Archive: ‘Business Growth Strategies’
My marketing strategy has served me well for many years. It requires a great deal of constant effort but it is surprisingly effective, professionally satisfying and requires only a small annual marketing budget. But despite recommending it to countless others, there have been few takers. Do you want to pound it out vs. competitors or stake out new ground? Your choice.
There are many volunteers who lend their time, attention and experience to worthy industry causes via board and committee participation. A subset of these enjoy high visibility. Fewer still position themselves as authentic and legitimate industry champions – that’s where the benefits are much greater!
Here’s how to become a local, regional or national industry champion:
- Select an industry whose members are excellent prospects for your business so that your business will thrive as you seek to deliver value
- Adopt and retain an attitude that “failure is not an option”
- Become a subject matter expert on that industry over time by staying abreast of key trends and by speaking with industry players
- The more expert you become, the more opportunities you’ll have for public speaking and writing and being approached to provide guidance
- Investigate leading trade groups to find one that would make the best platform for your efforts
- The best fit for you may not be the strongest organization but rather one with weaknesses that need fixing – be a fixer!
- Commit to helping that trade group improve its results in a high priority area making sure that you receive high visibility to members by doing so
- As you travel this journey, build relationships with valuable movers and shakers so that you will be able to not only tell prospects that you are working hard on their behalf but can introduce them to valuable new relationships
In a “what’s in it for me” world, be a Hero to others and thrive!
Too much time on your hands? Yeah right. You’re swamped, aren’t you? Wouldn’t it be great to bring down the noise a few notches and take control of your day again? Here are 3 of my all-time favorite time-management techniques distilled into just a few key points. Try them and you will be stunned at how much better things can be.
- Establish a healthy work/life balance and keep it simple:
- Schedule your work hours and stick to it!
- Automate and Delegate
- Say “no” more – do less
- Produce outcomes using operational best practices
- accumulate, prioritize, estimate time required for all potential and in-process tasks and projects in only 1 place
- build/update your production schedule frequently
- before starting an action item, determine the fastest way to accomplish it
- perform difficult work during time periods when you have the most energy
- Embrace efficiency with zest and passion
- we are human beings, not robots, after all and when we enjoy things we are far more likely to stay the course so don’t be half pregnant
- celebrate your ability to get things done faster
- have fun figuring out shortcuts that work well
- when “good enough” is called for, don’t waste your “perfection” efforts
If you’ll excuse me, I have results to produce by 5pm today. Thanks for quickly stopping by…
My favorite referrals come from clients and colleagues with whom I enjoy a mutual admiration and who know WHAT I do, WHO I specialize in helping, HOW I do it and WHY I’m a great option – Way beyond the call of duty. Few business people have a small army promoting them and I believe it’s because of a lack of understanding of how to generate these wonderfully fulfilling relationships. They think that by promoting themselves that word will get around about how great they are and that quality referrals will come flying – Strategic, Maybe Not.
I’ve found that what works far better to generate very high quality referrals is to deeply understand and be able to articulate the value of selected others well – Give and Give and Give some More. You’ll find that when you support the right people, far better results occur for you.
Here’s how to accelerate your movement down this far more satisfying and rewarding path:
- Commit to all out/pedal-to-the-metal improvement. Don’t be half pregnant!
- Identify quality companies whose offerings are closely complementary to yours and who serve the same market
- Meet with them and learn a lot about what they do and what makes them great
- Gently, in the right circumstance, demonstrate – without even saying it – what makes you great
- Actively make an effort to make good things happen for them
In the 1950s, Don and Phil Everly recorded “All I have to do is Dream.” 60 years, all you have to do is stop networking, start collaborating.
… someone who recognizes that high-paying job growth is the #1 success factor to ensure that Maryland’s economy thrives for years to come and deliver the high quality of living that we have all come to expect. We can send more kids to college but without high-paying job growth they will not be able to find quality jobs here. Even essential infrastructure spending (bridge repair) will continue to decline as cash flow to meet needs becomes a scarcer commodity.
In my view, the next Governor and his/her Administration will be well served to embrace the work of the Maryland Competitiveness Coalition led by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce (http://tinyurl.com/lng3pnt). Here are 3 of the biggest challenges we face today in Maryland:
- 1/3rd of Maryland’s economy relies on the Federal Government which is reducing work and squeezing margins out of contractors. We have disproportionately benefited from Federal dollars for decades and will continue to enjoy some benefits but cannot count on the Federal government to such a great extent going forward
- Maryland has already “exported” $7.4B of high paying jobs over the past 10 years and increased employment only through low wage gains. This is a significant erosion of not only our tax base but also impacts local consumption spending and even charitable giving
- Regional, national and global competition is bigger, stronger and getting better and will continue to make gains at our expense unless we compete more effectively. It should be no surprise that Maryland has few large corporations headquartered here and many high potential companies sell to out of state acquirers.
The high-paying jobs of the future are primarily in the innovation industries including cybersecurity, healthcare IT, big data analytics and mobile devices.
I’m excited at the thought of the next Governor of Maryland leading smart public/private initiatives to facilitate job creation where it will do the most good.
An old saying in business is that strong sales cures a lot of problems. The same is true for Maryland’s economy.
Growing sales is the only viable way forward. Thank you for listening, Governor!
You probably know that the Revolutionary War would have ended badly if not for the support of England’s archenemy, the French. But did you know that the Culper Spy ring created by George Washington 2 years after the 1776 capture and hanging of Nathan Hale was another essential element in our success? I didn’t until reading historian Alexander Rose’s remarkable book “Washington’s Spies: the Story of America’s First Spy ring.”
The outcome of many events throughout history have turned on what might appear on the surface to be relatively small factors and our Revolution is no exception. After barely surviving the battle for control of New York, Washington, a superior battlefield tactician, realized that he could not prevail head-to-head with the bigger, better British forces and needed an edge. That edge turned out to be superior intelligence. And it required only a few people to execute it.
We owe a great debt to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, Abraham Woodhull, Robert Townsend, Caleb Brewster, Austin Roe, James Rivington and a woman known only to this day as Agent 355. Using what would today be considered rudimentary spycraft methods, they endured the constant fear of likely capture while collecting, transporting and delivering information valuable to Washington.
Their accomplishments included uncovering British plans in 1780 to ambush the just-landed French army in Rhode Island in time to avert disaster and obtaining a copy of British naval signals that enabled the French fleet to outmaneuver Cornwallis and force his surrender at Yorktown VA. No other intelligence group accomplished more on either side of this war.
A story with “wow” written all over it.
When you have time to sit back and think about who you spend your time with, ask yourself “who makes you smile?” Who are the employees, customers, vendors, colleagues, mentors, mentees that provide an enjoyable experience? Chances are there are common reasons why: shared values, shared experiences, common goals and mutual respect. Sometimes people make us smile because we learn from them. That counts too.
And for those who don’t make you smile, some of these benefits are probably lacking.
Armed with this information, do these 3 things and make your business life even more rewarding:
- Spend more time with your smile team
- Spend less time with folks who don’t make the list
- Find new “smile makers” and add them to your list
I’m convinced that we experience the greatest success when we spend our time with folks we enjoy.
As you collaborate your way through the week (stop networking. Start collaborating), stay tuned for like-minded others.
Yes, you have fierce competition and have to work very hard to succeed. The good news is that you can do this surrounded by people you really enjoy.
That’s why I’m sitting here looking at my schedule for the week and can’t wait to be with each and every person listed.
Are you here for business or pleasure? Both!
Blink your eyes – 9 years have already elapsed since Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Friedman wrote about globalization and the 10 “flatteners” that are changing how business is done in his best-selling book “The World is Flat.”
Blink your eyes again – imagine its 9 years in the future and ask yourself:
- How well has my company monitored and responded to change over the past 9 years?
- What changes were inevitably coming and how well did we respond to maintain or improve our strategic advantages?
- What changes caught my business completely by surprise and required scrambling to adapt to?
In a flattening world, the margin of error is shrinking – your business can absorb fewer mistakes than 9 years ago – without serious damage.
Constant vigilance – being a real time subject matter expert on your industry, its trends, direct and indirect competition – is critical to achieve great success.
Pay closer attention because 9 years from now, you’ll be thrilling or grilling
“Good morning Vietnam!” belted out Robin Williams in the role of base radio announcer in the movie of the same name. His boss wanted him to follow strict rules of conduct but he just couldn’t help himself. The mad scientist within couldn’t hold back.
Every one of us has a mad scientist within, a conjurer with untapped abilities to contribute in bigger and better ways. Many people do not do the best job of cultivating this mad genius because they are afraid of how others will perceive them and frankly with good reason. Those who are trapped in “norms” and hardened ideas about what is and isn’t acceptable can be harsh judges of those who express new, innovative approaches.
But please, don’t be suppressed. Don’t hold back. Life is scary short. Don’t you want to bounce out of bed in the a.m. and go do something special, make a meaningful difference? Who cares if Ms. Stuffed Shirt or Mr. Know-it-all discount you, your ideas or what you are doing?
Dismiss dismissive people. Ask “how” not “why not” and persevere with your crazy notions. Don’t let others dictate your direction. Create the better world the way you want it to be.
Don’t be lulled into complacency. The world is alive with opportunities to shine and YOU can play a role in that.
Nurture the mad scientist within. The world will be a far better place for it and you will smile much more often.
- The phrase “can’t be done”
- Meetings without a specific valuable, desired outcome and the right people in the room
- Long sales cycles
- Any excuses except for death, taxes and gravity
- Losing money
- Lack of passion & purpose
- Lack of gratitude to our country and our community
- Seeing incredible windows of opportunity wasted
- People who talk at me
Please share with me YOUR favorite business allergy.
I’ve had it. I’m done. No more. Yes, you heard me. STOP networking. What, are you nuts? Isn’t networking essential to growing my business?
Re-labeling for its own sake is a waste of time. But substantive renaming that can alter perception and behavior is another matter.
I submit to you that “collaborating” is a superior concept to help you be in the right frame of mind, treat the activities of interacting with others as a pleasurable and wonderful craft that you can do with great pride and satisfaction and…. most importantly, accomplish far more.
The phrase “networking” sounds tactical and uncreative to me. How often has a friend or colleague said “I have to go network.” Why not just swallow some cod liver oil and be done with it.
The phrase “collaborating” sounds active, intelligent, purposeful and alive. Here are some thoughts about how to collaborate at events:
Help create community that is bigger than yourself and be a hero
- Be a giver who is helping strengthen the business eco-system by setting a great example
- You win when the pie gets bigger and if you helped make it bigger, you are a hero
- Of course you want to grow your business and ironically, it will happen better and faster if you are perceived as one who is generous, supportive and giving
How to collaborate at an event with folks you already know
- Socialize – this is a long-term journey not a sprint- do you know anything about their spouse, children, hobbies etc?
- Ask them to refresh your memory on their goals and who they want to meet. Offer to help if you can and then follow through.
- Tell them something you are doing that you are very jazzed about, perhaps have accomplished. It’s fine to let people know what you are looking for and who you’d like to meet but be gentle. The best way to ask for help is to first help that person first.
How to begin collaborating with folks you are just meeting at an event
- Socialize – show an honest, true interest and look to them for cues
- Ask them about themselves and their business… and listen deeply and take notes later to help you remember
- Tell them a little bit about what you and your business. It’s fine to look for cues that they want to know more but if there aren’t any, don’t push it. Again, if you can be helpful say so and do so but don’t offer to help if you can’t and don’t rush it. Let the relationship grow.
So, get out there and collaborate…. it’s a craft not punishment….. and prosper!