Shiny New Objects!

New ideas are an essential part of growing your business.  Innovation is what many companies want and need.  We are constantly on the lookout for the newest technology, newest products, newest tools, and anything that might just keep us one step ahead of our competitors. New ideas will help drive sales. innovation will improve your market position.  You keep coming up with new ideas, new procedures, and new ways to do things to make your team more efficient and your customer even happier. Sounds like a great way to do business, right? Well, it is a double edged sword.  New ideas are great for business, but too many ideas, too fast, can actually consume your business and kill it from the inside out. Consider which ideas are truly game changers, which ideas can be implemented effectively, which ideas you will reap the most benefits….then pick the one you want to focus on and do it well.  Jot your ideas down, but don’t get distracted by the next shiny new object until you have done well with the task at hand. YOUR CHALLENGE….look at your list of ideas and shiny new objects, and evaluate what you can do to implement your top idea.

Got Culture?

When you are in business for yourself, you get to set the culture – you set the tone and you create the type of business that you want to be a part of and that is ultimately attractive to customers and employees.  Although owning your own culture can be a huge advantage, it can also be very tricky – you need to know how to do it and how to do it right. Studies have shown that businesses that center their culture on improving people’s lives had a growth rate triple that of competitors in similar industries.  Here are a few proven ways to get you started on building a great culture. Know what you stand for. Your personal values and priorities are reflected in the culture.  Regularly engage with team members, customers and suppliers in keeping your values in the forefront.  People are watching what you do, so walk the walk, demonstrate the values. Communicate your vision, than make it so. Mission statements should be outward focused and address a higher purpose, beyond the company’s financial statements. Implement the right team and empower them. Plan what your organization needs to be capable of and how you will build your competitive advantage.  Get the help you need, hire people that are smarter than you are, dictate tasks, yet stay very connected to the decision making in the business.  React quickly to correct any team member issues. Stay on the leading edge. Remain in the forefront of great customer service, operational excellence, and better business models.  Seek ways to engage with your customers in fulfilling needs that they didn’t even know existed, to do even more than what is expected. Create a culture of excellence. Let your team know every chance you get, what is expected of them and the high standards that your business stands for.  Give your team the opportunity to step up to the challenge and respond so your customers will notice. Coach at every opportunity. Every interaction, every circumstance can be an opportunity to teach, train and keep your team focused on delivering the best possible outcome.  Great leaders and great companies have a culture rooted in training and improving their teams. Create an atmosphere of fun. All work and no play makes for a dull workplace – make sure you include some fun in the business.  Look for appropriate places to interject some fun activities, contests or events into the workplace.  Teach your team and your customer to expect that doing business can also be fun. Creating the right culture for your business doesn’t require a fanatical approach, but it does require that you approach building a culture with purpose and deliberation.  Take this effort very seriously, have some fun with it – and enjoy your workplace. YOUR CHALLENGE:  Put your culture into writing.  Then rate your company performance against your cultural ideals, look for any gaps and put a plan in place to make course corrections.  

What is your Purpose?

Purpose is having clarity and mastery over the direction you are driving your life and your business. Are you clear on how you are delivering on your purpose? Do you know what you want? It may be the same thing you wanted at the onset of your business, it may have evolved as you explored what could be possible.  When you have a compelling purpose it penetrates who you do business with, how you do business, and why others do business with you. First, who you do business with? If your purpose involves providing peace of mind, managing risk, or helping others – get clarity on what types of individuals or businesses align to your purpose and are in your demographic.  Once you have clarity – be specific. Second, how you do business?  Does your purpose lend itself to very personal relationships, does it focus on convenience for your customer, is it about simplicity? Whatever your purpose it should align to how you interact with your prospects and customers. And finally, your purpose can serve as a magnet for why others do business with you.  When others are drawn to your approach, your philosophy, and your purpose, it penetrates your interactions – others want to be around you, human beings are naturally attracted to serving a great purpose. YOUR CHALLENGE: reconnect with your purpose and make it a noticeable part of how you do business.  

Super Size Your Marketing

Marketing is the action of promoting interest in good or services for the purposes of selling.  If you are looking for some ways to reinvigorate your marketing efforts – here are a few ideas. Be Present. People do business with people they know and like, so build your network, extend your reach.  Attend events, join community organizations.  Be seen frequently.  Make the personal connections, don’t rely solely on email or online presence. Get Listed — Free. It would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of free listings online.  Be sure to set up your free business pages in Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp and others.  Include as much as you can about your products and services, hours of operation, specials, even add photos or offer specials. It’s a key, free way to market on mobile devices and Web search engines. Focus on the Top 10. Make a list of your top 10 prospects or referral sources and keep it visible.  Put the list on your desk, your mobile phone, or use it as the “wallpaper” on your computer.  Contact each of these key income-generators at least once a month. Know Your Brand. Be clear in your branding.  Make sure it conveys who you are – then use it consistently on everything, your website, business cards, packaging, newsletters, marketing materials, invoices. If possible, give your brand some zip and personality that makes it memorable. Talk Value. Let people know what they get, not what you do.  Keep your marketing materials and messages, focused on the benefits the buyer receives – of course, customers compare features and services, so you’ll need to include those. But always emphasize the benefits those features bring. Stay in Touch.  An e-mail newsletter or e-blast can be an effective and inexpensive ways to regularly stay in front of customers, prospects, and referral sources. Make sure your newsletter provides some value for the recipient, such as useful information, details on discounts or a special offer. Online Visibility. Be proactive about your online presence.  Make sure you have a website that promotes your business and is mobile friendly.  Learn about social media. If you sell to consumers, get a Facebook page if you are selling business to business than leverage your Linked In connections.  Actively monitor your reviews on Yelp and other review sites, encourage your customers to post reviews. Tracking Connections. Keep yourself organized by using a contact management system.  Track details of past and current customers, prospects, referral sources, and more. This data is an invaluable business asset — use it for staying in touch, making sales calls, announcing new products or sales and more. There are endless ways to get in front of your potential customers and stay in touch with current customers. YOUR CHALLENGE:  Build a marketing strategy for your business and track your activities and your results.