Are You Serious about Being in Business? Here’s How to Find Out . . .

A while back, I was one of the featured speakers at a conference for small business owners and one of the other speakers offered a list of things that all business owners must have in place in order to truly be in business and position themselves for success.  The speaker said, “If you don’t have all these things in place, you’re not really in business!”

This really stuck with me because there is a lot of validity to it.  With all the responsibilities of being a business owner, sometimes circumstances can get over whelming and some of the key things that should be in place to truly be in business tend to get pushed aside for “when there’s more time” (which will never happen) or get forgotten. 

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Below is the list given by the speaker.  These are the things which all serious business owners must have in place in order to truly be in business and position themselves for success:

  1. I have business cards for myself and my team.
  2. I have a distinct phone line specifically for my business.
  3. I have a registered domain.
  4. I have a current website.
  5. I have an e-mail that corresponds with my business domain.
  6. I have a dedicated office or business space (even if it is home-based).
  7. I know what my target market is.
  8. I have a contact database system in place to communicate with my prospects.

As obvious as this list seems, half the participants at that conference did not meet all the requirements. I spoke to the same group of people again during another event, however, and I’m pleased to report that virtually all of the participants this time around met the above requirements (and more).

So here’s my question for you . . . Are YOU truly serious about being in business?  For those of you who can answer ‘yes’ to that question, what would you add to this list, if anything?  I’d love to hear your thoughts–please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Who’s In Your Room? – A Personal Story

A few years ago my company was in the midst of one of the largest projects in the history of our organization.  The project involved many people—it was very complex and financially challenging.  It was also in trouble.  I needed to select a key player for the project team.  The man I chose had incredibly strong technical skills.  He was very qualified for the project and was the perfect person to help turn this around . . . or so I thought.  I knew he came with a lot of baggage.  He didn’t always play well with others, he would fly off the handle emotionally when talking to people and, worst of all, he brought an immense amount of drama to the workplace.  On the other hand he was highly qualified for the work. Based on those qualifications, I hired him as manager. I suspected there would be problems with the drama and the outbursts – however, I felt I could coach him and guide him through this.

It turns out I was wrong.  Monumentally wrong. 

Despite his incredible technical skills, his behavior more than offset his technical strengths.  The project went from problematic to horrific within a year.  It was way over budget, well behind schedule, and not nearly the quality that I expected.   Around this time, one of the project team members told me that the best thing the project manager could do for a meeting was to call in sick!  The team member said when the manager was not there they got a lot more done.

Right about that time, I attended a presentation that Stewart Emery did where he talked about the concept of “Who’s in Your Room?”.  I walked out of that presentation and decided right then and there that this project leader should have never been in my room.  I also realized that getting him out of the room was going to be very difficult.  Why?  Because he kept everything close to the vest.  Most of the people in the project didn’t understand or know many of the aspects of the work, because this project leader didn’t collaborate or share information freely.  I understood that removing him from the room was going to be difficult and painful.  But I was clear on the reality that it had to be done.

It ended up taking months to lay the ground work with everyone on the team by me personally engaging them in pieces of the project they needed to know but weren’t privy to with this manager.  I had to drop many of my normal responsibilities and devote an immense amount of time to this process.  I promoted some people and moved others around.  When all was ready, I made the move and let go of the project leader.  There was an immediate and palpable change in the project.  Today it has made incredible strides, and it is becoming exactly the product that I was hoping for and it is something I am proud of as an entrepreneur.

The lesson I learned in this very expensive and very stressful process was this: be very selective about who you let in your room.  Don’t allow people in just because of their technical skills.  I want a work environment that is a “drama-free” zone and I pick people for my organization who I want in my room.  I now try to select qualified people who fit the organizational culture of collaboration, people who share information and knowledge and people who don’t bring to the process an Emmy Award winning soap opera of behaviors.

Have you experienced this phenomenon?  If so, please tell us about it in the comment forum below and, also, please share any thoughts you have on Stewart’s Who’s in Your Room concept. Thanks!

Who Are You Surrounding Yourself With?

A significant challenge for business owners who have stepped out of the world of corporate support and started their own enterprise is that they become worried and scared to take chances on their own.  In this short video, I speak with Dubai, UAE Referral Institute® franchisee Phil Bedford about success and the importance of the people business owners surround themselves with.

Jim Rohn has said that people are the sum of the five people they are around most and Phil has a related piece of key advice for business owners:

“Surround yourself with highly motivated, passionate people (who) want to help you succeed.”

So, who do you surround yourself with?  After watching this video, are you going to make it a point to seek out individuals who are more successful than you are, even if they initially intimidate you?  Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts about the video and what kind of efforts, if any, you’re going to make to surround yourself with those who will influence you and your business positively.

Thanks for watching!

Taking Charge

The best word-of-mouth programs I’ve seen happen by design, not by accident or wishful thinking. Unfortunately, many businesspeople view word of mouth somewhat like the weather: “Sure it’s important, but what can I do about it?”

Based on more than two decades of research, observation, and practical experience, I’ve found that in addition to focusing on the important issue of customer service, the average businessperson has much to do in order to build a referral business.  Word of mouth can be planned and nurtured.  Anyone, including business owners, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, staff employees, even individuals serving in a volunteer capacity in any field, can accomplish plenty with a well-structured and systematically executed word-of-mouth plan.

All too often I have seen businesspeople waiting for business to walk through the door. They think because they are good at what they do, people should be flocking to them.  I’m afraid the truth is, it doesn’t work that way!  You have to take charge, no matter what business you’re in or how good you are, and bring the business to you.

I once saw a cartoon strip of two large, ravenous-looking vultures perched on a tree limb, overlooking a dry desert plain.  After quite a while, one vulture turns to the other and says, “Wait for something to die?  Heck, let’s kill something!”  So it is with word-of-mouth marketing.  You can’t simply wait for people to come to you.  If you do, one of your competitors who also provides good customer service will most likely find them before they show up at your doorstep.

If you want to succeed, you have to go get your business, or better yet, have someone else get it for you through referrals.

Successful Businesses Need an Edge

It’s no secret that the economy goes through cycles. Each time it takes a downturn, unfortunately, salespeople, business owners and professional service providers feel the fallout.

Data released by various sources, including the SBA and American Entrepreneurs Association, reveal that more than 50 percent of all businesses close their doors within their first seven years. During a recession, the rate of business failure rises more dramatically. Not included in the statistic cited above are the departments, plants or whole divisions closed by large corporations when times are tough. In today’s ever-changing business environment, if you want to be successful, you need to have an edge over your competition.

Most businesses rely on advertising in one or more ways to try to get an edge. However, if you offer the same products or services through the same means to the same targets as your competitors, it’s difficult to achieve an edge. This means you need to be very creative in order to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Creativity in marketing your business has become a basic tenet for today’s successful company or professional practice. Here’s a great story of how one business exemplified creativity at its finest in order to gain an edge:

Three store owners shared adjacent storefronts in the same building.  Times were tough. In hopes of picking up sales, the store owner at one end of the building put a sign over his front entrance that said, “YEAR-END CLEARANCE!!!”  At the other end of the building, a second owner responded with his own sign: “ANNUAL CLOSE-OUT.”

The store owner in the middle knew that he had to act fast or he’d lose a lot of business. After careful consideration, he hung a larger sign over his front door that read, “MAIN ENTRANCE.”

The moral of this story: You can’t control the economy. You can’t control your competition. But you can control your response to the economy. And you can control your response to your competition.

If you have a great example of how you’ve used creativity to get an edge over your competition, I invite you to share it in the comment section. Your story could be just the encouragement other business owners need to get their imaginations in gear!


Using the Power of Networking to Go Global

We now live in a fully global society, and referral networking has become a prominent marketing strategy in this global society for one reason: It works. The idea of growing your business through word-of-mouth marketing is a concept that crosses cultural, ethnic and political boundaries because we all speak the language of referrals, and we all want to do business based on trust.

Referral networking is a cost-effective way to get in front of new clients worldwide, and it’s a much better way to keep a business prosperous over the long term (because it’s built on mutually beneficial relationships between you and your fellow business owners). Referral networking is powered by the oldest and most enduring principle of human society–Givers Gain–the idea that the good you do will eventually come back to you in one form or another.

Earlier this year I did a live telebridge interview with my colleague Paul Martinelli on the topic “Going Global via the Power of Networking,” and we had more than 500 people call in from all over the world. To me, this truly demonstrates the worldwide interest there is in global business building through networking, and it’s a testament to the fact that networking will only become more vital to business success in modern times.

If you’d like to get in-depth advice on how to use the power of networking to go global with your business, you can Click here to get free access to the recording of the interview I did with Paul Martinelli on the subject.

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