  • I will build my strengths.
  • I will not focus on my weaknesses.

A focus on weakness will at best make you average unless you want to make it a strength.  Let me give you an example.  If your weakness is public speaking and you want to grow in that area, then go for it.  Get a speaking coach, read books, learn how
to be a good public speaker.  However if you don’t like detail (like accounting) then don’t try to get good at accounting, hire someone else to do it for you.  At best, you might become a mediocre accountant.

Keep the Happy in Your Holidays

[Recently, I discussed taking time out for yourself to relax and take a break (Read: “Seeing the Forest Through the Trees!”). This week, I’d like to elaborate on this topic and incorporate it into the holiday season.]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And also the most hustling, bustling, hectic, lose-your-mind-because-you’re-so-crazy-busy time of year. Running a business and making time for festivities and celebrations can be a challenge. In between the potlucks, get-togethers, cookie exchanges, and ugly sweater parties are invoices, year-end financial statements, payroll, budget forecasting, planning and hundreds of other tasks to complete before the new year.

Here are some helpful hints to get you through the season with your sanity intact:

  • Maximize Your Time: Each of us has our own rhythm of peaks and lulls throughout the day. Find what times of day work best for you and schedule around them for peak performance. Focus on your most important or most time-consuming tasks during the parts of day when you are most clear thinking, energetic, and decisive. If you work best in the mornings, then maximize that time by waking up earlier. If you work best in the afternoons, then schedule your most important appointments during the lunch hour. If you work best in the evenings, then maximize that time by staying up later.
  • When you are setting deadlines for yourself or your clients, build extra time in your schedule to serve as a buffer for unexpected circumstances or tasks taking longer than expected. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver.
  • If you feel that you are already maximizing your time, but still can’t fit in every task, then consider investing some money to hire additional help, for instance a virtual assistant or courier service.
  • Schedule in Downtime: Designate specific days and dedicate them for date nights, family time, and days for yourself. Block off these special days in your calendar to visually highlight and distinguish them as scheduled days off.
  • Set up an automatic reply on your voicemail and email to inform your clients that you are occupied. For example, “Thank you for contacting me. I am currently out of the office and will return on [day]. I will get back to on [tomorrow, next week, etc.].” And there is nothing wrong with posting a good old-fashioned Do Not Disturb sign on your door!
  • Eliminate distractions: Sometimes a small distraction can serve as a mental break, but not if it becomes all consuming—then it’s nothing but a time-waster. Turn off your notifications for email, Internet feeds, and social media updates if you find yourself unable to stay focused on the task at hand. It may even help to completely unplug and keep your computer turned off.

The holidays are meant to be a break from the everyday routine. These are the days when you can focus on spending quality time with the people in your life who matter most. Your time is valuable, and unlike money, you can’t obtain more of it—what you get is what you get! With some proactive planning and time-management, you can enjoy the challenges and rewards of working for yourself AND enjoy the holidays too! And from me it is Merry Christmas to you.

The whole concept of accountability is tainted with misperceptions, frustration and blame.  It is so often someone else’s fault.  Within the family constructs, this dynamic is even more frustrating and brings along tension, “stories of why” and more excuses.

Accountability at its core is “doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it”.  The foundation lies in the communication cycle and the definition of the deliverable.  Let’s start with the communication cycle and with an example we can all relate to; taking out the trash.  Mary asks Jim to take out the trash before dinner.  Jim says yes.  He knows that dinner is scheduled for 6pm, it is now 4pm.  He will get to it.  Mary however wants the trash taken out now, not in an hour, although she didn’t communicate that specific detail. Mary is also expecting not just the kitchen trash, but the rest of the trash in the house will be collected, since “everyone” knows that the weekly trash pickup is tomorrow morning.  Stress and frustration builds.  Mary doesn’t understand why Jim didn’t do it immediately and why the job wasn’t complete.  Jim doesn’t understand why Mary is suddenly upset.  Sound familiar?  I am sure it does. 

Now apply that same scenario to the work environment.  You may not be asked to take out the trash, however the joy in preforming your duties and the communication concepts are still the same.  Your priorities and that of your co-workers might not always weave together well.  You get the project completed; however it is later than desired and not to the quality expected. Tensions rise, delivery date to the customer is missed, and quality suffers.

What is the solution?   

  1. Communicate and Ask Questions – Often lack of accountability comes not from insubordination (if it does, then that is a separate discussion), but from the lack of clarity regarding what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and the specific details.  Too often assumptions are made regarding the individual’s ability to both tackle and complete the task.  One of my friends has been in Information Technology for probably 25 years.  He was asked by his supervisor to conduct a project that was fairly large in scope.  He was more than willing to take on the project; however he had no idea how to start or what to do to accomplish the projected outcomes.  His manager made the assumption that he had actual experience with this type of project in the past and would therefore be successful.   Nothing was further from the truth. 
  2. Set Expectations – Set a deadline for when the project needs to be completed, when will you touch base to ensure the project  is proceeding as expected, and how long should it take (this goes to both a time and financial budget).
  3. Understand your audience – The question is often asked, “How do you eat an elephant?”  Answer; one bite at a time.  The follow-up to this story, however is that the elephant is still in the room, it is still big and too many people really don’t know how to break that “elephant” down.  We need to take the first bite, yet we don’t know where to start and therefore become paralyzed.  This is where quality leadership and people management makes the difference in success and failure. Good leadership will ensure the person knows what and how to accomplish projects.  For individuals who have delivered consistently and have a proven track record, the job is easier.  For those who haven’t, it’s the leader’s responsibility to guide them along the path.


One of the most asked questions during an accountability discussion is what are examples of consequences and how do they get enforced.    Consequences must be appropriate to the situation.  Firing for being late the first time due to a large traffic jam is not appropriate.  Here is a story of a large company that doesn’t have the best reputation for how they treat their employees.  The CEO of the company had stated that employees must be at their desk by 8:00 am.  One day he went to the parking lot of the company at 8:30am and anyone who was just arriving to work was told to go home.  He didn’t even allow them inside the building.  Did he make a point yes, people in this company are to be at work by 8am.  Is this the type of employer I would want to work for – no! 

Yet, I will give him credit for stating the rules for the company and for being willing to stand for what he believes and then enforces the rules.  He also has employees that have worked with him for decades and the company continues to grow and is profitable – so something must be working.


Consistency is critical.  Treating every situation different creates a divisive environment for an organization.  Allowing one person to “get away” with not following procedures, not getting things done etc.,  does more to erode employee morale than the example above where the employer sent everyone home that was late.  They knew his policy, they knew the rules.  They chose to break them, or get away with things, and it didn’t work.

Most companies I work with on this topic find that everyone complains about the lack of accountability.  However, when the organization starts to implement true accountability, people begin to complain about being held accountable.  The reality is that everyone wants it for someone else, but not for themselves.  It is hard to change, yet worth every step.

The choice is yours.  The solution sits in your lap; you can choose to take the challenge of being personally accountable or sit back and complain about the lack of accountability.  What is your choice?

The family business; it’s the foundation of the small business world in the US.  Approximately 80% of small businesses are family owned.  That can mean brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children.  Why are there so many family owned businesses?  One reason – blood is thicker than water.  There is a trust factor that comes with working with family.  I hear laughter from some of you.  Some of you wouldn’t trust your family with a dollar let alone own a business with them.  While that can be true, the reality is even where the family has a trust and verify.  The family business has a set of dynamics that are unlike any other.  Think of your family – what would it be like to work with them every day?  Then, go home each night.  Now I have you thinking…  Yes, that is the joy and challenge of family business.  It is often hard to:

  • “leave it at the office”
  • Ensure there is work/family balance
  • Handle the up and down times of revenue and profit
  • Ignore that irritating habit of the family member when they are always around
  • Yet, it is wonderful being able to:
  • Share the joys of success
  • Have your family understand the business
  • Be able to know the “team” members strengths and weaknesses
  • Work alongside someone you truly like
  • Share ideas and trust them to look out for your well-being.

The list goes on for both sides.  If you are considering starting a family business congratulations – you will love the journey.

What have your experiences been with family businesses?  Are you in one?  Have you done business with one?  Share them with me; I would love to hear the stories.

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Contact Janna

Janna Hoiberg
Telephone : 719-358-6936

Colorado Springs, CO 80920 

Moultonborough, NH 03254

Colorado Springs Location