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18 minutes of peace-making thought

Speak Up for Peace
Creative Commons License photo credit: * Honest *

Not world peace mind you (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but peace between your ears.

Do you find yourself somehow mindlessly wasting an hour, 2 hours or more a day? Maybe not even every day?

You arent alone. Rarely does a day go by when I don’t hear it from someone.

In today’s guest post, Peter Bregman has a solution you might find useful. It only takes 18 minutes a day.

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Do you have personal standards?

Silly question – cuz I’m sure you do.

Dave takes a different cut at personal standards. A cut you might find challenging, but I hope not.

Just the same, today’s guest post from Dave Navarro (no, not the famous guitarist) is worth reading and looking in the mirror about.

Check it out here.

A big part of what others do (you know, like your family, your staff…) is a based in large part reflection of you as a family leader, a business leader, a community leader and so on.

What do they see?

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Bad conversation: Like peeing on the seat

Remember driving across the country in your car as a kid on those family vacations?

Picture this: Your dad, brother, uncle or whoever gets out of the car, goes into the restroom, comes back a few moments later and without a word, they’re ready for the next leg of the trip.

Next, your mom, sister, aunt or grandmother heads for the restroom, comes back almost immediately and is beside themselves about how gross that bathroom is.

The car doors slam and you’re moving a mile or five down the road to find a bathroom that might have been cleaned in the last year or two.

When mom, sis or whoever returns from the clean bathroom, they can’t help but comment about the gross one a few miles back and they might even be incredulous about the fact that you (dad, brother, whoever) didn’t think anything of it – much less that you didn’t say a word.

Maybe it’s about expectations, but that’s not where I’m heading today.

Standing up

Newsflash from the Business is Personal Department of Obviousness: Guys go standing up. Ladies do not.

As a result, the conversation about restrooms is different even though the facility is exactly the same for both.

Peeing on the seat is (effectively) meaningless to one group and like kryptonite to another. The perception of two audiences is totally different, despite everything in the room being identical.

Likewise, you can sell the side of the road in a bad neighborhood as “acceptable” to a guy who has to go, while you better not even think about stopping there for most ladies. Yeah, I know there are exceptions. Move along.

Are your conversations one size fits all?

The question is, do the conversations you start with your clients and prospects look like those bathrooms? Are they one size fits all?

If they’re acceptable to those who stand up, is your message lost on those who are sitting down?

All too often, I see websites, ads, pitches and other materials treated like those bathrooms – one message for everyone. It doesn’t work.

Talking to everyone is talking to no one.

One size may (more or less) fit all when it comes to doorways, water in the tank, toilet seats and the hardware – but that’s where it ends. How you talk (verbally, on paper or on the web) with different folks is much the same as those bathrooms.

The *conversation* you would have in person with a single mom is different than the one you’ll have with the 12 year old boy or the 47 year old menopausal woman.  So why is your marketing and other content aimed at some random spot in the middle of those three?

You already know that the perception and expectations of each group that enters the bathroom (ie: reads your ad, reads/hears your pitch, listens to your talk, reads your blog) is totally different – so why not do something about it.

Talk to the 72-75 year old widows differently than you would 65 year old ladies whose husbands are alive.

Talk to the 22 year old skateboarder and the 32 year old mom of three in a way and about the things that matter to them – not as if they are just a gaggle of identical humanoids (or the Borg).

Otherwise, you may as well not bother having the conversation.

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The new economics of entrepreneurship

Rink of Fire
Creative Commons License photo credit: C.P.Storm

Today’s guest post from Guy Kawasaki talks briefly about the current state of the economy and more importantly about the economics of starting your own business these days.

Guy’s post offers more reasons why I keep pestering local folks to start their own business – *especially* if they are currently laid off.

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Amanda Palmer 1, Naysayers 0

Concierto Amanda Palmer and The Danger Ensemble, Sala [2]
Creative Commons License photo credit: alterna2

An ideal guest post for America’s Independence Day, Tech Dirt’s coverage of Amanda Palmer’s use of Twitter for grassroots marketing of her music (and other stuff). I hadn’t heard of her until reading the article.

Note: This is not a G-rated article, but it is instructive all the same.

The point of this is to think, much less think unconventionally, consider the resources you have available and most importantly, to communicate with your fans (even plumbers have fans, so don’t think that your business doesn’t).

Regarding naysayers: There will *always* be people who tell you you can’t do it, you can’t sell for that price, you’ll never make it, etc.

They might be partly right: perhaps they couldn’t.

The question isn’t what they can or can’t do, it is…  Can you?

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Half full or half empty? Either way, it’s still half.

Creative Commons License photo credit: boyghost

Today is June 30.

Unless your business model is seasonal (which is common here in Montana), you should be at 50% of your annual goals as of the end of business today.

Whether you are or not, looking back over the last 6 months should provide some insight as you look forward and adjust your plans for the second half of 2009.

Over, Under, Worked, Didn’t

Where are you over and under budget?

In each case, are there *good* reasons for that?

If things are below budget, did you drop the ball, fail to market effectively (or at all), lose a competitive edge, have a drop in productivity or something else?

If you are at or over budget, did you follow your marketing and business plan for the first half of the year? Did productivity rise?

Are systems lightening the load of menial work, allowing you to get more productive, profit-generating work done? If you don’t have systems, perhaps you should. If you systems could do more, look at how they can – and prioritize their implementation.

What worked? Simple response: Do more of that.

What didn’t work? Again, common sense says you should assess how you can fix that thing or eliminate it.

You decide.

When I ask you to examine what is over and under budget, make sure you look at non-budget categories. Things like number of new leads, number of new customers, advertising performance by media/by ad, and so on.

One thing is almost certain. If you do for the next 6 months what you did for the last 6 months, chances are the 2nd half of 2009 will be little different from the first half.

You can decide whether that’s good or not.

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A visual look at that “Do what you love and the money will come” thing

Today’s guest post is from Bud Caddell, where he’s taking something that is so pervasive that it has become a cliche – and turned it into a visual that is far more meaningful.

While I might not insist upon doing what you love, I would say you’d better have an interest in it for sure, otherwise someone is likely to come along and spank you at your own game.

Regardless, I thought you might enjoy it.

See it here:

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Old gray haired white guys

A couple days ago, the Lakers appeared a little vulnerable against the Magic after a game 3 loss.

It appeared that the Magic focused a little more and worked a little harder on fundamentals than the Lakers did, as a result, their shooting improved and nothing the Lakers and Kobe could do would stop them.

It doesn’t matter if you have a 46 inch vertical leap if you can’t make a layup or a free throw, much less play defense or make your way across the court without someone stealing the ball from you.

Small businesses have the same issues to deal with: Focus. Attention to fundamentals.

As I see businesses struggle with sales, customer retention, customer service and effective marketing, more often than not, ignoring lessons in fundamentals from old gray haired white guys are at the root of the problem.

No, it isn’t just white guys, but there just aren’t many business icons in their 70s and 80s who aren’t white, simply because of the way things were in the US 40-50-60 years ago. Naturally, there are exceptions, but this post isn’t about race relations so let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Experience is cheaper if you can learn its lessons from someone who already paid the price for it.

When I say old, of course I mean “much older than me” ( just like you do).

I’m speaking of guys like Zig Ziglar (born 1926), JimRohn (born 1930), John Earl Shoaff (born 1916, died 1965)  and Earl Nightingale (born 1921, died 1989).

Yeah, I know. Those dudes are either really old or long gone. That’s just a short list of folks, but rather than go on, I have something else to deal with that’s far more important.

Your mind. See, I know what you’re thinking.

You’re 23 (or 33, 43, 53, take your pick), an entrepreneur and there’s nothing some crusty old white dude can teach you about business. This is the iPhone age, the internet age and those guys would freak out if they had access to what you have.

It’s a big mistake to think that way. Keep in mind that those generations didn’t have some of those things – so they invented them

One of the simple things Zig teaches is to get everything you want, help someone else get everything *they* want.

Simple but powerful – and easy to implement in your business. If you put some thought into it, you can easily find a way to leverage that idea so that it creates revenue opportunities for your business.

I’ll leave it to you to discover the other things these men taught but I can’t make a better suggestion to you than to discard your prejudices and just listen.

Then take action.

PS: Yeah, I realize the photo is of a woman. There are smart, old, white-haired women that you can learn from as well.

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50 ways to kick your business into gear, from Tom Peters

Today’s guest post comes from none other than Tom Peters.

He introduces his “XF-50”, which he calls 50 Ways to Enhance Cross-Functional Effectiveness and Deliver Speed, â??Service Excellenceâ? and â??Value-added Customer â??Solutionsâ??â?.

Sure are a lot of quotes and buzzwords there, but I think you’ll find that they are quoted for a reason.

Go check it out, I think you’ll find it worthwhile.

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Someone keyed my Karma

Month before last during a coaching session, I had a pretty frank conversation with a client about freedom.

Not the Constitutional kind of freedom, but freedom from the ball and chain that a business can become. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that it can become a restriction to your freedom.

Not only that, but it’s common for small family-owned businesses to almost not be a business if the family isn’t there. If you aren’t there. Needless to say, this isn’t an ideal situation when unexpected events occur.

During that conversation, we talked about configuring the business so that it could stand an unexpected, required trip out of town for a month (or 3).

A month went by.

In last month’s session, we were talking about their retail business and once again, we talked (among other things) about how I felt they needed to spend some serious effort on figuring out how to grow and insulate the business from unexpected turns in life.

I gave them a few examples of things to work on, knowing that we’d need to revisit it and fine tune the strategy as we move forward.

And here comes Al.

Then I mentioned that I was getting to take my own advice, as I had just discovered that an immediate family member has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Result: Recent efforts to move a portion of my client base a little closer to home were going to have to be reversed.

My business is going to be changing because – as I advised my client – I don’t know when I will need to disappear for a few months. Not completely disappear or be disconnected from the net, but just not be home for an unknown period of time.

A few weeks went by, and I was hoping that the owner’s thought and effort was going into that project. I’m sure it is, but it’s not an immediate change to do this to your business – particularly if you are in retail, restaurant or hospitality (ie: hotel, motel, b&b).

Another month goes by.

Last week, we talked again to schedule our next call and it turned out that the very thing I had advised preparing for was happening.

Family responsibilities requiring out of town travel on little notice for an unknown period of time. Really sad.

Meanwhile, I look in the mirror and remind myself that my business is changing for the same reasons and that I need to accelerate the pace.

Are you prepared for that sort of thing? Depending on your age and your parents age, it might be more apparent to you – but it can happen to you even if you are a 26 year old entrepreneur.

If you don’t ask for help, you aren’t likely to get it.

In 70% of small business failures, a key factor was the owner not recognizing or ignoring weaknesses, and then not seeking help.” – SCORE / US Bank survey of failed small businesses

Do you have someone in your corner who will ask you the tough questions?