Monthly Archives: November 2011
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or puts its failure behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians Hall Of Fame Pitcher
I am a huge baseball fan. Played it for many years, watch it whenever I can, go to the ballpark whenever I have the opportunity. One of my dreams is to take a road trip to all of the recently built new stadiums and enjoy the local ambiance and spirit of the fans.
Recently I have found life to be more challenging then ever. Finding the right professional opportunity. Spending enough time with the family. Making sure to get those workouts in, eat healthy, have fun, learn, grow, support three teenage daughters (One is actually 20) – man life has become challenging. Add to that the desire to stay up on technology, innovation, new business opportunities, stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, e-mail, cell phone, text messages and the like. Whoa! When you list it it looks overwhelming.
What I have learned is that life does imitate baseball. Some days when you have all of your pitches working, you feel as if you can conquer the world. You can spot the fastball, buckle the knees with the curve, throw that nasty slider and of course freeze the hitter with your circle change-up. On these days, everything is so easy.
Other days we take the mound, but we do not have our best stuff. We make the best out of what we have. We course correct, use different speeds, try to change the cadence, think outside the box, we persevere and many times we succeed. These are the victories that we savor because we had to do everything possible to get through today’s game.
And then of course there are days where we just don’t have it. We grab a glove, get in the game, but nothing works. We try and try and try to no avail. It happens to everyone, even the best of them. But the best of them learn from these experiences, modify their approach, practice and prepare even more for the next game.
Did you have your fastball yesterday? Do you have it today? If not, what did you learn? What are you doing differently today?
Today is Your Day – Make it Great!
Technology is really amazing. Consumers have become more and more reliant on using technology is our day-to-day lives. From searching for a service or business, identifying activities for the kids, checking for traffic conditions, looking for a new mate or a new job, we pretty much use search for everything.
Employees are constantly connected to their companies and their lives with smart devices, providing ease of access to company research/databases, competitive information, business intelligence and many other nuggets and information that power the knowledge workers.
Business owners, from retailers to e-commerce to service providers, are highly dependent on search and SEO in order to be found by perspective customers, connect with their existing customers and build their brand.
Search and SEO are essential for businesses. Today we basically type a few words into a browser and we are prompted with a list of possible options enabled through the power of Google, Bing and Yahoo. These choices help us to become more focused in our search and cut down on the amount of time we are on the hunt. We have become highly dependent on this option as well as the preview screen so we do not even have to go to a site if it does not look right. This is how we find those local businesses today.
Now that this is a norm, we can all relax right? No as search has just started to change again. No more word searches, image searches, contextual searches etc. - Now we do voice search. Can you say flux capacitor?
Siri, the recently released voice recognition app that allows iPhone users to control their cell phones verbally — seems like a cool party trick, sending text messages from your spoken instructions, checking the weather and setting up calendar reminders.
But that is not all it does or will do. It will rapidly become the way you search for everything. ”Call me a cab” and it will do that. As your personal assistant, Siri will continue to learn with you and provide you with what you need, when you need it. Are we there yet? Not quite. Will we be there soon. Yes we will!
For small businesses, start the learning process now. Connecting with your customers via search and SEO just changed…… again. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.
In support of our local businesses this holiday season.
November 26th is a very important day for Small Businesses. And it is also a very important day for shoppers to vote with your wallets
Small business drives our economy and as you know our economy is hurting big time with no end in sight. Small businesses represent 99 percent of U.S. employers and employ about half of the nation’s private-sector workforce..
We continue to modify our behavior and shop the big box stores, looking for the best deals, using Living Social, Groupon, Google and Amazon local deals. We are also fully connected via our mobile devices so we can have deals sent to us, activated when we walk by a participating retailer. We can check in via FourSquare, SCVNGR and FaceBook and we can search the web for deals on just about anything. As I said, the economy is tough, so we are all looking for deals.
Many of these very cool and engaging technologies are not yet embraced by small businesses as they just do not have the resources to capitalize on all of these proactive traffic building and response tools. Many small businesses have used these services, but they cannot maintain the frequency necessary to capture your mind share.
Small Business Saturday is about Main Street, not Wall Street. It’s about entrepreneurs and families selling things that the chains and e-commerce companies aren’t. Only small businesses can offer truly unique gifts and the most genuinely friendly customer service.
Small Business Saturday is also about supporting the local economy. The chain stores are owned by bigger companies that are probably based somewhere other than your hometown, but small businesses are usually owned by your neighbors. When you shop at a small business, you’re supporting your local economy and your local job base.
So here’s the deal. Go shopping on November 26th but only go to your local merchants. Or as you are putting your holiday budget together, allocate 1/3rd of it to support your local community. They will have a great holiday season, you will get great service and a big smile and you will exemplify what the holidays are all about – GIVING!
Happy Small Business Shopping on November 26th and for all the rest of the days leading up to your special holiday celebration.
Yes company culture is important!
There are many different ways that corporate cultures are created. Founder leadership for many start-ups is so passionate, so inspirational, so meaningful for many employees that they will follow the founder into the foxhole and do whatever is necessary to make it work. For those great entrepreneurial cultures that grow into successful small, medium and large businesses, this passionate approach and the many unique experiences that folks have bond them not only at the company, but for life.
Other cultures are created, not because of the specific leadership or passion of the founder, but because the founder provides a foundation for employees to communicate, to experience success and to win together. I watched a brief video yesterday about Kiva Systems, http://www.kivasystems.com/, a company that uses game-changing automation technology for distribution centers that helps companies simplify operations and reduce costs while increasing strategic flexibility. CEO Mike Mountz mentioned that as new folks joined the company, they were impressed and awed by the culture. But Mr. Mountz did not create a specific culture. Once they had around 100 employees, management asked the employees to define what they loved about the culture and then they worked to establish the operating principles for their business……and their awesome success.
These examples are illustrative of successful entrepreneurial companies that established awesome cultures, but took different paths. For those of us that have had the privilege of working for high growth, fast paced, highly focused organizations, the culture is apparent as soon as you walk in the door. You can just feel the energy, the enthusiasm, the passion of the people focused on two things – winning and enjoying it. Ego’s are checked at the door, employees are solely focused on solving problems, capturing market share and kicking the competitions ass. Simple really.
Many of us have also worked for cultures that are unhealthy, stifled, inflexible, hierarchical and rigid. These companies have arrived here in a variety of ways – a lack of leadership talent, no strategy or focus, short term focus on profitability or a business that fears failure and has no idea how to make it work. This type of environment is all too prevalent in companies that have lost their way, have stopped investing in people and in their business, companies that are relying on repeating legacy successes, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle once again. Headline for these businesses – change or die.
Many of us have also experienced these types of businesses – as soon as you walk in the building you feel nothing; no passion, no energy, no electricity, no hope. It is just painfully obvious to everyone that hope is not a strategy.
Business owners – choose your path and establish a culture of passion, collaboration, honesty and integrity. Your employees will love it and the energy created by your team will light the path for your success.
Third in a series about why businesses fail.
If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.
As my old friend “Da Coacha” would say, classic rock and roll from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’. So what the heck does this mean for you small business. Everything!
Growing up I had no idea what “a bustle in your hedgerow’ meant and after doing research there are a variety of “thoughts” around the meaning, some that are just not suitable for this blog. So here are your options:
1. It does not mean anything
2. It means something really deep
3. It means whatever you want it to mean
Take the poll and let me know what you think.
For business owners and employees the question is what road are you on and is there time to change the road you are on. You are the only one that knows what road you are on but you still have plenty of time to make the change.
Many employees are stuck in jobs, happy to have the work, collecting a paycheck and wondering is this all there is to work. They go to work everyday wondering if today is the day; the day when management walks in and says “I am sorry, we have to let you go.” You did a good job, but management is judge and jury. Others have a job but wonder everyday, “what else can I be doing to make an impact?” ”What can I do to change the monotony of this job, my life?”
Many small business employers wonder the same thing. ”Is this what running my own business means?” All I want to really do is what I love to do, the real reason why I started the business and not have to worry about marketing, advertising, social, Facebook, Linked In etc.. And they ask, “what can I do to change the monotony of this job, my life?”
Well tomorrow when you wake up, ask yourself this question. ”Is this what I want to do?” “Is this the company I want to do it for?” “Am I living up to my potential and making a difference in my professional and personal life?” ”Am I giving back and helping others be successful?”
Is the company that you work for providing you what you need to succeed? As a small business owner, are you providing your employees with the training, challenge and ability to grow everyday so that they are not asking themselves these questions?”
Hey this stuff is hard. That is why they call is work. And it makes me wonder……..
Second in a series as to why businesses fail.
Continuing yesterday’s theme using definitions, here is one from Wikipedia on Transparency in Business – Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed.
Given all of the issues over the last few years with financial firms, accounting regulations, Bernie Madoff and the like, we hear the word transparency quite a bit these days. Many businesses use transparency as a key word to secure your trust as an employee, to provide you with a sense of greater good, where they craft the illusion that they are above reproach and will treat you with the dignity and respect that you deserve.
Of course this is really nothing more than marketing spin, getting you to buy something you think you need. Only it is not a product they are trying to buy; it is your trust. So you walk into managements office and they say “We are a very transparent company” or “I am a very transparent manager and I expect complete transparency from you as well.” And because you want to believe in this world where ethics, morals, honesty, trust and integrity have gone right down the old Bemis, that it will be different for you at this employer, because deep down that is what you would like it to be. Do not fall for this jive.
All organizations have a transparency culture, that part of the culture that relates to transparency; but few have a culture of transparency, i.e., a culture of being aware of transparency and incorporating it routinely into how things are done.
So we are going to change the definition of business transparency today – the new definition is that business transparency occurs only when it is convenient for the business, regardless of what is said or stated on one’s website. Think about it. Why does every PowerPoint presentation come with a confidentiality clause even when it is just an internal presentation and even after you have signed a confidentiality clause anyway upon gaining your employment? Or why is there so much legal mumbo jumbo to govern your every phone, e-mail or chat? The reason is so an employer can use this information anyway they want to fit their needs. Don’t ever forget this.
If you are a business owner, take a minute to reflect on how you are running your business. Are you truly being transparent and engaging your employees regularly with the business challenges and ideas necessary to grow and create an environment of trust, passion and success? Or are you a business leader that manipulates their employees, engaging them only when you deem necessary or when it fits your definition of transparency?
Take a look in the mirror. Who are you?
First of a series of articles about why businesses fail.
According to Dictionary.com, ignorance is defined as a lack of knowledge, learning and information. The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, pride and arrogance. The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
Ok swebman, you say this is a business blog, what does this have to do with business? It has everything to do with your business being successful. But why?
Great businesses like Apple, Google, Walmart, Intel and so many others that we admire continue to forge ahead and not only embrace the future but define it. They have no fear of the future; they require that their employees stay ahead of the market trends, try new ideas, embrace social media, test new technologies and disrupt their own businesses for the benefits of future growth.
Then of course there are many companies that are trapped in old business models, putting their toes in the water on new ideas, just to say that they are doing it, trying to convince their employees that there is a future, even though they already know there is not one, except for the owners and their cronies who will continue to bask in the glow of their former glory and continue to make money, be satisfied with their own opinions and content with their own knowledge. They will sit around and convince themselves that they are still relevant and meaningful. Now that is ignorance.
You know that they have no clue about what you are talking about and they are too lazy to actually learn. They ask questions like “What does that company do” or ‘how does that align to our strategy”? Not only do they not know but when you explain it to them they still do not understand; you know why, they don’t care to understand.
These same companies monitor employees e-mails, interpret them out of context, and then sit there, comfortable in their own smugness and arrogance, and determine if you or another employee are a threat to their relevance because you challenge their opinions and their knowledge. And then when they feel threatened, they can concoct any story they want and find a reason to move an employee out of the company, you know why, because they can.
They do this to make sure that you do not disrupt their safe havens; do not challenge their self-indulged superiority, nor have to work any harder to explain to their equally self-absorbed superior what you were trying to do. They just dismiss it and move on.
What type of business leader are you? One that embraces the future and can lead people that know things you do not know or do you just squash innovation and beg for the good old days. Headline for you; those days are not coming back.
Whether you are running a small business or a large business, it is time to wake up and embrace the current and future changes. If you do not, your ignorance will make you irrelevant.
The news about smartphone penetration continues to be incredible. Adoption rates continue to climb and more importantly, your key customer targets, people between the ages of 18-44 are using smartphones more than ever. The question for your business is what are you doing to reach your customers and prospects?
Nielsen’s third quarter survey of mobile users reveals that while only 43 percent of all US mobile phone subscribers own a smartphone, a mobile phone with a powerful operating system, the vast majority of those under the age of 44 now have smartphones. In fact 62 percent of mobile adults aged 25-34 report owning smartphones. And among those 18-24 and 35-44 years old the smartphone penetration rate is hovering near 54 percent.
As a smartphone owner, my behavior has become more and more mobile and my tolerance for non-mobile sites is near zero. Using a browser on a mobile device? How bad is that? Have you downloaded an app? Well 30 million apps are downloaded worldwide every day. What are you waiting for?
40 percent of 45-54 year-olds reported owning a smartphone, as opposed to a more basic feature phone. The segment with the second fastest-growing smartphone penetration rate is those aged 55-64. Smartphone penetration among this older group is only 30 percent, but it jumped 5 percent this quarter. The baby boomers also are going mobile.
Your ability to connect and stay relevant to your customers and prospects is changing rapidly. Are you keeping up?