Monthly Archives: April, 2016

10 Secret Reasons You Will Read This Post

April 29th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Digital Marketing 0 thoughts on “10 Secret Reasons You Will Read This Post”
Read

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Want to know the 10 secret reasons you will read this post? OK, maybe you won’t read all of it, but you’re here now, and chances are you will at least scan it. One reason, we just love lists. Why?

A List of 10 Reasons to List 10 Things

Here are a few reasons:

#1 – Popularity. Everyone does it. This isn’t a new form of advertising. If it didn’t work, the pros and experts would not do it.

#2 – Promise. You see a list as a specific promise from the writer. “Read this and in exchange for your valuable time, here is what you’re going to get in return.”

#3 – Expertise. When you see a list you tend to think the writer must have some level of expertise on the subject matter at hand.

#4 – Sharing. It makes it easy for you to share a post for all of the very same reasons. When you share posts that people in your network or platform are more inclined to read, it gives you credibility as well. They’ll look forward to your next share because they know you share stuff that is meaningful to them, and thus, you saved them search time.

#5 – Scanning. It makes it easy to scan content. We are all in a hurry these days and the more automation available to us, the less patience we have. The ability to scan information keeps us from getting grumpy and inpatient.

#6 – Magic. 10 seems to be a magic number. You rate performances and physical attraction on a scale of 1 to 10. You have top ten lists. 3 or 4 seems like you’re not trying. Personally, I think fewer is better and don’t like forcing a list to 10, but, experts say they have 10 good reasons to say I don’t know what I’m talking about.

#7 – Power. A list puts the power in your hands. As you scan the list you discard the items that don’t resonate with you and latch on to the information you want to consume.

#8 – Exclusivity. You like to be in on a secret or have exclusive information others don’t, so when you see a number of secrets or ways to do something in a list, you join the exclusive club.

#9 – Challenge. A list challenges you to add to the list. You might say to yourself, “These are all OK, but let me tell you another one.” Which lead us to #10.

#10 – More. Add your own secret reason to this list (hint – none of these are really secrets).

Apply Lists to Life and Business

As I say in my book Business is ART, I am a proud member of Less is More University – LIMU, Home of the Fighting Minimalists. So, here are 2 good reasons to make lists of your own in life and in business – not 10, but 2:

  • You will minimize the potential to constantly be in reaction mode
  • You will maximize accomplishments – if for no other reason than you simply didn’t forget to do something

Here’s Another List of 10

This post would not be complete if I did not include a list of the best 10 Business is ART Blog posts that used enumerated lists in the headline. I seem to be stuck on “3” or “4”. Does that make me lazy or a quitter?

Enjoy, and thanks for reading what I told you you would:

  1. 3 Big Reasons Startups Fail
  2. 5 Ways to Provide Excellent Customer Service
  3. 3 Tips to Ensure Success
  4. 5 Steps to Mitigate the Cost of a Data Breach
  5. 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business
  6. 4 Tools to Make Your Business a Success
  7. 4 Secrets to a Good Meeting
  8. 4 Secrets to Creativity
  9. 5 Ways to Deal With Doubt
  10. 3 Pillars of Behavior

Improve the Quality of Your Life

April 26th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Improve the Quality of Your Life”
Ivan Misner

Who’s In Your Room?

How would you rate the quality of your life?

Dr. Ivan Misner has been called the father of modern networking. He is the founder of Business Networking International (BNI), the world’s largest business networking organization and a New York Time’s best selling author.

He is a dedicated family man, world traveler and a black belt in karate.

By all indications, the quality of his life is pretty good.

I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Annual National BNI Conference Member Day last week in Cincinnati where Dr. Misner spent time speaking in various breakout sessions, one of which was based on the book he co-wrote with Stewart Emery and Rick Sapio entitled Who’s In Your Room?

Once In, You Can’t Get Out

The book and the presentation begin with a simple scenario. Imagine that you spend your entire life in just one room and that whoever and whatever you let in to your room will be there with you forever. Once in, they can’t get out.

As the lyrics to the Eagle’s song “Hotel California” say, “You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave.”

If this were how you were to live for the rest of your life, who and what would you let in? Would you be more selective? Most of us probably would be.

The Room is Real

Indeed, our brains are that room, and whether we are consciously or unconsciously aware of them, everyone and everything we have ever let in to our lives are now part of our room. They are there and they aren’t going anywhere. So shouldn’t we be more selective about who we let in? Of course we should.

As the book states right up front, “The quality of your life depends upon who is in your room.”

The Importance of the Doorman

It goes on to discuss the concept of a virtual doorman to control who gets in. In the case of professional groups like BNI, this may be a membership committee that reviews and checks all applicants. For an individual like yourself, YOU are the doorman.

The job of the doorman is to ensure that anyone allowed entrance to your room should share the same values, not necessarily the same beliefs, but the same values as you. Anyone allowed entry will support you and what matters the most to you. New entrants often bring the very talents and skills you are looking to add to your room.

The doorman has to know who and what gets in, and that all starts with you. You first have to get to know yourself, define yourself, and be comfortable with who you are and who you want to become. You need to define a clear vision, mission and purpose for yourself so that you can more clearly define the criteria for entrance in to your room.

But don’t wait around to do that because, in the meantime,` the one-way door is wide open and the room is getting crowded.

Who’s In Your Room? is a quick but invaluable read. You can find it in the BNI Member’s Store by clicking here. If you aren’t a BNI member and have trouble locating the book, please contact me and I’ll help you get it.

Do I Really Need a Business Plan?

April 22nd, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Do I Really Need a Business Plan?”
bia

Photo Courtesy of Mike Birt at MB Images

Business plans are a strangely divisive topic.  If you’re starting a business, it would make sense that you would have a plan for it, right?  And yet, there are articles and blog posts from a number of reputable sources saying that the business plan is an outdated concept.

They will tell you that modern businesses and markets change too quickly for you to create a formal plan.  That planning will eat up time that could be spent making money with your business.  But let’s look at it from a different angle.

Let’s say you’re the commander of an army, and there’s a battle before you.  What do you think will happen if you charge in immediately, saying to your troops “we’ll just figure this out as we go”?

You’ll probably lose.

And without a plan of attack, your business’s chances of losing increase significantly.  According to a study by Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 businesses fail.  More conservative estimates say that by year 5, half of new businesses no longer exist. And other surveys show that the majority of businesses these days don’t have a formal plan.

Coincidence?

Sure, your business could make it through without a business plan, but why risk it?  There are plenty of great reasons why you should have a business plan:

Having a Plan Means You Make Stuff Happen

Data from the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics shows that people with a business plan are two and a half times more likely to start their business.  Because they’ve laid out how they’re going to go about their business, they know where to begin and where they’re going, and they actually do it.

If You’re Getting Investors, It’s Not an Option

Looking to get some venture capitalists and other investors behind your business?  They’re going to want to see your plan.  They don’t want to hear you describe the picture you see in your head.  They want to see the picture drawn out for them.  The same is true for banks.  Even friends and family may want to see a plan before handing over any money.

They’re Simpler Than You Think

A common reason people skip over making a business plan is because they think it’s a huge amount of work.  They imagine this novel sized outline of every little detail about their business that will take months to create.  There may have been a time when this was true, but that time has passed.

A modern business plan doesn’t have to be overly complex.  They don’t need pages of spreadsheets and estimated figures.  Most of what they contain, you probably already have worked out in your head.

By writing it out, however, you’re able to better see and conceptualize it.  You might spot issues you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.  You can show it to other people, whether it’s investors, coaches, contractors, or employees.

They’re Not Set in Stone

Just because you write out a business doesn’t mean that’s exactly how you’re going to have to carry out your business forever.  Business plans are relatively short term in the first place.  Even in the short term, you’re free to change things as needed.

But the business plan can also act as an anchor that grounds you on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it that way.  In business, you will get emotional, and emotions don’t always lead to the best decisions.

The plan is unemotional.  It’s a constant.  Every experiment needs a constant, and in many ways, starting a business is an experiment.

So make a plan.

You can learn more about how to make a business plan by purchasing Business is Art here.

3 Big Reasons Startups Fail

April 19th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “3 Big Reasons Startups Fail”

About half of startup businesses never make it to the 5th year. There are many reasons for this and it doesn’t always mean failure. But here are 3 big reasons startups fail at such a high rate.

How to Establish Trust (Part 2)

April 15th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Engagement, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “How to Establish Trust (Part 2)”
Kevin West

Kevin West – Your Home Comfort Guy

The following is part 2 of a 2 part series on establishing trust.

On segment #27 of the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network, my guest was business owner Kevin West of Your Home Comfort Guy, a heating and air conditioning company. Kevin is also the president of the Champion City Chapter (Springfield, Ohio) of BNI (Business Networking International). Our topic of discussion was “Trust” and during the course of the conversation, Kevin listed several means for building trust in your business, summarized in this 2 part series. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, follow this link and click on Segment #27 – Trust Me.You Home Comfort Guy

In part 1 of this 2 part series, we discussed how appearance, behavior, and knowing/defining who you and your business can be 3 means of establishing trust. In this part, we complete the series with 3 additional methods for doing so.

Seek Out Referrals

Referrals drive business and save advertising costs. That goes without saying. But the level of trust in a referral situation goes much deeper. First, again stating the obvious, referrals instill a level of trust that the customer has in your and your business simply because “someone else said it was good, so, I’ll try it” comes in to play. But second, the person or party providing the referral trusts you won’t let THEM down either. They believe in you enough to recommend you and if you fail to deliver, not only is your reputation on the line, but so is yours.

You don’t have to know a person well to receive a referral from them and they don’t have to be rock stars for the referral to mean something. The best way to receive a referral is to ask for it. Once received, asked permission to put it on your website or use on social media. Adding pictures and videos makes it even more powerful.

You may consider joining a business network group, whose primary mission is for group members to be advocates for one another’s business, such as Business Networking International (BNI).

Own Your Mistakes

Mistakes happen. No one is immune to them. The simple rule of thumb to own your mistakes rings especially true in business, where perception is reality is real impact to your reputation and bottom line. Sometimes “They messed up at first, but boy did they make it right afterward” is an even more powerful message than “They did a good job.”

Note: That is NOT an endorsement for making mistakes on purpose so you can come back in and be the hero. No, no. Do your best to do it right the first time. But if a mistake happens, fix it (without complaining about the “pain in the A” customer).

Smile

It’s true. Smiles are contagious. Every once in awhile you run across a seemingly permanently grumpy person. I once had a guy working for me who always smiled. Even in bad times, he could find a way to smile. During a contentious meeting with my boss at the time (one of those said permanently grumpy people) this guy was actually told by my boss to wipe the smile from his face.

Do not be that person (or someone will eventually write about you in an unflattering blog post). And if you run in to that person, keep smiling anyway. In my unscientific survey (in which I asked only myself the question), 99% of the time, the customer will smile back and feel they had a better experience.

And ultimately that is what it is all about.

How to Establish Trust (Part 1)

April 14th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Business Plan, Strategy 0 thoughts on “How to Establish Trust (Part 1)”
Kevin West

Kevin West – Your Home Comfort Guy

The following is part 1 of a 2 part series on establishing trust.

On segment #27 of the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network, my guest was business owner Kevin West of Your Home Comfort Guy, a heating and air conditioning company. Kevin is also the president of the Champion City Chapter (Springfield, Ohio) of BNI (Business Networking International). Our topic of discussion was “Trust” and during the course of the conversation, Kevin listed several means for building trust in your business, summarized in this 2 part series. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, follow this link and click on Segment #27 – Trust Me.

You Home Comfort GuyTrust is vital to launching and sustaining a business. Without it, you won’t be in business for long. Trust includes:

  • Customers trusting you (in every aspect)
  • You trusting your customers
  • Trust between you and your suppliers
  • Trust between you and your business’ other stakeholders
  • Trust between you and your community

Ultimately, trust is established by providing the right product/service, at the right place, at the right price to the right person. But how else can you establish trust? Here are a few simple, cost free means for doing so.

Know Who You Are

Before starting your business, take time to define who you are and who your business is. It is perfectly fine to revise and tweak that definition as you go. In fact it is encouraged. Things change rapidly, so you and your business need to change with them. But make time to ensure you have a clear definition.

A good way to do this is to define your vision, mission and purpose statements.

Pay Attention to Your Appearance

You never have a second chance to make a first impression, so, make sure that impression isn’t DOA simply due to appearance. It does mean something, and it is dependent on your business. What works just fine in one type of business setting may not work well in another, so pay attention, dress and groom accordingly. Start by imagining what kind of image works in your industry and what kind of image you want to portray. There is nothing wrong with being your own person, so long as you are aware that depending on what that means to you it may have an impact on your business or career.

Behave as Though Someone is Watching

This suggestion isn’t meant to imply that you should be paranoid. To the contrary. You should be confident in what you are doing. But operate in a fashion such that if you wouldn’t do something when someone is watching, don’t do it on the job when no one is watching. Act as though someone is always watching. If your business provides home or public services, there is a good chance that someone actually is.

We will discuss more in part 2 of this series on establishing trust.

What to Do When the Plan Fails

April 8th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business Plan, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership 0 thoughts on “What to Do When the Plan Fails”
sour lemons

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

This post originally appeared on February 20, 2015 at the former Business is ART Blog site and was one of the more popular posts at the time.  

That site itself is an example of a failed plan as it did not generate the traffic I had hoped. Hence a relaunch here at the Business Is ART website.

The plan WILL fail

Failure to plan is planning to fail. But what happens when the plan fails? The first clue is this: the plan will probably fail.

No matter how well you have planned in advanced, you will have missed something. You can’t predict the future. The ball won’t bounce your way. Something will happen, and that something usually comes in multiples.

Remain Calm

The best thing you can do for yourself, your team and your organization is to identify potential risks and how to mitigate against them upfront (you won’t identify all of them), anticipate the need for adjustments (even if you have no idea what they might be), remain calm when it is apparent they are needed, set ego aside and be prepared to make some very tough choices.

When the failures come:

  1. Avoid the temptation of playing the blame game. If you find yourself asking whose butt you are going to have to kick…stop. Said butt kicking might relieve a moment of tension, but will not create a solution (and may result in a law suit, depending on the recipient’s willingness to accept said butt kicking as an effective means of management and condition of employment).
  2. Set a tone of excellence, but do so in a way in which it is understood that when stuff happens. Create an atmosphere in which they know you will, first, seek to find and repair the problem, second, determine what caused it in the first place, and, third, put in procedures to avoid its re-occurrence.
  3. The key is to learn from failure, celebrate the fix, accept the new direction, and save that butt kicking for another day…for something important…like who forgot to bring in donuts on casual Friday.

Unhealthy Business Goals: What They Look Like and How They Happen

April 5th, 2016 Posted by Leadership, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Unhealthy Business Goals: What They Look Like and How They Happen”
image

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Sometimes, the worst thing you can do with a goal is achieve it.

Seems contradictory, doesn’t it?  After all, isn’t the purpose of a goal to meet it?  Therefore, the worst thing you should be able to do with a goal is fail to meet it.  However, not all goals are created equal.

In fact, sometimes goals, though they appear happy and wonderful in nature, are quite unhealthy and result in damaging effects.

How a Goal Can Be Unhealthy

Done properly, a goal can motivate your team towards a unified objective.  Done incorrectly, and goal setting begins to develop a “by any means necessary” work ethic or an “I’m in this for me” mentality.

An unhealthy goal is often overly specific and narrow in focus, making it easy to forget what you’re actually trying to achieve.  These goals often sound good on paper, but in execution, they breed unhealthy consequences.

Generally, they begin with good intentions.

Good Goals Gone Bad

It’s very easy to take a goal that’s originally good, and push it to a place that’s unhealthy.  Let’s say you and your team are out camping, and everyone is given the materials to set up their own tent.  Your goal is simple: you need to build the tent so you can have a protected place to sleep.

It’s only mid-day, so you have time to sort your materials, plan out where everything goes, assemble it, and then, inspect it to make sure it’s correct.  By late afternoon, you are rewarded with properly assembled tent.  Also, during your assembly, you see one of your fellow campers struggling with a part of their tent that you already have assembled.

Having some time on your hands, you step over and assist them.  Everyone wins.

Now, let’s say when you’re given your tent materials, you’re told you only have 20 minutes to put it together so that your team can go on a hike.  By the time you get back from the hike, it’ll be dark, so you won’t be able to assemble it then.  Suddenly, your priorities shift drastically.  You don’t particularly care if the tent is put together correctly.  You don’t have the time to plan things out.

All you focus on is getting some sort of finished product before your twenty minutes is up.

Your fellow camper is once again struggling to put together their tent, but you don’t care about their tent.  You need to get your tent up.  It’s their fault if they don’t complete their build on time.

When the 20 minutes are up, you have some semblance of a tent.  It stands and appears to be connected at the corners.  Sure, you have a few extras pieces leftover, but they probably weren’t that important.

There’s a chance that tent could get you through the night, but all it will take is some rain or a strong gust of wind to bring it all down.

Spotting an Unhealthy Goal

Unhealthy goals are often ones that promote excess quantity or speed.  Goals like these might achieve initial results, but those results are often not sustainable.  If you’re sales goals are driven entirely by volume, it’s easy to start bringing on clients and business regardless of whether or not it’s healthy.

If you’re goals focus on the individual rather than the team as a whole, you start to build an internal competition that devalues working together.

And when a goal focuses too much on numbers, it could result in taking advantage of the customers.  Certain auto shops in the past have been caught inflating their rates and finding car problems where there aren’t any so they can hit certain dollar amounts for the day.

There’s also the negative effects these goals have when they’re not met.  Missing goals, healthy or not, often leave you feeling like you’ve failed or didn’t do your job.  Rather than motivating you forward like a goal should, it puts you down.

Setting Better Goals

This isn’t to say goals don’t have a place in business.  They simply need to be set with care for the business as a whole.  Smaller, broader, achievable goals can add extra drive, build momentum, and increase a worker’s feeling of accomplishment.

Meanwhile, KPIs and other metrics can be utilized to track the larger picture and keep realistic expectations of growth.

With that said, maybe your next business goal should be to eliminate any unhealthy goals you currently have.  Replace those with positive goals, and watch the difference it can make in your business.

Need help building better, sustainable goals?  Contact me today and learn the art of strategic planning!

Reducing the Cost of Lost Productivity

April 1st, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Employment, Engagement, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Reducing the Cost of Lost Productivity”
Back Pain

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

How much does lost productivity cost you each year? On Segment #25 of Business is ART (“Get Off My Back”), my guest was Dr. Justin Vinson. We discussed various aspects of workplace health and the economics associated with it.

Sick Days Cost What?!

Sick days in the U.S. alone costs employers around $600 billion dollars annually just in compensation to the sick employees alone. That is nothing to say of the lost productivity and extra expense required to make-up for it, nor does it include the difficult to measure things such as customer service/satisfaction and lost opportunities.

How Many Get Lower Back Pain?!

According to Dr. Vinson, approximately 80% of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their adult lives and low back pain is one of the leading causes of work disability and missed work. There is no statistical difference in the percentage of males versus the percentage of females who experience lower back pain, nor does it discriminate between blue-collar and white-collar workers. The odds are virtually the same.

Lower Back Pain Costs What?!

There is no winner in this equation. The employee misses out on lost wages and the employer misses out on productivity. Now compare the cost of missed work due to low back pain with the $600 billion mentioned previously. The number of hours of missed work amounts to 149 million days at a cost of $60 billion to $120 billion per year.

What Does It All Mean?

What does this mean for business owners and business or organizational leaders? It means there is tremendous economic reason to do what you can to minimize this risk of lower back pain caused by or in the workplace. Vinson says that information and education is the first most important step to being proactive.

He urges employers and workers to focus on things like:

  • Ergonomics
  • Posture
  • Proper lifting
  • Core strength

Another growing trend he discussed is that companies are now looking at representatives of the healthcare industry as consultants to their business. He also discussed the option for businesses to provide free services to employees such as massage and chiropractic therapy in a regular basis and that the savings realized from it can more than pay for it.

For example he quoted a study in which employees received a comprehensive, free, proactive, chiropractic, health and wellness education and services, resulting in a 90% reduction in workers comp premiums in 4 years.

Listen to the Business is ART podcast in full at TrueChat.org.

The data is out there. Now it’s up to you to do something with it.

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