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Be Excellent At This For Small Business Success

Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team
Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team

I like to think of myself as capable of most any task I take on. No doubt you do as well. Given enough time and resources, we can obtain the necessary knowledge and skill to do most anything.

Which is exactly why we shouldn’t do some things. 

Some time ago I took on the job of remodeling our bathroom. We had purchased an older home and the décor was dated.  My wife wanted (among other things) to have the 60’s vanity removed and to install a porcelain pedestal sink.

Removal was a breeze. Breaking things is in my skill set. Once removed I placed the pedestal sink in place and began the installation process. A few hours and a lot of water later I sat on the floor, surrounded by hoses, gaskets, and various tools. I was dumbfounded as to why I could not successfully install this sink.

Just then my wife came in and asked, “Is there anything I can get you?”

“The only thing I need right now is a plumber” was my reply.

What seemed to be a straight-forward, simple yet not easy task had turned into an epic challenge that I could not solve. And this is often what happens in our work lives as well.

No one wants to be incompetent. But admitting one’s incompetence is often the first step in moving forward with a project. How much revenue has been sacrificed, how many clients have not been served, how many opportunities have been lost because we feel the need to do a task ourselves rather than delegate it to someone who already possesses skill and knowledge we do not?

This is most common in small business. To compete we need to be experts in accounts payable, receivable, human resources, payroll, tax compliance and strategy, marketing, advertising, sales, retention, and now social media too. It can overwhelm the most competent person just as I was overwhelmed by the seemingly simple task of installing a sink.

Each task can be mastered individually. But when it comes to the pace of running a small business, trying to master any one task on the fly is insurmountable. You’re better off admitting you are incompetent and hiring someone who is. That way you can focus on what parts of the business you do well and get better results.

If you are good at selling but poor at bookkeeping, hire someone to do the bookkeeping and do more selling.  You’ll make more money because you’ll be doing what you do well and outsourcing what you don’t do well.

All the time you spend learning a new task and doing it poorly is lost opportunity time (not to mention poor execution which leads to higher costs as well).

And here’s the real risk in not taking this approach; eventually you will grow tired of doing the tasks you don’t do well and you’ll start to avoid doing it at all. And when things don’t get done they create bigger problems that must be done. This will undoubtedly call for hiring an expert.

To be successful in business today you must comply with regulation, compete with the competition, and communicate to your target clients why they should do business with you.  Then you must close the sale and do everything necessary to retain the client.  No one person can do this well for very long.  Soon you’ll have more to do than you personally can.

If you intend to grow you will be best-served to learn this now: The best business people are very good at one or two things and excellent at delegating or outsourcing the rest.



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Grossed Out! The Unlikely Death of Networking

Business Networking

Ask anyone in business where they get their best customers and somewhere in the first few sentences you’ll hear “word of mouth”. Ask anyone, anywhere how they found their favorite restaurant and it will likely be by referral. Even our best friends are often the result of meeting through others.

 

What you’ve just witnessed is the power of networking in tbe lives of people. And yet, everywhere you turn, networking is under siege. Local Chambers of Commerce are eliminating networking at an alarming rate. Some network marketing companies are giving networking a blemish, and major publications and business experts decry networking as an evil means to an end. It isn’t hard to find someone cheerfully announcing the death of networking.

 

And it comes as no surprise. For many, networking isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s awkward walking into a room full of people and finding your place. In the grocery line we do our best to keep our eyes on our carts to avoid a chance meeting with someone we don’t know.   Networking is, as one person recently told me, “As foreign to me as brain surgery”.

 

In a recent article on FastCompany.com, Samantha Cole leads with “Why Networking Makes You Feel Physically Gross”. It seems that all that discomfort you’ve been feeling when networking is manifesting itself physically in a not-so-good way. Perhaps you’ve felt it.

 

The article sites a University of Toronto study that finds we feel “icky” after networking. It goes on to surmise that networking forms relationships based on our, “…dirtiest motivations: Money and power.” More on that in a moment, but first, let’s dig a bit deeper into the study.

 

While the article doesn’t tell us specifically who participated in the study, it does conclude that people playing fill in the gaps word games are more likely to come up with words like “wash”, “soap”, and “shower” after what they refer to as “selfish networking moments.” You can read the complete article here: http://bit.ly/1q6MM3F

 

Further, they asked a whopping 165 lawyers about their networking habits and found that those who were most powerful were “less grossed out” by networking than those who were less powerful.  Notice the inference is that they were all grossed out, just those with power were “less grossed out”.

 

But perhaps the most telling line in the article is found in the final paragraph. It suggests you’ll feel “less slimy” if you “change your perspective—and your approach—to finding connections that genuinely do interest you beyond professional gain.”

 

This is where so many get genuine networking wrong. They just can’t help but come back to it being all about themselves. Notice the article suggests you find people interested in you, not you finding people you are interested in. Is this any less sincere? Isn’t this just as “dirty” a motive?

 

You can’t feel “less slimy” when you are focusing on yourself. Genuine networking is interested in self, but consumed with others. When you know how to be genuine in your networking endeavors, you approach each meeting , whether in a room full of people or in the grocery check-out with a genuine interest in others and a servant heart. You know that you will get what you need by helping others get what they want.

 

And here’s a news alert for you: Money and power aren’t intrinsically “dirty”. While there are those who obtain money and power illegitimately, more often money is a measure of service you’ve provided. Those with power in a community earn it through service. It never fails, serve others and they’ll reward you. If you’ll only focus on serving others they will cheerfully give you everything you need.

 

Which brings us back to the beginning. Where do you go to find what you need? Serve others and the answers will appear. And since most people are interested in themselves and their needs, there is a big opportunity out there for those who have a servant heart. Networking to find what people need and how you can help them get it is the best way to find your place of service.

 

So while figures and studies continue to confirm networking’s death, there will still be those who know the truth: Networking, genuine networking, is alive and well and will be for as long as humans communicate.



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Guerrilla or Jackass?

Guerrilla or Jackass?

Everything is marketing and marketing is everything. And if you subscribe to the theory of Guerrilla Marketing, virtually anything that is unexpected and full of surprise can give you an advantage. Actually, the purpose of guerrilla marketing is to give your product or service an advantage, better yet, an unfair advantage.

I learned this first-hand in the 80’s working in the golf industry. Our company was a start-up, desperate to gain a toehold in the market. Perhaps a lot like your business or a business you frequent in your hometown. Perhaps a lot like the business I witnessed today using what they may think was a guerrilla marketing tactic.

Guerrilla or jackass? While it may seem obvious, the distinction is subtle.

It’s war out there. Grabbing the attention of a potential customer is a battle. Between limited funds, onerous governmental restrictions, worldwide competition through the internet, and the massive amount of other advertising, businesses today have resorted to unusual means to gain attention.

While it may not be that unusual today, not long ago a young man or woman on a street corner dressed in costume and spinning a hand-held sign while dancing was unusual. Now it is ubiquitous. From pizza to pawn shops, what once stood out is now commonplace. We drive right by noticing these former guerrilla markers no more than we do car alarms.

But today was different. Today I witnessed this technique being used in a way I had never thought of before, much less seen before. And I can assure you we will all begin to see this technique used for better or worse.

It is one of the busiest intersections in our town. Thousands upon thousands of cars drive through daily, many of them more than a couple of times a day. As a natural location for retail establishments, the area is flooded with signs of all kinds. The buildings located slightly off the corners have bigger, higher, more noticeable signs to be seen from a distance. All in all, a lot like any busy intersection in America.

Just off the northeast corner of the intersection, just a couple hundred yards back stands a building with a franchise location of a “gently used clothing store”. We’ll call this store Competitor A. While we have had thrift stores in our town for a number of years, two different used clothing franchise stores have opened in our town in the past two years. Up until now, everything I’ve described is normal.

On the northeast corner of this intersection stood a young man holding a sign. Not unusual until you notice the sign has a big red arrow, seemingly directing you to go to the right bearing the company name of a competing national franchise “gently used clothing store”. That’s right, Competitor B has camped out with sign in hand in front of Competitor A’s store.

While I’ve seen companies buy billboards in front of a competitor’s location, I always thought that was fair. If the local company wanted to prevent it, all they need do is buy the billboard.

But how does one stop a jackass? In the past people didn’t want to be jackasses. They cared about their public image. But today society doesn’t punish someone for being a jackass. Many like the idea they’re so brash.

So am I being too harsh? Is Competitor B a guerrilla or a jackass? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



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The Brand You

Whether we are aware or not, each of us has a brand that is singularly ours. I recently shared some ideas on how to better develop a personal brand with a group of Jobseekers.

Free help with personal self introduction click here

Just as we all have a brand, we are all constantly seeking connection with someone. Jobseekers are seeking connection with employers. Salespeople with customers. Single people with potential spouses. While targeted at jobseekers this talk can help anyone with their personal branding. See the short video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKD2Q-C20hY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUMYARjsZs7ePj6pLBSpC4Jg

 



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Jobseekers Audio 5.25.12

This is the talk I gave at Jobseekers PTC today. Dave O'Farrell and the Ships Crew do a fantastic job helping folks. Check them out at http://jobseekersptc.org/