Focus: A Pivotal Ability for 21st Century Business Success

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We’re all suffering from mental overload. There are many distractions everyday. Basically, it’s frequent interruptions from tones chiming all around us. This often leads to “rampant ‘screen sucking’, texting under the table during meetings, and frequent feelings of frustrations at trying to get everything done well and on time.” Edward M. Hallowell 

Reshma Sadhu shared: A university of California Study of Digital Distractions at Work reported it takes about 25 minutes to get back to a task after a distraction.

“The 20 seconds you expect to take to check Facebook or Instagram turned into 25 minutes of unproductive time. Distractions at work are everywhere. No matter where we turn there will always be something that will put a great big pause on whatever you were doing. Whether it’s emails, texts, online notifications, etc, technology can weight down productivity and cause great distractions at work.”

Anyway, it’s hard to focus on anything. Our performance in all areas are affected and we don’t have a sense of peace and well-being. As Hallowell states, “We created the laborsaving devices that catalyzed the unplanned explosion within which we live today.” But as serious business builders, we can learn to manage and control these modern devices in ways that will be beneficial, not detrimental to out progress. We can pivot our trajectory from uncertainty and chaos to great achievements.

Can you imagine great innovators and creators of the past being constantly interrupted as we are? I can’t. You can be sure they had quiet times to deeply concentrate and study concerning the things they were working on.

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.

Hallowell agrees “…engagement develops naturally when you work in your ‘sweet spot,’ the overlap of three spheres: what you love to do, what you are very good at doing, and what advances the mission of the group or what someone will pay you to do.”

So how do we gain more focus in our lives?

Many authorities have offered suggestions and in an article submitted some time ago. I listed fourteen things you could do. They were as follows:

  • Make your business purpose meaningful to you.
  • Design a personal system for achieving your goals. This will give you the “structure” mentioned above.
  • Create an objectives list.
  • Set certain times of day to check social media.
  • Train your brain to focus.
  • Consciously ignore interruptions.
  • Strengthen your support.
  • Do something toward your purpose/mission everyday.
  • Choose one task and complete it fully.

These are easy to include in your daily activities and can help you make the important contribution to the future your Vision is driving you toward.

Related: “14 Ways to Keep the Focus that Grows Your Business”

A couple of things others have suggested is first, to organize your workspace. An uncluttered space helps maintain the structure you need. Also getting up earlier in the mornings works for some people. Of course, it depends on your preferred working time. Some people are morning people and others are evening people. You know your type. However, trying something new might give you just the motivation and increased focus you need, so think about it.

I’m sure you want to spend your time wisely because time slips away. Your life is also slipping away. You can’t lose time bringing your marvelous Future Vision to life. You must do it now while you have such useful resources available to you. You want to have the ability to enjoy the benefits of your manifested Vision, so consider the benefits of Focus and include it in your daily activities. 

Be encouraged. Help is on the way. Benevolent innovators are considering how better technology could protect us from distractions. See this cutting edge Ted Talk, “How Better Tech Could Protect Us From Distraction” by Tristan Harris. An exciting future is on the way! Play your part and stick to it! 

See also: “20 Small Business Directives for Success: Do or Die” and The GeniusCore Business building Podcast

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Future Vision: Abundance

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However, we have a serious problem. Our perspective of what the world could be is flawed. The authors point to the effect of the headlines in the news that influence how we see the world. There’s so much negative news surrounding us that it shuts down our ability to take in positive information. The view the authors take in the book involves global issues but they carefully point to this: “ In today’s hyper-linked world, solving problems anywhere, solves problems everywhere.”

We are living in an extraordinary time. The wealth of knowledge created by man is available to almost everybody. Shortly it will be available to all humans on the planet. What does this mean to the advancement of the human condition in general? Well, if we don’t take control of our future, it could mean total extinction or catastrophe. However, I’m happy to find many well known researchers and authorities who agree that the future will be bright and prosperous for the human race. Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler wrote a book entitled ”Abundance” in 2012. It takes a wonderfully positive view of what our world can become. 

Diamandis and Kotler remind us that the possibility of abundance and positive growth seems impossible to the majority of us, but if we take a look at what is actually happening in the world, we’ll see something different. In fact, they tell us “a quick look at history shows that progress continues through the good times and the bad.” These are a few examples they offer :

  1. Today, even the poorest Americans have access to a telephone, television, and a flush toilet. These are luxuries even the wealthiest didn’t have in the last century.
  2. Infant mortality has decreased by 90 percent.
  3. Maternal mortality has decreased by 99 percent.
  4. Human lifespan has increased by 100 percent.
  5. Quality of life has improved more in the past century than ever before.
  6. “Right now a Masai warrior with a cell phone has better mobile phone capabilities than the president of the United States did twenty years ago. And if he’s on a smart phone with access to Goggle, then he has better access to information than the president did just fifteen years ago.”

In “How Not to be Ignorant About the world”, Hans and Ola Rosilng reveal three additional areas of progress:

  1. The number of deaths from natural disasters decreased to less than half in the last century.
  2. The number of women over 30 who attended school has increased globally.
  3. In the last 20 years the number of people in extreme poverty has decreased by half.

Researchers reveal that ignorance about what’s really happening is caused by personal bias, outdated facts being taught in school, news bias and intuition( the illusion of confidence). We can handle this by erring on the side of positivity concerning the progress of the human race then searching for the truth about world affairs. We really are improving and technological advances coupled with individuals desiring prosperity and having access to resources for advancement will speed things up.

Diamandis et. al. founded Singularity University a Silicon Valley think tank that offers educational programs and a business incubator. “Each year, the graduate students are challenged to develop a company, product, or organization that will positively affect the lives of a billion people within ten years.” This is a bold and ambitious goal but they report the achievement of that goal is getting closer. The”sky is the limit” for them and “the sky is the limit” for us. 

The idea of abundance frees us to be creative and innovative without limitations. So, join the positive forces shaping our planet and build an exciting 21st century enterprise. Enjoy the unprecedented benefits of our technological revolution. Consider these keys to business success.

Five Keys to Entrepreneurial success in the 21st century:

1.Know the many resources available for entrepreneurs. This is the perfect time to be alive and willing to contribute to the welfare of humanity. You can study in any field and find loopholes and inadequacies that you can fill. Most industries can be improved in one way or another. Just striving toward excellence in an industry will bring you phenomenal success! You can conduct tests to see if your idea will fly. If it doesn’t seem workable, all you have lost is a little time. You can try something else. Nick Hastreiter offered a list of 400 free resources for entrepreneurs. I have also found 200 top level universities offering free online courses. Check them out! 

2. Build a business as a force for good“In this realm of philanthropy and service, one’s actions speak louder than words, and from those actions, better opportunities inevitably flow back to the individual and their business” says Pike Peters, founder of Virtual Tire Kicker. Your business purpose comes from a desire to contribute something. Craig and Snook shared an interesting finding in an article “ From Impact to purpose”explaining: “Business experts make the case that purpose is a key to exceptional performance, while psychologists describe it as the pathway to greater well-being. So a strong Purpose has business and psychological advantages. Doctors have even found that people with purpose in their lives are less prone to disease. Purpose is increasingly being put forth as the key to navigating the complex, volatile, ambiguous world we face today, where strategy is ever changing and few decisions are obviously right or wrong.” Purpose keeps you grounded and moving in the right direction. This is an expanding and timeless phenomenon among entrepreneurs of today.

Related: “The Superiority of a Purpose Driven Business”

3. Understand the forces at work in the Innovation Economy as described by James Canton. According to Canton in his book, “The Extreme Future: The Top Trends that will Reshape the World”,“The mantra of the Innovation Economy is ‘free minds, free markets, free enterprise’. This offers the greatest prosperity-creating opportunity in the history of civilization”.”The coming Innovation Economy will herald an age of rapid, dramatic change, one in which ideas that create value, offer solutions, and fulfill needs will thrive, sweeping in to recesses of memory the comparatively primitive ideas, products, services and processes that came before. Innovation will be the prime source of productivity, prosperity, competition, and potentially even peace. Innovation will be recognized as an empowering force that will drive individual prosperity and global competition.”

4. Embrace the importance of Management Skills. “Two decades ago and one computer revolution later, American business has undergone more extreme changes in every aspect in every industry than could have ever been predicted. Many center on technology, collaboration and information, but the solution is not technology. It is not collaboration. It is not information. It is producing results… Management is the specific function, the specific instrument to make institutions capable of producing results. People management and leadership will be the core drivers of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.” Terence Chatmon, CEO of FCCI

In other words, management is the organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives. You will apply change management skills as you find the need for making the various types of changes to your established strategy and systems. People skills, such as communication and conflict management skills fall under the umbrella of scientific or skill based management. Management skills have been the focus of years of management research. Today we have time-tested and universal management skills available to managers because of this rigorous research. Of course, there will always be improvements in the discipline but basic business management skills will stay relatively the same. The best managers will continuously learn and improve their management skills.

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

5. As founders, prepare to lead for the long term.Steve Blank offered an interesting directive for 21st century businesses: “To stay in business in the 21st century, startups must do three things their 20th century counterparts didn’t:

  • A company is no longer built on a single innovation. It needs to be continuously innovating–and who best to do that? The founders.
  • To continually innovate, companies need to operate at startup speed and cycle time much longer their 20th century counterparts did. This requires retaining a startup culture for years–and who best to do that? The founders.
  • Continuous innovation requires the imagination and courage to challenge the initial hypotheses of your current business model (channel, cost, customers, products, supply chain, etc.) [from knowledge of the facts and the elimination of information bias]. This might mean competing with and if necessary killing your own products. (Think of the relentless cycle of iPod then iPhone innovation.) Professional CEOs [from outside] who excel at growing existing businesses find this extremely hard. Who best to do that[challenge and change]? The founders.”

The future will be very exciting if we contribute new Purpose-driven enterprises to the economy. The possibilities are endless! We are moving toward abundance! All it takes is a passion for something, persistence and dedication. The resources are at your fingertips.

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A Profound Success Factor for the Smart Machine Age and the Innovation Economy

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The Smart Machine Age is the evolution of technology into industries like logistics, construction, distribution, sales, retail, services and even into some highly trained professional jobs. “If what you do is highly repetitive, reasonably predictable, involves limited choices or involves linear processes, you are at risk. In 2013 Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne of the University of Oxford published the most definitive research to date attempting to predict the magnitude of jobs lost to technology over the next 10-20 years. They predicted that 47% of the U.S. workforce had a high probability of being displaced by technology and another 19% had a medium probability of displacement.”(Ed Hess)

Have you wondered how you will navigate your business building efforts through the rapidly changing environment we’re living in? You probably have a feeling that the old ways of trial and error will take up too much time and you may miss Smart Machine Age capabilities or be wiped out by them. Well, that’s more than likely the way it will be if you’re not prepared with a Future Vision and the strategy to get you through rapid changes and innovations.

 However, we shouldn’t go too far with this because we’ll see increasing demands for many occupations. This will include doctors, nurses, health technicians, home health aides, personal care aids, nursing assistants and other service occupations. These jobs will be aided by technology but will still be driven by human activity.

The Innovation Economy is an economy driven by knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. “The major changes in the U.S. economy of the last 15 years have occurred not because the economy accumulated more capital to invest in even bigger steel mills or car factories; rather they have occurred because of innovation.” Dan Robles

James Canton, author of the Extreme Future sums the situation up for us: ”The coming Innovation Economy will herald an age of rapid, dramatic change, one in which ideas that create value, offer solutions, and fulfill needs will thrive, sweeping into recesses of memory the comparatively primitive ideas, products, services, and processes that came before. Innovation will be the prime source of productivity, prosperity, competition, and potentially even peace. Innovation will be recognized as an empowering force that will drive individual prosperity and global competition.”

In “Mr. Spock won’t survive the Smart Machine Age…will you?” Cu-Management reminds us that Mr. Spock was critically concerned with being logical. Remember? He thought humans were inferior because of our emotions. “However, in the coming Smart Machine Age, our emotional intelligence will be the very factor that makes us unique and employable.”

Emotional Intelligence is simply the ability to recognize and control your own emotions as well as the ability to recognize and acknowledge emotions in others. In other words, you understand the strength and importance of emotions in general. Daniel Goldman is the authority in this area.“When we use our emotions to serve and collaborate with each other, there are no limits to our thinking, creativity and performance.” Hess

So, if you want to be highly successful in the Smart Machine Age and beyond, what should you do?

Commit to being a Creative and Innovative Collaborator.

Let’s first summarize some hindrances to effective Collaboration.

-We are not naturally critical and analytical thinkers. We normally just try to confirm what we already know. New ideas or ways of thinking are difficult for most of us to process.

-We are naturally competitive. Our society promotes competitiveness. We work to push our own ideas or opinions forward without regard given to other opinions. Often, we don’t clearly hear other opinions. 

-Our primary aim is to show self confidence, to protect our egos.

Now, our Profound Factor for Success in the Machine Age and the Innovation Economy for the promotion of successful creativity and innovation:

                                        Humility

Humility is the basic factor that will develop high efficiencies in the skills required for creative and innovative collaboration. This is a critical factor because with Humility we will avoid trying to confirm what we already know and avoid defending ourselves when our thinking is challenged. We are also poor listeners because we are usually focused on confirming that our idea or belief is correct or better than the other person’s. Likewise, many of us view collaboration as a competition to see who is right, not a process to determine what is right. One could call us very “me-oriented” in our thinking, listening and collaborating. This should not be surprising in a society that is very individualistic, or as some say, narcissistic. We celebrate “winners” and “people in power.” We judge ourselves by our “place” in the hierarchy; and we have been encouraged to exude self-confidence, self-promote and to “fake it till you make it.” We are very good at telling and advocating and not very good at listening and asking questions.” Ed Hess

Advantages of Humility.

Humility helps you realize, no matter how many degrees in a discipline you might have, you really only know about .001 percent of what can be known about that subject. We have experts, of course, but there are “megatons” of knowledge waiting to be discovered.

Humility requires you to nurture emotional intelligence. That is, you become more and more aware of your own emotions and the emotions of others. You understand how they effect creativity and innovation.

Humility helps you realize that you can learn something from everybody, no matter what their status in life might be. Everyone has a unique perspective that might be just the view you need for your innovation.

Humility is freeing because it makes not knowing everything about a subject easier to acknowledge. It also helps you to be honest, direct, curious, courageous, open-minded and truth seeking.

Humility frees you to use what I call, observational speaking. That is, a style of communicating where you are completely aware of your receiver(s). In other words, you’re observing the behaviors and mannerisms of the receiver(s) as you share thoughts or information then adjusting your message on the spot as needed. Active listening is used to clearly understand what the other is saying. You will “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.” Asking questions helps with this. Humility helps you listen to learn!

Humility helps with business Values such as Teamwork, Transparency, Collaboration, Accountability and Integrity.

The advantages of Humility as a business Value or character trait are immense and helpful in our fast changing and unpredictable environment. Contemporary and highly successful businesses are benefiting from Humility as a Value. Some of these businesses have been highlighted by Hess:

“Bridgewater Associates, LPGoogle, Intuit, Pixar and W.L. Gore & Associates are examples of companies that embrace the new way. They emphasize humility through cultures that devalue ego and hierarchy.” The leaders of these organizations are role models of the behaviors they want to see in their workforce.

Cultivating Humility is a work in progress for most of us. Being humble in a competitive society isn’t easy. We all are insecure and afraid to some degree. One thing we can do is to try not to respond automatically when someone is speaking. Take time to ask questions. We have the extraordinary opportunity to create work environments that are emotionally supportive and accepting of all participants. Humility is essential for creative and innovative collaborators. With this environment created by us intentionally , our businesses will excel in the Machine Age, the Innovative Economy and beyond.

I’m reminded of a quote from the greatest and most popular book in the world. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

See also: “20 Small business Direct ives for Success: Do or Die” and The GeniusCore Business Building Podcast 

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Podcast #10 The Importance of Focus for Business Building

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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. Can you imagine Leonardo DaVinci creating the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper while being constantly interrupted? There is no way we can say that the great masters engaged in multitasking, because reputable research has shown how disruptive multitasking can be when you’re trying to complete something. It’s obvious, successful masters had the unsurmountable ability to focus on one project at a time. 

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 as 15 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! Especially if you’re working on something with serious implications. Prepare now to eliminate multitasking from your activities if you want to be successful as you build your business.

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Lin Yutang, writer, philosopher and inventor.

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.

Several 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? If so, more than likely, you’re finding delight as you work on your business.

2. Design personal surroundings 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 in the background. Your system for focusing will be unique to you. Prepare your surroundings so they will be comfortable and motivating.

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

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.

Many authorities suggest making a list every evening or morning of the things you would like to accomplish for the day. When doing this, you will put the most important tasks first. Then, complete the tasks one by one. This is what many highly successful people do.

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. I noticed Iphone has a tracker on it now to let you know how time you are actually spending on social media.. This could really be helpful.

5. Train your brain to focus. Realize that might be what  you 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 might take some time. Your commitment to focus will help you develop a habit of focus. Practice concentration exercises. See: 11 exercises to Improve concentration. by Brett and Kate Mckay You tube.  Excellent!

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 that what you’re working on is important. Otherwise, concentration exercises may help. For example, keep a list of ideas that pop into your mind that you might want to do a goggle search on. Do this instead of instantly goggling each new thought. (I need to work on this one!) The information is out there and I want answers. But listing things to look up as you go is a great thing to do rather than instantly goggling something when you’re trying to complete a task. You could easily get way off track.

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 people know ‘why’, they are more likely to help you.

8. Commit to do something toward your purpose/mission every day. Sometimes the simple act of making a list of what you want to do and setting priorities works. As you make some accomplishments toward your purpose/mission, 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. I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to emphasize it again.  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. You can also have actual facts to measure your real progress by.

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 so you won’t waste time. It’s also a good motivator to keep you going.

12. Have excellence as your goal, not mediocrity. There’s something about aiming for excellence that energizes us.  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 move ahead. You can also reevaluate the time it took to get to the successful state and determine if the process you’re using should be adjusted or continued. Reviewing the past performance helps in many ways.

14. Reserve some of your focusing time for deep planning or big vision designing. This activity will also help you to clarify or describe with more specifics what your future state will be.  This helps sustain the motivation you need to accomplish big things. A big vision will pull you toward grand accomplishments.

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, an inspirational Speaker and author.

“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.” This relates to the principle of Simplicity described in my podcast #6 on one of the Super Values of highly successful companies.

In conclusion, Dave Ramsey pointed to some compelling 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.

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

Also: The GeniusCore Business Building Podcast

 

 

 

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Podcast #9 Transparency Con’t

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This episode continues the discussion of the principle of “transparency”. In episode 8 we determined that transparency can help our businesses in four ways:

1.Transparency is becoming more important to everybody.

2. Transparency promotes trust. (No repeat customers without trust)

3. It helps everybody involved in your business feel important to the success of your enterprise. You let them know at different phases of your growth, how you are doing and they can see ways to help you.

4. Public knowledge of your Purpose and Values is an act of tranparency. Your Purpose and Values attract a base of customers who share or believe in the same Purpose and Values that you believe in.

I talked about Buffer as an excellent study in transparency.  I want to share 2 more contemporary businesses practicing this principle in their operations. 

“Currently, Whole Foods is working on becoming the first national grocery chain to offer full GMO transparency with its products. They’re trying to  identify any products containing genetically modified organisms and they want to keep them off their shelves. By this year, they will require every product sold as non-GMO to go through a verification process. The company has always encouraged anybody supplying products to them to put the items through a verification process, as well. Whole Foods hopes that by making this commitment to GMO transparency, it will encourage industry-wide transparency, with manufacturers and distributors asking the questions that need to be asked” Quoted from 

5 Examples of Companies Succeeding Through Transparency” by Jonha Richman,

This dedication to transparency by Whole Foods lets you know how serious they are about avoiding GMO’s in products they sell.  Why do they do this? Key Point: Full transparency in this area is important to their customer base. This is the primary reason any business would want to practice this principle.

There is one more contemporary business succeeding through transparency I want to share.

Patagonia a clothing  supplier is known for supply chain transparency. Richman reported, ”For outerwear company Patagonia, providing transparency throughout its supply chain means reducing any negative social and environmental impacts the company might have. Many companies have been caught off guard by information about the social and environmentally-unfriendly habits of its manufacturers or distributors. To avoid this, 

Patagonia takes a proactive approach, taking the responsibility on itself to make sure no harm is being caused in the making of its products. The project is called “Footprint Chronicles” and they display it to the general public through videos on the company’s website. Check it out, it’s good. The videos show each step of the supply chain, including all textile mills and sewing factories used in creating the item.” Richman

You’ll have to admit, this is real dedication to transparency around Patagonia’s commitment to social and environmental safety. Many customers are drawn to their business simply because of this commitment.

You can see how transparency can be a positive force for your business building efforts. It helps you clarify what you are doing. It also helps you simplify your Systems and processes so they can be communicated to others more effectively and efficiently. Transparency helps you get valuable input about ways to improve your business and keep it ahead in your industry. The big advantage is..It helps you promote trust with your customers. You may now be wondering: when is transparency NOT appropriate?

Santiago Iniguez describes what we should do: He reiterated.. “Ethan Bernstein’s article “The Transparency Trap” convincingly argues that complete transparency is not advisable, at least in three areas of a company’s activities.” These areas include innovation, experimentation, developmental processes and I have added,  distribution specifics. The niche you have in your industrsy must be protected. Sharing the all processes that make you unique are not an option.

Iniguez further suggests:

Business transparency is a matter of degree. You determine how much should be shared according to its usefulness. Internally, only the people involved or affected by the procedure or information should be involved. Publicly, only the information that can breed trust in your company should be shared. Examples: Whole    

Foods GMO policy or Patagonias’ supply chain transparency. They share a level of transparency that draws certain groups of customers.

Establish a balance between transparency and privacy,  both in relation to the workforce’s activities and individual and collective information. We live in a world where access to information about businesses and people, true and false, is universal and immediate. In such an environment, leaders can feel that they are permanently onstage.” Iniguez  As we build our businesses ,we need to use whatever processes available to always  respect people’s personal space.”

Be authentic with your transparency. “What counts in the final analysis is that when necessary the people running a company can reasonably justify their decisions,” This relates strongly to the Integrity of your business. Trust among customers, employees and other affiliates is greatly enhanced with a reasonable level of transparency.

Finally, here’s an interesting guide for how to build a reputation of business transparency from Chelsea Segal

“As you go about marketing your product to the general public, think about what values you expect your customers to have. Do you want them to care about speed and efficiency? About earning money? About doing good in the world? Whatever matters most to your customers, find a way to emphasize the way your brand delivers it. Then be as transparent as possible about specifically how you do it.. You’ll be amazed at the difference that one simple change can make.”

So, the idea is to get input from your customers for guidance on what should be transparent. A Super idea!

Business transparency is a state-of-the-art practice that can seriously enhance your business building process. So, carefully consider transparency as a Value for your growing twenty-first century enterprise.

More business success essentials in: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

Easily accessible Business Building guides here: The GeniusCore Business Building Podcast

 

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Podcast #8 Transparency: A Business Building Enhancement Part 1

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I’m sharing another great Value for you to  build into your growing business. It’s another one I call a Super Value, introduced in episodes 2 and 3. Transparency is also one of the principles used by some of our greatest contemporary businesses. Without doubt, embracing this will add to your phenomenal business building success. You’ll see why as we go.

While you’re preparing for or improving your entrepreneurship, I’m sure you’ve run across the term”transparency” as it relates to business. Interesting questions you might ask are: how does that apply to you as you are building your new business? Why is transparency important? What are the benefits of business transparency? How is it done? What are the limits?

Larry Alton in”How Transparency Became a Top Priority for Businesses, and Why You Should Care” described what transparency means to the entrepreneur. He writes:

“Transparency in business requires entrepreneurs to remain open and informative about key points of information, including their business’s goals, history, performance and operations. And it’s a goal that’s risen in importance and continues to do so.”

He also shared a study by label insights:

According to a recent study by Label Insight, they study the labels on products and how people react to them. They found that up to 94 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that they were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, while 73 percent said they were willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency”MUSIC

So fist let’s look at Why is transparency is important?

4 Reasons transparency is important:

1. Transparency is becoming more important to people in general. Think about your own experiences. We are drawn to people who are transparent. We are also drawn to businesses that are transparent. That is, we like to understand the nature of the entity we are dealing with. We like to relate to the person or business and know as much as we can about who they are and what their guiding principles are. What’s important to them.

Just think of the popularity of ratings and reviews when we are preparing to engage with a business or purchase  a product from a business. We like to know as much as we possibly can about the business or product before we get involved .

That’s because Transparency promotes trust. This bring us to the second reason Transparency is important.

2. Transparency promotes trust.

This is good to remember if you don’t remember anything else in this podcast. According to Integrity Solutions: “Customers and clients want to do business with a company that is trustworthy. When trust is at the core of a company, it’s easy to recognize. They [the customers] know you are reliable and capable. Over the long term, business success is dependent upon a network of positive relationships. Trust is invariably the critical component in enhancing business relationships and transparency builds trust.” We must have trust to grow our businesses.

3. People contributing to your business (workers, customers, investors and all affiliates) need to feel important to your business. Think about your team members.When team members understand the who, what, when, how, and why of a system, decision or requirement, it gives them the clarity and freedom to do their jobs or engage with your business in any way necessary. Your operations will be transparent. Nobody likes to work or contribute without knowing why and how their contribution fits in. That’s why, the more you can share with your customers, employees or other affiliates, the more comfortable they will feel when dealing with your business. This leads to the fourth reason transparency is important.

4. Public knowledge of your Purpose and Principles are important to success. In episodes 2 and 3 of my  podcasts, I talked about “the superiority of a Purpose Driven Business. Many people are drawn to the ideal of contribution to society. They like charity and philanthropy. You’ll notice many businesses tie purchases to company contributions.

Clear promotion of your Mission/Purpose and Values/Principles to everybody involved with your business will be the beginning of your practice of transparency.! That’s how you start it. Customers, investors, employees and others will begin to understand your business as you promote and practice your fundamental business building blocks, your Purpose and Values.

I think the best way for us to understand the importance of transparency is to look at some contemporary businesses applying this principle successfully.

In, “5 Examples of Companies Succeeding Through Transparency”

Jonha Richman, guest writer for Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer, shared:

“By being proactive in opening up its information, smaller businesses can establish relationships and avoid the mistrust that can happen when information is revealed after the fact.”

Here, I’m exploring 1 of the most popular transparent businesses Richman included in the article.

Buffer is known for open salaries. You’ve probably heard of them. They are a social media management company.

Buffer makes their Values/Principles well known by using different  methods to ensure everybody knows what their values are. The second principle on Buffers list of Values is “Default to transparency”. That let’s everybody know how important it is to them. The social media company applies this Value to every area of their business. One way the company has demonstrated its commitment to transparency is through revealing the salaries of employees throughout the organization. Through a publicly-available spreadsheet, Buffer has revealed the pay rate of every employee by name, from co-founder and CEO Joel Gascoigne (gascoin)to engineers, content crafters, and “happiness heroes”(customer service reps).

In addition to posting its salaries, Buffer also reveals the formula it uses to create these salaries. Each employee goes through a 45-day boot camp, then qualifies for a salary under the business’ formula,.The 4 factors in the formula are Salary, Job Type, Choice(profit sharing or salary addition), and the fourth is Loyalty( years in service). They use weighted values for some of these factors.  Buffers’ system is easily accessible on line. Check it out! It’s very interesting!

As your business grows and adds employees, this process is a great reference. Buffer shares where they got their base salaries and regional differences from, this could  be quite helpful to you.  This type of transparency also shows a level of fairness that reduces a lot employee frustration. When employees know the role factors like seniority and experience play in determining pay, those employees are more likely to understand when somebody else makes a higher salary than they do.

By the way, other businesses have understood the merits of Buffers’  formula and have adopted some form of this salary plan for themselves.  Buffer is also continuously improving their formula for determining salaries and delivering transparency in many areas of their business.

The people at Buffer shared a post about their salary formula: This was some ago but I’ll still share it.

“It’s been over 2 years since we first shared our transparent salary formula; we’ve been truly blown away by the response we’ve seen.” They received many positive responses from customers and other businesses who where intrigued by their processes.

Buffer  continually works on all of their operations, and continually strive to improve business the results.  Continuous improvement is best practice for any 21st century business.The bottom line is.. they make transparent whatever they think would help their customer. (Think about this practice. It’s key) For example, they are working on sharing Buffer’s pricing process, their real-time revenue, and of course, their Values and the changes they make to them. They’re also sharing their fundraising process and the level of diversity in their team makeups. The impact of their business practices has strongly influenced the business community. Will your business make such an outstanding impact?

Remember the four advantages of adopting transparency as a principle:

1.Transparency is becoming more important to everybody.

2. Transparency promotes trust. (You’ll have No repeat customers without trust)

3. It helps everybody involved in your business feel important to the success of your enterprise.

4. Public knowledge of your Purpose and Values is known through transparency. Your Purpose and Values attract a base of customers who share or believe in the Purpose and Values.

In my next episode, I’ll share one more contemporary transparent business, to help you get a deeper understanding of this principle and how it works.  We’ll continue to explore how it works in actual business operations. I’ll also describe the parameters of transparency.  There are times when transparency should not be used. Stay tuned for the full story.

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4 Top Characteristics of Super Successful Entrepreneurships

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With so much information available to us, there’s no reason we can’t be well informed about business building. A large percent of new businesses fail because the entrepreneurs are not aware of the skills they need to keep the enterprise afloat.

Most entrepreneurs have excellent skills in their profession and have enjoyed various levels of success. They have managed to schedule, prepare and provide their service or product in a way that has convinced them that starting a full fledged business is a great idea. However, the SBA reports that more than two-thirds of the 29 million startups fail each year. Something is seriously missing. Rather than looking at why these businesses fail, this article explores the reasons businesses succeed.

Jan B. King in “Top 10 Reasons Businesses Succeed” reported ten eye-opening reasons some businesses avoid becoming a fail statistic.

The first and most fundamental reason is ”The experience and skills of the top managers [owners] . Over half of business failures are directly related to managerial incompetence.”

We see the use of the term ‘management’, in thousands of articles and books. It actually means many different things according to whoever is using it. I like to refer to scientific or researched based findings for a definition of management. Frederick W. Taylor, in his works on scientific management offers the best definition of management as a science or set of skills.

“Scientific management [set of skills ] is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity.” Wikipedia

Considering Taylor’s conclusions, we can describe management as the responsibility for designing and executing a strategy with clear objectives, targets and deadlines. You also have the responsibility to design methods (systems), set standards, guide the performance of workers, and measure results. In addition, management includes hiring, training and promoting workers.  You will train and coach the appropriate employees required to successfully meet the objectives as described in the strategy. In other words, management is the organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives. You will apply change management skills as you find the need for making the various types of changes to your established strategy and systems. People skills, such as communication and conflict management skills fall under the umbrella of scientific or skill based management. Management skills have been the focus of years of management research. Today we have time-tested and universal management skills available to managers because of this rigorous research. Of course, there will always be improvements in the discipline but basic business management skills will stay relatively the same. The best managers will continuously learn and improve their management skills.

A second reason new businesses succeed according to King is “The energy, persistence and resourcefulness (the will to make the business succeed) of the top managers.

Many business owners have failed or come close several times before their “instant” success. Don’t give up.”

This highlights the reason persistence and determination show up in all the results of business success studies.

A Purpose or Mission that you are passionate about will bring out the persistence and determination you need to get through the many problems you face as you grow your new business.

Md.Ashiqur Ran reported that “Albert Ellis was an American psychologist. Ellis said, ‘the art of love is largely the art of persistence’. Really, if you want to build something firstly you need to love it then love to do it again and again and it is the power of persistence. Persistence helps to conquer something invincible. ….The habit of persistence is the habit of success. Failure reminds us to be more persistent! It’s nothing.”

A third reason businesses succeed according to King: “A product that is at least a cut above the competition and service that doesn’t get in the way of people buying. There must be a compelling reason to buy; the product is great, the people love to provide service, and the buying experience is easy and fun.”

This reason implies the business has great Values or principles, excellent operating Systems, talented workers and customer empathy. The business enjoys values such as innovation, excellence, integrity, fun, and customer rapport. Successful businesses have also designed their Systems or operations and documented them to enable consistent application by all workers.

The workers share a belief in the Values and understand the significance of the customers

Probably the most important difference is the successful businesses have chose a product or service that is different or better than what has been available to their customers. They have found an innovative or creative way to be different and they continue to create and innovate.

King’s fourth reason businesses succeed: “The ability to create a “buzz” around the product with aggressive and strategic marketing. Make scarce marketing resources count. Do as much homework about your customers and their choices as you can before investing your marketing dollars.” There are many ways to market your business on a shoestring. The internet offers tremendous opportunities.Social media through blog posts is extremely popular and beneficial as well as you tube and podcasts. Many marketing tools are possible with a little research. Giving something away , personal appearances offering coupons and networking are just a few of the many ways you can market your new business. Uses as many as you can.

These are four primary reasons businesses succeed. If you have mastered these four steps, the rest is fairly easy. See King’s article for the rest to avoid being in the “fail’ statistic.

See more “success” ideas in: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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The “Art of the Deal” When Business Building

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Your business depends on people to help you perform the various operations of your venture. You will need to develop and grow your customers and business affiliates.

You will need to develop partnerships and acquire important endorsements as your business grows. Sometimes, you’ll need to barter for services or materials. All of these actions require the ability to make deals or negotiations.

The question is..are there a few guides you can use when you are making the deal or negotiation? Another question is what is the “art” involved here? I’ll briefly describe these factors in this article.

Your attitude as you enter a deal-making situation is a strong indicator of the level of success you can expect to achieve. Communication is basically how humans share thoughts and ideas. There is no other way others can know what we think is important to our business. We are required to effectively relate what our business is about and how we intend to direct it. Hence, excellent communication skills will help you develop your business into the great organization you envision through great deals.

Attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, usually reflected in your behavior. Everybody has an attitude concerning the situations they find themselves in. What is the best attitude for deal making? As a business builder, you’ll need an attitude that grows your business not destroy it. A positive, hopeful attitude will help you build a business with a culture of positivity. Your workers will follow the leader and your customers will enjoy doing business with you. Additionally, your deals or negotiations will be more successful.

I will call the effective style of sharing information for business, observational speaking.Observational speaking is a style of communicating where you are completely aware of your receiver(s). That is, you’re observing the behaviors and mannerisms of the receiver(s) as you share thoughts or information then adjusting your message on the spot as needed. This takes practice but can be mastered with patient application.

Brent Beshore in “Deal-Making 101: The Basics Explained” shared: “The anatomy of a business deal is comprised of three basic components: the expected return, upside potential, and downside risk. Another way to describe this is to ask, “What do I expect to happen? What is the best possible scenario? What is the worst possible scenario?” The goal is to have a fair expected return, a huge upside, and very little downside.”

Beshore helped explained the “basics” of deal-making by defining four things to consider as you go forward.

First, determine the motivations of the person you’re negotiating with. This requires that you know as much about your negotiator as you possibly can. What success have they had in the past? What are their basic personal concerns as they go into this deal.This requires good listening and questioning skills to help you get to the bottom of what really matters in this interaction.

Second, know enough about the deal to allow you to offer various alternatives. There are usually several ways to solve a problem and your knowledge in this area will be extremely helpful. This will also help you determine the real value of the deal. It may not be your best alternative once you consider others.`

Third, intend to be creative as you move forward. Consider alternative ways to design the deal. Keep the motivations of your negotiator in mind. “The negotiated terms are merely serving the underlying motivations, so think creatively about how to satisfy the other party’s real interests.”Beshore

Fourth, focus making the deal as simple as possible. It’s so easy for things to get complicated and far removed from what is really necessary. Highlight the main points or concerns and keep your focus on just the essentials. You should be able to explain what you are agreeing to in simple and straightforward terms. A written agreement is essential for good business.

The “art” of the deal comes in when your personality, experiences and communications skills design the nature of the negotiation you’re participating in. You will artful apply your life experiences, personal style and knowledge to the situation to influence the deal and resulting outcome. You will improve the “art” you bring to the deal as you gain more experience in deal-making or negotiation.

Being aware of your attitude and using observational speaking will give you a good foundation for any negotiation. Knowing as much as you can about the motivations of your negotiation partner and being well informed about the deal is also helpful. Finally, being creative, keeping the negotiations simple and coming away with a written agreement will help you apply the “art of the deal” many times as you grow your business.

More Management guidance in: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”Share This:
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4 Guides To 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.

Consider these guides and recommendations to enjoy successful innovations.

For foundation building see “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die

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