A 90 Year Old Company Shows Us How to Achieve Business Greatness

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The importance of a clear Mission/Purpose is not readily understood by the average entrepreneur. Most are driven by the desire to share their particular talent with customers. This is the basis of their business building. Of course, the product or service must be there before considering the building of a business anyway.

Owners of businesses that prevail know they should define parameters for their operations to keep it going the way they intended. A Mission/Purpose is the first large parameter that must be defined. Great founders carefully design a Mission/Purpose to include a broad definition of why the company was formed. It must be broad to allow for the changing environment and it’s effect on how the product/service will be delivered.

Delta air lines’ Mission and Values offer excellent examples of how broad descriptions can build a legacy.

Delta Air Lines Mission Statement: “We—Delta’s employees, customers, and community partners together form a force for positive local and global change, dedicated to bettering standards of living and the environment where we and our customers live and work.”

Two key things you’ll realize about Delta’s statement is it doesn’t specify a particular product or method and doesn’t limit the scope of the services. This statement allows them to do whatever it takes to fulfill this broad Mission. This is an example of an excellent Mission statement because it has the following characteristics.

First, it sets boundaries that all affiliates can honor. When you are designing or improving operations, the boundaries that your Mission has set will provide a strong framework for containing your decisions. You know which actions that will fit and will not fit.

Second, it helps with hiring and performance management. When performing the required business tasks, it’s very helpful to have some guidelines that have been well established. Your hiring and performance management issues should be aligned with your entrepreneurial intentions. Some employees join businesses because of the business’ special Mission.

Third, it’s a basis for strategy that is not effected by outside forces. It is driven by your organizational intentions. It is unique to your desire as a new business offering.

Fourth, it provides inspiration for commitment and continuous improvement. A good Mission is inspirational and solicits positive emotions from the affiliates because they really believe in it.

After a strong Mission/Purpose is set, the next building block of a lasting enterprise is to design and live by a strong set of Core Values.

As described in Deltas’ Rules of The Road, “strong core values and a clear set of unifying behaviors provide a solid foundation for delta’s culture. Our values are the basis for everything we do. When delta people encounter situations, they use their values and professionalism, along with training and experience to guide their actions and decisions. Our Rules of the Road are timeless.”

Delta’s Rules of the Road:

I. Apply our Basic Business Principles

II. Know our Business and Improve It Constantly

III. Demonstrate Honesty, Integrity and Respect

IV. Drive for Results

V. Build Great Teams

Delta’s Core Values (basic business principles):

Always tell the truth- Honesty

Always keep your deals- IntegrIty

Don’t hurt anyone- Respect

Try harder than all our competitors—never give up- Perseverance

Care for our customers, our community and each other- servant leadership

Again, excellent examples of Core Values and their accompanying behaviors because they share the following characteristics:

First, Core Values help you make good business decisions. For example, if it’s necessary to purchase supplies and the quality of what is available is less than perfect, you would reject them (even at a lower price) because they violate your business Value of high standards, integrity or excellence. You don’t want your product or service affected.

Second, Core Values educate customers and future employees. They know what to expect from your company and may seek you out because of your Values.

Third, Core Values are fundamental. That is, this is one thing that the changing environment won’t alter. Your clearly defined Values should remain the same throughout the life of your business.

As a business owner, you must clearly define your Mission/Purpose and Values for durability. However, you are additionally required to strongly believe in them for these elements to become embedded in your enterprise for sustainable business growth.

More on designing Mission/Purpose and Values in: “20 Directive for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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Change Your Perspective: Become a Big Thinker

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Your Vision is your dream. Your Vision is how you see your business once it’s fully successful. Plan a big Vision. Our country needs more successful large enterprises. Plan beyond the “solopreneur” status. A simple definition for Vision: a description of your business at a particular point in the future. Creating a Vision requires deep thinking from the founder(s) because it involves looking at the dominant elements of your business and projecting how they will look in the future. You’ll need to consider growth, Values, employees, contribution to society, financial targets and others that are important to your Mission. Let’s explore some of the reasons that Vision creation is critical to the foundation and fortification of your enterprise.

  • A Vision clarifies the reason the business was created. It explains what you will contribute with your enterprise.
  • Creating a Vision is the initial action you take when you are designing your strategy. The vision gives you a reference point for decisions.
  • The Vision will be the basis for all affiliates to use as they set goals that they are responsible for. With a clear Vision, everyone starts from the same point.
  • The Vision, supported by the Values, motivate and empower affiliates and helps them understand why certain actions and operations are necessary.
  • A Vision anchors your strategies to common objectives and keeps everyone on point.
  • A Vision creates a desire in affiliates to do their best, because everyone is focused toward the same, clear targets.

A good Vision is thoroughly considered and describes the dreams that you have for the enterprise that you are creating. A well thought out Vision has the following characteristics:

It exhibits the purpose and direction of the business.
It is supported by the established Values.
It helps to set operational standards of excellence.
It is believable and motivating.
It is ambitious and challenging.
It identifies the uniqueness of the business.
It’s important to constantly measure your business activities against your Mission, Values and Vision. Of course this is easier said than done. There are hundreds of small things that can take a lot of your time. You can find a way because you are responsible for the nourishment of your business just as you would be for a seedling in your garden. No one understands your Mission, Values and Vision better than you, the Founder(s) and the only way you can permeate your organization with your core elements is to do it yourself.

“The tribe often thinks that the Visionary has turned his back on them.  When in fact, the Visionary has simply turned his face to the future”

Ray A. Davis

 

Once the Vision is clear in the head(s) of the founder(s), you’ll need to communicate the Vision to affiliates so that is clearly understood and embraced. To do this, you will carry out the role of the “Vision Keeper”.

This might require that you change the way you work and manage your time. You probably really enjoy the hands on effort required to contribute the product or service that you provide. After all, that’s why you started the business anyway. If you continue to work with your head down(on your service, product, or day to day details) and never take time to look at and construct the big picture, it can be fatal to your enterprise. “Big picture thinking” is probably your greatest responsibility and you’ll need to find regular time for it. If you routinely act in the following ways, you will steer your enterprise in the right direction. You will not only work in the business, you will also work on sustaining and growing your business.

A “Vision Keeper” takes time out of his/her busy schedule to be the “Captain of the Ship” and the captain must have a map to help maintain the course or the ship will end up anywhere or no where. The only way that you can have a map is to take time to draw one up. This requires regular times of contemplation. Determine your best thinking time and put it in your schedule. This will help you have essential documentation including a strategic plan ( collaborated if possible). Remain open minded with a learning attitude and pay attention to your emotions. What could they be telling you? Daniel Goldman, in his book, “Emotional Intelligence”, has pointed to the importance of emotions; concluding that the Emotional Quotient is more important than the Intelligence Quotient. He believes that “our deepest feelings, our passions and longings, are essential guides, and that our species owes much of it’s existence to their power in human affairs”. Read the book for an interesting insight. Finally, practice patience to immerse your enterprise in the great Vision that you have for the future and persevere in the face of the many obstacles that you will inevitably face with that patience.

See also: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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5 Compelling Reasons to Methodically Train Your New Hires

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Ray started a business designed to provide cleaning services to homes in a large residential area where both heads of household normally worked outside of the home. The business became popular quickly and Ray was swamped with orders. He found it necessary to hire two people to help provide the services. He quickly hired people recommended by one of his friends. It appeared the new hires had plenty of experience so he was happy to add them to his business.

After about a month, Ray noticed he was running out of supplies. He projected the need according to what he was using each time he serviced a customer. It seems the new hires needed more. He also began to notice a decline in service requests. After about three months, he learned that he couldn’t make payroll. He spent money on supplies, gas and other operating expenses he had not planned for. Ray wasn’t able to secure additional funds, so he scaled back as the only one working in the business and never grew to the great business he hoped for.

Ray’s situation is difficult but it’s not that unusual. He experienced great success while he was working alone but transferring that skill was not in his plans. He assumed skilled workers would work the way he worked. It doesn’t automatically turn out that way.

Owners must consciously design their business to get the results they project. It won’t just happen. Unfortunately, too many owners don’t accept or know about this reality. They think if they work hard, the business will just grow and they’ll learn as they go.

One way to build the business you project is to make sure the new hires help you get to your Vision. The only way to do this is to carefully train each new hire.  I know, this is time consuming when you’re already too busy. However, if you want to build a great business, you’ll have to find the time to carefully train your new hires. At some point, they will be able to train new hires for you, but the owner must lay the foundation for business sustainability as you have envisioned it by basically ingraining your Vision and Values and Systems into your employees minds.

Below are some compelling reasons to methodically train your new hires.

1.You will embed your Mission/Purpose, Values and Vision into your business through your employees. Preparing for training will require you to determine a System for sharing and embedding your Mission/Purpose, Values, Vision and Systems in your business through your new hires. Employees will know the principles and expectations of your organization. Without training, they will work according to their perceptions of what results are expected and how they should be achieved. This is your business and you must direct it.

2. All employees will provide the service/product according to a documented System described by you from your professional experience. Preparing for training will require you to describe and document a System for service/product delivery that has worked well for you in the past. You will always make improvements, but everyone will begin from the same base which helps you keep control of your progress.

3. You will be able to control the level of responsibility each new hire will have. You can incrementally coach new hires to differing levels of responsibility. This will allow you to eventually take on more of a role as the business builder rather than acting as just a worker in the business.

4. You will be able to control the growth and scalability of your business. You can have accurate measures of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Careful training and coaching gives you confidence that your measures are correct because of the abilities of your workers that you have developed.

5. A collaborative approach to training and subsequent coaching will bring improvements and innovation to your business. Encouraging questions helps the new hire feel valuable to your enterprise. As you listen to an outsiders questions, you’ll often see ways to improve your business in several areas. Just keep to your basic Mission/Purpose,Values and Vision as well as your proven processes. You can improve after the new hire has learned the fundamentals.

Carefully training new employees is important to business building. Planning for training and coaching can eliminate a lot of potential employee and business problems. Hiring the right fit is also important. Manage well.

Clear Management Skills recipes in “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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5 Vital Management Skills That Prevent Common Problems

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Steve started his business about eight years ago. He has enjoyed a decent amount of success. He has 7 employees now and a friend suggested he might need an operations manager to halt the decline in business he is currently experiencing. Steve hired Sara and she has been on the job for four months. She was excited about her new position and just knew that she could do a great job of improving productivity and efficiency. She had been very successful in her last job. After some time on the job, she was a little concerned about whether she could do a good job with this new company. So, she made an appointment to talk to Steve about problems with implementing her plans. The discussion went like this:

Sara: “Steve, I’m just not satisfied with the way things are going. I’m having trouble motivating my people. Everybody cleans their desk and rushes out of here at 5:00 p.m. They even walk out of meetings that run a little pass 4:30 p.m. because they don’t want to miss the car pool. I schedule morning meetings instead.”

Steve: “Sara you have to know that in this business our people know that they come first and the business needs come second. This is the way we work around here.”

Sara: “I’m always asking the people to come to me if they have problems but it seems that they don’t think they need or want help. They just don’t communicate with me enough.”

Steve: “The people working here have been here quite a while and are mostly over forty. They are pretty set in their ways and you are the first operations manager that I have hired. Some of them may not like being managed by a younger person.”

Sara: “There is one person that seems to be interested in becoming an operations manager one

day, but his supervisor said as long as the person is working well for him, he would never think of releasing him to move up.” We also planned to test a new product last week but two of my people said that they had planned to go on vacation and would not change it. One woman had planned a long distance shopping trip and the other had planned a community project. They we not willing to change their plans for the test.”

Steve: “In our company, we encourage outside interests and community involvement. We just hope that these interests don’t interfere with their jobs. Many of the workers can’t advance in our company because they are at the top of their pay scale, so they look outside for interesting things to do. It is

your job to work with and motivate these people. Perhaps some research on how to motivate others would help you.” Adapted from Harold Kerzner, Ph.D “Project Management Case Studies”.

Considering the limited information we have to work with, we can broadly analyze the essential Management skills this manager should apply to save his business. It appears that Steve had no knowledge of the skills needed to sustain a growing business. The skills prescribed below could have prevented the problems he is experiencing. Applying them now will be difficult for Steve to do, but possible.

The ability to clearly define and commit to a business Mission, Vision, Values and Strategy. Steve might have begun with a clear Mission and Vision for his company, but it seems he lost sight of the importance of embedding these elements into his business. There is no evidence that Values, other than “people first”, were conscientiously promoted. They just evolved as the business grew.

The ability to clearly communicate the Mission, Vision, Values and strategy.Communications of all types seem to be missing. Steve needs  to acquire skills in business communications at all levels.

The ability to manage organizational change. It appears that Steve is unaware of the change management processes available to help him make the changes he needs to help his business survive and flourish.

The ability to hire, train and coach new employees. Steve was fortunate to get the workers he has and a qualified person to fill his operations manager position. However, he didn’t have an orientation, training or coaching plan in place. These are required if he wants his new hires to carry on his Mission, Values, Vision and Strategy. Of course, the big problem is that it doesn’t appear that he has these elements clearly defined, committed to and promoted in his business.

The ability to design up to date pay systems. Steve is using an old system of pay that is not sufficient for business sustainability and growth. He should research the best pay systems for his business and apply them. Several sources are described by Culpepper and Associates in “Salary Stru

ctures: Creating Competitive and Equitable Pay Levels”.

Steve’s business seems to be in big trouble. It’s going to take a lot of hard and determined work to help it survive in our ever changing environment.

He can do it if he takes on the role of the CEO and not just the technical expert.

There are many questions we could ask about Steve’s situation. Feel free to leave comments about your thoughts concerning the state of his company and any questions you might ask Steve.

Clear, easy to follow Management Skills recipes in “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

 

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7 Mindsets That Differentiate the Professional From The Business Builder

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All new business owners begin with the intent to grow a great business. The results are painfully different. The SBA reports that only about one third of new businesses survive 10 years or more. Why does this happen? What contributes to the success of the surviving businesses?

Martin Zwilling reported, “Over 25 years ago, Michael E. Gerber wrote a best-selling business book called The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. The E-Myth (“Entrepreneurial Myth”) is the mistaken belief that most businesses are started by people with tangible business skills, when in fact most are started by “technicians” who know nothing about running a business. Hence most fail.”

The importance of business management skills isn’t widely appreciated even with the Google Library and You Tube University where all the information you would ever need is available to everybody. Most new business owners don’t realize the need for “tangible business skills”.

Therefore, most businesses are started by professional technicians with great skills and no knowledge of the management skills needed to help the business grow and survive.

With the help of Martin Zwilling, contrasting the mindsets of the professional and the business builder will highlight the change in perspective required for building a strong and enduring business.

The Professional Perspective

  1. How much work should I do to get the income I need to stay in business? The owner is concentrating on the volume of work that he/she must personally complete to keep the business running.
  2. What should we offer the customer? Concentration is on the size and scope of the service or product and what is required to please the customers.
  3. How much should your product/service cost to produce and what should be the cost to the customer? Understanding the financial requirements and results in the business is foremost.
  4. How will we get the basic materials we need to supply the product? Supply chain requirements are considered and chosen.
  5. How can I get additional funding? Venture capital or loans are considered for operating costs.
  6. How can we market this business to get more customers? Marketing options are considered and chosen according to available funding.
  7. How will I hire people when I need them and how will I pay them? Hiring workers or getting volunteers are contemplated but often avoided.

The focus is on the present and attempting to keep things as they are now. Seeing what has worked in the past and what seems to be working now is the total consideration of the owner. This perspective often fails.

Of course, these tasks must be completed in any business, but with a different perspective, a good amount of stress is removed because you have business skills to design a Vision and plan for handling the required tasks with projected timelines.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. Sun Tzu

The Business Builders’ Perspective

  1. How should my business work in today’s environment? This perspective takes into account the changing environment of the business and research is completed to help design how the business will work today and in the future.
  2. What are my competitors doing that I should know about? A careful analysis of existing successful, related businesses is completed to determine the state of the art in the chosen discipline. Internet searches make this task easily accomplished.
  3. What meaning can we bring to the marketplace? The contribution to society the business willmake is taken into consideration and held as guiding principles in the business.
  4. What should my business look like in the future? A Vision of the future is carefully described and used as a business target.
  5. What strategy should I adopt to get to that Vision? An analysis of where you are in the business building process, what targets you wish to reach and how you are going to reach these targets is thought through and designed. This is your strategy.
  6. What systems should be in place to ensure consistent results that satisfy customers and create the best results? These will be routine ways of running the business that can be easily repeated in all important operations. Examples would be a marketing system, a financial system or a customer service system that works the same every time unless changes are indicated.
  7. How can we be better than the rest? Attention to innovation, improvement, excellence and industry leadership are important considerations for this owner.

There are other elements, of course, for each perspective. The listed ones are just a few major differences in the thinking processes of the professional and the business builder. The truth is, the business owner must carry out both roles. Your artistic application of management skills helps you organize and control all aspects for the sustainability and growth of your business.

The business builder takes the perspective of the CEO who sees the big picture then plans for business fortification, endurance and expansion. He/she doesn’t see themselves as always keeping their heads down grinding out the work and hoping they will eventually get help or maybe even afraid to get help. They see themselves as the founder of a great business that will be a benefit to society, financial freedom and personal independence.

Clear management skills recipes: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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4 Preventable Ways Money is “Burned” in Business

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Jerome has always been good with organizing spaces and increasing the functionality of those spaces. Several friends suggested he should try developing a business that would showcase his special talents. He agreed that he might enjoy this type of business so he began the process of building his own business. Jerome’s company was a business designed to provide home cleaning and organizing services to homes in a large residential area where both heads of household often worked outside of the home. The business became popular quickly and Jerome was swamped with orders. He found it necessary to hire two people to help him provide the services for the homes. After about ten months of operation, with orders continuing to increase, he learned he wasn’t able to make the payroll. He had spent money on supplies, gas and other operating expenses without doing adequate accounting and he wasn’t able to secure additional funds, so he scaled back to being the only one in the business and never grew to the great business he hoped for.

Can you imagine the feelings of disappointment, regret and embarrassment he experienced? He thought about all the money and time he wasted as well as the disappointment his new workers experienced. This failure will stay in his memory forever.

Why did this happen to someone with such great potential?

This is referred to as financial “burn” and is a common problem for new businesses. A study completed by CB Insights revealed 29% of the business failures they studied simply ran out of money. Of course a detailed analysis would show many reasons these businesses ran out of money. However, one prevailing reason is the funds were not matched with the operations and the use of the funds was not controlled therefore more money was spent than came into the business. Jerome had a nice sum of money from his savings that he thought would carry him to a profitable stage but he made 3 critical mistakes.

“Balancing your money is the key to having enough.”

Elizabeth Warren

First and fundamentally, Jerome had no knowledge of business development requirements. He wasn’t aware of the management skills needed to build a successful business. He believed his special talent would automatically lead him to success. This is far from the truth. New owners must work on building the business, not just work in the business. They must do both. This is the function of management skills. Mission/Purpose design, strategic planning, systems design and employee management are just a few of the skills a growing business will require. A little time acquiring these skills would have helped Jerome build a successful business.

Second, Jerome didn’t take time to design a plan for building and growing his business. He had no idea about the service targets, financial targets or growth targets. Things just happened without him using any controls to guide him as he worked. Planning is essential to successful business development. The shape the business will take is up to you, the owner. Otherwise, it will go in any direction and eventually end up in failure.

Third, he assumed the money would cover his expenses because it was a fairly large sum of money from his savings. He really believed there was no way he would run out of money so soon. He assumed the money would always be there for what he needed. This may seem a little nonsensical, but it happens more than you might think. Entrepreneurs get large sums of money from venture capitalists and assume that the money will carry them through. In their heads, it just seems right. They may even have written financial projections but the reality doesn’t automatically match the plan, or they don’t actually control the money according to the plan. They make decisions based on positive or desired assumptions. According to Matt Mansfield, there are many administration tasks you can do in the cloud to help you make better decisions. Such as accounting, payroll and customer support using data from your actual operations.

Fourth, Jerome didn’t analyze the need or research the requirements for adding employees. He wasn’t aware of the additional finances or additional supplies needed when adding two employees. He didn’t do the appropriate homework. He didn’t realize the expenses required by IRS Federal and State guidelines. These required additional funds he hadn’t counted. There were transportation costs and equipment costs that were not accounted for.

The sad truth is, Jerome would have run out of money even if he had been able to secure additional funds. He would have run out of money because he didn’t have the skills needed to manage his business and consequently, balance his money. Unfortunately, many new ventures can get more and more infusions of money and still fail because the managers don’t have the appropriate skills. This isn’t necessary, particularly in this Information Age. Basic management skills can be learned easily. Be prepared to manage well.

See easy to follow management guides for business development: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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14 Ways to Keep Focus to Grow Your Business

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Have you ever considered how the great masters contributed so much to our world? Think about beautiful art, grand buildings or great scientific discoveries. How did they get these things completed? Can you imagine these contributors being constantly interrupted by phones, emails, social media alerts or people with unrelated agendas? This would require the ability to multitask, the action many of us take on a daily basis. There is no way we can conclude that the great masters multitasked, because reputable research has shown how disruptive to accomplishment multitasking can be. It’s obvious, successful masters had the unsurmountable ability to focus. 

We are a population of multitaskers. Travis Bradberry in “Multitasker? It might be time to break the Habit” wrote “Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.” He also reported that multitasking affected your IQ tremendously. It lowered the IQ sometimes as much as15 points. He says this is about the IQ of an 8 year old child. Can an 8 year old child build your growing business? I don’t think so. One of the most important effects of multitasking is it decreases your ability to pay attention to detail. This could be disastrous! Prepare now to eliminate multitasking from your activities, particularly if you want to be successful as you build your business.

Jeffrey Hayzlett in ”Why Focus Is The Number One Element of Business Success” stated “As a business leader trying to think big and act bigger, if you don’t relentlessly focus that ownership on what drives your business, create a culture that reflects who you are, and stay grounded as you make things happen, you’ll never see the true rewards of thinking big and acting bigger.” In other words, important business matters must be top of mind and given adequate attention. This is easier if your business purpose/mission is meaningful to you and you’re committed to it’s success. If you aren’t, you may be in the wrong profession or business.

Some ways to focus were offered by Dave Ramsey in “10 Tips to Maintain Focus.” I have interpreted some of Dave’s suggestions as well as others to make this list of 14 guides for developing the valuable habit of focus.

1. As related earlier, make sure your business purpose is meaningful to you.  If you are building a business that you really enjoy this will give you a great foundation for sustained focus. Are you excited about the contribution you can make to your industry? Have you discovered an exciting innovation to enhance, deliver, simplify or otherwise improve a product or service?

2. Design a personal system for achieving your goals. This will be unique to you. Some work in the mornings and some work better in the evenings. Some need complete silence for work while others like to have music playing the background. Your system for focusing will be unique to you.

“You can achieve anything you desire, but not EVERYTHING you desire. Concentrate your efforts and your energy on just a few.” Michael Angier

3. Create an objectives list. Understand where you are in the business building process and focus on what your next move should be. Create goals and objectives to get you to the next building point.

4. Set certain times of day to check social media. Its often necessary to check your social media to stay abreast of things that affect you. You can set aside a certain amount of time to complete social media tasks and don’t return to them until your major goals/tasks are completed.

5. Train your brain to focus. Know that is what you will need to do. Our brains have been trained to respond to a vast amount of stimuli in our technological environment. Therefore, we need to retrain our brains to focus. This will take some time. Your commitment to focus will help you develop a habit of focus. Practice concentration exercises.

6. Consciously ignore interruptions. This is a hard one. Your environment will play a big part in your ability to ignore interruptions. Plus, you must always make ignoring interruptions a conscious choice. If interruptions are from other people, kindly say, not now, or tell them this is important working time for you. Otherwise, concentration exercise will help.

7. Strengthen your support. Involve others in your goal. Let others around you know about your need to focus and how it can benefit everyone involved. If others know ‘why’, they are more likely to help you.

8. Do something toward your purpose/mission every day. Sometimes the simple act of making a list of what you want to do and prioritizing it works. As you make some accomplishments toward your purpose/misson, you will notice that your knowledge of your industry gets deeper and deeper. You come closer to becoming an expert. The internet makes it easy to stay up to date on what’s happening in your chosen industry.

10. Choose a task and complete it fully. Multitasking has helped us lose the valuable ability to focus. So, we must deliberately intend to work on one task at a time. If you have prioritized your objectives, you can systematically choose one aspect of an objective to work on until completed. Doing this will give you satisfaction and motivation to continue.

11. Learn something new about your objectives everyday. Put time in your daily ritual to research your industry and check on what’s new. This will help you determine the relevance of your objectives and motivate you to keep going.

12. Have excellence as your goal, not mediocrity. Aiming for excellence is motivating because it helps you to pay attention to detail. Paying attention to detail demands intense focus.

13. Keep track of your successes. Reviewing the past helps you realize the results and the value of your focus and encourages you to keep going. You can also reevaluate the time it took to get to the successful state and determine if the process should continue.

14. Reserve some of your focusing time for deep planning or big vision designing. This activity will also help you to sustain the motivation you need to accomplish big things. A big vision will pull you toward it.

Martin Boeddeker in “Powerful Productivity Approach from Jurassic Park” describes the inability to focus as the “Butterfly Effect”- a small change at one place in a complex system can lead to huge disasters in another place. He suggests that we avoid this effect by going the way of the Essentialist promoted by Greg McKeown.

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.” Greg McKeown

In conclusion, Dave Ramsey pointed to some obvious benefits of acquiring the ability to focus.

“Instead of coming home each evening exhausted and wondering where the day went, you’ll soon be feeling that you’ve accomplished more than you could have ever imagined. That’s the power of focus. It can literally transform your business and rock your world.” Dave Ramsey

Commit to developing and maintaining the focus that will grow and fortify your business.

See also: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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4 Qualities that Test the Feasibility of Your Innovation

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“Innovation is the specific function of entrepreneurship, whether in an existing business, a public service institution, or a new venture started by a lone individual in the family kitchen. It is the means by which the entrepreneur either creates new wealth-producing resources or endows existing resources with enhanced potential for creating wealth.” Peter Drucker

The future is fast approaching and we are right in the middle of tremendous change and opportunity. The tools needed for creating a grand future are in the hands of almost everybody. The “Goggle Library” and “You Tube” university provide all the knowledge we need to create new products and services to benefit society.

 

If you have a big dream and vision it would help to test it against a few attributes to determine the viability of your idea. There are many ways to evaluate your project. Here are just a few attributes to consider. According to Branden Kelley in “Innovation is All About Value” “Innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into solutions valued above every existing alternative..and [is] widely adopted.”

The first test could be to determine if your innovation falls within one of the seven areas of innovation as defined by Peter Drucker.

1. Unexpected conditions, such as natural disasters, an unexpected previously reliable national, local or industry system failure.

2. Incongruities in system process operation or efficiencies such as incongruities in an educational system.

3. Incongruities between expectations and results such as found in many customer service processes. These process needs can be exploited, simplified or redesigned for your particular industry.

4. Demographic changes. Opportunities are available because of changes in numbers, age distribution, education, occupations, location and technology. Such as millions of people being out of work because of artificial intelligence or robots.

5. A change in the way people perceive a service or product. According to Drucker “A change in perception does not alter facts, it changes their meaning…It [this perception] can be defined, tested and exploited for innovation opportunity.” Such as a change in the perception of the value of computers over time.

6. Rapid industry growth. Changes are occurring at a faster rate than large businesses can handle. This gives the startup or entrepreneurial venture a real advantage. They can enter the market without competition for long periods of time.

7. New knowledge, in the areas of science, technology or sociology offer tremendous opportunities for innovation. Customer awareness and acceptance are the basic challenges when implementing knowledge based innovations

Therefore, the second test is to determine if the innovation is valuable to its potential customers. All types of market research is available to help you assess potential customer value. For example, will your product or service simplify or improve the customer experience in an industry?

The third test is to determine if the innovation is simple enough and small enough to implement. According to Drucker “To be effective, an innovation has to be simple, and it has to be focused. It should do only one thing; otherwise it confuses people. Indeed, the greatest praise an innovation can receive is for people to say, ‘This is obvious! Why didn’t I think of it? It’s so simple!’ Even the innovation that creates new users and new markets should be directed toward a specific, clear, and carefully designed application. Effective innovations start small.”

The fourth test would be whether or not potential customers already know the value of your innovation or will you need to educate and convince them of the value of your offering. Example, many education officials may not realize the preeminence of the ability to read and adopt continuous learning (as a set of skills) because of the ever increasing speed of change. Consequently, they may not realize the inherent value of any innovation around this skill set

Change is an inevitable force in our dynamic environment. Don’t fight it. Knowing how to manage change as an opportunity for innovation as you grow your small business will be a valuable skill that will put you far ahead of your competition. If you are unprepared for change, you could face disastrous business results. Human nature resists change. That’s the first obstacle you must face. Now also consider this, when building a sustainable enterprise one of your priorities should be to consistently engage in Proactive Innovation. In other words, you’re causing self imposed change. This greatly increases the change your enterprise will encounter. So how can you survive with this much change surrounding you? First of all, you must adopt the perspective that you willefficiently handle the uncertainty in this dynamic environment while initiating Proactive Innovation considering the feasibility tests as described above. You can, if you keep a Change Management framework in mind as you move through these circumstances. Next, your Purpose/Mission must be strongly shared throughout your venture. Additionally, your Values must be the principles used to operate everything in your venture. If they are not in place, managing any kind of change will be difficult. For foundation building see “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die

A final thought to ponder as you innovate:

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Things to Do Before You Scale

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An unfortunate thing happens when an entrepreneurs launches a business and it’ s very successful. Often, the success is too much for the owners. They don’t possess the Management skills required to scale the business. They’re great with the technical skill, but have no idea about how to manage growth. Growth must be managed to become sustained. Before you are forced to scale or thinking about scaling to another level, have these four things in place.

1. Deeply ingrained Mission/Purpose

Your business Mission/Purpose is the supreme leader of your business vision, values and ultimately, your management strategy. It dictates the what, when and why of your business. According to current research ( see the Gallup Studies), the most successful businesses have Missions/Purposes that address three things: first, the promise to deliver services or products with quality and value to their customers; second, the promise to contribute to the growth and fulfillment of its employees and third, the promise to contribute to the welfare of society. Your Mission/Purpose is the force that will propel your business toward success. It is an important element of your business culture.

Chris Groscurth in “Why Your Company Must Be Mission-Driven”reports:

“In conducting a meta-analysis of 49,928 business units across 192 organizations representing 49 different industries in 34 countries, Gallup scientists discovered that margin and mission are not at odds with one another at all. In fact, the opposite is true. As employees move beyond the basics of employee engagement and view their contribution to the organization more broadly, they are more likely to stay, take proactive steps to create a safe environment, have higher productivity, and connect with customers to the benefit of the organization. Mission drives loyalty across generations. Understanding a company’s purpose helps employees answer yes to the question “Do I belong here?” Gallup’s research shows that ensuring employees have opportunities to do what they do best every day and emphasizing mission and purpose are the two strongest factors for retaining Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers.”

2. Well practiced and applied Management skills.

Business research has revealed that many small businesses fail because of situations occurring in the business itself, not outside forces. Who controls the activities inside the business? The owner and the affiliates. A further analysis shows that the perspective of the owners, as he/she controls the operation, is hindering business development. The owner’s focus is on the technical skills he/she brings to the enterprise. For example, he/she may be an expert accountant, baker, computer scientist, plumber, or carpenter experiencing great success in their skill. However, as the demands of the business increase, various functions are not attended to such as planning and projecting resources for serving more customers. This also includes the negligence of critically important administrative functions. When this much is left undone, the business fails.  Critical functions must be managed and performed for fortifying and sustaining a business which makes basic Management Skills extremely important for entrepreneurs. It requires Management skills with artful application because Management is art and skill. The skills can be easily learned but the method used for the application depends on the personal qualities and intentions of the manager. Each situation will require artful application, unique to the circumstances.

 3. Clearly defined documented and working Systems

Small businesses that succeed develop systems of operation for almost every function performed. Your systems are designed to help you achieve each of your major strategic objectives. See “The E Myth” by Michael Gerber and “Stick With It” by Lee Colan. Business systems are activities performed in a consistent manner to achieve the organization’s goals. They are performed in several steps and the successful manager documents these steps for easy replication. To most, this will be boring and tedious but once the documents are completed, this will give the manager time to do what he/she enjoys doing and enable this owner to sustain and enlarge the enterprise. This is one of the great secrets of successful business that many small business owners avoid. Creating systems simply starts with documenting what you do and how you do it. It could be called an operations manual or a systems manual or some unique name that might come to you; but the object is to document the successful operations that you want to make routine.

How will these systems help you scale? You will be able to analyze each system, change or improve each system in a separate process while keeping others intact. Carefully plan to adjust or change relevant systems as you grow. For example, your financial system may require larger cash reserves before you scale.

4. Clearly defined targets for each System

Determine targets for all systems BEFORE you scale. Consider your marketing, product delivery, customer service, talent acquisition and all operations that are necessary for your business existence. For your financial system, you will set targets for cash reserves, profit, operating expenses and others. In fact, each component of each system will have targets.

Systems are what you create if you want to grow your business because it simplifies the process of growth or franchising. Working systems can be used at each stage of the business. No need to “reinvent the wheel”, just continuously ajust and improve them.

“Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself. Success comes when he empowers followers to do great things with him. Significance comes when he develops leaders to do great things for him, but legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him.” – John C. Maxwell

Fundamentally,

I hope you’re convinced of the reason business owners need Management skills with an artful application of these skills when successfully scaling an enterprise. Your Mission/Purpose must be so ingrained in you and everyone involved that there is never a question about your basic business intentions. Management skills will help you reach your business targets efficiently and effectively. With these elements in place, you will strategically manage clearly defined systems at every stage of your business development. You can achieve your goal of continuos scaling to higher levels in your industry.

“Bobby Fischer, the great chess champion, once said, “Winning in this game is all a matter of understanding how to capitalize on the strengths of each piece and timing their moves just right.” ― Verne Harnish, Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t

Easy guide to basic Management skills: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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4 Reasons Entrepreneurs Need Management Skills

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As we all know, most small businesses fail within 5 years. Let’s examine this phenomena to help build some confidence as we move forward. Business research has revealed that many small businesses fail because of situations occurring in the business itself, not outside forces. Who controls the activities inside the business? The owner and the affiliates. A further analysis shows that the perspective of the owners, as he/she controls the operation, is hindering business development. The owners’ focus is on the technical skills they brings to the enterprise. For example, the owner may be an expert accountant, baker, computer scientist, plumber, or carpenter experiencing great success in that skill. However, as the demands of the business increase, various functions are not attended to such as planning and projecting resources for serving more customers. This also includes the negligence of critically important administrative functions. When this much is left undone, the business fails. Critical functions must be managed and performed for fortifying and sustaining a business which makes basic Management Skills extremely important for entrepreneurs.

According to a report by Zuzana Papulová and Matej Mokroš of Comenius University, Slovakia:“Basic knowledge in management is needed at initial stage of running an enterprise and also later during the development stage. At the beginning, the management of the enterprise is carried out by the sole founder/owner, who must perform all the actions needed with doing the business. Crises occur when the enterprise is successfully expanding and the entrepreneur (usually still the founder and owner) is not capable of running it.”

As Michael Gerber in the E-Myth wrote:”If you are unwilling to change, your business will never be capable of giving you what you want.”

Therefore the first reason you need Management skills is:

1. You need a managers perspective for success.

You probably really enjoy the hands on effort required to contribute the product or service that you provide. After all, that’s why you started the business anyway. If you continue to work with your head down(on your service, product, or day to day details) and never take time to look at and construct the big picture, it can be fatal to your enterprise. “Big picture thinking” is probably your greatest responsibility and you’ll need to find regular time for it. It’s a different perspective because you will not only work in the business, you will also work on sustaining, fortifying and growing your business.

As the business owner, you will take time out of your busy schedule to be the “Captain of the Ship” and the captain must have a map to help maintain the course or the ship will end up anywhere or no where. The only way you can have a map is to take time to draw one up. This requires regular times of contemplation. Determine your best thinking time and put it in your schedule. This will help you have essential documentation including a strategic plan ( collaborated if needed). Remain open minded with a learning attitude and pay attention to your emotions. What could they be telling you? Daniel Goldman, in his book, “Emotional Intelligence”, has pointed to the importance of emotions; concluding that the Emotional Quotient is more important than the Intelligence Quotient. He believes that “our deepest feelings, our passions and longings, are essential guides, and that our species owes much of it’s existence to their power in human affairs”. Read the book for an interesting insight. Finally, practice patience to immerse your enterprise in the great Vision that you have for the future and persevere in the face of the many obstacles that you will inevitably face.

“The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” Albert Einstein

“Big thinking picture” is a valuable tool for your growing business because it can help lead you to the personal and business success you desire. You will use it for designing a winning strategy. This is one of those exercises that will bring you to the realization of your dream.

2. The skill to develop and manage systems is required.

Small businesses that succeed develop systems of operation for almost every function performed. Business systems are activities performed in a consistent manner to achieve the organization’s goals. They are performed in several steps and the successful manager documents these steps for easy replication. To most, this will be boring and tedious but once the documents are completed, this will give you time to do what you enjoy doing and enable you to sustain and enlarge the enterprise. This is one of the great secrets of successful business that many small business owners avoid. Creating systems simply starts with documenting what you do and how you do it. They may be simple lists. It could be called an operations manual or a systems manual or some unique name that might come to you; but the object is to document the successful operations that you want to make routine.

3. The ability to manage strategically is critical.

Here, you’re required to always hold a mental model of how your operations work together. This model, when documented, will be a framework for your strategic management plan. There’s a lot of discussion about the value of strategic plans. Some say they aren’t needed, others say that they inhibit growth and iteration and some say they don’t work. Any way you look at it, some type of planning is essential. You must be able to see and project how you’re going to get to your Vision and this plan should be available and clear to all who share the responsibility to get there. This plan will guide your business through it’s various stages of development. You’ll be able to design the operations and standards that will guide your business to targets you have set for growth and scaling. Strategic Management will answer the questions: Where are we now in relation to our Vision? What are our eventual targets? How will we get to these targets? Strategic management is one of those exercises that will make your dream a reality.

4. The ability to hire the right talent is essential.

The Gallup organization conducted a large study of managers in approximately 400 companies. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman described how the study pointed to the need to select employees by testing for talent. They further concluded that”…every role, performed at excellence, requires talent.” They found that the managers defined talent as” a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied”. In other words, these are the behaviors that people do often, such as, the ability to remember names, not just faces or the ability to make friends easily. Buckingham and Coffman concluded that every role performed excellently required talent. This talent is our unique way of thinking, feeling and behaving. We all have filters that tells us what we should think, feel or do.

You can look for new employees that share and demonstrate your core business values. These are elements of his or her talent, “the recurring patterns, thought, feeling and behavior.” If you can hire people with the natural talent you need in your business; it will, more than likely, lead to long term success. So this is an area worth studying. It worked for 400 successful managers, so it should work for you. Look for habits. Habits are talents; they are enduring characteristics and prominent attitudes that are revealed in conversations. Choose people with beliefs, values and habits that fit your business beliefs, values and habits.

Fundamentally…

If you want to build a sustainable or even a legacy business, management skills are essential. The primary requirement is to acquire a manager’s perspective. You will not only work as the technical expert, you will also work as the CEO with a global perspective of your business. You will see the importance of making regular time for “big picture thinking”. You will be able to understand the importance of designing systems of operation for each business function; and you will apply strategic management to these systems to achieve your business vision. Finally, you will understand the importance of only adding workers to your business who fit the business culture and goals. There are other management skills needed, but the ones described are fundamental to good management practice.

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