Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Vacant House

I’ve believed for a long time that whatever we focus on is what we bring to life.
In 1990 I was living in a very small house and wishing I could afford to buy a home. As a single/ divorced mom of two, I sometimes felt like all I did was work and count pennies! But, at the same time, I didn’t realize that my circumstances were different from anyone else. It was just what it was.

Every day on my drive to work I passed a house that appealed to me. It seemed to be vacant. The house was not real special except it had a large yard. It was a ranch house with very little landscaping. I don’t know why I liked that house. Maybe it looked like something I might afford! So, every single day I looked at that house on the way to work and on the way home, wondering what the circumstances were about it. This went on for months.

One day there was a sign in the yard giving notice that it was bank owned. I contacted the bank right away to find out the details. It was 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, dining room, and a couple of acres. Long story short, I bought that house for $53,000. I lived on one income, but I had good credit and a good history with my job. It was still a long shot.

I am pretty sure I actually prayed about that house, although I can’t remember when or how many times I turned that longing and curiosity into a prayer. What I do know is this:
1) God heard me and knew what my heart longed for..a home.
2) When we focus on something there is a much greater chance the “thing” will come to be.
And, if God is in it, well, it’s gotta be a good thing. 😉

Monday, January 22, 2018

The "2018 Ready" Employer

I'm going to offer some business advice for 2018.
I meet with quite a few businesses over the course of a year, and I'm impressed with employers who make employees a priority in the business. By this I mean showing employees respect, and giving them opportunities to demonstrate their talents and be rewarded  and recognized. Employers who micromanage, distrust, and treat employees with a lack of respect are asking for the trouble they get. Once an employer loses the trust and respect of employees it's hard to win back, but an employer with a sincere desire to turn a bad situation around can do so. 1)Employers, when you have an issue with an employee, address that issue directly with the specific employee. Never issue blanket warnings and punishment to all.
2)Show trust and respect unless and until an employee has given you reason for doubt. See #1
3) Give every employee fair and specific expectations and goals, involving the employee in the decisions and coming to an agreement.
3) Recognize and reward employees for their accomplishments. Never be smug.
4) Employees perform best from coaching, not from being managed. Do you want to be managed? Of course you don't. Why do you think employees would?
5) People spend a very large part of their lives at work. Do what you can to make your workplace culture a desirable place to work.
6) If you're self-centered, stop today. Effective leaders are people focused, not self-absorbed.
7) Are you the example and role model your employees need? Be honest. If you're not, change that today.
To summarize, there is nothing in your business more important than the talent you've hired. The sales, product and service aren't worth a dime if the employees are miserable working for you.
Be your best self, and you will be rewarded.
Have a great 2018!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Have you met B.T. in the Business Jungle?

In the business jungle lives a hulking, sleepy gorilla named Boring Traditionalist, and he's a heavy weight.  Let's take an honest look at this primate and how he affects businesses, maybe yours. For the purpose of holding your interest I'll call him B.T.

B.T. has existed in the business jungle a long, long time, and he's rarely been disturbed. You would think leopards, venomous snakes and hunters would have killed him off by now, but he's immortal. Or so he believes, and if you believe something with all your heart, it becomes true to you.

The B.T. of business is identified by the routine, the mundane, the stuff that takes minimal effort and certainly no creative thinking skills. It's possible that B.T. has survived in the business jungle because he keeps a low profile, sits in the trees without going out on a limb, hunts for food at night and exhibits very low energy. He's old and worn out. 

Where does B.T. live in your business?  Is he in the promotions plan where the line item still says "Advertising" and includes the same budget tactics used by everyone 40 years ago? Does B.T. direct your customer service culture to be rooted in believing you have no competition? When you hear how important branding is, does B.T. shake his head in disbelief that you would go to the trouble to stand out from the crowd?

I've witnessed B.T. in his most comfortable environment when CEO's and Managers are way behind in modern, competitive business practices, reluctant or fearful. Staying ahead in the jungle requires being alert, implementing smart plans, executing competitive strategies, understanding the lay of the land, and constantly improving the business culture.

B.T.(Boring Traditionalist) can be a problem, but only if you allow him to infiltrate your business. Don't stand for it, and don't settle for less than what your company and your people deserve! Be ready with modern ammunition, competitive strategy and the right tools. It's a jungle out there.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Entrepreneurs Walk a Tightrope


Every single day as a small business owner I think about "what's next" for my business. How do I want my business to grow or change? Do I add services, extend current services, or add products?

I already know from experience it's more profitable to continue working with current and past clients, deepening those relationships and services, rather than working harder and spending more to recruit new clients. But, a part of me loves the relationship building and learning that comes with new clients. I try to work at both.

Being focused on today, yet planning for the future can be a challenge, but it's a requirement to thrive in business. I ran across this article on by William Vanderbloemen, and it speaks well to these challenges faced by entrepreneurs.

Stay true to your core business, keep a close eye on those financials, and don't let SOS lead you astray. We can do this. Let's keep our focus on getting across that tightrope to the other side.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Your Company's Secret Asset

You can't run your company without your assets ~ operating capital, equipment, buildings or machinery. You can't run your company without customers either. Actually, you won't have a company without customers. Have you considered that your most important asset is your customer base?

When do you most need the customer's perspective? On the day they purchase? Prior to a purchase? After a purchase? While all three of these choices are important when gauging the customer experience,  thinking about the customer's perspective prior to a purchase is likely your best bet. 

How much time have you spent planning the customer experience? Creating a plan and making the 
customer experience a high priority can produce the ROI that meets your goals. Don't your customers deserve your annual planning time just as much as your mission statement does? We have to earn our customer's trust and business, so we'd better plan how to get it!

Customers are an asset.  Just as you have an inventory of your vehicles, equipment, machinery and financials you need an inventory of your customers and a plan for growing your business through customers. Growth through customers ~ your secret asset.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What do you get when you survey turkeys?

Here's an excerpt from a recent conversation with a business owner (I'll call him Mark to protect the innocent) who expressed the need for a solution for a specific marketing challenge:

Me:      "You've probably used surveys before, right?"
Mark:   "Yeah. I'm not a big fan of surveys."
Me:      "Why not?"
Mark:  "People don't respond or they respond with dumb
Me:   "Did you ask dumb questions?"

Mark:  "Uh, maybe."
Treat a survey design like it's targeted to turkeys, and that survey will give you back some gobble, gobble.  Give the survey some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and you will score way better results.

Whether you're surveying for customer feedback, market research, employee satisfaction, or community opinions these things matter: 

 the design format  *  the right questions  *  and the analysis

A survey I created last year for a client was aimed at improving the customer experience. My client and I carefully designed the survey, crafted great questions, and distributed the survey to a targeted audience. We received very helpful and specific responses which were analyzed and used toward customer experience enhancements at the business.  Happy client. Happy customers.

Oh, and don't forget the next big thing. Use the results to make a difference in your business. Treat that survey with some respect, and don't target turkeys unless you're looking for Thanksgiving dinner.  Sorry, I just couldn't resist!

Monday, March 14, 2016

You Can Create an Engaging Workplace

Psychologist Daniel Pink writes that people are driven by "autonomy, mastery, and purpose." 

One of the top factors affecting the workplace and certainly a concern among entrepreneurs is finding a way to engage and retain employees. Although everyone likes excellent pay and would not turn down a raise, it may be surprising to learn that people are also after a more entrepreneurial and meaningful experience on the job.

Having a mission driven purpose that is understood and adopted by employees is one of the ways companies are able to engage and retain workers. There's a story told about a group of reporters at NASA who saw a janitor coming their way with a broom. They stopped him and asked, "What's your job here?" The janitor replied, "My job is to help put a man on the moon." 

People like to know their opinion is valued, and they crave work that lets them leave a unique fingerprint on a finished product.(Josh Bersin, Bersin and Deloitte). 

Company leaders should share customer feedback, good and bad, in a way that helps employees understand there will be celebrations for successes and they have a stake in helping correct mistakes.

It's never too late for companies to adopt and implement strategies to develop a more engaging workplace. Your employees will thank you for it.