2013 Habits – Do With Discipline

January 12, 2013 Comments off

megaphoneRecently, I was working with a start-up on developing a reporting template to update their investors and Board to ensure their stakeholders were well informed.  It is so important to ensure the communication channel is open to any stakeholder in your business.  It is surprising how many businesses start with the greatest of intentions, have a great opening salvo of communication and then drift off into only communicating when you have to – Annual Meetings, needing money, etc.

It is almost as if business leaders think their stakeholders absorb their business activity by osmosis.  Then, when they do need something, they are frustrated to learn their audience is far from ready to take action because they are struggling to absorb what has happened since the last update.

Stakeholder communication is critical, but not required – until you need something.  Think about making it a habit to communicate and solicit feedback on your progress, on a regular basis.  I guarantee it will help when you need help.

Business Plan or Not? – Definately a Plan

December 7, 2012 Comments off
English: Business Plan Presentation at FSG 2009

English: Business Plan Presentation at FSG 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Accelerators section of the Wall Street Journal proposed the question:  Do new businesses or new business segments need a business plan?  The experts weighed in on both sides of the argument.  Many simply said no:  Too tedious, no one reads it, and the business ends up going in a different direction, anyway.  I get that, but if you read into the content of their arguments against a classic business plan, they also state they get some sort of proposal/presentation when they evaluate opportunities.  So, perhaps the details have changed, but the concept remains the same.  In order to be prepared, you need to plan.  If you don’t know your market size, your customer needs and some sort of idea of what they are willing to pay, your business model and some idea of your operating infrastructure, no inside or external investor will be impressed enough to put money in your concept.

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Be Thankful for your 2012/2013 Challenges!

November 20, 2012 Comments off

Lift-off of the Dnepr launch vehicle

It’s Thanksgiving week.  In addition to faith, friends, family, and health, I am grateful I started this blog habit.  I have been introduced to a variety of interesting people and I am thankful for my regular readers and creative exchanges that have resulted.

Today, Dr. Michael Joyner posted his case for optimism about the future.  In it he lists the following challenges from 1968/1969 that, at the time we thought were “unsolvable”

  • The Berlin Wall.
  • The Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress a movement calling for minimal levels of free expression.
  • George Wallace, an avowed racist, ran for President and got 13.5% percent of the vote.
  • Career choices available to women were extremely limited, and opportunities for women and girls to participate in things like competitive sports were minimal.
  • Rivers like the Cuyahoga near Cleveland were so polluted they sometimes caught on fire.
  • China and India were economic basket cases.
  • North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam during Tet.
  • Places like Tucson (where I grew up) were surrounded by intercontinental ballistic missile silos.  Air raid sirens were tested at regular intervals in case we needed to be warned of an impending nuclear attack.
  • The Red Sox had still not won the World Series after trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1918 – the so-called Curse of the Bambino.

So, as we look at next year in building our strategic plans or think about the world our children will live in the future, we might want to put our challenges in perspective of human progress.  It might be time to express gratitude and next week, let’s find something big to solve!

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Three Steps to Know you are Pointed Toward a Successful Initiative

November 12, 2012 Comments off
Steps

Steps (Photo credit: susanvg)

In the last post, I spoke about Passionate Certainty, how do you know your passion and direction align.  Further, how do you take steps to develop an initiative personally or professionally?  To select an initiative, it takes thought and planning to ensure you are pointing your team in the right direction.  There are many layers below these steps, but they are, by nature simple.

  1. Assess – review as much information as possible.  In the start-up world its called market validation.  Who’s in the business, why, is this idea/initiative solving a real problem that people are willing to pay money for?  Does this initiative align with your company’s vision/mission (or your own?).  If you moved forward, what would you consider to be a success metric(s)?
  2. Analyze – drill your assessment into measurable metrics.  It could be features/benefits of the product, customer or expert reviews, or other quantitative or qualitative measures. The important part is to go through the exercise.  Write it up and report it to your team or a reliable peer or expert.  See if it makes sense when you say it out loud and you truly have an initiative that creates value in the mind of your audience.
  3. Act – Go out into the market.  See other products/services in action.  Talk to experts, ask questions.  If you have a demonstration item to present, have them look at it.  If not see if you can assess what your initiative can do to improve productivity or profits.  Do it on a small scale, measure it and determine if you can scale it.

One you “act” make sure it is on a very small scale, measure your success and go back to #1 before you decide to scale the idea.  Did it achieve your objectives, profitably (in your personal world, did it satisfy you and align with your beliefs system?).  If so, we are ready to move to Diligent Pursuit.  If not, a failure at this level is a success. Few resources were spent, and either a pivot strategy was developed, or you agreed to abandon the initiative in pursuit of a more attractive opportunity.

In completing a business development strategy, following these steps ensured our message aligned with our customers.  We assessed the market and its perceptions, analyzed our target customers and acted through interviews to ensure we it our target.  It works with concepts like marketing and products that serve customer needs.

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Certainty in an Uncertain World

October 19, 2012 Comments off
Trust

Trust (Photo credit: m-c)

In building my business case for Passionate Certainty, I ran across a 1 1/2 minute video of Daniel Burris on how do you create certainty in business and with your life.  It came down to relationships and trust.  Interesting.

My thesis on developing passionate certainty is understanding your passion and creating certainty around your future, both as a business, in business and in life.  But what is life without a relationship and what is a relationship without trust?

I believe long term relationships are built on trust and it works in business and in your personal life and those that build it, profit in the long-term.  Are you developing a trustworthy image to your market?

Here’s the video.

Speaking of trust, while we think about the long-term, think about Nike’s statement when dropping Lance Armstrong.

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Passionate Certainty – Do you Live it?

October 8, 2012 Comments off

Two weeks ago I posted on “coming alive” – stating that finding your passion and living it is one of the key ingredients needed for you, and really, for yourself and everyone around you.  Related to this is one of my critical beliefs.  Passionate certainty – the belief you can achieve your dream by putting it into action.

In a business environment, we voluntarily submit ourselves to work and a career over many years and hours. Actually, more than we will spend with our families or with ourselves. So, part of this decision is to ensure you are passionate about what you are doing (do you know?) and with that passion, are you certain of your success in that role. With entrepreneurial companies, it is key you have both.

Three critical beliefs of pursuit are the subject of the next few posts.  I hope they help stimulate thought for a productive future!  By the way, after writing this, I found a great article similar to my thought process attached.

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds (Photo credit: epSos.de)

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Leading People to Come Alive

September 24, 2012 Comments off

Wisdom comes from the most unique and sometimes unexpected places.  My children attend a college preparatory school, and the chaplain, Fr. Patrick Funston, posted some of the following thoughts on his blog after his Wednesday chapel service.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

“Howard Thurman was a very early civil rights leader, a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Among his most notable accomplishments was the 22 years he spent as Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University starting in 1953.  He was the first African American to be named a tenured Chapel Dean at a mostly white school.”


“Fr. Fun” as the students like to call him, went on to say: “Passion begets interest.  Interest beget change.  People are much more likely to care about what we are doing when we are interested in it ourselves.”

His message was directed at the students in their daily and community service activities, but I also read it as another reminder of how we can effectively lead and manage our people.  Do you have a team that has “come alive” Have YOU “come alive”? If not, what are you doing about it?

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