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“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities”

Bob Nardelli, CEO Home Depot - Fortune Magazine, 07/01/2002

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Work “ON” It And Not “IN” It.

Owning a business is one of the most challenging things we’ll ever do in our lives. It’s not easy, as the explosive failure rates constantly confirm the dangers of being an entrepreneur. Millions of dollars lost everyday, relationships torn apart and dreams destroyed on a daily basis. Scary, huh? If that’s the case, then why do entrepreneurs dive into business ownership at record speed?

Why? You know why.

Freedom, baby! Freedom! Ah, yes. There is nothing in the world that can compare with calling the shots and controlling your own destiny. No risk, no reward.

But here’s a question: Even when our businesses are a success, do we really have freedom? I ask that because in the midst of a successful entrepreneurial career, I realized that, for the most part, I didn’t have freedom — I had a job. (A great one at that, but still a job). If I wasn’t there working, the business wouldn’t have survived, never mind prospered. My business thereforeowned me. We are supposed to own the business, remember?

We all have different goals, and not everyone wants to be the next Google (I’d like to meet that person). Not everybody wants a billion dollar business (I’d like to meet that person too). But no matter how many entrepreneurs I meet, they all agree that “more time” is the indisputable goal right next to the goal of getting that fire engine-red Ferrari.

So that takes us to: Work ON your business, not IN it. Regardless of whether you want to conquer the world, build a business that can run with you or without you. Your business will grow. You will have freedom. You will have a true business.

And, hey, you just might get that fire engine-red Ferrari, too.

 Famous quote:
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. 
Warren Buffet
Posted in Business| Tagged |

Giver’s Gain

“Givers gain!” It’s a plain and simple mantra. I don’t buy into the whole hokey-pokey karma voodoo thing. Okay, maybe just a bit. If you start to think about how you can truly help people — without the expectation of compensation — amazing things will happen. Trust me.
Don’t worry. I’m not holding auditions for the next Mother Theresa. I’m just asking you to help your fellow friend, local business or complete stranger in any way you can. Some of us get so wrapped up in our own lives that sometimes it’s hard to think about helping others. Especially in this economy, everybody appreciates a hand.
So that takes us to: Givers gain. Help out in any way you can. Try sending a referral to your favorite vendor without them having to ask for it. Remember: We are not expecting anything back, but experience proves that it will come back tenfold. (Hey, maybe I do buy into the whole karma thing).
Still not convinced? Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, if there’s nothing in it for me, why waste my time?” Fair question. If you’re really stuck on thinking about it in those terms, admit it: Won’t it make you feel you good, won’t it give you a little buzz, to do something nice for someone else? Making someone smile? Making their day a little easier?
And who knows, maybe that old lady you help cross the street is a vastly wealthy heiress who might you in her will. (Of course, I know the whole idea is to do a good deed without expectation of compensation, but, hey, we can dream a little, can’t we?)

Famous quote:

You can have everything in life that you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

Zig Ziglar
Posted in Business| Tagged |

Learn From Salespeople

How many times have you heard this: “I hate salespeople”? Why do people say that? Because a few bad apples spoiled the whole damn bunch! Talk about stereotypes. I’m not sure about you, but I’m sure glad to have my health insurance, car insurance, life insurance and home insurance handled by someone who receives a commission on my premiums. Bam! If I need something, it gets done at record speed. Salespeople are motivated. What’s not to like about that?
Hey, maybe someone can work on revamping the Department of Motor Vehicles with salespeople. Can you imagine getting your driver’s license renewed without the torture of a five-hour wait? Set the salespeople loose!

I often hear people complain that salespeople are pesky and never let up. That’s not their fault, either. It’s people’s fault for not speaking their minds. Let’s face it: It’s hard for some folks to say no. So instead, they tell salespeople, “I will think about it” or “Let me check with my boss.” Do everyone a favor: If it’s a “no,” just say so. It will help you. Plus, the salesperson will be grateful you’re not wasting their time.

Salespeople can be a business’s best weapon. They can help you solve problems — just try asking them. They can probably see some glaring problems in your operation just from their experiences in your industry.

Love salespeople. Learn from them. They can be your best resource. Who knows your competitors better? And does anyone have a better gauge on your industry?

Treat salespeople with the utmost respect — and when they have the utmost respect for you, amazing things will happen in your business.
Famous quote:

Don’t sell. Solve! (Unknown)

Posted in Sales| Tagged , |

Your Business. Your Freedom.

Owning a business is one of the most challenging things we’ll ever do in our lives. It’s not easy, as the explosive failure rates constantly confirm the dangers of being an entrepreneur. Millions of dollars lost everyday, relationships torn apart and dreams destroyed on a daily basis. Scary, huh? If that’s the case, then why do entrepreneurs dive into business ownership at record speed?
Why? You know why.

Freedom, baby! Freedom! Ah, yes. There is nothing in the world that can compare with calling the shots and controlling your own destiny. No risk, no reward.

But here’s a question: Even when our businesses are a success, do we really have freedom? I ask that because in the midst of a successful entrepreneurial career, I realized that, for the most part, I didn’t have freedom — I had a job. (A great one at that, but still a job). If I wasn’t there working, the business wouldn’t have survived, never mind prospered. My business therefore owned me. We are supposed to own the business, remember?

We all have different goals, and not everyone wants to be the next Google (I’d like to meet that person). Not everybody wants a billion dollar business (I’d like to meet that person too). But no matter how many entrepreneurs I meet, they all agree that “more time” is the indisputable goal right next to the goal of getting that fire engine-red Ferrari.

So that takes us to: Work “ON” your business, not “IN” it. Regardless of whether you want to conquer the world, build a business that can run with you or without you. Your business will grow. You will have freedom. You will have a true business.

And, hey, you just might get that fire engine-red Ferrari, too.

Famous quote:
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
Warren Buffet

Posted in Business, Leadership| Tagged |

Under Promise; Over Deliver

I can do it faster, better, and cheaper than any of your other vendors! I’m available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 366 days a year! You won’t find ANYBODY in town with better customer service. I’m selling this to you BELOW my cost. I don’t have to check with the warehouse — I can deliver it TOMORROW. I can get you the mortgage approved WEEKS before the close date.

Wow. If I wasn’t a seasoned entrepreneur, all those promises would sound like awesome deal-closers. However, experience proves that they are all deal-killers. Why? Because if you have to over-promise to get the client, then there’s probably somebody out there better equipped to handle their business. You know the saying: “If it sounds too good to be true …”

Try not to offer the sky. I know you need the business. But over-promising leads to a no-win situation: If you look desperate, well … you know how that works out. If you do get the business, it’s only a matter of time before you disappoint. Don’t dole out promises you can’t keep. In fact, here’s a crazy idea: Try the opposite. Deliver unexpected acts of customer service and you will be rewarded with the mother of all wishes: loyalty.

That takes us to: Under-promise and over-deliver. Make sure this mantra is part of your business practice. We’re expected to do what we say. We are not expected to go above and beyond. So, each and every time you do, you add a raving fan to your business. And the goal is to have a business that is full of raving fans and not just clients or customers, right?

Famous quote

Under promise; over deliver.

Tom Peters

Posted in Coaching| Tagged |

5 Ways Coaches And Experts Can Hurt Your Business

Sometimes you come across an article that you could not agree with more, this is an example of one of them.

——

Need advice? Experts, including myself, will be glad to share it. Unfortunately, experts can give very bad advice. As an expert, I need to walk a fine line here, since this article itself is an expert opinion. But hear me out.

The main problem with experts today is that everyone seems to be one.

Don’t get me wrong. We need experts. The next time my dishwasher breaks, I want an expert to fix it. And sure, if my business needs help with marketing, I want a marketing expert to help me. But you need to separate the good from the bad by watching for the following five warning signs.

1. Hasn’t been there, hasn’t done that

You want a coach or expert who has actually done what you are doing. While a coach may have training in your field, nothing can top hands-on experience. Look for a coach that has direct experience in what you need advice about.

2. Big words, little action

It is easy for an expert to gain credibility by writing. Many experts quickly dominate the blogosphere with sage advice. But the reality is that words mean nothing if you can’t execute. Look for coaches who both write about what they do and do what they write about.

3. Advice, but no specific experience

Ever ask an expert what they think about your product or service and they then tell you why it is a horrible or great idea? I don’t care if you have 100 years of consulting experience. If the expert is not the end consumer of the product or service, his advice is wrong.

The consumer knows what she wants. Listen to her.

Tip: If you want to quickly qualify an expert, ask them what they think about your offering. If they offer advice, without qualifying (or disqualifying) themselves based on their consumer experience, they’re likely giving you bad advice.

4. No coach of their own

If a coach doesn’t have his own coach, red flags should fly! It could indicate that the coach you’re hiring doesn’t believe in being coached. Or, that the coach feels she has nothing left to learn.

5. Nothing to learn from you

An expert doesn’t know all things. Being an expert means having superior knowledge and hands-on experience in one category. To apply this knowledge on your behalf, the expert must learn about your business. If they aren’t thirsty to know more about your industry or if they don’t ask for your direction, you may be getting a one-size-fits-all solution. At the end of the day, that’s not a real solution.

When you need an expert in a certain field, be discerning. You want someone who knows what they’re talking about, does what they talk about, is constantly learning and doesn’t try to solve all problems with one easy-fix solution. That expert will give you some great advice.

Author – Mike Michalowicz

The Blogger Effect

A recent article I wrote for In and Out Magazine.

Here’s a Before Internet (BI) scenario: A consumer has a problem with a business. Consumer informs owner. Owner rectifies problem or does not. Consumer decides to forgive and forget, or decides not to patronize the business ever again. It’s simple. Here’s an After Internet (AI) scenario: A consumer has a problem with a business. Consumer jumps on the keyboard and slams the establishment through blogs, forums, social networks, and consumer rating sites. There’s no face-to-face constructive criticism given to the owner/manager,  no opportunity to immediately address the customer’s complaints and possibly send the customer home feeling validated and satisfied. Condemnation over the internet leads to repercussions that will exist for an infinite amount of time. This is not so simple.

You show me a business that doesn’t screw-up now and then, and I will show you a unicorn. Stuff happens. Be realistic. I spent two decades owning a small business that was built on customer service. Anytime a customer shared a problem or bad experience with me, I felt like he had given me a gift; I had the chance to rectify the problem and improve my operation. Other, unsatisfied customers chose to leave and never return.   No gift.

They keyboard can be mightier than the sword.  It can be viewed as the modern-day, school-yard bully. At least on the playground you know who the bully is.  The internet fosters an environment that allows for anonymity and no accountability. Recently, it was my turn to choose a restaurant to dine in with friends. I was bombarded with comments from my pals: “reviews weren’t the greatest”, “service was slow”, “Joan, from Utah, said she would never eat there again.” My replies were: “Food is subjective to individual taste”, “Maybe the customer was in a super rush”, “Joan could be a competitor, ex-employee, or an ex-spouse.” We ate there, and the result was I picked another winner. My entire party had a great time. We would gladly return and recommend the restaurant to friends. Lesson learned: Take reviews with a grain of salt. Of course, I understand that there is truth and consensus on blogs, forums, and consumer rating sites. I take issue with the disgruntled customer who would rather try to destroy someone’s business than allow them an opportunity to address complaints in person or at least directly. This is what makes us humans and separates us from keyboard tyrants. I guess it’s okay if and only if that person admits that they have never made a mistake. I have seen a lot but I’ve yet to see a unicorn living in a glass house.

So be thoughtful when a business or an individual makes a mistake. Maybe you can implement a 24 hour cool down period before you pull out your keyboard and go for the kill.

Larry Vivola is a business coach. He works with entrepreneurs to help improve their business results. He can be contacted at Larry@InLineBusinessAdvisors.com

 

Posted in Business| Tagged , |

Expanding. Yippy! Looking For The Fab 5.

I’m expanding my business through a national affiliate program, and
I’m looking for five entrepreneurs across the country that might be interested
in launching their very own small business coaching firm.

I’m blessed to work with the smartest, most-hard working entrepreneurs on the planet. Their successes have inspired me to share my coaching/business philosophies with others. The ultimate goal is to help as many small businesses as possible.

So, if you know someone that might make a great business coach, please
forward them my information. Thanks in advance. I look forward
to returning the favor.

10 Things You Need To Know About Being An Entrepreneur

10 Things You Need to Know About Being an Entrepreneur

Contributed by Anne McAuley of McAuley Freelance Writing

  1. You will get a lot more done if you don’t need to sleep.
  2. Don’t get up from a video conference call unless you’re wearing bottoms.
  3. Showers are for wimps.
  4. Coffee is for closers.
  5. Yes, you really close deals in your pajamas, unshowered at 5AM.
  6. Starbucks is your office.
  7. Siestas have been incorporated into the corporate culture.
  8. There is no tattoo or dress code; you don’t need it because you’re a grown-up.
  9. Your phone won’t answer itself.
  10. The benefits outweigh the costs.

 

Good Vibes Help Business Thrive

Employees are taking it on the chin lately. They are subjected to longer hours, more responsibilities, less security―and all for reduced compensation. It’s a sad sign of the times. Employers are struggling as well. They must function with less revenue, increased expenses and more demanding consumers than ever before. What gives? Usually, it’s the employee. A common answer to an employer’s financial woes is to cut employee-related expenses in an effort to prop up the bottom line. This weak solution is like putting a Band-Aid on a wound that requires stitches. In the long run, you will be left with an ugly scar.

The most successful companies in the world treat employees better than customers. This may seem to contradict the old adage that the customer is the most important element of any business. Wrong, employees are. Often times, people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. So, why not demonstrate as much respect for employees as customers? Take employees to lunch or for coffee. Entice the staff with incentives. Cash is not always king; It’s proven that appreciation, spontaneous time off, recognition and genuine care are often better motivators than money. Happy employees make happy customers.

HP founder David Packard once said, “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” Everyone in the company has a critical role in marketing. Disgruntled employees release tension by complaining about their employers to anyone who will listen. Each employee needs to buyin to its company’s goal and mission. Passionate employees naturally promulgate a business’s vision. Treat employees poorly, and the risk of extinguishing their desire to go above and beyond is rife.

When I first moved to Anthem, I needed new tires for my car. I went to Discount Tire and experienced terrible service from a miserable employee. I swore I would never spend my money there again. Four years later, I met Ben, another employee of Discount Tire at a barbecue. I shared my horror story with him. He appeared genuinely shocked. He apologized on behalf of the company and went on to tell me how he is treated like one of the family at Discount Tire. He was emphatic that the company values its customers and employees. Ben volunteered this information; he had nothing to gain by spending 30 minutes praising his employer. This is an example of employee marketing at its best. I’ve been loyal customer of Discount Tire ever since I spoke with Ben at that barbecue.

Trust employees; They internalize practical knowledge by performing the day-to-day operations. Sam Walton is credited for jumping on his trucks and picking the brains of his drivers. He understood that his employees acquired the knowledge needed to improve business. His actions demonstrated a trust and regard for employee input. Truly caring for and treating employees with respect, regardless of their position on the corporate ladder, is an integral part of a smart business plan. Employees understand that times are tough, but implementing positive energy and working together will help a company persevere and knockout the competition.

Keep Your Crew Happy
• Work From Home Days Employees can skip the commute hassle and work in the comfort of their own home.
• Family Days Employees get bitter when they have to use a vacation day to stay with a sick child.
• Exercise Programs Arrange for a group session twice per week. You’ll get the group discount and they’ll
lose the stress and gain energy.
• Pizza Fridays Provide your group with lunch once a week. Whether its a catered affair from Our Kitchen to
Yours or a couple large pizzas, free lunch is always welcome. Or, make it a bagel breakfast to start the day right.
• Share Your Discounts Buying in bulk typically allows a business to get good prices on computers and
peripherals.
• Discounts on What You Do: Give them a discount on your company’s goods services.
• Fun and Games A dart board or a putting green in the office can help balance the stressful moments.
• Free Seminars Professionals will often speak for free (to promote themselves) on topics such as investment
planning or ways to relieve stress.
• Socialize: Holiday parties, family picnics, movie night. These are all ways to promote company unity.

What They Don’t Teach You In School

I want to share this great article by Harvey Mackay. I look forward to his weekly article in the newspaper.

As many college graduates are scrambling to find jobs, one of the most important things for graduates to understand is that you’re in school all your life. In fact, your real education is just beginning.

I’d like to pass on a few lessons, which weren’t necessarily covered in school. If you’ve been out of school for a few years—or a lot of years—this advice is still for you; consider it a refresher course.

Develop relationships and keep networking. If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. Start strengthening your relationships now, so they’ll be in place when you really need them later. In the classroom it was mostly about your individual performance. Success in real life will require relationships. Who you know determines how effectively you can apply what you know. So stay in touch.
Find advisors and mentors. Advisors will not be assigned to you, as in school. You should actively seek your own mentors. And remember, mentors change over a lifetime. Start connecting with people you respect who can help you get a leg up in each aspect of your life, personal and professional. Make it as easy and convenient as possible for them to talk with you, and always look for ways to contribute to their success, too.
Build your reputation. Nothing is more important than a good reputation in building a successful career or business. If you don’t have a positive reputation, it will be difficult to be successful. All it takes is one foolish act to destroy a reputation.
Set goals. Ask any winner what their keys to success are, and you will hear four consistent messages: vision, determination, persistence and setting goals. If you don’t set goals to determine where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? Goals give you more than a reason to get up in the morning; they are an incentive to keep you going all day. Most important, goals need to be measurable, identifiable, attainable, specific and in writing.
Get along with people. Ask recruiters from various companies to name the number one skill necessary for new hires, and many of them will say it’s the ability to get along with people. Co-workers share office space, facilities, break rooms, refrigerators and coffee pots. They arrive together, take breaks together, eat lunch together and meet to solve problems together. All this closeness and familiarity can wear thin at times. Everyone shares responsibility for making the company work, run smoothly and stay profitable

Be happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness. Don’t waste time and energy being unhappy. When people aren’t happy doing what they do, they don’t do it as well. Life will always be filled with challenges and opportunities. Both are best faced with a positive attitude.
Smile. A smile should be standard equipment for all people. I learned years ago that one of the most powerful things you can do to have influence over others is to smile at them. Everything seems much easier with a smile.
Sense of humor. I’m a firm believer in using humor—not necessarily jokes. A good sense of humor helps to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected and outlast the unbearable. There are plenty of times to be serious, but I believe that keeping things light and comfortable encourages better teamwork.
Be yourself. We all have areas that need a little work, but accepting who we are and making the most of our good points will take us much farther than trying to be someone we aren’t. Be content with your abilities and comfortable enough in your own skin to trust your gut.
Volunteer. It might be hard to do a lot of volunteer work at first, but people who help other people on a regular basis have a healthier outlook on life. They are more inclined to be go-getters and consistently report being happier. Volunteering is good for everyone.