Sometimes we don't know when to stop. We keep revising an idea, a blog, a plan and are never satisfied enough to actually push the button and release our work. Why and when should we settle for "good enough," why do we sometimes get caught seeking perfection, and how can we find the right balance?
For those of you in the US who are up early on Sunday morning: my sister and brother-in-law will appear on MSNBC's Your Business. The show airs at 7:30 am Eastern time on Sunday.
“Your Business,” hosted by JJ Ramberg, focuses on the world of America's small business entrepreneurs, featuring profiles, news, advice and tips. Here's what they say on the website about this Sunday's show:
This week the Your Business panel of experts will take a look at a business that's dealing with some major problems, and provide the owner with creative strategies to help him grow.
Don Dominguez runs K & F Select Coffees, a 25-year-old, family-owned coffee company that made its name primarily as a private-label product supplier. He also runs two coffee bars and sells a line of organic coffee. Don is concerned that the private-label business may have gotten as big as it can. The coffee arena is getting more competitive and product costs are rising. He's at a loss as to how he should market his organic coffee, since his retail exposure outside his own stores is very limited. Don hasn't spent much money on independent marketing because cash flow is tight. The company's revenues have leveled off, and he has already made changes to avoid losing money. Don will talk with the panel and find out how he can further adjust his business plan.
Panelists Simon Sinek, CEO & Founder of SinekPartners Corp., a consulting company. Sinek also teaches graduate level marketing at Columbia University's Strategic Communications Program.
Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO & Chairman of SBTV.com, the first television network on the web dedicated to small business, and author of "The Girls' Guide to Building a Million-Dollar Business."
If you are in business, at any level, chances are pretty good you are suffering a skills gap. This is the gap between the skills you and your organization have now and those you need in order to flourish.
The gap is caused by rapidly changing jobs, by demographic changes (aging and retiring workforce, fewer new workers), by educational systems that aren't producing people with the skills needed to thrive in today's business world, and by a lack of investment in training and development by businesses.
These are uncertain times. We hear every day about a new round of layoffs, or closures, or bankruptcies. Companies in trouble seem to add new customer fees and surcharges (e.g. the charges for extra bags on airline flights) every week. And the customer experience gets a bit worse each month.
I am a bit of a contrarian. When stock prices are high, that's a sell signal for me. When they're low, it's time to buy. When it comes to business strategy, a contrarian approach can pay off, too. Times like this present opportunities to buy other businesses at relatively low prices, to build capability while others are laying off great people, and to strengthen customer loyalty. Most organizations retrench in times like these. If your organization is capable of boldly investing while others retreat, you might very well take the most profitable business for yourself.
Here's a list of 18 questions you might ask about your organization now. Perhaps one or two will strike your fancy and lead to profitable strategic moves.
WARNING: If you are in a company driven only by this quarter's earnings, don't bother reading on. These questions won't be interesting to you. On the other hand, if you are accustomed to thinking and acting for the long term benefit of your company's owners, read on!
Sometimes words or numbers just don't cut it. When you find your thinking stymied or blocked, try drawing the problem. When you are having trouble communicating, try a drawing or other visual representations. When you want to easily remember a complex set of information, consider the power of a drawing.
My friend Mike Schaffner writes today about his frustrations with a "customer friendly" alarm clock at a DoubleTree hotel. It seems that back in 2005 the hotel chain introduced new clocks with simple to use alarm controls. Unfortunately, it is impossible for the customer to set the time on the clock (engineering must do it, apparently), and the clock in Mike's room had not been reset to Daylight Savings Time. So he ended up using his Blackberry alarm and ignoring the hotel's clock.
In this case, the customer paid the price of an unintended consequence. The hotel offered to find a maintenance person to come up and adjust the clock, but why should Mike have to stay awake waiting for them to show up? Why didn't the hotel adjust all the clocks when Daylight Savings Time began? Better yet, why did they design a clock with no way to adjust the time?
Good questions. The answer: the chain fell afoul of unintended consequences.
Here's the question for you: what unintended consequences are your customers dealing with and what are you going to do about it?
In the meantime, I've found something to disagree with in Drucker's book. That's unusual. Generally, Drucker's writings hit the mark for me. I don't know that I've ever before disagreed this strongly with something he wrote.
Here's the quote that got me:
"Meetings are by definition a concession to deficient organizations."
Could your marketing efforts benefit from customer testimonials?
The answer is probably "yes." Well written testimonials from real customers help build your credibility. Because they focus on the customer's experience, it's easy for prospects to identify with the testimonials. We tend to trust what we hear from people like us. Testimonials can help allay prospects' fears and build excitement about your offering.
Sounds great! So how do you get some for your business?