Does size matter? The advantage of being a small firm in an emerging market

Posted by the7stages on August 19, 2015
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The international economy encourages a wider distribution of goods between continents. An emerging market is an economy that has not yet developed at the same level as those in the first world.

CEO’s and top management teams of large corporations, particularly in North America, Europe, and Japan, acknowledge that globalization is the most critical challenge they face today. Most companies have stuck to the strategies they’ve traditionally deployed, which emphasize standardized approaches to new markets while sometimes experimenting with a few local twists. As a result, many multinational corporations are struggling to develop successful strategies in emerging markets. Many small businesses invest time and capital to take advantage of business opportunities in emerging markets in countries across the world.

The people who live in an emerging market, however, still have plenty of labor to offer and a need for the goods you sell, resulting in some big advantages for companies that establish outposts in these countries.

Deloitte, a worldwide financial firm, notes that companies in emerging economies must expand capacity and capability. As large companies build power plants, roads and dams, small businesses step in to provide the locals with the goods and services they need. As the region’s economy develops, the small businesses that open up shop earlier may have a better chance at building lasting relationships with customers.

The greatest success in emerging markets doesn’t come from simply establishing a sales office and selling their existing products and services. Instead, it are the special requirements of customers in each emerging market and the designed offerings to meet their needs at market appropriate prices that are key success factors. Another key ingredient in success is to establish company-owned production, service, distribution, R&D and other operations in emerging markets to become closer to customers and part of the local business community.

Executives see the greatest opportunities and strategies in the following:

  • Opportunities remain in the BRIC (minus Russia). Among 10 leading emerging markets, executives surveyed were most likely to expect revenue increases of 25 percent or more over the next three years in Brazil, India and China.
  • Bigger is better. According to respondents whose companies had revenues of $5 billion or greater—those larger companies were more likely to have exceeded their sales revenue goals in emerging markets over the last three years, while small companies (less than $500 million in revenue) were the least likely to have done so.
  • Go local. Companies that had company-owned operations in at least five of six major emerging markets were much more likely to have exceeded their revenue goals. In addition, some successful strategies were using local sales/service centers, employing company-owned sales and distribution and employing a company-owned supply chain. Local operations may provide advantages such as greater knowledge of customer needs and buying habits, greater brand awareness in the market and more experience in navigating government approvals and procedures.
  • Know your customer. Designing products specifically for customers in the local market and offering a different value proposition were considered as among the most successful strategies. When it came to challenges identified by survey participants, one of the top challenges in five of the six emerging markets studied was to provide products/services that meet customer needs at prices they can afford.

Small and mid-sized companies enter foreign markets with less overhead, flatter hierarchies and a more entrepreneurial approach to the market, says Ken Esch, a partner in Price Waterhouse Coopers’ private company services practice in Chicago. “They are more agile than larger firms,” he says. “They have the flexibility to try new products quickly, and if they don’t work, they can move on to something else.” Indeed, smaller firms must leverage these strengths as the race to set up shop in foreign markets heats up. According to a 2011 Price Waterhouse Coopers survey of 236 executives in the US, 51% of private companies plan on expanding overseas in the next one to two years, and 48% already have a global presence. Among these firms, 74% are focused on fast-growing emerging markets.

“There is a tremendous amount of commerce that is taking place among emerging markets,” said Broadman. “In 1970, South-South trade was about seven percent of world trade. Today, it is 20 percent of world trade.”

Additional readings: Competing with Giants: Survival Strategies for Local Companies in Emerging Markets

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Ways Companies Can Encourage Smart Risk Taking

Posted by the7stages on July 14, 2015
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There are two main types of risk. There’s the classic “let’s just go for it” risk that entrepreneurs take to build a new business (many of which fail). And then there’s constant risk, where entrepreneurs make small process changes but don’t bet the company on it.

Companies that haven’t embedded either form of risk into their core processes are likely dead. The world is changing too fast without constantly updating processes to stay relevant for long. Just ask Blockbuster.

Mark Zuckerberg agreed, noting, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” Constant experimentation and process iteration are now the only ways to reduce risk.

There’s the classic “let’s just go for it” risk that entrepreneurs take to build a new business (many of which fail). And then there’s constant risk, where entrepreneurs make small process changes but don’t bet the company on it. Companies that haven’t embedded either form of risk into their core processes are likely dead. The world is changing too fast without constantly updating processes to stay relevant for long. Just ask Blockbuster. Mark Zuckerberg agreed, noting, the biggest risk is not taking any risk. Constant experimentation and process iteration are now the only ways to reduce risk. Just take look at fast-growing companies like Airbnb and Uber.

  • Risk-taking is not just for leaders. All employees must be willing to take risks to advance the company. Not just the executive team — everyone. Our business requires it. We have more than 30 offices around the world, and each is fully responsible for the development and delivery of trips in its region. Everyone must be ready to lead at a moment’s notice, from anywhere in the world, and that’s only possible if everyone has daily practice taking risks. Risk-taking builds character and employee confidence – a win-win for any company.
  • Risk-taking requires support. Risk-taking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it can be hard for employees to embrace it. Managers can help by specifying what risk-taking looks like in their workplace. Employees should be expected to speak up, ask tough questions of leadership, move forward with decisions without always knowing the outcome, and accept new assignments gladly. At the same time, managers must identify and reward such behaviors. They must teach them. For us, this happens in the office, on team off-sites, and at our annual companywide training, which incorporates risk-taking exercises from Outward Bound and other experiential learning programs. In other companies, risk-taking might look different. For example, employees might be expected to speak in public, lead a cross-departmental team, or go after three new accounts a week. The behaviors may be different, but the support is the same: identify, teach, and reward.
  • Risk-taking must be embedded in a larger corporate culture. Of course, employees can’t just go off half-cocked, doing any risky thing they please. Risk-taking must be guided by the company’s vision and mission, and bounded by the company’s values. A company’s mission, vision, and values are its greatest assets, but they are worthless if you don’t cultivate them. Leadership must refer to them constantly, and employees must be held accountable to them in performance reviews. When the corporate culture is completely clear, risk-taking will always support the goals of the company.
  • Risk-taking means you will make mistakes. Every risk-taking organization will make mistakes once in a while. We’ve made lots of them. In the 1990s, we invested $11 million in a computer system that didn’t work for us. Around the same time, we divested financial operations on our overseas offices and got robbed – several times. Mistakes and losses are part of the risk landscape. To succeed as a risk-taking business, you must do two things at a minimum: You must create a safe environment for employees to make mistakes, and, when a risky decision is on the table, you must always be ready with a fast exit plan.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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Business Etiquette

Posted by the7stages on June 09, 2015
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Unprofessional behavior could lose your business.

As times change, so do social norms for personal and professional behavior, but that doesn’t mean basic etiquette doesn’t matter. Performance and quality are important, too, of course, but not exclusively. We sometimes forget that business is about people.

Allan Berger, principal with Berger Business Advisors, a business development consultancy, said “There is no shortage of competent and reliable people in the business world and manners can make the difference. Wouldn’t you rather collaborate with, work for or buy from someone who has high standards of professional behavior?”

The word “etiquette” gets a bad rap. For one thing, it sounds stodgy and pretentious. And rules that are socially or morally prescribed seem intrusive to our sense of individuality and freedom.

Office etiquette can be tricky in these days of in-house exercising, informal digital communication and open-plan workspaces. For help on figuring out how to behave properly, a new book by Vicky Oliver, a career consultant, offers tips on everything from cubicle conduct to e-mail etiquette. 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions also covers 21st-century table manners (they’re not that different from in the olden days) and what to do when seated between two bores at a business dinner (divide your time between them).

1. Send a Thank You Note

I work at a paper company that manufactures stationery and I’m shocked at how infrequently people send thank you notes after interviewing with me. If you’re not sending a follow-up thank you note to Crane, you’re not sending it anywhere.

2. Know the Names

It’s just as important to know your peers or employees as it is to develop relationships with clients, vendors or management. Reach out to people in your company, regardless of their roles, and acknowledge what they do.

3. Observe the ‘Elevator Rule’

When meeting with clients or potential business partners off-site, don’t discuss your impressions of the meeting with your colleagues until the elevator has reached the bottom floor and you’re walking out of the building. That’s true even if you’re the only ones in the elevator.

4. Focus on the Face, Not the Screen

It’s hard not to be distracted these days. We have a plethora of devices to keep us occupied; emails and phone calls come through at all hours; and we all think we have to multitask to feel efficient and productive.

5. Don’t Judge

We all have our vices—and we all have room for improvement. One of the most important parts of modern-day etiquette is not to criticize others.

6. Call or e-mail before you arrive.

Instead of making a beeline for your colleague’s cubicle, get in touch in advance, and ask what would be a convenient time for you to drop by.

7. Don’t leave voicemail messages when you know the person is out.

Midnight is not a good time to leave a voicemail or send a note. If you get a brainstorm in the middle of the night, write an e-mail and put it in your draft folder. Hit “Send” at 9 the next morning.

8. If you’re the boss, don’t send demanding e-mails on the weekend.

Unless your team is on a shotgun deadline, compose your instructions over the weekend, but don’t send them until Monday morning.

9. If you get a weekend e-mail from the boss, you may take a day to reply.

You can’t ignore a boss’s weekend request completely, but you can wait 24 hours before responding. It’s fine to set a boundary around your personal time.

10. Don’t wear headphones in the elevator or hallway.

“Wearing earplugs is like putting a Do Not Disturb sign on you,” Oliver says. It sends the message that you want to be left alone, an unfriendly gesture at best.

11. Don’t check e-mail in the lobby or elevator.

“That’s acting like you’re in an isolation tank,” Oliver points out. Elevators and hallways are great places to connect socially with colleagues. Use the opportunity.

12. Don’t touch your colleagues’ food in the office fridge.

Boundaries are important in today’s intense office environment. That includes respecting the fact that you didn’t buy that container of yogurt, no matter how hungry you are.

13. Dress one notch up from office casual.

Mark Zuckerberg may sport T-shirts, but you should wear a shirt with a collar.

14. Use humor to recover from a faux pas.

Did you say or do something that violates etiquette rules? Poke fun at yourself. Send an e-mail after the fact that’s part apology, part self-deprecating joke.

There could be many more tips like:

1. When in doubt, introduce others.

2. A handshake is still the professional standard.

3. Always say “Please” and “Thank you.”

4. Don’t interrupt.

5. Watch your language.

6. Double check before you hit send.

7. Don’t walk into someone’s office unannounced.

8. Don’t gossip.

9. Don’t eavesdrop.

10. Acknowledge others.

11. Avoid the “Big Two.”

12. Be on time.

13. No phone during meetings.

14. Don’t be a business card pusher.

15. Show genuine interest.

Additional Readings:

15 Business Etiquette Rules Every Professional Needs To Know
Skills – Workplace Etiquette – Columbia University

14 Tips on Business Etiquette: Setting a professional tone with co-workers, clients and customers

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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Things to Consider before expanding your business

Posted by the7stages on May 13, 2015
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Never in the history of the world has the entrepreneurial spirit-the spirit of adventure-been more alive or in a more favorable position to reach out to the world for business. The economy is improving.

When you’ve got a thriving business, one of the toughest decisions to make is when to open that second location. Do you open one close by? Do you try to break into a new market? When is the right time to expand, and how much preparation does it take?

For many companies, expanding globally is essential to achieve success. But determining the best strategy can be difficult and depending on your goals and level of resources, it may change.

So, what is the main question here: What should go into the decision to expand?

The answer starts with your strategic plan. Are you building a company with the aim of selling within five years, or one that you hope will continue growing for the next 50? The shorter the time frame, the more you’ll need to focus on putting out a great product in lieu of diversifying or investigating new markets.

However, by establishing a set of guidelines, selecting the right export markets doesn’t have to be painful. To make your job easier, consider some of our guidelines below:

· Study Economic Indicators

Rank your potential country markets by how much of your product they import from the U.S. Then rank each by their total demand (domestic production plus world imports) for the previous three years. From this you can determine market size, its rate of growth, and U.S. market share.

If total demand for your product is increasing, review the country’s growth rate and per capita income. If indicators are positive, it’s likely that demand will continue to rise.

· Be Competitive and Adapt

Identify each selected market’s trade barriers. If excessive, they may out-price your product. Know your competitors, their products, prices, distribution methods, consumers, and after-sale service. If intense competition exists, consider smaller markets that may be unattractive for multinationals, but big enough for you.

Sensitivity to foreign cultures is not only polite — it’s good business. Study a culture’s wants and needs. If your product design is not suitable, adapt.

· Know Your Risks

Importers with soft currencies or insufficient reserves may find it difficult to pay you. Understand the risks, buy insurance or choose other markets. If you accept foreign currency, guard against fluctuations. Keep abreast of political risk. Civil unrest or policy changes may harm your interests.

· Investigate Infrastructure Needs

If your product requires a skilled support staff, make sure it’s available in your target market. If not, you may be forced to provide costly support from back home. The lack of physical infrastructure may also curtail exports. The inability to quickly deliver perishables due to inoperable roads or inaccessibility to refrigerated storage can be a deterrent.

· Research Legal Issues

Many countries claim to enforce intellectual property laws, but don’t. Investigate how piracy is handled. If protection isn’t a priority, you may want to avoid this market.

In some countries, the accused is presumed guilty until proven innocent, and judges may unfairly favor domestic sales agents or consumers. Assess each country’s legal practices and investigate safety and environmental regulations.

· Welcome Advice and Use It

By acquiring majority interest in a foreign firm, you can dictate policy — but don’t. Respect and value the input provided by existing managers. A sound acquisition strategy asks what management thinks of proposed changes and incorporates the input.

· Accurately Weigh Your Own Factors

Do your homework. Establish the factors you feel will best help you determine the markets to pursue and seriously weigh them. Success is best achieved if you calculate all the costs of doing business and understand the ramifications of each decision. If not, your efforts may turn into losses.

Two additional tasks to consider are:

1. Documented Systems and Processes

Every business needs to be created in a way that doesn’t require the owner or founder to be there every day. Your systems and processes must be documented so that a qualified person can deliver your product or service predictably without your direct input.

2. The Culture Question

Expanding companies often make the mistake of attempting to replicate the home office culture. First you need to take the time to understand if your business’s culture will replicate and if culture is an important component of your success. If so, how do you make it work somewhere else? While planning a quarterly event for all office locations may make sense, what makes up that event for an office in California may be very different from what a location in the South requires.

Bear in mind that successfully integrating with another company or expanding into new territory can take more than a year. It’s expensive, messy and more work than anyone expects, which leads me to my last piece of advice: Don’t forget to run your current business.

Related:

20 Factors to Consider Before Going Global
Consider Before Expanding Overseas
Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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How to Overcome Fear of Risk

Posted by the7stages on April 14, 2015
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How to Overcome Fear of Risk

It’s time to break the culture of fear and learn to welcome change.

Calculated risk is at the heart of every business decision; it’s what drives companies toward success. But many businesses stagnate because management is afraid to take the necessary risks to grow and prosper. What are the signs that your business is acting on a fear of change, and what can company leaders do to move forward?

When you become fearful and hesitant, your brain is focusing on loss aversion, meaning that it’s trying to protect you from harm. It’s an adaptive strategy that kept our ancestors from getting killed.

Related: How to Overcome Your Fears and Move Your Business Forward

Here are three tips to help you do that:

1. Don’t weigh the pros and cons. When you’re taking a risk, a bit of research and a gut reaction is all you really need to make a good decision. Wading in a swamp of pros and cons will only activate fear. “The more you go into an analytical mode, the more you activate the part of the brain that makes you fearful and demotivated,” Mehta says.

If your gut tells you to say yes, then prevent fear from taking over by simply diving in and adapting as you go. That doesn’t mean you should be reckless, but the sooner you start to take action, the less likely you are to get scared.

2. Set many small goals. To get comfortable with risk, start small by setting a series of manageable goals that you can accomplish in a short period of time. Include some that are a little scary, but the main purpose here is to experience success repeatedly.

Those early successes will motivate you to seek out bigger risks. “Every time we achieve success, our brains release dopamine, which motivates us to go back and tackle the next success,” Mehta says. If you approach a big risk at that point, you’ll be primed to take action and less likely to get bogged down in fear of potential losses.

3. Surround yourself with risk-takers. A big part of comfort with risk is exposure. If you have people in your social circle, or especially in your family, who have been willing to take risks, then you will be much more likely to do the same. “There’s a huge social aspect to entrepreneurship,” Mehta says.

Risk-takers will be more likely to encourage you to take chances, and they will also be living examples of what it takes to risk and fail and risk again. “If you look at the biography of a famous person, it all depends on where in the biography you stop,” Mehta says. “Success comes by way of many, many failures.”

2. Have a well thought out plan. We begin to worry and over analyze situations when we don’t have detailed and well thought out plans for our life. Set extremely clear goals with a detailed plan on how to achieve those goals. After you have a well detailed plan, take action. Taking action towards meaningful goals helps to relieve stress and gives you a huge sense of enjoyment. Fear creeps in and paralyzes us when we don’t take the time to plan our lives.

3. Do one thing every day that scares you. Living in our comfort zone is not the best way to live. Not doing the things that frighten you will increase the likelihood that your fears will become bigger – and taking over your life. It can even be something small that you choose to do, but do something daily that scares you. Step out of your comfort zone and work on becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. When you form the habit of doing something daily that scares you, your courage grows little by little. Soon enough, the barriers that once were holding you back vanish and your potential maximizes tremendously.

Related: Four Ways Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Fear Of Risk

So, how do you erase these fears?

How can you keep your business fears from getting the best of you?

Here are 5 tactics that will help you keep your fears in business at a minimum:

  1. 1. Build a reserve. A reserve means you have more than enough of what you need. Whether it’s a shortage of cash or clients that has triggered fear in your business generating an excess in that particular area of concern immediately calms the nerves.

  1. 2. Set goals that are crystal clear. If I were to ask about your goals today, would you be able to give me an immediate response including the details? If you hesitate or need time to consider your response, your goals could benefit from some polishing to make them unambiguous to you.

  1. 3. Hang out with others to avoid isolation. This is especially important if you’re working from a home-office. Admittedly, I love the notion of the short commute in my bunny slippers when working from my home-office but even as long as I’ve been in business, it can get awfully quiet. Rubbing up against the world – whether it’s online or offline – keeps you sharp, sparks your creativity, and dulls any fears in business.

  1. 4. Focus on your strengths. If you spend a great deal of your time focusing on your inadequacies, you’re not alone. No wonder your business fears knock the wind out of your sails! Although it may seem that your shortcomings far outweigh your strengths, your strengths are much sharper and can easily cut through the thistles in your path. Lead with your strengths every day.

  1. 5. Appreciate what you have and who you are. Studies have demonstrated that appreciation is the quickest way to attracting what you really want which invariably the opposite of what you fear in your business. Spend the first and last 5 minutes of your day mentally listing all you appreciate about yourself and your life.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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FREE Play time in workplace Don’t think about it!! Play about it!!

Posted by the7stages on March 18, 2015
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The concept of work just doesn’t seem that fun. And sadly millions upon millions of people go into work, even work of their own creation, and get the life sucked right out of them.

What if work was more like play? Remember when you were a kid and you and your friends and siblings could get lost for entire days in the invention and implementation of play?

Play in the workplace can manifest in various forms. Businesses that support play may allow a recess-like period where employees can explore creative outlets and pursue independent activities. These workplaces may also offer playful amenities like rock climbing walls, game rooms, or scooters for transportation. When an employer does not support play, employees who recognize the benefits it has on their performance and well-being can still find ways to incorporate it into their workday. Creating a more playful environment at work can be as easy as putting a toy on your desk!

“Play” lights up employees. Why? It brings out such values as curiosity, learning, development, collaboration and being in co-creative relationships with others. Play speaks to the human side of business. It’s fun, developmental, positive and when freely initiated its self-organized. Play is a developmental and life-long activity.

Companies that are consistently rated the “Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune Magazine offer services and programs aimed to make the workday less stressful and more enjoyable for employees. Services such as high quality childcare, free laundry, on-site life coaching and health care, and afternoon yoga classes help the human connection within a company while reassuring the employees that they are valued. Most companies on this list have consistently seen an increase in productivity and revenue as a result of offering such perks. Another great advantage of allowing such programming is that employees feel more fulfilled because they are satisfying more than just a financial need by working.

Ranked at number forty-four, Intuit (makers of TurboTax) encourages workers to take four hours a week of “unstructured time” to play with new ideas and inspire creativity in their own ways. Google, number four on the list, also allows time for employees to pursue independent activities during the workday. This recess-like period provides employees with a time to be creative and to de-stress!

These innovative companies have redefined the workplace in terms of expected employee behaviors and the rigid, strict roles we have previously set for them. Encouraging playfulness strengthens social bonds, workplace satisfaction, and overall well-being in a way that has benefits for an entire company. By investing some time and effort into showing employees they are valued, companies can expect to see a decrease in turnover and absenteeism, and an increase in productivity, efficiency, health, and morale!

The bottom line is: a paycheck is no longer enough to satisfy the needs of working Americans! The workplace has the potential to offer programs, services, and an environment that can help balance our lives. Check out some of the qualities of these companies that make them the best…Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Companies to Work For.

What adjectives come to mind when thinking about play? Some common responses may be: fun, imaginative, enchanting, elusive, and creative. What if I were to tell you that when play is incorporated into the workplace, it could also be described as: productive, healthy, innovative, and profitable? By shifting our business model to one that embraces play, we can revitalize the work environment, decrease stress, and promote fresh creativity and job satisfaction! Here are just some of the benefits of promoting a playful workplace:

1) Play can increase productivity, innovation, and creativity. Incorporating play into the workplace produces valuable results. Risk taking, confidence in presenting novel ideas, and embracing unusual and fresh perspectives are common characteristics associated with play that are also integral to a successful work environment.

2) Play can increase job satisfaction, well-being, and strengthen social bonds. Employees experiencing positive emotions are more cooperative, more social, and perform better when faced with complex tasks. Encouraging play will increase employee happiness, and happier workers have been shown to be more productive.

3) Play can decrease absenteeism, stress, and health care costs.Allowing play not only shows employees that they are valued, it also helps them lead a more balanced life. The activity and stimulation involved in play lessens the stress of work, which leads to less illness and a more positive attitude.

4) Play is a great way to connect

People are drawn to playfulness. It can be a defining personality trait of a brand or simply a way that you approach the things you need to do. Playful handbooks, emails and policies help people feel good about this thing we call work. Laughter is one of the greatest connectors in the human toolbox and study after study has proven the positive mental and physical health benefit offered by play. Who dictated that business and work was meant to be so darn serious anyway?

5) Play is super food for creativity

Creativity is the life-blood of any vibrant business and most of the work we end up doing leads to clogged creativity over time. Get the office together once a day and have a white board drawing contest or crank up Pandora and play name that artist and watch how the creativity begins to re-flow.

6) Play builds teamwork

The basic framework of most games depends upon teammates working together, within a set of rules, to achieve a common objective. Now that sounds like a healthy work environment to me. Take that up a notch and get people outdoors, into nature working together, playing a game and watch how quickly they resolve differences and work together.

7) Play reduces stress

Work can be downright stressful at times and play provides an outlet to reduce the physical and mental damages caused by stress. Play doesn’t have to mean a full-blown pick up basketball game in the warehouse either. We have two office dogs and I always feel recharged after taking them for a romp around the community garden that sits right outside my office. Dogs can teach us a thing or two about play.

8) Play doesn’t seem like work

When you are engaged in a game you enter what Psychiatrist and writer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as a flow state. The state many gamers suggest takes over and allows them play for days on end. Now, I’m not suggesting that you install an X box 360 in every cube, but I do think you can add game like elements to just about every function. Creating sales contests, allowing people to win prizes for scoring points, and designing ways to turn reporting on objectives into games are just a few of the ways that organizations keep work fun.

Play is an attitude that can run through every element of what makes a company what it stands for. Playfulness has its own brand of attraction and every organization could benefit by creating a position responsible for keeping play alive inside and out.

9) Free play vs managed play

Free play equates to making it up as we go – improvisation – as many kids still have the freedom to do. They hang with other kids and they’re left to their own devices: lots of learning in that kind of play.  On the other hand, managed play is being part of an organized activity where there are coaches, parents and others with expectations: lots of different learning in that kind of play.

Free play is where we’re given free rein to use our imaginations, our inventiveness, our resourcefulness, and find our innate leadership, and followership.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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How much can an Entrepreneur Delegate?

Posted by the7stages on February 18, 2015
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Ready, Set, Delegate!

In most cases it takes good people to grow a business, and for an entrepreneur, this means delegating and trusting others to deliver the results that will grow the firm. Hiring the right people, engaging them in the pursuit of their dreams and giving meaning to the employees who are building the business requires different skills than those needed to launch a business. Readers will learn what those skills are and how the entrepreneur can use them to achieve smart growth.

Prove that you want to grow your business. Go ahead, tell us not how much you did today, but how much you didn’t do. Sound crazy? The key to growing your company as big and as fast as you want may be getting very good at not doing any work. Here’s why: “It’s impossible to grow a business without delegating. You can only increase your workload so much,” says Ralph Rubio, co-founder and CEO of Rubio’s Baja Grill, a $40 million restaurant chain based in San Diego that dominates the fish taco business on the West Coast.

Task At Hand

Steve Leveen, co-founder and CEO of Delray Beach, Florida-based Levenger, a $70 million catalog company specializing in upscale products for readers and writers, vividly recalls when he hired his first nonfamily employees. It was a year after start-up, and, says Leveen, “I felt great relief. The people we hired helped with packing orders. That was a great boost to my productivity because I could then focus on areas that would help us grow.”

Delegation 101

It’s easy to talk about delegation–but is it easy to do? “Delegation is very hard to do right,” says Susan Leeds, managing director of The Ayers Group Inc., a New York City human resources consulting firm. “Smart delegation takes thought and planning.” That means delegation isn’t simply sweeping your desk clean and blindly handing off all the tasks on your to-do list. “You need to approach delegation with a plan in mind,” says Leeds, who teaches a multistep delegation process to clients. The first step is careful thought about what to delegate.

That’s a crucial question, mainly because some tasks should be handled personally. There are tasks that aren’t suited to delegation, says Ron Riggio, a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College’s Kravis Leadership Institute in Claremont, California.

What can’t you delegate? There’s no rule of thumb; let your instincts guide you. You probably wouldn’t delegate thinking about the products your company will offer next year, but you might delegate a survey of current customers regarding improvements they’d like to see in your products. Either way, a building block for effective delegation is knowing what tasks are yours and yours alone.

The next step in Leeds’ plan is to determine the results you want to achieve. That means not telling employees to make some phone calls about past-due invoices. That’s too vague. Instead, be specific. A more defined goal might be to get customers with past-due bills to agree to a payment schedule. Knowing the results you want is your job, not the job of employees to whom you delegate.

Step three is to decide which person is right for the task, says Leeds. A salesperson might not be the right person to make collection calls, but perhaps your bookkeeper is. Either way, match skills and personality to the task–that will maximize productivity.

The fourth step is to decide what controls and checkpoints you’ll put on the person to whom you’re delegating. How often will the person report back to you? What signal means it’s time to shout for help? Get very specific about these steps because that will make delegation work smoothly, both for you and employees.

Fifth, motivate the person to whom you’re delegating. If you’re handing off important work, you want the subordinate to be fired up to get results. “Link the new job to what motivates that employee,” says Leeds. If the employee is there to learn, present the task as a development opportunity. If visibility is important, present it that way. “Make sure what you delegate is appropriate [for the employee],” Leeds says. And sell what you delegate–don’t just hand out tasks.

The last step is accountability. “Effective delegation means holding people accountable for the jobs that are assigned to them,” Leeds says. A big mistake here is that bosses often expect the employee to fail–and readily take the task back to do themselves. Don’t. That’s a quick way to undermine employee effectiveness and, in the bargain, guarantee employees will never develop in the ways you need them to if your business is to reach the level you want.

Letting Go

Follow these steps and, odds are, your delegation skills will improve dramatically. There’s one more huge hurdle to jump, however. That occurs when employees start doing the work you’ve delegated, but they’re not doing it the way you would have done it. “This is a major issue for entrepreneurs,” says Dailey. “It’s painful for them to accept that there are other ways to get jobs done and that oftentimes, the way the employee did the task is good enough.”

Tasks that keep you from growing your business
When Levey and his team realized that the hours they spent on a bike en route to product samplings were not enabling them to scale to a nationwide platform, they hired a demo team. “Getting customers to trial something is important, but we also realized it wasn’t a good use of our time, because it wasn’t conducive to our long-term growth,” he says.

Independent contractors were brought on to handle sampling and inform customers about the products’ nutritional facts; that freed Field Trip’s founders to pursue new accounts, which today include several major grocery chains, as well as JetBlue Airways, Vitamin World and Costco.

Activities that will help speed up cash flow
As a small company represented in huge grocery stores with more than 50,000 SKUs, Field Trip found that its relatively modest invoices often would get overlooked. “Checks for $100 get lost against the $10,000 checks pretty easily, so we were hounding the stores just to get paid,” Levey explains.

The founders discovered that hiring distributors not only got them paid faster, it also enabled them to get paid with a few large checks rather than many small ones. The company now employs more than 25 distributors.

“By delegating that work to distributors, our accounts receivable have significantly improved, as has the timing of our working capital,” he says. “We’re getting our money faster, and we’re also getting checks that were previously going unpaid because we didn’t have time to follow up on them.”

3. Areas that are out of your wheelhouse
Ryan Fleming, co-founder of Long Beach, Calif.-basedRemindGrams.com, delegates tasks that would require too much time for him to learn and master. That is one of the factors to which he credits the success of his 24/7 concierge service, which keeps a virtual eye on the well-being of loved ones.

Fleming has turned to services such as Elance and Fiverr to outsource web design, creation of video and web content, SEO, social media activities and PR. “The SEO stuff is well over my head, but when you have someone who can help you understand how the Google algorithm works, it’s a game-changer,” Fleming says, adding that he attributes many of his company’s 400-plus users to the success of the keyword “RemindGrams.” “It would take me about five years to create [animation] online, so delegating out those types of digital assets is a no-brainer for me. It definitely pays for itself.”

4. Tasks that are already streamlined
Hard work goes into developing processes that allow employees to increase their efficiency while still meeting in-house quality metrics. But once those processes are in place, there’s no reason to be the person who implements them on a day-to-day basis. After launching Venice, Calif.-based online inventory and order-management software Lettuce in 2012, CEO Raad Mobrem saw his staff expand from two people who did everything to 13 within three months.

While exciting, the period was fraught with organizational headaches and growing pains. So he divided the company into sales, marketing, customer support and product. In each of those areas, processes were put in place so managers could easily delegate tasks when needed.

“When something needs to be done, we can walk an employee through our current processes and say, ‘Here’s what we like to do, and this is how we do it.’ It’s a clear path of where we’re going and how we do things,” Mobrem says, noting that Lettuce now has 15 employees and thousands of users. “As a result, we went from chaos to really well-delegated processes and tasks that everyone is able to complete in a timely manner.”

5. Tasks in areas with often-changing regulations
Brian Fox, president and founder of Brentwood, Tenn.-based Confirmation.com, is a CPA who tries to stay up to date on the latest changes in the field. But he says he “wouldn’t even think about” doing the accounting for his electronic audit confirmation services firm, even in the leanest of the startup days.

“The rules change so often that if you’re not in it day to day, you’ll miss something, from a tax standpoint or an accounting application standpoint,” he says. “You need somebody who does that as their full-time job.”

Fox outsources his legal, accounting and insurance needs to outside agencies that are current on specific regulations.

Waverly Deutsch, professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, says delegating to a specialist is a good call when the cost of making a mistake might be high. “When you’re dealing with a government agency like the IRS, EPA or immigration, you don’t have any power, and the risk of doing it wrong–and facing stiff consequences–is enormous. Those are areas where you definitely should delegate to an expert,” she says.

6. Projects that impede development
While Fox enjoys the product development side of his business, he has trouble presenting his thoughts in enough detail for a technology team to take over. Instead, he hands off that part of the process to avoid becoming a bottleneck within his own operation.

“I was holding up our development, so we brought in a product person that I could share the idea with, but then they could do all the legwork,” he explains.

Today the company has a team that takes ideas for new products, enhancements and modifications and writes detailed specs so the technology team can create them.

7. Anything you want your team to learn
Bob Marsh–CEO of Detroit-based Level-Eleven, which creates motivational software for sales teams–says one of the best ways to get employees to internalize something he wants them to learn is to let them complete the task themselves. While he could simply tell his sales team how he’d like them to do a specific task, he finds that it’s more effective to ask someone to take the lead on the activity so they can get the team together and come up with best practices.

“It helps people internalize it, because they’ve made their own thoughts and decisions on it,” Marsh says.

8. The stuff you simply hate to do
Many ‘treps agree that handing off the tasks they can’t stand helps them maintain their drive and enthusiasm, which is critical to their company’s success. After all, that’s why they work for themselves.

“I really believe you should do the things you enjoy and have fun doing, and delegate the rest,” says Fox of Confirmation.com. “That’s what excites you when you wake in the morning, and what you’re thinking about when you wake in the middle of the night with a brand-new idea. It’s not: ‘Oh my gosh, here’s a new tax law I can apply.’

You’re thinking about how to grow the business. That’s what gets you excited, that’s what gets you motivated, and that’s what helps you succeed.”

Source:Michele O’Reggio

The typical entrepreneur’s “Achilles’ Heel” is that they spread themselves too thin, work on too many tasks at the same time, start new projects constantly and micromanage projects and details that they should delegate. They become overwhelmed by the increasing demands on their time and begin losing the passion for their business and working harder without getting the results they want.

Your success and freedom as an entrepreneur depend on your ability to focus on what you love and do best and eliminating and/or delegating everything else. You should focus on the activities you’re brilliant at, passionate about and that will take your business to the next level.

Harv Ecker, CEO of Peak Potentials Training, offers this sage wisdom on how Poor vs. Wealthy Business Owners think about business. Which one are you?

Poor:  Struggle because their business is dependent on them.
Wealthy:  Set up a business that works without them; using teams, delegation and systems.

Poor:  Play it safe
Wealthy: Take risks

Poor:  Do everything themselves
Wealthy: Create teams and delegate

Many entrepreneurs know they should delegate but find it challenging to let go. So many fall into the trap of doing everything themselves – being a lone ranger. It takes a village to operate and grow a successful business.

How Can You Learn To Delegate?

The good news is that delegation is a skill that can absolutely be learned. The first place to start is with your mindset. To leverage the skills of others effectively, you need to be willing to:

  • Believe that success is possible
  • Examine your reality – what’s working and what’s not
  • Experiment and take calculated risks – engage in the process of growing your business and developing professionally
  • Assess your productivity – being busy doesn’t  always mean you’re being productive
  • Recognize that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, not the other way around

Dan Millman, in “Living on Purpose” tells us: “In the real world, those of us who are most productive, successful, and satisfied focus not on fixing feelings or manipulating thoughts, but on what needs to be done – and then doing it – no matter what thoughts or feelings arise.”

4 Common Myths About Delegating

Myth #1: “I’ll lose control of my business if I delegate and things will fall through the cracks.”

Are you a control freak?

Reality: There is a wide range of freedom and authority that you can give to your team member. When you use a delegation and team building system, it will allow you to manage the process effectively, instead of micromanaging people.

Myth # 2:  “If I want something done right, I have to do it myself.”

Are you a perfectionist?

Reality: Other people can do the tasks as good as, and many even better than you. Yes, really:)  Delegation will bring you massive results when you build a team that is focused on doing what they’re brilliant at and are the best fit for you.  Moreover, when you learn effective delegation techniques, you can ensure that things will get done the way you want.

Myth # 3: “I can’t trust anyone else with my business.”

Reality: If you want to achieve success, risks are necessary for business growth. Delegation requires a calculated risk where the potential benefits (ROI) and costs are weighed. Many of us have natural tendencies that can keep us from letting go. When I did my DISC Behavioral Profile I learned strategies to modify my perfectionist tendencies that would hinder me from delegating effectively. I got a comprehensive understanding of my gifts and weaknesses, which helps me with team building – to choose the right partners and teach others how to best communicate with me.

Myth # 4: “I can’t afford help.”

Reality: You can’t afford not to delegate! There is a simple formula that guarantees you a high return on investment in outsourcing.  You will need to know:

  1. How much your time is worth hourly or how much more revenue you could generate in a month if you had more time
  2. The hourly cost of outsourcing a specific task

Here’s an example of the formula:

Your Virtual Assistant spends 10 hours on tasks taken off your plate: Investment = $300 With 10 extra hours you’ve gained, how many new clients could you handle?
1 client = $300 you break even 2 clients = double your ROI 3,4, 5 .. clients? You get the idea!

You will get an even higher ROI when you delegate revenue-generating activities!

It’s important to recognize though, that ROI is not only about money. Often an idea is viable if: it moves you closer to your vision of success; if it will increase your credibility with clients that would lead to more opportunities, or if it will give you an emotional feeling of fulfillment or completion. I call this creating a “wealthy lifestyle”!

Prosperous entrepreneurs have gone through the growing pains of letting go to get the help they need. Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing, tells us “The moment you begin to think of time as precious and that it has a price, the richer you will become.”

Are you ready to make a change? What would it be like to enjoy more success, freedom and create a wealthy lifestyle with delegation? What resources do you need to help you? What is the first step you need to take?

About the Author

Michele O’Reggio creates freedom for purpose-led, conscious entrepreneurs and empowers them to transform into Wise CEOs. Michele helps them build a strong foundation for growth so they can do more of what they love, increase their profits and make a bigger impact. Learn how to scale your business, how to enjoy freedom and do more of what you love at www.UpLiftYourBiz.com.

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Every year, thousands of Americans blow their budgets come December

Posted by the7stages on January 13, 2015
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Every year, thousands of Americans blow their budgets come December — and while they may be tempted to blame that on the dough they fork over for gifts (ahem, office Secret Santa), that explanation is only a small part of the reality.

While some of this spending is, of course, on gifts — a Nielsen survey found that Americans plan to spend 10% more on gifts this year than last and a YouGov survey noted a likely 8.7% uptick — plenty is spent on other things (many of which we don’t tend to budget for).

Overall, 10% of consumers say they plan to spend more this year than they did last year, and multicultural households account for 43% of the projected extra spending: 17% African-Americans; 13% Asian-Americans; 13% Hispanic. Additionally, fewer people plan to spend less than they did last year (21% vs. 23%, respectively). THE ECONOMIC BACKDROP LEADING INTO THE 2014 HOLIDAY SEASON

When it comes to holiday-related spending, the fastest growing areas of spending are non-gift items, says Allison Paul, vice chairman and retail sector leader at Deloitte. This year, Americans plan to spend $195 on holiday parties they throw in their own homes, up 22% from last year (vs. a 13% increase for holiday spending overall), and they plan to spend 15% more than last year on attending holiday events/socializing away from home (this might include things like new clothes for an event or buying a gift for a hostess) and decorating their homes for the holidays.

Read more on DailyWorth: http://www.dailyworth.com/posts/3137-the-cost-of-the-holidays#ixzz3LM1fuZpL

How can consumers appropriately plan and budget for these costs so they don’t start the New Year in debt?

Cash In Rewards to Pay for Gifts
Rather than popping gifts onto that interest-bearing credit card, Mint.com spokeswoman Holly Perez recommends consumers cash in rewards on credit cards or other loyalty programs to pay for gifts. “Redeeming points for merchandise or gift cards can take up to four to six weeks for delivery so now is a great time to start,” she says. Woroch adds that you can often redeem rewards for gift cards, “which make perfect presents or can be used to offset the cost of a gift” and you can also give miles as a gift or turn them into actual products like cookware or a gadget.

Perez adds that some cards are running special promotions offering extra points during this time of year. “Find out what promotions can help you maximize your rewards,”she says. “You could get some of your holiday purchases for free when you are savvy about your credit card use.” But, of course, you must make sure you pay off that balance in full and on time or these rewards likely won’t be worth it at all.

Have a Talk About Holiday Spending With Friends and Family
“There’s no shame in telling people that this year will be a lean holiday season when it comes to exchanging gifts,” says Steve Siebold, author of the book “How Rich People Think.” Perez says that when it comes to talking to family it’s important to establish spending guidelines. “Depending on the age of your children, you can touch on how much they can spend and what they can expect … maybe even give them extra chores to earn money for holiday spending,” she says. When it comes to the rest of the family, she says you should consider a Secret Santa gift swap, making charitable donations in honor of each other, a cookie swap or organizing a gift-free potluck family dinner to save money.

Consider Layaway
Woroch notes that many retailers are offering free layaway programs this year, which while certainly not for everyone (and they come with risks), “serve as good options for shoppers who are carrying a revolving balance, don’t have a credit card and simply don’t have cash to buy the gift upfront but don’t want to miss out on the deal or want to secure the gift before it sells out,” she says. She adds: “It’s a better option than relying on a high-interest credit card and you just stash your cash toward it every week until the deadline right before Christmas — for many people, this works better than simply stashing your cash into a savings account because you are actually being held accountable for it.

The holidays mean spending dough on a sleigh full of presents, but it doesn’t mean you have to slay your bank account or credit balance in the process. You know what we mean: Green as a Grinch, dollar bills fly out of your pockets as you pay and pay and pay for all the extras. To avoid the burden of overspending this season, we recommend taking a look at these seven expenditures that offer wiggle room for extra savings.

Electricity

Are you competing in the neighborhood Christmas-light contest? Is your front lawn visible from space during December? Let your lights shine if that’s your thing, but be prepared for the power bill spike in January.

Visitors

Every family has one. It’s the house that everyone flocks to during the holiday season. That means, at some point in December, you could have 32 people sprawled out across every room in your house. That’s 32 showers, and 32 bowls of cereal, and 32 opportunities to spill a drink on your white carpet. Make sure you budget for the visitors.

Shipping

First, you’ve got all the stamps for your Christmas cards. Then, for the people you’ll actually be sending presents to, there are all of those pesky shipping costs. Don’t procrastinate, because shipping overnight isn’t cheap—or even guaranteed—during the Christmas season.

Stocking stuffers

You’ve got the candy. Then there’s the $3 toy car. And the little thingamajiggy that does the little loopty-loop in the kitchen. Then there are the tiny little gift books. For your budget, stocking stuffers can be death by a thousand cuts. Keep it simple.

Gas

We’re talking about the kind you use while waiting in mall traffic, while traveling to the in-laws house, while doing the 4,000 things you’ve scheduled during the holidays. . . . Don’t forget about the gas. Maybe you’ve noticed that it isn’t cheap!

Wrapping paper

You’d be surprised at how much we spend on wrapping paper every year. Get the cheap stuff—the really cheap stuff if you can. Why spend a lot of money on something that will be ripped to shreds in less than three seconds?

Food

Of course, there’s party food if you’re hosting a party. But if you have overnight visitors, don’t forget about snacks and all the basics like bread and milk and bagels. It’s easy to get caught up in the “main event” food like ham and turkey and dressing while forgetting about all the other little food expenses.

Charity

Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten about giving, so here’s our reminder: Don’t forget about giving to charity! Don’t let this be a hidden cost. Sit down right now and make giving a part of your Christmas budget.

The greatest way to avoid hidden costs is to plan ahead! Don’t let these items sneak up on you, and you’ll have a much less stressful Christmas—the way it’s meant to be.

While entertaining family and friends is all part of the Christmas experience, worrying about how you’re going to pay for it shouldn’t be. With our guide, you can avoid any hidden costs this Christmas.

According to the Money Advice Service’s annual Christmas spending survey, 46% of us will turn to credit cards, store cards and overdrafts to cover the cost of Christmas. While the big costs like presents and Christmas lunch are usually accounted for in your festive budget, there are other, smaller costs that we sometimes forget about.

But by considering your festive finances early on, you can put any money worries to bed.

1. TRAVEL

By planning your Christmas travel well in advance, you could get cheaper deals on trains or flights. If you’ve left it too late, see if you can car share with other relatives.

2. HEATING

A house full of relatives can be as good as a roaring fire for heating your home, so when the party is in full swing you could turn down the thermostat by a degree or two to save on heating bills. Or if you’re spending Christmas at friends, make sure you turn your heating down when away, but not off as you don’t want the pipes freezing.

For tips on how to save money and energy, read our article: Energy – Are you efficient at saving money?

3. CALLING OVERSEAS

If you’re spending Christmas day at a relative’s house, you don’t want to be ringing Australia from their home phone. See if you can use their Wifi instead for some FaceTime or a Skype call.

4. POSTAGE AND WRAPPING

Remember to check the last postage dates so you don’t have to resort to more expensive courier services to get your presents delivered on time. If you want to cut down on Christmas card costs, you could send e-cards but don’t forget about those less IT savvy or more traditional friends and relatives that still like to send and receive cards. A good way to keep the festive spirit going and to save money is to buy your wrapping paper and cards for next year in the sales.

5. CREDIT CARD CHARGES/OVERDRAFT CHARGES

As Money Advice Service pointed out, more and more of us are still putting our Christmas costs on credit cards. Make sure you budget for interest charges or overdraft fees, so you don’t get an extra surprise on January 1st.

For more advice on Christmas savings, check out our article on 5 practical ways to save money this Christmas.

6. ADDED EXTRAS

The phrase ‘batteries not included’ can make an unprepared parents’ heart sink so plan ahead and find out exactly how many batteries you need beforehand, whether you need a certain type of screwdriver to put something together and any other extras that might be needed to make your gifts usable on Christmas day.

7. BREAKAGES

Accidents do happen and if you’re buying expensive gifts make sure to check your home insurance policy to see if the added value is covered. If you don’t have home insurance, you might want to look into your options before the big day so you’re ready if the unexpected happens: Be ready for the unexpected.

8. MAKE YOUR DECEMBER PAY PACKET STRETCH FURTHER

Along with all these hidden costs, you’ve got a pay packet that needs to stretch an extra week. However, if you budget properly and make sure you’ve covered all the costs, there’s no reason why you can’t have a merry Christmas on a budget that works for you.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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Secrets to Hiring the Right People

Posted by the7stages on November 12, 2014
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There may be a war for talent in today’s job market, but when it comes to entrepreneurial, small business owners,they are willing to share  their secrets about hiring the best employees. In this article from Entrepreneur.com honoring small business week, they compiled a guidebook of hiring tips from the small-business owners honored on Capitol Hill during this year’s National Small Business Week. Almost every respondent emphasized the importance of hiring employees who organically fit into corporate culture and who are passionate about the brand.

When looking to grow business, many entrepreneurs begin hiring for quantity, not quality.

In 2013, Inc. magazine, partnering with the Bacharach Leadership Group, surveyed 330 Inc. 5000 firms. The mission: Find out how America’s fastest-growing companies hire their best employees. Cornell professor Sam Bacharach, co-founder of BLG, fielded questions from LearnVest’s Alexa von Tobel about the survey results.

Above were questions that we can ask ourselves on a day-to-day basis. But now here are some strategies and tools you can add to the “traditional hiring process” (of basing your decision on the resume, interview and your “gut feel”).  They are:

1.  Temp agencies, recruiters and headhunters

2.  Reference and background checks

3.  Pre-employment integrity and culture fit assessments

4.  Personality tests

Here’s how companies like Google avoid these expensive hiring mistakes. We call it the “law of three” for interviewing candidates:

  • Always interview at least three people for a position. Even if you like the first interviewee and feel that individual is suitable, discipline yourself to interview at least two others. Many large companies will not hire a person until they have interviewed ten or fifteen candidates for the spot. The more people you interview, the greater the selection of choices you will have, and the more likely it is that you will make the right choice.
  • Interview the candidate you like in three different places. It is amazing how the personality of a person can change when you move the interview setting from your office to a coffee shop across the street. Candidates will usually be at their very best in the first interview. If they were pretending, the veneer will quickly come off in subsequent meetings.

In order for small businesses to grow, more people need to join the team. However, hiring the right people can be costly in terms of time, dollars and company morale. Careerbuilder.com sponsored a survey on the cost of a bad hire, and the clever folks at Mindflash.com created this infographic based on those results.

How many hats do you wear on a daily basis? If you answered one, you’re not an entrepreneur and you’re not working for a small business. So how can you boost your team’s productivity and morale at the same time? Discover some of the unexpected ways to do so in this infographic by TheDegree360.com.

Source: http://www.inc.com/magazine/201404/alexa-von-tobel/hiring-secrets-americas-fast-growing-companies.html

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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Top Up Sale Strategies for Your Business

Posted by the7stages on October 14, 2014
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No matter what business you work in, a “business as usual” mindset will insure your competitors are making more money than you are. Here are eight tips to help you stand out from the competition so you won’t find yourself stood up by your customers.

Jumping into selling your product or service without planning how you will go about it is likely to yield far poorer results than if you adopt a strategic approach to your sales. Use your sales strategy as part of your business plan to help you convince your bank manager or potential investors, and make sure you update and review your sales strategy regularly.

What is a sales strategy?

  • A sales strategy sets out in detail how you will get your product or service in front of people who need it. Looking at it strategically will give you a comprehensive, methodical approach to ensuring you marketing your business correctly and you are approaching the right clients.
  • A sales strategy can be based on your business and marketing plans.
  • A sales strategy is not the same as a marketing strategy.
  • In order to build a comprehensive strategy for your entire business, you will need to sit down and come up with a different sales strategy for each of your product lines.

Whether you offer goods or services, selling is the foundation of your business. Without the generation of sales, your business will fail.  Your selling technique and your sales strategy are just a few of the tools used in creating a successful start-up business. Whether you are the only salesperson, you have a sales manager or even a sales team, the business must develop an effective sales strategy:

Pre-Planning the Plan

In order to create a plan for an effective sales strategy, you must first determine what your sales goals and objectives are for your business. Once the objectives are solidified and defined, you will then need to determine a timeline in which you will launch and implement each goal. You also need to use your market research to understand who your customers are, the best way your company can meet the need of the consumer and the best way in which you can reach your target customer in order to develop your sales technique. During the pre-planning stage is the best time to become exhaustively familiar with the products you sell or the service you provide, your sales quotas and your sales territory. You will also need to determine how much of your working capital you will need to devote to developing and implementing your sales strategies.

Creating the Plan

Once you have your objectives and timeline in place and you understand your market, you can then begin to create your sales strategy plan. You will need to determine your weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly sales goals. From there you can create sales action plans that will help you hit each goal. You will also need to decide if you want one sales strategy for everybody that works for you or if each position has their own unique technique. If you have a small start up business, you can usually get away with having one overall strategy; however, if you have multiple departments or have employers that work off commission, you may want different sales strategies for each position.

Implementing the Plan

Now that you have your sales strategy developed and tailored to meet the specific needs of your business, it is time to put it into action. The first step in implementing your plan for generating sales is knowing your customer and their needs which will allow you to build a rapport with them and lay the foundation for a good business relationship. The cost of your product or service should be explained clearly within your strategy with no hidden costs that are going to surprise the customer later on down the road which is one of the fastest ways to lose return customers. Selling a customer your product or service is always easier when the one doing the selling has confidence in what they are selling.

Developing an effective sales strategy is crucial for a startup business. This lays the ground work for repeat customers and an on-going and growing generation of sales. Continue satisfying the needs of your customers and they will continue buying from you.

How do you come up with a sales focus which drives the most amount of growth to your business and profit to your bottom line?

Some strategy tips are:

Strategy 1. Think big and audit your time. No matter the size of your business, place a mental image in your mind as if you are the largest and most successful person in your industry. How much time is consumed by routine office work someone else should be doing? Spend more time with more important tasks such as marketing strategies, improving customer relations, and implementing new strategies to expand your services.

Strategy 2. Be different and stand out from the competition. Jordan Furniture sells more furniture per square foot than any other furniture store in the nation. They transformed their family-owned business into a multi-million dollar corporation by

following a principle called “shoppertainment.” To surprise employees and customers, Barry and Eliot Tatleman dressed up like the Lone Ranger and Tonto and rode horses in their parking lot. They built an IMax theater inside one store to entertain children while their parents shopped. When you drive around the back to pick up your furniture they provide you free hotdogs and wash your car windows.

Strategy 3. Build relationships with your customers. For each month that goes by, customers lose 10% of their buying power. Create a customer database and contact them on a regular basis. Mail them a postcard, birthday card, sales flyer, newsletter etc. to keep your name, phone number, and service on their mind.

Strategy 4. Collect E-Mail Addresses. Get permission from your customers to use their E-mail address. Periodically send updates and notices to your client list. As long as you have their permission and avoid overuse, E-mail can be a powerful and inexpensive marketing tool.

Strategy 5. Hire top sales people. Successful businesses realize the quality of their sales staff is critical to sustaining their growth in the marketplace. A top salesperson can outsell an average one 4 to 1. Sales people must understand their strengths and have a well-defined plan to reach their potential. Many companies can provide you sales assessments to both identify top candidates and develop currently employed sales people.

Strategy 6. Put a shopping cart on your website. Online sales are still growing at a dramatic pace. This is coming from people who want to save time, avoid crowded stores, convenience, and the ability to shop outside of store hours. Just consider E-Bay for example, which generates millions of dollars of sales each year. It does not cost anything to set up an account on E-Bay, and you pay a proportion based on the cost of the item you are trying to sell. If you don’t want to use E-bay, consider using your own shopping cart system on your website.

Strategy 7. Pay-per-click advertising. Many business owners are finding classified advertising is not an effective use of their marketing dollars. Others are finding pay-per-click advertising is an easier and cheaper way to reach a larger market. Pay-per-click will insure you receive top visibility on websites driving more customers to your door. Advertisers bid on keywords and the more popular the keyword, the more expensive each click is. Prices vary between ten cents to many dollars depending on the popularity of the word. The most popular pay-per-click advertisers are Google, Business.com, and Yahoo.

Strategy 8. Use customer service commandments to create good habits. Bates Ace Hardware store located in Atlanta created “Twenty Customer Service Commandments” modeled after the Ritz-Carlton hotels outlining specific behaviors employees are to demonstrate when dealing with customers and fellow employees. For example, “Accompany a customer to the correct aisle instead of pointing to another area of the store.” They print the commandments on a small card and employees carry it with them at work.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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