Monthly Archives: January, 2016

The Importance of Day-to-Day Operations

January 27th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Engagement, Strategic Planning 0 thoughts on “The Importance of Day-to-Day Operations”

Having the right business tools is vital to a company’s day-to-day operations, and when it comes to running a business, it’s those daily tasks that really matter.

Too many businesses fall into the habit of thinking too much on strategy and not enough on operations. It’s a really easy trap to fall into. You make plans, then you make some more plans, and all the while your eyes fixed are on the horizon, but you’ve forgotten what is right in front of you.

And that’s how businesses crash and burn.

Think Big, then Act Small

While your vision is the ultimate way to go from startup to success, it’s the small, day-to-day tasks that actually get you there.

Think of your business vision as a roadmap and your day-to-day operations as the car that takes you to your destination. The map is a blueprint that shows you the way, but the car is the one doing all the work. In order to make sure that you get to where you are going, that car is going to need gas, oil changes and all sorts of other maintenance along the way.

BIAThese bits of maintenance are your daily operations, and they really do matter to your business.

Formulating your Day-to-Day Operations

The Business is ART book talks a lot about business visions and strategies for success, but it also covers how your business should operate on a day-to-day basis.

And it all starts with delegation and accountability.

On the “One Page Strategic Plan”, located in the “Freebies” section of the website, you will notice that there are multiples areas for strategic objectives and initiatives, each of which can be assigned to members of your team (or yourself).

These are the building blocks from which successful business operations are built. But they are not listed on the plan just so that you can keep track of who is in charge of what. They are there to remind team members every day of what needs to get done.

The biggest mistake that a business leader can make if failing to communicate the needs of the business from day to day. Employees need to know what is essential for success. The purpose of assigning tasks to a person’s name is not to scare them into feeling that they have to get it done but to keep them accountable to themselves and the their team.

Take Care of Your Clients, Not Just Your Sales

It’s the daily work you do that helps you retain your customers, and it is important to not allow the business to become overloaded on the back end. Sure, making a lot of sales and driving in new business is an effective method of growth, but healthy growth is sustained only by taking care of the clients that you have.

Once your resources and manpower become stretched to the point where your team cannot keep up with the day-to-day operations, you have entered the territory of unhealthy growth.

Equip Yourself with the Right Tools

The Business is ART book is a great way to learn the ropes of running a successful business, but it is the BIA Software (which will be available soon) that will act as a guide for your day-to-day operations. The templates it provides will help you keep your business on track. For now, you can always check out the other BIA resources that are available for free.

Rebranding

January 25th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, CEO, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “Rebranding”
rebranding infographic

Courtesy Wheelhouse Advisors

Rebranding and branding have been on my mind a lot lately. With a book, an online radio show, some new services and a lot more definition around what I do as a consultant, it’s a valid concern. I started independent consulting as SeaSeven LLC and used an online service to generate a logo, just to get something up and running without a lot of investment.

The Questions

A few months ago, I removed that logo from my website and any new marketing materials. Instead, the website now reads “Jon Umstead – doing business as SeaSeven LLC.” Is there any point continuing that practice of identifying myself? I’ll maintain the LLC for legal and contract purposes, potentially with a name change, but do I need to advertise it?

And what about the software I plan to release this year? It’s based off of the process and templates defined in Business is ART, but is it the Business is ART Software, BIA Software, or does it get a name all to itself unrelated to the title of the book that gave birth to it?

Seems Like All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

So many considerations when it comes to branding and rebranding, and I am certainly not alone. Almost all of the members of the CEO/Business Owner mastermind group I facilitate are at least giving it thought. Every day you read about another well known brand going through a rebranding effort, including complete name changes.

Just as the continual changes in everything that surrounds us drives us to require a constantly evolving strategic plan, it also drives us to continually ask “Do I have the right brand strategy?”

Do you?

How BIA Can Help Your Business Grow 30% Faster

January 20th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Goal, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “How BIA Can Help Your Business Grow 30% Faster”

Everyone wants their business to grow quickly, but not everyone succeeds in doing so year after year. Sometimes growth seems to stagnate, leaving us wondering exactly what the key to business success is. How do we reach that moment of bliss when the needle begins to move in the right direction?

Is it sales and marketing, or perhaps strategy? Or is it some mystical secret that only a few know of?

growing your business is bliss

photo courtesy of gratisography.com

This question is brought up in the Business is ART book, and the answer really comes down to a single equation, an acronym, to be more precise. You see, running a successful business really is an ART.

  • Articulate your vision and plans
  • Revise plans consistently
  • Track your results

The Business is ART secret is that having a formal plan can help your business grow 30 percent faster. You just have to follow the three steps above in order to create and implement one. Throughout the course of the book, each one of these three steps is covered in great detail, but there are a few quick pointers that can be said about each one of them, just to give you a push in the right direction.

Articulate Your Vision and Plans

Everything starts with your vision, which is what you dream that your company can become. This can include both long and short-term plans, and can encompass everything from your goals, the strategies you have to achieve them and how you intend to move forward with your day-to-day operations.

The most important part about your vision is that you share it with your employees. Don’t just tell it to them, write it down. Create a strategic plan that is easy for each employee to understand and most importantly, let each and every one of them know how they fit into the overall puzzle.

Once you have your vision laid out, you can begin to see how fast your company can grow by making the right strategic choices.

Revise, Revise, Revise

Running a successful business is all about being able to adapt to change. Is something that you are trying not working? Try something else. Is there a new technology on the market that is helping companies grow? Implement it. You must constantly revise everything about your strategy and your goals in order to achieve the success that you’ve been looking for.

No strategy works indefinitely.

Track Your Results

The final step in the overall process is tracking your results. It is impossible to know if and how something is working if you are not keeping up with your KPIs and performance results. So long as you can figure out what metrics are worth tracking, you can track them in order to learn how to improve them.

Is it Really This Simple?

The idea behind Business is ART really is that simple, but the real determinant is how hard you are willing to work at building your business. Running a business is an art, but it is also science and work, and only you know if you are really up to the task.

By reading the Business is ART book, using the software subscription and following all the guidelines in the “Resources” section of the website, you truly can make your business grow faster than you can imagine.

While most softwares only focus on creating overly complex business plans, the BIA software and book focus on everything from creating a vision, painting the picture of your business, strategizing, business planing and tracking your performance metrics. And does it in a simplified manner.

Growing your business all starts with your vision and ends with your determination to make it happen.

Humor in the Workplace

January 18th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership, Relationships 0 thoughts on “Humor in the Workplace”
humor at work

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Levity is a Funny Thing

This week marks the anniversary of the Coen’s brothers movie Blood Simple. Admittedly, I’ve never seen the movie, but the Coen’s are among my favorite movie makers and that movie put them on the map.

Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou are among my favorite all time films. I’m looking forward to checking out Hail, Caesar but will continue to avoid The Big Lebowski on some kind of weird principle that has also kept me from watching Titanic. I guess it just feels like jumping on the bandwagon when I’d rather be in the band.

Suffice it to say, though, that I like humor and I like to laugh. At work, at home, wherever I am. Humor is very welcome in my world.

Why You Gotta Be Like That?

Have you ever worked for someone who just had no sense of humor? I once worked for someone who, literally, I only heard laugh in mocking fashion at someone as she was about to tell the poor soul (often me) how stupid he or she had been. She even once told a guy that worked for me to stop smiling in a meeting because there was nothing to smile about.

True story. Miserable experience.

Is it Appropriate?

I have always felt humor in the workplace is a valuable tool. It creates a culture in which employees feel more engaged because, for one, they are more at ease and not constantly walking on egg shells. Study after study has shown that appropriate humor in the workplace is good for everything from employee health to profit. But the trick is that darned word “appropriate.”

How do you know what is appropriate and what is not? The answer can change depending on a multitude of variables including company size, line of business and the employees themselves. A good rule of thumb is to keep your humor G or PG-13 rated at worst. If it is sexist, racist, religious or any other “ist” or “ous”, think twice before saying it.

There are plenty of funny things to say and observe at work without going to humor destinations better suited for the bar or shared in private.

The Weekly See 7 – January 18, 2016 Edition.

Humor at work is the subject of the January 18, 2016 edition of my newsletter, The Weekly See 7. Enjoy…and lighten up!

How to Take Your Business Vision from Initial Ideas to Success

January 13th, 2016 Posted by Business Plan, CEO, Entrepreneur, Goal, Inspiration, Objective, Vision 0 thoughts on “How to Take Your Business Vision from Initial Ideas to Success”
Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Paying Homage to a Visionary

Earlier this week, music icon David Bowie died. The news and social media have rightfully been running all kinds of stories and tributes to him, and he was indeed influential in my life as well. Beginning in high school, I sang in bands but it wasn’t until a few years later I came in to my own as a vocalist. I distinctly remember it was in the middle of our cover of Bowie’s “Suffragette City”.

I was wearing these ridiculous all chrome glasses. Even the lenses were chrome so no one could see my eyes. We’re doing the song and I feel someone removing them from my face. That’s when I realized I’d had my eyes closed and was no longer seeing the crowd. I was just completely in to the song. I had zero thought nor care as to whether anyone was enjoying it or not. It simply didn’t matter because I was completely immersed in it…until that fan took off my glasses and momentarily brought me back to Earth.

It forever changed how I approached things. Fully immersing myself, not caring about what critics had to say.

People often mistook Bowie’s eyes for being of two different colors, but actually, they were the same color. One eye, however, was permanently dilated due to an injury from a punch to the face when he was a kid. This made it appear that his eyes were of two different colors, but it was just an optical illusion (every pun intended). Bowie actually used this distinct look to his advantage, recognizing that it gave him a certain visual mystique.

I think of it as giving him a unique view as a visionary, because whether you like his music and art or not, he was undeniably a visionary.

That’s a long lead in to this blog, but it felt right to pay some homage to one of the great artists of our time. Now let’s get down to the business of YOUR vision.

A Vision without a Plan

A company with a vision but no identifiable business plan is like a classic car without an engine. Sure, it’s beautiful to look at and sit in, and you can even imagine how fast it will go while racing down the highway, but once you turn that key to start the ignition, you’ll find that you are going nowhere pretty fast.

Without the building blocks to make it move, a car is really just a pretty hunk of metal.

This is how a lot of businesses start out: a vision is created, goals are set and the company decides on how to define success in their industry. This is a great start, but once the initial planning is over, too many businesses fail within the first few years. This is because defining success and formulating a plan to achieve that success are two very different things.

Make a Vision, Then Make a Business Plan

Your vision is what you want to achieve in your industry. Do you want to focus on innovation, customer service or quality products? Ask yourself how you want your company to be defined in the industry and what you want to do for your clients? This is your vision.

Your business plan is how you intend to achieve this vision.

Every company needs direction. Even the most talented team of experts needs direction, and you are just the person to lead that team.

Create a Strategic Plan

One of the things that the Business is ART book talks about is the one page strategic plan. This is a simple way to articulate and define the business objectives that you need to meet in order to achieve your vision.

Don’t know how to create a one page strategic plan? You’re in luck, there is a downloadable version of the template located in the “Freebies” section of this website. You can use this to plan, organize and track the progress that you are making on your business objectives.

Speaking of Tracking

How do you know if you are on the right path to achieving your vision? You track your performance results, of course.

Every business leader knows the benefits of tracking the company’s performance metrics. Without this crucial step in the process, you will never know in what areas you need to improve and where you should be staying the course.

The Next Steps

Achieving a vision is not a straight path, but a winding journey with many twists and turns. You have to be able to learn your industry and what it takes to run your business successfully. These lessons can be learned over time, and many of them are contained within the Business is ART book.

For more information, or to download the free templates, go to the Resources section of the website.

Leadership Legacy

January 10th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership, Owner, Relationships, Significance 0 thoughts on “Leadership Legacy”
Leadership Legacy

Leaders Have Vision

This week in my personal blog – #Significance – I discuss three local men who did very well in life, but still made it a priority to give back to their community, each one leaving a legacy for generations to come.

EMBA Assignment

It reminds me of a passage from Business is ART in which I discuss an assignment we received as part of our Executive MBA course curriculum. This particular assignment was for each of the 50 members of our cohort to stand up in front of the others and give a 5-minute presentation entitled “My Leadership Legacy.”

The presentations ran from very funny to deeply moving, but in every case, we came to understand each other on a much greater level than we had the rest of the entire time we were in the program together.

Applying What We Learned

It was such a powerful experience that I brought the exercise back to my business and asked each of the approximately 40 leaders that reported to me to complete the same assignment.

When all was said and done, the same results experienced in the EMBA program occurred – each leader left feeling more connected to one another than before.

But this time, as each leader stood up and presented the leadership legacy statement to the rest of us, I took notes. Later, I went back through the notes and noticed distinct trends, so consolidated them into a series of 11 leadership legacy statements. These statements were subsequently presented back to the team. We then printed and farmed the statements and hung them on the office walls to remind ourselves that this is who we are.

Here are the 11 statements we developed from our exercise, but I highly recommend you come up with your own, whether it’s just you or your collective team that does it. You’ll get to know yourself and others like you never have before.

Be open. Be honest. Have fun! 

Our Leadership Legacy Statements

  1. As a leader, it is my responsibility to own and communicate a vision
  2. As a leader, my actions speak louder than my words
  3. As a leader, I am empathetic to others
  4. As a leader, I instill trust
  5. As a leader, I teach others
  6. As a leader, I am flexible
  7. As a leader, I never stop learning
  8. As a leader, I contribute to the growth of others
  9. As a leader, I recognize the strengths of others
  10. As a leader, I create and promote teamwork
  11. As a leader, I celebrate our success

Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck

January 5th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Employment, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership, Owner, Relationships 0 thoughts on “Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck”
Incentive

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck originally appeared on an earlier version of the Business is ART web site, January 25, 2015. I was reminded of it last night sitting in as a guest on Dr. Jessica Cortez’ new show at TrueChatInc.com – In Sickness and Health. Click here to listen on Soundcloud and scroll down to the show segment entitled “This isn’t Our First Rodeo.”

How many times have you asked why you should incentivize people to do their job when a paycheck should be incentive enough? Taking this attitude is a huge mistake, and here is why.

Most people desire to do a good job. Doing good, quality work produces an emotional response of feeling good, feeling valued, and feeling happy. It’s pride. People want to do good work. The employer, however, wants exceptional work, and often assumes everyone knows what that means.

The Incentive Chasm

From the start, this may create a huge chasm in expectations. What one might, legitimately, see as good work, may be seen by the employer as not good enough. So it is very important to formally set expectations in order to eliminate the chasm.

Define “good enough” in your organization and then stretch it a bit to say “but this is exceptional.” Then go on to say, “And this is what I expect of you.”

You are paying people a base wage or salary for the “good enough,” however that is defined.  The intent of the incentive is to get them go beyond “good enough” and achieve “exceptional.”

Define Expectations and Incentives

However you approach it, it is important that you formally define “good enough” and “exceptional”, and critical that you communicate what that means in terms of expectations and reward. Formally define the incentive and when it is earned, give it with pleasure.

Your risk of not doing so is losing employees who truly are exceptional or have the potential to be.

Start with a Plan this New Year

January 3rd, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “Start with a Plan this New Year”
Vision, strategy, plan, business plan

Don’t Lose Sight

Bloated, tired and resolute. That’s how many of us feel as we ring in the new year – determined that this time the resolutions will stick. I WILL lose the weight. I WILL exercise regularly. I WILL get that job. I WILL start that business.

The year usually starts off with us going hard and fast after our resolutions, but within a few weeks for most, it turns back in to business as usual.

For me personally, it will be awfully tough to top 2015. I married the woman I love, which would have made it a great year if nothing else happened.

But a lot more did happen. I published a book and produced a musical that I’d written. I launched a new web site for the book, defined a new consulting service and started an online, on-demand radio program named after the book.

I also got a new hip, and although major surgery like that is no fun and I am still improving from it, I am looking very forward to walking again without pain.

Yes, 2015 was a good year. What will 2016 be like? Who knows? But a couple of good things in the plans include the marriage of 2 of our kids this coming Fall.

And there is the magic word – “plans.”

Whatever your resolutions or goals and objectives this year, without a plan for getting there, you’ll be making the same resolutions net year. No matter what you want to accomplish, it all begins with a plan.

Here’s to making this New Year the year you begin with a plan.

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