Founder’s Focus: Oh, That’s What This Is?

Advice, particularly for business owners and entrepreneurs is everywhere . . . as I scroll through LinkedIn its coming from the influencers I follow and the colleagues I connect with, it graces the covers of books in the airport bookstore, and I even get a daily text messages and emails.

Advice is good.  But sometimes I just don’t know or am too busy to figure out how to use it.

That’s how I’ve come to believe that advice and its action may be relatively near each other in the dictionary, but they are separated by interpretation (Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as ‘a particular adaption or version’).

What the advice doesn’t typically give me (or I don’t stop long enough to listen) is “the how” I can put the advise to use in what I’m doing (or not doing)?  How do I adapt it to work for me?  What’s my version?

For example, one piece of advice that shows up in nearly every piece of advice including those like-titled “7 things successful entrepreneurs do. . .” is a notion of quiet time or a “pause” if you will.  Sometimes it’s referred to as meditation, but also can be called recovery, reflection, centering, getting present, or even mindfulness (a new buzz word).

But regardless of what it’s called, the advice is the same: entrepreneurs are supposed to take “time” to be successful because that’s when the great things can be allowed to manifest.

So I’m the first to admit I can be a skeptic of things like yoga, meditation, etc.  And anytime I’m faced with the notion of a pause, all I can envision is meditation.  And thinking of me somehow sitting crisscross applesauce on the floor of a quiet in a room by myself with no interruptions and distractions is frankly scary.  Because I’ve got three active kids, a brutal travel schedule, an internal clock that no long has a time zone, few precious minutes of downtime and some body image issues.

Meditation has always seemed impossible for me and think about it being something I should be doing has given me a tinge of the fear of missing out (FOMO) that questions whether my reluctance/inability holds me back.  And since I’m getting real honest here, I’m going to even admit that I bought a book about 10 years ago called “8 Minute Meditation” and I never gave it 3 minutes of my time.

So how am I still here?  How has it that I’ve slowly built my business if I am not doing one of these “7 things all successful entrepreneurs do. . ?”  I finally found the answer.

It’s because I already do it, but I didn’t know I was doing it.  A complete, “Oh, That’s what this is?” moment.

Here’s how I figured it out.  I was sitting on a plane the other day and it struck me that as I recently went through some struggles with growing the business and I had been fishing a lot with my youngest son (like every free night and weekend day) and we were staying far longer than normal (and not at his urging).  It reminded my of when I decided to start my business in 3rd quarter 2007 – after a week on the river fishing for pink salmon.  Or when my now wife gave me the ultimatum – commit or quit – which led to a couple weeks on the river from which I returned with a grand (and successful!) plan.  You get the point.

I now realize that when I’m out there (lake, river, pond, ocean, etc.), it’s quiet.  Not just quiet on the water, but quiet (relatively) in my head.

Fishing isn’t just some hobby I can list in my profile, nor is it just an activity I do with my kids because my dad did it with me.

Fishing is “that” time for me.

So the good news is I’ve been meditating, pausing, reflection, etc. all along.  I just failed to interpret what I was doing as being my version of meditation.

Note: this blog is the second in a series of blogs I’m writing on various topics that aren’t related to our company’s core services, but definitely relate to how we cope with the same challenges that our clients and colleagues often face as small businesses and entrepreneurs.

You Don’t Know You Need Us (Until You Do)

We’re a land use and economic development company.  Most people aren’t sure what that means, but essentially we have three types of clients:

  1. Developers – we help developers get the permits and approvals then need (especially difficult ones) in a timely manner.  We also help them analyze and select locations for their projects.  We also help bridge the gaps where a jurisdiction’s policies, permits and practice don’t quite fit or are not anticipatory of a type of project.
  2. Cities/Countys/EDOs – knowing what it takes to make a project happen, we help advise communities on policies, programs and marketing so that they are more effective at getting the economic development they want.  Essentially, we help these clients get smarter, more strategic and we do it for a better cost structure than “planning” companies.
  3. Small Businesses & Individuals – zoning is one regulation that applies to every business, every non-profit and every individual, so when small businesses run into zoning challenges that are complex and political, we help them navigate to safety.  Click here for an example

Unfortunately, we frequently hear our new small business and individual clients say something like, “Wow, I didn’t even know people like you were out there. . .”

We recently helped a small business, The Grayson, resolve a zoning compliance matter that threatened to shut them down because their c0-housing solution to long term rentals for corporate relocation clients was defined as a “hotel” though it’s a far cry from such.  It would be incredibly difficult to walk through the challenges of their situation in a single blog post (so we won’t try).  But, we’d like to provide you with our client’s thoughts, which she allowed us to share:

“Toyer’s firm has a great background and working knowledge of regulations, zoning, and code. Toyer was able to navigate the complexity of county planning department and code, succeeding in getting a resolution that kept our business from having to close. More incredible was the fact that Toyer was successful where attorneys had failed to help us with the problem.  Without Toyer Strategic’s involvement, we would have spent thousands of dollars fighting a losing battle,”  Mariam Zinn, Owner, The Grayson

We’re proud of the work our company does and what it means to small business and entrepreneurs.

Got a zoning or zoning compliance issue?  We can help. Contact us


Approved: Hawks Prairie Logistics Park

Last night the Lacey City Council approved the master site plan and wetland development permits for Hawks Prairie Logistics Park, a 130-acre industrial development that will feature three buildings totaling 1.9 million square feet of industrial space.  The main building on the site will house a new Home Depot distribution center.

Our firm played an instrumental role in the project’s approval, providing the project’s economic impact analysis and performing required land use analysis to address the policies and conditions that limit the granting of wetland development permits.

Additionally, we provided early project management services to support the project’s pre-application site plan review,  the processing of the land use applications, and the facilitation of a meeting with the adjacent residential neighborhoods.

Founder’s Focus: How I Hire Talent

Note: this blog is the first in a series of blogs I hope to write on various topics that aren’t related to our company’s services, but definitely related to how we cope with the same challenges that our clients and colleagues often face as small businesses.

Running a small business is challenging, but growing a small business is even harder.  One of the major challenges for small businesses as they grow is hiring additional staff.

Posting a position and receiving hundreds of resumes to review isn’t practical, I’ve got a business to run.  Plus, resumes are of limited insight as they really only show that person’s ability to proof read and that person’s story-telling – it’s natural instinct (even coached) to tout the performance and contributions of oneself much like my 7 year old might when we return from a day fishing at the lake.

My first significant experience hiring employees occurred in my mid-20s when I worked at a growing real estate company.  Responsible for growing a division of the company, I deliberately hired individuals fresh out of college despite their lack of experience and I made my hiring decisions based on specific talents I though each person brought to the team.  It was an incredible success and the individuals that worked for my division grew considerably and have gone on to have incredible careers.  While I’d like to say it was the result of a great strategy, at that point in my career it was born out of my arrogance and unwillingness to hire someone that had more experience than me.

The success I had in this early part of my career has been a major influence in my hiring.  From that experience, I’ve confirmed

  1. The traditional hiring process doesn’t work for a small business like mine
  2. While I’d like experience, I can succeed by hiring someone with 70% of the talent I need
  3. I have to be committed to developing any new employee regardless of their experience or skills

To make new hires (interns, or full- or part-time employees), I still look to recruit from students at colleges, universities, communities colleges and even high school (junior/seniors).  To start the hiring process I reach out to educators and ask them to pass along  to students looking for work.

And instead of having them submit a resume, I ask them to review a Candidate Opportunity Packet, and complete and return our Skills Simulator (example below).

Candidate Skills Simulator 2.1

The Impact of Micropolitans

Our firm focuses the majority of our economic development consulting services on Micropolitan Statistical Areas.  Why?

  1. There are 551 micropolitan areas which are comprised of 21% of the nation’s counties.
  2. Micropolitans are labor market areas with at least one urban core of no less than 10,000 population and no more than 50,000 population
  3. Total population in micropolitan statistical areas can range from around 11,000 to over 200,000
  4. Pearsall, TX (Frio County) is the nation’s newest micropolitan, having been announced in OMB Bulletin 18-03 in April 2018
  5. Micropolitans have a significant footprint across the US

The following map shows the footprint of Micropolitans across the US.