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8 Steps to Give Your Business a Kick Start

In early-April I was invited by the Nevada Hispanic Business Group to address a group of individuals on the topic of Business Development.  I was told that it would be a mix of young entrepreneurs as well as established business people, so I had to develop a balance:  I had to make sure it was in-depth enough to give the aspiring business owners some good starting tips, but also provide insights that would assist those in the room with their current business as well.  Yeah…no pressure.

While it took some time and effort (and some much needed coffee) to prepare and develop a strong balance in my presentation that would suit both groups, the result was successful: the audience enjoyed the presentation and asked some great questions.  I ended my talk with 8 steps that can be quickly implemented in any business:

  1. Set Objectives/Goals
  2. Be Persistent
  3. Conduct a Business Growth Audit
  4. Deal with Decisionmakers
  5. Find a Mentor
  6. Ask and Listen
  7. Invest in Your Team
  8. Manage the Follow-Up Process

These are tips intended to help you look at your business, give you the insights needed to develop a strategy, and give your business a boost.

The 8 Steps

Set Objectives/Goals

Determine what you want to do.  This is the foundation for any plan to achieve success.  But, there are times when it seems like the goals and objectives are too lofty or to ambitious.  What do you do?  Break it up into smaller pieces with smaller goals.  Doing this makes the plan achievable by setting smaller, more achievable goals that all add up to your ultimate goal at the end.

Ambition is good, but if you go for something that you don’t currently have the resources for and are ill prepared to take on at the moment, you won’t succeed.  Breaking up ambitious goals into smaller, more manageable pieces allows you to celebrate small victories along the way as you make your way to the top.  How do you think people have climbed Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth?  By taking one step at a time to the top.

 

Links to some great articles on achieving goals:

Break Your Long-Term Goals Down Into Individual Steps

Video: “Break Your Big Goals into Small Steps”

8 Steps to Crushing Ridiculous Goals

Be Persistent

Don’t give up.  When you want to achieve your goals and objectives, you need to keep moving forward, regardless of the obstacles in your way.  If someone tells you that it can’t be done or doesn’t encourage you, acknowledge what they are saying, say “Okay,” and move on because no one else is going to want to achieve your goal but you.  If you have a goal, don’t give up.

Conduct a Business Growth Audit

You need to assess where you are on a regular basis.  When making this assessment, ask yourself these three questions and find the honest answers:

  • Where did we start from?
  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to take this business?

This is an assessment you should make every three months, at minimum.  It allows to you make sure that your business stays on track and is keeping the pace that you want to be at to achieve your goals.  You want to be able to honestly address where you are at.  If something needs to be looked at, don’t paint a rosy picture of it or pretend that challenge (there are not problems, only challenges to overcome) does not exist.  Acknowledge those challenges and deficits that exist.  When you honestly and openly acknowledge those challenges and deficits, you are able to address them and develop solutions so you are not asking the same questions again at your next audit.

Link to a great article on Business Audits from the Harvard Business Review:

The Process Audit from HBR

Deal with Decision Makers

Find out who the decision makers are in your industry and in the kinds of businesses you want to get involved in and meet with them.  They are the ones who have the final say in the business you are a patron of at that moment.  They are the ones that will have answers to your questions or who will say whether their business will work with you in some capacity or not.

Find a Mentor

A mentor is someone who currently does or has achieved what you are aspiring to.  This is the person whose success you want to emulate…and even surpass.  They can provide guidance that you need to get to where you want to be.  They have been where you are and they can help you navigate around the pitfalls they encountered with their advice and experience.  They can help you close that experience and knowledge gap with advice from what they have gone through as leaders in their respective industry.  They will tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly that you need to hear so you can maintain your course on the right track.

A great link on what to look for in a mentor from the Harvard Business Review:

What the Best Mentors Do

Ask and Listen

Ask questions and listen to what others have to say.  This could be a mentor, a colleague, a supervisor, or someone wanting to impart advice to you.  If there is someone that has information that you need to succeed in your business, do not hesitate to find those answers.

When conversing with them, don’t tell them all about you; instead, ask them about themselves, how they got to where they are, and what knowledge they think would assist you at this point in your business.  You won’t have the opportunity to know someone if you’re not letting them speak and taking in what they have to impart to you.

Invest in Your Team

Your team is what makes you grow.  Create opportunities and incentives for them to grow and to show their potential for your company.  They make the success happen because business is a team effort with you leading and them making your requests a reality for the overall benefit of the company.

Manage the Follow-Up Process

When meeting with a mentor or decision maker, own that process of following up.  If you made contact with them, but haven’t heard back from them, email or call them to let them know that you valued them giving their time and that you are serious about working with them in some capacity.  Don’t have the expectation that people are going to come to you.  You need to show that passion and vigor to that person.  By showing them that you are serious and committed, they know that their time energy is well spent working with you.

Conclusion

These are simple and straight-forward tips.  However, the biggest successes are founded on solid fundamentals and tried and true advice.  Mastering the fundamentals and getting the basics and the simple things right every time create a strong foundation for future growth.

These steps don’t have to be followed in order.  That is the beauty of this kind of advice:  they are versatile and allow you to make their implementation your own.  Just like you and your ambitions in life are unique, so too will the path you follow to your ultimate success.  Follow these steps in a way that works for you and gets you to where you want to be in your business and in life.

These are good starting points to begin implementing in your business to get your company oriented on the right trajectory to success.  The simplicity of these steps means you can get started right away.  You can make those appointments with decisionmakers to ask your questions right now.  You can start plotting out your goals and what success means to you and your business right now.  Success will come with hard work and dedication, but there are times when the simplest steps (when done right) can yield major benefits as well.

Equipped with these ideas, I want to close this blog with two words of encouragement:

 Game On!

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Taking the Initial Steps that Help Grow Your Business

Starting a business comes from a place of passion: you are producing some kind of product or service that you believe in and that people will value enough to purchase and use for some kind of benefit in their life.  As a business person, your goal is to grow a successful business.  A major indicator of success for your business is an increase in the demand for your product or service.

The right question to ask yourself is “What are the proper steps to grow my business?”  This is an important question to ask because there is a time and place to implement various growth strategies.  If an aggressive growth strategy with a tremendous capital investment is employed (like renting a large warehouse space and purchasing a fleet of delivery vehicles) where a conservative strategy is needed (like a renovation to expand existing space or increasing the inventory purchased), not only might your new increase in supply not match your demand, but your business may lose money with an overly ambitious plan.

How do you grow your business without over-doing it?  I will present you with several ideas in this blog that will help your business take those initial steps to grow.  Since this blog is covering the point of initial growth in your business, I will refrain from major steps towards growth such as opening numerous locations or international hubs and keep for when my book “Trust-Based Marketing” launches.  This blog will instead focus on steps that allow your business to grow without an excessive amount of risk or significant investment.

Researching Your Audience– A Safe Bet that Can Grow Your Business

Growing your business begins with determining what the business climate looks like; analyzing and accessing is necessary to achieving business success.  This would be like failing to look at weather conditions prior to planning a long vacation somewhere afar only to find out you packed clothing for the wrong season! The best way to determine your business climate is to look at the target audience your business is currently able to reach and from where your purchases currently originate from.  It is within this scope of current and potential customers that you can focus on growing your business.  By building on your familiarity with this particular audience that your business is able to reach, you will have the ability to identify opportunities that your business can potentially expand into. By keeping your focus in effective areas within this limited scope (for the time being), you are able to concentrate your resources where they can be most efficient.  This blog will explore the need to research two aspects of your audience to identify to help you expand your business reach: your niche markets and your competition.

Niche Markets

Does your business currently serve a niche market?  This is a useful question to ask because of the potential for tapping into a section of your audience you might not be aware of.  If there is a segment of customers purchasing your products or services for specific purposes or because they have common interests or common traits among them, this is good information to have.  You can market your products and services to this niche market in a more targeted manner. Attracting customers from this niche market to your business while keeping the current customers you have from other sources outside of the niche market can be a significant boost to the growth of your business.

Researching Your Competition

Ongoing R&D is necessary in business. Ideally, a well-rounded understanding of who your competition is will give you greater understanding, and also leave room for possibilities to work together down the road (e.g. strategic partnerships).  R&D allows you to see if you need to make adjustments in your own business operations.  Your competition may be doing something as simple as providing financial incentives to their customers like discounts, gifts, bargains, or service offering that you can adapt to that allows your business to compete with them.  If their strategy proves to be successful, you can then develop and implement a similar strategy of your own to see how much of an advantage this proves to be for your business. A strategy that works for one business may not work for yours. Trial and error does occur. Being strategic allows you to make calculated decisions based on knowing your target audience.

Furthermore, observing your competitors can reveal valuable insight.  You may have had an idea to try something your competitor has already implemented.  Or, if you observe them not taking advantage of an opportunity that you are capable of seizing on, this provides you an edge that you can utilize.  Even the slightest edge in business that allows you to operate better than your competitors can work to your advantage in a significant way. Staying alert of the competition will ultimately give your business a fair competitive advantage.

Grow Your Business by Creating Strategic Partnerships

Being able to produce your own products in-house or train your own employees in every aspect allows you a great amount of control over the quality of your products and services.  However, to produce more of your products or services, but lack the capacity, you can enter into strategic partnerships to spread the work.  Strategic partnerships allow parts of the process that are less specialized in production to be done by other companies, giving the ability to free your business up in producing the more specialized aspects of goods and services.  Things to keep in mind when entering into a strategic partnership are:

  • If you are dealing with a reputable company that can be trusted with aspects of your trademarked products or specialized employee training.
  • If the company is able to produce aspects of your goods to your assigned standards.
  • If the company is able to render the kind of services you offer to your customer service standards.

If these three criteria are met, the other major aspect that a strategic partner should meet is a reputation of trust.  This is a business relationship and if the company you are entering into a partnership with does not have a reputation for keeping its promises or going back on its word, there can be no trust, and therefore, there can be no business relationship.  It is impossible to enter into a strategic partnership of mutual benefit if there is no trust between the partners.  This is the other aspect that has to be taken into account and that you as a business owner have to do your research on as well.  Throughout my blogs, I often mention trust  I have personally seen how trust plays a significant factor in all successful relationships and/or partnerships. Period.

Grow Your Business with Referrals from Current Clients

Speaking of trust, it applies not only to business partners.  Trust is the fundamental aspect of any relationship, including that between your business and your customers.  For your business to grow, you will want to establish a relationship of trust with your customers.  This is done by offering them quality products and services that meet or exceed their expectations.  It also means presenting them stellar customer service that keeps them wanting to come back and continue as loyal customers to your business.

Establishing a good relationship with these customers is something that should inspire them to refer their friends and relatives to your business.  Your products, services, and dedication to customer service are draws that they will want those close to them to share and experience as well.

Having a good relationship with loyal customers should also allow you the opportunity to ask them for referrals.  This can be done in a direct manner (if that level of familiarity exists between your business and that customer) or indirectly.  An indirect manner could be through the use of an incentive programs for bringing in new customers.  Offering discounts to loyal customers for bringing in new customers can be helpful for business growth and can help grow your customer base over time.

Extend Your Presence Through Marketing to Grow Your Business

For business growth, the first thing you may want to do is ensure that you have an adequate marketing presence within your target market.  If this area lacks, it is critical to increase your efforts by reaching out to your target markets. This approach is designed through strategic development and implementation of strategy.  If your target market is responsive to traditional marketing techniques such as print, radio, or television, determine what medium is most effective at reaching them and invest more of your advertising in that medium.  If there is more than one traditional medium that target market is responsive to, then you need to determine which mediums will target the widest audience that will likely respond to your advertising and invest your money there.  Targeting responsive audiences with strategic marketing increases the possibility of attracting them to your business and helping your company grow.

The same kind of strategy goes for targeting audiences that are responsive to digital marketing.  If most of your target audience does their business with you online, then your marketing strategy may be focused solely toward online business. Investing in digital marketing that leverage the use of website content, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and other techniques will allow your business to reach a wider audience and grow your business as well.

Expand Your Market or Diversify

Another option you may consider for growing your business is to target other markets.  There are several scenarios where you can branch out from your target audience:

  1. You market your current products and services to target audiences different from the ones your currently market to.
  2. Modify some of your products and services (as long as there are no significant increases in your costs) to appeal to other target audiences and test market them in surveys or focus groups.

Testing these scenarios will help you reveal information about the audience you are operating in.  If the first scenario is effective, you might want to test it out with other target audiences and see how many different audiences your product or service may appeal to and to what degree.

If the second scenario applies, you may have discovered a niche market for your business.  If more modification is needed to better appeal to a more responsive audience, it could be an indication that you may have found a way to begin diversifying the product and service offerings of your business.  What you need eventually determine in this case is if simple modification will be enough to continue the appeal of this audience or if your business will need to create whole new products and services based on those modified goods and services to continue appealing to those audiences.

Success in either scenario means an increased level of potential for your company to experience growth.

Conclusion

Indeed, these are methods that your business can employ that may take some time to apply, but will not take up a significant amount of your current resources.  Being aware of your target audience, being aware of your competitors, being aware of your place in a niche market, entering into strategic partnerships, getting client referrals, increasing your marketing, and diversifying your product and service offerings to different target markets are all initial steps that your business can take today to increase profits, retain customers and attract new customers. This kind of growth can help your business set goals and determine milestones for the future.  This also gives you time to plan, work on strategy, and save for larger investments in the future that have the potential for increased growth, but have capital backing to decrease your risk.  It is an ideal scenario that has its roots in the first steps you take when you first begin to grow your business.

JCBarrier Group, LLC is available to design your strategic plan today!

I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

 

“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

-Babe Ruth

 

Thank you for taking time to read my blog. Please email me with any questions you may have at: Info@JCBarrierGroup.com

Have a great week. – Jennifer C Barrier

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Assemble Your Winning Team Today!

Who Want’s To Be On A Winning Team?

If you are an entrepreneur that has guided your business to where it is today and you have done it on your own or with minimal assistance, you might not have done it by choice.  This is especially true if this is your first business or you are starting from scratch after previous ventures.

If you are a business owner in an established company that is trying to reinvent or reorient itself (or if you are a project manager or other independent entity within a company working on a special project) it is also possible to have gotten to where you are on your own.

If you are essentially the only person operating your business, it means that the success of your company hinges squarely on you.  You are able to do great things for your business, but only within your particular skill set.  Furthermore, you are only as effective as far as you can spread yourself out.

It is understandable that there are times when you have to start a business on your own.  You might be the only person that understands the vision you have for your company and it may take time to convince others to understand and realize the value of that vision.  However, issues will eventually arise in your business that you as one person cannot resolve on your own.  In the end, successfully growing your business requires assembling a winning team with the right combination of skills and experience.

This team cannot be composed of just anyone.  Friends, family, and other supportive people in your life are a great boost to your confidence, can keep you going and can provide encouragement.  However, they may not have the skills, experience, or heart to give you the honest criticism necessary for you to realize your goal.

This article will present you with characteristics to look for among potential members to assemble your winning team.

Passion and Investment

Important characteristics each member of your team must have are passion for your business as well as an understanding of your business vision. In a previous blog I wrote titled, “A Vision Statement: Why Your Business Needs One and Steps to Help You Create Your Own,” I mentioned the importance of establishing an overall vision. And, I even referenced a powerful four-word vision statement that Walt Disney established long ago that still is used as the vision statement for the company today. That is, “To Make People Happy.”

These are key things the members of your team must possess.  If members of your team are highly talented, but are not motivated to put in the time and energy needed to make your business a success, they will not be helpful to your cause.  In fact, making up for what they lack or do not do may actually slow your progress toward your goal.  The members of your team have to share your enthusiasm and passion for the work if your business is going to succeed.

One way to tell if members are passionate about your business is to see if they are invested in your business.  Financial investment through capital financing or underwriting costs is one way to show that a team member wants to see the business succeed.  However, this isn’t the only way a person can show their passion or demonstrate that they want to see the business succeed.

Someone willing to use their knowledge and skills to complete work needed to bring the business closer to a goal, but willing to defer compensation until a later date due to temporary financial constraints in the business also demonstrates that team member’s investment and passion for the business. Samuel Adams said it best: “Give credit to whom credit due.” Good talent is hard to find. You will at times get lucky. It feels strange to get lucky. It was a few years back when I struck luck. This person and I have spent countless hours attending business and personal development functions together. However, about a year ago, I started to notice something unique about him. I have never worked with someone before who has unique qualities and traits unlike others. Anyone can say they have “integrity” (it’s never true when proclaimed). Real integrity is unspoken; it’s displayed through natural character.

This real person I am talking about is Rhoel. I am grateful to know such a wonderful person and certainly blessed to have him on our winning team.

Skill Sets and Knowledge

You possess a particular skill set that is useful for operating your business.  This may come in the form of a strong understanding of business principles, management, or other key ideas governing the operations of a business.  Or, your expertise may reside in practical knowledge on the mechanics and history that govern the creation of the product or service your business produces.  Maybe you’re a polyglot with a strong understanding of multiple subjects that apply to your business.  Whatever the case may be, your knowledge and skill base has limitations.  Recognizing your limitations as a business person is, surprisingly, not a weakness.  On the contrary, this is a strength.

Knowing your limitations provides you knowledge of two useful things.  The first thing you have knowledge of is what you do not know.  On a personal level, this gives you self-awareness of something you can work on and improve within yourself.

The second thing that knowledge of your limitations gives you is that it presents you with a goal, a standard that you need to succeed.  You want to find individuals that have skills or knowledge in these areas with expertise at the level of expertise you have set a standard for.  These skilled and knowledgeable individuals can help your business and can fill in the gaps in your company that you are unable to fill with your current skill set.

It is to your advantage that your team collectively possesses a spectrum of knowledge.  What I mean is there should be at least one person with a strong or advanced knowledge and understanding of the processes and mechanics required to analyze and comprehend one or more of the subjects your business requires to operate successfully.  If this range of knowledge is limited within the team, members can still be of benefit if they are willing to expand their knowledge by learning new skills. Having different people on board with different expertise and skill sets sets the stage for creativity to linger and for a heightened new dimension of knowledge to surface. I am a firm believer of bringing in talented people who can contribute to the team greatly through their dedication towards producing quality results.

Experience

What was said about the skills and knowledge that you lack and others possess can also be said of experience.  In some cases, those possessing the skills and knowledge your company needs to succeed may also possess the experience your company may also require.  Experience allows people to use circumstances encountered in the past and apply them to similar situations.  The main benefit from this is to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete a task and more efficiently achieve a result.

Why this aspect is discussed separately from skills and knowledge is because skills and knowledge are not always linked to experience.  Skills and knowledge can be learned in a classroom, but experience is something that is accumulated over time.

Employing experience to be successful in business may mean using a combination of experience in different ways.  Some of that experience might only be accessed by hiring and paying for professional services.  Other times, may require the advice of a trusted advisor or mentor willing to assist and guide you for reasons beyond monetary gain.

My father was an extraordinary person who was larger than life. He was a self-made man whose formal education was aburptly ended, against his will, in the 5th grade. He had a tough upbringing with a father that passed away when he was 9 years old and a mother who was always working. He learned quickly that he had to figure out life and find a career on his own. He was able to make something of his life on his own (he was even voted “Most Colorful Character” in the 2005 Best of Las Vegas by the Las Vegas Review-Journal). These hard-learned lessons inspired him to impart his advice to me that experience matters greatly in life and that people are willing to hand trust over to an experienced person rather than someone who lacks overall experience. I happen to agree as well. Having well rounded experience allows you to be competitive. Find something you are good at doing and go towards it.  Try it. You never know if you do not try.

Tunnel Vision and the Need for Outside Opinions

An intense dedication to the pursuit of your passion and your business is admirable, but there can be detrimental effects.  From the perspective of health, you can over-work yourself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion.  The negative effects of this are obvious and speak for themselves.

From the perspective of your business, the intense, single-minded pursuit of your business goals can increase the possibility of you experiencing tunnel vision as you work.  Having tunnel vision as an entrepreneur or a business person is detrimental to your pursuits because it does not allow you to consider what is going on outside of the scope of what is in front of you.  There may be helpful research in front of you that assists in developing your solution or an inspiring innovation.  Staying intensely focused on one thing can cause you to miss those opportunities.

Working together with a team that is passionate about your business can help you avoid this.  Having a team oriented to achieving the same cause and working alongside you opens your thinking up to others.  This open mind is receptive to invaluable insights that can contribute to the ultimate success of your business and your vision.  Furthermore, critiques from others allow you to take a good look at the solutions you have developed.  This may provide a perspective that could indicate a flaw you might not have accounted for in a state of tunnel vision and may save you time and money correcting a flaw found too late down the road.

Concluding Thoughts on What’s Needed for a Great Team

Trying to run your company alone is not a wise decision.  As one person, your limited skills, abilities, and the tendency to stretch yourself too thin will take a toll on you and your business.  Performing too many activities for your business is not efficient and can hurt, rather than help, in the end.

Assembling and utilizing a team to achieve your business goals greatly increases the outcome of success for your business.  Your team is composed of a group of people that are aligned with your company vision and have a passion for the work your business does.  Their investment and belief in your business and its vision motivates them to use their skills, knowledge, and experience to the best of their abilities.  As a result, they work tirelessly to provide useful input into your business operations and projects, hold you as well as each other accountable, and, ideally, are likely to prevent all of you from falling into mindsets and traps that can slow you down as you progress toward your mutual goals.  The right team can help you do the job and see your business thrive, allowing you to reach new levels of success.

Question: What is your Vision & Mission Statement? (JCBarrier Group’s Vision & Mission Statements!)

One of my favorite “Winning Team” quotes by one of the most talented NBA players of all time: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan

Have a great week! – Jennifer C Barrier

P.S: — This is our “Winning (Leadership) Team!”  😎

Winning Team

(Left) Creative Director Karie Banks, (Center) Company President Jennifer C Barrier, (Right) Director Rhoel Ternate

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Taking On the Mantle of Leadership

Leadership skills are paramount to being successful in business.  Leadership qualities come natural to some, to others it is an acquired skill, honed to near perfection through the test of time and trial. Whether you are the founder of a company, a CEO, an assistant manager, or an entry level employee, to enhance your position or advance your career, there will come a time when you will be given the responsibility that extends beyond your comfort zone and your inherent abilities.  With responsibility will come many opportunities to exercise the leadership skills that will distinguish your competencies for the rest of your career.

Hesitation and Learning Leadership

Naturally, there are people with the propensity to shy away from this reality, reluctant to assume the responsibility because of uncertainty or the consequences if they fail.  They may think they do not possess the qualities or abilities needed to take on responsibility and effectively lead.  This feeling is natural (I can’t tell you how many times I have felt this way).  I have come to learn that effective leadership skills are not necessarily exclusive to people with a natural talent for it.  The ability to exercise successful leadership and act accordingly in a situation is not something that is out of your grasp.  In this post, I will be presenting some of my thoughts on leadership and how to identify and develop leadership skills.  Fortunately, leadership skills are universally applicable regardless of the field you are in or your station in life. You will find that they extend beyond your professional life, serving to enhance your personal life as well.

Defining Leadership

What is leadership?  That’s the first question to answer in a post like this. As such, I define leadership as coordinating people of different backgrounds and skills, allowing them to maximize the potential of their talents as needed, and providing them the available resources to accomplish some kind of objective.  Let’s break this down to understand the different parts.

“Coordinating…”

A great leader possesses the ability to assess a particular situation, then formulate and execute a strategy to complete an objective.  They also ensure they set an example for the team they are leading.  They do not ask the people on their team to take on a task of great difficulty that they have not already done or would not be willing to do themselves. However, leaders are keenly aware of when and how to effectively collaborate with their team.

 “People of different backgrounds and skills…”

Regardless of the situation or the task at hand, leaders will have teams of people that come from diverse backgrounds and abilities.  There are varying personality traits and dynamics like introverts and extroverts, people of different races, belief systems, and so on.  There are also different levels of skills each person possesses for the task at hand.  Some may have years of training or education, while others may be inexperienced and untested with a limited skillset.  As a leader, it’s crucial that you know your team, while recognizing each team member’s individual skills and strengths, along with their weaknesses. It’s also good to identify the dynamics and animations that help to create the cohesion that binds them together, serving to foster an “esprit de corps” that collectively delivers positive and impactful results.

“Allowing them to maximize the potential of their talents as needed…”

Each member of the team you lead has their own skills that they bring to the table. Another thing to be aware of is recognizing the potential your team members possess.  The potential of people to accomplish goals and exercise their talents is greater than they may realize.  As a leader, encouraging them to express their innermost thoughts and ideas helps them to discover more about themselves and their abilities and skills.

“Providing them the available resources to accomplish some kind of objective.”

A great leader does everything in their power to set their team up to succeed.  There is no way to provide everything for them, but doing everything in your power as a leader to provide your team with the resources they need increases the possibility of success.

Developing Leadership Skills

Developing the skills to become a great leader does not happen overnight.  It takes time to analyze, access and then acknowledge (believe me, I am still learning a great deal about people that blows my mind!). Remember, the key to developing strong leadership skills: never stop learning how to lead.  There are many sources to learn leadership skills from, but an effective way to accomplish leadership development is to do it on 2 different levels.  The first is on a personal development level and the second is on the level of professional development.

Personal Leadership Development

Personal development takes place when you work to develop yourself as a leader.  Leading others cannot happen if you do not work on improving your current skill set.  Developing your own skills and realizing your potential allows you to develop experience for future situations you may face.  Developing skills can come from reading books on leadership or going through educational programs online or learning in person.  However, one way that I believe is most effective at personally developing leadership skills and imparting leadership lessons effectively is through mentorship.

Finding a mentor that has exercised leadership in the kind of field or fields you want to become proficient in can provide guidance in many ways.  Their past experience can provide insight and guidance to help solve challenges you currently face.  Their advice can also help you decrease gaps in your current experience or knowledge.  Decreasing these gaps with the help of your mentors provides you the opportunity to resolve challenges relatively faster and with greater confidence.  Time saved from not having to struggle with old challenges frees up time for you to test yourself with new challenges.  New challenges, developing new skills, and stepping outside of your comfort zone builds and strengthens personal development.  Challenging yourself in new situations induces your capacity and fortitude to become accustomed to new and challenging situations that are less likely to catch you by surprise.  These are all ways that can help you grow and develop as a leader on a personal level.  But, this is only half of the equation.  To fully develop as a leader, we need to develop the second half of the equation.  This is leadership on the professional level.

Professional Leadership Development

Developing leadership skills on a professional level means applying what you have personally learned in your professional setting.  This is the most effective way to fully develop leadership skills: through the practice of leadership.  Take what you have learned on your own about leadership and apply those ideas and lessons in your place of work and other places in your life where you have authority or responsibility over others (e.g. clubs, volunteer organizations, or other groups you belong to). The idea is to use these new skills to motivate, organize, and improve the dynamics of how your team functions.  Getting closer to the definition of leadership developed earlier in this post (or even surpassing previous standards) is one step toward becoming a great leader and growing your skills.  Remember to allow your team to exercise their creativity and their talents; monitoring their work too closely or micromanaging their work, especially if they are performing well, is something leaders are to avoid.

The End Result of Leadership

While leading the team to complete the task at hand results in success, a great leader knows that there is still a greater end.  As stated before, you never stop learning how to lead.  There is always more to learn, and there is always need for leaders.  The ultimate result of leadership is not only to coordinate a team, manage team dynamics, and maximize team potential.  A great leader is able to build up their team and inspire members of that team to become leaders themselves.  Leaders not only want to see those team members and those that come after them become just as great at leadership as they were.  They want those future leaders to surpass them and set the standard even higher.

Leadership

Myself and other panelists at a 2016 Tea Time Event.  We shared our stories about pursuing dreams and leadership success with high school students at East Career & Technical Academy in Las Vegas, NV.

 

Leadership, as its final result, is continuing to build people up and help them to grow and excel.  It is hard work and it takes time to become proficient at it, but I hope this advice helped to break down some of the steps to eventually reach leadership success.  If you haven’t taken that step to develop some leadership skills, just remember: great leaders had to start somewhere…and they have never mastered leadership.  They are always learning – each and every day. So, what have you learned today?

Have a great week.

  • Jennifer
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How Does Your Business Change the World?

Happy Tuesday –

The thought of how your business does something like change the world is an exciting process to ponder, right?  The work your business performs does change the world to some degree.  Doing something to change the world can mean many things. For example, it can mean that you are a nonprofit providing clean water to regions that lack basic necessities, or that you are developing a new cancer drug to save lives.  To another degree, the work your business does to change the world may simply be to provide happiness and recreation for people.  Whether you are saving lives or enriching lives with happiness, you are making a positive impact. Embrace it!

Knowing what your company does to bring about positive change is beneficial for your company and for those you serve.  It serves as a complement to your vision statement to keep your business moving in the right direction.  It can also provide motivation and stir passion in you and your employees for the work that you do.  However, when I say “change the world,” I do not mean it in an abstract way; I mean it in a more familiar context.

To Change the World Is To Be Successful In Business

In business, doing something to change the world means doing business the right way.  It means adopting a mindset that what you do as a business is not done only for the sake of monetary reasons.  Instead, it means adopting a mindset that you are making a positive impact in the lives of your customers.  This is where a different focus to running your business is adopted.  Income is dependent on the relationships you have cultivated with your customers to keep them coming back to you.  The only way to cultivate positive relationships is to develop trust with those customers. Trust is the key to experiencing rewarding and lasting relationships with quality individuals (who doesn’t naturally want that?).  Check out this interesting article I recently came across in Harvard Business Review titled, The Neuroscience of Trust.

Here are some ideas to consider if you want to develop a “change the world” business mindset:

Know The Scope of Your Business and Expand It to Change the World

Thinking about the analytical side of business, it’s highly important to understand both your target audience and the current market share.  These are the people that make up “the world” that you change.  These are the people that benefit from your company’s services and products.  Continue serving this target audience and you’ll do very well.  If you decide to expand and grow, you end up impacting more lives in the process with your products and services.

Regardless of the size of your market, put emphasis on getting to know your customers in some way or another. Trust is never given; always earned! There are people that have already established a vision to change the course of history and make a monumental impact. There’s nothing wrong with having over-the-top aspirations. Be yourself and never let someone bring you down. I grew up with an incredible father (who I credit my love for business and marketing from) and, for some reason, he would randomly say, “never judge a book by its cover.” You never know who you might be sitting next to at the airport, or standing next to in the grocery store line. I agree wholeheartedly.  Life is interesting, indeed. Never pass up an opportunity to know great people….and by this, YOU can change the world simply by your positive impact in society.

Positive Impacts Your Business Makes to Change the World

What does your business provide to your target market?  A product?  A service?  Whether you have a product or service that cures a disease or provides a recreational service, you are impacting someone’s life.  As a business, your focus on relationship building is tailored to the needs of your customers.  Don’t look at it as “I need to give them what they want or they won’t buy what I’m offering.”  Instead, adopt the mindset of “I have made a positive impact on them once before.  How can I continue making a positive impact?  How can I provide a better experience for them in the future?”  Wanting to change their lives rather than fearing your market share allows you to focus on what you need to do to keep those customers happy, all while trust continues to gain in strength.

Let Your Employees Know How They Change the World

The best way to empower your employees is to follow the vision of the company, lead by example, and enjoy the job.  With a mindset of your business making a positive impact, you can empower them with the knowledge that you are all changing the world and changing lives.  The focus is letting them know they are not coming to work to drudge away hours of their life and leave.  They are helping to make the world a better place in some way.  Let them know that their work matters and remind them of that fact.  They are changing the world, making a positive impact, and their work is greatly appreciated.

Change the World With Your New Developments

As you develop new products and services, be aware that your work is going to make some kind of impact on your customers.  For some of them, that impact may be minor.  For others, the impact may be tremendous.  If your business is genuinely motivated to pursue its passion and innovate and if your employees are motivated by that passion and a mindset to change the world, it will show through in the quality of the finished product and services you deliver.

Are You Ready to Be Successful In Business?

Whether you have a worldwide or local impact, or if the difference you make is considered big or small, consider approaching it with the mindset that you are changing the world.  Changing the world means adopting a mindset that is focused on building relationships with your customers and how you can continue to impact their lives and experiences with your products and services.  Focus on building the relationships and success is sure to follow.

 

Hopefully this blog entry has been helpful and has inspired you to think about how to do business in a different way.  Now ask yourself this question: How does my business change the world?

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A Vision Statement: Why Your Business Needs One and Steps to Help You Create Your Own

The vision statement for my first business was for a day spa I started in my early 20’s in Everett, Washington. I had a simple vision: “To provide a wholly organic and holistic spa experience for my customers.” I love spas and I prefer using organic products. The only spa in Everett, at the time, was huge but didn’t use organic products. I was on my own for the first time in my life with some college classes under my belt, a love for business and marketing, and my vision. I decided to provide an alternative and opened my smaller, organic spa just down the street from that larger one.

Imagine starting your first business and hitting six-figures in sales in your first year of operation.

Then, by the second year, seeing an increase in sales…of 440%!

It all began with that vision statement.

 

What is a Vision Statement?

The vision statement is what you want to do as a business. It is what you will reference whenever you make a decision. “To provide a wholly organic and holistic spa experience for my customers” was a simple statement that guided me to great success. Another business with a simple statement and an incredible legacy of success is The Disney Company. Well known around the world, Disney sums up their vision in one short sentence: “To make people happy.” This simple sentence is paraphrased from something Walt Disney said when he stated he wanted “to make people, especially children, happy.” This was Walt Disney’s guiding light. Today, it is a simple four word statement that successfully guides a multi-billion dollar empire. This is the power that a clear vision statement can exercise. This is why I place such significance on businesses developing a strong vision statement.

Your Business Organized Around Your Vision Statement

Your vision statement is the North Star that your business revolves around. Regardless if you are a large or small company, there will be disagreements among your team about important decisions that need to be made. If you have a vision statement for your company, it can, at best, settle the disagreement and come to a resolution. At worst, it can help jettison the parts of the discussion that aren’t aligned with the vision and break down the problem to its basic parts. Any action or decision that takes your business away from the road that leads to realizing your vision is a course that needs to be abandoned. Meandering in too many directions spreads your company resources thin. Having a business organized around a clear vision statement helps minimize this obstacle to your business success.

Creating Your Vision Statement

While on the surface it seems simple, crafting a statement can become an ordeal for many companies. This is because they struggle by making it overly detailed and complex. In the end, they miss the point of what it is supposed to do in the first place: focus and inspire. In the years since I started and left my day spa, I have learned several characteristics that make for great vision statements.

Make It Focused

Keeping your statement focused is a key element to its effectiveness. Ideally, it should be one to two sentences long and communicate only the information needed. Your statement should not meander. Its purpose is to quickly communicate what direction you and your team need to keep moving in.

Make It Inspiring and Ambitious

A vision statement like “We will make $1 million in our first year of operation” may seem motivating and ambitious, but think about that statement. One million dollars is a large sum of money. However, two-million dollars is an even greater amount of money. There isn’t much inspiration in a statement like that when there is something even bigger to aspire to. It is easier to remember Disney’s vision: “To make people happy.” It’s both inspiring and ambitious.

The inspiration in Disney’s statement comes from the idea of “making people happy.” Who doesn’t want to do things that make people happy? Those kinds of activities usually entail doing something fun and joining in. Being able to do something that creates happiness in oneself and in others is inspiring: it makes you want to continue doing that kind of work.

The ambition in Disney’s statement comes from its generalized audience. It does not point to specific “people.” It doesn’t specify the exact vehicle to use for making people happy such as the Disneyland Park in California or the movies or toys it releases. Disney is ambitious because the implication is they are endeavoring to make all people happy.

Related to ambition, a degree of impossibility has to be present in your statement. This is not meant to be hopeless. On the contrary, this aspect of the “impossible” should be something that you and your employees should continue to reach for. Put another way, your vision statement is something that should keep you motivated to keep going.

Keep It Succinct

The final characteristic of your statement is that it should be easily remembered. “To make people happy,” is four words long, but is memorable and carries a great amount of weight. Make it short and memorable. At the same time, preserve the ambition and inspiration behind the statement. This will make it easier for the statement to guide you and your team when looking for direction.

Final Thoughts on the Vision Statement

The vision statement is for you and your company to look at when you want to stay on point. Whether you are a new entrepreneur, a seasoned business owner, or someone in between, you have your own idea of what inspires you and what your ambitions for your business are. You possess the elements to create a statement that can greatly benefit your business.

I will close with this thought: A mission without a vision statement is dead, regardless of the size and scope of your firm. A simple vision statement has guided the direction of a multi-billion dollar enterprise like Disney for decades. If that is too big of a scope, go back to my story about my day spa:

A simple vision statement guided me as a young entrepreneur.
I used that to take on a business larger than my own.
It was instrumental in helping me achieve that initial 440% increase in sales.

Having a vision statement works.

Happy New Year!
And, may 2018 be a year of happiness and success for you and your business!

-Jennifer C Barrier

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