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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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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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