I recently read a post from a blog that I feel is appropriate to share. Marc Cenedella wrote about the power of words and consequently the greatness that comes from within. His recent word of the week, which is essential in any business endeavor is Enthusiasm. I will quote from his article below.
Enthusiasm -”En-” means “inside” or “within”. “-iasm”, like any “ism” makes a word into a noun. And “-thus-”? That comes from the Greek word “theos” meaning “god”, from which we also get monotheism and theocracy. So one way of interpreting the meaning of “enthusiasm” would be “the spirit of god within”.
Regardless of our belief system or our faith, I believe that each of us has something unique within us. Our ability to communicate without words is monumental and we are doing it all the time. There are different figures about this very subject, but I subscribe to the belief that we are only communicating with words about 7-10% of a conversation. The rest of our conversation comes from our body language, para-verbal, and meta-verbal communication. In other words, our pitch, frequency, the selection of words, and the order in which we construct a sentence.
Communication is a phenomenal thing and as we understand what is being said without words, we can have stronger communication, better relationships, and more confidence to approach any challenge. Our confidence as a person is linked to our subconscious and how we view our selves in reference to others as well as society. Often times these views are shaped by family, friends, community, and what we have been told during our life. However, realize the word shaped and not defined! We define who we are and what we become based on our ability to be who we are regardless of what anyone thinks.
Confidence is a large contributor to our communication and also is the hinge upon our efficacy to get results in our business lives. If we have no confidence, our body language will portray this as well as the look on our faces and the selection of our words. Our first responsibility than would be to learn to control our subconscious. Controlling our subconscious revolves around the control of our emotions, our thoughts, and our dreams. It is also important to not let our opinion of who we are carry into an illusion and therefore give a wrong impression.
Our goal is confidence not cockiness. There is a fine line of how to balance who it is that we are and what it is that we will do. As we begin our quest for greatness within, we will learn that it is by our actions and also our in-actions that we will find our greatest power for influence. We all know the old saying that goes: “Your actions speak so loud, that I cannot hear what you are saying.” Our actions come because of the thoughts that we have. So if we want to change or adjust our actions, we need to think before we do or before we speak.
We will be surprised at the learning and development that can come by listening to our subconscious. Our power to do all things comes from
A great quote that I heard recently is that your perspective clients are not in your office. Often times we go to the office in hopes of getting things done and advancing our business. We can quickly become comfortable with our four walls and organizing our pencils on our desk. Obviously there are times when office work must be done. However, think about acquiring business and making new contacts. If we are serious about growing our business, prospecting is mandatory.
Application to prospecting depends largely on the type of function you have in your business, but let us not forget the necessity of finding customers for our business. Market share depends upon our companies ability to take care of the customers we have and the ability to acquire additional customers. Prospecting/marketing should be a daily activity and apart of our everyday conversation
As we venture from our place of business think about the future customers who we could obtain if we just opened our mouth? Our goal as a company and an owner, is to have a culture where we speak about our company as seamlessly as discussing our favorite team or movie. Think about it; when someone asks us about our favorite something, our answer rolls off of our tongue as though we were standing ready for dialogue. Is this the same way we speak about our business? Are we awkward when we try to explain what we do, the benefits of our business, our culture, etc? If so we need to take a step back and analyze what we do, why we do it, and how we differentiate from others.
Recently I was in Las Vegas and was shocked how many people that I met who “hum” “hawed” around the answer of what they did. We must view every conversation with a contact as a potential opportunity to introduce a person to our company. Additionally, we have our greatest assets become our biggest fans and do the same in their conversations. As the synergy begins, customers will do the same thing and thus the “power” of word of mouth advertising.
However, this cannot happen if we really aren’t passionate about our business, our model, or our ability to meet the needs of the customer. Prospecting depends upon our natural ability to meet a need or the perceived notion that we can meet a need. Let us not be delusional or oversell our product, but as passionately and accurately as possible explain our USP (unique selling proposition). Beware of the canned response, but also think about your presentation in reference to your favorite team or movie. Commit today to not only having a USP for the company, but have one for yourself and encourage all your constituents, partners, and employees to do the same.
Winning the daily battle is often more important than winning the war. Winning; like many things can become a habitual thing and thus allow us to be prepared for the opportunities that come with winning.
In business winning is about profitability, success, and most importantly progress. So, how do we win? This question can be answered in a couple of different ways. However, there does seem to be a formula or process that will return more winnings and if our mind is right, losing will actually become winning if we choose to learn and progress from the education.
1) To win, we must be prepared to win and do so on a daily basis. Whatever the job or daily task we have, if we can spend time thinking about the task and visualizing the completion of the task we will have multiple opportunities to win. In this sense, winning is improving, improving comes through practice, and practice requires not only doing, but thinking and improving.
2) Mentally prepare ourselves for situations that may bring potential stress and anxiety. If we can learn to have emotional control and use the stress to drive our completion and progress, we will accomplish much more. There are many situations for stress, but only a few stresses. When we learn to mentally record the stress and how we overcame the stress, we will be more prepared for the next challenge.
3) Recording our thoughts and feelings, is a very powerful remedy for preparing ourselves for the future. It is very therapeutic to record the feelings we have and how we resolved to grow. In business, when we record the challenges, opportunities, and the stressful situations we deal with, mentally we will be more engaged and prepared for avoiding stress and quickly moving past inefficiencies.
All the preparation in the world cannot force action. Preparation will help us to avoid fear and paralysis in moving forward by having a basis to draw from called experience. However, it was probably said best by Mike Tyson; “Everyone has a plan, until they get hit in the face.” In business we need to have a plan, but also trust our instincts to act. Yes we will make mistakes, and yes we may lose at times, but if our attitude is a winning attitude that we re-set each day, we can learn from the loses that will eventually become victories.
Winning is doing! We must do what we feel is right and not necessarily what we know is right. We don’t know what we don’t know! Often times businesses do not make the changes and pivots for growth, simply because they know the direction they should go and have always done the same thing. Remember have a plan, but be prepared to act. There is a great book called Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. His book covers the sub conscious responses to the things that we already know, but often times will wait until our conscious realizes the same thing. He speaks about “thin slicing”, which allows us to take data, quickly analyze it, and move forward with what we think and feel as opposed to having to gather all the data.
Business is fast and furious. For us to win, we must realize that there will be times that we lose. However, win the daily battle, by recording the thoughts and feelings you have towards stress, daily tasks, and the business processes in general. Our mind is our greatest tool and we need to get into the habit of recording to build up a sufficient log of experience for better future results.
As a business owner; small, medium, or large, there is an understanding of what we do will effect others. How much do our decisions effect others? This may depend on our level of influence, the type of business we have, but always will depend upon those for whom we have responsibility.
When we invest into the future of our companies, we invest in the future of generations. Building a business requires a lot of time, attention, and energy. Many times owners know all processes so well, because they have had to, at one time, do the tasks themselves. We need to ask ourselves an important question. Do we have a lifestyle business or have we created a business that will span generations?
Both businesses are great and will potentially provide a great service, great products, employment for others, and the opportunity to give back. However, I would be willing to say that if our business dies with us, we did not accomplish the entrepreneurial dream. Passing a legacy is as much a part of entrepreneurship as the task to start something out of nothing. Our focus, needs to be the task of creating something great now, but setting it up so it can be even better in the future.
Achieving this, like anything else, takes time and patience. It also takes an investment into our future as a business. By investing into the business it can be assumed that we find the right people who will one day replace us. We perfect the systems and processes that our business does on a daily basis. Most importantly, we learn to operate based on the current market conditions, and train our employees to do the same. If we want to stay in business for the long-haul, we must build a culture for change and improvement.
The investment we make should be into the people who we work with. Our future is people! All of the assets, functions, and processes are simply incomplete without those who can make the decisions. Investing in our future, really means that before we make a purchase for ourselves, we think about a job or jobs that could be created based on the money spent. It is knowing our employees enough, that we are grooming the next generation of a daughter or a son that could work for the company.
In short, our future depends upon the decisions that we make today. We also would do well to learn from the past. “If we fail to learn from the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them in the future.” I modified the quote but the message rings loud and clear. Our future depends upon us. We don’t have anyone else to make the change for us or for our world, if we don’t make the change ourselves. Next time we consider an investment, lets consider the type of investment that would provide a job, a future, and ultimately Hope.
Accountability can accurately be defined as being responsible or answerable. My hopes today is to speak about the ways that we create a culture of accountability and ultimately turn that into success.
There is an old Chinese proverb that talks about learning, and I believe that it fits well here. “Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.” A simple quote, but for a business looking to differentiate itself in the market, it becomes a key component.
Do you know the cost to hire an individual, train them; and finally what is the cost of unproductive employees? These are a couple of questions that we need to define ourselves. We cannot manage unless we measure. This all hinges on our responsibility to introduce a culture of accountability! Whatever is most important we implement, and if we implement accountability into our culture; we will get results.
Creating this type of culture is not easy. It takes patience and an understanding that mistakes will be made, but learning is optional. It begins with ownership and management. When events happen, when we have missed our mark, or made a poor decision, what is the first thing out of our mouth? Is the economy, the providers, our partners, or are there other excuses that we use to shift the blame? If this is the case, we will see this flow into our companies culture.
Obviously, taking responsibility is a personal choice and there are certain people that have higher than average accountability. We begin by fostering the decision to own whatever happens in our sphere of control. The more accountable we are, the more things we will come to understand that we do control. By simply having a positive attitude, a willingness to help others, and a persistence to complete tasks and solve problems; we will notice a substantial difference in outcomes.
Next, we train existing employees and partners on the benefits of having accountability personally and in the company. Again, it starts with the decision makers and flows to the constituents and fellow employees. Finally, it is our responsibility to hire the right talent. Creating the culture means that the person whom we have over hiring and/or training, (ultimately ourselves) is accountable to the company for bringing in the individuals who fit the culture. Before we hire someone that may look the part or talk the part, lets dig a little deeper to see if they are the part.
Here is a list of five suggestions for hiring:
- Have a team member take the individual to lunch to see how the candidate opens up to others not interviewing them.
- Create a task or an assessment that can test their competency for the job they are applying for.
- Follow up with the individual multiple times and at different hours in a day/week to see how responsive and courteous they may be outside the interview.
- Search the person on social media. See what the persons hobbies are, who their friends are so we can see if what is being said or what is on paper, matches their character.
- Give them a feel for the company. Do a “tour de facility”, let them meet company employees, and really help yourself help them make a decision based on the culture and the people.
Some of these suggestions may seem overboard. However, we could potentially be spending years with this person and they have the power to substantially effect the business. We need to ask ourselves something; Is this person a potential asset or a potential liability? Creating accountability starts and ends with us. We must create the culture for ourselves and live it so others will desire to live accountable.
Having a good understanding of the questions we must ask ourselves before and during our business development is essential. Additionally, we must continue to ask ourselves questions as we complete tasks and move to additional opportunities so we can avoid stagnation. Being stagnant, prevents change and prohibits our growth.
One of my favorite books; Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson: tells of a simple story about 4 participants that look at change very differently. I wont spoil the story, but it is clear that when we cannot change and adjust to the market conditions, we are left wondering what happened and often are shocked when things do not go as they have in the past. Continual refinement and adjustments are essential for making your business flourish.
Here are a list of five questions to continually ask yourselves:
- Where is the business plan? Not only should we have a business plan, as we discussed in the Start-up 101 article; we must have it as part of our change strategy. We must invite ourselves to treat the business plan like an unfinished novel. Treating it like an open document as opposed to a finished document, will help our mindset from day 1. A business plan is never finished. Once the business plan stops changing and being updated, the effects pass through to the business itself. Arrange monthly planning meetings to review, update, and adjust the business plan to the business environment.
- What is the business niche? Knowing your niche is important to your eventual success. Though it is not requisite of absolute success, it does indicate progressive thought and innovation. Niche’s can come in the form of product, service, delivery, and even customer service initiatives. It is not just about doing things differently, it is doing things more effectively and having a continual approach to customization and change.
- What does your competitor think? Our goal is not to make decisions based on what everyone else is thinking or doing, but to make decisions on what the market demands and what the customer is thinking. We must incorporate a mindset for “shopping the competition”, which will help change in our minds, what the experience is like for the customer if they choose our competition. Additionally, it gives us a chance to test our own ideas and if we are ahead or behind the competition.
- What are the inefficiencies? Inefficient businesses lose money! Lost money is lost profits and lost profits are resources that you could be using. The old saying fits well: “A penny saved, is a penny earned.” Many businesses could increase their bottom line simply by eliminating the inefficiencies of their business. Do we know our own inefficiencies? Often time it is easy to pick out others inefficiencies and speak of how we would do things differently, but we fail to turn the same attention towards our own life or our business.
- What is our mind telling us? Our minds often are the biggest reason for success or failure. What are we feeding our minds and does our mind align with our heart? When we start a business often times it is with our heart and we just feel or know that it will work. However; reality sets in and we start to question our heart and our resolve. The first thing we must realize is that starting a business is not for the faint of heart. Starting a business and more importantly, running a business is reserved for those who will train their minds to think positively and act resiliently. We can train our minds to align with our hearts, but we must shut off the negative talk of; I cant and I wont for I must and I can!
Creating a business can be an enjoyable journey. There are certain steps that should be taken for a business to build a strong foundation and implement a growth strategy that will get results. Often times, we pound our heads against the wall searching for the steps or the process from idea to opening the doors to our business.
We must understand that all businesses are not the same and the steps taken to obtain success may look and feel very different. However; there are certain steps that are essential to a companies foundation. Here is a list of 5 things we need to ask ourselves before we open the doors.
- Where is the business plan? Over 60% of small businesses do not have a business plan, but flounder to stay in business. The statistics of businesses that fail in the first five years is staggering. We can reverse this trend if we take the time to research, plan, do, and adjust. Remember, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”
- Do we have legal documentation? Once we have an idea, the first document that we need to draft is an Non-disclosure Agreement. In short and “NDA” protects your idea from those who would take it and fail to give you credit. The next step is to properly organize yourself as a formal business with all the rights, duties, and opportunities that exist. This is an important step that should not be skipped. Speak to a lawyer and get the business started on the right foot.
- How are the finances? Under capitalization is the number one reason that businesses go under. However, if we look closely, the number one reason for failure: is a lack of planning! If the idea is good enough, there is money and resources available. The problem often is created from excitement and a failure to take steps to ensure success. Many times excited individuals raise money from friends, family, and max out every credit card to get things going. With a business plan, you have options of banks, investors, and individuals who can see inside your plan and give instruction and when needed; feel confident in giving money to a plan and not just an idea.
- How is your online intelligence? Over 80% of businesses started today are online businesses. That means you must be search-able, you must have an online marketing budget, and you must have a great website. Buying a domain is the first step and one that should take into account your business name and the goods/services being offered. The next step is to find a website builder that will allow you to create your business presence in color, content, and interactive features that draw people in. Getting website visits are great, but creating conversion is the goal.
- What are you doing socially? If a person cannot find you, they will find someone else. This aint your mamma’s business anymore, where you open doors and people will just come. Likely customers will not find you in a phone book. Shopping has changed, and an increasing number of shopping is done from the convenience of home. With that in mind, we must have a voice that can do the work without personally having to tell every potential customer. If you do not have a , twitter, pintrest, linkedin accounts, you need to get one. These communities connect people. As a business owner, our goal is to connect with the customer.
Every business that I am aware of is looking for a couple of things. Profits, some look for prominence, and other look for prestige. However, there is a large difference between looking and finding.
The key component for any business to have success are systems. There is a system for everything and a process for going about success in general. How this works happens in the minds of the business owners and those making the decisions. There are a couple of steps to obtaining effective systems and procedures that we will mention below.
- Identification. We cannot be aware of a problem, opportunity, or a solution until we can identify what it is we are seeking. Solving problems takes knowing the problem. Opportunities and solutions, come when we fully understand a task and implement steps for achievement. In short, the most important resource we have as business owners is our “power to think.”
- Implementation. Once we have decided the best way to proceed, we must think of the people or person who will implement the plan. Implementation often relates directly to ownership. A person or team, will have much more success and satisfaction when they can work on a project or task that they have approved and/or understand. In any relationship, best results come from the best communication.
- Adjustments. Plan for adjustments. Adjustments are part of the process or system. As we develop a system and see it from a different perspective our knowledge and ability to succeed is increased. Therefore, planning for adjustments will keep our people and our processes from becoming mundane. Adjustments are needed for both the people within the system and than the system itself. In this step, use the “power to feel”, or the ability to know our people and where improvements can be made.
- Positive thinking. There is a powerful book by Norman Vincent Peale that outlines the very process for obtaining success in life and business. The Power Of Positive Thinking, deals first with connecting ourselves to the world we live in and the people who make up our world. That connection is powerful and will introduce thoughts and ideas that the negative and average mind will never conceive. There is a intrinsic link to a higher power, which will guide and assist our ability to adjust, respond, and overcome objectives.
- Read, Research, and Repeat. Unless we are continuously reading and learning new material, we only have our past experiences to draw from. This leaves us constantly drawing on the, “what was” or “the old days” and will rarely provide the power for new ideas, principles, and best practices to be implemented. Our ability to change exists around our recognition of additional tools and resources not currently being utilized in our thought process. “If we want to remain, we will not change”
Thus our ability to get results rests on the shoulders of the owners and the decision makers. There will always be external forces that play a role on our business. However, we must understand that some of the greatest businesses of our time have emerged during a recession. The power to succeed lies within each of us and is completely obtainable depending upon our processes.
Growth in business is not absolute. It takes time, work, dedication, and even a little bit of luck. However, the very thing the businesses seek, often times is the very thing that pushes a business out of the market.
Business is difficult and there are categories that businesses must monitor and keep a close tab on. For instance; operations differ from other functions of management, finance, and strategy. However, all of these areas relate and should have a natural matrix for the flow of business and the flow of financing.
When a business grows, there are a couple of items to consider and plan for. It becomes a balancing act of when to spend and when to save. It is important to remember that “cash is king.” Cash-flow is the hinge upon which businesses will swing open into increasing their business operations, or slam shut and not have any additional room for growth and opportunity.
The difference between being restricted by cash flow and being empowered by cash flow depends upon the management of accounts receivable and accounts payable. How long does it take you to be paid for your goods or services, and on the other hand how frequently are you paying distributors, wholesalers, partners? This matrix can determine much in the way of how a business responds to increased growth.
Here are 5 steps to achieving the balance of cash flow and management:
- Terms- Obtain favorable terms for your business so that payment due is out 30-45 days. In this way a business can project when payments must be received and plan for an efficient turn around process for collecting payment. Keep debits and credits simple.
- Cost- Understanding the cost of money is essential to a business. Obviously cash is easy in easy out. However, most consumers and businesses today expect to pay with plastic and even check. Realize the time for processing as well as the cost for merchant services. Know the cost per transaction, as well as the monthly cost.
- Growth- Increasing market percentage is exciting, but a business must have the plan in place to facilitate the growth without over-extending themselves. Also base your decisions on cash flow and the amount of true funds that you have and not what you want to have. Whether increasing inventory or bringing on more labor, businesses will do best when having a detailed plan of action for growth in people and process.
- Labor- If more labor is projected, take your time to hire the right individual that fits your organization. There will always be a cost associated to hiring and training employees. Getting the right people takes time. Businesses do well who incorporate a referral program. People are the average composite of the 5 people that they spend most of their time with. If you have a great employee, they probably know other great people.
- Plan- Business Plans are meant to be updated. The plan should be a document that is continually reviewed as well as adjusted frequently. Appropriate adjustments in the plan can be; growth, market conditions, economic changes, staffing changes, operational influences, and cash flow. Update your Business Plan often, because “we cannot manage, unless we measure.”