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

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Taking Stock of this Week: How Effective were You?

time management

The year is already one quarter gone, what did you do this week?

It’s Friday. How did you measure up this week?

Did you:

1. Drive revenue?

2. Cut expenses in a way that will allow the business to grow?

3. Solve an ongoing challenge in a way that will allow the team to move forward?

4. Open a new market, test a new product, develop a new strategy for growth?

5. Say no to the things that weren’t working and cross them off your list?

6.Seek out a new perspective or new methodology that might help your team move forward?

7.Hold meetings that were relevant, valuable and not “birthday parties.”

8. Pull the tooth?

9. Look for new talent?

10. Have that uncomfortable conversation you’ve been dreading?

If not, what can you do to make sure that next week you spend your time on the things that really matter? (need some more ideas? try this)

Get your free copy today of “Reading the Terrain” by subscribing in the email box. It will help you have many more effective days!

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Do Women Tend to Sell Services while Men Build Products?

male and female hands pulling on US dollars

Does the type of business different genders choose to start affect their ultimate profitability?

Now before you kill me, understand that I am aware of the danger of sweeping generalizations and also that many women, including those in the technology field have built some amazing products (see my article on a favorite app, Unstuck, which was built by SYPartners, which is led by Susan Schuman, a female CEO).  But when I attend various entrepreneur groups, or watch pitches for venture capital, it seems that women tend far and away to build service-led businesses, often heavily dependent on the principal’s time, background and continued future involvement. Whereas the men tend to build products, ideas or applications that can be sold and don’t require the continuous input of the founder over time.

Now to be fair, I have been spending a great deal of time at technology-based pitches of late, so this is strictly anecdotal evidence, and it’s well known that technology is a male dominated field at the moment. But considering that a product based business might be more easily sold down the line, are women shortchanging themselves by creating service-based businesses?

An example, at a recent series of pitches, a male-led team pitched the creation of an app that would allow you to order your favorite drink the minute you entered a crowded club, and have it served to you wherever you were, without having to engage the bartender personally. A female-led group pitched a service creating copy for websites and technology offerings. Regardless of your feelings on instant lager delivery vs. great copy editing, one product was basically a “one and done” item while the other would require quite a bit of ongoing effort to have value in the marketplace that would allow the founder to sell.

I’m not sure if this is the crux of the question on the relative divide on male and female success in the current business climate but it gives me pause. What are your thoughts? What do you see in the marketplace?

P.S. Some great reading on Building a Business to Sell by John Warrilow.

Just Say No

Sometimes just saying "no" is the most powerful choice you can make.

Sometimes just saying “no” is the most powerful choice you can make.

What if you could free your day from the “Should do’s” “Ought to do’s” and only focus on the things that really move you towards your goal? What if you said, “This just isn’t going to happen” and crossed it off your “to do” list.

  • Say no to the networking event that never yields anything.
  • Cross off the “nice to have” product improvement that is sucking energy and time from your team but wont measurably increase usage or sales.
  • No, I’m sorry, we’ve done all our pro bono work for this year.
  • No, we’re not going to pursue that business line.
  • No, that sales/tech/ superstar just doesn’t fit our culture, lets stop pursuing him/her and find a different solution.
  • No, I don’t have the bandwidth for that.

What would you get done TODAY if you just said “No”?

 

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What if the Government is your Biggest Customer?

government shutdown business impact

You may be more vulnerable than you realize to a government shutdown

Today’s U.S. government shut down will have ripple effects on many types of businesses.  While projects at some agencies and businesses may see an immediate impact, other change agents will also need to take the impact of the shutdown into their plans.

Those of you who work for a government funded agency, where either your largest customer or funding source is the government have no doubt been following the news carefully and planning accordingly. But for many others, the impact may be more of a surprise. You may think you have no government funds affecting your particular business, but if it affects your biggest customer, your biggest supplier or even causes those that are guiding your project to have to wait to see the way the wind blows, you will see an impact. Are you prepared?

Today’s events are a great reminder of the need for diversification, of customers, funding sources, and even the ability to shift your plans when necessary.  Regardless of your politics, look at today’s events as a chance to “go deep” in your business and your plans to see where your vulnerabilities are, and begin addressing them today. Beyond the government shut down look for any area where you have more than 30% of your “chips” invested. Is it in one customer, one project sponsor, one marketing strategy? one referral source? Where are you vulnerable and what can you learn from today’s news?

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Five For Friday! Business Development Expert Julie Fleming

The Building Blocks of Business Development

The Building Blocks of Business Development

Ever landed your dream job and then found you had to raise the funds to get yourself paid? Some of us are natural entrepreneurs; while others may have had business development added their job responsibilities along the way.   Julie Fleming coaches lawyers  (many of whom entered law school never fully understanding the “rainmaking” aspect of attaining partnership level) to new heights of business development. I asked her to share some of her thoughts on business development best practices for this week’s Five for Friday!

1. What are the key activities of a great rainmaker?

To bring in new business, you should focus your time on four key activities:

    • Client or customer service is your top priority, because great service can get you repeat business and referrals… Plus it keeps your customer base happy.
    • Lead generation calls on you to identify the kinds of people you want to meet and where they spend time, and then spend time in those meetings or places regularly.
    • Developing your professional reputation will give you the credibility you need to demonstrate that you can solve your client’s or customer’s problem.
    • Building relationships is the activity that links the other four. No matter what else you’re doing, ask how you can use the opportunity to initiate or deepen a relationship.

2.  What are the most common mistakes?

I see two common mistakes: lack of persistence and mistaking luck for success. It takes time to build relationships, and visiting a networking event once is unlikely to pay dividends. Select your activities strategically, and stick with them long enough to see results—usually three to six months at a minimum. Random actions lead to random results, not repeatable success. Don’t give up too soon, and don’t judge overall success based on one or two lucky breaks.

3. How should someone prioritize their targets?

First, divide your contact list into A, B, and C priorities. Who’s most likely to deliver business to you, either directly or by referral? Those are your A-list contacts, the ones you should be courting most regularly, with contacts every 4-6 weeks at a minimum. Your B list merits contact about once a quarter, and your C list gets contact twice a year, usually through holiday cards and one other touch. (Note that having a content-rich newsletter or blog allows you to stay in front of all of your contacts on a frequent basis by delivering useful information.) As you meet new contacts, categorize them in the same way. Make sure that your A list doesn’t get too large for you to keep those contacts’ specific needs and interests in mind as you craft your follow-up communications. Most people max out around 12-15 “A” list contacts.

4.  Why do people resist taking on the responsibility of business development?

Most of us receive no training on business development. We know what to do, but we don’t really know how to find the clients or customers. Some people worry that great rainmakers are born with some secret skill or attribute. No one wants to fail (and many take any setback as a sign that they’re missing the golden touch), and resistance is natural until you discover that sales and marketing are a personalized combination of a finite group of skills, not a golden touch. There’s also a negative connotation to sales, and no one wants to be perceived as manipulative or unscrupulous. Both of these short-circuit and stop would-be rainmakers in their tracks.

5.   What are some great resources to learn about rainmaking very quickly?

One of my current favorite books is Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human. It dispels the myths I mention in point 4 and offers easy-to-implement steps toward making a sales, whether you’re selling products or services. I also like Harry Beckwith’s Selling the Invisible for professional services sales.  Most importantly, find a successful rainmaker (preferably more than one!) and ask how they succeeded, then get a mentor to help you put your unique strengths to work.

Julie Fleming

Julie Fleming

Julie A. Fleming, principal of Lex Innova Consulting, teaches lawyers and other professional services providers to use innovative and effective measures to build a strong book of business and a lucrative practice. A former patent litigator, she is the author of The Reluctant Rainmaker: A Guide for Lawyers Who Hate Selling and Seven Foundations of Time Mastery for Attorneys, as well as numerous articles focusing on topics such as business development, practice management, work/life balance, and leadership development.  Before launching her consulting business, Julie practiced law for over a decade in firms of 3 to more than 2100 attorneys, specializing in patent litigation. A graduate of the Emory University School of Law, Vanderbilt University (B.A.) and Georgia State University (B.S.), Julie is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and currently serves as Vice Chair of the ABA Section of Science and Technology Law. Her website is at www.lexinnovaconsulting.com

What’s your biggest challenge around business development? Share in the comments box!

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Rule #4: Do the Math: Follow the Money

Like it or not, the trail of money will direct your path.

Like it or not, the trail of money will direct your path.

Make a business plan! It’s the number one rule for all new ventures. Every business book, every “get rich quick” book, every project management handbook insists upon it.

What the experts often fail to say is just how important it is to be realistic.  You can make any business plan work on paper if you’re creative enough. “We will quadruple our revenue by selling 4000 additional widgets next month!” “How many did you sell this month?” “35, but I’ve got a GREAT plan!”

It’s entirely possible that your change strategy is so brilliant, so life changing, that it’s the next Apple computers or internal combustion engine (please feel free to write me so we can interview you for our “Five for Fridays”). But more likely, you are not the exception.  And that’s where doing your math homework comes in.

What is the team doing now (selling, closing, producing, treating, turning).  What does your proposed change do to that number? What is the cost of the change? Have you factored in the opportunity costs involved (see Rule #3)?  What extra incidental costs will result (support staff, additional technology costs) if your project comes to fruition?  Don’t base it on the best month your team ever had. Base it on an average month. And if your year is seasonal, run it for each quarter, using an average per quarter.

Is it worth doing? Is the potential disruption of processes and routine worth the net result of your activity?  And even if you think so, would anyone else agree?  Get someone from outside your industry to punch holes in your strategy and to ask lots of questions. It may uncover some other areas you need to look at.

Moving results into dollars and cents, either in terms of revenue growth or cost savings, can go a long way towards advancing your strategy.  Numeric arguments that show they’ve taken all the factors into account will win every time.

And for those of you in the government or non-profit sector who don’t measure all activities in terms of dollars and cents, we’ll talk a great deal about how you can measure in Rule#6.

Want to see all 10 Rules for Beginning a Turnaround? Start here.

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© Jeanne Goldie 2015