Monday, March 31, 2008

Stop Looking For The Quick Fix For Your Small Business

Instead, start understanding that most good plans to success are not the winning lottery ticket.

You must always set a goal and continuously measure it with reliable statistics and logical data for comparisons, monitoring its progress, and taking corrective actions to get back on track. Achievement is like building a home. It must be pre-planned, budgeted for, executed with daily hands-on management, have managed solutions (contingency plans), and be ready for situations when other ways to achieve the end result must be applied within a finite time frame.

You must always make sure that your foundation is laid correctly and is “rock-solid” before you move on to the next phase of your “finishing schedule/plan.” Always keep a fresh visualization of what the finished product/goal needs to look like and have several benchmark signoffs along the way to make sure that you are on pace. Goal achievement does not happen overnight, and a lot of people, both directly and indirectly, come into your life that factor into your achievement or non-achievement of those goals. Depending on others to follow through or play a part in your goals must be an understanding.

You cannot go from A to Z in your goals, without “C”ing that “U-R” going to meet “X” person along the way, who will contribute to or detract from your achievement. Reaction to that exterior catalyst must be planned for, and you must understand that your goals have to unfold, like this blog, one page at a time.

“To the World you might very well be one person, but to one person, you might very well be the World to their goals and achieving them.”

Monday, March 24, 2008

Know What the “Joneses” Are Doing

Knowledge is power, and it must be a cornerstone of understanding for operational and sales success against your current and future competitive set. Do you know what your competition is doing right now to market and operationally produce a similar product line? Do you know what cross-selling potential your competition is aligning itself with for greater sales growth? Do you know what improvements from an operational, administrative, sales and marketing, and management approach your competition is going to make, thus shifting higher demand for it? Do you know who is going to become a competitor for your customer’s finite dollars and erode your market share? I am not asking you to predict the future, but I am asking you to take stock and know about your competition as well as you know about your own product line, from a customer’s viewpoint.

The only way to defend competition from taking your business and allow you to grow your revenue is to have a better product line, know how to market it more effectively, know your strengths and weaknesses compared to other product lines, know what changes your business unit is going to make to protect itself from a threat from the competition’s product line, know the marketplace and forecast trend opportunities, know that you truly do have an “apples to apples” product line compared to the competitors, know what changes your business unit needs to make it run more operationally and make sales more efficiently, and know what success and failures your competition is enduring. Most importantly, you must know the why to all of the above questions!

Having knowledge of all of these above issues is what is meant by knowing what the Joneses are doing. Start learning about the “Joneses” today, or be prepared to be bought or sent out of business by one of those “Joneses” tomorrow.

One great way to get with the "Joneses" and know what is going on, is a site called Alltop at Alltop helps you explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web. They have grouped these collections ”aggregations” into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as environment, photography, science, celebrity gossip, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, they display the latest five stories from thirty or more sites on a single page — they call this “single-page aggregation.”

You can think of the Alltop site as a “dashboard,” “table of contents,” or even a “digital magazine rack” of the Internet. To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points — they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that Alltop is trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and they help you to discover sites that you didn’t know existed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Walk-Around, Hands-on Management with Leading by Example

Walk-around, hands-on management with leading by example is a powerful management tool. Remember, actions mean more than words and those actions speak louder than those words could ever sound. To lead associates to a business unit’s success path, you must first be given the permission of those associates to be their leader. To gain this acceptance and trust, there is no quicker, rock-solid foundation than by walking around, being in the associates’ “lion’s den,” seeing what challenges they face, and rolling up your sleeves to help them through those challenges. Leading an associate through a situation, with the correct procedure for that action, reinforces that you “practice what you preach”, and you would not ask them to do an action that you would not be willing to do yourself. You have a built-in, universal language to speak and demonstrate your expectation levels for those tasks, when you lead by example.

Once you can demonstrate to your associates that you do walk around to see what is really happening and can do, not say, actions by being hands-on, leadership platforms and directing associates can be built and allowed to grow, because your associates are permitting themselves to be led and directed by you.

Go be a leader with walk-around, hands-on management. Forget sending a memo to the associates on how to do it; show them yourself.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Correctly On-boarding New Associates For Your Small Business

What is one of the fastest ways to increase HR expenses and create workflow stoppages? On-boarding new associates incorrectly and not having enough candidates in your HR pipeline, that’s how. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The precedent is set on the very first day of a new hire’s career with your business unit. Whether they are digging ditches or filling out paperwork and watching EEOC videos, the company’s professionalism, operating procedures, the employer’s commitment to its associates, and the overall workplace experience is entrenched within the mind-set of that new associate within those first few weeks.

Do you have a standardized, detailed, 0-90 day on-boarding action plan in place with performance metrics and benchmark accomplishments for correctly evaluating the progression of all new associates and transitioning them into long-term team members? Do you throw new hires to the “sharks” or provide support platforms to them in the form of training (all media and hands-on types), coaching, mentoring, monitoring, corrective actions for redirecting, S.O.P.s, support (technical and non-technical), and progress measurement indicators?

Go look at the last two years of associate turnover in their first ninety days of employment with your business unit and understand the reasons why. Once you find the whys, you can identify the missing steps of the on-boarding process. After those system steps have been reorganized, look at what steps should be created for the future to produce a better on-boarding system. Why would you do that? Because, businesses will always have new hires and turnover, so this situation is not going away. In fact, as the marketplace grows tighter and tighter for good and qualified new hires, correctly on-boarding associates is a major factor in retention, lowering HR expenses, successful integration of them into the workflow, converting them into long-term associates, and productive team members for the success of all.