entrepreneurs Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Vitality + Health = Greater Success in Business

As this is a blog about business and networking, you may be wondering why some of my recent blogs have seemed to have a fairly apparent focus on health.  I think the video I’m sharing with you today should answer that question for those of you who may wondering.  Over the past couple of years, I have indeed become quite an advocate of the importance of health in regard to achieving success and there is good reason behind that.

In this short video, I talk with my good friend Lise Janelle, renowned success coach for companies & entrepreneurs across the world, about the role that vitality and health play in achieving ultimate productivity and success in business.

Lise offers three keys to achieving vitality and explains why it is important not only for business owners, but also for all of their employees, to focus on staying healthy and engaged in order for any given business to truly thrive.

After watching the video, if you’d like to find out more about Lise Janelle and how she helps businesses and people alike to achieve their full potential, please visit www.HeartAtWorkInstitute.com.

To find out more about the book I mention in the video, The Misner Plan: How We Healed Cancer Naturally with Food, Nutrition, and Healthy Living , please click here.  If you’d like to learn more about the Misner Plan, please visit www.MisnerPlan.com.

Do you have certain habits and/or tactics you employ to stay healthy?  Do you  have specific ways of making sure you stay connected to your core values?  I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts on this and, also, if you have questions pertaining to this topic, I highly encourage you to ask them!  I am more than happy to do a future blog addressing your questions and to consult with Lise about them in order to get you the best answers possible.

 

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!

Want to Earn More? You Need to Learn More…

It used to surprise me when I heard statistics such as this: 50% of all businesses fail in their first three years.  Now that I’ve been in business for several decades and have seen many entrepreneurs come and go, I’m more surprised that 50% of businesses actually make it past the first three years!

Maybe I’m being a tad harsh . . . but not much.  One thing I’ve learned is that most successful entrepreneurs embrace and engage in a culture of learning in order to excel.  Personal and professional self development is an ongoing journey–not a destination.  It’s always a work in progress.  Often, businesspeople get so caught up working “in” their business that they forget to spend time working “on” their business.  Part of working “on” a business is one’s professional development.

Most entrepreneurs only pay lip service to education (okay, maybe not you since you’re actually taking the time to read a blog post about business but I’m talking about the average entrepreneur).  Ask a number of entrepreneurs and businesspeople if they would be willing to attend a seminar on building their business and three quarters of them will say yes.  However, if you proceed to tell them that the seminar is four weeks from tomorrow at 7 p.m., only a handful of those who initially agreed they would go will actually sign up.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.  An investment in knowledge always pays the highest return.”

With that in mind, here’s an action item that will help get you started on the path to immersing and engaging in a culture of learning:

Look at your financials (or checkbook, or credit card statements) for the past year.  Have you invested money into any type of ongoing business education?  If you aren’t “emptying some of your purse into your head,” take a few minutes to think about what you want to learn to help you build your business and then sign up for something this week.

Remember, if you want to earn more, you need to learn more (and reading this blog from time to time won’t hurt either)!

Lastly, share with us something that someone once taught you (something from books and seminars are OK) that helped you in some important way.


How Do Cultural Differences Play into Global Networking?

Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society.  Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another.  When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.

When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important.  Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are.  When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking.  When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.

Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries.  Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.”  I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.

Be sure to come back next week where I’ll be sharing some valuable tips I’ve picked up about doing business and networking within the Asian market.  In the meantime, if you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section.  You never know who you could be helping!

 

How’s Business For You in 2011?

BNIBusinessIndex.com has had a facelift.  Check out the new site.

This is a website that gauges the pulse of entrepreneurs from all around the world through a very simple quarterly survey.  If you have a few minutes, look at the site and take the current survey.  It only takes a couple minutes (really)!

To take the current survey, CLICK HERE.  Note – you can get a FREE copy of one of my books (some rules apply) by taking the survey.

When you check out the site, please leave a comment here about what you think of the results from last quarter and how you think the results for this quarter might change from last quarter’s results.

Recognizing ‘Innovativity’

This is the final guest blog in the three-part series featuring Frank DeRaffele’s article, “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity.'” To read the beginning and the middle of the article, please CLICK HERE for Part 1 and CLICK HERE for Part 2.

“Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank J. DeRaffele Jr. ( . . . Continued)

Recognizing ‘Innovativity’

Innovation in our businesses is extremely important. New ideas help us to run our businesses more efficiently, market more effectively, sell with greater success, satisfy customers at higher levels and lead us to greater overall results–if we have a method to put them in place and the discipline to follow through with them.  Innovation gives us competitive advantage in many cases.  We just need to make sure we are not being deceived; we need to understand how to recognize the difference between Innovation and its evil twin, Creativity.

Quick steps to recognize  ‘Innovativity’ over Creativity in a great new idea:

1. Know what your current problem is and what you want as the end result in solving that problem.

2. Confirm that your new idea will help solve that problem DIRECTLY.  Don’t justify that it is a distant cause and effect relationship (e.g., “If I bring in a new target market they will buy more and I will increase my average dollar transaction.” — This simply justifies a non-direct creative idea).

3. It can be executed simply.  The best solutions usually are not complex.  Many times, the most complex problems have simple solutions.  As a Small Business Entrepreneur (SBE), it is rare that you have a complex problem.  It may be inconvenient, bad timing, a pain, or unexpected, but rarely so complex that it takes a complex solution.  Most very effective innovations are simple solutions.

My last words of advice on this topic: Don’t stop being creative!  Always be creative, just know how to use your creativity in the most effective and profitable manner.  Make your creativity spark your innovations so you may continue to build a very profitable and sustaining business.

This wraps up the final part of Frank’s article, “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” and I hope you have all found it to be as enjoyable and beneficial as I found it to be.  Any comments you leave about the article, I’ll be sure to pass on to Frank so please don’t be shy–tell us what you think!

Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity’

My friend Frank DeRaffele Jr., whom is also one of the co-authors of my upcoming book Business Networking and Sex, shared with me a great article he recently wrote called “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” and I’d like to share it with all of you who read this blog.

Frank makes some very interesting points about the importance of balancing creativity and innovation in regard to small business and I think small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere will benefit from reading this article.  Since the article is quite lengthy, I’m going to divide it into a few different guest blogs so, if you like what you read in the remainder of this blog entry, be sure to stay tuned for the follow up guest blogs featuring Frank’s article.

“Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank J. DeRaffele Jr.

As Small Business Entrepreneurs (SBEs), one of our greatest strengths is our creativity.  Coming up with new ideas . . . ALL THE TIME.  However, one of our greatest weaknesses is our creativity.  Coming up with new ideas . . . ALL THE TIME.  For most of us, we have too many ideas, too often.  Oh, the paradox!  We tend to like the new idea, the new concept, the new Ah-ha!  The problem with this creativity and these great ideas is that we tend to be great out of the gate but lose power on the follow through.  I am not saying that we should not be creative.  I am not saying that creativity is a bad thing.  I AM saying that creativity can be a time stealer, distraction, justification, and crutch.

Ninja vs. Samurai

Most of us SBEs love the freedom that we have to come up with new ideas and then implement them as quickly or as slowly as we like.  We love the fact that if and when we get bored with this new idea or we feel it is not panning out as we hoped, we can just drop it and move on.  After all, we have no one to answer to.  “I can do what I want, when I want to, and no one can tell me otherwise” we think to ourselves.  This is true.  Very true.  In fact, TOO TRUE.  This freedom we have ends up becoming our Profitability Ninja.  This Ninja disguises himself as strength and confidence, happiness and joy.  Yet, behind his mask is the true assassin.  The Ninja who will kill our profits.  He begins to steal our profits and we don’t notice it.  We may not notice it for weeks, months, or years.  We mostly don’t notice it because either he is too close to us or we just refuse to see him.

This Ninja steals by keeping us focused on new projects that really haven’t been well thought out.  Investing time, energy, man hours, relationships, and money, with little to no return.  This is when the Dark Ninja turns into the Red Ninja.  We are metaphorically bleeding.  We are now going from profitability to loss (Black Ink to Red Ink).

So how do we save ourselves from this Ninja?  Enter the Samurai of Innovation . . .

Come back next week to read more of Frank’s article and learn about the “Samurai of Innovation.” In the meantime, if you have any comments to share about this first article installment, please feel free to share them here.

Sick of Politics and Power Trips?—You Might Be an Entrepreneur

BNIBusinessIndex.com has released its worldwide business survey findings for the first quarter of 2011.  Almost 1,500 business people participated in the survey—people from every populated continent around the world—and the results (see graph on the right)  indicate that, overall, the global economic state is improving.  69.4% of the respondents for the first quarter of 2011 feel that business is growing or growing substantially (compared to this time last year).  This number has increased since the prior BNI Business Index Survey which was conducted during the last quarter of 2010—respondents to this same question at that time weighed in at 67.8%.

Furthermore, half of all business people who took the survey (see the pie chart below) for the first quarter of 2011 (50.2%) said that they would, or possibly would, be hiring people over the next few months.  The retail sector (not shown here) responded with a strong 61.2% to this same question.  This is definitely good news for the global economy and certainly a move in the right direction for the recovery.

What was most interesting in this survey however, were the hundreds of comments offered up by business people and entrepreneurs around the world.

I’ve broken these comments down into six primary categories:

  1. Government Regulation
  2. Changing Target Markets
  3. The Credit Crunch
  4. The Yo-Yo Effect
  5. Natural Disasters
  6. Creative Responses

Government Regulation
Frustration relating to government regulation was adamantly expressed by many respondents and this topic was commented on by more people than almost any other.  A particular comment from one of the survey respondents summed up the frustration best.  This business owner said, “I’m tired of politics and power trips!”

This type of frustration was mirrored by many individuals who complained forcefully about “tax increases killing business . . . serious government intervention . . . the loss of tax credits . . .  mismanagement of government programs . . . and serious regulation.” It’s significant to note that these complaints were not limited to simply one or two parts of the world; on the contrary, these comments were echoed by entrepreneurs based on virtually every continent.  Business owners everywhere unanimously expressed great frustration with taxes and government intervention.

Changing Target Markets
The need to change one’s focus in the marketplace is another theme that cropped up in the recent survey responses.  As one respondent put it, “I’ve changed my target market to one that has both a greater need and a willingness to do something differently.”

Another entrepreneur said, “(Although) business is growing, the comfort zone of (keeping) a client has been lost.  There is a feel of uncertainty for business in the next quarter. The style with which the world does business is changing fast.”

This respondent went on to describe how some businesses are tweaking their target market in order to add on new “market segments” for additional revenue streams.

The Credit Crunch
Many observations were made about the credit crunch.  One was a complaint that seriously resonated with me.  The respondent stated, “I have great credit but Amex has still dropped my credit line by more than 50% in the last two years!!! It’s hard to run a business without a proper credit line.”

Another business owner said, “(There are) still not enough cash reserves or (enough financing) from banks” to support the business.  One individual put this a little differently, stating: “This is just another (line) in the chorus of ‘it is really hard to get loans.’ We tried to get a business loan and got rejected despite great credit because of our lack of a track record. We are only three years in business and were not considered a good risk. Instead, we are taking out a personal loan and will be lending the money back to the business ourselves. Strange but true.”

The Yo-Yo Effect
Many entrepreneurs spoke of the Yo-Yo like market place—business starts looking up and then things slow down.  Things start to go up again, only to fall back down the following month.

One person said their “billable hours more than doubled late last year” only to see them drop during the first quarter.  They went on to say that things are moving upwards again.

Another respondent said, “The adjustments and contractions are still occurring and it has naturally forced many of us to change and adapt. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Natural Disasters
The long series of natural disasters have been a big issue mentioned by many entrepreneurs.  In North America, one person lamented, “My area has been getting pounded with snow, more snow, sleet, and freezing rain which has certainly had an impact on store traffic.”

A survey participant from New Zealand said, “Business here is incredibly tough, particularly since the earthquake – everyone is traumatised and there is a ripple effect through to all corners of the country. However, we are a resilient bunch, and there is an amazing ‘can do’ culture here- so we will overcome this tragedy.”

Many people from Australia wrote about the flooding in Queensland and challenges created because of weather in the country that has dramatically impacted their business.   One respondent stated that the natural disasters in the country have made “people much more reluctant to spend money on services that they perceive aren’t absolutely necessary.”

Creative Responses
Despite the obvious anxiety that exists, many entrepreneurs were hopeful.  People said: “There is greater optimism out there, it is noticeable with clients and prospects . . . since I’ve spent much more time networking I’ve felt the results more than double.” One person said, “I am on track to match last year’s revenue in the first quarter of this year!!!”

Another individual stated, “Consumers are willing to start spending more . . .” He went on to say that he has really focused on building a stronger referral-based business.  He said, “What was good enough three years ago is not good enough today.  This recession has motivated me to get better.”

The following statement from one particular respondent sums up the situation well: “I believe that it is important to not get caught up in what you are being fed. That doesn’t mean hiding your head in the sand, but not getting caught in the hype. Things are always changing, so stop and think how you can be a part of it. Reinvent yourself if you can, or think outside the box. Refusing to participate in the recession and looking to where you can grow are important strategies. If you don’t get caught in the negative (aspects) of change, sometimes you can see opportunity.”

Despite some of the written responses expressing negative perceptions of the economy, the survey results are promising.  With 69% of the respondents saying that business is better today than a year ago, things definitely appear to be moving in the right direction.   Now, if only the government and the environment would cooperate!

What are your thoughts about the results of this survey???

Also – take the 2nd Quarter 2011 BNI Business Index Survey Here.

___________________________________________

Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are based on survey results from BNIBusinessIndex.com.  The data, information, opinions, and comments documented here are not necessarily the views of BNI, its franchisees, members, or this author.

Business Networking “Coaching” Videos

One thing most businesspeople and entrepreneurs have in common is that they’re usually very busy and tend to have little time to spare. Their busy schedules often create challenges when it comes to making time to educate themselves on building valuable business skills such as networking.

This is why Entrepreneur.com has created the Coaches Corner, a highly convenient educational resource offering extremely brief educational videos on topics like networking, social media, marketing, starting out, managing employees, funding, and business planning.

The majority of the videos are under three minutes long and packed with helpful tips from experts whom Entrepreneur.com refers to as “some of the brightest minds in the biz.”

I’m honored to say that they’ve asked me to participate in this project and I’ve recorded a number of powerful educational videos on networking including:

Check out these videos for quick, instantly usable tips on networking and feel free to share the links with all those in your network!

Let me know what you think here on my blog.

Calling All Business People!–Help Define the Current State of the Global Business Economy

Last month I announced that my company recently created a “business index” to consistently gauge the ever-changing economic state of business based on quarterly global survey results of retailers, service companies, and manufacturing companies all around the world.

The statistics gathered from the survey results are intended to keep small business owners, entrepreneurs, and companies, as well as the media and the general public, educated and informed as to the changing state of the global business economy and the current business trends that become apparent over time.

The first BNIBusinessIndex.com report was published last month and, based on survey results gathered from the participation of over 5,000 businesses across the globe, the report reveals important, accurate evidence that the global economy is improving (click here for full details on that report).

The next worldwide report will be published in April and it will be based on results from a new survey which is currently being conducted on BNIBusinessIndex.comI encourage all readers of this blog to take a few quick moments to answer the four simple questions in the current survey. Your participation will play a very important part in obtaining an accurate assessment of the state of business around the world–as I often say, you may not make a world of difference but you can make a difference in the world.  So, please, take this opportunity to stand up and make your voice count.  Your input will truly help to define the current state of the global economy, information which serves as a valuable resource to businesspeople in every part of the world.

Please click here to take the current survey now.

I extend my sincerest gratitude to all of you who take the time to participate in this important project.  On behalf of businesspeople and entrepreneurs everywhere, myself included, we are extremely grateful to you for your invaluable input.

The "Friendly Skies" Are Back

Long lines, deteriorating service, flight attendants grabbing a beer and pulling the emergency exit handle to slide out onto the tarmac are part of our vision of airlines these days.

However, I had an experience last week that was truly amazing in this day and age.

My wife and I were flying on United from LAX to New Orleans for a business conference.  Before we were about to land, Rebecca, the flight attendant, handed me a business card from the Captain.  His name is Patrick Fletcher.  On the back of Captain Fletcher’s card was a handwritten note that said:

Flight 139, January 19, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Misner,

It’s great to have you both with us today – Welcome!  I hope you have a great visit to New Orleans – we really appreciate your business!

Sincerely,

Pat Fletcher

Rebecca (who was a great flight attendant, by the way), told me the Captain wrote these notes to everyone who was a member of their premier level frequent flier club as well as all the 1st class passengers.  On this day, that was around 12 people.   She said he is great to fly with because he really treats the passengers AND the crew very well, mentioning that he had brought scones to all of them that morning.

I fly A LOT.  In the last 20 years, I’ve probably traveled on over 800 flights all around the world.  In that time, I’ve never received a personal note from the Captain.

Entrepreneurs and major corporations alike can learn from this story.  Personal service that goes above and beyond the call of duty, can generate great word of mouth.

Captain Fletcher – my hat’s off to you.  Well done.  I think this is a great example of how one person in a really large company can make a difference in a customer’s attitude.  Your note was creative and appreciated.  I hope to be flying with you again.

In the comments section below, please share with me a great customer service experience you have had and how it has impacted your conversation about that company with others.

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.

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