The 5 Greatest Contributors to Scar Tissue


“This article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (http://www.TheNationalNetworker.com), and is reprinted with permission. This article may not be reproduced in whole or part without including the name of this author and an acknowledgement of the fact the article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (http://www.TheNationalNetworker.com). Any other use of this material is unauthorized and is a violation of law.”

The Over-Caffeinated Entrepreneur with David J. Dunworth

 

I call my method of learning Scar Tissue, frankly because I bled over each mistake I ever made.  As a typical Ready, Fire, Aim type of entrepreneur, I learned based on mistakes, each on my own dime and time.  Due to my own arrogance and lack of patience, I learned the hard way. Don’t do what I do, do what I recommend.

Here are MY 5 most important mistakes to learn from:

1. Accepting mediocrity from yourself and/or others

2. Failing to Capitalize on Market Opportunities

3. Failing to Offer Transparency for Stakeholders

4.  Not Fostering Alignment and Accountability

5. Not Being Customer Centric 

Scar Tissue Advice:  Learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid excessive cost, loss of time, loss of relationships with team members, and a host of others.

1. Accepting Mediocrity from Yourself and/or Others

In this type of economy (false upswing, now dipping again), as in any other type of economy, it is often easier to focus on bringing the money in  and letting operational issues and costs take care of themselves.  Nothing could be worse than not constantly focusing on EVERY aspect of the enterprise.

To lower costs, perform a complete and constant review of your supply chain and seek out cost reduction solutions, including new suppliers, more effective transportation techniques and the like.  Search out inefficiencies throughout the entire operation, making every decision toward improvement.  Analyze the contributions of staff; is each on a peak performer?  How effective are the processes currently in place, and what can be done to make solid improvements?  Are the marketing and sales teams excelling in their respective areas?

Margins may be just where they typically are, and may be even higher than expected, but that is no reason to ignore cost centers.  What if there are errors in the accounting or if the data under review is out dated and flawed?

Scar Tissue Advice:  Don’t assume (ass-u-me).  Stay sharp.  Focus.  Look into a business intelligence solution software system that can deliver timely, accurate information in a simple, easy to diagnose “Dashboard” on a computer screen.  Too small for an integrated computer system?  Have your number cruncher put together the top issues to review each day on paper.  I use Salesforce.com to keep current information and review at the tip of my fingers.  That’s no sales pitch, just what I do.  There are a lot of systems fully capable of providing the needed information. 

2. Missing or Ignoring Market Opportunities

I once missed an opportunity when I chose to neglect the information right in front of me.  Not only did I ignore it, I thought it was not in my best interests to delve into the opportunity.  What a fool I was.  I had the information, but didn’t use it.  I lost approximately $300,000 in lost revenues and lost market share to one of my competitors too. 

Without timely information the market may escape you.  Initiating new measures to roll out a marketing campaign, even with limited funds, is possible as long as you have a firm handle on the enterprise.  Through the use of information a market can be penetrated and exploited by making the right decisions based on said data.  Research should be current, as the market is always evolving. 

Scar Tissue Advice:  Knowing your market, targeting new niches with accurate information and utilizing a decision making process that is both timely and confirmed.  If you have the ability to use an integrated information system, by all means purchase one.  If cash is a real issue, get your financial manager to provide a graph system in Excel to provide a dashboard of information.

Read, read, read; one of the keys to market awareness.  Another is marketing surveys, competitor evaluations, and of course, customer awareness.

3. Keeping Information from Those Involved 

The Board of Directors of a firm I worked for was kept from critical financial information about a new market opportunity because I didn’t have a clue how to make an inroad into the niche.  I later found out that a brother of one of the Board Members held a very responsible position in one of the lead companies operating in that niche.  The possible inroads would have been inexpensive, quick and painless, yet I chose to ignore the opportunity. I thought it would be a sign of weakness to lean on someone else.

Transparency is crucial to your partners, your team, your investors and all of the stakeholders that are involved in your enterprise.  If things are good we tend to brag, but if things aren’t going so well, it’s human nature to keep our mouths shut.  New ideas can bubble to the surface by sharing the information both good and not so good.  If two brains are better than one; what about a cluster of brains thinking about the issue at hand?  If all parties are privy to the information and are active participants, then an efficient method for everyone to be on the same page makes good business sense.  Don’t go it alone.  Someone other than you may have just the solution that is needed. 

Scar Tissue Advice:  Stay humble, stay fully informed and keep your stakeholders informed as well.  Don’t become a fool to your team through arrogance; thinking that only you have all the answers.

4. Not Fostering Alignment and Accountability

Clearly assign strategic initiatives to the operational side of the business, and make sure that all departments, divisions, team leaders and personnel understand the expectations.  Additionally, inspect what you expect.   Depending on the size of the enterprise, some divisions may be more “tuned in” than others, and may even keep information from others in order to “shine.”  In the world of competitive capitalism, this is not unusual.
If goals and objectives are not clearly articulated, as well as the accountability for the achievement of said goals and objectives, along with a regular review of them, the “team” approach may not be as cohesive as they may be competitive.  If actions go un-noticed or worse yet, ignored, you will have a serious problem with teamwork, alignment and accountability.

Scar Tissue Advice:  Ensure all departments, divisions, and key stakeholders have the entire information bank necessary ready at hand.  Make certain that a central control philosophy that actions have accountability is clearly understood, and create incentives and rewards for positive actions that define the benefits for working as a team. With consistent accountability, unified goals and objectives, as well as visible and rapid feedback to issues and challenges, your chance of success is greatly increased.   

5. Not Being Customer Centric   

The search for new customers should never be a reason to take your existing customer base for granted.  It is one of the easiest things to fall prey to, but not keeping your existing customers in the forefront of your mind is paramount to revenue stream flowing.  In difficult economies, such as this one, customers may have their own “tough choices” to make regarding which provider to be loyal to. Price is NOT the hook to hang your future on.  It is proven that price is not the reason most customers choose one provider over another.  Quality, consistency, true value and brand identity are the reasons customers buy.  Service before, during and after the sale are equally important.

It is not enough to pay attention to your customers, you must ensure to the greatest extent, that they will remain loyal to you, and you alone.  Build on each individual customer’s purchasing pattern, size of the order, frequency and demographics, psychographics and other pertinent information.  Sure it is not an easy undertaking, but once the systems are in place, you need to modify, continually improve and make the evaluation and digestion of such information easy to create new customer incentives.  You need “raving fans’ and not just customers.  Create Raving Fans and have them refer customers to you; the least expensive new customer of all.

Conclusion

All of these mistakes could be avoided with a constant flow and review of information.  From customer loyalty, new customer attainment, operational processes, alignment and the generation of “new” ideas, information can flow from a multitude of sources and be utilized to make inroads.  The information gathering must be timely, organized, spread throughout the organization and be acted upon by those responsible for what outcomes are identified.  An intelligent decision is one based on current, potent and discernable information.  Your team needs to have a qualified Information Officer; even if it has to be you.  The information flows need to travel in all directions, touching every individual involved in the enterprise. 

Whether they are hand made reporting systems by the use of spreadsheets and graphic analysis or through an integrated information solution system, growth will occur quicker, and a more reliable road map can be developed.  By not paying attention, pretending issues are of no concern or thinking you have all the answers, your enterprise is doomed to fail.

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Kick-Starting the Start Up Pt. 1 of 4


Despite the overwhelming belief that it is Soooooooo Difficult to start a business, it really isn’t.  The fact is, more businesses are started each year than one can imagine.  True, most fail as well, but that shouldn’t keep you from considering the concept.  Most novices think that the wheel must be reinvented, and that the purist idea must be at hand.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am actively working 7 businesses in one stage or another, and if I can do it, well………..

Food for Thought:

  • The Idea – It’s Not Rocket Science (unless it is)
  •  Plan Your Work, Work Your Plans
  •  Did I Mention Money, Honey?
  •  The Word is Like Butter – Spread It

 

Ideas are Everywhere; Generate One and Run With It!   Ideas are all over the cosmos, they float in and out of every gathering of people, hint their existence in every action or inaction and can easily be identified if you are paying attention.  Unless some sort of action occurs in the pursuit of an idea, they will lay dormant, only to be “thought of” by someone else.  It isn’t all that hard to come up with an idea for a business.  Most think that it must be original, unheard of by anyone else, and must have mass appeal to the marketplace for an idea to flourish and be successful as a business.  Not necessarily so. Some will state “I can’t seem to think of anything that hasn’t already been invented.”  Some others might say that “All the really good ideas are already taken, and I am no good at technology. The new computer application is beyond my grasp!”   It doesn’t have to be bleeding edge technology, or Rocket Science, unless of course, you have a breakthrough idea that NASA would just fall in love with.  Ideas come in all shapes, sizes and industries.  How about the guy that invented the “Chip Clip?” Or what about the person that came up with the Slip & Slide?  The Pet Rock and The Chia Pet are two great examples of a simple idea with great instant appeal. 

The wheel is fine as a wheel, and doesn’t need to be reinvented, so get over that stumbling block. 

Pull Your Head Out and Get a Think Tank Started.   If you can’t seem to come up with an idea, enlist a group of friends or business associates to get together for a Thought Group.  There are Think Tanks everywhere, especially on the internet.  Check out The Thinkubator, or Innovation sites.  With a little encouragement, the juices will begin to flow.  Open your eyes to what is going on around you. You can do it by working at it.

Get your thinking cap on and ask yourself a few questions, noting the answers on a sheet of paper.  Some of the world’s greatest ideas turned into successful business ventures from a paper napkin; thus, the “Napkin Idea!”  Ask yourself what frustrates you about your typical day.  What can you do differently from someone else’s idea that is already in production and successfully selling in the marketplace.  Draw a column down the middle of the page and list at least 10 things you REALLY like to do.  They can be anything, from fly fishing to quilting, writing poetry to repairing washing machines.  If more than 10 come to you, write until the list is exhaustive. If you like children, write it down.  If it is landscaping, write it down. Don’t worry about whether it makes sense or not; write them all down.

Now list the things that frustrate you; that you don’t like or just don’t make sense to you.  An example might be that “when I walk the dogs the leashes get twisted up, causing me to fumble and get twisted up in them.”  Perhaps an improvement can be thought up.  If you have small children, maybe their favorite home made treat can become a national hit.  Maybe you like to speak to groups but don’t like to do the administrative aspects of putting speeches together, scheduling and that sort of thing. Try to make this list every bit as long as the other, but if it isn’t, don’t worry about it.

Once the lists are complete, ask yourself if there products or services that would make your personal life more complete, more comfortable, provide more free time or less stress,  or simply more enjoyable, list them on the left half of a separate sheet of paper.  On the other side of the paper list the products or services that would make your business life better.  

If the lists are complete, spend a bit of time thinking about all four lists, and try to determine if any sort of pattern emerges.  Remember, business address shortcomings in the market that existing products simply do a poor job with, or maybe a small niche that is unaddressed where you live.  Businesses don’t have to be the only one in town to be successful either.  How many drug stores are in your town, or neighborhood?  How many hair salons, barber shops, transmission repair shops, fast food restaurants, formal dining restaurants, etc. etc. etc?   There is room for your idea, so don’t worry.

Example of Thinking Through Your Idea

Make sure you understand how your idea will impact the economy.  What I mean is, are you going to create a new “Pet Rock” type of product?  That product will have instant impact, sell really quickly and then fade just as fast.  Your plan might be to make it and take it, or you plan may be providing a service that will improve other people’s lives, address a niche that is being ignored, or simply a twist on a traditional product or service. 

I consulted with a fine dining restaurant in a Chicago suburb that did a slow lunch business but a really great cocktail hour and dinner business.  The restaurant was housed in a very large office complex, it had its own cafeteria, and there were chain restaurants, fast food joints down the road, and lots of varied “competition” at every turn.  Franco (my client) mumbled and grumbled nearly every afternoon because his restaurant was open, but nearly empty.  He wanted more business, but could not come up with a winning idea.

I had him perform a quick survey of the office tenants about their dining choices, how much time they typically had for lunch, and what goods or services were the highest in demand that were not currently available within their lunch hour constraints.

People in the towers only had between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours for lunch, with the majority falling into the 30 minutes to 1 hour time frame.  They liked the convenience of the cafeteria, but longed for higher quality of food at reasonable prices.  That meant if anyone wanted something good to eat outside the cafeteria, they had to walk to their cars and drive up to a mile to find something.  The majority of the office tenants wanted hot sandwiches, gourmet salads and beverages, as well as a high quality “special” that varied daily, but time became their enemy.

The answer became crystal clear once we thought through the challenge, found an idea and exploited the market.

 Franco’s Restaurant was of Italian theme, and his food was terrific.  He had a large coat room just inside the door of the restaurant, but it wasn’t used very much because most diners came from within the buildings.  We converted his coat room into a Deli by cutting a service window out in the building hall way, placed about $6500 in new equipment, did some minor marketing with flyers in every office through the building’s mail center.  Customers didn’t even have to enter the restaurant; they simply queued up for quick service of gourmet food.  Boom: An Instant Success! 

His New Deli business offered shaved Roast Beef and Turkey Breast sandwiches, daily Italian dish specials, salads and all of the other things that were noted within the survey results.  It took a cashier, a deli chef and a buss person to tend to the business, and Franco’s revenues increased to more than $1900 a day in a 3 hour period, 5 days a week.  He used upscale plastic wares, offered high quality food and beverages, and became extremely successful.  The staff was already on the payroll, so they were simply reallocated to a winning new venture.  This may not have been a completely new business, but in a way it is.  Niche marketing solved a critical problem for the tenants as well as the restaurant owner.

Part 2′s Upcoming  Article

It’s More than a Money Magnet- The Business Plan

The business plan is a lot more than just something that a lender or investor needs to evaluate your idea.  It is the philosophical, analytical, strategic and tactical plans on how you intend to become successful.  Remember, without a road map, any direction will get you to no where.

For additional information, articles of interest and Scar Tissue Real Life Examples, read my blog at:   www.theovercaffeinatedentrepreneur.wordpress.com

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Three Irrefutible Laws of Entrepreneurship


“This article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (http://www.TheNationalNetworker.com), and is reprinted with permission. This article may not be reproduced in whole or part without including the name of this author and an acknowledgement of the fact the article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (http://www.TheNationalNetworker.com). Any other use of this material is unauthorized and is a violation of law.”

The Over-Caffeinated Entrepreneur with David J. Dunworth

No matter what type of business idea, concept, plan or strategy one employs in the forward momentum of your venture; you can’t escape these three governing principles. Whether it is in performing surgery on your business planning, running your car sales company, developing the widget or applying rocket science technology to the toaster, there is no escaping the obvious. How do I know? I have the scar tissue to prove it!

I’ve owned more than 30 businesses and consulted to more than 300. What I have learned above all else, is that they share the same three issues. Why, you say? How can I avoid any of these? Simple. The former, because they are universal and undying, the latter, being human, you can’t!

The Issues: The 3 Irrefutable Laws of Entrepreneurship

  1. It Always Takes Longer than you think.
  2. It will always Cost more than you think.
  3. Regardless of planning; One thing Leads to Another.
My Scar Tissue Example

As a contractor and as a customer, I have been a victim of these “Laws”. While serving as a COO of one of the largest contractors in the U.S. I sold our services to a customer that had been planning for 2 years on an entire house remodeling, complete with drawings. The redoing of these drawings were numerous. They did the planning and product selections as to not make changes once construction began. A checklist consisting of 3500 items was used so we wouldn’t miss anything. We were very thorough as we wanted the project to go smoothly, and on budget.

1. The Time

Every start-up, business or project involves planning, execution and review. Asking yourself potential and existing customer’s questions while searching one’s knowledge bank thoroughly will hopefully provide a well thought though plan.

In this example, more than 3500 items were checked, confirmed with the client, agreed to under contract, and yet numerous things were missed, overlooked or taken for granted. Two years of planning on our collective part led us to near disaster and ill feelings. All could have been averted if a few things were double checked.

Time is the great equalizer in the scheme of things. Under the guise of “get in and get out” most contractors want to do a good job in as little time as possible. Time is money, and they are no different from any other enterprise. One of the problems to this equation is that in order to “get” a job, some marketing has to take place. If you are marketing, you are not working, and conversely, if you are working you are not marketing. At least the little guys operate that way; one or two man crews just don’t have the budget for any other method. So what usually happens is the project gets started on time, then a lag occurs, then a spurt of work happens, then another lag, then when you question why nothing has been done in two weeks, more work happens. Projects also take longer for reasons beyond the contractor. The customer is sometimes to blame, because they add, change details and try to be their own General Contractor. The Weather was a minor factor, but most of the time loss was a result of changes.

Scar Tissue Advice: Plan it, re-view the plan; revise the plan; stick to the plan. If in doubt, check the plan.

2. The Cost

Ideas are a dime a dozen. The difference between an idea and a concept is that expenditure must occur. Both money and time are the currencies of business. There is never enough of either. Money is always a concern when developing a new business, expanding operations or working on a project. There are limitations to what we can spend. There is never a bottomless pit of capital, and the most listed cause of business failure is “lack of capital.”

The ‘Clients’ had a budget and wanted to stick to it. They also had terrific design taste, eloquent ideas and panache for the dramatic. The end result should be tremendous.

Construction on the house finally started. Within a short period of time, the first change order was written. That would continue throughout the project, so much for two years of planning. Some charges were absorbed by the construction company while others were provided at our builder cost. Even with a number of concessions, the cost overruns were significant. The project turned out so well it was featured in a leading remodeler magazine.

We didn’t normally allow clients to do any part of the project, but the clients wanted to contract the pool design and installation to a pool contractor, yet we supervised it. Potential disaster was averted when we insisted that the pool contractor build in a retaining wall to help support the pool along the hill side of the site, and an architectural engineer confirmed our fears about the pool contractor’s in field work. Even though our interference cost them an additional $7500 and there were other challenges, all were pleased.

Scar Tissue Advice: Cost it out. Then seek alternative and less expensive yet comparable items, Cost it once more. Then have someone else cost it. Compare the differences, adjust accordingly.

3. One Thing Leads to Another

No matter the project, this law is most irrefutable. When writing your final draft of your business plan, there is always a clue in there that something else is needed. When strategizing your next marketing campaign, some idea will spark another, until you have an unending list of coordinated and off-target ideas and concepts. A simple word from one of your contemporaries, clients or adversaries, and you are on to another strategy or idea. One thing will always lead to another.

The project was finally complete; the pool didn’t slide down into the pond, the changes were implemented, the tensions relaxed, and the thank you gifts delivered. Ten months of working on a terrific project with absolutely the finest clients a contractor could have asked for, but all was not perfect.

The client made decisions in the field that significantly changed the cost structure of the project. They decided that by changing the bathroom design the lighting would have to change as well. OOOPS! On our part. By changing from asphalt shingles to barrel tile roofing, the complete roof structure would have to be re-engineered and reinforced. OOOPS! on the clients role. There was the time it took to have the special tile made and the numerous other changes would lead to something additional. We spent additional time to measure windows to determine if prescribed or varied sizes were needed. With that decision, the windows were made and installed. At the projects completion the client wished for larger windows, and a change in the furniture layout to accommodate the window sizes would ensue. Columns for the sun porch, once installed, needed resized; no easy or inexpensive task.<

In the end, the client was ecstatic, and loved the house. Their comment, when asked about the home, “Now that I KNOW what I want, I should burn this one down and build it the way we REALLY want it.”

Scar Tissue Advice: Take heed. Plan well. Learn to live with the results.

Moral: There are bound to be modifications in any business venture, idea conversion, plan composing and in reaching the next level of your business. Some of these include setbacks, changes, increased costs, loss of time and additional action steps. It is part of being an entrepreneur. It is just part of life!

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The Price of Leadership is Dear


What Price Leadership?

That is a question many have faced, some have mastered, but few have paid the ultimate to master. President Lincoln paid the ultimate price, and proved to be not only a tremendous leader, he did it under the most difficult of circumstances, pressured not only by those closest to him, but a nation torn in half. He is attributed with the title of the country’s first Republican; the Founder of the Republican Party. Few, if any would disagree.

I’m not suggesting that in order to be a leader one must die trying to lead. What I am suggesting that in order to lead (a business, an idea, followers, other leaders), one must be ready, willing and able to “lay it on the line” so to speak. A true leader must make the tough decisions, stare difficulty and potential loss directly in the face and do what is necessary for all the right reasons.

In business tough decisions come rapid-fire, and it isn’t always easy to discern which is the right course of action. Leaders know instinctively what to do, and do it. Remember the old saying, “he who hesitates is lost?” Well, indecision is no decision; the worst course of action. In the book, Lincoln on Leadership, there is a passage that reads something like this: One of Lincoln’s favorite General Officers was one that made a wrong decision, but made that decision quickly, with authority and without any remorse once the action didn’t prove correct. That is the sign of a good leader, at least in Lincoln’s mind. No one makes all the right decisions all of the time, but it is by far better to decide on a course than let it be dictated to you through circumstance.

What makes a leader? In my mind a leader is capable of winning the minds and hearts of those who side with her/him. That person through is example, style of communication, inclusiveness (as opposed to single minded decision making), energy and esprit d’ corps that causes those around him/her to WANT to follow into the jaws of hell; to charge the wall regardless of the challenges. A leader knows each and every subordinate, their lives outside of the activity (employment, club, team, etc.) and shows a sincere interest in them personally. Too big an organization to know everyone? I worked with a hospitality leader that had 26 direct reports and a total of 355 full time employees under command. It was a huge food and beverage organization, and covered a 24 hour a day operation. Some worked the graveyard shift, and were seldom seen by the public. Others worked behind the scenes, in the laundry, maintenance department and in the dish room. It didn’t seem to matter, because he was accustomed to MBWA (manage by walking around). Most of his twelve hour days were spent on his feet rather than at his desk. He knew each and every one of the staff by first name, knew some of their children and spouses by first name, and even attended some of their birthday parties and personal celebrations. I was amazed when I first began working with him in an advisory mode. He was well liked, respected and they were loyal to him. He appeared in court as a character witness when they had legal difficulties, posted bail for the wrongly accused son of a waitress, donated time to clean up a community that several staff members lived in (in the inner city of Detroit) and lead them to earn high honors from the corporation as a “most improved” operation.

That in my opinion is a leader. A leader does what it takes to EARN the loyalty and trust of those they lead, and re-earns it by every action on a day to day basis. Leaders are born, but they can be self-taught if they truly take it upon themselves to WANT to be a leader.

My recommendation: Learn about your people. Learn about their families, their interests, and most of all, EARN their respect through sincere actions. A smile and a warm hello cost nothing, but pay great dividends. Your employees have mouths to feed, and your organization is not just them; it is the family members as well. You have a responsibility to make decisions that impact all of them.

Remember, in an entrepreneurial environment, the respect and loyalty of individuals is currency. The more paid in, the better the return. You may have only a few under command, but it won’t stay that way. Growth is assured through proper actions, smart decisions and prudent use of resources. A leader knows that, and acts accordingly.

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Get Out of Your Own Head


Today’s entrepreneur is all about getting their share of the market to which they serve.  To be the best, top dog, leader of the pack.  So you want to be the best at what you do?  Then get out of your own way by getting out of your own head!

 Simply put, you sometimes can be your own worst enemy.  Borderline personality disorders can receive treatment for their maladies through a series of “state of mind” exercises that focus on the moment; without the use of heavy thought.

 Entrepreneurs can benefit from these just as well as those suffering some form of borderline mental illness. In my experience, more entrepreneurs display ADHD tendencies regularly.   Next time you find yourself paralyzed from analysis, or worrying yourself to inaction, try getting out of your head.  Here are some tools to help.

 Presence of Mind

 Focus on an experience, not allowing a reaction to the matter.  For instance, you are jogging along a wooded path.  Notice that you are jogging, but not how you are feeling about the activity.  Notice the flowers, the squirrels playing, children laughing, but not how you FEEL about it all.   Don’t focus on how your legs feel, your thirst, the time of day. Control your attention, but not what you see or hear.  Don’t try to separate one from the other, single out one aspect of the activity, just be in the moment.  Don’t try to hang on to any of the experience, just let it flow in you and then out.  Don’t let it stick.

 Being alert to your surroundings, thoughts, actions and how you are handling them.  If you were a security guard, focus on the “it” without anything added to it.  Example: You see a squirrel on your jog; notice it, but don’t try to guess what it will do.  Whether it runs along the path or darts up the tree doesn’t matter to you.  Don’t allow yourself to guess its actions.   

 Be content without the content.  If a thought or feeling arises in your mind, acknowledge it.  Put a name on your thought.  “My calf muscles are beginning to cramp, or I can’t seem to concentrate,” are thoughts and feelings.  That’s all they are, call them what they are without focusing on the content of those thoughts or feelings.  Focus on the statement, not the emotional or physical feelings they might present. 

 Become one with the activity or experience; total immersion.  Get lost in it, forgetting yourself and all of what you cling to.  Practice the activity until muscle memory takes over.  Don’t focus on “how” you’re doing, focus on the “doing.”  Practice your thought skills until they are part and parcel of your conscious being.

 Efficacy

 Place your focus on the matter at hand.  Don’t bother with “would’a, could’a, should’a.  Now is not the time to evaluate, just stick to the issue.  If   is an awfully big word when trying to get to the root of a particular problem, challenge or issue.  Stay away from even trying to think about it.  Keep things simple and to the point, without all of the evaluative processes.

If   if’s and but’s were candies and nuts, then everyday would be Christmas.”  How true.

Tackle one task at a time.  If it is time to eat; eat.  Time to sleep; sleep.  Play, then  play.  Focus on the exact issue without distraction.  If you need to speak to an individual or within a group activity, focus on the exact words being spoken, the inflections, the body language.  Don’t try to evaluate or guess on what isn’t being said; focus. 

 If in the planning stage you begin to think about other things, how effective will your plan be?  Work when you work, plan when you plan, speak when you speak and listen when you listen.  Do each individual task as if nothing else matters and you’ll be more effective.

 Failsafe tactic. Most of us have been taught to multi-task.  This is not the time for that.  If you find distracting thoughts or actions splitting your attention, start over knowledgeable of the split.  Focus on one thing at a time!

 Parity

 Assuming all things equal, don’t be judgmental.  I’m Okay; You’re Okay is the line of thought worth pursuing. Disconnect your opinions from the facts.  Facts are just that, facts.  They aren’t somebody’s version; they are the facts and should be treated without opinion, emotion, like, dislike, or any other “Judgmental” reaction. Focus on the facts, the “what” instead of the “the good or bad.” 

When listening, don’t judge anything; not the speaker, the words spoken, the topic.  Accept the facts for what they are, and don’t get caught up in the emotional aspects.  Disconnect your judging from your thinking.  “Judge as you would be judged” is Biblical, and truer words were never spoken.  If you find yourself judging, stop, acknowledge the judgment and clear your mind of such thoughts.  Focus.

Getting out of your own head is a lot tougher than it may appear.  It takes concentration, repetition, focus and forgiveness.  Forgiving yourself for getting off track, wavering in your resolve and needs perseverance to the task.  Given time, however, you can master anything.

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Coop Marketing and Its Challenges/Opportunities


Today’s emerging enterprises need to stretch every marketing dollar.  Coop Marketing may provide a means to do so.  A Cooperative Capitalism strategy, both parties can win, and create a synergy that might just formulate a long term relationship for profits.

These cooperative methods, or collaborations, will require a mix of marketing development funds, shared revenue strategies, or a combination of both.  Take for example smaller, brand conscious parts or ingredients supplier collaborating with a major consumer goods manufacturer. This would be a way to gain market awareness by hitch-hiking onto larger campaigns.  An example might be “Allgood’s (Major National Brand) New Cookie Monsters made with Aunt Bessie’s (regional supplier) all natural molasses.”  Allgood’s foods already has market share, but wants to add to its brand as being “natural ingredients” or organic.  They intend to gain an inroad to the organic market niche.  Aunt Bessie’s already has some market exposure by selling directly through grocery and specialty natural food stores, but can create market awareness on a much broader scale, realizing potential to new markets beyond their existing regional base.  It is likely to increase both parties’ gross margins.

For the small or mid-sized brand or strategic, niche provider that just can’t afford the massive national marketing price tag that a major brand carries,  there now is a way to transform themselves into a small but mighty powerhouse by creating this strategic alliance and Coop-Market.  The national brand gains new niche margins that they currently don’t enjoy, while sharing the costs with their alliance.

Clarity is Key

Partner, Co-worker and Customer meetings often boil down to an around the table discussion where no one has a clear idea of what is being discussed, who will benefit the most, what is the market niche being exploited, whose expense is who’s, etc.  Clarity is not present, but the frustrations and questions loom.  It’s imperative to be crystal clear on which niche (s) to pursue, what the objectives of the meeting are, who will be responsible for what, and so forth.  It’s critical that you demand alignment and clarity on all of the success metrics, evaluative processes and the marketing message.

Your entire team has to sign off on this list of agreements; there is no room for guessing.  Resources have to be allocated, so make certain you identify who will be the spokesperson for your side of the deal. Also make sure you/your team understands the resource load you’re willing to extend, and who will be the spokesperson for your side of the agreed to marketing plan. 

Get your internal act together first before walking into any alliance meeting.  Be clear, demand clarity from your potential partner.  Align your values, justifications, rationalizations and most of all, exptectations.

Whose Really in Charge? 

Everyone on the team needs to have a clearly defined mission.  Whether it be sales,  marketing, production, oversight, accounting.  If you aren’t sure what strengths are present, perform an inventory. Apply those strengths into the strategy at their most valuable of positions.  Coop-marketing is all about meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations. If you are the sales expert, be the sales expert.  It does no good if sales works CRM in a vacuum.  Make sure everyone on the team respects the fact that you are in charge, so be the leader of that mission.  Get the support from those around the table to ensure your portion of the mission.  Additionally, only primary team members should be doing the talking.  Subsequent or subordinate team members may have thoughts, but they should express them in advance of the meeting to the “person in charge” or should call for clarification and call a side bar. 

Be sure you know the potential outcome.  Envision the end result and what you expect.  Agree to agree that the customer is most important, and that taking care of that customer is paramount to anything else, even profits.

I’m Okay; You’re Okay

Get it right out on the table that both parties bring something to the table, and that both parties are “equally important to the other.”  Feelings of superiority or aloof behavior will dampen the result, and make the cooperative venture a misery.   Yes, the ingredient or parts manufacturer adds to the project, and no, the major entity isn’t in charge (unless you agree to that).  For this to work, you have to have a seat at the table as a complete and utter equal, not just a tag along.  Conversely, the deeper pocket isn’t there just because they can afford to, there has to be a sincere attitude amongst the players.

  Being equal means common respect and opportunity for both parties, their respective brands and possible future actions.

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Why Traditional Marketing Agencies are Failing……….. and what to do about it


Originally published on The Daily Blogma July 2, 20

Why Traditional Marketing Agencies are Failing
and what to do about it

Traditional marketing agencies that offer full service marketing, advertising and public relations services are disintegrating. Firms that have stood the test of time are filing Chapter 7, or re-organizing under Chapter 11. Why? Like so many others, these overly-staffed traditionalists failed to focus on the changing landscape of the digital age. Smaller, leaner and tech-savvy digitally-astute agencies are gaining market share on a daily basis.
The same holds true for marketing departments in the Fortune 1000 and multi-national companies.

Chief Marketing Officers are faced with the same dilemma, and unless they switch tactics, are doomed to receiving the layoff notice. Long time successful CMO’s like Nigel Dessau of Intel, Julie Ann Robertson of National Wildlife Foundation and Charlie Lawrence of Franke all found themselves in a state of transition this past year. While they each found themselves outside looking in, the digitization of marketing had a role in their departures.

If the digital experience in traditional firms is limited and overhead top heavy with traditional marketing executives, it will create a “falling behind with little hope of catching up” belief system unless things change rapidly. In this sweeping digital age, that is a formula for disaster.

What’s a CMO or Agency to do?

The Corporate Executive Board has developed an Agility Diagnostic Survey tool that assists CMO’s and Marketing Agencies determine their agility quotient. Anna Bird of the CEB states that “Marketing leaders are grappling with some tricky questions these days. They need to adapt to a more digitized, fragmented and faster-changing consumer landscape, but with limited budgets they have to make a lot of trade-offs.”
My Recommendations: Get with it; digital that is. Take a good look at how you intend to fulfill your mission with existing methodologies, customer needs and your ability (agility) to fulfill those requirements. If you need to, eliminate some of the traditionalists and identify digitally talented marketers for that needed aspect of the game.

Where can you find them? This economic storm currently overwhelming us has created a huge supply of available “soloists.” Entrepreneurial tasks as content providers, SEO and social media consulting and service, as well as micro-agencies offer the types of services that meet the agility quotient necessary that small to medium sized businesses require. The bottom line-hire more freelancers, and create strategic alliances with those groups that can bring in the work quickly, while you try to catch up. A Google search will overload you with prospective talent.
The days of the Madison Avenue heavyweight firms dominating the marketing and public relations landscape may be ending, unless those mammoth firms get lean and become agile like their smaller, quicker to deliver competitors.

How are you handling your company marketing?

Good & Happy Marketing!

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Profitable Article and Blog Writing


“This article was originally published in eZine @rticles.com (http://ezinearticles.com/?Profitable-Article-and-Blog-Writing&id=7126587), and is reprinted with permission. This article may not be reproduced in whole or part without including the name of this author and an acknowledgement of the fact the article was originally published in  eZine @rticles.com (http://ezinearticles.com/?Profitable-Article-and-Blog-Writing&id=7126587). Any other use of this material is unauthorized and is a violation of law.”

 

Profitable Article and Blog Writing

By David J Dunworth

Making money online has a million sub-centers from which to choose, but my favorite is making money writing an article or blog for profit. Profitable article and blog writing is not as difficult as one might think, unless you struggle to fill out a paragraph or two on your favorite topic.

Writing articles and blogs for profits is referred to as content marketing, and if you haven’t heard, Content is King. Some say Content is well beyond King, and that it is now God, although I find that term reprehensible and blasphemous. Content is King works well, so let’s leave it at that.

If no one has said this to you yet, welcome to the age of content. Since its humble beginnings (can you say the Bible?) as story telling, content is all about getting the word out about your product or service in such a way that is anti-selling, and pro-relationship building.

Today’s business environment is drastically different than it was just a few short years ago. Traditional forms of marketing were controlled by the message makers pushing their information, persuasion and sell-speak at the consumer. If the consumer encountered enough messages, they sought out the retailer or business offering the goods or services and the transaction occurred. Now the consumer is in charge of the transaction. Sure, traditional forms of marketing and advertising still exist, but the resources companies devote to traditional sales methodologies is forever shrinking, as the consumer is not researching products and services online rather than be bombarded by traditional means. Serius Radio, Tivo, the DVR, Netflix and digital news outlets have minimized the number of touches traditional marketing messages consumers now experience. Therefore, they search out those companies that they feel good about. Content is the way to attract the eyes of today’s consumer.

By writing for profit, that is, producing content as an article freelancer, blog post writer or some other form of copy writing in exchange for a wage is quickly becoming an extremely profitable way to make a living.

Organizations spend a great deal of money on content creation, and will go to great lengths to locate and hire competent content individuals or teams. Even the novice writer can find a niche worth exploiting through specialty sites such as elance.com, and odesk.com, where writing jobs can be found in large variety. With a bit of training and a little experience under your belt, you can become a freelancer.

The first thing a budding writer must identify is with which niche he or she has some competency, and hone their practice. There are some great sources online that offer FREE trials of their online courses.

Content marketers are quickly becoming the “go-to” asset for companies large and small. Great content comes from those with passion, and the markets are wide open for niches as small as “duct tape art” to “basket weaving underwater.” One only look to their personal passions and begin to write compelling, engaging content for themselves or someone willing to pay by the word, article or eBook.

Happy Writing!

David J Dunworth, often referred to as The 1 Smart Marketer, is a published author of books, eBooks, hundreds of articles and ghost written material for dozens of clients internationally. Additionally he owns multiple sites offering FREE eCources for topics such as Writing for Profit, Men’s Fitness, How To Online topics and much, much more.

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Announcing! The Entrepreneur’s Bill of Rights


Announcing!  The Entrepreneur’s Bill of Rights

Dear reader,

I want to let you know that my new, long awaited book, The Entrepreneur’s Bill of Rights is available on Amazon.com.  Here’s the link:  http://amzn.to/LuYTRt   MY GOAL IS TO SELL 20,000 copies in one week.  Help me do that, please

From now until July 4th, the Kindle version is only $0.99.  On the 5th of July it will revert to $19.95.

The print version will be available in a few weeks @ $27.95.

NOTE: IF YOU SEND ME YOUR RECEIPT FOR PURCHASING 15 COPIES OF THE DIGITAL VERSION, I WILL SEND YOU A PRINT COPY AUTOGRAPHED WHEN THEY BECOME READY.

THANKS FOR BEING MY FRIEND.

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Is Your Marketing Agency Blog Like the Cobbler’s Kids?


Image

  Is your marketing agency blog showing signs that you are not taking care of your needs in deference to your clients?  The Cobbler’s Kids often were barefoot, and when they did have shoes, the replacement or updating of them was sorely lacking and poorly scheduled.  Your marketing agency blog deserves the same attention that your clients do, so here are a few recommendations that may prove worthy.

¨      Share the bench.  Identify other “cobblers” within the organization to share the blog posting role

¨      Practice what you preach.  Establish a content calendar that meets or exceeds the schedule your highest rated client’s.  In other words, if your best client is receiving five posts a week, then your blog should mirror that or better.

¨      Break it up.  Rather than post a 750 word article, break it down into two or three pieces and get more mileage out of the same piece.

¨      Outsource.  There are word farms and freelance that can supply content at reasonable rates.  While you focus on routine blog posts, freelancers may be able to provide the much-needed eBooks, White Papers and Case Studies under your name.

¨      Input Video/Multi-media. Use video to mix up the media; who says it always has to be written content?   There are platforms that not only incorporate video into emails and blogs like Talk Fusion, or multi-media presentation platforms like Knovio.

¨      Co-Brand Hubspot marketing materials.  There is a full library of Case Studies, eBooks and White Papers at your disposal that can be co-branded.

Your marketing agency brand is at stake when it comes to providing engaging content; your clients and potentials are counting on you being what you state you are.

David J Dunworth, Chief Creative, Primo Fini Content Marketers

Biography

David is a Performance Marketing Strategist at Primo Fini Content Marketers.  As Chief Creative, his areas of expertise are well sprinkled with awards, recognition and international acclaim.  With a global client base, David plays a key role in helping businesses large and small tell their story in compelling, engaging content formats.  From digital media to multi-media distribution, he and his company support inbound marketing agencies, their clients and individual enterprises in the UK, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.  David is a believer in focused discipline, tenacious research and performance driven content creation.  You may find a portfolio of his work at

http://theovercaffeinatedentrepreneur.wordpress.com

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Why Proper Distribution of Content Makes the Difference


Why Proper Distribution of Content Makes the Difference

By

David J Dunworth O.C.E.

Today’s marketing is all about providing engaging, informative and worthwhile content.  Marketing agencies are specifically geared to assist businesses “get found” and grow business.  As a marketing agency, I teach my clients about creating and distributing engaging and instructive articles, blog posts and specific information offerings to attract new consumers.  We distribute content through our blog, guest blogs, article aggregaters such as eZineArticles.com and so forth.  Are we reaching in the right places?

Today’s consumer is busier than they have ever been, and messages of “Buy This” and “Choose Me” are bombarding them routinely.  What is a business to do in order to rise above the hustle and bustle and “get noticed?”  Maybe it is not about the content as much as it is the placement.

Consider this: If you have a great message, but no one is within earshot of hearing it?  It’s the same thing as the old question, “if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?”

In order for great content to attract large numbers of consumers, it has to be where the consumer is.  Proper distribution of content can make the difference in the world.

Are you reviewing the following with your clients?

¨      Where is your customer spending her/his online time?

¨      What is your main competitor doing to capture the market?

¨      Which social media sites are the right ones to focus on?

¨      Are you directing your client to utilize social media correctly in the distribution of content?

¨      What other channels of content distribution should be incorporated into our marketing strategy?

¨      Is my content mix (articles, blog posts, eBooks, video clips) appearing often enough, and in the right channels?

As a marketing agency, you should be able to answer at any given moment.

To boil down the distribution question, we must first explore the demographics and psycho-graphics of our client’s customer base.  If your client is a B2B company, you want to make sure that you have a dominant presence on LinkedIn.  This platform has more than 1,000,000 groups; clubs within the club so to speak.  Members are free to network, share information and communicate in fifty (50) groups.  Are your clients leading any groups, and providing engaging relative content to groups that make up their customer mix?  Do they openly request connections?  Do you know the time of day to post information on LinkedIn?  It does make a difference.

What about other distribution channels?  Do you distribute their content on StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook and Twitter?  What about any of the other 2-300 other social sites?   Knowing where your ideal customer is spending their time will go a long way to growing new leads.

Then there is offline activity.  Does your client participate in event marketing, or sponsorships?  The proper distribution of content is much more than posting a blog, or tweeting about something that is happening in your clients’ world.  It is all about proper timing, coordinated with engaging content in all the right places.

You have to know where your ideal consumer hangs out, what they read and how they buy.  Performing basic marketing research tactics for the digital space; that is what makes the difference.  The proper distribution of content will win the day, if handled correctly.

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WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT!


It gives me profound pleasure to post this article on behalf of a great friend, ally and strategic partner, Ms. Jen Rai.  She has bee featured on Lifetime television, as well as is a globally known subject matter expert in web design, SEO, Social Media and a host of other specialties.

Why You Should Hire a Virtual Assistant!

By Jen Rai, CEO

Today’s Admin

DailyBlogma.com Virtual Assistants Par ExcelanceYou will find that that you can get more done by adding something missing in your company. Regardless of size, there is always a project, deadline or urgent matter that puts stress on the organization. Too many of those situations demotivate staff, lower productivity on day-to-day operations, and can lead to customer dissatisfaction, should the deadlines slip.

Virtual Assistants are much more than administrative support personnel. VA’s not only perform routine tasks so that you can focus on day to day business without worrying about the little things, they are experts in many segments of today’s marketing trends.

Good virtual assistant firms have resources at the touch of a button, such as REAL SEO experts, copywriters, ghostwriters, web design; content marketing, video and audio marketers and more. It is truly cost prohibitive for most small and medium sized firms to employ this many experts and still make a profit, considering salaries, benefits, physical plant expense, and general overhead. A virtual assistant has an entire stable of professional individuals and companies on retainer to make them available at a moment’s notice.

Consider the time and attention Social Media takes. Did you know that virtual assistants can provide frequent blogging or Facebook and Twitter updates for you? What about the valuable content marketing information? A good virtual assistant service has ghostwriters available to write about any topic, deliver finished articles with a twenty-four turnaround, while offering affordability.

Traditional marketing models are broken; customers are looking for companies to do business with that care about them. Companies that offer pertinent information that helps them to have better lives. The offering of free information, like an eBook, Whitepaper or Special Report helps customers learn about the products and services without being sold something. Creating a relationship of friendliness and care goes a long way once the buying decision is made. Customers select those firms that they feel good about, that have displayed an active interest in who they are as people. Free communication tools like these do that, but who has time to develop these? Your virtual assistant has the professionals at their disposal.
Are you in need of a virtual assistant? Visit Today’s Admin Virtual Assistants today!

Jennifer started “Today’s Admin” in 2005, when she realized that an entrepreneur’s outsourcing needs do not stop with IT services. Starting with a strong local base of clients, Today’s Admin and its team of Virtual Assistants have grown quickly by word-of-mouth referrals. Jennifer’s sense of humor and innate leadership ability have fostered a company environment that is positive, hard-working and dedicated. Jennifer’s insight, understanding, and genuine interest in her client’s success enable her to make the perfect match between Virtual Assistant and business professional. This perfect match is the partnership and support a business owner needs to increase revenue and take their business to the next level.

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Just When We Thought The Internet Was Great – dailyBlogma


I just had the opportunity to view for the first time a TED video that was originally aired in late 2011.

See on dailyblogma.com

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Educating Your C-Suite about Inbound Marketing – Business 2 Community



Business 2 CommunityEducating Your C-Suite about Inbound MarketingBusiness 2 CommunityBy Brianne Carlon, Published April 19, 2012 To those of you who have crossed over willingly and truly believe in the power of inbound marketing, creating a lot of…

See on www.business2community.com

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Changes in branding are in the wind – China Daily



China DailyChanges in branding are in the windChina DailyWe talked about how she and her friends relate to foreign and Chinese brands.

See on usa.chinadaily.com.cn

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Online Branding



Branding is an integral part of a successful business. Your company/outfit cannot survive the daily battle that goes on between you and your competitors without a proper branding. Obviously, the co…

See on adetunjiyomi.wordpress.com

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