Archives for May 2014

What are you prepared to do?! (cue Sean Connery)

What are you prepared to do?

Eliot Ness knew when to double down. And don’t bring a knife to a gun fight either!

Business success requires you to get down in the dirt and fight. It’s not theory in a business book. It’s day to day, minute to minute, choices.

Your “non” choices can hurt you even more than your active choices. “Decision by not deciding” is usually more deadly than making a wrong choice. Unfortunately, it’s not all that uncommon. There are no points in life for “not deciding” your way into a mess, but we often treat the messy results as “not my fault” because we didn’t actively choose our path.

So what are you prepared to do?! (Feel free to re-enact Sean Connery saying this line in The Untouchables. It will make you smile.)

1. What are the five most important things you need to do to immediately impact your success?

2. What are the five problems/situations/people you’ve been dodging/ignoring/sweeping under the rug?

3. What are five things you’re currently doing that aren’t driving revenue/creating the change you want but still need to get done? Can you delegate them, minimize them, automate them?

Taking Action:

Sit down for  15 minutes. Make the lists. Title them: Do, Deal With, Delegate. (I’m hoping you can tell which is which!). They don’t have to be perfect. They do have to be items that would have significant impact on your business revenue/project success/ enjoyment of life.

Next Step:

Do, deal with or delegate one thing on each list. Right now. Yes, now.

No, not next week. Not when your horoscope suggests you turn over a new leaf. Not after American Idol. Now.

And decide which thing you will Do, Deal With or Delegate tomorrow.

Eliot Ness and Jim Malone would be proud of you.

Need a reminder of what a blood oath is? Watch here.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Have you gotten our copy of “Reading the Terrain” yet? Its a great way to speed read a company, either a new one you may be considering working with or even the one you’re at right now. Its free, just subscribe at right.

Charging Back Uphill: Blasting out of a Stall.

(Just joining us? Read our series on “3 Great reasons why what worked before isn’t working now” Start it here)

spark a new business life

Blast out of a career or business stall with these 5 approaches.

So, you got Stuck.

Your future used to be “So bright you had to wear shades”

Now you’re not sure you should appear in public at all. Maybe ever.  

Nah. You can do it. 

Here’s how to get started:

 

1. Get a fresh set of eyes to look  you over:

We’re often blind to our own need to change. Get some feedback from a new coach, some “disinterested” friends, teenagers (they generally don’t hold their opinions back, especially around social media). And consider what feedback you got recently and ignored. What didn’t you do or change because you “knew better”?  Give it some consideration. Perhaps try a small test, don’t realign your every principle or move your entire marketing budget, but give an alternate approach a real test, even if only in a small section of your business.

2. What is the other guy doing that is working? 

Look at your competition, both your old competition and any new players. What’s different? What’s working for them? Don’t instantly adopt it, just take a look, see if it might benefit your business plan.

3.  What are your 80/20’s? Put some laser focus on them.

Pareto said 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. Take a look at your 80/20’s. What’s working? Parse the ad budget, evaluate the social media push, streamline the plans to a manageable level. And then take a look at where you are spending a lot of effort and just not seeing the results anymore. Shoot the Elephant. Master the art of saying No. Pull the darn tooth. Have that Uncomfortable Conversation that ties your stomach in knots every day.  Refocus.

4. Tell a New Story.

No, this does NOT mean lying to yourself. It does mean looking for parts of the narrative of your business or personal story that you may not have paid attention to before.  I have always described myself as a business turnaround or start-up expert. But I am also someone who can focus and fix the areas of business that are messy and “un-fun”, which allows others to keep driving revenue by focusing on the areas that they’re great at while I handle the messy stuff. Some people are looking for me to do just that. So what’s your story? Are you telling people it in the way they need to hear it and how they want to hear it? Here’s some ideas on that  subject. And a thought or two on Reframing. A great book on how to do this on a personal level? Read “Body of Work” by Pamela Slim.

5. Try one new thing. Today. And do the same thing Tomorrow.    

And don’t spend too long thinking about it. Try a new route to work. Call ten new clients and try a different sales pitch. Take an online translation tool and transfer your resume or website into another language. Then translate it into another very different language (make sure they’re not similar, use something like a Romance language followed by a Cyrillic language). Then translate it back into English. Does the new translation give you any ideas? Sometimes it’s a word or phrase that can make all the difference. Change the way you structure your day, do the sales calls first and don’t answer email until noon.  Drop one of the activities that wasn’t working and replace it with something that makes you a bit nervous but that you have always thought might work. Get way out of your comfort zone with that one. Set a budget for “new things.” Big Businesses call it R&D but you can call it the “Rut Stopper” budget. Take a chunk you’re willing to risk and commit.

Need more ideas? Try some of these articles we’ve written before:

15 new things for 2014

10 Rules of Turnaround

The Sunday Night Dreads

Is this it? The Mid-Level Manager’s Lament

Deal with Other’s Great Expectations

Sell your story with Sizzle, Steak or Rainbows. Or just add a Giant Panda

Figure out why the team is fighting you on this.

Or just have a good laugh and start again tomorrow.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

And if you didn’t do it already, subscribe to our website and download your free copy of “Reading the Terrain; a Field guide for speedreading the Corporate Landscape”. No one’s going to bombard you with emails or sell your name to anyone. We’ll just send you a newsletter once a week you can forward to others who are trying to create change. And teach you some really good stuff. Take it from the woman who once lost out to the Fulton County Rat Poison Lady and a Freight train. There are some mistakes you don’t want to have to make yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3 of 3 Great Reasons why what Worked for you Before, isn’t Working Now.

rapid rise and descent of a business strategy

Your strategy was working great, then it stopped? Here’s three reasons why it may have stopped working

It was Working.

Now it’s not working.

Why?

It’s hard to continually grow success. With rare exceptions, the line to the top of the success platform is more often a series of “one step forward, two steps back, a side step, a loop de loop,” and then, finally, “up we go”. One of the most difficult things to come to terms with in both business and personal life is when something that had worked so well for you previously is now not only not working, but may actually be working against you.

So why isn’t it working?

Joined us in the middle? See Reason #1 and Reason #2

Reason #3. Your product is wearing the wrong clothes.

Your product/business/idea may be great, but it may be dressed in the wrong packaging for your intended audience. Now this isn’t usually the main driver, but can be why growth has stalled. What do “the wrong clothes” look like?

  • Your high tech/impulse purchase product isn’t optimized for mobile access, or you created a high tech mobile product for a “not very high tech” audience. You may have reached the saturation point for the people that recognized your product in the space it is in, but you may be missing a much larger market that is playing in another playground.
  • Your choice of market place isn’t reaching the maximum audience.  Are you a retail store? Are you in a indoor mall? How is your foot traffic vs the foot traffic at a strip center (and yes, it was a very different story 10 years ago)? Or maybe you’re a business website with a non-visual based business who is doing all your marketing over on Pinterest.  Blogging when your audience wants podcasts? It may not be that you’re located in a bad place, you just may not be located in the optimal place.
  • Your packaging doesn’t match what your audience’s expectations. Are you a luxury business with a pre-canned, pre-formatted word template for everything from invoices to your website that reeks of beginning Microsoft 101? Is your website loaded with “Coming soon” and a copyright date of 2011 running across the bottom?

 Well that’s just great, Jeanne. So what do I do now, Little Ms. Fix it?

Read our next article, Charging Back Uphill, Blasting out of a Stall. 

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

And in the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and get a your copy of “Reading the Terrain, A field guide for speed reading the Corporate landscape” instantly. It may help you identify some critical mismatches between where you think you are and how those on the outside see your business.  And no, we’re not going to sell your email address to others. Or bombard you with insta offers. We’re just going to send your our newsletter that helps you navigate in a time of constant change.

 

 

3 Great Reasons why what worked for you Before isn’t working Now (Pt. 2)

 

rapid rise and descent of a business strategy

Your strategy was working great, then it stopped? Here’s three reasons why it may have stopped working.

It was Working.

Now it’s not working.

Why?

It’s hard to continually grow success. With rare exceptions, the line to the top of the success platform is more often a series of “one step forward, two steps back, a side step, a loop de loop,” and then, finally, “up we go”. One of the most difficult things to come to terms with in both business and personal life is when something that had worked so well for you previously is now not only not working, but may actually be working against you.

So why isn’t it working?

(Go Here if you missed Reason #1, “The ground under your feet changed”)

Reason# 2.  You mistook a one-hit wonder for permanent success.

Pet Rock? Business theory flavor of the month? You had a great run but suddenly its not working,  and now you’re stuck.  Hopefully if you intentionally produced a gimmicky app, product or snack food you knew it was going to be short lived and planned accordingly. But sometimes, you and your product are the beneficiary of lucky circumstances, timing or a specific moment in the market, which can create a false sense of a more permanent success.

Think of a musical group that has their song picked for the soundtrack of a hit movie. The song skyrockets to the top of the charts. Now it’s time for a follow up. Maybe it’s a winner, maybe they were the beneficiary of a moment in time. There will be a big difference in their future between living on the residuals of one mega hit vs owning the Rolling Stones catalog.

Notice I didn’t say that the musical group was any more or less talented or hardworking than any other musical group. Hard work and talent count but there are a lot of hard working and talented people out there and they’re not all giant successes.

In the business world, the markers of what made a particular set of circumstances unique often aren’t known until hindsight kicks in.  Years ago I worked in the non-profit arena where many large grants and funds were available due to a specific set of circumstances in the market (bank mergers coupled with mirroring a favored business theory of the then current government administration). The trend continued for nearly 5 years. If you began or started a non-profit in that space during that time, it was easy to raise funds and gain support, giving you a sense of success and a feeling that you “knew how things worked.” Except that was a moment in time, not replicated at any point for the next 11 years.

Were you attached to a popular business theory that “ran its course?” In the past few years we’ve had “The Secret”,”Get Rich Quick” schemes,  and a host of other short term mega hits. If your work is closely attached to a theory that is now discredited or fallen out of favor, even if your work is sound, you will need to repackage it and rebuild success based on a new foundation.

You may have even been the cute new “upstart” in a business sector, and now you’re the “middle-aged” stalled out player, not venerable enough to be one of the “big boys” you ran circles around when you started, and not youthful enough to be as nimble as new market entrants. Many of the “dot-com” wonders of the early 2000’s are facing this dilemma now. Your growth rate no longer thrills Wall Street, because it’s hard to match the early years of phenomenal growth, and the “new market” players may have more immediate upside potential. And the old boys either went under or figured out how to address the threat you made to their market share all those years ago. You’re in the middle, and need to regroup.

Our next article: Reason #3 “You’re wearing the wrong clothes”

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

(Need to see your business with fresh eyes? Sign up for our free newsletter and get your copy of Reading the Terrain immediately)

3 Great Reasons why what Worked for you Before isn’t Working Now. (pt. 1)

rapid rise and descent of a business strategy

Your strategy was working great, then it suddenly stopped?
Here’s three possible reasons why.  

It was Working.

Now it’s not working.

Why?

It’s hard to continually grow success. With rare exceptions, the line to the top of the success platform is more often a series of “one step forward, two steps back, a side step, a loop de loop,” and then, finally, “up we go”. One of the most difficult things to come to terms with in both business and personal life is when something that had worked so well for you previously is now not only not working, but may actually be working against you.

So why isn’t it working?

Reason# 1. The ground beneath you has changed.

Think of little girls in school. Most are rewarded for being quiet, polite, raising their hands, doing their work conscientiously and neatly. This gets them A’s not only in school work but those goofy awards like “Best Friend” “Teacher’s Helper” and, later in life, “Girl most likely to be doing her boyfriend’s homework while he’s off doing whatever cool thing he does that makes her want to date him.” Boys in school are not expected to be as quiet, or as well behaved, and while it might get them a “C” in deportment or behavior (or the more modern version, endless red cards), it doesn’t generally hold him back.

Now move these kids to a different playing field. What happens when these two get into the business world? One has the forward focus of doing what he wants or needs to do to get what he wants. One is a worker bee. Which is more likely to be CEO?

Shift that to a business model. During the recent turbulent times you kept your business super conservative. This helped you survive very rough seas and may have even gotten you some public praise. To be conservative you cut inventory to a minimum, watched receivables like a hawk, cut expenses, minimized staffing and got them to multitask like no one’s business. You “won” the recession. But slowly, maybe without you noticing, things change. As the economy slowly improves, your inventory looks tired, minimal. Your team, exhausted, starts getting other offers. Things start to break down, because you didn’t replace them, or they’re out of date and you’re now doing more creative things to work around the outdated system every day. New competitors (maybe even sinking severance pay into a new business) suddenly appear, shinier, newer, with newer systems, fresh inventory, a fresh perspective. Many will go out of business shortly because they don’t know what you know, but at the same time, they will take their hits on your market share. Some may even survive. Your old staff may work for them, coaching them on the areas they don’t know a lot about. The ground changed beneath your feet, and you are still fighting the war using the tools that worked before.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Time to reassess. We’ll give you some tools at the end of this series. (If you want to start seeing your business with fresh eyes today, sign up for our free booklet “Reading the Terrain” by subscribing to our newsletter today.)

Our Next Article: Reason #2: One hit wonders…

© Jeanne Goldie 2015