What I Wish I’d Known When I Started My Business

I can’t believe it is now almost 4-years since I launched my business and it has been one hell of a ride! There have been days where we were riding on a high and exceeding our sales and customer expectations, and there have been days where we were really worried about whether we would be able to meet our payment obligations and just couldn’t get a sale over the line to save our lives. Business, if you get into it for the right reasons, can be highly rewarding. Even on days where you are not meeting your sales targets. If you get into business just to make money though, you will be in for a huge shock. To avoid this shock or do your best to minimize it think about studying  a Business diploma – course info available here or using the number of resources provided by the Australian government. No success occurs overnight. Success takes time, hard work, perseverance, and determination. It takes the right team to bring out the best of the business, to bring the business to great heights, and to help the business rise up and overcome its hurdles. There were times I really wished I knew some of the things I know now, and I want to share this with you. Hopefully, it can help you cut out a lot of heartbreaking moments and sleepless nights, and help you achieve successes in your business much quicker than I did!

Know your market inside out

This is business basics. Knowing your market inside out, knowing your customer intimately and knowing what they need and what their triggers are can help you build an irresistible offering. Do not ever underestimate the need to know your market inside out. Take insurance startup – Huddle. They saw the crisis of trust customers had with insurers and saw the gap in the market. They pounced on this opportunity and used all the information they could get about their market to market, sell and improve on their offering! Thanks to this, they now provide over $1 billion in insurance coverage for about 500,000 members!

Test out your commercial strategy

Research, analyse, build. Research, analyse, amend. Now, keep repeating this. Your commercial strategy is not a set-and-forget aspect of your business. You need to constantly make sure you have as much intimate details about your market as possible. Even sometimes down to how many times they call their mum! The market is constantly changing and not reviewing and your strategies, your policies and your processes on a regularly basis is a death sentence.  Sometimes, change happens overnight and your business must be ready for it. A good example of this is driverless cars. If you a business that is currently depending on drivers and you don't adapt to the new technology your business will be out of business very soon. A good starting point would be to create a touchpoint strategy. Consider what media you will use to reach your target audience, and what your message will be. Every touchpoint you have with your prospect is a potential to build a relationship and sell, sell, sell; regardless of the market changes. When a customer is loyal to you, and they have a reason to stay loyal to you, even when the market changes, they will continue to buy from you. Give them a reason to stay loyal to you.

Getting your pitch right

If your business is at the capital or fundraising stage, be sure to get your pitch right and practice it with your family and friends before facing potential investors. Family and friends are great at giving you honest and brutal feedback on how you went and what you can improve on. When designing your pitch, you need to make sure you have refined and tested your business plan, and most importantly, know it like the back of your hand. You will be heavily grilled on your business plan by savvy investors and you need to know your strategies, your market, your research, and your projections (as well as how you have arrived at your projections) insanely well. Find out what is the characteristic of a good business here. If your business has already started and you are lacking traction, interview your customers and find out why they have bought. You might need to change your marketing strategy, or your price point, or even your offering itself to serve your market! If your business hasn’t started, be sure you have already tested that your product is something the market needs and that your marketing strategy is going to be viral! Most importantly, your passion needs to show in the delivery of your pitch! Show them how involved and in love you are with your offering! Show them how much your product or service can revolutionise the marketplace! Show them how you are in this for the long run and are ready for the challenges you may face! Don’t show any sign of weakness, especially not knowing your market or your offering well enough. This will put any investor off investing a single dime in your business. Employees also play a big part which is outside the scrope of this post but if you are interested visit this site. You might also want to look at if working from home is really a good idea.

By user23395, ago

how managers and leaders drive purpose

Leaders Drive Purpose

  In every organisation, it usually falls to the leader to ensure that employees know what makes the organisation run. Only a leader who knows him or herself can do this effectively.   As a leader, it is important to consider what your own purpose is. One question you can ask yourself is – what gets you up in the morning? What is driving you and your purpose? Is it your family? Is it your career? Is it your brand? This gives you the opportunity to reflect and properly understand what your purpose is in order to be effective at work.   For many, it is the opportunity to do what they have always wanted to do. Be it help the elderly in the community, help patients in the emergency department, or even help people find their own purpose.  

How do I determine purpose?

The two questions you can ask is:
  1. Why does my team need to know about purpose?
You need to answer it for yourself first and then explain it to your team. For example, if you are in finance, what makes your work purposeful? This becomes an opportunity to link your team’s functional expertise. You are responsible for maintaining cash flow as well as providing guidance for planning decisions. How you explain that to your team will go a long way toward their understanding the implications of their work. more information about leadership and management is available via this website  
  1. How can I make purpose more relevant to my team?
Your team is looking to you for answers, so you need to make purpose explicit. The easy way to do this is to explain how the work your team does contributes to the smooth running of the organization. A better way is to tell stories about the work. Consider how your customers judge your work. You likely have examples of success that are worth sharing. Returning to our finance example, talk about how one of your colleagues complimented your team on making the budgeting process easier to understand, allowing him to complete the planning process in a more timely fashion. These two questions quantify the role a leader plays in determining the purpose and meaning of work for the team. Many people, however, are searching for deeper meaning, satisfaction, enrichment, and happiness. While these may be existential issues, answers can be found in purposeful work. Let’s take them one at a time. (Baldoni 2011)    

How to instill purpose at work

  1. Mission
Mission is essential to accountability. It helps to be working for a mission-driven organization where people can really embrace and take great pride and satisfaction in the mission and what they are doing to advance it. “Trust is something that doesn’t happen overnight,” says Roger Webb, President of the University of Central Oklahoma. “You can’t make a good speech and greet your employees and all of a sudden [have them] trust you.” Webb likens trust to building a bank account that you accumulate over time. It is important for a leader to show vulnerability at the same time: “You have to fight for them and appreciate their support in return.”
  1. Let people know they matter
“Demonstrate through your actions that people come first,” says Nancy Schlichting, CEO of the Henry Ford Health System. Given the economic hardship the region has endured in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Henry Ford Health System has cut costs severely. One thing it did not cut was training and development -. “It sent a message to our people that we were serious about our commitment to people,” reports Schlichting. For Schlichting, investment in people is only part of the equation. She makes herself available to anyone in the health system, saying, “People in our organization have complete access to me.” Sometimes that involves helping an employee’s child find a job in the health system, or even airing an issue with a supervisor. As Spiegelman of Beryl Companies says, “There is a link between building a people-focused organization and driving better outcomes and results for your customers.”
  1. Reach out to employees as individuals
When Jim Guest arrived at Consumers Union as its CEO, he made a habit of introducing himself to employees. “I would just drop into people’s offices, total strangers, and say ‘Hey, what are you up to? What are you working on? What’s your job?’” Word soon got around that Guest was truly curious as well as genuinely interested in what employees did and how they did it. Guest continues the practice today by eating in the cafeteria with employees. “I’ll make it a point to sit down at different tables. I often sit with people I don’t even know … and just talk to them.” For Guest, such exchanges yield insights into what is really going on in his organization. “I often learn more from [conversations with employees] than I do from reports I get.” Guest also makes certain that new employees know that his door is open to them. He tells them “feel free to stop me in the hall or to make an appointment and come to my office.” True enough, not many do make those appointments, but Guest says, “I do get stopped in the hall.” Sometimes Guest will turn those impromptu chats into immediate invitations to his office. This is important to employees. As Guest says, “It’s easy to forget how much a small interaction with a chief executive can be so meaningful to people.” Communication is important to Guest’s leadership style. Prior to making decisions, he says, “I’m not looking for a consensus, but I am looking to consult or to gather information from people.” Communicating as he does with people at all levels in the company gives Guest a good sense of what’s going on in the organisation. (Baldoni 2011)  

By user23395, ago

How to lead with purpose – managers guide

Lead With Purpose

What is purpose? Purpose shapes vision. Vision is what shines in the distance and serves as a guiding light. Vision is the process of becoming. Becoming what you want to be when you grow up, or in the case of an organisation what you want to be able to do.   For any organisation to be able to achieve their vision, they must first set their values. Values are what hold people together. They embody the beliefs by which people in the organization choose to abide. Take a hospital. Its values define the respect that employees must manifest toward patients as well as toward each other. Words like dignity, ethics, and respect are prevalent. Values, when they are implemented, become measures by which people hold each other accountable. The end of this chapter contains a guide to defining purpose. Taken together, vision, mission, and values underscore the culture, the glue of an organization. While the concept of culture is broad and deep, when it comes to purpose, we can be very direct and to the point. Quite simply, culture is what the employees perceive as reality inside their organizations. It can be open, tolerant, and flexible, or it can be closed, intolerant, and rigid. Culture does not depend on purpose, but it is greatly influenced by it. Open cultures nurture purpose as if it were mutable and alive; closed cultures regard it as defined and inorganic. (Baldoni 2011)  

How does a manager make purpose relevant?

Simply put, you have to link it to the work your employees are doing!   For some organizations, such as the bakery just mentioned, this is easy. Make the dough, bake the goods, sell to customers, and watch them come back for more. Okay, how do you make purpose relevant if you are the distribution manager for a pipe supply company? You work with spreadsheets and you field phone calls from internal and external customers. How do you discuss purpose? You explain to your employees that logistics are the linchpin of the pipe supply operation. If distribution does not gather and warehouse pipe products from the factory or other sources, you have nothing to sell. If you cannot identify and ship products in a timely fashion, customers cannot buy. How you iterate this is critical to purpose. Expression of purpose may begin with words— chiefly, explanations of what the organization does and why it does it. But words go only so far.   Purpose, if it is to be sustainable, must be linked to organizational culture and values. That is vital. Here are some ways to reinforce this connection. “Purpose comes down to having clear-cut, definite goals,” says Pat Williams, bestselling leadership author. “They are powerful motivating forces. Those goals have to be out in front of the organization. They’ve got to be written down [as well as] reminded and reviewed.” Regarding the Orlando Magic, the NBA team where Williams serves as a senior vice-president, “We talk about two things all the time: winning a championship and keeping every seat full. No one in the organization can miss that.” Putting people first, says Michelle Rhee, onetime chancellor of the Washington, D.C., school district, “is about creating a culture that constantly recognizes people for the work they’re doing.” That requires the involvement of a leader who “ensures that people’s voices are heard.” Purpose in education is a straightforward proposition for Rhee. It stems from doing “what’s right and good for kids.” It was a mantra she took personally and one that she preached throughout the community. That kind of clarity is something that every leader in any field should strive to drive throughout their organization. Reducing purpose to a simple statement is not easy, but it can be a valuable tool in clarifying intention for employees. While working in another job prior to running the D.C. school district, Rhee learned that creating the right culture depends on doing the little things that matter to people— for example, being accessible to the CEO. It is important, says Rhee, that people have a voice with the leader at the top. “I think oftentimes it’s the smaller things that feel more personalized that make people feel valued and recognized.” When serving as chancellor of the school district, Rhee made a habit of reaching out regularly to all levels of the organization. She would personally call a principal or a teacher and thank the individual for the good work he or she was doing. (Baldoni 2011)  

Dangers of having no purpose

Purpose may seem elusive, and it may be tempting to abandon the concept altogether, but consider the alternative: lack of purpose. This leads to organizational listlessness. People may be doing their individual jobs appropriately, but soon each will come to the realization that individual contributions are good, but not great. What is necessary is to get people to pull together for the common cause. “I don’t think you can hit purpose enough as a senior leader,” says George Reed, a retired Army colonel who consults in the corporate sector. “It is one of those things that can be under communicated by an order of magnitude. You cannot oversell, over pronounce ‘Here’s why we’re here.’” If the purpose is not communicated, Reed believes, it will be lost in the “urgencies of the day” that cause people to forget their original intentions and their passion. “The senior leader who bangs that drum, who serves as the symbolic voice of the organization … reminds their people that what they’re doing is important.”  Leadership and management are skills worth learning - click here for more info about this course (Baldoni 2011)    


By user23395, ago

Managers leading by Example

Leaders Have to Walk the Talk

Most leaders we know of are not the type to listen to their own advice, I myself am guilty of this. We constantly hear that we need to reinvent the company and we have to find ways to get the entire workforce living and demonstrating the core values through their decisions and actions, but most of us leaders would rather not and would rather just mouth the words to our employees.  

Employees expectations

A lot of employees are not motivated to live up to the company’s values because their own leaders don’t lead by example. They constantly hear that they need to do this, they need to do that, they need to be this, they need to be that. But this embodiment is greatly lacking in upper management.   Take the banks for example. Upper management is constantly telling their employees to be honest and conduct themselves in utmost integrity to preserve the reputation of the bank. However, the leaders themselves don’t conduct themselves in this manner and they develop targets that does not resonate with conducting oneself with honesty and integrity. They make it a focus that targets are met at all costs. This tells the employees that even though the bank’s values are to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity, they don’t actually have to do so, just as long as targets are met. Some companies even send their management personnel to special leadership and management training - (course information here) to try and improve the company’s bottom line, but not on employee relations.  

Open the channels of communication

As Reliant’s senior leaders opened the channels of communication, people throughout the ranks of the organization began to emulate their behavior. For example, Mike Kuznar, the director of Reliant’s Customer Care group, held a series of Meals with Mike, modeled after the Tuesday Talks. Learn the basics of leadership by going to the website or you can learn the basics of managing staff by going to this website.    The meals were open to any member of the customer service team. Mike fielded their tough questions and gave frank answers. For employees who were anxious about losing their jobs, this was an opportunity to learn about the company’s performance at the local level. Mike helped them understand how their everyday work fit into the bigger picture of the company’s challenges. In the end, Reliant survived. Its share price bounced back. The company retained most of its customers. And the informal organization grew stronger than ever. In a turnaround like Reliant’s, leaders are tempted to rely on formal mechanisms and measures. They want to cut costs, keep tight control, deliver messages and directives from the top. Reliant did all these things, but its leaders differ from their counterparts at other companies in that they complemented the necessary formal actions with a values-driven effort that bolstered important and visible behaviors throughout the informal organization and accelerated its recovery. Unfortunately, Reliant’s challenges did not end after the turnaround. As the company geared up for growth, it was struck by a perfect storm of external factors beyond anyone’s control. In 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed Galveston, one of Reliant’s major markets. Later that year, the global credit crisis struck, wiping out critical financial support that Reliant needed in the wake of Ike.   At last, in 2009, Reliant was bought by NRG Energy. None of this, however, negates the turnaround accomplishment that preceded it. Ultimately, the company’s recovery story is one of success. Its ability to survive the tremendous challenges it faced by using values as a driving force in the journey sets it apart from companies that espouse values but do not live them.  

How would leaders walk the walk

Managers have to be more aware of their actions and speech. Everything they do and say are watched and listened to intently by others around them and will influence the way the team functions.   Managers should also try to do the work of their employees so that they understand the challenges their employees face and can develop policies and processes that can help and motivate the employees to embody the company’s values.   Managers should also have regular catch ups with their teams and hold an open forum for employees to share their thoughts and opinions. They should not be judgemental and should think of ways to address their concerns and have idea sharing conversations instead of being highly critical of them.    

By user23395, ago

Leaders and Managers

Managers and the types of employees they manage

Some leadership researchers have thoroughly studied ancient cultures to determine how leaders lived and ruled in ancient times. Others navigated the turbulent waters of history, in search of lost ideas and ideals of leadership. Still, others have sifted the sands of individual leaders’ lives, seeking biographical shards that might offer clues to this elusive phenomenon. During all these arduous, centuries-long searches for leaders, followers appeared only infrequently. Oddly enough, despite a significant literature on social movements directly concerned with followers’ behavior, linkages to the field of leadership are sparse. Even the social psychological experiments on conformity played a minor role in leadership theory. It took sociologist Max Weber to nudge the exploration of leadership toward a consideration of followers and their perceptions. His discussion of charismatic leadership that “compelled” the awe of followers would lay some early groundwork on which leadership theorists could build. In fact, James MacGregor Burns’s seminal distinction between transactional and transformational leaders did exactly that, highlighting the difference in followers’ behavior with the two kinds of leaders. (Riggio, Chaleff & Blumen 2008)  

Larger than life leaders

Yet, a full decade later, Robert E. Kelley’s Harvard Business Review article constituted a sharp rap on the knuckles of the field of leadership for neglecting followers. With some notable exceptions, most subsequent scholars continued to focus on what James Meindl and colleagues labeled the “romance of leadership,” attributing most group and contextual effects— both good and bad— to larger-than-life leaders. Despite the widespread consensus that one must have followers to warrant the label of leader, the spotlight has remained tightly centered on leaders. This distorting and overly positive bias toward leaders predisposed the field to concentrate on what these impressive figures did to followers, not vice versa. Followers were simply noted in passing, those objects on whom leaders foisted their decisions and actions. (Riggio, Chaleff & Blumen 2008) Even those scholars who escaped the adorational chains of most leadership research emphasized primarily the leaders’—not the followers’—negative qualities and actions. Kelley’s plea notwithstanding, only infrequently did leadership researchers recognize followers as active, thinking, and perceiving individuals. Aside from Burns and later Bass, and an occasional less well-known study, few scholars emphasized the interaction between leaders and followers. Moreover, most failed to explore the inaction of followers in the face of destructive leaders. Even those who considered leadership as a process or relationship treated followers mostly by implication. But the winds of change are gradually rising. Followers, by their actions, are calling attention to themselves— in massive political uprisings in diverse societies, and in incidents of individual whistle-blowing within organizations of all descriptions. Given the increasingly compelling actions of real-life followers vis-à-vis their leaders, perhaps it was inevitable that the leadership spotlight would broaden to include them. Here and there within the field of leadership, scholars and practitioners are starting to acknowledge the significance of followers. Followers with moral courage sometimes in the guise of whistle-blowers, sometimes in less dramatic dress, have entered center stage. A few scholars have begun to raise questions about the impact of bad leaders on their followers and to explore why followers only rarely resist toxic leaders. Gradually, a more follower-centric leadership model - learn more here, inspired by Meindl and his colleagues’ insight, is emerging. (Riggio, Chaleff & Blumen 2008)  

Types of employees

There are five basic types of employees for every leader:  

The Sheep

The sheep are passive and look to the leader to do the thinking for them and to motivate them. If you are the type of manager whose employees are always just following and relying on you to set the direction, make decisions and set the tone.  

The Yes-people

The yes-people are always saying yes to everything. They are positive and constantly agree with managers and management. If they are asked to do something, they will always say yes and once finished, they will go back to the manager asking what next?  

The Isolated

The isolated think for themselves but have a lot of negative energy. Every time an idea is presented, the isolated are the ones who have a hundred reasons why it is a bad idea. They see themselves as someone who has the courage to question and confront. They are not willing to come up with a solution but are very pessimistic about the current plan of action. They are smart and are highly critical but refuse to move in a positive direction.  

The Sensibles

The sensibles are those that sit on the fence and see which way the wind blows. Once they see which direction it is headed in, they will jump on the popular opinion side. They are never the first on board and they see themselves are preservers of the status quo. They are those who do what they must to survive for a sense of security.  

The Stars

The stars have a mind of their own. They do not simply accept a leader’s decision without evaluating its trustworthiness. If they believe it is the right thing to do and the right direction to take, they will give their full support. If they do not agree with the idea or the direction, they question the leader and provide ideas of their own. They themselves are leaders in their own right and they do not blindly follow anyone.  

By user23395, ago

Leadership and management – Motivation

Pride in Management

Feeling good about day-to-day accomplishments is a strong source of motivation that influences behaviors. Unfortunately, a lot of most people’s daily work can be pretty boring, if not downright tedious and stressful, so “feeling good” about it is not as easy as it sounds. Moreover, those positive feelings come mostly from the informal organization. One of the strongest positive emotional drivers is pride. Kids work harder in school for the teacher who makes them feel proud of getting a good grade or developing a new skill. Multimillionaire athletes stretch themselves to the limit for the pride of winning the championship— but also take pride in the rigorous training it requires. Pride in the journey can be as motivating as pride in the destination. Refinery workers will take extra care in their work for the pride of a clean safety record, or more simply the good feeling of helping a colleague avoid an injury. Yet most motivational programs focus entirely on the formal rewards: money, perks, and promotions. Our research and experience show that how people feel about their work, and the pride they take in their daily or weekly accomplishments can be a powerful motivator of their daily behavior. These topics are covered when studying the Diploma of Leadership and Management - course details here.  In research for Why Pride Matters More Than Money, and in work with clients afterwards, Katz developed the following insights about pride as a motivational force. (Katzenbach & Khan 2010)

What matters is how people feel

Pride is at the heart of what motivates peak performers in most human endeavours. This is evident in art, music, athletics, medicine, or popular entertainment. What motivated George Carlin to toil for many decades in comedy clubs was not the money or the recognition— it was the work itself, including the relentless preparation that characterized his appearances. What motivated Lance Armstrong to push himself to seven Tour de France victories was not the glory but the personal highs of training hard year in and year out. Us humans have a need to feel good about what we do and how we do it. (Katzenbach & Khan 2010)   People want to be proud of the work they do and boast about it to others. It is that self-aggrandizing seldom motivates work that is in the long-term interest of the company. Of course, many people take pride in material things like yachts, mansions, and designer fashion. Companies that rely too much on monetary and material rewards for motivation invariably lose their best people to the highest bidders. Pride, unfortunately, can motivate good and bad outcomes. A classic example of this was reported recently in Bob Sutton’s blog “Work Matters.” It was from a piece of research Gary Latham conducted in a large sawmill where employees were stealing about $1 million in equipment every year. Because of the strong union it was virtually impossible to impose discipline on the offenders. However, Latham’s research determined that much of what was being stolen was actually things the workers neither needed nor used; they were doing it for the thrill of it and to brag to their buddies, which they took great pride in doing. (Katzenbach & Khan 2010)

Good pride in management

You will find a lot of good pride in management and understandably so. Employees want to take pride in their work with positive performance outcomes. They want to feel that the work they are doing is making a difference and they are proud of what they have produced. The leader who can align and connect the good pride people take in their work is more likely to achieve their targets. There are several ways to help employees realise this good pride in them to motivate them.
  1. Show them how their work impacts the organisation and how they are helping their customers. When people are able to visualise and see who their efforts are helping they are more likely to be more motivated.
  2. Show them how their efforts can lead to other opportunities such as a pay rise, a recognition award, or even a promotion! No one wants to stay in their role forever, except those who really love their jobs. Employees are always looking for the opportunity to advance their careers and by showing them how their efforts can pay off, they are more likely to be more motivated.

By user23395, ago