Archive for ‘Strategy’

November 14, 2013

8 Things You Need Before the Start

In business, the hardest thing is the start. And there are often factors that prevent us from launching successfully, or that create distractions after we launch. On my other blog, The Second Boom, I wrote about 8 things Boomers need to have in place before they consider starting a business, but those 8 things are not restricted to just Boomers. Jump over to that post and tell me if you’re thinking of those 8 things:

Do you have these 8 things in place?

Where do you stand in regards to these 8 things?

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October 7, 2013

The FORE Leadership Cycle

In my second book, Let It Fly! Defy the Laws of Business Gravity and Keep Your Company Soaring, I introduced the FORE cycle of leadership. FORE is an acronym which stands for focus-offload-review-encourage. I’ll let you read the book and learn the details of each stage of the 4-stage cycle, but in this post, I want to point out that FORE is a complete cycle. You can’t just do some of the 4 stages, you have to do all of them. Here’s what happens if you leave out a stage while doing the others.

If you leave out the “F” or focus, you might still offload, review, and encourage your team, but they’re all over the place because you supplied no focus. Lots of unfocused work just passes the time.

If you leave out the “O” or offload, you never trust your team enough to offload the responsibility to them. Then you become a micro-manager, even though you review and encourage, because all you’re doing is reviewing and encouraging them on exactly what you told them to do.

If you leave out the “R” or review, you’ve focused your team, offloaded responsibility to them, and encourage them, but never check on whether they’re executing properly. Things that break could be broken for awhile until you finally discover them. Plus, if you’ve been encouraging them all along, they might be reluctant to bring you bad news.

And finally, if you leave out the “E” or encourage, you have a good team that’s focused, takes responsibility, fulfills your reviews of them, but never gets thanked or encouraged about what they do. That could become a thankless job for many of the team members.

See how focus-offload-review-encourage, or FORE, is a complete cycle of stages? Those of you with leadership responsibilities, please take note.

September 24, 2013

Making the Technology Habit Work for You

Sometimes it seems we’re wedded to our technology toys. Before you know it, it takes away from the productive things you could be doing about your business or your career. However, unlike what some might preach, we can’t just leave our toys either, because there are useful purposes for them.

A recent article on the Fast Company website entitled 4 Ways to Cure Your Technological Distraction Addiction gives 4 tips on how to make technology our friend (enhance productivity) instead of our enemy (create distractions).

So here’s my question for you … do you think we can get people to stop tweeting pictures of their dinner entrees, any time soon?

September 5, 2013

Objection, Your Honor!

In courtroom dramas, we see opposing attorneys object to things, and the judge settles it with a “Sustained” or “Overruled”. In life, it’s not such a convenient situation when someone objects to what we’re saying or proposing, whether it’s in a business or a non-business setting.

This article on the American Management Association website offers tips on how to deal with objections. The author offers 4 steps to keep in mind: clarify, acknowledge, respond, and confirm.

How do you deal with objections?

September 3, 2013

The Meaning of Success

Last year, in a survey of 26,000 Americans, Parade magazine and Yahoo! Finance found that almost 60% said they regretted their career decisions. I find that an astounding revelation, and feel even more thankful that I have forged my own path with my own business pursuits.

Success is something that means different things to different people, but part of this involves making your life meaningful to you. In a recent Fast Company article, Wharton Business School professor Richard Shell offer 5 insights on what could make life more meaningful. One I was happy to see was #3, “Discover what you do better than most.”

In my mind, that’s how you start laying the foundation for success and fulfillment, whether you have your own business, or work for someone else.

August 13, 2013

Lesson from BlackBerry

BlackBerry, once the dominant market leader in smartphones, just released the news that it is looking at the possibility of selling all or part of the company. They practically created the smartphone device market, and had a stranglehold on the corporate device segment. Now, they’re in danger of becoming irrelevant, despite adding singer Alicia Keys to its Creative Design group.

The reasons for BlackBerry’s dramatic fall are being debated. And you might say that this has nothing to do with any of us because BlackBerry is a large public company. But as small business owners we can learn something from this.

One of the reasons BlackBerry is in the situation it’s in is because it didn’t react to changes in its marketplace, as new devices emerged with full size touchscreen displays and “soft” keyboards (think iPhone). It seems that the BlackBerry guys felt that their customers would continue to prefer BlackBerry’s physical-keyboard devices. With such a large market lead, they started to believe they were invincible.

The same thing can happen to a small business. Its customers could be singing praises, and the business owner feels he or she owns the market. Things change, but the owner’s not listening, because of the previous adoration. Then the company fades, and this is one story that doesn’t make the press.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what you think about how good you are. It only matters what your customers think.

July 17, 2013

Don’t Get It Backwards

One of the common mistakes aspiring entrepreneurs make is to come up with a product idea before they figure out who to sell it to. They fall in love with some concept they’ve been thinking about, perhaps to solve a problem they personally have. Then they create a product to address that problem, and maybe even come up with a good solution for it.

But if very few other people have that same problem, the potential market won’t be very large. The entrepreneur could experience what I call “terminal success”: achieving 100% market share after 10 sales. You’re awesome if you reach 100% market share, but if your market consists of only 10 possible sales, you’re sunk.

Don’t get it backwards. Focus on finding a potential problem to solve, figure out if it’s a big enough market, then create a product to address it. It’s way cheaper to change your focus before you build a product, then to build a product first and find out the market’s too small.

March 27, 2013

On Extreme Productivity

I came across a recent article by Jeff Haden in Inc. magazine, which appeared in the Huffington Post website, on personal productivity. These 8 steps or tips are things you should keep in mind as you try to get more out of your work or personal day.

The only thing I would add my comment on is #8, “don’t quit until you’re done”. Be sure the task you define is something that can be done in that period of time you have in mind. If you underestimate that, you could be back to where you started from, working indeterminately until you’re done.

And that means you need to know how to take really big projects and cut them into manageable pieces. It’s like the eating contests some restaurants have … “Eat a 48-ounce steak in 45 minutes and it’s free.” I don’t recommend it, but the guys who do this know how to take that 4-pound steak and break it into bite-sized pieces. They certainly don’t try to cram 4 pounds in all at once!

November 12, 2012

On Hiring “40-Somethings”

A LinkedIn post on Sunday night by a business owner in Belgium created a firestorm of reaction by Monday morning. In her post Why I hesitate to hire forty-somethings, Inge Geerdens put her point across on this delicate subject. As I read it, I could actually see her post being interpreted in one of two ways, either being discriminatory and almost biased, yet also being cautious on how she invests her salary dollars. Or, perhaps, a combination of both.

You read it, and see what you think Geerdens was trying to say. The next day, after she realized the reaction she created, she posted again to explain herself: “I hire on ability, and nothing else.” From the reactions to the more recent post, it’s not clear to me that she was successful in making her point any clearer to them.

With today’s social media technologies, yet another example of how people really must be extra careful of how they express their points of view.

November 5, 2012

Being Productive Working from Home

In a recent guest post entitled “2 Tips for a Productive Freelancer’s Home Office,” which I wrote for the blog $200K Freelancer, I shared 2 tips to help freelancers create a more productive environment from a home office space. These are applicable to anyone in any industry working from a home office, so check out my post to find out what those 2 things are.