Categories
Business culture Employees Entrepreneurs Improvement Leadership Management Motivation quality Restaurants Retail service Small Business Strategy

Does your job suck? Is it boring? Is it creating value?

179/365
Creative Commons License photo credit: riot jane

First, I’ll ask from an employee perspective.

If you’re the employee, I hope your answers are No, No and Yes, respectively.

If they aren’t, exactly how long do you have before someone figures out that your job can go away? What can you do about it before someone does something about it for you – and it isn’t the action you want them to take?

If you are the employer, ask your people.

For that matter, if you have people in jobs that result in “No, No, Yes” answers, are there ways to make the jobs not suck? Not boring?

Use them, don’t lose (or waste) them

Is there a way that those folks could be creating more value and thus generating profit instead of being an expense? If they aren’t creating value in some way, what exactly are they doing and how far are you from laying them off?

Wouldn’t it be better to use them more productively, making them more valuable to your business vs. letting them go and wasting all the time and money you invested in training them?

You DID train them didn’t you? Even if it was just to your way of doing things…

Pass the Calgon

Business owners should be asking themselves the same questions on a regular basis about the products and services they provide to their clients, much less what each of their staff members bring to the table.

You can also add “How are we taking away the pain?” Are you doing that too?

Remember those old Calgon bath oil bead commercials? “Calgon, take me away…”

Categories
Employees Entrepreneurs Leadership Management Motivation service Small Business Strategy

Let young uns just step up and solve it

Today’s guest post is from Father Jay Toborowsky way over in New Jersey (yo, that’s pronounced Joisey), who tells us a story about a young lady seeing a problem, stepping up and just getting it solved, vs. pushing it up the food chain and possibly creating a micromanagement or bureaucracy driven environment that adults might use to “solve” the problem (eg: treat the symptoms).

Check it out here.

Do you enable your youngest, least experienced staffers to solve problems? ANY problems?

Categories
attitude Book Reviews Business culture Community Creativity Entrepreneurs Good Examples Leadership Management Motivation podcast Positioning Small Business Strategy systems

The Cure for “The Culture of Cant”

[audio:https://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/pollyannaprinciples.mp3]
Droopy dog

It’s not unusual for small business owners to be involved in community organizations, so in that spirit I have something a little different from our every day discussion here – yet still completely applicable to your business – no matter what that business does.

Rather than Friday’s normal Hotseat Radio show, today I had the pleasure of interviewing Hildy Gottlieb, long time friend and author of the newly released book “The Pollyanna Principles“.

Hildy is a nationally-recognized consultant and President of the Community-Driven Institute in Tucson AZ, and has been called “the most innovative and practical thinker in our sector”.

That sector is what folks in Hildy’s business call “non-profit organizations” – which unfortunately describes exactly what those organizations are NOT.

One of Hildy’s missions is to change the mindset inside these organizations is to encourage them to call themselves “Community Benefit Organizations”, which describes what they are and do. The result of that subconsciously takes the “Droopy dog” attitude out of the picture.

You may feel that this is outside of the normal bounds of BIP, but in fact, it strikes at the core of it: business fundamentals, attitude and a number of the other things we talk about here on a regular basis.

You need to run it like a business

No doubt you’ve heard people say “non-profits need to run like a business” – and in fact we examine the pros and cons of that assertion, why it’s true, false and doesn’t necessarily mean what you might think.

After listening to my conversation with Hildy, I’m hoping you’ll grab a copy or 3 of her new book and provide them to the orgs that you support and believe in.

No matter what you do to encourage (convince, coerce, etc – you make the call) your favorite board member to read The Pollyanna Principles, the ultimate goal must be to make it happen. Hildy has created a great piece that organizations can use for motivation, strategy and like it or not, to arrive at the real long-term, more than a calendar quarter away, community-changing vision and a roadmap to get there.

Profit is evil? Horse Hockey.

The temptation by some in these organizations might be to ignore the great business books and their strategies, simply because they are supposedly all in the name of profit and thus not applicable to the charitable organization.

The fact of the matter is that neither assertion is true.

Still, if you prefer to stick to strategic books about the charitable sector rather than crossing over that supposedly evil profit line, then The Pollyanna Principles will be right up your alley because it was written just for you – because it’s all business. Your business.

Buy The Pollyanna Principles here

Please accept my apologies for the audio quality. We had some volume dropouts, an odd hum here and there, as well as some cool coffee shop environmental noise as I spoke with Hildy from a coffee shop in Missoula (Break Espresso, if you’re taking notes). Hildy and I have what appears to be several sessions left before we are “done” discussing her book, so I will make sure we have better infrastructure in place for those sessions.

Categories
attitude Business culture Competition Corporate America Customer service Employees Leadership Management Motivation Sales service Small Business

Bad business is just dumb, even in the “worst of times”

There’s a REASON why Best Buy is staying open and Circuit City is not.

And it has nothing to do with the economy.

Today’s guest post from CNET’s Don Reisinger says it as plain as day.

Just plain dumb.

Categories
attitude Creativity Entrepreneurs Ideas Leadership Management Motivation Personal development Small Business Strategy

Eighty percent of success is NOT just showing up

Years back, Woody Allen supposedly said “80% of success in life is just showing up”. 

I wonder how many people truly understood what he meant.

I suspect there are some who assume that simply by falling out of bed in the morning, they are 80% of the way to success.

I don’t think that’s what Woody meant – unless your idea of success is to live to another day and prove to yourself that gravity is still present. 

To get a better idea of what Woody really meant, take his comment and filter it through the lens of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED speech (below) and I think you’ll have a better idea of the real meaning behind the quote.

In 20 minutes, there’s a little bit of rabbit chasing, but the first 5 and the last 5 really make it worthwhile. 

It isn’t just about “showing up”.

Categories
attitude Business culture Customer relationships Customer service Feedback Ideas Improvement Leadership Management Motivation Personal development Small Business Social Media Strategy

Why Gary Vaynerchuk watches and listens. What about you?

Today’s guest post comes from WineLibraryTV’s Gary Vaynerchuk, the gregarious crown prince of online wine merchants.

Today, Gary talks about what he does with feedback – of all kinds – both the kind he agrees with, and the kind he doesn’t – and why both have their place.

How do you handle public criticism like Gary discussed?

How does your staff handle it?

Training….

And finally, do you even know when someone is talking about your business online?

Categories
Employees Entrepreneurs Hiring Leadership Management Productivity Small Business

Passion or productivity – Which can you handle?

Today’s guest post comes from David Armano, who provokes the manager in you by asking if you can handle the truth. 

No, wait. That was a movie..

David’s question is more challenging. Can you handle a passionate employee? Do they even belong at your business – even though you probably think and say that you want them? 

Anyone who has worked for someone else and felt like they were the only one who really, truly gave a rip will find themselves nodding their heads. 

http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2008/12/passion-vs-productive.html

BUT…now that you’re in charge, could someone like you excel at your business? Or would just rather have someone who is “just” productive?

Categories
Competition Corporate America Employees Entrepreneurs Ideas Improvement Leadership Microsoft Small Business Strategy Technology

How to provoke a sea change

Seldom do I ask you to read extensive articles about large corporations. Usually, those corporations are the ones giving me blog post seedlings through their often inane behavior. 

Today is no different, but the behavior is.

Our guest post today comes from Wired Magazine, which talks about the impact of Ray Ozzie and his vision on processes and the future of Microsoft.

I’ll warn you right now. It’s a long article, but worth the time. 

There are a ton of takeaways from it, many of which are also advice or suggestions you’ve heard from me or read elsewhere. What’s important is that when influential parts of large companies like Microsoft start to realize the truth in these things, it’s hard not to ask who will be next. 

Perhaps your competition. 

On another level, it’s more provocational. 

Are you asking yourself and your staff tough, might-makeover-the-business questions?

Even if you’re afraid of the answers, you’d better be asking the questions every now and then.

Categories
Creativity Ideas Leadership Motivation Small Business

Did you have that idea…AGAIN?

Jeff Pulver’s guest post today briefly explores where that feeling in the pit of your stomach comes from when that great idea floats into your head one more time…

Categories
Customer service Entrepreneurs Leadership Management Marketing podcast Productivity quality service Small Business startups Strategy Time management

How to be a business burnout. Or not.

Just the other day, I was talking with a client about the long term future of their business, and after being quizzed a bit, reflecting with them on what provoked me to sell my software biz several years ago.

This client has a small business people-wise, but its quite successful. Remarkably, that is the problem.

Been there, seen that, done it as well. Lived it again during that conversation.

Nothing else I’ve ever said in this blog is as important as what I’m about to discuss with you.

Simple Simon was a pie man

Growth happens.

Unless you’re rude, a dope, someone who thinks they know it all, unlucky, or someone seriously in the wrong line of work, if you are paying close attention to your customers and their needs (and knocking them out of the park) – your business is pretty likely to grow.

At some point in that growth, many business owners find themselves in the situation that Lucy and Ethel find themselves in below: (2m58s video)

While Lucy and Ethel are employees in the video, the point is the same for business owners.

It’s the classic problem covered in the E-Myth – the pie baker who gets overwhelmed with the business of making pies – but really it’s much more than that.

It’s a big reason I push you to document all your business processes.

It’s the reason I made it easier for clients to document their processes – by creating a simple app for them and their staffs to document, catalog, print and view the procedures.

It certainly isn’t the <ahem> millions in royalties I receive because of all the links in this blog to the E-Myth book at Amazon.com. You’ll have to trust me on that one:)

Pinch point

If you are the technician in your business, whatever that means – your business has a single, huge limitation. A pinch point.

It doesn’t matter whether you are making pies, doing heart surgery through a microscope, negotiating complex international commerce agreements between countries; programming complicated, real-time rocket fuel calculations for the next generation of space shuttles or carving bear figurines out of logs using a chainsaw – you’re a technician.

If you’re the owner AND technician, your business is limited by one thing.

You.

Unless you are very, very lucky (sort of), you are likely to work harder and longer than anyone you hire.

Delta 331 heavy, ascend to cruising altitude

2007_08_15_bos-lax-sba_009.JPG
Creative Commons License photo credit: dsearls

If you are working 14-16-18 hour days to get your dream off the ground, it’s a thrilling time (business-wise, at least). Everything is exciting.

Imagine an airline pilot on their first heavy takeoff. An astronaut on their first shuttle trip. Ok, maybe your biz isn’t as exciting as the shuttle ride, but its as close as you might get.

As for the effort you put in, that’s like a Boeing 777 taking off from your local airport, or the shuttle launching into orbit. The 777 burns LOTS more fuel per mile getting to its cruising altitude than it does once it levels off.

Likewise, the shuttle and its boosters burn thousands of pounds of fuel getting to escape velocity, only to have essentially effortless flight in space until its return to Earth.

You, however, are not like the Boeing 777 or the space shuttle. Fast forward a few years. Perhaps your business has reached cruising altitude.

Despite reaching cruising altitude, you’re still working 12-14 hour days 5-6-7 days a week, burning the same amount of fuel it took to reach escape velocity. That’s ok for a while, but didn’t you start your business to get freedom as well as the money?

(at this point, I’m assuming you’re nodding “yes”)

Those 12-14 hour days still exist because you’re still the owner and technician. Even if you have gathered some staff members to swat the skeeters away so you can focus on the real work, you’ve probably found that the real work (Yes, I mean the technician work) will expand to fill the container you give it.

The difference between you and Mark Cuban

You don’t see serial entrepreneurs in that position. They still have time to run a fistful of multi-million dollar businesses and a NBA basketball franchise, and have enough time left over to annoy the SEC (the government agency, not the athletic conference).

For many entrepreneurs, the startup phase is the only phase they can tolerate.

Everything else bores them and their business easily lives without them. They build businesses with the intention of selling them as soon as the business reaches cruising altitude.

Right at the end of the most expensive, most exciting phase of the business’ lifespan, they can leave or replace themselves with another qualified CEO/owner in short order.

What would that do to your business as it is currently structured?

Imagine if you walked out the door, handed the keys to the new owner and never came back. Would your business thrive? Would it be likely to survive?

Serial entrepreneurs might take a serious bag of management savvy and leadership skills out the door with them, but walking out the door still doesn’t kill their business. Likewise, they often start other businesses, still without having to work 120 hours a week.

The important distinction between most small business owners and most serial entrepreneurs? The serial entrepreneurs aren’t technicians.

Before you make an assumption about the small business owners I’m talking about… we aren’t talking about being smart or not being smart.

It isn’t just small business people sharpening mower blades, making pies, frying donuts and changing oil. The same issue arises for chiropractors, dentists, attorneys, physicians and others in technician roles.

Be careful what you wish for

Here’s another way of looking at it: If your largest competitor had a serious problem such as health, health of a parent, car accident, bailout related issues – and ALL of their business came to you starting tomorrow… Could you handle it?

If you suddenly found the Holy Grail of marketing for your niche and people flocked to do business with you, could you triple the number of clients you serve in a month?

Same issue.

Becoming easily replaceable isn’t easy

Consider that you have figured out that if your business is to grow (perhaps massively), you have to hire someone to do the technical work you do so that you can manage the firm.

If you plan to have the time to actually manage this growing firm instead of getting pulled back into the technical end of things, you can’t afford to hire someone brand new to the field.

Likewise, you can’t afford someone who has to be babysat, so this person (2 persons, more likely) will need to have a similar degree and depth of experience.

Result: It might take 2 or 3 new staff members to replace you to the point that would allow you to spend your time on the right things (marketing and management), much less to go home at a normal time without working into the evening from your La-Z-Boy or rising at 4am so that you can have some form of family life in the evenings without doing that La-Z-Boy thing.

At your current cash flow and revenue levels, can you afford to hire 2 people with your degree and depth of experience? If not, will hiring those two people allow you to make enough deals to pay them?

If the answer is no, or if the answer is “yes, but I really don’t want to do that”, then you have 2 choices.

Decide to grow, or decide to find a business model/strategy that works with you as the technician.

Either way, your business has to be structured so that the world doesn’t come to an end if your cell battery dies while you walk the beach on Maui at sunset with your spouse.

Meh. You old guys are grumpy.

If you’re 25ish, single and reading this, you might be thinking – “Meh. That old guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about“.

Things that might change your mind:

  • When a spouse, kids, a surprise set of triplets, a house, dogs, cats, kid sports leagues and that dust behind the fridge comes calling – and your business suddenly can’t get as much as you as it used to, and neither can your family.
  • When a friend takes off to the Caribbean for 3 weeks without a cell phone or laptop, and you can’t go because the business can’t deal with you being gone that long.
  • When a competitor’s business is up for sale and buying it would allow you to totally dominate the market – but you don’t know how you’d possibly handle doubling or tripling the number of customers you have – overnight.
  • On April 28, 1998, I had 213 new customers that I didn’t have on April 27th. With a staff of 2, of which I was one. On May 1, 1999 I had 269 new customers that I didn’t have on April 30, 1999 with a staff of 4, again including myself. Trust me when I say that these kinds of changes alter your life even if you think you’ve seriously prepared for them.
  • When an opportunity you’ve wished for all your life is suddenly right in front of you, and you have to choose between it and billing hours that you know you need in order to pay next month’s bills (and the baby comes next month).

Desperately Seeking Susan (er, I mean Clarity)

How you structure your business for the future is one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your business, yourself and your family.

If after 3 or 4 years you haven’t structured your business so that you can walk away for a week without total chaos taking over – you haven’t created a business. You’ve created a job.

Just because it’s built that way now doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

So how do you change your business so that it’ll fit a lifestyle you’d actually want to live long term – while it remains a raging success?

What do you do? Where do you start?

Stay tuned…

[audio:https://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/HowToBeABusinessBurnout.mp3]