Monthly Archives: June, 2017

Did the Plan Fail, or Did You Fail Your People?

June 29th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Business Plan, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Did the Plan Fail, or Did You Fail Your People?”
Fail

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

You have great people. You have a great product and service. You have a plan, and, man, is it a good one.

And then…crickets! Nothing. Nada. Zilch. What happened? It could be any number of things.

One of them could be you, or more specifically, your leadership. Did you fail your people?

An unscientific experiment

I once conducted an unscientific experiment in a LinkedIn group for leaders. I made it clear, up-front, that in a hypothetical situation, assume that the hypothetical plan was brilliant, but the results were below expectations. I then asked how to influence and improve the team’s behavior in order to get the desired results.

Most of the respondents started with something like, “Obviously the plan was not brilliant…” then went on to talk about how to develop a brilliant plan. Some kindly offered their services to help me get my plan in order – for a fee.

Only one respondent, who identified himself as a retired military general, understood the true question and answered accordingly.

Again, there are many variables, but, often, what it comes down to is leadership.

It’s still a good read

A few years ago I read a book entitled Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud. The very first chapter is called “The People are the Plan.” It’s a simple concept. A lot of leaders say it (or something like it). A lot of them don’t mean it (or know what it means).

As Dr. Cloud states, there is rarely, if ever, one “right” way to do something. There are usually several “right” ways to do something. Several ways that will/can work, and as the leader, the job is to own the vision, set the path, and get the job done “through people doing what it takes to make it happen.” Whichever “right” way you have selected.

3 pillars of behavior management

We  often talk about how the consumers of today don’t just want a great product or service, they want a great experience. The same is true of employees. If they have a great employment experience, the plan is much more likely to succeed.

In my book, Business is ART, I define 3 areas a leader should focus on in order to drive the kind of team behaviors necessary for accomplishing the goals and objectives set out in the plan. I call these the 3 pillars of behavior management and they are as follows:

  1. Desire – What does the employee or team member desire?
  2. Emotion – What gets the employee or team member to feel a positive emotion about whatever it is you hope to accomplish?
  3. Knowledge – What does the employee or team member know (about the goals, objectives, themselves, other team members…and the leader)

Focus on these 3 pillars ==> Create a great experience ==> Improve the odds of success

Fail Forward – Lessons Learned from Experienced Entrepreneurs

June 21st, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Entrepreneur, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Fail Forward – Lessons Learned from Experienced Entrepreneurs”

learningIf you’re going to fail, fail forward.

Last week I attended various sessions at Dayton Startup Week, a weeklong event put on by the Dayton Tech Guide.

One of the sessions that caught my eye was entitled “Tales from the Crypt: lessons learned from a failed startup” with presenters Andy Cothrel, Founder/President of Blue Marble Medical and Russ Gottesman, Founder/CEO of CommuterAds.

Russ and Andy have both experienced startup success and failure. It’s important to learn from mistakes, apply that knowledge, and, as Russ said at the beginning of the session, fail forward.

Each of these gentlemen have been in very different industries from one another, but the lessons they learned were similar. In this post, we summarize a few of them.

Follow a checklist of things to avoid

The key here is “follow”. If you do a little research and listen to people like Russ and Andy who have been there and likely done that, putting together a checklist of things to avoid isn’t all that difficult.

Following it is another story. Many times, your own worst enemy is you. You KNOW you shouldn’t do it, but you get excited, get caught up in the moment and do it anyway.

A way to ensure you FOLLOW a checklist of things to avoid is to…

Establish an advisory board early on

An advisory board will help you hold yourself accountable. Preferably, the members have also been there and done that and know a thing or two about your industry. They are motivated by seeing you succeed. They are going to remind you…DON’T DO THAT.

But as importantly, they are a sounding board to just let you try out your ideas verbally before committing them to reality. And they are there to make suggestions for what to do instead of the thing you need to avoid doing. You know. Those things on your “things to avoid” checklist.

But keep in mind that an advisory board has a shelf life. If it is a startup advisory board, that shelf life should be about 18 months.

Act ethically and with ethical people

You should always act ethically and when someone has provided you with funding for your startup, there is an even greater need to act ethically – because there can be very real legal and financial consequences to being an unethical steward of other peoples’ money.

Likewise, know who you are getting in to business with if you are taking on partners or investors. “I know a guy that knows a guy” does not a referral make.

Take the time to get to know “the guy.” Spend the money to run a background check. Seek out professional and trade references. The effort and expense will be well worth it in the end.

It probably wasn’t a bad idea

Russ and Andy concluded by saying, in their experience, a startup doesn’t generally fail because it’s a bad idea. More often, it’s the people, the process, the governance and the ethics that bring a startup down.

So do your homework. And then go get it!

In the Pursuit of Harmony

June 14th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Relationships 0 thoughts on “In the Pursuit of Harmony”

tom rubensA recent guest on the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network was coach and best selling author Tom Rubens. We focused on Tom’s book Lifeness: Harmonize an Entrepreneurial Life, but there are several points made during the show that are summarized here.

One of the things Tom likes to tell people is that he has managed to have a professional career without holding a job. In other words, he is a lifelong, successful entrepreneur. He understands what many early stage entrepreneurs discover very quickly – that the entrepreneurial life can become all-consuming.

Stop saying and looking for “work/life balance”

Neither Tom nor I like the term “work/life balance” but for different reasons. While I prefer to talk in terms of “work/life alignment”, Tom introduces the notion of harmony. When your entrepreneurial life becomes all-consuming, there is no harmony. In all likelihood, there is discord between your entrepreneurial life, your personal life, your relationships (including professional, personal and casual), etc.

Just as you might physically cringe when you hear dissonance or music that is out of tune, when your life is in a state of discord, your business, you and everyone around you suffer.

How do you achieve harmony?

Tom sums it up by saying that it is all about achieving a life in which business and personal goals merge harmoniously. His advice is pretty simple. Following through is the challenge – which is why he provides a personal workbook along with Lifeness to help you on your journey.

He says that the key to seeking harmony is to first empathize with others. Listen to them. Look for similarities and appreciate the differences because they can be complementary, not conflicting, which, in turn, creates opportunity.

Tom also strongly advises to always assume people are doing their best. If you can do that, you can take the negative emotion out of things and learn to better appreciate the efforts of others.

Listen to the show in its entirety

The episode featuring Tom Rubens is simply entitled “Lifeness” (May 23, 2017). You can listen to it on iTunes, through the TrueChat app, or through the TrueChat website.

Check out all of the Business is ART podcast episodes on the Business is ART page of the TrueChat website

Should I Sell My Successful Business?

June 7th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Entrepreneur, Goal, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Should I Sell My Successful Business?”
Rush

If you choose not to decide…

Sell the business?

When an entrepreneur starts off, they’re often so concerned about whether or not their business will succeed that they don’t know what to do when it actually does succeed. So many authors and motivational business speakers focus solely on starting out and facing challenges and achieving success.

But what happens when you actually achieve that success?

You’re suddenly faced with brand new challenges and options.

How do you keep your business growing? Do you actually want it to grow more? Where do you go from here? Should you sell the company?

To some, that last question might seem crazy. You went through all of this work, you achieved your goals, all just to sell it? For others, that might be why you started the business in the first place.

Whether or not that was part of your original plan, the ability to sell your company for a nice profit is a new option for you to consider. To decide the right choice for you, there are a few things to consider.

Is There an Offer on the Table?

Shopping a business around isn’t easy. Even if it is successful. It takes work. According to studies, 60% of business owners who try to sell their business can’t make the deal happen (you have better odds by employing the services of a merger’s & acquisitions banker/expert).

It’s generally easier if you receive an offer from a party that sought you out. With an actual offer on the table, the question of selling your business becomes much more real (and perhaps more urgent).

Have You Lost Your Passion or Are You Simply Struggling with Motivation?

To get your business going, it’s likely you needed some serious passion and motivation. As the craziness of the startup life dissipates and your business becomes more of a regular job, it’s easy to begin to lose the passion, the motivation, or both.

If you’re just lacking the motivation, that’s an issue that goes beyond your current business. Motivation is needed to succeed in any aspect of life. If you’re missing passion, it might be time to sell your business.

Without passion, your heart isn’t in the business, which can seriously stunt its growth. Letting go of your current business may allow you to find something new that you’re passionate about.

Do You Know What Your Next Step Will Be?

As you might imagine, leaving your business behind is a huge transition. This is the thing you’ve lived and breathed every day for quite some time. With that gone, you can become directionless very quickly.

If you have no idea what you would do without your business, you may want to hold off on selling it.

Unless, of course, you make enough money from the sale that you can retire. Even then, making some plans and goals is a great idea.

Can Your Business Survive without You?

As mentioned in a recent post about Polaroid, many businesses struggle when their founder and key visionary leaves. The founder is often the spark that keeps the business burning. It’s not necessarily healthy to create a business that’s overly reliant on you, but it happens.

Before you consider leaving the business, you need to evaluate how it will go without you there.

Liquidate or Recapitalize?

Once you’ve decided to actually sell the business, you’ll still have some options to figure out. Of course, the buyer will have say in this as well. The most common forms of business sales are liquidation and recapitalization.

If you want to be completely gone from the company, you will liquidate any ownership in it. You may, however, want to stay on in some capacity or keep some shares to profit off future success. In this case, recapitalization is a common path.

Whatever you do….

Don’t Make a Sudden Decision

Selling a business is a very permanent choice. If there’s a hot offer on the table, take as much time as you’re need before you make a choice – even if the potential buyer is pressuring you. And remember these words to the classic Rush song “Freewill” – If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

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