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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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”

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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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