Category: Business


The Ticking Clock

I recently saw an ad while watching Hulu that was extremely effective but also a little anxiety inducing.
What a great way to represent not only the importance of acting now but for whom we act. Why is this unnerving? Easy, just the sound of the ticking clock. It makes me think of the crocodile from Peter Pan, and Captain Hook. Captain Hook
Now he had a real reason to be afraid of the sound of a ticking clock, but me I just don’t like to be rushed!
I’ve learned that to be effective in any effort you have to take your time. Rushing through a project because of a time crunch or because you just want it to be over will only result in one thing, a half done project.
You see this all the time in business. Stores rush to put together a sale, when customers come in, there isn’t enough signage and half the staff doesn’t know what’s going on. You rush a proposal, and you can lose the job to someone who’s more prepared. You rush the growth of your business, and you end up providing poor service because you can’t accomodate the increase.
The fan in my home office where I often work, has a habit of making a ticking noise. One of the chains taps against the light fixture. I often put on music, or a movie I’ve seen, to drown out the noise. This allows me to stop thinking about how much time is passing and focus on my project and doing it right.
How can you stop the ticking clock in your life? Do you need to step out of your surroundings more? Maybe take 15 minutes everyday where you just enjoy the business you’ve built, the employees, and the customers. Step out of the office or your store and take a stroll, get a new perspective. Go visit your competition and get ideas!
Don’t be Captain Hook, afraid of the ticking crocodile.

Cheshire Cat

There’s a lot of buzz out about the new version of Alice in Wonderland. My favorite character was always the Cheshire Cat. I loved how he slowly dissappeared and reappeared, and his singing and laughing.

Cheshire Cat
Lately I’ve been a bit of a Cheshire Cat with my business, appearing when I feel like it, and fading away when it’s super hectic. I need to be more of an Alice, curious about everything, and ready to take little leaps of faith. Growing and shrinking my business as the opportunities arise. What about you? Which character do you feel you’ve been lately?

Are you still there?

I was checking my voicemail today, and one in particular required me to write a reminder to myself in my calendar.  As I wrote, the dulcet tones of the voicemail lady (who wants that job?) instructed me on my many options as to the storage and disposal of the message.  When I did not enter in a numerical response, she politely asked “Are you still there?“.

Wow, did that get my brain turning.  Of course I was still there, but was I really there in my mind.  I had already begun planning the return call, the steps to complete my task, and the possible solution.  I entered in the code to delete, hung up the phone and began contemplating the larger question.

So now I’m going to pose this question to myself, my clients, and you the reader.  When you started your business where did you want it to go?  How did you feel about the endeavor in the early stages (first weeks, first months, first year)?  Are you still there?

We’re taught early on in life to plan things in advance.  Set goals, reach for the stars, have a desired outcome.  Yet somehow once we reach these goals we suffer a huge letdown.  After the first dollar bill is framed,

First Dollar Bill Frame

First Dollar Bill Frame

the grand opening party over, grand-openingor the first profit shown on the books we feel deflated.  We set other goals bigger numbers, more success, but often these don’t live up to that initial fervor.  Is it just a fact of life?  I don’t think so.

There is a hunger that all of us feel in the first few days of a new job, new project, or other activity.  Over time that fades with the monotony of the activity or the lack of stimulus or improvement.  The goal is to remember that feeling, to keep that dedication, to strive to improve and excite.  Every week, month, year you should be asking yourself Am I still there? In essence, you have to continue to promote yourself to yourself.

The definition of promote is: to contribute to the growth or prosperity of . Don’t you want to contribute to your own personal growth and prosperity?  As a promoter I often have to coach clients to think big, set goals, and move forward when they’re unsure.  I never ask them to do something I wouldn’t do myself.  The hardest goals to set are stretch goals.  We all set a vision for ourselves and our companies.  But to truly attain that vision we have to stretch ourselves and set bars high.  We can set quantitative goals, weekly goals, or even recognition goals but they must be large enough that they challenge us and excite our minds to dream.

Find some time for yourself, sit down and come up with a vision for yourself and one for your company/job.  Then stretch your mind and set some great stretch goals.  If it’s a quantitative goal, add 10% to what you think you can do, or even 20%.  If it’s a weekly goal, challenge yourself to complete it before the week’s end.  If it’s a recognition goal, double it!  You’ll set smaller milestones for yourself that may need to be accomplished in order to reach these stretch goals, but each one will give you the sense of accomplishment we all  crave.

So did you come up with an answer?  Are you still there?

Related Links

http://www.leadershape.org/home.asp

Ah Cauliflower, the often overlooked, delicious alternative for so many vegetables.  That’s right cauliflower. I know what you’re thinking.  Does she mean the boring white vegetable that I sometimes eat becomes it comes in the bag with the frozen broccoli?  Yes I do, and look again.  It’s not white, it’s a wonderful shade of ivory with tints of green in the stem.  It’s the combination of broccoli and cabbage.  A wonderful nutty flavor, with a smooth texture, it’s no wonder restaurants have started substituting it for mashed potatoes.

So how does this help your business?  Easy, go to the store, buy some cauliflower, follow one of the recipes at the bottom of this blog, and be pleasantly surprised.  Don’t you want your customers to be pleasantly surprised when they visit your store or use your services?  I do, and so I am becoming cauliflower.

Branching out is one of the easiest ways to turn your business around.  Just as cauliflower is made up of several branches of yummy clusters, so can your business offer many alternatives to it’s client or customer.  Many times I hear clients talk about new avenues they’ve thought of in the past or always wanted to try, but they then shake it off as if it was an incredulous thought, too grand for their business.  Sometimes it is these ideas that could open new roads and possibilities.  A bar that puts in a kitchen, a salon and day spa that treats every customer as if they are there for the full treatment.

Are you one of many of a type of business, a seemingly plain vegetable among the many colorful ones?  Sure you could be flashy and change your logo, or your ad strategy.  Or you could focus on being consistent, and letting the quality of your business speak for itself.  Spending your time and money on flashy new ads and out of the box promotions are not the way to invest in a business.  You can bring in all the new customers you want, but if you can’t keep them coming back and you’re losing your regulars, then you’re not making any money.  It’s the one in one out strategy that bars use to keep numbers down for the fire marshall.  They hate seeing the one leave, because he was spending more money to keep the party going, then the new one who is walking in will spend all night. The new clients you bring in aren’t as loyal as the ones that have been sticking by you in these rough economic times.

So now to the best part about cauliflower!  It’s an amazing anti-cancer vegetable.  It has at least 2 identifiable chemicals that fight tumor growth and cancer in general.  I didn’t even know that until I researched it for this blog!  No I’m not telling you to fight cancer, I’m telling you to surprise yourself and your customers with what you are capable of.  Pitch some of your new ideas to your most loyal customers and see how they react.  Want to add a new service  or product?  Offer it to your best customers or the ones who would benefit the most from it.  Just one positive experience could be what you need to make the decision to offer it to everyone.

The recipes below are simple and surprising.  They accentuate the natural goodness of the cauliflower.  Try one out and while you eat make a list of products or services that you can add to your business that will only improve the nature of your business, without changing your quality.  I myself just ate a delicious dinner with cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  Brussel Sprouts?  Oh yes, but that is for another day and another blog.

Recipes

Roasted Cauliflower (what I just ate)

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Cream of Cauliflower and Stilton Soup

Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin

So often clients take for granted that their business is clearly defined or understood by the general public. If someone doesn’t know what you do, or has the wrong impression, why would they use you. The key is to always be educating them, and sometimes that means hiring a teaching assistant. That’s where a promoter or marketing firm comes into play. Let them become your gardner, they can sow the seeds of new business.
Trying to fight a fire when you’re not a firefighter is an exercise in futility and dangerous. So is wading into the world of promotions and marketing without any training. Every day new companies pop up that promise quick results. Your company is not a product on an infomercial so why hire someone who will treat it like one. A good client/marketer relationship is key to succeed where others will fail.
So how do you know if you’re picking the right one? Well some of it is a gut instinct, if you don’t like someone or the way they talk about their business or yours, don’t hire them. Just because they are successful, doesn’t mean they’ll be successful for you. A promoter or marketing firm should be as excited about your business as you are. They should be invested in its performance. Local companies are going to be more effective as well, because they know the market and live in the community.
Can you get online, post your info, and sign up for several sites? Sure. But do you have time to manage the information once it’s out there? Take what you make in a year (if you own your company and don’t take a salary, use your gross profit) and divide it by 8,760 (total hours in a year) that is how much you are worth on an hourly salary. Want an even bigger number? Divide by 2920 (total work hours based on an 8 hour day). Is it worth your time to sit at the computer online all day, or would you rather pay an expert in the field who can maximize their time and your money with targeted posts and pages.
We are beyond the age of websites. Everyone has a dot.com name. I just bought my own name as a domain today, it was still available, so why not? It doesn’t mean that now I’m famous or that my business is going to grow exponentially. Navigating the mine field that is Social Networking, is not for everyone. It’s like the old adage sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

Other Resources
PR Sarah Evans
Behind the Creative Curtain
Open Forum by American Express