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That just wont work for my business

The majority of folks are great at finding a multitude of reasons why a particular technique or strategy simply won’t work in their business.

A convenient excuse these days is “Well, the market is down” or “Business is slow”.

Really? Isn’t that the time to step up and out and as Perry Marshall says, “lean into the fear”?

Whether you decide to participate in the media’s gloom and doom is your choice, but you still have to consider the reality of the impact of the Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts. I don’t mean to minimize the obvious problems that many businesses – much less business sectors – are having.

CHOOSING to participate in them, or make them even worse, is another story.

Given that, will there be a time where the so-called bottom is closer, where money is tighter, where MOST people would expect things to go even worse?

Maybe, but my guess is not in your business lifetime.

So now, more than ever, is the time to do something flippin’ huge, to try something new, to listen to the multitude of suggestions you’ve received and see if one of them works.

What have you got to lose? More importantly…what have you got to gain?

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Take the blame AND the credit

Paul Colligan hit it right on the nose in today’s guest post.

Do something stupid? Blame yourself, not the economy. After all, it was probably stupid 18 months ago too:)

The really bad mistakes are the ones you don’t learn from. That “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” thing, remember?

See you tomorrow. Remember, you can’t make a mistake if you aren’t doing anything.

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Keeping your focus

One of the things essential to getting your business systemized and streamlined is farming out the stuff that you really don’t have any business doing. The key to systemizing work to external vendors is choosing the right vendor for the right job. IE: qualified, technically able to produce the work, has the right equipment, etc.

For me, printing is an easy one to farm out. But I didn’t always do that.

It’s a little like a 12 step program for me, as I’ve got several printers here, yet my printing still gets done all over the place:)

I have a duplexing B&W laser that I use for every day stuff, but I still don’t print the newsletters for my newsletter service using that printer. Tried that once (for mine, not for a client’s), let’s just say that was a bad idea:)

I have a fancy color laser. That sucker will eat up $500 in no time flat. 4 toner cartridges at $80+ each and a drum at $200+. Expensive to use, but it produces nice output in low volumes. But, it doesn’t print full bleed – ie: ink out to the edge – that’s something I go to a local print shop or online service for.

Local print shops work fine for simple jobs that don’t require complex data merges (IE: having “Dear Mark” printed on 1 postcard and “Dear Mary” printed on the next one). There are some other more sophisticated things that I avoid with them, but they do work well for my newsletters because those pieces are 1 color, use standard folds and don’t use elaborate papers, perforations or other services.

More often than not, when the job is outside the ability of those 3 resources, I’ll end up going with an online service for complicated printing jobs. One thing where this crops up repeatedly is large format printing. I found a nifty service that office supply stores started offering not long ago. They print pretty good sized stuff, though they are limited in size. Some of them even have nice online interfaces so you don’t even have to leave home.

When I’m involved in event marketing, I usually need the services of a sophisticated print service. Usually events involve poster printing, complex folding, special papers, tickets and/or seals, which are not the kinds of things that most local print shops are up to. Because I’m in a rural area, I go online to make the fancy stuff happen.

As you can see, there isn’t a one size fits all solution for me, at least for this type of work. I suspect you’ll find the same thing.

But – it isn’t just about printing. You’ll often find businesses outsourcing graphic design, web site work, and any number of other technical and artistic tasks.

What can you farm out that you just don’t need to be doing? Could be any number of things, just make sure it isn’t your core business.

That’s why you’re farming stuff out, remember…so you can focus on the core of your business.

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Are you listening to the right people?

You don’t have to look far to find people who will find 100 reasons why you shouldn’t do what you’re doing in your business (or what you plan to do).

They’ll throw every possible thing at you that can go wrong. Thank them under your breath if they mention something that you hadn’t considered in your plan, but don’t let them get you down.

Remember that some of them probably haven’t built anything of their own. What extends beyond their comfort zone will color their remarks, and will often be irrelevant to you. Those who have built something of their own look at life and business differently.

Allowing folks with that outlook to project their attitude onto you isn’t going to help you succeed. If it’s a consistently negative stream of BS, just leave. If you can’t leave (eg, they might be family), change the subject and don’t talk about business with them.

Jim Rohn once said you’re the product of the 5 people you spend the most time with. OK, Jim really says that every time he speaks, but whatever:)

Are those 5 people being supportive? Asking good questions? Sharing things that have been successful for them, in hopes that you might be able to get some use out of it?

Or are they constantly picking away at you, your ideas and your business as if they were some sort of karmic woodpecker?

Find people who will help you by asking good, tough questions, not those who will chip away at you and your ideas just because it’s what they do. When the chippers chip away, the best thing you’ll get out of it is motivation.

When I announced our move to Montana, someone told me we’d be back in 6 months. I remember it like it was yesterday.

They said it in 1999.

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The person *really* in charge of the economy

Depending on what you do for a living and, perhaps, what political party you prefer, the economy might be bad, good, great, lousy or so-so in your eyes.

If you listen to whoever is writing John McCain’s speeches, you might believe that the fundamentals of the economy are strong and recent bounces in fundamental numbers are an early indication that the surge, er I mean the tax rebates, worked.

If you listen to whoever is writing Barack Obama’s speeches, you might believe that the economy is in terrible shape and that if things keep going in their current direction, it’ll only get worse.

If you look back to the days of the Great Depression, you would find the same thing.

While I don’t intentionally compare today with the economics of the depression (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac notwithstanding, perhaps), you could just as easily find people in really bad shape 85 years ago as you could find them in really good shape.

For most people, it comes down to your view of things at the moment. What do you see out the window? How’s it feel to sit at your desk? Are you buried in work? Or are you scraping for every job, every client?

You know, of course, that all of that is the responsibility of the person in charge of the economy.


What you did a year ago, 6 months ago, last month, last week and today will determine – for the most part – how the economy (YOUR economy) is next week, next month and next year.

If you listen to pundits, the media or whoever, you’ll get the idea that things will be better or worse depending on who gets elected.

Think back a bit. Did the number of leads you got in the month after the last election change radically when the party in control changed (or didn’t change)?

For that matter, didn’t you go into business for yourself so that you’d have more control over your level of success? If so, why would an election even be on your radar, success-wise?

Rather than getting yourself tangled up in the victim’s web created by the political process – or at least, the current one – spend your time making plans and implementing things.

Elections don’t generate leads, they don’t create clients, they don’t close sales and they sure don’t generate profit.

If times are tight in your business, look around at every aspect of your business and ask yourself: How do I create profit by doing THAT?

Does it bring in leads? Does it help me close sales? Does it help me retain customers? Does it prevent others from “stealing” my customers? Does it make the experience of working with me more enjoyable or more efficient? Does it allow you to be more effective, more efficient or more productive?

If you can’t say yes to at least one of those, should you be doing it? If you don’t, STOP DOING IT.

It’s not up to John or Barack to decide the economy you experience – it’s up to you. Sure, they might do something that creates an opportunity, but that isn’t what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about taking action that will have an impact on your business today, next week and in the days before the election is decided.

Take half an hour to examine just 3 things you do in your business. Take action to eliminate them, or improve them.  Do it today.

And the really sneaky part? Do it again tomorrow for 3 other things. Make it a habit.

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Do your clients need a faster horse?

Back in the last century, Henry Ford is famous for saying “You can have any color Ford you want as long as it’s black.”

Today, Ford Motor Company has a different thought process, but that isn’t all that Henry said.

He also said this:

If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me “A faster horse”.

Doing research into customer needs is a necessary thing, just don’t confuse the customer’s stated needs with the problem they’re actually trying to solve.

When a client says they need a faster horse, don’t they really mean “I need to go faster”?

What about your clients?

How much time do you spend studying what your clients *really* need?

  • Isn’t anticipating those needs what market leaders really do?
  • Isn’t it your job to see them before anyone else?

Isn’t it your job to present those new solutions to problems clients didn’t realize they had – until you pointed them out?

One of my favorite local CEOs here in Montana says they deliver their products “just before just-in-time”… isn’t that the job of a market leader?

It takes some thought, in fact, maybe even some study of the problems your clients really have. Not just a questionnaire about the problems of today often caused – paraphrasing what Einstein said – by the thinking of yesterday.

Did any of us realize we needed a Walkman until Sony pointed it out? Or an iPod, until Apple started selling them?

So think about it: Do your clients *really* need a faster horse?

Or is that just a symptom that cloaks the real problem facing them?

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Leading your market: Not an opportunity you wait for.

Finding the opportunity to lead your market is something that some businesses wait for years to take advantage of…and then they pounce. Well, at least some do.

Hold on there, Trigger: Did I say “Wait for?”

Leading your market isn’t something you wait for, it’s something you must make happen through explicit, planned actions.

In what ways are you the leader in your market?

  • Do you offer the fastest or best service?
  • Do you offer the most value for the dollar?
  • Does your business have the most knowledgeable staff with the best, most up-to-date training?
  • Do you offer the highest quality products – and regularly discover and begin to offer better ones?
  • Do you offer the best selection of only high-quality products?

How do your clients know these things to be true? How do they learn to care about the difference?

Do you educate your clients so they will learn to appreciate the difference between so-so and outstanding?

Are you executing a well-planned effort to transform your clients into experts and connoisseurs of what you sell?

If not…Why not?

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Coasting is not allowed. Not in the pool, not in business

Having just returned from the whirlwind that is the Montana State swim meet, I knew today’s post was going to be tardy.

When 651 kids from across the state get in a pool and compete for two days, there’s always a gem to take home.

Yesterday, I watched a kid who hadn’t lost a race all season lose a state championship by a few inches. Lost because they coasted into the wall, something I hadn’t seen them do all year long.

And later, I saw someone else win their heat because they didn’t coast. They didn’t assume it was over until they hit the wall. Had they coasted into the wall over that last foot or two, they would have been third instead of first. It was that close.

Champions finish the race. They don’t coast just because they’re in the lead and the finish line is almost within reach.

And just as I finish writing this, someone else says in an unrelated conversation: “A crushing defeat of your competitor today is a message to future competitors.”

That one’s a bonus. See you tomorrow.

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Why don’t you do what you know needs to be done?

I was listening to Sam Clark this morning and he was talking about a group he surveyed about their business habits and noted that 86% of the people surveyed had no plan.

We talked about this when I first heard this comment from Sam a few months ago, but didn’t really press the issue.

Dan Kennedy calls it the “Monday morning reinvention” – where people show up at work Monday morning and start all over again. They sit down, they get coffee, and then they start figuring out what they need to do that week, at least until they’re distracted by a few joke emails or a link to someplace that takes them somewhere else until it’s “suddenly” lunchtime, or mid-afternoon.

Would it shock you to look across the room at 100 people at today’s Rotary Club meeting or Chamber of Commerce lunch and find that only 14 of them are working a plan to get where they want to be.

The other 86 have:

  • No plan for today.
  • No plan for tomorrow.
  • No plan for next week.
  • No plan for next month.
  • No plan for getting their business, or their part of the business, from where it is today to where it will be tomorrow. A

We all know that you have to plan in order to achieve what you want, so why do so few people do it?

Start today. Don’t give me that “one of these days” comments, or “I’ll start on it next week, it’s too late for this week”.

Do it now. As soon as you finish reading this post.

Why now? I already know you aren’t working – because you’re reading this:)

If you aren’t working a daily or work week plan, take 15-30 minutes or however long it takes and figure out what your most important achievements for this week will be.

Now take a few minutes and figure out what the first few steps are to work toward each one, and start on them. NOW.

As you finish those first few steps, figure out the next few, and then knock them off.

At the end of the day, spend a few minutes planning tomorrow. Repeat it the rest of the week at the end of each day.

If you *are* one of the 14% who are working a plan, don’t forget to re-assess where you are at the end of the day, adjust as necessary and stick to it.

Do what most people aren’t doing. Get what most people arent getting.

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Stumped about taking it to the next level?

Every once in a while, I happen upon someone who wants to take their business to the next level, whatever that might be for them.

Sometimes they’ve caught themselves relaxing. Sometimes someone else has caught them napping.

Others simply feel that if they aren’t growing, they’re dying.

Finally, some simply want to grow themselves out of a job and into the position of running their business as an owner rather than a (hopefully) highly paid employee.

All of these are good reasons to turn a critical eye to your business and start for formulate strategies for growth.

But how exactly do you do the actual work?

How do you know what do you look at and what to ignore?

Consider these two things as fuel to prime the strategic pump:

  • What would you do to prepare your business for sale, keeping in mind that you want to get top dollar for it?
  • If you were seeing your business for the first time, what would jump out at you as ideal areas to expand upon and improve?

Get started today.

UPDATE: Hear more on the topic of going to the next level on the July 25 Hotseat Radio show.